This time everything ran smoothly and my friends and I caught a night train from Poland. It was my first time on one so I was a bit excited about it. The train arrived and we got on. While we were walking along the corridor to find our compartment, I checked the ones opened to have a look inside and see what they looked like. Everyone on the train was young it seemed. There were groups talking in the corridor. One deciding who would sleep in which bed, another one chatting about what they had planned to visit in the city.
We had booked a 3-people cabin. There were three beds one above the other like a bunk bed, and also a washbasin. The bathroom was at the end of the corridor and it was really busy at the beginning of our ride. Everyone wanted to have a relaxing shower after a long day walking around the city. Although some passengers weren’t planning on sleeping, we were exhausted so we chatted for a bit and then went to sleep. The train provided earplugs, a bottle of water and some traditional snacks. I didn’t really like the snacks, so bring your own just in case.
After a bit of a noisy night (you can still hear the clatter of the train with your earplugs in), we arrived in Prague very early in the morning, around 7am. Our check-in time at the Airbnb we had booked was by 11am, so we went to have breakfast and withdraw some money. In Czech Republic they use the Czech crown (koruna), which rate is roughly 1 EUR = 25 CZK. I’d say most bureaux de change in the old town, if not all, are a big rip-off, so if you need to exchange money check their rates carefully first.
On our way to our accommodation, very close to the old town, we could already distinguish one of the most popular sights in Prague: the Powder Tower (Prašná brána). This 15th-century Gothic monument was one of the original city gates, and was used as a gunpowder store (hence its name). You can go up the tower to enjoy a breathtaking view over the city. It opens at 10am and closes between 6-10pm depending on the season. Tickets cost 100 CZK.
Once you cross the tower gate, you’ll walk on a street where you’ll find restaurants and many shops selling all types of glass and cannabis products. We had lunch in Cerna Madona twice and we really liked it. It is located on the left side of the street just after the tower. It probably isn’t the cheapest restaurant in Prague, but the food was really tasty and the waiters were very gentle. And c’mon, check their mouthwatering desserts displayed on their shop window! You can’t say no to that.
Keep walking straight for five minutes and you’ll arrive to the lovely Old Town Square. Take your time to admire the beauty of all those colourful buildings around it and simply enjoy the view. If you’re into art, the National Gallery is just here, with the impressive Church of Our Lady Before Týn behind it. There are also stands selling traditional food and horse-drawn carriages taking tourists for a ride. If you get the smell of ember and something sweet, go in that direction! You can’t leave Prague without trying trdelník, a kind of spit cake made from rolled dough and topped with sugar. You will also see it filled with ice cream on sunny days.
Next to the square you’ll find the Old Town Hall, which offers guided tours in several languages. Its famous Astronomical Clock is a very interesting clock indeed, but people gather in front of it to see something else too. Every hour, on the hour, figures representing the 12 apostles parade above the clock for less than a minute, then the hour is rung. There are always people standing in front of it, waiting for the next parade as if it were the NYE fireworks show. However, I must admit I wasn’t impressed at all. I stood there wondering why there was so much hype about it. If you happen to pass by the tower around that time or feel like waiting to see it then enjoy the show. Otherwise you won’t be missing a lot.
After this you have two options: either stay on this side of the Vltava river and visit the Jewish museum, or cross Charles Bridge and go up the hill to visit Prague Castle.
We decided to visit the Jewish Museum first. It consists of six different monuments: Maisel Synagogue, Pinkas Synagogue, Old Jewish Cemetery, Klausen Synagogue, Ceremonial Hall, and Spanish Synagogue. They are all located in the same area of the city (Josefov), which makes it very handy to visit. There is also the Old-New Synagogue, Europe’s oldest working synagogue, for which you will need a separate ticket.
I recommend purchasing a combo ticket online and visit everything. The regular admission for this combo ticket is 500 CZK and is valid for 7 days (only for individuals and families, and you can only visit each monument once). I personally didn’t know that the Jews had played such an important role in the city, so you can be sure I learnt a lot visiting all these places. Of course there’s a horrible part we all know, so please be respectful while on the premises and try to learn as much as possible.
