Mini Retirement Project

What You Need To Know Before You Visit Prague

Prague is the complete opposite of Berlin. While Berlin is modern and hip, Prague still maintains its old town charms and traditional values. At first glance, Prague appears to be frozen in time thanks to its beautiful old buildings, castles and town squares that have survived the past few world wars.

However, after delving deeper into the city we soon realised that the entire Old Town and Castle Quarter were populated by tourists. Most locals in these areas were people working in the tourism industry and shop retailers. I have mixed feelings about Prague. I may be slightly biased by the fact that we both fell ill for two whole days in Prague, but mostly I think it’s because unlike Berlin, we didn’t really get to experience a lot (if any) of the local scenes in Prague.

CONS:

  1. Maybe this was due to the tourist infestation of the city during this time of the year, but we just felt that we were being ripped off by the aggressive local retailers, especially in the Old Town Square Christmas market.
  2. Also, there were quite a few dodgy characters that we encountered at the train stations and Old Town Square, areas that were well known for pick pockets and scammers preying on tourists.
  3. The Christmas market in Prague Old Town Square was supposed to be the biggest one for the city, has left us a bit underwhelmed. No doubt the market was beautiful since it was setup in the middle of the famed town square, but it was the smallest one we’ve encountered so far and most disappointing factor was the lack off variety in the stalls and produce that were being sold.
  4. There wasn’t much to see outside of the two main tourist districts. So really, Prague makes a good short Eastern Europe pit stop on your way to another destination.

PROS:

  1. To be fair, everything else outside of Old Town and Castle Quarter were relatively affordable. The items on the local supermarket shelves were particularly cheap. When we fell sick, all we were craving for was a hot bowl of chicken soup. I decided to make a quick dash to the nearby supermarket to get a few ingredients to make a big hearty pot of chicken soup. That big pot of soup costs only 3euros!
  2. Beautiful buildings and scenery around Old Town and Castle Quarter makes it a photographer’s paradise with many excellent vantage points around town.
  3. Our accommodation was a major plus point, excellent room, location and very nice hosts. We even had a pet bunny in the house!

Old Town

Having visited 4 countries already as I write this, Prague stands out as the most distinct and beautiful old city. The Old Town (Stare Mesto) is the centerpiece of Prague, intact with beautiful heritage buildings exudes an air of romance at nightfall when the orange hued street lamps light up the streets of Old Town. Walking around Old Town Square in the evening felt abit like being in a fairytale.

Also for the opera and theatre fans, the tickets to a show were very reasonable (approx 10–15euros) compared to Vienna. We didn’t manage to catch a show, however reading the reviews online, it would appear that Prague offers a good and cheaper alternative for classical music plays.

Horse carriages offering tourists a little bit of the old town nostalgia

Horse carriages offering tourists a little bit of the old town nostalgia

Standing tall and grand in the middle of Old Town square is the Church of Our Lady Tyn

Standing tall and grand in the middle of Old Town square is the Church of Our Lady Tyn

 

Christmas markets in the Old Town Square

Christmas markets in the Old Town Square

 

Opera theatre

Opera theatre

 

Beautiful night scene of Old Town Square

Beautiful night scene of Old Town Square

 

Castle Quarter

Castle Quarter (Hradcany) is a Unesco heritage site known for Prague Castle and the surrounding sights which are packed with Czech history. Castle Quarter dominates the skyline of Prague as it is located on a hill on the other side of River Vltava. Aside from the multitude of historical museums, cathedral and castle buildings to visit, Castle Quarter also offers the best vantage point for photography. Get yourself a combi ticket at Prague Castle to get the most out of your visit. Some of the notable sites were captured in the photos below.

Colourful shops and cafes lined up along the pathway to Prague Castle.

Colourful shops and cafes lined up along the pathway to Prague Castle.

 

Eternally flocked with tourist

Eternally flocked with tourist

 

Beautiful skyline of Prague filled with red tiled roofs.

Beautiful skyline of Prague filled with red tiled roofs.

