Today The Department of Wandering welcomes guest blogger and expat Mary Johnson to share with us her favourite spots around Prague for an ideal weekend stay. Mary, originally from Minneapolis, has lived in Prague since 2013 and so definitely knows how to make the most of a weekend in her new adopted city!
Now that I have been living in Prague for some time, I almost feel like a local! One of the best parts about living here in Prague is that I get lots of guests that come to visit. They usually stay for a weekend and I get to play the tour guide. The following itinerary encompasses my favorite places I like to take my guests to, and I do it in the best way possible to see the city — strolling the cobblestone streets. Maybe I should admit though first that I love nature, so most of these places are calm and relaxing.
First of all: a decent breakfast
Regarding the importance of the first meal of the day, the Prague locals and I both have the same opinion: without a good breakfast your day has not begun in the right way! When I have guests, I prefer combining this necessity with the first great place I want to tell you about: Petřín Hill. These old vineyards have been turned into a great park that has become my favorite place in the city. The fields, orchards and hills seem to stretch on forever. I recommend the Savoy Cafe for a very picturesque breakfast in a noble place with a long tradition. And no worries if you get there late because they serve breakfast all day long! My personal favorite is the Savoy Breakfast, which includes Prague’s famous ham served with delightful grain mustard and horseradish sauce.
After breakfast at the Savoy Cafe my guests and I usually head towards Prague Castle, which is situated not far from Petřín Hill. I recommend taking a walk there as it is really nice, but of course it depends on weather conditions.
A castle and its little cobblestone street neighborhood
I usually hit Prague Castle — the most noticeable landmark in Prague — in the morning to avoid the crowds. I like to stay away from the main tourist attractions, but the castle is just too gorgeous to miss out on! If you get there early enough, you can enjoy its splendor and beauty without being pushed and hurried by hundreds of other sightseers. Did you know that this castle complex is the biggest in the world?
Coming back from the castle, I love to jump into the Hradčany District. This quaint little neighborhood surrounds the castle, so it can be considered one of the oldest districts in Prague. I like taking people here because the houses (well, palaces!) are simply awesome and the architecture of these buildings is quite stunning. After arriving in Prague two years ago, I learned that the whole district around the castle burned down around 1500 CE, and this gave the opportunity for the noble families of Prague to build new beautiful houses on the ashes of the old ones.
Now it’s time to cross the river
At this point, it’s time to cross the famous Charles Bridge. It is as famous as the bridge in front of the Castel St. Angelo in Rome, so enjoy it!
Usually at this point we get hungry again and there’s a nice place for a break called Bistro Sisters. After some hours of strolling around Prague, nothing is better than a sandwich in this place. The bistro is also located close to Vítkov Hill (our next stop) and is in the center on Dlouhá Street. Here you’ll find ingredients like herring, wasabi, shrimp and salmon paired with local cheeses and sauces. They make their own bread here too, so it’s really fresh and delicious. Try the pumpkin soup on the side! I dine here quite often as I am still attending a Czech language course not far from here; indeed, the only thing I would like to master better is the Czech language, which is really difficult.
I often recommend this area to my guests for accommodation as well because if there is more than one person visiting me unfortunately I can’t host them. A great way to find a hotel in the desired neighborhood in Prague is by checking online on sites like Venere.com. If it’s not the high season, it’s relatively easy to find a three-star hotel from 24 euros a night also in the Old Town (Staré Mesto). Prague is not as expensive as many other European cities, so I recommend finding a stay in the center.
Climbing up the hill
The next place I love to take my guests to is Vítkov Hill. No doubt the best view of Prague is found at the top of this steep hill. Make sure you’ve got the energy to climb it because it is quite a tough one, but it is totally worth it. On top of the hill you will find the National Memorial, a structure built by the Soviets that was later taken over by the Czech National Museum. In there you will find a great permanent exhibit about 20th century Czech history. The interior is fabulous and even if you’re not a history buff, I still recommend getting inside just to see it.
The best places for a picnic in Prague
After that, you can take the C line for ten minutes to the Vyšehrad station for one of Prague’s best kept secrets. From this rocky hill south of the city, you get another fantastic view of the center and the main Prague Castle. The park, called Havlíčkovy sady (or Grébovka), is one of the most beautiful parks in Prague and a great place for a stroll or for a picnic.
Nearby there is also a well-known cemetery. The Vyšehrad cemetery is the resting place for many famous Europeans and Czechs. I’m not a gothic kind of girl, but it is really worth visiting.
Well, that’s my quick guide to a weekend in Prague! I could still write about a million other things to see and do as it is such a wonderful city, but then it would become a book rather than a blog post. At this point, I would like to say a big thanks to Rachel for accepting and sharing my story, and I hope you enjoy Prague!
A massive thanks to Mary for sharing her insider’s guide to a weekend in Prague. I don’t know about you, but I definitely know what to check out on my next visit to this beautiful city. You can follow Mary on twitter here.
Do you have any further tips for a visit to Prague? Share them in the comments below!