Prague – a mini guide

Over the past ten to twenty years, Prague has worked itself higher and higher on travel lists – becoming one of those iconic European cities that you really have to see.

That does, of course, means tourists – and lots of them. But hey, why miss out on a good thing just because it’s busy? Prague is a beautiful city, and one we at Interrailing Packages highly recommend you add to your itinerary. After all, if stunning architecture, centuries of history and beautiful tourist attractions aren’t your thing, then there’s always the food, the beer (some of the best in the world) and the nightlife.

On top of that, Prague is an Interrailers’ dream – it’s budget friendly, easy to navigate by foot or public transport, the thousands of other travellers mean it’s a great place to meet people (and get travel tips), plus with no real “off season” it’s a city that is palpably buzzing all year round. Win, win.

Split in two by the glorious Vltava River, Prague has been nicknamed the Golden City (and it does indeed have some beautiful gleaming roofs) and the Rome of the North (the Italian capital is built between seven famous hills, Prague is in the midst of nine).  Both nicknames suit it – both its ambition, and its regal beauty. We hope you visit it, explore it and love it as just much as we do.

The essentials – top five

  • Astronomical Clock – If you have “time” (sorry – we just had to) then do drop by the Astronomical Clock in front of the Old Town Square. Every hour this 600 year old clock strikes the time with a procession of 12 apostles passing by the window above the dial as the symbolic sculptures move – Death holds its hourglass and beckons to the Turkish man sculpture, which shakes its head in response. There is also Vanity portrayed as a man with a mirror and Miserliness as a man with a moneybag, shaking a stick. Definitely unique.
  • Prague Castle – In case you haven’t realised, we love a good castle at Interrailing Packages and Prague’s famous castle complex doesn’t disappoint. This UNESCO World Heritage site consists of a various historical buildings, including the Old Royal Palace, St Vitus Cathedral, St George’s Basilica, the treasury. a picture gallery as well as the step-back-in- time houses of Golden Lane. In other words, lots to see. There are various different ticket options available so do your research to pick the right one for you.
  • St Vitus Cathedral – The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert to be exact. This Roman Catholic cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Prague and is generally considered a Gothic masterpiece, its spires dominating the city’s skyline. Worth a visit just for its stunning interior, it is also home to the royal mausoleum, containing the crypts where Czech kings and queens, and patron saints of the country were interred.
  • Dancing House – OK, not an actual dancing house (we were pretty gutted too) but the Nationale-Nederlanden building on the Rašínovo nábřeží, with its perfect location by the river, is sooo worth a visit just for the amazing pictures you can take. It was built with stunning, albeit slightly crazy, curves in the 1990s, earning its nicknames as the “Fred and Ginger Building” after the famous dance duo. Only the top floor, the Ginger & Fred restaurant, is open to the public, but who cares about inside when it looks that good outside.
  • Beer – Whether or not you love a good brew, you have got to try a beer in Prague. Apparently, the Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. There are numerous beer festivals and you can even bathe in the stuff at the Beer Spa and Spa Beer Land. Czech beer brands include Pilsner Urquell, Budweiser Budvar and Staropramen. If you’re feeling adventurous (or curious) then the Prague Beer Museum is a gastro-pub on Dlouha Street with 30 beers on tap (but be aware, the beer can be pricey here so if you want to enjoy that famous cheap beer, ask at your hostel for local recommendations).

The Budget or Broke Recommendation (i.e. free)

As we highlighted, Prague is a backpacker friendly city and accordingly there is lots to see without having to spend a penny, from the Astronomical Clock to the Dancing House. One of our top budget recommends is the Stag Moat along the north side of Prague Castle, which isn’t only free but also a calming break from those tourist hordes. A natural ravine of the Brusnice stream, the moat provided the perfect defence of the castle. In the 17th century deer roamed here (hence the name) and even bears were kept here. Aside from the amazing views of the castle, the moat offers a picturesque pathway to meander along as well as lots of sights along the way, including the bear keeper’s house, sculptures, a natural fountain and a brick tunnel under the castle gate. Unfortunately, it is only open April 1 – October 31.

Local cuisine

Steak tartare. Yes, that’s right minced, raw beef served with an egg on top and a side of toast -mand it’s actually pretty good. Don’t believe us? Try it and see. Aside from the steak, Prague loves its sausage so you can always try a weiner or two!

Gift ideas

A beer mug is a great present (for yourself or for him back home) of a city renowned for its beer. However, if you want something a touch more “Prague” then wooden puppets and toys are a classic Czech product and there are some truly beautiful available ones, for kids of all ages.

*Photographer credit: Roman Boed. Image used under the Creative Commons licence 

 

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