I wish someone had told me that when I was packing my little suitcase before heading off to Prague. I spent four days in this beautiful city – constantly shivering in a very light jacket. And it’s certainly telling, I think, that I still loved it.
Prague is a perfect representation of all that is wonderful about Eastern Europe. From the architecture to the food to the people, it’s a city with a very specific, eclectic, and somewhat eccentric soul. The only drawback? It’s really cold in May!
My time in Prague occurred during my 10-day-long attempt at “backpacking through Europe.” Basically, while studying abroad in college, I thought I had to at least try the hostel thing. So, a friend of mine and I planned a trip with a few stops in Italy and a final few days in Prague….all with backpacks in tow.
My backpack made it as far as the airport before I purchased a suitcase with wheels and gave up on the whole “roughing it” idea. To be fair, we actually had not booked a stay at any hostels at any point in the entire ten days, so we were pretty doomed from the start, as far as backpacking goes.
Once I came to terms with my inability to “backpack,” this particular trip was awesome. However, despite what they say about Italy, I think Prague was my highlight.
We didn’t do much planning before our arrival, so we were free to explore what the city had to offer. First, a note of caution: Prague has a really great, easy-to-navigate tram system; however, they don’t regularly check tickets. The trams, however, are heavily patrolled by plain-clothes officials who will fine you if they catch you without a ticket….not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…..(in case you’re wondering, it’s about a $50 fine).
After making that awkward and unfortunate discovery, we headed to the famous Old Town Square built in the 14th Century, the epicenter of Prague’s tourism. This adorable square is home to the famous Astrological Clock tower which you can pay to go up inside. I didn’t do this because I personally think there’s a better way to get an aerial view of the city (more on this later).
The Old Town Square is also where you can easily join one of the infamous Prague pub crawls for an evening. I’m not usually a fan of things like this, but it’s an experience I’m glad I have had. They take you around to five or so pubs ending in one giant five-story club that is an experience in itself. Plus, you get a free t-shirt….which I promptly threw out.
Beyond the town square, you must stop by the adorable outdoor markets. Despite the freezing temperatures, these markets are a mainstay with food, gifts, and marionette dolls for sale.
Head towards the neighborhood of Lesser town in Prague afterwards to find the John Lennon wall. This wall came about in the 1980’s during Communist Era and was constantly added to at night by protesters. Now, it represents a beautiful story of love and peace.
Also worth finding is the Kafka Museum. The writer was a local of Prague, so the museum itself houses great information about his life. However, there’s also a hilarious sculpture out front that’s worth a picture or two…
Make sure to take a walk over the beautiful Charles Bridge (in my photo above). It’s always packed with vendors and performers that make it one of the most popular tourist attractions.
And, last but definitely not least: my favorite thing about Prague was the day we hiked up to the Prague Castle. This is the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic, and it’s home to museums, history, and amazing views of the city. It’s a pretty steep walk so wear your comfy shoes, but the work to get up there is worth it for the view alone. The city of Prague is so beautiful to look out over. It really takes your breath away.
I only spent a few short days in this amazing city, so I’m definitely looking forward to visiting again. There’s so much more to offer than I was able to see. The Jewish Quarter, the museums, trying more traditional Czech food (I had only one rather confusing experience with this) — are all on my list for my next visit.