“It’s a city so magnificent that even Hitler ordered his troops not to damage the architecture,” said a local as we ambled through Prague. It aptly summed up my two-day adventure in the Czech capital.
WALKING DOWN HISTORY LANE
The most productive way of spending an afternoon in Prague is to either trace the narrow lanes emanating radially from the Old Town, or to take free walking tours. Opting for the latter, the expedition that I signed up for had us gathering at the Old Town square at three o’ clock. Only once the tour guide begins offering insights into the Golden City’s rich past – both glorious and tragic – do you realise the magnitude of what has gone down on the soil under your feet. It’s almost as if you’re travelling in time, to the legends of the Krok Daughters, the city’s years as the Bohemian capital, the German invasion and the Velvet Dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
During the walk, you might also get to witness the hourly show at the highly popular Astronomical Clock, which could turn out to be a bummer. But the Church of our Lady Before Týn, the House of the Stone Bell, the Charles Bridge, the University campus and the Jewish Quarter more than make up for it. There’s also the Pinkas Synagogue and the Old Cemetery, in case Nazi history piques your interest.
GOULASH STATE OF MIND
SELF-BALANCING SWAG: If walking is not your thing, don’t worry. Plenty of companies also offer experiential tours on Segways and e-bikes.
While strolling in the heart of Prague, you could also come across a group of noisy, middleaged locals, who would either be singing Czech songs or guffawing hysterically. Don’t worry – it’s a part of their everyday routine to get high on some draught Pilsner Urquell, Krusovice and Bernard before slipping into bed for a nice siesta. Usually they’re a bunch of warm folks, who will gladly welcome you to their table; but if you wish to explore solo, there are a number of other places worth trying out around the Naměstí Míru square, which is also the shopping hub of the city.
FOOD TIP: Kulajda is a Czech soup. An ‘updated’ version is made with mushrooms, sour cream, potatoes, dill and quail egg
ATTENTION, BEER PEOPLE: The Richter Brewery, The Brewery Club, the Pivni Galerie and the Chodovar are must-visit pubs for beer aficionados
Among local favourites are the stunning La Boheme Café and the emerald-hued Bistro Zahrada. Alternatively, you could also climb up to the Prague Castle, perched upon a hill across the Vltava River, to explore the cafes and restaurants – some of which have outdoor grills – in the nearby suburbs. The 360-degree view makes for a starry-eyed setting, with the local vines taking things up a notch further. While voyagers from across the globe crave the glorious goulash here, the steak tartare, the fried cheese and the kulajda can’t be missed either.
THE PRAHA LIFE
For a posh living experience, you can look at the Hotel Kings Court Prague in the Staré Město locality. The five-star accommodation costs around €100-120 per night, while the Hilton Prague Old Town and the Four Seasons Prague also make for chic propositions. Then again, you could also surf through some luxury apartments near the Charles Bridge and the Castle, which cost less, without compromising on lavishness; Airbnb should also help.
FIVE LEVELS OF FUN: Located right near Prague’s famous Charles Bridge, this five level superclub, Karlovy Lázně, is thought to be the largest nightclub complex in central Europe
Beginning from around €40 a night for basic digs, the ones with fancy Bohemian themes and designer decor go up to €120 a night. You can also liven up your stay by picking one of the city’s hostels, which offer you the opportunity to socialise and network. They cost considerably less and present vibrant nightlife choices, having effervescent in-house bars and being pit stops for several pub crawls that start at around €10.
BLAST FROM THE PAST: The food at La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise is based on recipes from an 1880 Czech cookbook. Allow at least three hours for a meal here
These intoxicating walks veer around the Karlovy Lázně, one of the biggest music clubs in Central Europe, and make for a night to remember (or not, as the case may be). If this doesn’t constitute your idea of revelry, Prague also offers boat parties for discerning merrymakers, from €15 per head. The pre-game shenanigans, usually in Old Town pubs, culminate in two hours of indulgence on the cruise, and finally an after party to dance the night away.
Boat cruises through the day offer a tranquil experience on the Vlatava River