Abbey and I arrived in Prague later in the day than we usually do on travel days. We had a relatively long train ride from Kraków and the sun was setting by the time we pulled into the station. Luckily we didn’t have any trouble finding our AirBnB in the dark. After some minor check in issues we were settled into our private flat. That night we didn’t do much aside from get take out from an amazing vegan Chinese buffet.
The following day we woke up and headed to the Old Town for a free walking tour (as is tradition now). Fortunately our AirBnB was only 15 minutes walking from Old Town. I had high expectations of Prague based on everything I had heard about it, and as soon as we entered Old Town I was received to see that my expectations were justified. The streets in Old Town were all beautiful with cobblestone roads and breathtaking architecture. The whole area was extremely walkable and it really did feel like a medieval city. Restaurants, cafes, and bars lined the streets everywhere. Of course most of it was very touristy, but I still loved the atmosphere.
The walking tour was one of the better ones we had been on. It was extremely informative in relation to the history of Prague and greater Bohemia. I would highly recommend walking tours to anyone visiting a city for the first time. It is a great way to get introduced to a city’s culture and find areas you want to explore more in detail later on. Plus, they are free! You should still tip your guide, but it is a small price to pay for all the information and tips they pass on to you.
Our tour took us to the main sights of Old Town, New Town, and the Jewish Quarter. We ended near Vitava River where we had a beautiful view of the famous Charles Bridge and historic Prague Castle across the river. By the time the tour ended it was getting later in the day so we decided to grab dinner. We need up eating at at a delicious and chap vegan restaurant called Forkys. Whether you are vegan or not, I would recommend Forkys to anyone visiting Prague. After dinner we decided to head back tour our AirBnB for the evening. We never do a lot on our first day in a city aside from the walking tour. This may sound boring but it is actually a great way to travel as it allows us to casually get a feel for the city without spending much money so we can efficiently fit more activities into later days.
The next day we headed out relatively early for a late breakfast/early lunch. This is rare for us as we usually don’t have anything to eat until after noon. Regardless, our meal was fantastic. Abbey had tofu scramble (a vegan alternative to scrambled eggs) and I had a vegan quesadilla. These were things that we had both been craving for a long time as we hadn’t had them since leaving the USA.
After the meal our plan was to head over to the Prague Castle and spend the days touring the castle grounds. Unfortunately the place we had eaten at was in the opposite direction of the castle. It would have taken us over an hour to walk there. We had been trying to not use public transit as a way to save money and get more exercise from walking. However, this distance was a little to far for us so we decided to take the metro to the castle. This worked out nicely as the ride was cheap and I got a metro ticket (something I have been trying to collect from each city).
We arrived at the Castle grounds and had to walk up a long steep hill to reach the main attractions. The walk up was fun because it was a cobblestone walkway that really made it feel like you were in the middle of a medieval fortress. The view from the top was well worth it as it overlooked the Vitava River with Old Town just on the other side. We got to the ticket office and bought a pass that gave us access to four attractions on the castle grounds. The castle grounds are free to walk but in order to enter the historic buildings you must buy a pass.
First we went to the large and imposing gothic cathedral. This is the main building that most people see when they look at the castle from across the river. It is an awe-inspiring building to look at from the outside. The detail of the structure could be stared at for hours. Inside it is amazing with extremely high ceilings, beautiful stained glass, and magnificent artwork and statues. Frankincense is constantly burning inside the cathedral which gives it a pleasant smell and hazy, yet pleasant, atmosphere.
Next we headed to the palace. This building was much smaller and not as impressive. The walk through was quick and there wasn’t much in terms of descriptions or objects to look at. However, the windows allowed for great views of the city. We then went to another cathedral. This one was not in gothic style and was considerably smaller than the first cathedral. However, it was older and still interesting to view from the inside. Finally, we went to our last attraction, the Golden Alley. This was an alley where famous alchemists used to live and practice their “science”. It was fun to walk down the small and packed street, but the exhibits in the building were rather forgettable. Exiting the alley concluded our time at the castle grounds. While the attractions cost more than what is standard in Prague, I would say the pass is worth it just for the gothic cathedral alone.
