Exploring Eastern Europe – Prague, Czech Republic

by possandruby

With a proud medieval history and a new modern influence, Prague is a melting pot of old and new. Home to 1.3 million people, it is the capital of the Czech Republic.  Walking the cobbled streets lined with colourful buildings, ornate churches, and grand theatres it’s easy to see why Prague is a popular destination for visitors.

Prague International Airport has located about 18km from the old town.  The city is easily accessible by train, bus, and various shuttle services, Uber is also available.   Accommodation options vary around the city, I chose Airbnb, in a fully self-contained apartment in Prague 9. The apartment was located within walking distance of the metro or tram. This provided easy access to the old town where most of the key attractions are located. I would recommend staying as close to the old town as possible so you can save travel time and make the most of your visit.

Start exploring with a free walking tour, a fantastic way to get an insight into the history and culture of the city. Many tour companies are offering various types of tours. I joined the Free Old Town and Jewish Quarter Tour with Generation Tours which was extremely informative.  This particular tour took almost 3 hours but there are longer and shorter walks available. If you haven’t participated in these tours before they work on a pay as you like basis at the end of the tour. The guides are passionate and add to the experience by sharing their personal recommendations.

As you explore the old town after the tour doesn’t miss the famous Charles Bridge, Prague’s oldest and only bridge until the 19th century. This wide cobbled bridge is lined with thirty religious statues of saints and forms part of the Royal Way. This was the coronation path taken by royals in medieval times. The path winds through the Old Town and ends at the Prague Castle. It is the main route for visitors and is dotted with souvenir stores, picturesque buildings, and plenty of tour groups.

Prague Castle overlooks the city and it’s a steep walk up to the entrance through the streets and laneways of Mala Strana. Various types of entry tickets are available allowing visitors access to specific buildings on the grounds. You could easily spend half a day exploring all the different sites in the castle. If you have limited time the cathedral must not be missed. The spectacular gothic design and vivid stained glass windows are breathtaking.

Just a short walk from the castle is The Loreto, a hidden treasure with a decorative facade and a clock tower whose chimes may be heard every hour. Inside ‘The Church of the Nativity is stunning, featuring pretty blue and pink pastel walls dripping with gold decorations.  The peaceful cloisters are a sanctuary and a nice place to reflect and relax. To enter the church there is a small entry fee plus a charge for cameras.

All that sightseeing can work up an appetite and in Prague, there is a smorgasbord of local and international cuisines. Czech food can be described as hearty, with large servings, limited vegetables (other than potatoes), and plenty of bread. Every dish is best enjoyed with beer and your waiter will be only too pleased to keep your glass full!

Some traditional recommendations:

  • Beef goulash served in a bread roll bowl
  • Pork sausage in all forms – grilled or boiled
  • Chicken schnitzel
  • Pork knuckle

I recommend Vepro-knedlo-zelo, potato dumplings cooked with cabbage, speck, and washed down with a local beer.

Word of warning – there are some enticing food stands by the Old Town Square that charge by the weight of servings. It seems cheap but if you do not indicate how much you would like they automatically give a large serve which becomes very expensive. Make a point to ask for the exact amount you want and you can get a decent-priced meal.

The other thing you will see a lot of is Trdelnik, a swirly hollow donut-type pastry. The verdict is out as to the origin of this treat but it has been welcomed in Prague. Stands can be found on almost every corner in the old town. It wasn’t the most amazing dessert I have ever eaten but it’s certainly worth a try.

Prague has so much to offer from amazing architecture and classical concerts to boat cruises and riverside restaurants. A three-day visit would cover most of the old town highlights and a week would allow you to explore the entire city and surrounds. There are some incredible days trips to consider as well such as Cesky Krumlov.

Have you been to Prague? What did you like or dislike? Be sure to comment below or share on with us on social media @possandruby


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