For the last three years, I have been fascinated by Prague. So, when my friends and I settled on it as our destination of choice to celebrate our end of A Level exams, I was overjoyed.
Prague is a relatively small city located in the Czech Republic. It’s very popular with tourists from across the world due to its picture-perfect streets and lovely culture, and I think three/four days there is a great length. We visited Sunday night to Wednesday evening and felt that we didn’t miss out on anything. I can, however, see the appeal of visiting Friday to Monday if you wish for a weekend break instead.
Prague has the river Vltava running through it which divides the city into two. A popular
choice for tourists is to take a river cruise down it – the prices for this are quite reasonable and if we had organised our time differently I’d have loved to have experienced one. Prague One is where many of the main shopping areas and tourist sightseeing spots are and is on the east side of the river and is a popular location for accommodation. Prague castle is on the west side across the river and has more green areas (such as public gardens) around it.
We flew from Bristol, which was a two hour flight, and it went very quickly. I’ve never personally flown from Bristol before, and was struck by how small it seemed in comparison to London Heathrow and Gatwick, but it was nice and straightforward. Once on the plane, it was beautiful sitting in the window seat watching the sun set – something I’ve never seen from a plane – and I couldn’t resist taking a photo. We landed at 10PM Prague time (one hour ahead of GMT), and met our private transfer, before heading into the city.
One of the things I was first struck by when we arrived was the surprising lack of skyscrapers. I knew that Prague is well known for its old buildings, but it was quite refreshing to be in a big city away from modern architecture! Once in our accommodation, we put our bags down and decided to explore our area. We were located just a ten minute walk from the Old Town Square, so set out to see what we could find. We ended up in a bar called the M1 Lounge which was rather small and intimate with really nice cocktails. It seemed popular with both tourists and locals and we had a fun few hours dancing.
The next morning we decided to head to the local Lidl to buy some bread, fruit and eggs – whilst eating out every meal is a lovely idea, we were a group of students on a budget and so decided to make the most of our apartment’s kitchen by cooking . After breakfast, we decided to explore the Old Town. I was constantly stopping to admire the architecture and take photos. Unsurprisingly, there were lots of tourists stopping to take photos of the Astronomical Clock, which is one of the most popular sights in Prague. As it’s so central, we walked past it a dozen times but ironically kept missing the on-the-hour chime (three times we walked past it at 1 minute past!). Nonetheless, it is impressive, and worth a quick visit!
We then wandered over to find Charles Bridge, another must-see. Rather than using maps on our phone or the ones our transfer company had provided, we enjoyed exploring little side streets instead. They were all lined with small shops and cafes which were sweet to look at. This definitely wasn’t a bad idea, as the centre of Prague is so compact that this option worked quite well! Charles Bridge itself is beautiful, with stunning views across of the orange-roofed buildings. On the bridge, we stood watching an amazing string band playing songs such as “Cotton Eyed Joe” and “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” which was great fun. We also watched little gondolas on the water, which felt very traditional – and pedalos too (not quite so traditional)!
We had already decided that we would leave Prague Castle til the day after, so once we crossed the bridge, we only walked up the busiest street, grabbed some lunch, and walked back across. Before going to Prague, I had been advised to go to the Jewish Quarter, and so this is where we went next. The architecture was unsurprisingly beautiful and if we had more time I would have liked to have ventured inside further. I also learnt the importance of checking out building names before visiting somewhere, as we spent 15 minutes looking in the completely wrong place for the Jerusalem Synagogue (which isn’t in the Jewish Quarter at all). At this point, it was around 32 degrees, and with the heat bouncing off the walls, we all felt rather fatigued and so headed back to our accommodation. After two hours of relaxing and cooling down, we decided to visit the Palladium. This is a large shopping centre in a very central location, with a traditional exterior but modern interior. Some stores, like MAC and H&M, we were familiar with, but others we hadn’t heard of, and it was interesting to see how their fashion differed slightly from English.
We opted for pizza for dinner (not quite traditional Czech cuisine, but oh well!). One thing I did notice here was that vegetarian and vegan food options are very limited, and I would recommend people with dietary needs/preferences to research places to eat prior to visiting. This includes big fast food chains: even McDonalds had no vegetarian options, which we found rather odd. This is one of the reasons why pizza was a sensible choice. After dinner, we got ready to explore Prague’s nightlife again. Our club of choice this night was Karlovy Lazne, which is located right next to Charles Bridge on the waterfront. It claims to be one of the largest clubs in Europe, and has five floors with different music genres on each floor, as well as an Ice Bar. A 10€ entry fee may seem pricey, but as UK clubs usually charge around £5 for something much, much smaller, we felt it was quite reasonable. Prague’s nightlife doesn’t compromise much in the weekdays, and this club was no exception, closing at 5AM. The reviews online are quite mixed, but we had a great time.
