The Czech Republic, small in size and well connected to Eastern and Western Europe, you’ll want to ‘Czech’ this one off your bucket list.
PRAGUE / Since the fall of communism in 1989, Prague has become one of the top tourist spots in Europe. Friends and fellow travellers couldn’t speak more highly of the capital of the Czech Republic, raving reviews of the cheap beer, good food and idyllic castle views. We too can vouch for the beauty and charm of Prague.
Nestled on the Vltava River, separating the west and east banks, Prague has an interesting history. Medieval castles, gothic churches and architecture, Nazi occupation, communism, the Velvet Revolution and the eventual split of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia (the Velvet Divorce). The rich history of Prague was explained excellently on our walking tour of the Old Town, as usual, we would highly recommend this. On the walk we explored the old town, new town and Jewish district, with an excellent summary of key events to bring Prague to its modern-day state.
Following the walking tour, we walked to the Metronome at Letna Park. The wall in front of the Metronome is a popular place to hang out, probably more so in summer, and an ideal view looking back at the Charles Bridge. Then back to the main square of the Old Town to Teresa U Prince, a rooftop bar with overpriced drinks by the usual standard but so worth it for the impressive birds’ eye view. From here, Czech beer in hand, you can observe the many tourists admiring the astronomical clock and browsing the wooden huts of the traditional Christmas market (if you’re here in December or January). In the warmer months, I think it would be the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset over the medieval buildings that surround.
For our other days in Prague, we walked across the Charles Bridge, explored Prague Castle with a self-guided tour app, drank coffee in cute cafes, ate a lot of Asian food at very reasonable prices in order to get our fix (sushi, Vietnamese, Thai) and made the most of the ridiculously cheap beer (think $2.50 AUD for 0.5L). Some of our fave eat spots would be; Yori Restaurant, Wok & Sushi, Pho Viet Restaurant and Mezi Srnky. Mezi Srnky, in the Vinohrady neighbourhood would be one of the best breakfasts we’d had for a while, super delish, excellent coffee and a plant filled space.
While browsing in different shops during our time here, I stumbled across the children’s book, ‘The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain’ by Peter Sís. It covers some big issues in a meaningful and child friendly way, very interesting.
Probably the best part about visiting Prague, is it’s cheap, efficient and reliable transport system. Notably, the journey to the airport costs each person $2 AUD and takes 30 minutes from the centre of town. For us, this was unheard of, as often the flights in Europe can be almost as expensive than the transit from airport to accommodation.
ČESKÝ KRUMLOV / A three-hour train ride to the south of Prague, you’ll be whisked away into the fairy-tale town known as Český Krumlov. Situated in the South Bohemia region of the Czech Republic, the quaint small town has a distinct medieval feel. It’s historic centre, centred around the Český Krumlov Castle, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and was given this status along with the historic Prague castle district.
Český Krumlov is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe and never experienced a major fire, a battle, or any other town-destroying events. We spent just a night in this quaint little town and in my opinion, it was a perfect amount of time, especially in the winter when you are somewhat limited to your outdoor time. The Castle is a must must must visit. The view from each arch of the castle, absolutely stunning. Rooftops dusted in snow, the Vltava surrounding the medieval city like a moat and the rolling white hills of the countryside.
Svornosti Square, the central square is another great spot to take in the medieval architecture. Through winter, the Český Christmas Market is small but oh so delightful. There are plenty of stands selling Svarak (Czech mulled wine) and the usual German inspired delicacies.
As far as food in Český, we ate a ‘Medieval Feast’ at Krčma U dwau Maryí and had some brunch at Kafírna Na Starém Plešivci. Both local and less touristy than many other places we passed. We had a great stay at Hostel Skippy, a hygge and authentic vibe.
One thing is for sure, if you’re in Prague for a few days, make the effort to visit this majestic town. Even if it is just a day trip, you will not forget it.