Discovering Classic Prague: A Place to Savor and Enjoy
Fall in love at first sight
No matter what city you visit, there are times when you fall in love at first sight and keep coming back, or on the contrary, there are barriers of misunderstanding and unpleasant associations. I hope this article will help you fall in love with Prague when you arrive by using simple tips that are gathered in one place.
Prague is like a cheap vape with a pleasant cinnamon flavor, killer vibes, and maybe a hangover in the morning. Unfortunately, many tourists struggle to fall in love with this city because there are so many traps and scams for inexperienced travelers. But those who have lived here for a long time and know the ins and outs are headover heels in love because it's a young city where people know how to party and stay active, whether it's at a techno club or the opera. The breathtaking views coupled with a restaurant boom featuring cuisine from all over the world is simply the ideal mix that I would recommend for every trip.
For starters, you’re probably trying to find a hotel and buy your tickets. My first tip is on the best places to stay during your trip. Historically, Prague has spread out along both banks of the Vltava River,and all the main sights are relatively close to the water. But if you choose the wrong neighborhood, your romantic expectations might be ruined by thingslike homeless people, garbage dumps, construction sites, and garages that you didn't plan for. That's why it's better to spend a little more and stay close to the center, even if it means sacrificing a bit of quality, so you don't have to trek to the center every day, which should be within a 10-minute walk.
If prices are outrageous during peak season, there area few backup options - neighborhoods like Karlin, Vinohrady, and Mala Strana. But in that case, it's better to learn how to use local transportation, which isn't difficult. Ultimately, there is also Uber available.
If you’re only there a few days, don’t waste time in the crowds of tourists. I rather recommend that you take a walk along picturesque paths and see the city.
The main route that no tourist has avoided runs from Wenceslas Square towards Charles Bridge. Most likely, the Royal Palace on the hill will also be on your list. But my advice is not to hurry there because 90% of tourists will have had the same exact thought. Get some rest, enjoy breakfast somewhere in the center or Malá Strana surrounded by Baroque architecture. If you don't follow this advice, during the high season in the morning, you might end up in hour-long queues at the entrance to the palace, lose your energy, have a warped perception of the experience. All of this being the first step towards not liking Prague. Instead, take in the cool morning air, bask in the morning sun, drink a latte with a delicate foam and head out forlunch.
Let's start the route from the Pohořelec stop, just behind Prague Castle, and go inside the Strahov Monastery. Understanding will come gradually, like beer settling in your stomach, satisfying your hunger witha pleasant hoppy effect. Once inside the courtyard of the Strahov Monastery, you'll have to choose where to go. There is Pivovar Strahov, where you can enjoy freshly brewed beer. If you’re lucky enough to find a spot to sit down, great news! If not, just have a dark beer by the bar before going to the Monastery Library. Once you’re there, don't expect to walk around much, and be sure to have cash on hand to get in (around 6 euros per person in crowns) - trust me, it's one of the most beautiful rooms you'll ever see. The view of Prague from the observation deck. If it's warm and the wind doesn't blow you away, sparks might fly and you might even experience your first kiss in the city.
Let's hit up the next spot - the Matthias Gate of the Royal Palace, which is about a kilometer away. It doesn't matter how you get there, any road will be perfect, especially because they all go downhill but also for the inspiring views and mysterious historical facades. These gates are the entrance to the Royal Complex and of course, the main attraction is St.Vitus Cathedral.
Everything in the cathedral is perfect, except that it's so tall that it's impossible to take a good photo of the facade. Don't even try. Don't forget to visit Golden Lane. If you arrive before 5 pm, you can buy a ticket for €10 that will allow you to visit the Old Royal Palace, St.George's Basilica, Golden Lane, St. Vitus Cathedral, but I confess that from the perspective of impressions, it's not really necessary, so better leave that money for snacks or invite me for coffee, because St. Vitus Cathedral and olden Lane are open for visits (after 5 pm), and not seeing a few medievals words won't disappoint you if you've never heard of them before. If you still decide to go, but you encounter long lines, you can buy tickets online.
After visiting the castle, most people just follow the crowd and head down towards the river. But I recommend going back up to the lookout near the statue of the first president of Czechoslovakia, Masaryk, and then heading down the narrow, steep streets towards Charles Bridge. Don't forget to check out St. Nicholas Cathedral along the way. You can go inside or even climb to the top of the tower for an amazing view of the bridge. Just hope there isn't too much traffic on the bridge when you get there, so you can take some nice photos in the peaceful evening. But if you want the best view of Charles Bridge, I suggest going a little off to the side.
Once you reach the tower of Charles Bridge from the old town side, don't resist the flow of the crowd. It will lead you through narrow streets to the Old Town Square, passing by shops with Matryoshka dolls and ushanka hats, various museums, Czech restaurants, Chinese souvenirs, candy stores, and everything that pleases wandering tourists.
As you leisurely reach the Old Town Square, my advice is to look at this beauty from above. You have two options for that: you can climb the city tower, around which crowds gather to watch the show with figurines popping out to the sound of the clock striking every hour.
This is the kind of entertainment that is worth the money, as both the interior and the ascent process are as delightful as the view from the tower. The second option is to combine it with a meal and take the elevator to the U Prince Hotel, located at the entrance to the square. Along with photos and selfies (which, unlike the observation deck, will turn out much better), you can get a dose of decent local food at slightly inflated prices.
