Prague, in Three Days
Hello and hi friends! In the last 2 weeks we’ve gone from Berlin (read about that here!) to Prague to Vienna to Budapest. I’d be lying if I said this kind of travel isn’t tiring, but that’s pretty much the only down side. We’ve been having the absolute time of our lives, and we’ve seen so many places we never really even had on our travel radar, but that have delivered so so much in terms of beautiful sights, incredible food, high quality $4 glasses of wine, and tons of old-as-shit history that is absolutely fascinating. Each city was completely different from the others, even though they’re all just 2-4 hours by train apart, so we’re gonna try and give you the full * vibe * of each city we visited, along with a few photos we took and spots both on and off the beaten path that made us look at each other and whisper, “this is so fucking cool.”
OK, let’s talk Prague. Prague is absolutely stunning.
Exhibits A & B:
I knew basically nothing about Prague before we decided to visit—other than that it’s a famous tourist destination and that the name is kinda fun to say. The (very) long story short is that it’s been a cultural and political center for centuries as the historical capital of Bohemia. It was the home of several Holy Roman Emperors, it’s located right in the heart of Czechia, and it has a long history of VeryImportantPeople building VeryImportantThings like castles, churches, and fortresses.
The language was almost impossible for us to understand, but we tried REALLY HARD to master “mluvité Anglicky?” (mloo-vee-teh ahng-lits-kee, “Do you speak English?”). The food on offer includes a lot of goulash and roasted pork knuckle and beer, and there were so many sights and historic stuff to see—it almost felt more like a big museum than a real city (but it is a real city with real residents so behave yourself).
It’s kind of like a wonderland of old stuff, and with every corner you turn you’ll find something beautiful and old and interesting. As people who love taking a lot of pictures (lol photographers?) it was such a god damn treat to turn a random corner and see a beautiful cluster of turquoise spires and terra-cotta rooftops, perfectly framed by old pale stone buildings. Also as photographers, we found it difficult to capture those shots without including a bunch of other tourists crowding the photos. All that to say, Prague is very touristy. But at the same time, we totally get why. It’s cool af.
Where To Stay
In or near Old Town—this will have you within walking distance to the main sights and maybe even get you a cute view out of your window.
Whereas we pretty exclusively relied on public transportation in every other city on this trip, and we saw that there definitely were a lot of public transportation options in Prague, we found it difficult to figure out where to buy passes and how to get around with the trams and buses (if you don’t speak Czech or German). It didn’t really matter though—Uber is a great and cheap option here, but honestly if you’re up to it, just walk. Everywhere. That’s what we did except for when it was raining, and the huge number of little alleys we aimlessly wandered down only to find ourselves painted into a fantastic medieval vignette? Totally worth the swollen feet.
Where To Eat
(all below are good for lunch or dinner and will cost about $15 per person)
Probably our favorite restaurant we tried. If you show up when it’s busy and everything is hectic, congrats, you’re having an authentic experience! Just go down to the end of the bar and put your name on the waiting list and then linger until someone says it’s your turn to be seated. Eat the beef tartare. Eat the pork crackling spread. Get fried cheese because obviously. Get the in-house sausage. Yes.
It’s cozy, they serve traditional Czech food (the pork knuckle here is A++) and they brew their beer in house. We found very mixed reviews online about the service, but we had a lovely experience with a bartender and server who seemed super happy to offer their recommendations. Maybe the trick is to go at a slower time, like mid-way between lunch and dinner.
Hip vegetarian spot with a menu full of vegetarian takes on traditional Czech food, as well as global vegetarian cuisine. Just save yourself the drama of deciding and order the “Big Clear Head”—a sampling of some of their most popular dishes that’s more than enough for two people at lunchtime.
Look, just because you’re in Prague doesn’t mean you have to only eat Czech food! This Indian place was suuuuper legit. The lamb korma was some of the best we’ve ever had, and the naan? Sis. Do it.
What to Eat
Everything you can.
Pretty much the most touristy treat available, but still, do it. These fried cone donut things are like insanely good. It’s pretty much a cinnamon-y sugary bread that reminded us New Orleanians a little bit of king cake, but it’s wrapped around a rod that makes it a hollow cylindrical shape. Inside they put some flavored cream of your choice like vanilla or pistachio. Some places will even serve it with ice cream stuffed inside, where the dough acts like a cone. It’s so good but it’s also a lot of pastry, so we were more than happy to share one. We probably could have shared with two more people and been happy.
Obviously. Have you ever had Pilsner? Did you love it? You can thank the Czech people for that. Pilsner takes its name from Pilsen, which is a city in Czechia, where the beer was invented. In fact the very first Pilsner is still being produced today and it’s everywhere, even in the States. Pilsner Urquell is a world famous beer, and there’s something kind of historically warm about drinking it where it comes from.
Roasted Pork Knuckle
Basically a huge piece of pork with succulent meat and crispy crunchy skin, served with fixings like cabbage and peppers and bread, sometimes mustards and other snackable thingies. It’s on offer in a lot of restaurants serving traditional Czech food, and will usually run you about the equivalent of $15-$20 but most of them are absolutely big enough for two or three folks to share. We got the one at U Tří Růží (pictured below) and it was incredible. Especially with their house brew beer!
Braised Meat & Dumplings
I love that so many cultures have dumplings and yet no dumplings across cultures are remotely alike. Like East Asia has their version of dumplings that are little meat and veggie pockets of love, and then the American South has dumplings that are really just doughy balls of love in a sauce, Italy has gnocci, which, that’s a dumplings kinda! Well, Central and Eastern Europe have dumplings too and they’re kind of more like big pillowy doughy bread slices, usually served in a sauce with braised meat. They’re available at most restaurants serving traditional Czech food, so keep your eyes out and try some!
What To See
This is by no means an exhaustive list, it’s just the stuff we did and loved. :)
The most touristed part of the city, but for good reason. It’s freaking awesome, and these two are a beautiful (and hilly) 20 minute walk from each other. The bridge is a pedestrian bridge that was built in the 14th century by King Charles IV. The castle is actually a compound of different palaces and buildings from the 10th-14th century. It’s pretty epic to be around such old and in tact architecture. If you want to beat the crowd, do like we did and walk the bridge at sunrise, then wander around the gorgeous streets leading up to the castle until the castle complex opens at 6am. You won’t miss the sleep when you realize you’ve got the place basically to yourself.
This is a fortress up on a hill with incredible views of the city. It’s much less busy then the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, and also * the perfect photo spot * to capture the magic of Prague’s cityscape. The fortress also includes the Basilica of St. Peter & St. Paul, and a cemetery. You can easily spend an afternoon wandering around here!
Old Town Square
It’s a square in Old Town (I suppose the name makes that clear) that is just 360 degrees of stunning. Several churches, a medieval astronomical clock, an art museum, and palace. Check it out during the day, but come back at night to see the crowds and lights and vendors all around. And then walk around for dinner and/or gelato.
A big park right on the river with really beautiful views! Take an evening stroll and watch the sun go down on Old Town. We actually did that and then walked to Lokál for dinner (listed at the top). Would recommend!
And that was pretty much all we did! It felt like an appropriate number of things to do in three days, while also accounting for a half day of travel, a little downtime, and time to get some work done. Let us know if you try any of our suggestions, or if there’s anywhere we missed that we gotta check out on our next trip!
Coming up next will be our time in Vienna and Budapest!
xoxo Beau & Matt