After leaving the castle grounds we took a leisurely walk back through Old Town toward our AirBnB. We stopped at a bar to grab a few drinks and watch a soccer match. We ate dinner at an Italian place right next to the bar where we had pizza, pasta, and red wine. We then decided to head to a couple other bars for drinks that night but never strayed too far from the AirBnB. We didn’t go anywhere extremely noteworthy, but fortunately there were many bars and restaurants in the neighborhood.
We got a relatively late start on the next day. We didn’t have much planned that day but still decided to head out and see some more of Prague. We went to a vegan buffet (different from the Chinese one) for a late lunch that was cheap and delicious. The buffet was connected to a vegan grocery store, so we decided to pick up some groceries to make dinner that night. We try to cook at least one dinner per city in order to save money and have a relaxing evening.
After the grocery store we went back into Old Town to see the “Torture Museum”. This is an extremely touristy attraction which showcases various methods of medieval torture. We were a little disappointed that it didn’t focus on Prague specifically but rather just medieval torture in general. The museum was dark and had a creepy atmosphere. Being the only people touring it made it even creepier, which I enjoyed. It didn’t take very long to finish the museum, but the interesting atmosphere made up for it. Following the museum we simply hung out at a coffee shop for a while and then headed back to the apartment for the evening. Even though we didn’t do a ton this day, it’s always nice to have a slow day if you are spending a while in a city.
On our last day in Prague we decided to go on a boat ride along the river. We didn’t get to the boat early enough and unfortunately all the inside tables were taken by the time we boarded. We were able to find seats on the exposed upper deck. Given that it was early February you would think that riding on an uncovered boat would be freezing, but surprisingly the weather was mild and our jackets kept us plenty warm. It also helped that we were able to order some hot wine to enjoy on the ride. It was also very nice to have the entire upper deck to ourselves. The cruise lasted about an hour and was actually very informative as well as providing us with great views of Old Town and Prague Castle. Prior to taking the river cruise I was skeptical, but in hindsight I think it was well worth the money (<10 USD/person).
After the boat ride we went to get lunch at a “train restaurant”. This is a place where train tracks cover the entire restaurants and miniature trains deliver your drink by pulling up beside the table. Even though it is an obvious tourist trap, it was still really fun to have a train deliver your beer, and the food was surprisingly not terrible.
We didn’t have much planned for the rest of the day. We just walked the streets of Prague, taking in the views of the city and spending time at a few different coffee shops. Eventually we ended up at dinner which was at a vegan-friendly pub creatively named “Belzepub”. After a meal and a drink there we headed back into Old Town to visit a unique cocktail lounge called “Anonymous”. You had to walk through a dark courtyard to get to the entrance. The inside was also very dark with candles providing almost all of the light. The atmosphere was very relaxed and right up my alley. While looking at the menu you could ask for a black light so you could read the “secret menu” hidden on the pages. Abbey got a very interesting cocktail that was served in an IV bag. Be warned, drinks are pretty expensive here, but the experience is well worth it.
It was getting late by the time we left Anonymous, but we still had time to walk over to the river and see the Prague Castle at night. The castle was even more beautiful with lights shining on it Saint sat on top of a dark hill. I would recommend anyone going to Prague to go see the castle at night. After taking in the view for a whole we retired to our AirBnB so we could pack up and get ready for another travel day the following morning.
I’m pretty sure that the majority of people that had visited Prague, after hearing I would be visiting this year, were so excited and exclaimed that Prague was one of their favorite cities. With that in mind, I tried to manage my expectations as we arrived in Prague. I didn’t want to be disappointed and I certainly wasn’t. I’m not sure it would make my Top 3 (currently, Copenhagen, Budapest, and Krakow), but certainly Top 5.
Considering we visited in February, I was surprised with how many other travelers there were. The Old Town seemed packed with people and I couldn’t imagine what it would be like in the high season. It was in Prague that we hit our first month on the road. We celebrated with a boat tour and some iffy hot wine as Kevin mentioned previously. Overall, Prague was exactly what I expected and I can’t wait to go back.