Out and About

A Mini City Break To Prague

prague

A few months back, British Airways had a massive sale, and the Hubby and I managed to bag ourselves an excellent deal – a mini city break to Prague in the Czech Republic. A first time for both of us, we decided it would be a lovely way of spending some of our hard earned summer holiday. It turned out that many people we knew who had been to Prague were full of positive things to say.

So we headed to Heathrow, thronged with masses of excitable families travelling to sunshine destinations the world over. We instead headed on a plane destined for somewhere only trumped by Moscow as far as ‘European capital cities furthest from the sea’ go!

On arrival in Prague, we were met by a member of the ‘Prague Airport Transfer’ team. This company have hit the nail on the head with regards to meeting the needs of the typical Prague tourist- here for a few days, in need of some useful, trustworthy guidance to get the most out of their stay- and so offer a lot more than just shuttling from airport to hotel.

Prague from above

The Hubby and I had made the decision not to stay right in the heart of Prague, but just outside of the city, and this worked very well for us. Our very friendly and professional driver gave us a small guide book, plus a voucher for a free walking tour of the city. Another excellent gesture from the company! We decided that we would take up the offer of the tour, which would last about four hours, including a break for lunch.

Old Town Hall

The Astronomical Clock was installed and running from 1572. It not only tells the time but also relates the movement of the planets around the Earth, and the sun and moon through the signs of the zodiac.

 

Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge was constructed between 1357 and 1402 and has a collection of 30 statues along the length. These are now replicas as the originals are preserved in museums.

 

Luckily we did not have to worry about the language barrier when it came to our tour; the lady who showed us the sights spoke good English and was able to give lots of detail about Prague’s long and intricate history. Shamefully, the Hubby and I noted how most of our group were actually of non-English speaking nationalities but could still follow what was going on. At one point, we witnessed Finnish and German people chatting, in English, about the differences in language between the three! It emphasises how lucky we are that English is so universal, although challenging us not to be complacent. Wherever we go, the Hubby insists on always buying a phrasebook. His barely-used Czech version is now resident on our bookshelf, perhaps to never be used again.

view over charles bridge

Looking out over the River Vltava.

 

The Lorraine Cross

Halfway across the bridge is a brass cross where John Nepomuk’s body was thrown into the river on the order of Wenceslas IV over the election of an abbot.

 

The walking tour, we found, was the perfect way in to a short stay in a small city like Prague. Within the few hours we had covered all the main areas, with a little taster of each (we took this literally when attempting the monstrous doughnut treat ‘trdelnik’). We could then follow this trip up the next day by visiting the most interesting places to us in more detail.

prague 4

A version of a doughnut – filled with whatever you fancy e.g. ice cream or chocolate. A huge mouthful and very sweet!

 

Another major plus point for Prague is its transport system, in particular the safe, efficient Metro. We bought one ticket each day which works in the same way as the Travel Card- as long as you validated the ticket by slotting it into the machine to be stamped with the date and time, you were good to go. The simple Metro system has three main lines: A, B and C. Each one a different colour. Each line meets each other line at an interchange station, otherwise you’re simply heading along and back; no fussy branch lines or eastbound/westbound confusion here!

The Metro

A very easy to read map of the entire Metro system. 3 lines, 3 colours – simples!

 

Metro Station

Light, bright, clean, airy and safe stations with trains every couple of minutes. A quick and efficient service into the heart of the city and beyond.

 

It was so incredibly simple to understand – two directions and easy to read maps with clear station names. The Metro stations were clean and large, normally with the platform in the middle of the station and the trains running either side. Although there were a couple of escalators (I think the line B was slightly deeper underground than C) it was no where near the depths of the London Underground. The stations and trains felt safe, and were so punctual that the station clocks would count down to the next arrival in seconds!

Metro train

Metro train

 

Prague itself was a colourful mix of beautiful architecture, history and culture, with swarms of tourists from all areas of the globe. Much of the city works in squares and rectangles; very easy to navigate around on foot or public transport. Driving in the city centre is hard, with very little room to move or park. It really is a place to see more by foot – it definitely saves time! Lots of lovely places to stop and eat; friendly service with decent prices.

Old Town Square

Over looking Old Town Square from the Tower of the Town Hall. The Jan Hus Memorial can be seen on the bottom left. The magnificent gothic-looking Church of Our Lady before Tyn stands opposite with its twin towers.

 

The Hubby, a World War II buff, noted that Prague was one of the few big cities in central/western Europe to avoid major destruction in the conflict, since Czechoslovakia (as it was then) had been held by Germany since 1938. What this means is that large parts of the old town still survive intact, dating back many centuries. There were many “puzzle” sights- by which I mean that the Hubby expresses a keenness to turn the scene into a jigsaw puzzle for his own enjoyment!

A view from The Tower

A view from The Tower

 

prague

Looking up to Prague Castle and the famous St. Vitus’s Cathedral, which towers above the city around it due to its position on Hradcany Hill.

