Prague BLEW MY MIND. I was excited to go there, but to be honest, this city was not at the top of my list. I more so chose to go there because the price was right, but my oh my was I impressed! Read on to learn everything you need to know to make your trip to Prague perfect.
When to Go?
Well, I have been at one time of they year so excuse my bias – but going around Christmas time was AMAZING!
I would highly recommend going at the beginning of January because, although it was still busy, many people told us it was very quiet compared to other times of the year. I can’t imagine fighting with crowds way bigger than what was already there.
Additionally, the Christmas Markets are so lovely. It gives you something to do between all of your big sight seeing and they are full of little treats and trinkets. AND… HOT DRINKS!
My goodness, the hot drinks were endless and each one was amazing. I’ve included a picture even though I’m sure you all know what a hot drink looks like – but just look how cute Chris is! In fact, I think I’ll even include a list of must-try hot drinks even though you would likely work this out yourself. But can we just take a moment and appreciate:
- Mulled Wine (this is hot wine for anyone who doesn’t know and it tastes like Christmas!)
- Hot Apple Cider
- Hot Pear Cider – this was my FAVOURITE
- Hot chocolate
So, to sum up, the first week of January is the best time to go to Prague because:
- It is relatively much less crowded than other times of the year
- The Christmas Markets stay up until Orthodox Christmas (which is roughly January 7th)
- Yes it is cold, but ALL.THE.HOT.DRINKS.
Where to Stay?
My husband and I stayed at a hotel called “Golden Prague Rooms” and we were really pleased with it!
It didn’t have loads of fancy extras, but it had a comfy bed, it was clean, the bathroom was nice and we had the ability to access netflix on our TV (ok, I know.. I know.. this is not necessary when travelling and the world outside is so much more interesting but my husband was recovering from knee surgery still so we needed to take frequent breaks from all the walking and netflix was welcome during these breaks!). Plus, the staff were friendly and accommodating. When I asked for extra pillows, it was no problem!
Additionally, the location was excellent. We were just a few blocks away from the main square and the main Christmas Market set up which was SO nice! We were just off of the main road with the high end shops and it felt very safe. And the surrounding buildings were beautiful – but that is literally true of all of Prague. Seriously, even the sidewalk is beautiful there!
We also were located very near public transport which really came in handy for both getting around the city and getting to and from the airport.
What to Eat?
In short…EVERYTHING! The food was so delicious. Every meal I had was so tasty, bar one odd breakfast I had at a strange hipster cafe (which Chris ate for me and gave me his breakfast instead, bless his soul!).
The food is another reason for a winter trip to Prague. It’s very hearty and warming. Think lots of meat, gravy and potatoes. Just the kind of food you will want after a long day of walking and seeing the beautiful sights in the cold. Here are some of my suggestions of classic entrees to try while in Prague along with some drool-worthy photos:
Pork Knuckle: A lot of the touristy places have a sort cheap-y looking version of this but even that looked good to me. My husband ordered this at a nicer restaurant and was not disappointed!
Duck: to be honest… duck is hit or miss with me. Sometimes I find it a bit greasy but the duck I had in Prague was DELICIOUS.
Schnitzel: When is schnitzel not good? Always a good choice!
Dumplings: CAN WE JUST! These dumplings are not like any other I’ve had. It was like a whole mini loaf of bread but way better than bread. They were sort of sweet and so tasty.
STRUDEL – you must get an apple strudel! SO good.
Chimney cakes – Now, you don’t even have to count this as dessert. They sell them at all of the Christmas markets and at loads of little shop windows along the streets. So it doesn’t have to be after dinner. It can just be a snack. And then you can have your actual dessert later – hehe.
If you don’t know what a chimney cake is, they are iconic Prague. I’m sure loads of people just get them for a photo but they are really tasty, too! It is essentially just baked dough sprinkled with sugar and then you can get all sorts of fillings (nutella, ice cream, fruit, etc).
The only downside is that my fingers got cold when I was eating it, buuut it was still worth it. I went for the classic with nutella (twice…) and highly recommend it!
BEER, BEER, BEER
The saying is that beer is cheaper than water in Prague! This is actually true at a lot of places, but beer wasn’t as cheap as I thought it would be – too much hype, I think. It is still plenty cheap! Although I have heard stories that 10 – 20 years ago, you could go for a night out with a few friends and you could decide on who would buy the beer for the night (for the WHOLE night, and for the WHOLE group) and it would cost the buyer around $10 – $20 for night of heavy drinking.
That is not the case now. However, it is still cheaper than most places and it is plentiful so bottoms up!
What to Wear?
LAYERS BABY! Dress WARM! Let me preface all of this with saying that I am one of those people that is always cold. But still…
I read blogs before I went that gave me the same advice. I mean, I still packed some nice cozy sweaters and my parka and all that but I was thinking: PSH! I am a Wisconsin native. Surely I will be fine!
