Two Days in Prague

Prague is a picturesque city in the heart of Czechia / Czech Republic, and almost always makes the list of places to visit for many aspiring Euro-trippers. If you have several destinations in that itinerary, you’ll be glad to know that just a couple days is sufficient to take in much of what Prague has to offer (at least at a surface level!). For a bit of geographic context, the city is bifurcated by the Vltava river, with the larger scale landmarks (the ones with visiting hours) in the West, and the broader city life, train station, and much of the hotel options in the East.

We began our morning with a short train ride from Berlin. Arriving in Prague, we chose to call an Uber to take us to the hotel, as we’ve heard cab drivers around the train station were particularly prone to scams. We stayed at the Marriott Prague, which was a great option given its close walking distance (~5 min) to the Old Town and the convenience of a large shopping mall nearby. We kicked off our day by heading toward the Old Town Square (Staromestske Namesti). As we strolled along the cobbled road, we stopped by a nearby cart vendor to pick up a Trdelnik, which is a “spit cake” basically consisting of fried dough in funnel form, coated in sugar and often filled with chocolate or ice cream. Yes, it is as good as it sounds, and it won’t be the only time you run into this in Prague (in fact there’s another place further into Old Town called Good Food Coffee and Bakery, which has several unique recipes and spins on this classic snack).

Take your time in looking around Old Town Square, which has a number of churches and architectural beauties vying for attention along its meandering roads. One will definitely stand out among the rest, which is the Old Town Hall and its Astronomical Clock, as there will usually be a crowd of tourists gathered at the base. On the hour of every hour until midnight, there is a “show” of lights and puppets at the clock, and it’s… highly disappointing. The machinery in the clock will pop out like a grandfather clock and make a few noises/sounds, but all too soon the contraptions retire into their homes, and tourists left stunned, unsure whether the show is actually over or not. My suggestion would be to watch the show for a bit, but afterwards position yourself to look at the faces of the spectators – as it would be much more amusing.

An interesting place to visit in the city is the Original Beer Spa – this is a unique opportunity to hop (see what I did there?) into a barrel of beer. And you can be assured the spa experience would also provide you with unlimited access to freshly tapped beer right by your tub (no, it’s not overflow or leftover beer from the bath). You can even get a private room for couples, and enjoy the beer sauna and a straw bed to relax in after your bath. Would recommend making a reservation at one of the three locations in the city if you are intrigued, as day-of appointments are quite difficult.

As the day turns to night, and depending on the weather, you can get a beautiful golden glow in the town, which transforms the already picturesque scenery into something even more magical. My two dinner recommendations are La Degustation and Sansho, but I will reserve discussing my experiences there for another post. But for a nice evening nightcap, check out Black Angel’s Bar, which is located at the basement of Hotel U Prince. It may look sketchy at first, but the inside ambiance is quite unique and the bartenders were very helpful in concocting interesting cocktails for us (although for some reason picture-taking was not allowed).

On the second day, we ventured out of our hotel early to take advantage of the clear skies and the relatively empty streets. Our first destination was the Prague Castle, which is arguably the most visited landmark in all of Prague. As we were staying on the East side of the Vltava river, we walked across the Charles Bridge (be warned it will be difficult to take photos without people in it) to get to the castle.

Once across the bridge , you’ll take a short stroll through Mala Strana, which itself offers numerous architectural sights built on cobbled streets. After a ~10 minute walk with a bit of incline, you’ll arrive at the entrance of the castle which sits atop this neighborhood. Needless to say, the sweeping views are breathtaking (and not only due to the uphill climb).

Now there are three ways to see the castle (see the ticket details here):
1) The full package (“Circuit A”) will let you see the exterior and interior of all buildings (pending refurbishment schedules), plus a semi-guided tour.
2) The a-la-carte options are Circuits B or C, which basically splits Circuit A in half – with Circuit C being more “arts oriented”.
3) The third and final way, which is what we did, is the $Free.99 option, which means you get to see all of the exterior of the buildings, a select few of the interior (no cathedral entrance), and just walk around the castle grounds. There’s no wrong option here in my opinion, as it’s more about what you’re interested in. We were more concerned with the exterior architecture and taking in the views, as well as using our limited time to see other parts of the city – but totally up to you!

Following the castle walkthrough, we made our way down by the riverside, where another key landmark was waiting for us – the Lennon Wall. If you’ve searched Instagram at all, or if you’re a Beatles fan, you would’ve seen or heard of the Lennon Wall. Located across from the French Embassy, this wall was resurrected in the 80’s and over time has been covered with murals depicting the resistance to communism and the Soviet oppression sentiments rampant during the decade. I suggest you take some time to digest the maze of artwork and if you’re lucky, enjoy the Lennon-inspired musicians that often busk in this area.

As you make your way back across the Charles Bridge, be sure to stop by the Old Town Bridge Tower, which is located at the beginning of the bridge on the East side. This tower, for a nominal fee (~EUR 8 at the time I visited), gives you access to a 5-6 story tower that provides a bird’s eye view of the bridge and Mala Strana / Prague Castle in the background. If you’re catching the view around sunset, the golden rays reflecting off the water and the bridge is quite a marvelous sight. Definitely worth a stop in my opinion!

Though we sadly didn’t partake, Prague has several nightlife options on offer, one of which is the famous Karlovy Lazne. The night club apparently has 5 floors each with different theme and music, and can be quite a sight when filled with eager attendees. Instead, our last night in Prague ended with a dinner at Sansho, which I’ll cover in a separate post!

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