 

Obviously, and guide books will tell you the same thing about visiting major cities, you do have to have your wits about you and be sensible. There were no major issues during our visit, and we stayed sensible with where we went, where we ate and how we looked after our belongings. The taxis in Prague don’t have the best of reputations, more to do with being ripped-off than anything else, so all of our transfers/journeys were organised through the Prague Airport Transfer company – another reason why the company does so well for the visitors to Prague is the complete peace of mind they offer.

A vintage tram

A vintage tram to take you around the city.

 

The Victorian Funicular Railway

The Victorian Funicular Railway up Petrin Hill which is a popular picnic spot. You can also go up the Petrin Look Out Tower (60m high). It was built in 1891 by F Prasil for the Jubilee Exhibition as a copy of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Look out tower and park space.

Look out tower and park space.

 

On our last evening, the Hubby and I decided to treat ourselves to the Dinner River Cruise also booked through the Prague Airport Transfers company. The River Vltava flows directly through Prague and boasts wonderful views of the historic sights. A rather romantic way to spend the evening, which also included a hot and cold buffet dinner with live music.

Spectacular architecture

Spectacular architecture

prague 1

We spent a total of three nights and four days in Prague; for us it was the perfect amount of time. We didn’t go there for a rest and to relax, we were sight seeing right from the beginning, and because of this we got to see and do a lot. And all for the same cost as a few nights in a Bed and Breakfast back home.

Old Jewish Cemetery

This old Jewish Cemetery was one of the few burial sites available to Prague’s Jews. When the plot was full, graves were built up in layers. It is estimated that some 200,000 Jews are buried here. The oldest headstone is dated 1439. The final burial took place in 1787.

 

street scene

A well worth it trip for those of you that have never been. Just make sure you take the right currency with you and don’t assume that because it is Europe that you need Euros. Nearly made that mistake! It is the Czech Crown or czk for short, although a few hotels here and there may take Euros.

Where have you visited on a city break and would recommend to others?

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  • Mel
    August 6, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    We took a 3 day break in Prague a few years after the Czech Republic had been formed and they were still gearing up for tourism. We had the main sights on our ‘to see’ list, but hadn’t bargained on snow every day! Luckily for us we had selected an hotel near to the centre which was in walking distance of most things and we were able to pop back during the day to warm up.
    The abiding memory which we both took away, apart from the majestic buildings, was the sight of the walls in the Jewish memorial museum. So incredibly humbling and very upsetting.
    We have since visited Changi in Singapore which leaves one with a similar exasperation as to what man is capable of doing to his fellow human beings.
    I think you did well to go at this time of the year and I’m so pleased that the Czechs have got into gear where tourists are concerned. Fascinating city which felt different somehow from other European capitals.

    • Donna
      August 12, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      It’s interesting to read your account of Prague, although I am finding it incredibly hard to imagine the snow part! We also visited the Jewish memorial, and it was indeed upsetting; I didn’t like being in there. But the tourism has definitely picked up since your visit – tour guides and gift shops everywhere!!

  • Lilian @ Lil' Hidden Treasures
    February 26, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Wow! I have never had the opportunity to visit any of the European cities but wish to do so one day. Your photos are amazing. If I do ever get a chance to go to Europe, I’ll definitely check out Prague. It’s so beautiful!

    • Donna
      February 26, 2017 at 6:43 pm

      There are so many beautiful European places to visit; Prague is definitely one of them. Fingers crossed you get to go there – lots to see and do!

  • LaDawn
    February 26, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Love your account of Prague. I’ve never been, but it looks beautiful.

    • Donna
      February 26, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      Thank you! If you get a chance to go, it is definitely worth it!

  • Traci York
    February 26, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    It looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    • Donna
      February 28, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Thank you. I recommend a visit if you can! 😊

  • Shayne Parkinson
    February 26, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    A great report of your visit, with lovely pictures! We spent a few days in Prague last year and absolutely loved it.

    • Donna
      February 28, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      Thank you! It has been on my to-do list for ages. So glad I have been – still lots more to see and do 🙂

  • Ritu
    April 6, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Another place I’d love to go!

    • Donna
      April 6, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      ooooo you must!!! 🙂

  • Josy A
    April 6, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    This looks like a lovely little holiday! I love your photos!! 🙂

    • Donna
      April 6, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      Thank you 🙂 Yes it was, somewhere we’d never been but easy to get to and navigate around.

  • Emmalene
    April 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Great blog; I’ve visited Prague twice now but both before i started blogging and hubby started photographing so I think it may be time for a revisit!

    • Donna
      April 6, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      Thank you 🙂 There are so many blogging and photography opportunities in Prague – def re-visit!

  • Judy Martin
    September 7, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Wow, what a beautiful place. My nephew worked in Prague for a while and loved it. The company you went with sounded like they were organised and had everything covered too 🙂

  • Jennifer
    September 7, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    I have never been, but your pictures were beautiful. Another item added to the bucket list.

  • Claire Saul
    September 7, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Stunning photos! Just pushing under hubby’s nose in the hope he might be inspired to “surprise” me!! Thanks for sharing #BigUpYourBlog