Well.. let me tell you – it was COLD. Colder than I expected. But still worth it!
Here is a little packing list for a 3 day trip for your convenience:
- Warm Hat (x2 if you want variety in your pics)
- Warm Gloves/Mittens
- A big warm scarf (blanket scarves are so nice to have for the plane anyways!)
- A parka – I wore my North Face Down Parka (which is my most loved item of clothing. So warm.)
- 2 Warm Sweaters
- 2 Long sleeve tops
- 2 Pairs of jeans/trousers/pants
- 3-4 pairs of warm socks
- Undergarments (I trust your decision-making skills on this one)
- Warm, comfy shoes (I wore a sort of faux-fur lined chelsea boot by Ugg – that really don’t look like Uggs – and they kept me toasty warm).
This is definitely a trip you can do with just a carry on if you don’t mind layering or wearing somethings twice! Save that money on the luggage and spend it when you actually arrive – that’s my motto.
Now, I was thinking I would be showing off my multiple cute sweaters, etc for the insta photos but, alas, my big parka jacket was the star of the vast majority of my photos. It will be too cold to take your jacket off for outdoor photos (unless you are one of those fascinating female creatures that does not feel the cold and can rock an outfit in any weather… I am not one of you).
Thus, 2 sweaters is PLENTY. Everyday, I wore a long sleeve top under my sweater for extra warmth, then the sweater, scarf, hat, mittens, parka, jeans, warm socks and warm boots.
We never went anywhere that made us feel like we needed to ‘dress up,’ which meant I had some wasted outfits in my suitcase. Admittedly, I did ‘dress up’ a little for an amateur comedy show we went to – not only did I freeze, but the dress and tights combo was not at all necessary! I also brought a cute, but less warm, leopard print fluffy coat that did not get worn. And my sweater only made its debut in a photo once or twice when we were indoors. So, I advise you just prioritise warmth/function when packing!
I have included a photo with a rare sweater sighting and less rare beer sighting.
So basically, there is no need to over pack! Seriously, I don’t even think you need to worry about your hair that much because you will most likely be wearing a hat most of the time anyways. You can definitely fit everything you need into a carry on for this trip, which means you can save money by not paying for that checked luggage… cha-CHING 🙂
What to Do?
Ok, this is the part you have been waiting for! *DRUM ROLL…. bbbrrrrrrrmmm* FULL ITINERARY BELOW:
We went to Prague for 5 days and 4 nights. However, my husband was on crutches as he was still recovering from a knee surgery (torn ACL…ouch!) so we really took our time and spread out the sightseeing. We tried to do as little walking as possible but still wanted to see everything. Thus, I think you could go for a shorter amount of time and pack in all of our activities just fine!
That being said, I would say I would recommend 3 days in Prague!
Overview (with a detailed description below)
- Charles Bridge
- Scooter tour
- Christmas Markets
- Neon Mini Golf
Breakfast at some place convenient and on the way. We just picked out breakfast spots by walking past them and risking it if they looked good!
Then make your way to your pre booked scooter tour (yes, you should book in advance). For us, the famous Charles Bridge was on the way there.
This bridge will definitely have a crowd. If you want to get some photos with less people, you could try to wake up really early and beat the masses before breakfast, but I enjoyed it well enough when it was buzzing with local artists, street performers, and tourists.
The bridge itself is beautiful, and it has these gorgeous towers on either side. You can even go up one of the towers to a look out if you’d like!
The scooter tour we took was amazing! To be honest, I bought this for my husband as a Christmas present because I knew he would still be on crutches from his knee surgery and I thought we could see loads this way while saving him a lot of walking.
But, I would recommend it to anyone! And I recommend you do it on day 1. We made a mental note of what we wanted to see more of, where we wanted to go back to, and things that we decided we could check off our list from the tour.
We saw so much of the city, and the tour guide was a really nice guy who grew up in Prague so he had some really cool stories from his childhood, the culture, and the history of the city.
Our tour went like this:
*We arrived and had some time to practice driving the scooters. They gave us warm gloves to borrow and some tea while we waited for the other 2 members of our tour to arrive (only 4 of us plus the guide!).
*We took off following our guide and made about 12 – 13 stops along the way. We could get off the scooters, take pictures, or have the guide take photos for us. He told us a little about each stop.
*About half way through, we stopped at a gorgeous overlook (unfortunately it was foggy so the photos are not very clear) and again, he gave us hot tea which was really tasty and great for warming up.
It was so nice and we got to see SO MUCH! Can’t recommend this enough.
After your tour, stop for some lunch. The locals will recommend a few good options for restaurants so I recommend you just go with one of their suggestions! Warm up with some beer and a nice, hot meal.
