I am a bit ashamed to admit I have been to Prague three times before, but all I have seen was the hotel room, the hotel conference hall, the dining room, and another conference room in another hotel. Even though I love my job and would never change it for any other – the one thing that gets on my nerves every time I let it is the fact that I rarely, if ever, get to see anything of the place we are visiting. Admittedly, I have often managed to stay in a place a bit longer and explore, I have once even spent a week in the Bahamas between conferences, and then flown to Tahiti (never again have I had such a tan) – but that almost never happens.
This year I decided Prague was the next city on my list that definitely deserved a more attentive and decent visit, so I booked two additional nights at the hotel we were already booked in (not a major job this time, just a small gig with only two of us translating), and armed myself with a Prague guide.
Remember that episode of the Layover where Anthony Bourdain is reading a guide to I believe Los Angeles? Well, I soon also realized I need to chuck the guide, and write my own. If you are stuck for ideas or would like someone else to handle your event management, accommodation, transport or organize a tour, Prague Eventery is the place to turn to – they are the very best in event management. In the meantime, here is a short version of what I find you should not miss in Prague.
The first thing I learned (from the guide) is that Prague gets almost 90% of all the visitors who come to the Czech Republic. This is even more alarming during the holiday season (aka now) and the summer months, and the streets can get a bit crowded. The Christmas market is A LOT crowded. But worth it. We are getting to that. Most people also come during the weekend, so a Saturday can be quite a challenge if you want to visit some of the most famous sites. What this also means is that some of the prices can be a bit higher than in the rest of the country, and that the city is as bustling as any capital naturally is. And there is a lot to see as well.
If you are flying in, you will land at Prague airport, from where you can take a bus or a cab. The cab is not too expensive, and there are plenty of them at the airport, so you will not have to wait to hit the streets. After check-in, I advise walking right out, and getting to know the place. Prague is best seen on foot from my experience, and there is plenty to see.
The first thing on my list was the Old Town, and the Old Town Square. If you know one thing about Prague, you know about the famous Astronomical Clock – admittedly, this is rather touristy of me, but a great place to start. The Old Town is amazingly cute (I have other words for it, but bear with me), if you love European architecture, you will want to take a picture of every single window.
From the Old Town, walking down to the Vltava is a great option, and across the bridge you can get great views of Prague Castle. This is also a great time to take pictures, and just stroll around, seemingly aimlessly. The next thing on your list should be popping in to a bar, any bar, and trying some of the beer. The beer is excellent by the way – any and every beer is excellent. Don’t try to try too much of it at once though, some of it is pretty strong.
Day two is also reserved for walking – I advise having comfortable shoes. And bundling up, if you are there this time of year – although it was not too cold, and the wind was not even brisk. This day could be a great chance to explore the Lesser Town part of the city, where you can visit the Church of Our Lady Victorious and see the Infant of Prague. From there, you can walk away from the castle to Petrin Hill, atop the park, atop which you will find the lookout tower – the very best place to see the entire city. You can climb the hill by elevator or funicular, and the views are all worth it. Especially the views of the castle.
And of course, this would be the perfect time to see the castle itself. Again, take a bunch of photos, and really take your time to get to know it – some of the history is amazing, and you can again, get a guide to tell you all about it.
There is no day like the last day to visit the Christmas market. I left this for last, because I was sure I would want to go back every day if I’d gone on the first day. The biggest one is located at the Old Town Square, but there are smaller ones around as well – and you can buy anything and everything here, but what is most wonderful is the food and drink. Some of the local dishes are amazing – the ham is delish, and of course, there is mulled wine and more beer. The handicraft items are also a very unique gift to take home and place under your Christmas tree. The thing that stayed with me most about the entire experience was the atmosphere, the smells and sounds, and the true spirit of Christmas hanging in the air. I don’t think it can be experienced anywhere else, not like this, only in Europe.
I’m still sure only three days in Prague can’t do it justice, but I will be back in the summer hopefully, after another grand tour of the US. Stay tuned!