For our fifth wedding anniversary, we decided to head to Europe. We prefer to go to Europe during the off season to avoid the crowds. We covered three countries during this trip - Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. We started our trip at the beautiful capital city, Prague... since we are not big on exploring cities, we spent just one day here. It's easily doable if you get organized and prioritize what you want to see.
This itinerary covers all things you can do if you just have one day in Prague... with little pointers on food for vegetarians.
Places you can't miss:
Visit neo-gothic Namasti Miru Hit the Wenceslas Square and the National Musuem Check out the beautiful Astronomical Tower Visit at least one quirky museum
Look out for all the quirky statues Play spot the vintage cars
Visit the Nicholas Church
Hit the Charles Bridge
Hike up to the Prague Castle
Head to Kampa Garden for uninterrupted views of the Charles Bridge
Visit the dancing house (and the take in the stunning street views)
Get festive at the Christmas markets
Best time to visit
I would imagine the weather is pretty amazing in the summer but the winters are extreme with snow and temperatures in the low 20s. That being said, visiting Europe during the winter is absolutely magical and something everyone must experience at least once. So if you haven't done that already I would highly recommend visiting Prague during the Christmas season to soak in all the festivities. Luckily when we visited, there wasn't a lot of snow (we just had one night of snow in Prague) but the temperatures were below freezing during the night.
Flights and Visa
We flew with Smart Wings - short, direct flights all through the week.
Schengen Visa required for entry into Czech Republic. Immigration was simple and quick.
The official language spoken in the country is Czech. You will also find that the second most common language is German, followed by Russian.
Travel and Medical Insurance, Currency
Travel and Medical Insurance is mandatory to travel to all Schengen countries.
Currency is Czech Crown. Restaurants and other places don't accept Euro but most big restaurants accept cards.
Where we stayed
We stayed at the Ametyst Hotel in Prague. This hotel is in the New Town of Prague. The rooms were spacious for European standards with a beautiful view of the city. The staff are really helpful and knowledgeable. The hotel is just a 15 minute walk to all the major attractions. The breakfast was repetitive but was a pretty good spread (even for us vegetarians).
Tip: There is a small grocery right next to the hotel, which is incredibly convenient after a tiring day.
Cost and getting around
Prague is expensive but not ridiculously so. Hotels are reasonably priced (during the off season). Cabs are expensive, as you would expect them to be anywhere in Europe. A proper meal on average will be around EUR 10-15 per person.
Had no issues with safety. We felt everyone we met was warm and helpful.
We struggled with the food. The soup was watery, everything vegetarian was loaded with carbs. Best not think about all the holiday weight!
As always, we were keen on trying the local food - so thats what we did. At the christmas markets around town, you can pick up the Trdelnik (which is basically fresh baked cinnamon bread loaded with different toppings), baby potatoes with onions and local spices (this is really yum and a life saver) and we also tried the potato pancakes with Parmesan cheese.
What to pack
Winters are cold. Pack rain jackets, winter jackets, scarves and beanies if you are going around the same time as us.
Itinerary: Make the most of your day and start early. Prague is basically split into four towns - Old Town, New Town, Prague Castle and Lesser Town. Start with the one closest to where you are located and make your way through all of them.
First stop, the Namasti Miru Church (just a ten minute walk from the hotel). This is a neo-gothic church of St. Ludmila. Made of brick, this church has a three-aisle basilica with a transept in the shape of a cross.
As you continue walking, your next stop will be the iconic Wenceslas Square; the main city square of the city. Historic events, protests, declarations happened right here.
This is also where you have the Nardoni Museum or the National Museum.
As we made our way through the square on towards the Old Town, we found endless quirky museums.. toys, torture, steel, sexual fantasies (eeks).. there is a museum for literally every creepy thing you can ever think of. You will also find a lot of cute vintage cars parked alongside the road. Apparently, they are quite a tourist
attraction to ride in these.
Continue on towards the Nicholas Church
and look out for the quirky statues along the way.
To see the entire Charles bridge, we walked parallel to the Charles bridge
before making our way up to the Prague Castle... for amazing views of the city. There are around 70 to 80 steep stairs to climb, so make sure you carry enough water to make the short climb up.
On our way down, we took a detour to the Kampa Garden for tourist free views of the iconic Charles Bridge...
Tip: This is one of the best places in the city to take in views of the bridge without all the mad rush. So definitely plan to head here and bring a picnic if you are visiting during the summer!
..because let's face it, if you head to the Charles bridge in the afternoon - this is what you will get. If you want to enjoy views from the bridge without anyone around, go before dawn.
Our last stop was a visit to the now insta-famous dancing house. The house itself was a disappointment but the views from around here were surreal.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring hidden alleys and other quaint neighborhoods in the city.
Our final agenda for the day was to hit the Christmas Markets.
Tip: avoid the markets in the city center, they are really crowded. Head to the Christmas Market next to Namasti Miru for a cozy experience without the crazy tourist crowds.
Though this capital city reminded me of Copenhagen.. the cacophony of music from the Christmas markets, the loud screeching of the old trams and the taste of cinnamon loaded chimney “bun”made this city really stand out in it’s own way.
A world of fascinating history, spiky “gothic” buildings, ancient stone bridges, quirky statues and cobbled squares awaits you.
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