- Day 1 (22nd December): Arrival & Landmarks
- Day 2 (23nd December): Castle & Bookings
- Day 3 (24th December): Letna Park
- Day 4 (25th December): Petřín Gardens
- Day 5 (26th December): National Museum
Over Christmas and the surrounding couple of weeks, I was exploring Central Europe. The third part of this journey was Prague, where I experienced bizarre underground fire breathing, excellent Korean food, and even a bit of snow! Here are my reviews.
In total, I was in Prague from the afternoon of Fri 22nd December to just after lunch on Tue 26th.
We were a little uncertain what the “mood” in Prague would be, given the shooting in the area the day before. Thankfully, people seemed to be pretty relaxed in general, and still welcoming to tourists.
We arrived in Prague around 3pm, so just enough time for a brief look around and dinner, giving us a total of 11,995 steps (4.82 miles) walked.
OREA Place Seno was a hybrid between an apartment and a hotel, and met the perfect balance for us. This meant our rooms had plenty of space and lighting options, along with cooking utensils and an oven etc, whilst still having hotel perks like breakfast.
We stayed here for 4 nights, and the breakfast was one of the highlights of every day! It is served in the restaurant next door via the doors in the courtyard, and contains great variety. This includes cooked items (bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, beans) alongside Czech food (pancakes, various pastries), and basic salad, cereal, and bread offerings too. The staff were excellent, proactively tidying up, restocking items, pouring coffee etc.
As we were there over Christmas, we suspected breakfast wouldn’t be served on the 24th or 25th. The opposite happened! Champagne was offered, and presents were even given to any children staying there. An extra touch that was really appreciated.
The apartments also have access to a washing & drying machine in the complex. I used this twice during our stay, and it was fine, just two typical machines. Reception provide free washing pods though, avoiding the hassle of buying a whole multipack for a single wash!
That reception (and washing facilities) are available 24 hours a day, with helpful staff always present. They always went above and beyond to solve problems, such as guiding me to the washing machine, offering tips on the local area, etc. All visitors must go through the keycard protected staffed reception, ensuring the area always feels very safe.
Finally, the location is excellent, being near both the station and the city centre mere minutes from a large mall. It provided an excellent “staging post” for our daily trips out, and I’d definitely stay here again.
Whilst the clock is impressive, and worth watching, it’s a victim of its own popularity. It causes a key thoroughfare in the city centre to become completely clogged up with tourists between :50 and :05 every hour, very frustrating if you’re just passing through!
I was lucky enough to first walk past at :57, whilst it was raining, ensuring it was very quiet and easy to see. Every other time I walked past, tens of people were blocking any decent view.
If you do have to get past during a busy time, walk close to the clock, nobody is standing there since you can’t see a thing!
This unique interactive exhibition is hidden to the side of the Gallery of Steel Figures, but I’d definitely recommend taking the time to visit it!
The exhibit consists of 10-15 standalone artworks that all involve light in some way. Many make use of Kinect (or similar tech), tracking the visitor’s body and creating visual effects from it. Others provide interesting illusions, such as holograms. My personal favourite was an augmented reality sandpit, where the height of the sand determined the projected light, creating a small environment complete with snow, fish, etc.
However, your experience will definitely vary depending on who else in the exhibit at the time. We unfortunately shared ours with a few teenagers, who were running round, making out, etc. This didn’t ruin the experience for us at all, especially as some artworks (mirror maze!) appealed to them a lot more. The gallery manages to appeal to kids, teenagers, and adults, which is a pretty impressive balancing act.
Ignoring that aspect, I was a little disappointed that the artworks didn’t push their ideas a bit further. Most of them seemed like proof of concepts, that could easily have been truly stunning with a bit more development.
Still, it’s worth an hour or so of your time to walk through the varied displays.
This was the first restaurant we visited in Prague whilst looking for Czech food, and it felt very authentic!
The food was excellent, with extremely large portions at a very low price. I had the “Jindřich” and my partner had the “Roasted pork ribs with honey and black beer”. Both were some of the best food we ate during our entire 2-week trip, with both dishes having plenty of unique flavours.
Service was prompt and friendly enough, pretty standard if you’ve eaten in UK pubs. Unfortunately the cheap food and beer resulted in a large group (10+) of men, along with multiple smaller groups, drinking at the surrounding tables with all the resulting boisterousness you’d expect! When we entered there were 3-4 couples scattered around, by the time we left it was around 50% filled with drinking groups of men, with only a couple of other customers.
This absolutely isn’t the fault of the restaurant, and the loud drinking groups weren’t aggressive or anything, but it does make it impossible to talk or relax, and can be a little disconcerting on your first night in a country! Of course, it’s partially our fault for visiting on a Friday afternoon (4:30pm).
In summary, I would visit again, but would perhaps aim for lunchtime or a weekday.
We visited Punchy Cup as we were craving bubble tea and it happened to be open late, the K-Pop vibe was an added bonus for my partner!
Drinks can be ordered using a touch screen, which is always helpful for things like bubble tea where there’s lots of customisation. There were plenty of interesting daily specials and bizarre combinations I’ve never seen elsewhere, choosing just one was tricky.
