May 14, 2014

A Weekend in Prague

Prague's Old Town Square
Have you ever visited Prague? It is definitely one of my favorite large cities in Europe. Beautiful buildings, red roofs, castles, goulash, and so much history. Over the years living over here in Germany, we've had the pleasure of showing the city to friends and family visiting since it is only a two hour drive away, staying in hostels, pensions, bed and breakfasts, apartments, to the fanciest stay yet at the Marriott this past weekend. It's about time I post some travel tips for those interested in checking out this amazing city.

Sights to See

If you have a day, I would recommend you walk all the way from Wenceslas Square to the Prague Castle, checking out the sights I list below, to get a real feel for the city.

Prague Castle - Walking around the grounds of the castle and seeing the changing of the guards at 12 is pretty entertaining in itself. You can visit the St. Vitus Cathedral and make sure you make your way to the Golden Lane, my mom's favorite part of the whole city.

Prague Castle and Saint Vitus Cathedral at night.

The Golden Lane
 Golden Lane - This quaint lane dates back to the 15th Century. It is comprised of 11 historic houses, some with period scenes to show the life of the artisans who once worked, ate, drank and slept in them. It is called the Golden Lane due to the many goldsmiths that used to live in the houses. In order to walk through this lane, you have to pay for a visitor ticket that includes admission into other parts of the castle.

Astronomical Clock - This is a must see sight when visiting Prague, located right in the old main square of Prague, close to the tourism office. The clock dates back to 1410 and every hour 12 apostles pass by the window above the astronomical dial. Legend has it that the clock was admired by many foreigners, but Hanus (the creator of the clock) refused to show construction plans to anybody. When Prague Councillors found out that he was going to make another, even better clock, they became jealous and blinded him so he could not finish it. Later he allegedly damaged the astronomical clock in revenge, and nobody was able to repair it.

 St. Charles Bridge  - A trip to Prague wouldn't be complete without checking out the St. Charles Bridge! The views are great and the statues are pretty amazing as well. 

Where to Eat

Kolkovna - We had a wonderful lunch at this typical Czech food restaurant/beer garden this past weekend and the prices were great. The traditional potato soup in a bread bowl was delicious and just over $3! Located by another nice square with a large mall only a few blocks from the Old Town Square. 

Bohemian Bagel - I love this place. Every time we visit, I make it a point to eat at one of their cafes. Bohemian Bagel serves great sandwiches and breakfast all day. Sandwiches are American style, and maybe that's why I love the place. Something that is hard to find living over here in Europe, so if you are looking for traditional Czech, this isn't really that, but I promise you'll enjoy your meal. 

Make sure you avoid eating at the Czech restaurant (aka tourist trap) in the basement of the municipal house. The food was really the worst I've ever ordered in Europe, and the prices super high.

Where to Stay
Well, Trip Advisor can really help you out, but I'll give you my two cents about the places we've personally stayed. 

B&B Pension Vetrnik - I love this B&B. The rooms are small, and the furnishing old, but the ambiance of this place is really great. Super nice/helpful owners, great food, and beautiful/peaceful surroundings. Not in the center of town, so you have to take a tram, but it was all very easy to do with the help of the owners. 

Palace Road Hotel (Apartments) - We stayed in these apartments twice over the years, when this hotel was known as The Castle Steps. The apartments we stayed in both times were so wonderful! Large rooms, neat antiques, right on the hill heading up to the castle (my favorite part of town). Prices were reasonable in the past, but looks like they have gone up quite a bit. 

Marriott Hotel Prague - Not cheap, but by far the best location we have stayed in Prague. Right in the center of all the attractions, beautiful rooms, friendly staff, and all the amenities you could ever want. Our kids loved the pool. 

Where to Play 
We found plenty of park ideas on this website, but for a short weekend, a wonderful park to check out is right under the St. Charles Bridge! 

Where to Shop
Manufaktura - I love this store. There are a few of them in Prague, and you'll probably pass one as you walk through the main sights around the Old Town Square. They have great spa gifts, but also wonderful wooden toys.

If you have visited and have other recommendations, I'd love to hear from you!

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