Every so often – usually when I get very bored during my lunch break and can’t be bothered to fight the crowds to go to Pret in Westminster – I find myself looking for cheap holidays. If I find one, even if I had no intention of booking, suddenly I’m clicking away. It’s a bit of a problem when the world is so big and there’s so much to see. It’s an even bigger problem when countries like the Czech Republic are cheap to get to and explore. It’s a massive problem when you book somewhere expensive like Iceland. A story for another time.
Anyway, me and a couple of friends made our way to Prague for a super short break to scratch another country off the scratch map. Here’s a few things we got up to.
Joined a walking tour
A lot of people think that going on a walking tour is a bit of a cheesy, crappy touristy way of seeing a city but it’s something I always do when I first arrive in a new city. They’re a great way to get your bearings in a new place. There were so many departing from the Old Town Square in Prague that we really had our pick of different tours at whatever time we fancied. Our guide was an unusual woman, but she did take us to Prague’s “creepiest church” where a dead man’s arm is hanging from the wall. You can read the full story here.
I doubt it’s something I would have found on my own. The great thing about these tours is that you can get free ones and pay what you think they’re worth, meaning you never feel done in.
Saw the Astronomical Clock
Yes, it was slightly underwhelming. But it’s also quite incredible that it’s the oldest working clock of its type in existence. It’s hard to work out, but once you do it’s pretty awesome. I do recommend finding yourself nearby on the hour to watch it chime the hour, but you do have to pay attention to make sure you don’t miss it. It’s quite quick!
Spent time in Old Town Square
Prague has two main squares: the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. The latter meant I had the Christmas carol stuck in my head for most of the trip. I was not a big fan of Wenceslas Square, which is a bit of a stag do hotspot with pretty crap architecture but Old Town Square was completely the opposite. The architecture was incredible and you could stand on the Square and just soak in the history. Make sure you pay particular attention to the Church of Our Lady before Týn and Old Town Hall – incredible buildings that I couldn’t get enough of.
Visited the Jewish Quarter
The Jewish Quarter in Prague is one of the most preserved Jewish areas in Europe. Partly because Hitler wanted to preserve it as a “museum of an extinct race”. Of course it’s bloody vile but a big part of the history of the area. Take a look inside in the Spanish Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue and walk through the Old Jewish Cemetery. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the statue of one of the area’s most famous residents, Franz Kafka, on Dusni Street. It depicts a man riding on another man’s shoulders and originally appeared in Kafka’s “Description of a Struggle”.
It’s really hard to avoid beer in Prague – it’s pretty much the only thing that many bars seem to serve and it’s ridiculously cheap. There are quite a few varieties of beer, all among the same light theme which can keep you going for some time. Of course, we tried most of the popular local varieties, like Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen and Budvar. And at around £1.50 for a pint, it’s pretty hard to say no.
Walked uphill to Prague Castle
We walked into the Malá Strana district and started the uphill walk to Prague Castle. If you’re not a big fan of hills, then there’s plenty of shops and bars to rest in on the way up. It’s worth it! If you can ignore the random Starbucks at the top, you get some of the best views of the city. Prague Castle itself is a little underwhelming if you’re expecting a traditional castle. It looks more like an old-school town hall. But honestly, the views and the atmosphere are definitely worth it.
Walked across the Charles Bridge
The Charles Bridge is a ten-minute walk from Old Town Square and another place in Prague to capture those incredible views of the city. The statues along the way are great to stop and look at along the walk across the bridge. It’s absolutely full of tourists, so get there early if you want to be able to get across! Or, do like we did and head across when there was some rain. It seemed to put a lot of the other tourists off! Once you’ve reached the other side, head to the left and visit the John Lennon wall. It was once a wall full of graffiti where young Czech’s would complain about the Communist regime. Now it’s more of a mural to “peace and love”.
Would I go again?
I’m pretty sure I would. It wouldn’t be top of my list because there are so many other places in Europe I want to see. But if you ever get bored during one of your lunch breaks and find yourself looking for a quick and cheap city break to get away to, then you can’t really go wrong with Prague. If you’ve got any ideas for any others, then do let me know!