As many venture to Prague, they bring with them the beat of bustling metropolises, the hustle and bustle, their habits and preferences. Navigating through the tourist crowds, it can be difficult to shift gears quickly, but try to tune in to the lingering sound of medieval flutes on these streets, inhale the aroma of the wood used to craft pastry desserts and take note of the elegance of the shadows. This essence is concealed within narrow alleyways and snug pubs, unpretentious yet robust like a first love and potent like absinthe. Take a moment to pause, relish the scent of damp basements, and marvel at the sunset - it's indeed a challenge to mistake this for anything else, but the memories and sensations can be forever cherished.
During warmer months, locals flock to parks with stunning views of the city, while weary tourists search for streets less traveled and restaurants with delectable cuisine. If you have the time, it's definitely worth visiting parks such as Stromovka, Letna, Petriny, and the intimate Kampa. You can rent bicycles and/or scooters for transportation, and for more detailed information, be sure to check out the "Advanced Prague" article.
Roasted pork knee and beer - these are the stereotypes that Prague just can't shake. However, it's important to separate the two components - "roasted pork knee" and "beer" - as good food isn't always accompanied by great beer. Unfortunately, that's just how it is.
Here are three restaurants that will not leave you indifferent, where the pork knee is good, but you should be sure to book well in advance:
U Prince ➜ Although the restaurant is not cheap and touristy, and the beer leaves something to be desired, it has two qualities for which everything can be forgiven: the view and the food. The food is really good for such a place. It's worth calling well in advance to reserve a table for sunset on the terrace, which is located on the roof with a view of the Old Town Square.
Klášterní šenk ➜ A traditional restaurant in a rural style, located on the territory of the oldest monastery in the Czech Republic, founded in the 11th century. A rare case when, in addition to excellent Czech cuisine, the set includes its own brewery. Half-dark, half-light beer is especially good. The disadvantage is the distance from the city center, so you have to get there by transport.
Prague Medieval Tavern ➜ A basement smoky place framed by human bones, where you will most likely be scolded and rudely treated, but at the same time you will be served excellent beer and hearty food. Nevertheless, as the owners claim, the pub was founded in 1377, so everything can be forgiven, or almost everything, even the lack of cutlery and napkins, you will have to wipe your hands with bread (so it's better to wash them beforehand, after all, you're a king or queen). A medieval show starts almost every day at 7 pm. Although the fun is paid (10 euros) and touristy, the hearts tremble at the sight of fire.
It's a special vibe. For Czechs, it's in their DNA, and beer is one of the ingredients. Don't expect to find the typical interior design in real beer bars. It's more likely to be a minimalist space that doesn't resemble the history-soaked British pubs or the lively Irish sports bars. The maximum you'll see on the walls are some photos. As for food, it's purely utilitarian, so as not to detract from the drink's impression. A good beer bar is distinguished first and foremost by the freshness of the beer, its temperature, the way it's poured into the glass, the foam, and how long it lasts.
The second and most important ingredient is socializing. Because it flows easily and casually over a pint of beer, it's practically impossible to reach the Mayday state. So, 8 or even more pints per evening is not a sin but a sign of a well-spent evening.
Beer bars can be divided into chain, individual, and those that make their own beer. Among the chain bars, I would highlight Lokal, Kolkovna & Kozel, which mainly serve Pilsner Urquell on tap.
But if you want to judge this beer by a purchased bottle at home, don't make the mistake because the combination of creamy foam and bitter aftertaste is something you won't be able to replicate outside the Czech Republic, and you'll have to take this memory with you and keep it until your next visit. If the antagonism reaches a point where it's impossible to overcome, the backup option is Potrefena Husa & Bernard.
As for the non-chain bars, I'd like to mention the following:
Dva kohouti ➜ Located in the hipster business district of Karlin, near the waterfront and close to the center. The beer bar in warm weather resembles a courtyard where dynamic music plays, and programmers and other clerks flock after work. They brew their own beer and also purchase from small breweries. They're mainly known for their IPA & APA, but they also have regular, unfiltered, and maybe even pink beer in stock. Although it's self-service and there may be queues, you're unlikely to be stressed because everything is well-organized, and the beer flows like a river.
Kantýna ➜ Located in the center on an unremarkable street between the opera and the pedestrian center, this place has preserved the atmosphere and concept of the canteen that was there before the reconstruction. As you enter, you'll be handed a leaflet to mark what you've eaten and drunk, and when you leave, you settle the "debt" that you've accumulated. Don't rush to take a seat at a table, pass by the center - a marble counter in the middle of the hall that separates the beer dispensing area from the kitchen. At 5 pm, regulars gather here to share the events of the day, impressions, and news. They call it "na stoyaka," which translates to "standing."
Restaurace Mincovna ➜ Perhaps the most average bar, but for travelers, it's all about the prime location - right overlooking the Old Town Square. As you walk in, you'll be greeted by copper beer kegs hanging from the ceiling. This restaurant is a typical example of what a good classic Czech pub looks like, no matter where you are in the country.
Výtopna Railway Restaurant ➜ If you're looking to add some tourist entertainment to your beer, then this place is perfect for filling up your Instagram stories. The Krusovice beer is delivered to you by a toy train. This place is exclusively geared towards tourists, so don't expect great food. People come here for the experience, not the cuisine.
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With an unwavering love for Prague 🇨🇿 , I have dedicated myself to sharing the wonders of this destination with the world 🗺️. Through my travel blog, I aim to provide valuable insights and practical tips that help tourists feel more at ease during their visit 🍺.
The first time I visited Prague 12 years ago, I walked across the Charles Bridge with a bunch of other tourists and wondered, "Is this all this medieval city has to offer?" It's a familiar feeling for those who have been to Venice.
If you're an inexperienced tourist, you might get the impression that there's nothing to do in Prague except for strolling around and munching on local food. But fear not, there are a few ways to spice up your day or night: