Prague is one of my favorite European cities. Friendly, beautiful, reasonable prices and a great walking city. What’s not to like?
Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic. Built on the Vltava River, it has a rich political and cultural history with Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture on display for your walking all over the city enjoyment. My favorite building is the “dancing house” aka “Ginger and Fred”, which must be seen to be appreciated for its quirkiness. Since 1992, the historic center of Prague has been a World Heritage UNESCO site and rightly so as there is art everywhere you look. For my money, Prague is a “must see” city to be included in any European adventure.
There are many “sights” to see like Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, the Jewish Quarter, and the really famous (thanks to SO many Instagram posts) Prague astronomical clock. While all those places plus ten major museums and numerous theaters, galleries and historical exhibits are worthy of your time, my favorite memory of Prague is pedaling around the Vltava River in one of the unique boats you can rent. See Prague from the water!
We were able to spend two weeks in Prague during the late spring. I was on a work trip but added on a few vacation days too. As usual, my husband travelled with me on my business trips, taking beautiful photographs and exploring where we would go when I got off work. For the first part of our trip, we stayed out in the Prague suburbs at the Prague Courtyard Marriott and lived like a local. The public transportation is fantastic with cable cars running up and down into the city, so it was really convenient to get around. We strolled the neighborhood farmer’s market, had a picnic on the hill overlooking the city to view the sunset and saw some interesting sculpture-babies crawling up a building. Say what??? You just have to see it to believe it.
Later, we moved into a gorgeous historic hotel in the heart of city center Prague and stayed at the NH Collection Prague Carlo IV Property (was a Marriott when I was there). The lobby was grand, and we enjoyed the one-of-a-kind stunning pool with a curved vaulted ceiling. I was surprised that Prague was considered such a young “party town” but we saw so many hen and stag parties all over. The hen parties are hilarious with the bride and bridesmaids dressed up and running around in a group. The stag boys seemed to enjoy the beer pedal carts and weed stores on every corner. Party down! Our jam is more a low-key experience, so we typically seek out coffee shops, small concerts wherever we go (churches are great venues!) and we even got to see a classic ballet, Swan Lake.
We wandered by an office building and had a chance encounter with the Franz Kafka statue. The 42 moving panels form the face of a famous Czech writer Franz Kafka and is just one of many works of art found on the streets of Prague. Like many European cities on a river, crossing the Charles Bridge is a “must do” but be prepared for crowds and pickpockets. We went early in the day just to avoid the crush.
Another famous sight to check out close to the Charles Bridge is the John Lennon wall. According to their website: Once a normal wall, it gained its significance during the communist regime and became a symbol of freedom, western culture and rebellion against the regime. The wall became a safe place for people to express their opinions and grievances. Among those, inspiring lyrics and positive messages would appear including John Lennon’s quote and The Beatles lines.
One day while I was working, my husband strolled around Vojan gardens and found some peacocks hanging out. What a find! The pictures he took (above) of these beautiful creatures are astounding. While we didn’t have time to take an antique car ride around town, it seemed very popular and looked like fun. Check it out and let me know! We did find time to visit the Prague library because I love all things books, libraries and reading! Artist Matej Kren’s “Idiom” is a long-term art installation where hundreds of books are stacked in a cylindrical tower with mirrors placed at the bottom and the top to give the exhibit the illusion of being infinite. An opening on one side of the tower allows visitors to peek in so I got a photo!
Another hidden gem we just wandered into was the Convent of Poor Clares and Franciscans in Old Town, which was founded in early 1200s. Now it’s a museum filled with amazing medieval art to enjoy and then walk the outside gardens filled with sculptures on the convent grounds. Old Town is filled with cafes and shops. I would dedicate a whole day just to this area to explore. In Prague, the beers are large and the food delicious.
Of course, we had to do a little shopping. Thom predictably found the Happy Feet vinyl store in a quirky retail arcade featuring an upside-down horse hanging from the ceiling. Art everywhere! I prefer handmade jewelry and got a steel choker at an outdoor weekend market for about 10 euros that I still wear frequently. Stay away from the touristy stores and seek out more unique items to take home to remember your trips. Enjoy the journey!