Thursday, 31 August 2017

If you follow me on Instagram, you will probably have seen that me and Will spent a few days in Prague last week to celebrate Will's birthday.
We have actually been before, only a year ago in August 2016, and we really enjoyed our time in the Czech capital city, So when I was pestering Will for a holiday around May this year, he agreed to go to Prague once more.

I know a lot of people might think it silly or a waste to visit the same place twice, but we both were in need of some serious R&R, so going somewhere we already knew made it stress free and easy. Will and I love nothing more than relaxing with a cold beer and so Prague is like heaven on earth for us.

Prague is a fascinating city, steeped in history and culture, and I don't claim to be all that cultured, but it really is beautiful. With numerous museums, galleries, tours and a fantastic zoo, Prague is an affordable city break with something for everyone.

Getting There/Getting Around

We flew with Jet2 from East Midlands for convenience, as Will's parents live nearby so we could leave the car with them. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by both the outbound and inbound flight with them. The cabin crew were really nice, in particular Georgia on our return. Obviously you get no frills or food but the flights were on time, the planes were clean and for what we paid I really can't complain.  Flights start from around £35 one way and I believe they go from most major UK airports too.

If it is your first time visiting Prague then I would definately suggest using Prague Airport Transfers to get to your hotel when you arrive. Knowing your transfers are arranged and you dont have to mess about trying to navigate the public transport system is a weight off your mind.
We have used them both trips and they are fairly priced and reliable. You pay the driver when you arrive at your hotel and the private transfer is 590czk per car which is about £20.
You also get a free Prague guidebook from your driver and a voucher for  a walking tour which we didn't do this trip, but did do on our last one. It was really interesting and a great way to quickly get your bearings and understand the layout of all the key areas in Prague. It lasts for 4 hours and is a good way to start your first morning in the city.

The center of Prague is effectively made up of 2 halves. The old town and the new town. It is all within walking distance and although you can get a travel card for under £10 for 3 days, we didn't bother this time and simply worked on our step count instead - much needed with all the beer and food we consumed.

If like us you decide to head further afield on just one or 2 of the days it is most likely going to be more cost effective to pay as you go. Prague has a network of buses, trams and the metro (underground).
Transport tickets in Prague are either 24czk for 30minutes or 32czk for 90 minutes so pretty cheap.
You can buy your tickets in any of the major stations and they don't start until you validate them by putting them in the yellow machines located in the underground stations and on the buses and trams. Make sure you do validate them though or you could end up with a fine.

The Hotel 

Our hotel - Moods Boutique, was the same hotel we stayed at last year and was just as good as the first time. Its right in the center of the new town and about a 10 minute walk to the old town square.
There is a shopping mall just up the road as well as loads of restaurants all within a 5 minute stroll.

The hotel is pretty modern and the rooms are quite minimalist but I really like this as I can see how clean they are (OCD alert).  The rooms have a hairdryer, usb ports and plenty of plug sockets. They also have really good quality air con which was needed mid August.
I booked directly both times we have stayed there as you get a free massage in their spa when you do so.
They gave us a complimentary drink when we arrived and the staff are extremely helpful and courteous.
The breakfast was good, a mixture of hot and cold food with lots of local items which we both really enjoyed.
I would without a doubt stay here again not only for the hotel itself but also its location as its just so easy to get to all the major areas from here.

Things to See and Do

Astronomical Clock

The astronomical clock sits in the center of the old town square. It is a medieval clock and the oldest working one in the world today. 
To think it was built over 600 years ago is pretty amazing. 
The area around it gets extremely busy around the hour when it chimes rather underwhelmingly. I have to say I was expecting something a little special but it literally just chimes. I would say to go and see it in all its glory, but if you want to miss the crowds then go just after the hour and beat the crowds. You'll get a better picture too.

Prague castle 

Prague castle is about a half hour walk in total from where we stayed but there is lots to see and do along the way, including the famous Charles bridge mentioned below. I would definately recommend the walk up the winding cobbled streets.

The views over Prague are incredible and there is a picturesque cafe with a huge outdoor terrace when you get to the top for you to 're-hydrate', Cafe Salamovsky Palac.
The castle itself is free to enter into the grounds and then there are other areas you can pay to get into. We just enjoyed perusing the outside and the changing of the guard ceremony is a nice experience too.

