Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Perfect Weekend in Prague

As I originally come from the Czech Republic, lots of people ask me about Prague (although I am not exactly from there). Where to stay, where to eat, what to see???

It is funny, because if you come from the place, you usually don't know the answers. You stay at home, eat out with friends to avoid the tourists and you are long tired of all the attractions or you find them overpriced.

To figure the answers out, I decided to play a tourist in Prague and put together the ultimate guide.
Here are my secret tips!

How to get there:
If you are coming from Munich, come with a car or even better - with a bus! It takes only 4,5 hours, the buses from Deutsche Bahn are comfortable and go directly without stops. They terminate at the Main Train Station (yes, train!!!)  - Hlavni Nadrazi (described sometimes as Wilsonova). That means that you are in central Prague and do not have to worry about the Airport transfer.

Where to stay:
I am a fan of romantic yet practical locations and this hotel fulfills my expectations 100%. The Archibald Hotel by Charles Bridge is comfortable, not too expensive and is located at the true heart of Prague. Book 30 days in advance to get 20% off the price!!! The price includes brakefast and free WIFI (I could not believe that) and you see the famous Charles Bridge from your window! The rooms are generous size and quiet since you are just off the endless stream of tourists. Well, look at the pictures and judge for yourself.

And here are the surroundings of the hotel.

What to see:
My friends often say, that they are not the "museum" people like me and my partner, so I searched for options relevant for all. :-)
If you never been in Prague, you should certainly walk the "Royal Way" between Old Town Square and the Prague Castle (across the Charles Bridge) and of course, visit at least one part of the castle. The St.Vitus Cathedral is the must for all! But that is written in every guidebook and I am trying to find things that you cannot find there... So here are my recommendations:

1.Whilst you are visiting the Prague Castle, walk to the gardens behind it! Most tourist skip this option or do not even know about it! The gardens are fantastic, offer unusual views of the cathedral and hide the most wonderful sommer pavilion of Queen Anne - one of the most beutiful little buildings I know. If you can still take it, you can walk down through the paid part of the terace gardens and you will be rewarded at the bottom by the most wonderful hidden restaurant in the Palfy Palace (more about it later).

2. Walk to Petrin. Petrin lookout tower is the Eiffel tower of Prague. Well, not so high but visually very similar. Although you can take a little "funicular" to drive you there, I encourage everyone to walk. It is a reasonable hill but the paths are good and the views down on Prague are priceless (especially if the weather is great). The tower has a lift (you pay a bit extra but it's worth it) and you can see Prague and even the castle from above!!! You can also buy a combine ticket with a "mirror pavilion" which is just next door and allows you to take quite a few silly pictures of the distorted self. We had a great fun. Please note that it is not a Disneyland, so adjust your expectations.

3. Go to the National Theater. I know, crazy suggestion when you do not speak Czech but the theater, which is a walking distance from the hotel, shows frequently Opera or Dance (Ballet or Contemporary). The prices are around 30 Euro per person and the quality is good. It is certainly better than paying for the concerts in the baroque churches offered on every step to tourists. The receptionist in your hotel will help you to book tickets and decide on a performance. We went spontaineously in the afternoon and still got tickets for the evening performance. There is a bar in the Nova Scena (new scene) part of the theater that offers you a great people watching opportunity, we really loved it!

4. One museum is a must! Museum Kampa is a small museum, pretty much next to the Archibald hotel. It is just by the river, surrounded by the Kampa park. Inside is a collection of modern art and some temporary exhibitions of famous Czech artists. It offers a really great and genuin glimps into the Czech culture. The space is very interestingly done and the artworks hang even among the metal staircases. I love the unexpected views offered by this combination. Well, I guess you can call me buyest, since my grandgrand oncle Frantisek Kupka is one of the key artist exhibited in this museum. So, go to see his work!!!! If you really do not like contemporary art, my other tip is the collection of gothic art in the Convent of St. Agnes (part of the National Gallery). It is a world class collection as Gothic (12.-15. century) represents one of the golden eras in the Czech history.

5. And one more tip - visit Strelecky Ostrov - it is an island on the river and is designed for recreation. You can even jogg there from the hotel, it is a short distance in a greenery and there is a great exercise "playground" for adults. Otherwise it is a perfect place for a picnic!If you are lucky to be there is summer, the city provides free concerts, live music and dance performances for all visitors. It is a fantastic experience!

What and where to eat:
As there are many, many, many possibilities, I concentrated on the "hiding places" and the small funny things on the current Czech menue. You should definitely try Czech beer. You know that the Budweiser is actually Czech brand, right? But you should try Staropramen and if you like dark beer, I personally love Krusovice. For those who do not like beer, there is always a limonade from Staropramen (on the picture), I really enjoyed it's taste. For those who do not like anything beer related, try homemade lemonades. They seem to be the latest Czech hit and come in wide variety of flavours and presentations - my favourite - elderflower limo served in a jam jar (Bella Vida Cafe)! I also strongly recommend the Czech version of sandwich - chlebicek. It is a slice of white bread decorated with spreads, salami, cheese, egg and many other things (see the picture). The best ones are from this Deli: Jan Paukert (again, not too far from the Archibald hotel).

The best hiding places:
Tynska Literarni Kavarna ( 2min from Old Town Square but away from the crowds)
Cafe Kaficko (2min from Charles Bridge, yet quiet and cozy)
Cafe in Salmovsky Palace ( 2 min from the Pargue Castle with an awesome view of Prague)
A special treat is Restaurant in the Palffy Palace (bottom of the Castle Gardens) - this place offers fantastic terace and very good quality of food and cakes but it is a bit pricy.
And one more tip - we had a very refreshing snack in the brand new Delice Restaurant, which we found by chance. The service was great and we loved the beautiful garten, so we promised to spread the word (the food Photo is from there).

I wish you an enjoyable stay in Prague! If you have any questions, please comment under the post and I will be happy to answer.

1 comment:

  1. Prague looks beautiful especially in the summer! The hotel room looks gorgeous with the wood beams in the ceiling and you can't beat that view. Prague is on my list of "Must Sees" and I will refer back to this when we make our trip plans!