Our second day started slowly, with us spending the morning eating breakfast and sharing photos from the day before. We headed off to explore Prague Castle at around 1AM. In hindsight, this was not the most sensible of ideas, as there are many, many steps to climb to reach it, and it would probably have been a better idea to go in the morning, when it was slightly cooler. Before embarking on the steps, we bought iced drinks from a little street vendor in a square (Malostranské náměstí) and they were brilliantly refreshing and very helpful for our walk. The views by Prague Castle across the city are stunning, and a must-see. It was also the first time we saw skyscrapers, which must have been located away from the city centre, and were the only reminder that we weren’t back in the 1800s! We entered the gates to the castle and wandered around for around 15 minutes. There’s the option of buying tickets for a tour of other elements of the castle away from the St. Vitus Cathedral, which seemed like a popular choice for many tourists, but we decided against it. Instead, we were craving ice cream, so decided to try some Trdelník. This sweet treat is infamous in Eastern Europe, and there are possibly hundreds of small shops dedicated to selling them in Prague. In the old town, it seemed that every street and side street had two or three tiny Trdelník shops. Trdelníks consist of a doughnut-like cone filled with ice cream or whipped cream. Arguably the most famous of these shops in Prague is “Good Food” – photos of their trdelníks can be seen all over social media! Rather than going here, we passed a “Trdlo” near Charles Bridge so went there instead. I had mine filled with whipped cream and strawberries. It was lovely – very sweet and slightly difficult to eat but a must do when in Prague! None of my friends were able to finish ours as they were so big. I’d probably recommend sharing one between two people – mine came with two spoons, as the photo shows, so perhaps it was intended for this purpose. If you don’t like cream, you can buy the cone of dough coated with white chocolate or jam instead, but again these were huge!
In the evening, we ventured back out to Karlovy Lazne, where we spent the whole night on the Oldies floor, feeling like we were in the 80s (and 60s… and 70s… and 90s…!). As we walked back to our accommodation, the sun was starting to rise, which was a rather surreal feeling. With it being the early hours, some people were starting to go to work, and it was really interesting seeing Prague in a completely different light walking past locals rather than tourists. Whilst I appreciate recommending walking the streets of the old town at 4:30 is not for everyone, it was one of my favourite experiences of the trip.
With our check in being at 10:45, we had to be up bright and early despite our late night. After we checked out, we put our luggage in a Prague storage hold, as we were not so keen to carry our big suitcases around the city!
We decided to visit both the Illusion Art Museum and the Museum of Senses, as we were a little tired and did not fancy walking long distances, which meant museums were a great idea. The Museum of Senses is really interactive with lots of fun exhibits such as a bed of nails and a vortex tunnel, and I would recommend it to families with children of all ages. It is closer to the New Town, and very near the shopping areas of Prague, so it is a perfect location for a rainy day. For young children, it would probably take a couple of hours exploring it all, however for us it only took around 50 minutes. Whilst it is not a whole-day activity, it is still worthwhile! They offered a student discount which we appreciated. We then visited the Illusion Art Museum which is right in the Old Town square. Again, we had a student discount here. This museum is equally enjoyable to the Museum of Senses, just less interactive (more artwork than interactive rooms), so perhaps more appropriate for older children/teenagers. The artworks were surprisingly entertaining and we had a laugh looking at all the exhibits. Afterwards, we had ice cream and sorbet in the museum’s cafe. I would thoroughly recommend visiting here for this sweet treat – it wasn’t too pricey and was excellent quality, with lovely flavours such as blackcurrant.
After our museum trips, we sat in the Old Town Square and spent an hour people-watching. Sadly, soon after we remembered that our trip was coming to a close and so wandered back to meet our transfer. As we drove back to the airport, I looked out of the window to soak up the final views of Prague, whilst my friends caught up on some sleep. Prague airport is small but still has all the amenities you may need. We landed with no issues in Bristol around 11PM GMT, all very tired.
Prices in Prague were relatively cheap – most noticeably the pizza, pasta and beer were much cheaper than in the UK (we had pasta for around £3.50). The trdelníks are something you have to be prepared to pay slightly more for (prices ranged between 3€-7€), but I doubt this is something most tourists purchase daily and rather is just a treat. With the cash we took, we had half Euros and half Czech Koruna. In hindsight, we should have taken out more Korunas than Euros, as most places requested payment in Korunas. For example, the club we visited strictly only allowed payment in Korunas, and no cards. That said, all prices in the Lidl were marked up in Korunas but when we asked at the till if we could pay with Euros, they were completely fine with it. We were also advised by our transfer to not use ATMs to take out money due to the charges, so this is something to keep in mind as well.
For a group of five 18 year old girls, we felt incredibly safe in Prague, which we were very glad about. It is a popular destination with groups such as hen and stag parties because of the brilliant combination of culture and nightlife, and we saw plenty of these groups of people. Despite it being busy with tourists, we never felt overwhelmed or like we were being swept in a wave of people (!). Rather, there was a nice buzz that felt more exciting than intimidating. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to all types of people, from girl groups celebrating end of exams, to a romantic break away, to a stag do, or for history lovers. Without a doubt I would be interested in returning.