Charles Bridge

The Charles bridge links the new town and the old town and is encompassed in history and legend. Lined with statues and monuments, each of which has its own background and story.

If you pick up a Prague guide you will undoubtedly find some information on them, however the walking tour which you can take advantage of for free with your airport transfer (mentioned above) is a much more enjoyable way to find out about the various fables and legends across Charles bridge and the entirety of Prague. 
If you aren't interested in the History, then its equally a great spot for a selfie or pictures of the castle further up the hill.

Prague Zoo

On this trip we decided to visit the zoo on Will's birthday, and I am so glad we did. It was unlike any other zoo I have been to and is built on the side of a massive hill which makes it quite exciting to navigate around and like so many other places already mentioned, gives you some amazing views across the city.
The zoo itself was beautifully maintained and full of lush greenery and flowers.

There were so many different animals and the enclosures were large and well maintained.
We spent about 4 hours there, but we could have easily spent much longer.
Tickets are 200czk each, equivalent to about £7.


Although its not really what we go on a city break for, I could have happily spent a whole day shopping in Prague (though Will wasn't having any of it). 
Like most capital cities there are a lot of shops, however not quite so overwhelmingly so as say Paris or Vienna. Most of the shops themselves are fairly small and this really makes for a much less stressful experience overall. 
If you are anything like me, 'Mustek' is where you want to go. There is a tube station but its only a few minutes walk from the old town square as well. 
You will find Zara and H&M as well as some European brands. But most importantly you will find Sephora! Its not a huge one but it has a lot of stuff packed in it. I explored the counters while Will stood outside reading his guide book - that's how much he hates shopping!

You will find lots of independent boutiques and designer stores dotted around the streets just off of the old town square and nearby. It is worth having a wander and doing a bit of window shopping for sure. The boutiques have some beautiful clothes. 

Another way to spend an afternoon is wandering round one of the markets. There are loads of food and craft stalls where you can pick up something pretty unique and cheap as a souvenir. They vary on the day of the week and the season so I would recommend looking one up before you go but there is always one right by Mustek which is predominantly crafts but there are also a few stalls selling fresh fruit, pastries and chocolate. 

Finally whenever I visit another country I simply have to pay a visit to the local supermarket and Prague is no different. It might sound a bit weird but it is a great way to see a slightly different and more authentic side to a city. It is also a great place to pick up some snacks and souvenirs for very little money. Its nice to have a little bit of where you have been when you get home to get over the holiday blues a week later. I'm always fascinated by the different chocolates, biscuits and crisps. Ive even been known to take back cheese and cured meats and bread if the flight is short enough! 
There are small convenience stores all over the place but on both trips now I have paid numerous visits to 'Billa' right opposite the Namesti Republiky metro station. This would also be a great place to stock up on breakfast and snack items if you decided to rent an apartment or Airbnb in the city. 

Food & Drink

The food and drink in Prague is exceptionally cheap compared to at home, which makes it a good option if you are on a budget, but make sure you do a little homework before you go because like any major city there are a few 'tourist trap' restaurants that will cost 2-3 times as much as one of the decent local outlets.
You should be paying around 35-40czk for a beer, equivalent to £1-1.30 (anymore is a rip off). A main course at a local restaurant can be anywhere from 180 - 300czk depending what you order. Steaks or specials will be more like 400-500czk, about £15, so still a bargain.

Prague has a vast and diverse array of restaurants, bars and street food. I would recommend trying some of the local cuisine while you are there, though it can be quite heavy and is predominantly meat based so it might not be to everyone's taste.

Whichever side of Prague you are staying, be sure to check out the Kolkovne chain of restaurants and also the Ambiente group. The former is owned by Pilsner Urquell (brewery) and the latter is a small independent brand of restaurants with restaurants focused on Czech, Italian and Brazilian cuisine. Both have a number of restaurants scattered through the city.

