prague, czech republic
I kicked off my second semester abroad with a trip to Prague! I like to take the final week of summer to travel before I settle down and get ready for another semester of classes. Traveling always reminds me of how incredibly big and diverse the world is, so by the time I return to the classroom, I'm creatively reenergized in a whole new way. I never got over to Eastern Europe last year and felt like I missed out, so when Andrew and I were brainstorming destinations for this trip, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. Andrew also loves the Beatles so I thought it would be cool to visit the John Lennon Wall together! That was really the inspiration for the trip, though we learned that there are so many other incredible cultural features of the city. I truly didn't know what to expect in Prague, but was blown away and by the end of our time there, we felt like we were at home. If I could sum it up, Prague is like a real life fairy tale....
AirBnB to the rescue again! This was by far the best apartment I've ever rented. We had loads of space, a clean kitchen, convenient location, helpful hosts, and the price was a bargain. Every time I stay in an AirBnB I'm reminded of why I love the concept all over again. Your AirBnB becomes your home away from home and if you find the right place, it's significantly cheaper than staying in hotels. I enjoy meeting my hosts and getting their recommendations. AirBnB gives me an authentic experience in all the cities I visit. If you don't have an AirBnB account yet, register here through this link and you'll receive a discount! I would never recommend something I didn't love and I can confidently say that AirBnB has made my travels very memorable experiences. Shoot me an email if you're looking for specific recommendations or just want me to talk about how much I love the company!
There are so many delicious restaurants all over Prague. One of the first things I do when I get to a new city is check Instagram for any food accounts. It's become more popular in recent years, so if you're wondering where to eat out, stop what you're doing and check Instagram! My go-to account was @tasteofprague and they didn't steer us wrong!
One of the best travel tips I have is to make yourself breakfast in your AirBnB if you have a suitable kitchen. It saves a lot more money than you realize and gets your day jumpstarted. I always buy a box of Cheerios or oatmeal and I'm set!
We didn't have nearly enough time to go to every restaurant on our list, but here's some of our favorites!
- LOBKOWICZ PALACE: Talk about views!! After walking up to Malá Strana, an area of the city that holds the Royal Palace and several other important buildings, we needed a refuel break and found this hidden gem that sits on the hillside overlooking the entire city of Prague. It was the first time I had seen Prague in its entirety and it truly took my breath away. The restaurant is tucked away so not many tourists see it, giving a quiet break in the day!
- MANES: We spotted this restaurant during our boat rental on the river. We appreciated the quiet atmosphere and excellent views of water. The Art Restaurant is better for an evening out, while the Terrace Grill is best for a lunch on the patio (which is what we opted for).
OBLACA: The only reason we found this restaurant was because of the location of our AirBnB! OBLACA is the restaurant at the top of the Zizkovsky Vysilac or Tower Park. It's removed from the center city in a residential area, but only a few blocks from our apartment. We were stunned with the views and romantic atmosphere. The evening was complete with traditional Czech dishes and a picturesque sunset on the city below. This restaurant definitely claims a spot on the top of my European Restaurant List. You really don't want to miss OBLACA if you're in Prague!
ALRISO: Need some comfort food from home? Italian food always reminds me of home (shoutout to Mom!) Alriso is located in a cozy neighborhood in the center of the city. Though it was only a few blocks from the river, the restaurant is tucked away and you almost forget that you're in a bustling city. Like many Czech and European restaurants, there's a few tables outside with blankets on each chair to keep you warm when the sun goes down.
GINGER & FRED: We found this restaurant merely because it's the restaurant at the top of the most aesthetically peculiar buildings in Prague. The Dancing House was created by architects Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunić. It reminds me of something out of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and strongly contrasts much of the other architecture in Prague. This restaurant boasts another incredible view, so try to snatch a window seat if you can!
GRAN FIERRO: If you're traveling with a meat lover like Andrew, this restaurant is easily likable. The menu has a strong Argentinian influence and a very cozy atmosphere. We loved it, but then again Andrew enjoys any dish that has steak.
desserts & coffee
- CAFÉ SAVOY: Tucked away along the Vltava River, this café boasts classy design, delicious desserts, and strong coffee. I couldn't help but compare it to a Parisian café!
- GINGERBREAD MUSEUM: Prague really is straight out of a storybook! Do you remember reading The Gingerbread Man story in elementary school? Walking around this store made me so nostalgic! I used to read the story over and over again. I've always appreciated art, but it wasn't until I visited this store that I found a whole new appreciation for the art of dessert making. The detail on each cookie was absolutely incredible! I wanted to buy every single one.
- WAF WAF: I'm a sucker for anything with Nutella on it. Instagram came to the rescue again. This waffle and crepe café is small and removed from the center city, but close to the National Technical Museum, so you can reward yourself afterwards. I wanted to take home one of their iconic camper-style coffee mugs so badly (see picture above).
- TRDLO: There's a ton of locations around the city and they serve the famous Trdelník dessert. They bake the rolled dough right in front of you, which draws tons of tourists in from the streets. You can fill them with just about anything, but I highly recommend adding vanilla ice cream, Nutella, and fresh strawberries. You definitely won't find these in the States, so don't leave the Czech Republic without trying one! Here's a video to make your stomachs growl a bit.
There are so many incredible things to experience in Prague. In my opinion, the city is the perfect size. Our days were jam packed and we left feeling so enriched by the beautiful culture. I did a ton of research for this trip, so I really encourage you to see as much as you can in this unique city!
I recommend splitting your activities into two parts: one day for the left of the river and one day for the right. There are very different things to do on each side and you need at least one day in each if not more.
The left of the river is called Malá Strana where you can find the Old Royal Palace, Prague Castle, Basilica of St. George, Treasure of St. Vitus Cathedral, Golden Lane, St. Vitus Cathedral, Rosenberg Palace, and several other very significant museums and landmarks. After a long walk up a steep hill to reach this historic area, you fortunately only buy one ticket to access all of these places. I can't stress this enough: bring your student ID! You save about 50% on all ticket prices with your card. I think it was only $7 or so to see dozens of landmarks and museums. Malá Strana undoubtedly offers the best views of the city.
While you're on the left side of the river, don't forget to visit the John Lennon Wall, Petrin Tower (modeled to look like the Eiffel Tower), and the Strahov Library.
Another fun activity to do is rent a paddle boat if the weather is nice. Andrew loves anything to do with boats, so he got me to agree to rent boats twice while we were in Prague. It's less than $10 to rent the boat for an hour and you get a whole new perspective of the city.
If you're on the right side of the river, be sure to visit the Franz Kafka statue, the astronomical clock, National Technical Museum (technically it's north of the center city), the Charles Bridge, and various synagogues. Be sure to follow @praguetoday for the latest festivals, markets, and other happenings!
Prague was such a memorable way to kick off another semester abroad. Fortunately, saying goodbye to Prague meant saying hello to Budapest! Be sure to "czech" out my Budapest Travel Guide coming your way soon!