A September 2003 trip
to Prague by chloe_day
Quote: Prague has recently become one of the most popular destinations for European city breaks, and there are plenty of reasons why.
Staromestske Namesti (The Old Town Square)is a great place to relax for a couple of hours, or to use as a starting point from which to explore the many streets and alleyways that branch off from it. The area along the River Vltava is nice, although Karluv Most (the famous Charles Bridge) is extremely busy during the day. It is beautiful in the evening when it's a lot quieter.
There are plenty of other sights not to be missed. Prague's magnificent castle, along with St. Vitus Cathedral, dominates the city. Just a metro ride and a short walk away from the city centre the Vysehrad is thought to be the site from which Prague arose and has many gardens to explore, as well as the cemetery where many famous Czechs are buried, including Smetana and Dvorak. The former Jewish ghetto of Josefov is the home of 6 synagogues and the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in Europe. You can take the funicular railway, or walk up through the greenery of Petrin and see the magnificent views of the city from the Petrin Tower at the top.
There is a large array of bars and restaurants and the cost of eating and drinking here can be very reasonable.
2. Go high to see some great views. You can get various perspectives from the walk up to Prazsky Hrad (Prague Castle), Petrinska Rozhledna (the little Eiffel Towerish thing on top of Petrin hill) and Staromestska Radnice (The Old Town Hall in Staromestske namesti).
3. The Czech Republic is famous for its beer, so don't miss out on this. After all, sampling a country's food and drink is all part of discovering its culture; or at least that's my excuse.
4. Listen to some live music. There are loads of bars offering live jazz, blues and rock music and there are often groups playing in the streets in more popular places like on the Charles Bridge, outside the Castle and in the Old Town Square. You will also see a lot of adverts for classical concerts in the many churches.
5. Be especially wary of pick-pockets in Wenceslas Square and also in the crowds around the astronomical clock when it marks the hour.
Prague has a fantastic public transport system. I didn't manage to fit all I wanted to say about this into 200 words, so you'll find more information in the 'Getting Around' free-form.
If you have time, try to get out of the city. There are plenty of interesting places that can be seen in a day and this gives you a chance to see some of the Czech countryside.
My friends and I booked our accommodation here on the Internet from home by using the site www.visitprague.cz. We were pleased to find upon our arrival, that despite our fears, it was not a dodgy Internet scam and we did have rooms! In general the hotel was very clean and well kept and the staff not unfriendly but slightly stern; you'll find this a lot in the city. It seemed to be a popular place and there were a lot of guests from a variety of different European countries staying there.
Zizkov is not exactly the nicest area in Prague but the hotel is just 10 or 15 minutes walk from two metro stations, Hlavni Nadrazi (downhill) and Flora (uphill but you can get the tram from the Lipanska stop), so it's really simple to get into the city centre. In a way this gives you a chance to visit parts of the city you would otherwise not have seen. Another bonus is that because you're so close to the Zizkov TV tower (that spaceship like thing that will spoil all your photos) you don't have to look at it all the time.
There are quite a few nice places to eat very nearby. Mailsi, on Lipanska, is a Pakistani restaurant which we found to be very reasonably priced and nicely decorated, especially if you like tropical fish tanks! U Radnice, at the opposite end of Lipanska, is a pub which serves good traditional Czech food and you won't find many tourists in there.
If you do stay in Zizkov, try to make time to go up Televizni Vysilac, the TV tower. It costs 120kc for adults (£2.65/$4) or 60kc for children and is definitely worth a visit. We went in the evening and the views of the city lights in the darkness below were great.
Hotel Kafka is a perfectly adequate place to stay, with helpful staff and is a good option if you're on a bit of a budget and don't mind not being right in the city centre.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 23, 2003
Prague, Czech Republic
222 78 13 33
As you may have guessed from the name, O'Che's is an Irish Bar with a twist. The twist is a rather odd collection of Che Guevara posters and general memorabilia that adorn the place.
This is a really friendly bar which serves very good food. This tends to be like British/Irish pub food, so you have a mixture of British/American cuisine and then the odd Mexican and Italian dish thrown in.
I can recommend the chicken fajitas. We had a couple of really fun nights here and it's a nice place to meet other travellers.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 23, 2003
O'Che's Cuban Irish Bar
Liliova 14, Praha 1
Prague, Czech Republic
+420 222 221 178
Prague is a small city, and walking is always the best way to make sure you don’t miss out on anything you might want to see. However, as everyone knows, sightseeing can be a pretty tiring activity. The city has a fantastic public transport system which I found inexpensive, clean, and very easy to use, especially if you have a guide book or map with Metro stations and tram stops marked on it.
