From World Travelers Union
Traveler: Danielle Gervalis
When: May 2018
While I hate to crudely condense my visit to Prague, I can best sum it up like this; if you appreciate architecture, cheap beer and meat and potatoes, you will LOVE it here! It has been an established city for over a thousand years and a large majority of its historical landmarks were spared the ravages of war. Walking through Prague is a delightful experience filled with cobblestone alleyways, hidden courtyards and a pub on nearly every corner!
I’d been keeping an eye on trips to Prague for a while and the stars aligned over Memorial Day weekend. I booked a five day trip including flights and a stay at Hotel Antik in the middle of Old Town via my favorite travel site Trip Masters. The hotel was comfy and included a giant breakfast buffet with about seven different kinds of juice. Additionally, the staff was helpful with coordinating transportation to and from the airport. I was able to set up a reservation via email for $30 each way which took about 25 minutes.
If you enjoy checking out all of the tourist sites then I highly recommend staying in the historic areas. The city is incredibly walkable and you can get pretty much anywhere within 20 minutes. You’ll want to pack comfortable shoes since you will be walking on cobblestone up and downhill. If you’re looking for additional planning/packing tips, check out our travel friend’s list.
Things to Do
It’s the largest castle in the world and a focal point in vistas of the city. There are different ticket options you can purchase to tour, which are cheaper than buying an individual ticket at each site. I purchased the Circuit B which included the Gardens, Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane and Daliborka Tower for around $12 USD and felt like I saw everything! Make sure to give yourself plenty of time. The complex is SPRAWLING and can get jammed with tourists.
The site has been in use since 925 AD but construction on the Gothic style began in 1344 under the direction of Charles IV and wasn’t consecrated until 1929! Talk about a long term project. You can look around the entrance area to the Cathedral for free but if you want to see the main altar and crypts, you’ll have to purchase a ticket. The architecture and stained glass in the front really caught my eye. The artistry is impressive and the stunning hues really pop in the changing daylight.
Climb the 275 steps to the top of this tower, which once served as a gunpowder store, to get 360 degree views of the city across the Vltava river. It was an extra $7 and quite the workout but it does have amazing views!
This is a narrow alleyway lined with tiny, colorful houses with plaques describing the actual people who lived there. It’s interesting to see how the common people lived, mostly archers and artisans in the 1500s and later struggling artists, like Franz Kafka, in the shadow of this massive castle and cathedral. One of the most intriguing stories comes from Number 14, the house of Psychic Matylda Prusova. She was a famous fortune-teller who was later killed by the Gestapo as a result of her predictions of the end of the war and thus the communist regime.
Dating back to 1135, the palace was used by princesses and kings as a residence. When you walk into the Vladislav Hall, make sure to look up at the intricate ceiling which has been in place for over 500 years. However, a significant part of history occurred here, the Second Defenestration of Prague, where a group of Protestants nobles threw three of the Hapsberg emperor’s Catholic employees out a window. Fortunately, they survived because they fell into a massive pile of manure…. If you’re interested in hearing more about the Defenestrations in Prague, I recommend listening to the “Stuff you Missed in History Class” podcast on the topic.