If you are looking to celebrate a special occasion there are a couple of Michellin starred restaurants in Prague and I know a lot of people like the boat cruise dinners, but my top pick for a celebratory meal would have to be Marina Ristorante which is a moored boat that sits upon the Vltava river with beautiful views of both Charles bridge and Prague castle (see below)

Nase Maso 

Nase Maso on Dlouhaa is an absolute must try (as long as you are a meat eater). Owned by the aforementioned Ambiente group, it provides most of their restaurants with their meat. 
Being only a couple of minutes from out hotel and on the way into the town square we passed it every day on our last trip but never got chance to eat there. We weren't going to miss out this time!
It is basically a local butchers but with the option to eat it. 
You can choose your steak or sausage etc from the counter and they will cook it and serve it quite simply with a bit of bread and mustard. They also do sandwiches, burgers and a pretty sexy looking steak tartare, however I wouldn't say to plan this in as your main meal of the day, more just a snack or pit stop. 
Seating is really limited and most people just take away or stand, so it isn't the most relaxing vibe wth people eyeing you up for your seat before you have taken your first bite, however it is worth it for the quality of the meat and the taste. 
They also serve fresh beer on tap and have a mini deli area with all sorts of weird and wonderful condiments, pates and freshly baked bread. 
Its modern, clean, rustic and mouth-wateringly good. It really encompasses Prague as it is today.

Kolkovne Celnice 

Kolkovne are a chain of pubs come restaurants owned by the Czech brewery; Pilsner Urquell. 
If you are in Prague you will start to recognise them from their typically European styled windows and dark green paintwork. Inside they are a beautifully old fashioned mix of dark woods, copper bars and beer served in tankards. I love their rustic European charm. 
Kolkovne Celnice however is mine and Will's favourite one of them all. Celnice simply refers to the street it is on. Most of their outlets are named like this. 
This one has both vast indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor seating is on a terrace surrounded by trees and their is normally a few market sellers on the cobbled street outside. Just perfect for a warm summers evening. 
The food here is very traditional, lots of meat and dumpling type dishes but there are also a few salads and if you are just wanting a nibble they offer a variety or 'beer snacks' such as pretzels, cured meats and a marinated version of their local cheese (Hermelin), which I had and loved. Somewhere between brie and Camembert, marinated in peppercorns, garlic and chilli, it was delicious and indulgent but also quite light. 
Will is a fan of the pork knuckle which you will find all over Prague, but he says the one here is particularly good. 
Prices here are standard czech, so super cheap to us. For this reason it is a good place to try some of the local dishes, especially if you aren't sure if you will like them or not. Beer is also cheap here and extremely fresh, obviously as its owned by the brewery.
We found ourselves here nearly every day, sometimes for food but sometimes just for a night cap...or two!

if you're really thirsty they sell beer by the litre 😉 

Restaurace Mincovna  

Just on the edge of the old town square, Mincovna offers traditional czeck food with a modern twist in a really chic and contemporary setting. 
The building is one of the oldest in the area, not that you would tell from the inside, and was originally where they minted coins.
The decor is sleek and modern but there are little nods to the origins of the building and the brick walls downstairs and underground cellar feel really add to the atmosphere. 
The menu changes and there are weekly specials as well. Unlike a lot of Czech restaurants I noticed a good few vegetarian options on this one as well. 
We visited here twice, once for dinner and once for drinks and snacks. 
For the dinner we both had very traditional meals. Will had stew and I had the Czeck classic of beef in cream sauce which was very tasty and not actually that heavy. We both really enjoyed it. 
Everyone's food nearby also looked delicious and our server was very attentive and friendly. Sometimes in Prague the focus is more on efficiency rather than friendliness which is fine if you know what to expect but our server was lovely both times we were here. 
Also note we tried to reserve this one but it said it was full however when we walked up at about 7pm we were seated immediately so don't be deterred if the website claims to be booked up.

The second occasion we decided to stop mid afternoon for a beer and inevitably some snacks as well. 
Just outside the main door there are a couple of tables where you can sit and watch whatever is going on in the old town square. At night these were always full but in the afternoon empty, so we took this opportunity to soak up a little sun and some culture in the form of a pretzel and some beer on Wills birthday. 

its not mickey shaped but it was good!

Salmovsky Palac Cafe

Now we came across this one by chance on one of our many walks up to the castle. We never noticed it the year before either, and its not exactly small so it just goes to show how you can miss things so easily when you aren't looking properly. 
If you are going to take the hike up the hill to Prague castle, which you really should if you are visiting the city then without a doubt stop by here for a drink when you get to the top. 
They have a huge terrace, well 2 actually, with some of the best views across Prague. I would argue the best views because you get to enjoy them whilst sat on a rattan sofa with a drink in your hand! I could have sat there for hours. 

