I've just come back from a weekend break in Prague. What I didn't realise before I went, is how beautiful the capital city of the Czech Republic is. Here are my top tips on what to do on a Christmas break.
1. Get your bearings and learn some of the troubled history of this city by going on a tour. Almost undamaged by World War 2, Prague's medieval centre is a mix of cobbled lanes, walled courtyards, and Gothic architecture. We did a free tour by New Prague Tours. The guides work on tips and our guide, Colin, was informative and funny and helped up gained a valuable insight into Prague's history. Wrap up warm as it was near freezing in December.
2. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without visiting Prague Christmas markets. The main ones are in The Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Traditional crafts such as glassware, wooden toys and decorations, mix with food stalls selling mulled wine, Prague ham, and lager. In the old Town Square, the stunning Christmas tree, illuminated at night, is worth a visit alone.
The Christmas Tree In Old Town Square
The Prague Castle Complex
4. Take a walk over Charles Bridge for a great view of the city. Local artists mix with tourists, and historic statues line the bridge, but be careful of pick pockets as it can get very crowded in the day.
5. Visit the infamous Astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall. On the stroke of the hour people gather to see the 12 Apostles and the skeletal figure of Death appear. Colin, our guide, told us it is among the most over rated attractions in the world, but personally I feel it has to be seen :).
The Astronomical Clock
6. Visit the opera, the ballet or the theatre while you are there. Tickets can be bought last minute at a very reasonable price but always buy from the theatre's box office as Prague is known for ticket touts. Did you know that there are over 40 different theatres in Prague?
7. Prague's museums are known world wide for the quality of their exhibitions. The National Museum and National Gallery of Prague hold great displays and exhibitions with depth and quality. We went to the Rudolfinum to see a modern art exhibition by the brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman. These British artists are well know for their modern art based on death and life and it was certainly entertaining!
8. Try the local food, or eat out at one of the many restaurants. The local dishes include a type of goulash, stewed pork or beef with dumplings, and sausages often served as bar snacks with the local lager. Prague has also more cosmopolitan places to eat and drink with a range of prices and cuisines. We ate at Sansho - and had an absolutely fantastic meal. They serve a tasting menu and although the food does not have a Michelin star we felt it should have had. The Asian inspired food was beautifully presented by a past chef from Nobu, London. Our 7 course meal with wine came to £80 and for food of this standard we thought this was amazing. At the other end of the scale we found a great pizza at a bargain price in Giovanni's, just behind the Old Town Square. We had a two course meal with wine for under £30 for two. It was tasty, service was quick and the restaurant had a certain rustic charm.
Delicious Food At Sansho
9. Where to stay. There is a wide variety of hotels of all prices in Prague. We stayed at the Hotel Maximilian. This stylishly modern hotel doesn't compromise on service, you can even have a pet goldfish brought to your room for your stay! Complimentary tea and coffee is served every day and the buffet breakfast had a good mix of tempting hot and cold dishes including food cooked to order. The rooms have facilities such as dvd players, coffee machines and free wi fi. We were very impressed with this hotel as on a special rate we only paid £90 a night which is fabulous for a city centre hotel of this standard.
10. Be careful of pick pockets and petty crime. Tourists can be scammed by people in the street asking if you want to change money and ripping you off. Taxi drivers are renowned for over charging, so arrange taxis with your hotel or look at Trip Advisor for reputable companies. I had heard that there used to be a problem with stag dos but we never saw anything when we were there. Fortunately serious crime is rare.
In conclusion, there is so much to see and do in Prague, and we were pleasantly surprised by the cost of living. It is a beautiful city with amazing architecture and is a perfect city to visit this time of year to enjoy the Christmas markets. If you have never been to Prague I urge you to go.
Have you been to Prague? What did you think of it? If you haven't been would you like to visit the Christmas markets?