COOL RESTAURANTS AND STREET ART: A quick stop in Brno

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We took the train from Prague to Brno. It is the second city in the Czech Republic and has become quite popular recently. As we only had the afternoon to explore, we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed off.

Our first stop was Soul Bistro, a cool cafe and restaurant serving delicious food with plenty of veggie options (lunch for three including drinks and tip for 600 CZK).

We then headed to the Old Town centre and checked out the sights. We climbed the tower at the Old Town Hall (tickets for 70 CZK per person) to get great views over the city centre.

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From there we checked out the Cabbage Market (the main town square) and Peter and Paul Cathedral. After wandering around in the rain a bit more, we stopped for a quick drink at the cute Jedna Basen (drinks for three for 127 CZK including tip). Then it was time to head back to the hotel and pack up again.

Brno is not as beautiful as Prague, but it is an interesting city. There’s a good amount of street art and lots of cool bars and restaurants. It is also definitely cheaper than Prague and much less touristy, so the appeal are the local places which feel more authentic and just nice places to go rather than traditional Czech places.

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HOW TO DO IT:

  • Go: Brno is best visited as part of a trip around the region (I wouldn’t stay more than one day). From both Prague and Vienna you can take regular trains which take less than three hours and cost less than 15€.
  • Stay: We stayed at Efi Hotel (we paid 76€ for three people), which was located just off the city centre but was nice, spacious and cheap. They offered a free glass of wine on arrival and free taxi rides to the centre and back. Breakfast was also included.

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AMAZING VIEWS AND GOOD RESTAURANTS: 3 days in Prague

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This was my second time in Prague and the city was just as impressive!

We took the train from Munich to Prague, and even with roadworks we still got there at around 4pm.

Our brand new flat was centrally located close to the Old Town. We bought some supplies at the supermarket to have an early dinner at our flat.

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Then we headed off exploring the Old Town centre, stopping at cute stalls selling chips, drinks and handicraft. We took in the atmosphere of the Old Town square and Wenceslas square, before heading back to the flat for the evening.

We decided to take a free walking tour around Prague the next day. The tour started at the Old Town square and covered many of Prague’s highlights – the Old Town, New Town, Jewish Quarter and several stops along the way (we tipped 100CZK per person).

After the tour we explored the centre a bit more, stopping at shops along the way.

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In the evening we had dinner at Alriso, a gluten-free restaurant specialising in yummy risotto (the panna cotta we had for dessert was also great). Dinner for three including drinks and tip for 1650 CZK).

On our third day in Prague we crossed the beautiful and famous Charles Bridge to reach the Castle District. After some time exploring, we got into the Castle (tickets 10€), where you can visit the impressive St Vitus Cathedral and get great views over the town.

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Nearby is the Kafka Museum (tickets for 200 CZK), which gives an overview of Kafka’s life and work in Prague and has a dark and uneasy setup that reflects his work.

After a quick bite to eat and a beer close to the museum, we headed back to the Old Town for an early night in.

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On our last day in Prague we took the tram to Petrin Park. You can take a funicular up the hill where you can climb up an Eiffel Tower-like structure (tickets 200 CZK) and get amazing views of Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and the Old Town.

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We then decided to get a boat tour on the Vltava (tickets 250 CZK), to see the city differently. There’s lots of options around so we just found one that was convenient and cheap – it’s definitely a good thing to do on a nice day and better value than in most other cities.

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We then went back to the city centre where we had lunch at Vabene (lunch for 3 including drinks and tip for 11 CZK), a touristy but nice Italian place in a cute courtyard in the city centre.

In the evening we watched a concert at St Martin’s church (tickets for 500 CZK per person). Prague has tons of concerts on offer so you can choose one any day of the week.

Then it was time to head back to the hotel and pack for our next trip.

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HOW TO DO IT:

  • Go: We took the train from Munich, which usually takes 6h but we were delayed because of roadworks. It’s easy to book online and tickets cost only 15€ in advance, but it’s best to book through the Czech website as it’s weirdly much cheaper than the German one for the same trip.
  • Stay: We stayed at this Airbnb which was just perfect – brand new and centrally located. Prague has lots of cheap accommodation to offer and it’s easy to find a good place.
  • Transportation: You can cover a lot on foot, and it’s a great way to see the sights as well as taking in the impressive architecture. Trams are also easily available and are good for going to further places such as Petrin Park and the Castle District. Tickets must be bought in advance and need to be validated on board.
  • Money: Prague is cheap by European standards – in most bars 0,5l of beer costs only £2. But being very touristy, prices can be steep in the city centre. You also need to pay attention when exchanging currency – ask around for reputable places and check the rate before buying (we didn’t and were short-changed when we first arrived). The best place we found was Exchange at Kaprova 14/13, right behind the Old Town Square.

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.