First-timer in Prague

In Prague, Travel Guides
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Prague has a beauty and charm that lived through aggressive wars. Some say that Hitler spared it because of its beauty. It’s a city that borders on east and west, old and new, culture and party.
One of the reasons it attracts tourists is because it’s cheap but rich in its history. With its cobbled squares, rich baroque architecture and incredible charm, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a fairytale.
If you are coming to Prague just for a few days, here is a small guide that will help you get the most of it.

 

Make your walking tour

Personally, I am not a fan of tour guides. I prefer wandering on my own and getting lost in the city. When you start walking around streets of Prague, you’ll realise how much there is to do and see. If you don’t like walking or you can’t do lang walks, there is another option. Prague offers Segway tours. A Segway is a self-balancing electric vehicle with gyroscopes to remain upright. Drivers stand on a small platform and control the vehicle by leaning in different directions. Just watch for the pedestrians. However, for me, there is no alternative way to discover the city but on the foot.
Begin with the Prague Castle, and then walk leisurely through it. Make a stop to go inside St. Vitus Cathedral and afterwards continue down into Malá Strana to get to Charles Bridge. Enjoy the view while walking across the to get to the Old Town Square.
Prague Castle is a vast complex of buildings that resembles a small city in a city. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest castle complex in the world. It is also an important symbol for the Czech state. From the foundation in the ninth century, it has been a seat of Czech rulers and later presidents. The main entrance gate at the Castle Square leads to the first courtyard, where palace guards parade during the Change of the Guards. If you’re lucky, you might run across one of them yourself! They parade ever hour.

Prague Castle

Change of the Guards

Guard at the main entrance

Go inside St. Vitus, the spiritual symbol of Czech Republic, which is sometimes recognised as the “real Prague Castle”. Charles Bridge (Karluv most) is the most iconic of Vltava crossing, which has stood there since 1357. It’s always crowded, so I suggest a stroll early in the morning or late evening when there is not a soul in sight so you could have the entire bridge for yourself and enjoy the view.

St Vitus
Finish your tour at the Old Town Square in front of the iconic image of Prague – the astronomical clock. Watch the procession of the twelve apostles ring out on the hour and judge by yourself. Last year the clock turned 605 years, which makes it the oldest working clock in the world. There are many legends tied to this clock, but the most famous is the one of Master Hanus.
According to the legend, Master Hanus was chosen by the councillors of Prague to construct a unique time measuring device that would have many other functions besides measuring time. Master did what he had promised. After he had introduced his perfect machine to the councillors, they got anxious. The machine should stay unique and they thought the clockmaker could make a similar machine for another city. They wanted to make it impossible for him. One night a group of people broke into the clockmaker’s house and blinded him with a piece of iron. He knew very well who was behind it. Therefore, he asked one of his pupils to take him to the heart of the astronomical clock. He accompanied the clockmaker, who despite his blindness, stopped the clock. Based on the legend it took more than a century before the astronomical clock was working again.

The iconic image of Prague

The astronomical clock

 

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Eat locally

Czech cuisine is heavy, influenced by Celts and Slavs. It consists mostly of meat, side dish and, of course, beer. If you are a vegetarian, you might stay hungry. Most popular local dishes are steak, chicken and pork eaten with potatoes, rice and cabbage. There are many restaurants around town where you can eat traditional food for a reasonable price. I ate at “V Cipu” and “Klášterní pivovar Strahov“. The food was exquisite and portions large enough to cope with an appetite enhanced by miles of walking through the streets of Prague.

Czech cuisine

Czech beer should accompany every meal. Not only do Czechs like beer, but it’s also half the price of any soda drink or coffee. The most famous beer brands are Plzensky Prazdroj ( PilsnerUrquella), Budejovicky Budvar ( Budweiser), but equally good are Krusovice, Radegast, Gambrinus or Staropramen. Dark beer is sweet and light beer is bitter in taste. If you are ordering a beer in the pub, just ask for a big/small glass of dark/light beer.
If you want a quick bite while walking the streets, Trdelnik is a perfect snack. It’s a tube-shaped, sweet pastry roasted over an open fire and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. There are myriad of vendors

 

around the city.

 

 

Climb for the view

There are plenty of places where you can have a view over the entire city. You can take a funicular to Petrin hill, climb the Old Town Bridge Tower after taking the stroll on Charles Bridge or climb the Old Tower Hall Town next to the Astronomical Clock. I chose the view from the Astronomical Tower at Clementinum.
The Clementinum (Klementinum), one of the largest collections of historic buildings in Europe, is home to the National Library of the Czech Republic. The baroque buildings were originally part of a Jesuit College. The library eventually became the property of the state after the Jesuits were dislodged. It became a public library in 1782 and shortly after constituted as the National Library. With more than six million books, it includes copies of every book published in the state. A highlight of the library is the exquisite Baroque Library Hall with its beautiful ceiling. The 68-meter-tall Astronomical Tower offers a spectacular view of Prague It will leave you speechless and breathless. The observatory is quite small so watch your step.

The view from the Astronomical Tower

Prague offers more than meets the eye. The sparkling Czech capital of Prague certainly has enough in the way of history, culture, and cuisine to entertain tourists from all walks of life. A few days won’t be sufficient to see everything this city offers. However, I do believe I’ve covered the essentials.

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