23 Nov,2017 By jagabond
Although Prague didn’t make my original list of favorite European cities, I’ve learned to appreciate it. Specifically, it’s the ideal trip for a long weekend as the condensed city lends itself to a thorough exploration on foot relatively quickly.
When speaking of Central European cities I will always personally prefer Krakow and Vienna. However, I recommend Prague on a 3-4 day city trip for a comprehensive and unhurried experience. I’ve listed some ideas below to help fill in your Prague itinerary.
Hang out in Old Town Square
This is part one of the three-part walking tour that will allow you to see the spotlight attractions in Prague. Old Town Square is vast, I’d almost call it more of a rectangle. The first thing you see is a giant statue, a requirement for all main squares in Europe.
Check out the astronomical clock next, mounted on Old Town Hall. These clocks display not only the time, but planetary and zodiac information as well. Copernicus would scoff at the geocentric depiction of the solar system. The four figures on either side of the Prague clock represent vanity, greed, lust and death, and circle around every hour.
People often congregate in this square to kill time and people watch. For this reason it’s not uncommon to see live music, theatre, or other sorts of artistic expression.
Experience Charles Bridge
For part two of the walking tour meander from Old Town Square towards the Vltava river and the famous Charles Bridge. How does one ‘experience’ a bridge? Don’t you just walk across it? Usually, but Charles Bridge is something special. Baroque statues line both sides, mostly celebrating saints. Photographers have a field day with this, as you can make an epic capture with the statue in the forefront and view in the background.
Human traffic across the bridge is typically heavy, even in the off-season. Vendors have figured this out, so expect to see various junk for sale. Street musicians also frequent the bridge to perform for a captive audience.
Walk uphill to Prague Castle
The final part of the walking tour takes you across Charles Bridge and up the hill to the castle. It’s not a difficult walk, but unless you’re in shape you will definitely feel it. The castle is somewhat deceiving. From a distance it looks like a typical castle, but when you get there you are basically walking the castle grounds, which resemble a city square. The cathedral is definitely the main sight here. I found it challenging to capture this majestic beauty in a single photo…very difficult to do.
Since you walked such a steep uphill path to get here, you should take advantage of the views. This is where a zoom lens comes in handy, as normal iPhone shots are a bit far away.
Pay homage to the Lennon wall
Now that you’ve covered the big three attractions of Prague, you can move on to other things. Lovers of the Beatles need to check out the Lennon wall. Street artists have covered it over the years with messages of peace and love that would make Lennon proud. I was there after the Boston Marathon bombing, and they had a nice memorial to the victims. Visit this wall for some instant karma…see what I did there?
Visit a quirky museum
Prague is full of specialty museums. Learn a deeper meaning of brew history, live out a cold war fantasy, or explore the head of a depressed writer. I chose to glimpse into the artistic genius of a filmmaker at the Karel Zeman museum. Zeman was instrumental for his animation techniques, and is known for such movies as ‘Journey to the Beginning of Time’, ‘The Fabulous World of Jules Verne’, and ‘On the Comet’.
Own the night
Go crazy with the world renown pubs and clubs, or opt for a laid back cocktail bar. I chose the latter. Black Angel’s Bar in Old Town Square is maybe my favorite cocktail bar in Europe. The bartenders focus on crafting drinks that meet your preferences, so they ask what you like and propose a unique recipe. I had an amazing gin Manhattan, and another drink that was served while smoking.
Catch a jazz show
Prague has a rich jazz history, as it has always been a rebellious form of music. Both the Nazis and communists wanted to ban it in the former Czechoslovakia, not often they agreed on much. Reduta is a famous jazz club in Prague, where U.S. President Bill Clinton graced the stage for a saxophone performance in the 90s. I remember relaxing there, sipping on a martini while watching a Dixieland group.
Do some day-tripping
A Google search will quickly identify the top options for day trips from Prague. I would disregard Karlovy Vary, as I previously wrote of its weird vibes. That leaves Cesky Krumlov and Kutna Hora.
Cesky Krumlov is terribly touristic, as the never-ending flow of buses enter town regularly. However, sometimes touristy places are worth visiting, and other times they just check a box (e.g. Pisa). Dodge the mobs and make your way to the castle, where you can see some incredible views of this town still lost in the medieval times.
What do you think of a church made of human bones? Creepy? How about if the bones were from people who died from the plague. Even creepier! The Sedlec Ossuary near Kutna Hora is just as described. Although it’s technically Catholic, I doubt the Vatican touts this at their annual conference. I have never recommended visiting an attraction just for an Instagram shot…until now.