To finish our day, we went up the hill to Letná Gardens, from where you can get a great view of the city and all the bridges. People come here to walk their dogs and jog, but there’s also a beer garden! You can’t come to Prague and not try their beer. They also serve sausages so it’s a really cool place to unwind after a long day, watching the sunset and seeing Prague at night.
The following day we planned to head to the other side of the river, known as Lesser Town or Malá Strana. There are three main attractions in this part of the city: the John Lennon Wall, St. Nicholas Church and, most importantly, Prague Castle. But first, you need to cross Charles Bridge.
Charles Bridge is without a doubt a top destination in Prague. Its construction was commissioned by Charles IV in 1357 and was completed in 1390. It is decorated with religious statues on both sides, the most famous being the monument to St. John of Nepomuk.
There are always tourists walking in both directions, standing while listening to some busker playing covers, or having a look at souvenirs and handcrafts that some hawkers sell on the bridge. If you’re looking to see it less crowded and quieter, try to be there as early as possible. And why not, take advantage of the lack of tourists and the dawn and take some great photos!
Once you’re on the other side, head to the John Lennon Wall and have a look at all the peaceful and political messages that people have been leaving on it along the years. Despite whitewashing it several times, the paintings and messages kept appearing on it, so the owners didn’t bother anymore and left it as it was.
From here, walk to St. Nicholas Church. It is on the way to Prague Castle, so you’ll have the opportunity to visit it without any detour. St. Nicholas Church is the most famous Baroque church in the city and a perfect example of High Baroque architecture. Its construction was completed in 1755, and it features a 4000-pipe organ that was once played by Mozart during his stay in Prague. It opens daily at 9am and entrance tickets cost 100 CZK. Climb the bell tower for some superb views over Malá Strana and Charles Bridge. It also hosts numerous concerts throughout the year, so don’t miss the chance and go to one if you’re in the city. I love organ music so I went to a few concerts during my 3-week Interrail trip. Central Europe is perfect for it!
Now let’s set off for Prague Castle, probably the most visited attraction in the city! The walk up the hill will make some stop to catch their breath, so wear comfortable shoes too if possible. It’s well worth the effort, I promise!
Prague Castle is said to have been founded in the last quarter of the 9th century by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty. According to the Guinness World Records, it’s the largest coherent castle complex in the world, occupying an area of almost 70,000 m².
The castle complex is open until 10pm, but the historical buildings and exhibitions close between 4 and 6pm depending on the season. Entrance tickets are only sold on site and are valid for two days (the day of the purchase and the following day). There are three types: circuit A, circuit B and circuit C. The most complete is the A ticket, which costs 350 CZK, but if you’re short on time you can get one of the other tickets and still visit some parts of the castle. Photographing of interiors is allowed as long as you don’t use flash nor a tripod, and it costs 50 CZK. You can get more detailed info here.
Once we were done visiting all the complex we walked down back to the city. We were meeting a local friend in a cool bar by the river, so we went for food nearby before that. This bar offers a great view of Charles Bridge from the riverbank (there were actually photographers taking pictures of soon-to-be-married couples around).
If you still have time left to visit other parts of the city, I recommend Petřín hill and Vyšehrad Cemetery. Petřín is one of Prague’s largest green spaces and perfect for a relaxing walk with a great view over the city. There’s a lookout tower (open at 10am, tickets 150 CZK) if you want to go even higher. As for Vyšehrad Cemetery, it is a significant cemetery in the city and the final resting place of over 600 famous people, including Antonín Dvořák and Alphonse Mucha. It is located in the south of the old town, by the river. To get there, either walk south along the Vltava or get the tram.
And this is all for Prague! A city I’ll definitely come back to. After this, my friends and I were happy that our train journeys would be shorter and there would be no more night trains. Next destination: Vienna!