The terrace is an absolute suntrap and in the middle of august on a sunny day you might want to make use of the parasols - lets just say the paler one of us burnt slightly. 

We didn't eat here but the food coming out smelt amazing. 
Because of the location the prices for drinks are more than what you would pay elsewhere but not expensive in comparison to home. 
I tried a Mattoni Spritz (see pic), its a non alcoholic take on an Aperol spritz. I tend not to drink alcohol in the day or without food as it gives me a headache, so this was a great alternative for me. It was refreshing and I still felt like I was having a treat.
If we had been in Prague longer and or found it sooner I would have definately stopped by here again

Just look at that view!

Terasa U Prince

U Prince is a hotel right in the middle of the old town square. It is home to what was voted one of the best bars in the world as well as an indoor and outdoor restaurant, plus a restaurant on the rooftop terrace, where we ate.

I will start by saying that this is not somewhere to go for the cheapest, nor the best food in Prague, but the food was good and it was really more about the setting and the views. 
The menu has a bit of everything and they do LOTS of cocktails which is initially what drew me to this restaurant. Most of the cocktails are the equivalent of about £5-6 so pretty cheap by our standards though this can add up quickly.

You get to the terrace via a glass elevator - if you have an issue with lifts or heights in general this will probably make you feel a bit squiffy as it did me. 
The terrace itself is beautiful, like something out of a film. Covered in flowers and wicker furniture, it really is quite special.

After having eaten here I would maybe suggest going for cocktails and nibbles in the afternoon rather than a full meal, mainly because you can get just as good food in Prague for much less, however we did both really enjoy the sunset and the evening overall and if we visit Prague again I would go back for sure. 

Marina Ristorante 

As I already mentioned above, this restaurant is within a permanently moored boat that sits on the edge of the Vlatva river in a prime position for views of both Charles bridge and the castle.
The food is Italian and the menu features stone baked pizza, fresh pasta, meat and fish dishes.
We chose this one for Will's birthday meal as we had eaten there the year before and so knew we wouldn't be disappointed.

It was quite funny actually as we were sat on the exact same table that we had sat on the last time we ate here, right by the window inline with the castle.

This restaurant offers an extensive wine list with some pretty affordable options too.
The drinks are a little pricey for Prague but very reasonable compared to UK prices and the food itself is extremely cheap. Pizza and pasta dishes are all between 200 and 350czk which equates to £6-£12. You really couldn't get a stone baked pizza in the UK for £6 so its fantastic value and all the food is presented beautifully. The service is excellent and the ambiance is perfect.

If you want to give this one a try I would make sure you book though as they were turning people away when we arrived, even for drinks.

Tips & Tricks For Your Trip

- Get a taxi from the airport to your hotel. When you've just gotten off a flight and your'e in a new city, don't stress yourself out or ruin the start of your trip by getting lost or delayed on public transport. Prague airport transfers are efficient, and trustworthy. You can book online and pay by card or cash when you arrive or by PayPal when you book. 

Not many people would ever think to do this but Prague is one of the few places where you will get a better exchange rate if you change your money when you are there. I know this is unusual and I only found out about it because I used to work with a couple of Czech people, but take enough to get you from the airport etc and then head to eXchange to change the rest. 

- In contrast to my first tip, if you want to save a bit of money on your way home then use public transport to get back to the airport. You will have no doubt used the public transport system already by now so it wont be any hassle and will cost you 24czk - less than £1! 
Simply take the underground to Nadrazi Veleslavin and then take the 119 bus from directly outside the station. You only need one 30 minute ticket as it will take that amount of time and the bus takes you directly to the terminal. 

We arrived Monday night and we left Friday lunchtime which might seem like quite a long time for a European city break but I honestly could have stayed longer. Prague isn't a huge city but this adds to its charm, however there are so many different things to see and do and so many restaurants and bars to choose from.

This wasn't our first trip to Prague and I doubt it will be our last. There are still numerous things for us to see and do and more importantly, eat and drink!

If you have any questions regarding a trip to Prague then please do not hesitate to contact me via the contact form below and I will be sure to get back to you.

K x

Moods Boutique Hotel - £120 - £140 per night
Flights from East Midlands with Jet2 - from £39+
Local beer - £1.20 
Standard meal for 2 - £20
Fancy meal for 2 - £50
Travel card - £4 a day/85p per journey


No comments

Post a comment