I'm sat typing offline on my flight back from Prague. It's Sunday, I'm back in work tomorrow (why oh why didn't I take the Monday off?!) and have the journey back to Birmingham once we land... My long weekend in the Czech capital went far too quickly, as always, but we crammed a lot in. Here's what I got up to!
We had to be up toe-curlingly early for the flight; 4am, to be precise! I always prefer early flights because you get a full day at your destination on arrival, however I don't think I'd go quite so early again. It's not too bad when I'm at home in Manchester but it was about an hour to get to Heathrow airport from my boyfriend's house so we had to allow for that. I naively thought that most people on the flight would want to sleep but they didn't and it was too noisy to get much rest! However we landed and were picked up by Prague Airport Transfers, who we'd pre-booked. I'd definitely recommend it because it's affordable, the driver was very friendly and we were given for free: a guide to the city, a map and a voucher for a walking tour.
We stayed at the Cosmopolitan Hotel which was a 15 minute walk from the Old Town. A city break isn't really about the hotel because you spend so little time there but it was really nice; everything was clean and modern and there was a really pretty restaurant downstairs. It was a nice location and breakfast was one of the best 'help yourself' offerings I've had in a hotel like this. After a bit of a nap, we headed out to explore.
There was a huge shopping centre right on our way to the old town so I obviously popped into Sephora! On the way to the Old Town Square we also passed the old city gate and also the Municipal House, which were amazing to see. The main square is stunning: the Church of Our Lady before Tyn is at one side with the famous Astronomical Clock facing it and the Church of St Nicholas at the other end. One of the things I noticed immediately, as a side note, is how Anglicised Prague is. I honestly don't think I came across anyone who didn't speak English and it was almost the default language, it seemed to me. In other big tourist destinations like Rome, Barcelona and Paris (especially), I definitely haven't felt such a degree of English-speaking dominance.
We had a bit of a wander around, stopped for lunch and then strolled towards Josefov, a former Jewish ghetto. We actually did an entire tour of the area with an audio guide. However I don't feel the audio added that much to the experience for the cost, so would probably advise you not to bother! If you don't have time to do the entire thing then the two must-see sites for me were the Maisel Synagogue (it's been converted into a museum which charts the history of Judaism in Bohemia) and the Jewish Cemetery (which had such an incredible sense of history).
Still totally exhausted, we opted not to wander too far for dinner that night. Luckily the second best-rated restaurant on Tripadvisor in the whole of Prague was just a 5 minute walk away! Portfolio (what we ate) is definitely fine dining but it was my boyfriend's birthday so eating there was a bit of a treat. At the same time, I still didn't think it was anywhere near as expensive as it would've been for a similar meal in the UK. We had a great bottle of wine and three courses. There was lobster, scallops, the works! The portions were fairly small but I didn't mind and there was amazing bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side. There are definitely cheaper places to eat in Prague but if you fancy something special I can't recommend this place enough.
It's safe to say we felt a lot fresher after a good night's sleep so we headed towards the Charles Bridge in the morning. I'm really glad we saw this on the Friday morning because when we passed over the weekend it was absolutely packed. It's a really beautiful place, with the entire bridge lined with statues and locks decorating the metal bars. It gives you an amazing view across the river too.
We stopped for a bit of lunch just over on the other side of the river at a little French/Czech cafe whose name escapes me (What we ate)! Then we decided to spend the afternoon up at Prague Castle. You do have to walk up quite a few steps to get there but the views are amazing! Inside the palace itself wasn't that impressive to me and not much of it is open to the public but the cathedral was incredible. There was also a little medieval reconstruction street which was pretty cool. We didn't go on an official tour or take audio guides but it was nice just to have a stroll around the grounds at our own pace.
By the time we'd walked back to the Old Town Square it was about five minutes to five so we stopped to see the Astrological Clock strike. Whilst I wouldn't wait half an hour just to see it (like some people apparently do!) it's definitely worth timing your trip to the Old Town so you can catch it on the hour. It's really impressive that it's still going after centuries!
It's pretty random but another highly-recommended restaurant in Prague was Sushi Maru (what we ate). Sushi seems really popular in Prague and this place was unexpected tucked away at the top of a shopping centre! However inside it's light and airy and the sushi itself was incredible. Everything was very affordable and we really were spoiled for choice.
Afterwards we went to a cocktail place called Black Angel's (the name is questionable but bear with me...) which is underneath a hotel and you really wouldn't know it was there! You definitely see the seedier side of Prague in the Old Town Square on a Friday night, but it was fine once we got inside. It's the kind of 'takes itself seriously' place that has rules and one of them is 'no photos' however I still found the cost of the cocktails to be incredibly reasonable compared to in the UK. The menu was extensive and all of the drinks we had were tasty, creative and well-presented. One of my biggest bug-bears in Prague in general was the smoking indoors. People my age in the UK definitely take smoke-free surroundings for granted because the ban was brought in a good couple of years before I was old enough to drink. I don't mind so much in hot Mediterranean countries when the doors are always wide open but it was pretty cold in Prague so all the windows were shut and in this case we were underground! Your hair and clothes end up stinking and my throat actually really started to hurt towards the end of the trip. I know it's legal to smoke indoors but I'll never not think it's kind of rude... I mean, I wouldn't go and spray liberal amounts of L'Oreal Elnett in an enclosed, crowded space and that's legal. Rant over.
For our final full day in Prague we decided to go for a bit of a wander and explore the opposite end of the city. It was a pretty nice, sunny day (though still quite cold) so we took our time strolling along the river. We saw the theatre, which is a beautiful building, and also the famous Dancing House before getting some lunch. We ate at Cafe Louvre - although the food was nice, the service was terrible so I couldn't recommend it. We took our time walking back towards the Old Town, stopping for a beer or two along the way and taking a look inside the Church of Our Lady before Tyn in the square, then headed back for some down time at the hotel to relax before dinner.
We decided it was finally time to try some proper Czech cuisine for our evening meals. We'd had a look previously but I'm a pescetarian and Bohemian cuisine is very meat-heavy (if you're a vegetarian, I hope you like salad a lot...) We went to a restaurant called Mincovna in the Old Town Square, which had a nice atmosphere. The food was good enough, however it's really just not my thing, though the apple strudel dessert and Czech wine were very good. The staff (on the whole) were nice and friendly but the service was BEYOND slow! It was really annoying as we wanted to go out for drinks on our last night. We did still head to Bugsy Bar afterwards which was another cool cocktail place, however I wish we'd been able to stay out longer.
It was a bit of a delayed start for our last morning in the city because neither of us felt great (I don't know if it was dodgy food or too much drink...) however after one last breakfast we had a stroll around the Old Town and Charles Bridge before it was time to get a taxi back to the airport.
Overall I've really enjoyed my trip and actually think a long weekend is the perfect amount of time! I'm really glad to have finally experienced Prague, though I wouldn't mind going back to see more of the nightlife. I'd still say Budapest beats Prague for me, though, in case you were deciding between the two for your next city break! If you'd like to see my Instagram snippets, you can check that out here.