First and foremost, what's the most important thing you should know about Prague?
They have mirco pigs in sweater vests.
! ! ! MICRO PIGS IN SWEATER VESTS ! ! !
Phew, okay, now that's out of my system, let's get down to business.
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and one of Europe's most-visited cities. Nicknamed "the city of a hundred spires," Prague is a breathtaking feast for the eyes, featuring a myriad of architectural styles all crammed into this compact and charming city.
There's so much to see and do here, but what if you only have a couple days to take it all in? Fear not! Here are my must-see highlights:
Still feeling the effects of the previous evening's shenanigans with the MadHouse Hostel crew, I decide to start my morning with a leisurely stroll over to the Charles Bridge, which stretches across the Vltava River. This stunning bridge links the city's Old Town with Prague Castle and is adorned with 30 grand Baroque statues. It can get pretty busy during the day, but at 9am on a Monday morning I seem to have the bridge almost entirely to myself. Without a doubt, the Charles Bridge is a must for your first (or fifteenth) visit to Prague.
Žižkov Television Tower
Next up I decide to make the (pretty epic) walk to the super-weird Žižkov Television Tower. I say epic because not only is it a fair distance from the bridge, but I also get spectacularly lost in the process (I'm notoriously directionally-challenged - never trust me with a map).
A review on TripAdvisor describes the TV Tower as "horrible but unmissable." This is a pretty accurate description. Built between 1985 and 1992, the tower is often considered to be a bit of an eyesore in this otherwise charming city. Aside from it's futuristic design (which resembles something out of The Jetsons), the tower is also adorned with (...wait for it...) giant faceless babies climbing their way up to the observation tower. It's truly the stuff nightmares are made of.
Once inside the tower, I head up to the observation deck. Not only am I rewarded with some of Prague's most spectacular views, but the observation deck also provides a safe haven from the faceless alien babies of doom who are trying to eat my soul. Double win.
The Old Town Square
By this point, my tummy is starting to rumble so I make my way to the Old Town Square for some much-deserved lunch. After winding my way through Prague's charmingly narrow streets, walking into the big open square is like a breath of fresh air. Always buzzing with activity, the square provides plenty of things to see and do throughout the year. In the winter, the square plays host to one of the city's main Christmas Markets, where you can enjoy a cup of delicious mulled wine whilst the various buskers vie for your attention.
I pull up a chair at one of the restaurants lining the square and proceed to happily wile away the good part of an hour just people watching and sipping wine. Though I've been warned to avoid the square's restaurants due to questionable food quality/price, my food is more than acceptable and the final bill certainly doesn't make me want to jump off the Charles Bridge.
The Astronomical Clock
Just off the square is the town's famous Astronomical Clock, dating back to the 15th century. Every hour on the hour, huge crowds gather around the clock to watch the procession of the twelve apostles whilst the skeleton of death tolls his bell. It's a strange yet must-see sight, though the skeleton hardly gives Will Ferrell and his beloved cowbell a run for their money.
In 2010, to celebrate to clock's 600th anniversary, the city staged the light show to end all light shows on the face of the clock tower.
Across the Charles Bridge and perched atop an imposing hill (feel the thigh burn!) is Prague Castle, my first stop on Day #2. It's the largest ancient castle in the world, spanning roughly the size of seven football fields. The main jewel is the St. Vitus Cathedral, though you could spend a whole day seeing all of the sights that the castle grounds have to offer. I, however, quickly tire of being elbowed in the face by fellow tourists, and eventually make my way back down the hill to explore the city's Jewish Quarter.
Josefov (Jewish Quarter)
Josefov is a beautiful and historic pocket of Prague which contains the best preserved complex of historical Jewish monuments in Europe. Six synagogues, the Jewish Ceremonial Hall and the remarkable Old Jewish Cemetery form what is now the Jewish Museum in Prague. If you've only got a day or two in Prague, I would recommend putting this near the top of your list.
Not to get too morbid on you here, but Prague is full of some pretty impressive and beautiful cemeteries. After exploring the Jewish Quarter, I make my way over to Vyšehrad Cemetery. The site serves as a final resting place for many of Prague's notable artists, composers, writers, sculptors, scientists and politicians. Leave it to those guys to think up some pretty weird and wacky tombstones.
And finally, what trip to Prague would be complete without a trip to the Beer Museum? Fair Warning: it's actually not a museum at all, but it does offer you the chance to sample some winning Czech beers, with 30 beers on tap (including a bold blueberry lager) at any given time. Keen to unwind after another day of adventuring, I make my way over with some new friends from the hostel and we happily down about 32 hefty beer samples between the four of us. For me, the Merlin Černý (a delicious dark lager which tastes of roasted malty goodness) wins the prize.
And with that, it's time to pack up my things and bid Prague goodbye. It's been fabulous trip full of magical architecture, quaint cobblestone streets, tasty tasty beer, and adorable micro pigs in sweater vests (!). Really, what more could a girl want? ♥