Prague. A city abundant with surprise and mystery. Perhaps one of its most charming features, is that it is an ideal location for long or short stay trips. If you only have a few days to spare, Prague is an ideal destination for a quick getaway, or, if you have longer, it is easy to slip into the Czech way of life with plenty of things to do. Being just a 1 hour flight from all London airports, Prague is an understated city that has something for everyone.
We checked into the delightful Hotel U Raka hidden in the cobbled back streets of Prague, behind the Old Castle. The hotel itself was quaint and intimate, perfect for the travelling couple, but welcoming to all*. Once settled in we took off for a self guided tour of the historic city, with our Travelove Guidebooks in hand. In just a few hours we felt like we had seen so much, from gorgeous traditional cafes to hidden restaurants, the famous Prague Castle and the Lennon Wall. Having the freedom to tour the city in our own time was an improvement to shuffling along with a large group of strangers and a loud frantic guide, we were able to take our time and get lost (which we did!).
We concluded our tour by the river bank, and boarded an open top vessel for a sunset boat trip down river, towards Prague Zoo and the botanical gardens. The boat trip was an hour of relaxation and sightseeing for a relatively reasonable price. Following that, we enjoyed a glass of local wine in the rose garden at St Clare Vineyard in Troja at dusk. We were lucky to have a private tour of the cellar, to observe the wine-making process and sample fresh grapes and more delicious wines. The vineyard itself only supplies wine to its on-site restaurant and to the botanical gardens so be sure to visit and enjoy the exclusivity of the divine Pale Rose.
Though our second day promised a whole lot of activity, we were reluctant to leave the comfort of our king size! Luckily the smell of the hotel buffet and continental breakfast enticed us from our room. With full stomachs, we set off to meet Michal, our tour guide on wheels at Bike Hire OKOLO. Michal suggested we avoid the old town and head up to some of the best view points of the city. Initially we took our bikes onto the metro (something I would definitely avoid – slightly dangerous!) to reach Olsany Cemetary and the TV tower. Over the next 3 hours we cycled through some of the residential areas of Prague to see some beautiful, ornate buildings and reached the second and third viewpoints, Parukarka and Vitkov. We ended the tour with a lovely coffee stop, and both chose a ‘Double Shot’, a popular and delicious brand of coffee that has taken the city by storm.
The coffee was just enough to revitalize us before our next experience. The Food Tour with Lenka, one of the founders of ‘Eat with Locals’, is a four hour taste extravaganza, in which you eat your way across the city. With local food, beer, wine and liqueur there isn’t a lot that you won’t learn about the Prague cuisine and the amazing traditions that they have built up over the years**.
That evening we continued our second self guided tour to ‘Walk Through The Centuries In Old Prague’. It was the perfect opportunity to take a look around the Old Town without the huge crowds that fill it during the day, although be aware that the Old Town, being so picturesque, is popular at all times. The Square has an incredible atmosphere, it’s buzzing with excitement, but watch out for the Segway Salesmen, they can be a little insistent so stand your ground. For food in this area, try Restaurant Mincovna in Old Town Square, which was actually included in our earlier food tour, and was so tasty I wouldn’t hesitate to return, even if not for the delicious food, then for the lovely views that will make your experience more memorable than most.
Even with all the tastes, sights and experiences we’d had in two days we were lucky enough to have more time. I headed out in the morning to learn about the ‘Legends Of The Origins of Prague’ – the final installment of the self guided tour. It showed me places that the ‘everyday tour’ would miss. The adventure begins at Vysehrad’s Gate, set apart from the busiest tourist spots. Don’t miss a short walk across the eighteenth century ramparts, and a visit to thr gothic St.Peter and Paul Church. I also took a slight detour to see the astronomical clock coming to life on the hour – something that must be done when in Prague.
My better half took himself off to the Kozel Brewery which was a good hour and half away form the centre and probably best to use a taxi to get there, although public transport is an option it’s a lot longer (27 miles outside of Prague). Scott had a full tour of the brewery, tasting session and learnt how to pour the beer in the professional way. For more details watch his blog coming soon on Intrepid Escape.
Upon finishing my escapades through the Old Town I headed to meet Bara, a wonderful Chef that has owned restaurants in Prague and now offers cooking classes to all food lovers – tourists, chefs and locals. I met her outside her old apartment and we headed straight to the finest butchers for some ingredients. Once in her home we spent 3 hours cooking and preparing an intricate dinner. She went through all kinds of local and modern Czech dishes as well as giving me tasters along the way of different local ingredients. At 5pm the huge meal was ready and Scott, back from the Brewery, arrived just in time to enjoy this meal with us. Bara really gave the lesson a personal touch and I highly recommend leaving a spare afternoon to enjoy cooking and eating food her way – you won’t regret it!
We decided to use the company ‘Travelove‘ to help us make the most of our time in the city, as we had limited we wanted to make this holiday fit for an adventurous couple in love! Travelove were amazing from the word go. Through their website we simply picked what style of accommodation we were interested in, chose a few activities for each of us to attend and sent our quote over to their attentive team. Once booked we were allocated a dedicated trip advisor for all of our queries and they provided detailed itineraries to suit our needs. My favorite part of all was the well made, personalized guidebook sent to us in preparation for our excursion – something to keep as a memento to treasure 3 fun-filled days forever.
* Check back soon for a full Hotel U Raka review.
**A further blog on the food of Prague will be out soon with the many taste sensations we were shown.