 

Gothic exterior of St Vitus Cathedral

Gothic exterior of St Vitus Cathedral

 

Daunting interior of the cathedral. Feels like a Game of Throne set!

Daunting interior of the cathedral. Feels like a Game of Throne set!

 

Another view of the Prague skyline. See Charles Bridge from this distant?

Another view of the Prague skyline. See Charles Bridge from this distant?

 

Us in front of St Vitus Catherdral

Us in front of St Vitus Catherdral

 

Golden Alley within Prague Castle.

Golden Alley within Prague Castle.

 

Pick your weapon of choice.

Pick your weapon of choice.

 

View of Prague’s Castle Quarter from Charles Bridge

View of Prague’s Castle Quarter from Charles Bridge

 

Charles Bridge at nightfall

Charles Bridge at nightfall

 

Petrin Tower on Petrin Hill. Good park to stroll on a sunny day to get away from the major tourist scenes. Try climbing up the tower for another great vantage point of the city.

Petrin Tower on Petrin Hill. Good park to stroll on a sunny day to get away from the major tourist scenes. Try climbing up the tower for another great vantage point of the city.

 

Food In Prague

Unfortunately our appetites have shrunk in Prague. As mentioned earlier, we fell sick and were homebound for two whole days out of our week long duration in Prague. That could be the cause of our lack of foodie finds, but generally Prague didn’t impress us much in the food aspect. The foodie scene was not as evolved as its neighbouring cities, so fusion or international cuisines were not as plentiful. Their traditional meals are generally meat and potatoes with not much greens on the plate. I’m all for trying new food and traditional cuisines, but I can now conclude that Prague’s traditional fares are just not for me.

The famous Prague ham roasting on a barbeque spit

The famous Prague ham roasting on a barbeque spit

 

These hams were charged by the weight, we didn’t know and were given a big chunk of meat and two cold breads that cost 15euros to eat outside in the cold. The meat was OK, nothing to shout about.

These hams were charged by the weight, we didn’t know and were given a big chunk of meat and two cold breads that cost 15euros to eat outside in the cold. The meat was OK, nothing to shout about.

 

Behold traditional Czech fare, meat and potato dumplings with sauerkraut at a “recommended restaurant”. It tasted as it looks on this photo, bland.

Behold traditional Czech fare, meat and potato dumplings with sauerkraut at a “recommended restaurant”. It tasted as it looks on this photo, bland.

 

Salmon with cream and gnocchi. Gnocchi was actually potato dumplings and should be called gnocchi. Again the dish was bland.

Salmon with cream and gnocchi. Gnocchi was actually potato dumplings and shouldn’t be called gnocchi. Again the dish was bland.

 

Their version of gourmet breakfast. Gosh, we are missing Aussie breakfast so much!

Their version of gourmet breakfast. Gosh, we are missing Aussie breakfast so much!

 

We decided to escape the traditional fares and opted for something international. This dish is a pot of mussels at a Belgian Restaurant.

We decided to escape the traditional fares and opted for something international. This dish is a pot of mussels at a Belgian Restaurant.

 

 

 

Lunch at the award winning Ginger & Fred Restaurant atop the ‘Dancing Building’. We wanted to treat ourselves to something good after a week of sub par meals. Verdict: It was only OK at best.

Lunch at the award winning Ginger & Fred Restaurant atop the ‘Dancing Building’. We wanted to treat ourselves to something good after a week of sub par meals. Verdict: His lamb burger was good, my duck was OK at best.

 

Next up in our travel log series : Vienna, the city of classical music and Sachertorte

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Debbie Lim

Debbie Lim

Born and bred in Penang, Malaysia, Debbie has spent the last decade in her second home Brisbane, Australia as an engineer. Her professional experiences have taught her how to plan efficiently and manage effectively in the various aspects of her travels. She is an experienced minimalist traveler who believes in keeping it simple yet fun. You will not find a fixed itinerary sheet on her and definitely no alarm clocks or wake up calls when she travels. After spending most of her adulthood in a highly analytical and tightly regulated environment, she currently revels in a a good adventure and spontaneity when least expected.

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