CULTURE AND RELAXATION: 3 DAYS IN PRAGUE

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We normally travel on the cheap, but this trip to Prague was filled with luxury! We travelled with BA, stayed at the awesome Icon (see below for a proper review), had massages at their spa and used a private shuttle service to get to and from the airport – it just doesn’t get better than this.

CITY CENTRE:

We started our first day with a walk through the Old Town, where many of the main highlights are, such as the astronomic clock and scenic Charles Bridge.

The astronomic clock comes to life every hour, but to be honest this was not particularly worth the tourist fanfare when it goes off. More interesting are the buskers around the main square – extremely professional bands and musicians that really make the place come to life.

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Everybody says Prague is beautiful, but I was really taken by how beautiful is really was, especially on a nice summer day.

We stopped to enter the many churches along the way. All of them seemed to offer daily concerts for a fee. Many of them also have towers that you can climb for nice views of the city (we did neither).

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The city centre is divided between the Old Town (Stare Mesto) and the New Town (Nove Mesto). Despite the names, both are centuries old and really nice.

Another nice neighbourhood is the Jewish Quarter (Jevonov), an area with lots of ample boulevards.

Prague is also great for culture, and we were happy to discover a Tim Burton exhibition in the Stone at the House Bell gallery next to the main square. This was great, but there are lots of exhibitions around town. It is also a great place to see art nouveau architecture (even more ubiquitous than in Brussels) and Alphonse Mucha artworks.

THE CASTLE:

prague09_for webPrague Castle is one of the main attractions of the city. We took tram n. 23 (tickets cost 24kr and need to be bought in advance) which stops right behind the main entrance.

Walking around the castle grounds is free, but you need a ticket to get into the main buildings. We got Circuit B tickets at about £8 each, which includes most of the main sights.

The main highlight is St Vitus Cathedral, which is right up there in terms of impressive cathedrals. There’s even a stained-glass window by Mucha (third on the left, from the entrance).

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Golden Lane is also nice – a quaint little street filled with replicas of ancient homes and souvenir shops.

The visit to the castle is best done on a sunny day, when you get amazing views of the city and the river.

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UNDERGROUND TOUR:

We started our last day in Prague with a guided tour. We chose the Underground Tour at 400kr (£11.60) and taking about an hour. Our guide Ivka took us to three venues around the city centre. Prague has loads of underground buildings, so this was a good opportunity to see something different.

FOOD AND DRINK:

Prague is famous for its beer, so it’s a great opportunity to try different brands, and at less than £2 for a pint you might as well give it a go.

As we were looking for a sports bar, we headed to Rocky O’Reillys. This is a nice Irish pub close to Wenceslas Square.

And although Czech food is not traditionally veggie-friendly, we did some research in advance (through Happy Cow) and were pleased to discover that there are many veggie places around. Our favourite was LoVeg (we went there twice), a vegan restaurant in the Lesser Quarter. The food was great, and they had nice versions of traditional Czech fare, like the goulash, which paired nicely with an organic beer. The cheesecake that followed was also great. Lunch for two, including a few beers and tip cost around £22. Service was super friendly – on our second time there, we were quickly ushered to the terrace for an al fresco meal with nice views of the castle.

Another great place was RawCha, a tea house that also serves raw food. The place is laid-back and service is friendly. Food was delicious, especially the Japanese ravioli. A meal for two cost £14 including tip.

We also had a quick meal at Estrella, another nice veggie restaurant that catered for the local crowd.

We didn’t eat at Country Life, but this vegan buffet at the heart of the Old Town looked really nice. We did buy some nice supplies to the next door food store.

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Accommodation in Prague is not particularly cheap, so I booked this place a few months in advance because they had a deal at the time. Best decision ever.

This place serves breakfast from 7 in the morning to 11 at night. Why is no one else doing this? Such a great idea! Plus we could have breakfast delivered to our room free of charge because we booked our stay directly through their website.

We also had 30% off the minibar (I don’t even know why).

We got 20% off massages in their spa as we were staying at the hotel. We had energetic Thai massages (an hour for about £25 per person), but they had lots of options to choose from.

Finally, we were upgraded from our standard room to the super nice Junior suite, which was massive (we had our own sitting room), just because it was available. Awesome! This never happens to me. This room had a Hastens bed – of course I have no idea what that means, but the bed was perfect.

Staff was amazing through and through; this stay really defined our whole trip. When we were ready to leave at 5am to catch an early flight, they gave us a packed lunch for the journey home… too nice!

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 HOW TO DO IT:

  • Go: Many companies fly to Prague, but in the summer it’s advisable to book in advance. We used airmiles and flew BA from Heathrow. Flights take about 2h. Our flights arrived very late and left very early, so we booked a shuttle service to and from the airport. It cost about £18 for two, and we got a free travel guide.
  • Stay: I can’t recommend the Icon enough – I’m already looking forward to staying there again next time I’m in Prague, and to having another amazing massage. But there are lots of options through Hostelworld and Tripadvisor. Book in advance for summer months and choose somewhere near Wenceslas Square to be at walking distance from the main sights.
  • Tours: There are loads of tours on offer, paid and free. We did our tour with Prague Tours, but there are many options to choose from.
  • Shop: Manufaktura is a very nice cosmetics shop with great options for presents. There are many locations around town.
  • Do: We did lots on this trip, but there’s definitely more to do. On a sunny day, take a funicular up Petrin Hill for beautiful views of the city. Or take some time to watch a concert in a church.
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