After lunch, go and check out the Christmas Markets and Old Town Square (assuming you are there in winter…otherwise, just wander around the cute shops and gorgeous streets anyways!).
You will likely wander by Christmas Market stalls where ever you go, but take a moment to look through some of the little crafts.
We stopped to watch a black smith creating some trinkets for a few minutes and it was really cool!
If you have room after lunch (or even if you don’t), stop for a chimney cake and take those insta photos.
Dinner time! Get your grub on (see my food recommendations above) and then make your way to NEON MINI GOLF. Who doesn’t love mini golf? And even better, who doesn’t love neon, black lights, and face paint?!
We heard of this little mini golf place and I am so glad we checked it out because it was just a nice way to fill an evening.
You can either pay for just mini golf, or a deal that includes some drinks. Then, they give you a glow stick bracelet and there is a little mirror and neon face paint. Cute!
It was a nice way to escape the crowds, stay warm, and just a fun alternative to drinking all night (nothing wrong with that from time to time but hey, variety is the spice of life!)
- Charles Bridge (again)
- John Lennon Wall
- Dancing House
- Water Tour
If you are staying near Old Town like we were, you will end up crossing Charles Bridge often, which just gives you more photo opportunities and a chance to really soak in the beauty! This might be the morning you wish to wake up early for less crowded photos.
Once you have crossed, you will be fairly close to the John Lennon Wall. This wall is famous for representing the freedom of speech, along with general messages of peace and love. The art work on it is ever changing but the message always remains.
Stop at the wall for a photo. We weren’t that bothered about the crowds, but, again, if you want to take your time for a photo without crowds, wake up early! Although, I bet there will still be some people there no matter when you go.
Make your way to Dancing House. We took public transport to this stop (again, peep the crutch). And I really wasn’t sure what it was all about at first.
We took a photo outside, admiring the strange architecture, before wandering in to see if there was anything to actually ‘do’ there.
Turns out, it’s definitely worth going inside! Once you go inside, you can go up some stairs and wait in line to go to the rooftop bar/viewing deck. As an entry fee, you just have to buy a drink from the bar. I thought this was a really fair deal actually!
I got a hot chocolate and my husband got a beer – which I then drank some of, too haha. But the drinks were no more expensive than anywhere else so I thought it was quite the deal!
Plus, it wasn’t that crowded, the wait wasn’t that long, and the view was amazing. Check it out!
If you’ve got a spare afternoon, you may as well get a different perspective of the city on a water tour. They aren’t very expensive, and to be quite honest, they aren’t incredible so if you don’t have time, don’t worry about skipping it.
That being said, we had some time and needed an activity that didn’t require walking (again, husband on crutches!). This was a pleasant little cruise back and forth on the river with some facts about the city and its history. It was nice to admire the architecture without any tourists blocking the view. Also, we were in a covered boat where it was nice and warm which was a very welcome experience after a long time of walking around out in the frigid air.
- Gondola to the ‘Eiffel Tower’
- Strahov Monstery Area and Viewing Deck
- Browse/buy some local art work
- Castle Complex
- Jewish Quarter
Prague’s Astronomical Clock was built in 1410 making it the oldest clock in the world. It is located in Old Town (very near the hotel I have recommended!) and every hour on the hour, little figurines come dancing out of the clock for a little show. They are said to represent four of the most negative traits in the 15th century: greed, lust, vanity, and death.
Personally, I was glad to have seen the little ‘show’ but it is often criticised for being overrated. I don’t think you should get there early for it or worry too much about planning it into your schedule. If you are walking by when it is near to the hour, just stop and take a look.
There will most definitely be a HUGE crowd gathered for this. Luckily, the show is up high so you will be able to see just fine. And it only lasts for a couple of minutes and then you can break away from the masses of people.
Next, you can take a stroll across the city and ride the gondola up to the The Petřín Lookout Tower (Prague’s very own mini Eiffel Tower!).
Once you get up on the gondola, you can pay to go up the lookout tower. We opted out of this as the tower is all stairs, but I still recommend going up the gondola and checking out this part of the city anyways. It was a lovely little area with amazing views. Plus, the gondola ticket only cost as much as a public transport ticket (very little!).
If you carry on to your left (facing the tower), you’ll eventually get to a really sweet, quaint little area with an underground cellar restaurant.
This is the Strahov Monstery area. We were told that the local monks make their own beer and wine which is served to the customers! So cool!
Either grab a bite to eat here or just have yet another hot drink/beer.
Explore the Jewish Quarter of Prague. This area is known for its fascinating history and incredible architecture so spend some time learning and viewing!
Finally, make your way out to dinner one last time for some hearty Czech food. Raise a glass and drink to the fact that you are in one of the world’s most beautiful cities!
Wishing you an exciting adventure! Xx