Prague is such a great shout for a long weekend away, what with the quick-like-a-fox 1 hour and 45 minute flights on offer. You can literally have breakfast in the UK and lunch in Prague, it’s that quick.
I actually won my trip to Prague in a competition I entered with the fab IceLolly.com – my lucky streak strikes again – so me and the boyf headed off on a rather swish long weekend away compared to what we’re used to! We stayed at the lovely, albeit very business-like, Lindner Hotel Prague Castle and even had the luxury of booked transfers rather than having to tackle public transport in a new country (an experience that usually involves arguments). So it was very nice indeed.
But Prague is still very much a backpacker-friendly destination with centrally-located hostels and a city that’s easy to navigate by foot. So here are my top 5 things for backpackers to do in the beautifully gothic Prague…
1) Explore Prague’s Old Town.
The historic Old Town is the place to go for impressive architecture and for soaking up the Czech culture. It is a bit of a tourist trap with the inevitable crowds and tour groups led by umbrellas in the air, but it is a necessary evil to see the lovely pastel-coloured houses and to people-watch from cosy bars and al-fresco cafes with a Pilsner in hand.
There is also the cool Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square, the oldest in the world still working. Pretty to look at whilst you chow down on a sugary Trdelník snack if you ask me.
What I liked most about the square is that despite the crowds there weren’t that many people bothering me or peddling their wares like you see in places like Florence or Paris, just street performers and children chasing giant bubbles! It’s nice.
At night this is also a cool place to go out and I found a pretty cool jazz club down one of the side streets. Although try to avoid anywhere the ‘lads on tour’-esque stag do’s are headed. I tried a bar called ‘Coyotes’ hoping I’d find cowboy-boot wearing gals singing along to the jukebox on the bar and instead discovered girls in low-cut tops spinning neon bottles whilst lads ogled them. Plus, it cost a fortune for a rum and coke. Nah thanks babez, I’ll go listen to some middle-aged blokes play that smooth bass at the jazz club… Wait, am I old now?
2) Get on the beers, son.
As you can probs tell from the influx of stag parties, Prague is a boozy city that likes its beer. Jump into that culture at the Prague Beer Museum. Contrary to the name, this isn’t actually a museum, but a dark old-man’s-pub-like bar, famed for its beer tasting. With 30 different beers on tap, there’s lots to choose from so buy a wooden slab of 5 beers to try as many as possible! It’s fairly cheap too, my slab cost the equivalent of £7 (£1.40 a pop!).
For a more authentic beer experience, head to one of the establishments the locals frequent, quite aptly names ‘lokal’s. They’re like cafeterias with dark wood panelled walls, a chatty atmosphere and cheap pints. Far cheaper than any you will find bang in the middle of the Old Town, and not a stag party in sight.
3) John Lennon memorial wall.
I’m not entirely sure on the link between John Lennon and Prague, but this memorial wall near the Charles Bridge is a Prague favourite. People from all over the world come to write words of peace and hope, and the odd Beatles lyric, on this colourful wall whilst buskers with acoustic guitars play ‘Imagine’. Obvs.
Round the corner there are love locks on a gate overlooking a wooden mill in the river to go with the whole peace and love vibe in this corner of Prague.
Then there’s the John Lennon pub. Despite the Beatles and UK memorabilia, this place isn’t as cheesy as it sounds and I really enjoyed a raspberry lemonade in the so-called ‘romantic garden’ surrounded by pretty potted plants. Altogether a lovely little collection of sights and not as touristy as Old Town.
4) Get a load of the view from Petřín Hill.
I stumbled across Petřín Hill Park completely by accident as it was so close to my hotel, but I had the best morning exploring it. First up there’s the Petřín Tower, an observation deck which gives outstanding 360° views of the city of Prague.
It’s not for the faint-hearted though, as I had to walk 299 steps up a spiral staircase to be rewarded with the magnificent view. Obvs I could have paid the extra £2.50 odd to take the lift up, but dude, I’m a backpacker, every koruna counts! That’s more Trdelník money! The steps were ok considering I’m a non-gym attending asthmatic, but vertigo-sufferers be warned, the open views of the ground below is scary AF. Worth braving for the fab view though.
Also in Petřín Hill Park are gorgeous rose gardens, a mirror maze that’s popular with families, pony rides and lots of sculptures. It’s just lovely to walk around. But be warned there are some steep hills – trainers advised!
5) Czech out all the food. (LOL)
You have to try out the local cuisine when you’re travelling somewhere new, right? Well hands up, I’m a fussy eater when it comes to meat so I found it a bit of a struggle in Prague. But I promise there’s a Czech food experience for everyone!
Goulash with dumplings is a big one and very rich but worth a go. I also really liked potato pancakes with sauerkraut as a starter – yes.
But the the very best Czech food is the sugary and cinnamon-laden treats that are Trdelníks! Yes, what I keep referring to throughout this post. Like a spiral of churros, these things are bloody amazing. You can have them with a range of fillings from Nutella to ice-cream and raspberries.
I’d recommend steering clear of Talian Sausages though, even my meat-loving bf couldn’t hack these bad boys. And no, neither of us opted for pork knuckle…
One to avoid… Charles Bridge.
Although a massive tourist attraction and on most visitors’ Prague bucketlists, Charles Bridge is just awful. Tourism at its absolute worst with hundreds of tourists with selfie sticks, tour groups blocking the path, the bridge lined with stalls selling tat and you can barely even see the bridge itself. Hell.
I’d recommend viewing the bridge from a neighbouring bridge or from the riverside where you can get fab photos of the bridge itself with its lovely arches, without the hassle of a bajillion people pushing, shouting and blocking your view. I’m not about that.
There you have it, my top 5 attractions and experiences to go for in Prague, plus one to avoid! Enjoy!
Have you been to Prague? What do you think of my top 5? Anything I missed out? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!