Prague was never on my radar until I saw its stunning pictures for the first time when I was in college. When the movie Mission Impossible came out in 1996, I was even more mesmerized by its Gothic beauty and medieval charms dating back to the 14th century. It immediately got on my bucket list.
I later read up on the Czech Republic’s history, and it’s hard to believe this stunning beauty has been through countless wars and occupations, including the Nazi’s and the Soviet Union’s. Yet it’s one of the best-preserved cities in Europe and remains utterly beautiful.
If you’re going to be in the city for only a few days, I suggest you take a private tour to maximize your time and help you understand the city better, especially from the locals’ perspective. We did a private walk called Communism and 1989 in Czechoslovakia with Prague Walker and were totally happy with our guide.
Prague is a painting, a true work of art, and I would go back in a heartbeat. But before then, here are 7 things I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend for anyone:
I’ve been to many beautiful bridges in Europe, but my number one favorite has to be Charles Bridge, the city’s oldest bridge built by King Charles IV in the 14th century to replace another bridge that was severely damaged by floods.
I still remember how in awe I was when I saw it for the first time. Flanked by the mythical Lesser Town Bridge Towers and Old Town Bridge Tower on each end, the cobblestoned bridge is adorned by ornate statues of saints that were added between 1683 and 1928.
It was beautiful during the day but utterly stunning at night. During my trip, I went back several times because I couldn’t get enough of it. Expect a lot of people – everyone wants a glimpse of this master piece.
Old Town Square
In my humble opinion, Prague’s old town square is one of the most charming in Europe. Maybe because I love Gothic architecture with spires and everything, but who can resist the sky-piercing Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, which has been the main church in this area since the 14th century, or the massive, quaint Old Town Hall Tower, which also dates back to the 14th century?
One of the main missions for me in Prague was to see Tyn Church with my own eyes, and I got the best view of the church from the top of Old Town Hall Tower. The tower also offers the most amazing view of the old town, its terracotta roofs, and Prague Castle in distance.
Also standing tall in the square is the memorial to Jan Hus, a religious reformer who fought both the Catholic Church and the Austrian Habsburg for Czech’s freedom from foreign oppressors.
Lunch at Teresa U Prince
If you can have only one meal in Prague, let it be at Hotel U Prince’s rooftop restaurant. Just the view of the Old Town will fill you up. It’s true you can get the best view of the city from the Old Town Hall tower, but you won’t see the tower itself. At this restaurant, you can see everything. If you’re looking for the best Instagram spot in the city, this is it.
A reservation is highly recommended. As for the food, I had creamy seafood pasta and loved it.
Besides the gorgeous architecture, Prague has something else up its sleeve. Simply walking up the hill to Strahov Monastery and you’ll be greeted with the fresh air and breathtaking view of the entire city. I was surprised to see the vineyard and a restaurant overlooking the city!
Built in the 12th century, the complex has a church, a gorgeous library that houses several manuscripts from the Middle Ages, the Museum of Miniatures, and a brewery where they brew beer with the same method monks have done for centuries.
In keeping up with the medieval theme, I simply love the architecture of the buildings in this castle complex built in the 9th century. The Old Royal Palace’s Vladislav Hall definitely transports you back to the times of the Bohemian princes and kings who lived there until the 16th century. The palace is still in use today as the President’s office and for ceremonial state events.
Museum of Communism
We did a private walk with a tour guide about communism in the country, and one of the stops was Museum of Communism where life under the communist regime is on full display. It’s not exactly a high-tech museum but tells a good story of the dream, reality, and nightmare of communism. Czech was a nation in turmoil even before being forced to accept the Nazi’s occupation as a result of the Munich Agreement (or to the locals – the Munich Betrayal by the Great Britain, France, and Italy). They were hoping for a better day under communism.
What’s good on paper may not match reality, and in this case, it did not. From total elimination of private businesses to the secret police and violent crackdowns on protesters, their dreams were dashed. It wasn’t until the Velvet Revolution in 1989 when they were finally free.
The best part of the entire museum for me was when I walked to the bathrooms and saw the statues of Lenin and Stalin in front of the doors, summing up exactly how the Czechs feel about the two Soviet leaders.
Try local food
For food lovers, traveling and eating go hand in hand, and it’s no exception in Prague. We enjoyed local cheese, soup, stew, fish, steak, schnitzel, pork knuckles, dumplings, and the grilled sweet pastry called Trdelnik. – is best when it’s hot, so get one that’s just been made on the grill! Besides Teresa U Prince restaurant, I highly recommend Kampa Park right on the river with a view of Charles Bridge. It was recommended to us by the hotel staff we stayed at and the food was delicious.
Talking about hotels, if you love hotels with old world charms and great views, the Luxury Family Hotel Royal Palace is a good option. It’s situated on the historical part of town and has a view of the Prague Castle and its Wallenstein gardens!
Have fun in Prague! You’re gonna love it!