It’s advisable to buy a travel pass if you’re staying for more than a couple of days, as this will save you money and a lot of hassle buying normal tickets which only last for one hour (12kc). You can get passes for 24 hours (70kc/£1.60/$2.40), 3 days (200kc/£4.70/$7), 7 days (250kc/£5.80/$8.70) or 15 days (280kc/£6.50/$9.75), and these give you unlimited use of the Metro, trams and city buses. We definitely got value for money with these, using the Metro at least four times a day, the trams a lot and also taking a couple of buses. Normal tickets can be bought from kiosks or machines at any Metro station as well as tobacconists, and passes from major stations (ie. where lines cross) like Florenc, Mustek, Muzeum and also Hlavni Nadrazi. You're supposed to validate your pass/ticket straight away by punching the time and date onto them using the little machine things on the way to the platforms. Whilst there isn't anyone on the train checking tickets, there were a couple of occasions when I was stopped by a plain clothed inspector who asked to see my pass. If you don't have a ticket you're expected to pay a £20 fine ($30), so you've been warned.
Today, Wenceslas Square is also renowned for the shopping opportunities that it offers. I have to say that I didn't spend very much time here as I found it a little disappointing. It is not a traditional square so much as a very wide, long street and although there are some lovely shops here they tend to be rather expensive and interspersed with the usual big brand name high street shops you might find at home. At one end there are a number of stalls selling artwork, various crafts, and other wares aimed mainly at tourists, many of which are very nice and quite reasonably priced.
In contrast, the Old Town Square has a much more relaxed atmosphere. With beautiful buildings of many different styles, churches, outdoor restaurants, and often live bands playing, it is a wonderful place to spend a couple of hours relaxing after a hard day of sightseeing. Here, like in Wenceslas Square, you will find more stalls selling souvenirs and crafts. This is probably my favourite part of the city and my friends and I tended to use this square as a starting point from which to explore other areas and the surrounding streets as there is a metro station very nearby (Staromestska).
For a great view across the city, go up to the top of Staromestska radnice (the Old Town Hall). This will cost about 30kc (65p/$1). The views of the square itself, the streets adjoining it and the city’s rooftops are fantastic and completely different to those you get from other high points. On a practical note, there are toilets in the Old Town Hall before you reach the ticket desk and the price to use them is cheaper than that charged by restaurants and the museum on the other side of the square. Outside the Old Town Hall you will find the striking 15th century astronomical clock. On the hour, you can see the 12 apostles parade past the small windows at the top of the clock. As the time for this approaches, very large crowds of tourists gather to catch a glimpse. To be honest you can't really see all that much and it's nothing special. The clock can definitely be better appreciated at more quiet times of the day (or hour!) when you don't have to fight your way through the masses to see it.
There are more restaurants and nice shops on the walk from the square to Charles Bridge, via Karlova. During the day the bridge is usually heaving with tourists and it's much more pleasant in the evening, when you will often find live music being played and you can see the castle and cathedral glowing in the darkness on the other side of the Vltava.
As a Britton and with the styles of castle that I'm used to back home, Prazsky Hrad didn't really have the feel of a castle. In a way, it's more like a palace. There has been a fortified settlement on the site since the 9th century and it was traditionally the official residence of the country’s rulers. Each ruler added to the building, which has led to it comprising a rather odd mixture of styles, including Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance. It is a magnificent and imposing structure, however you may look at it.
On the hour, you can witness the changing of the guard at the front gates. This is most impressive at noon because there is music played by brass musicians and all the guards march down the street and into the courtyard where banners are exchanged. The views over the city from the road leading to the castle gates are excellent and there is usually some sort of musical ensemble playing to entertain the crowds waiting to see the changing of the guard. There are three different types of ticket available, with each allowing entry to different areas of the castle and cathedral. Ticket A allows access to pretty much everything and costs 220kc (£4.90/$7.30) or half that for concessions.
The most obvious of the castle’s attractions is St. Vitus Cathedral. It's possible to climb the Great Tower, but I have to say that I didn't find this a very enjoyable experience. The dark staircase is very narrow and claustrophobic and the views from the top are no better than those from other viewpoints in the city. However, the cathedral is very impressive and the colourful stained glass windows are beautiful. Take about half a day to enjoy the cathedral and the different areas of the castle such as The Old Palace, St. George Square, the Basilica of St. George, Golden Lane, the Powder Tower, and the Royal Garden.
One way to reach the castle from other areas of the city and make use of public transport is to take the metro to Malostranska and then take tram 22, 23 or 57 to Malostranske namesti. The walk along Nerudova to the castle is nice (although fairly steep) and takes you past many embassies, Czech pubs and restaurants, and interesting shops.
Wakefield, United Kingdom