Falling for Prague in a Day
I feel like there are some incredible cities in the world that don't get enough credit and Prague is definitely amongst them. When people fantasize about a trip to Europe they might picture eating gelato by the colosseum or sitting at a cafe sipping pinot noir by the eiffel tower. They want to see cobble stone streets and "European Architecture." Buildings where you can place yourself within a different era and be whisked away into a different reality from your everyday life. Although there is no colosseum or eiffel tower in Prague, there is no denying its quintessential "europeaness." It is truly like stepping into a different century, and it's far more reasonably priced than a time machine. Here is an account of my whirlwind time in Prague and hopefully it can help you plan your own journey to this magical city!
Arriving in Prague
I arrived via train and that in and of itself was a mini adventure....but that's a story for another time. The main train station (Praha hlavni nadrazi) is centrally located and well within walking distance to most of Prague's main attractions. Luckily I was staying in a hostel right off of Old Town Square, so it was only about a 15 minute walk away. If you are arriving via airplane, the airport is about a 20 minute drive outside of the city centre. Here is a good article about how to arrive from the airport.
Accommodation in Prague
Whenever I travel alone, I love to stay in Hostels. In my opinion it is the easiest way to make friends to explore with, plus it somehow feels safer staying in a room with other people. This time around I stayed in a place called Prague Square Hostel. You can't beat the location, it is right off of Old Town Square and steps away from the famous astrological clock! But, if you aren't about the hostel life, AirBnb is always a great option and there are some amazing hotels as well!
I passed out as soon as I got to my hostel, because I was so exhausted from not sleeping a wink the night before due to an Oktoberfest/German train misadventure in Munich....but I did manage to wake up at around 6:50 to make it to the Opera at 7! (I know, so cultured). I saw the Opera Fidelio, *FUN FACT* it was the only Opera that Beethoven ever wrote. I had purchased the tickets in advance and I knew I would regret sleeping through it, so I put on some red lipstick, cute shoes and ran out the door. You don't have to get too dolled up to go out to the Opera these days, although it definitely makes it more fun....but I digress. The show was INCREDIBLE and I highly recommend going while in Prague. The theater is a historic gem alone, but you get to see a world renown show/cast for a fraction of the price compared to other major European Cities. I sang Opera in University, so I have been in love with it for a little while, but even if it isn't your thing you should expand your horizons and go anyway! That's what travel is all about right?
And then it was when I woke up the next morning that my magical Czech day began...
I was planning on waking up at 6am to do some early sightseeing, but my exhaustion caught up with me and I didn't start my day until 9am....Oops! I befriended one of my roommates and we went to breakfast together at Café Louvre, which was beautiful, delicious and very reasonably priced! I got the Czech breakfast because...well....when in Prague right?
Next we raced from breakfast to catch the 11am free walking tour! The tour we went on was about 2 hours and we covered a lot of ground! The photos don't do too much justice to the tour, but it was wonderful!
I love to go on free walking tours when I am in Europe, they aren't totally free because they are tip based, but I feel like this leads to more enthusiastic, fun tour guides because they are working for tips! They are cheaper and more laid back, plus you cover a lot of ground and it's a fun way to make new friends.
After the walking tour we headed over to eat lunch at a place called Lokal. all the blog posts I read and people I met said to eat here, so I had to check it out! It didn't disappoint and I of course got the goulash and a classic Czech beer. It was crazy busy at lunch time, but you are able to make reservations in advance, so I suggest you do this if you have your heart set on eating here. This place is also known for their fried cheese, which we got as a starter and it was amazing.
Now in a food coma, it was time to walk it all off with walking up the hundreds of stairs to Prague Castle....though exhausting, the views were MAGICAL!!!
The castle area was very cool and most recommend going with a guide. We were too lazy to do that so I just downloaded a self guided tour on my phone and we explored ourselves, but next time I will probably use a guide...We also went pretty late in the day, so things were beginning to close! In other words, don't do what we did at all and look at when things close/get a guide...learn from my mistakes!
Within the castle, which feels more like a small town, there is a cathedral which you can see from all over the city. This is what many people think is the actual castle, but alas they are incorrect. Because you can see it from everywhere, this means that it is an extremely tall cathedral...and because it is so tall we just had to climb the hundreds of stairs to get to the very top....I am not in very good shape, and my legs were numb and felt like jell-o afterwards, but even I must admit that the views were worth it. I did proceed to complain about it for the next hour and a half though....so, sorry Ethan.
My ass was burning and my legs were shaking, but the sun was quickly descending and Charles Bridge had yet to be explored...so on we marched. But not without a quick stop in this super cute english book store named Shakespear and Sons!
and a creepy marionette shop...
Okay, now we were off.
Charles bridge is beautiful, but the darker the sky became, the more the entire area lit up and came alive! IT WAS GORGEOUS! All of the street lights and illumination of all of the buildings surrounding the bridge was just heaven.
I couldn't stop taking photos.
So the sun had finally set and the city underwent its transformation from day to night. Prague does have a lively nightlife which I will have to wait and checkout until my next trip, because I had a 6am flight to catch in the morning. After stopping for dinner at a fabulous place called Krcma, which I definitely recommend, the final chapter on my great day in Prague came to an end...and I did indeed fall in love with it.
For the record, I do not recommend only spending a day in Prague. It's an incredible city with so much to offer and I barely scratched the surface of it. However, if you find yourself with a time constraint like I did, I thoroughly enjoyed my time and it was definitely worth it! So if you only have a day, GO! But if you have the ability to spend more time in this gorgeous european wonderland, then I recommend at least 3 full days if not more!