The front half of the shop is a pretty normal waiting / sitting area, whilst the back half is a more social area, with large seats, dimmer lighting, and a more homey vibe. When we visited (evening), it had 5-6 other customers in the back area.
It’s a very friendly shop, perhaps helped by the fact that most of the customers seem to know the staff! I got the feeling lots of them went to school together, and both worked and hung out in the bubble tea shop. This gave it a very relaxed air, with friendly small talk all around. As a warning though, at 30+ we were the oldest people in there by at least 5 years!
There is a “special” topping that varies day by day, so I’d recommend coming back here multiple days to try different offerings.
Overall the vibe was very welcoming, and whilst I’ve got no interest in K-Pop anyone who does should absolutely visit it. I’m sure there’s plenty of references that were totally lost on me.
Usually when on holiday, I plan lots of small things to do each day, but regularly move them between days depending on how I’m feeling throughout the time. On this day however, we did three big events with time restrictions!
The first of these was a long walk to one of Prague’s main attractions, the castle, and this contributed significantly to our massive 22,716 steps (9.51 miles) walked.
The busiest bridge I have ever been on, even in the pouring rain! We visited on a Saturday, and getting through the massive tour groups bunched at each end was a real challenge.
It’s a very distinctive stone bridge, with statues alongside offering distractions from the excellent views every few minutes.
I’d recommend walking across it once or twice, especially if you happen to be up early, otherwise maybe try another route!
A lovely restaurant serving French food! We only came in for coffee and a snack, but ended up having the bizarre “Inverse cold cappuccino” which was… unique, and an excellent Croque Monsieur. My partner had the pancakes. Both were simple dishes, but cooked perfectly, giving us plenty of energy to tackle alllllll the steps up to Prague Castle.
Staff were friendly, and it was nice to see them eating the same food on their breaks!
This is a surprisingly confusing place to visit! When you finally make your way up all the stone steps, you need to walk past the main entrance and actually enter via a side exit.
Once within the castle complex, you can wander about some of it for free, but I’d highly recommend buying a ticket via the building on the left when you enter, specifically the “Basic Circuit”. This gives you access to 4 areas: Old Royal Palace, St George’s Basilica, Golden Lane, and the main attraction: St Virus Cathedral.
Perhaps I was just being particularly stupid that day, but these attractions being numbered 1, 3, 5, and 8, whilst also being told they must be visited in order, led in a few minutes of confused map reading to work out where I needed to go. This is caused by each exhibit / building having an individual ticket reader (to allow free visitors access to the general area).
Regardless, each of the 4 areas visited was interesting for different reasons, and I highly recommend visiting all 4 and not just skipping to St Vitus.
This fairly spacious palace is somewhat light on historical detail, but has an interesting variety of rooms available to view. This includes a throne room, dining halls, and various rooms where famous events have happened. It gives a good overall impression of how the palace must have felt, and is worth visiting despite being one of the weaker attractions within the castle.
There is some information available on glass boards, in both English and Czech, but many of them are poorly placed and hard to read due to having no background!
The palace can get very crowded, but this tends to be due to very large groups that quickly move on, so just waiting a minute or two usually alleviates this.
A surprisingly interesting Basilica! As with many parts of the castle, it can get very crowded, but there is detailed information available if you can manage to get to one of the boards. Unfortunately the truly interesting bits (e.g. a mysterious box of bones in a side room) aren’t explained at all, with the nearby board instead discussing one of the artworks on the wall.
It’s rather small, and you won’t be here for longer than 10 minutes, but there’s no reason not to visit if you have the basic pass that includes access!
You’ll get exactly as much out of The Golden Lane as you put in. If you just walk through glancing at things, it’ll just be a somewhat interesting collection of cramped houses. However, if you put the effort in? It’ll be one of the most interesting things you see in Prague.
Most of the houses can be entered, and provide a typical abode for an occupant. This might be a healer, a guard, a baker, or any other typical medieval roles. Keep an eye out for a house that Franz Kafka briefly lived in, owned by his sister.
The upstairs of most of these houses have been converted into a long walkway containing suits of armour and other artefacts. There was also unexpectedly a long thin booth where you could pay a small fee to fire a crossbow!
In summary The Golden Lane is absolutely worth a visit, and exploring all the nooks and crannies will be rewarded. Note that the exit is at the opposite end of the street to the entrance, and it can be confusing to get back into the castle complex (visit the downstairs tower room / dungeon, then come back up the same stairs and walk through a small doorway on the right).
The highlight of Prague Castle! If you’ve ever seen a picture of the castle, this is probably the part you’ve noticed sticking up.
There is unfortunately quite a large queue to get in, even with a ticket, but it is well worth the wait. Once you walk inside the open layout makes it feel far larger than it should, even when full of other people.
Whilst there isn’t much to read, and it can be very light on information without a tour group, the visuals alone make it worth a visit.
This was a somewhat spur of the moment purchase, and I’m glad we did it! Our tour guide was full of information about the places we visited, and covered both Prague’s history, Czechia’s history, and the locations themselves.
The tour took 90 minutes, and consisted of 5-6 locations, each with a 5-10 minute walk between them. The quality and appeal of each varied quite a bit, unfortunately. Whilst some were genuine historical sites, with lots of interesting history behind them, one towards the end felt more like a halloween set than anything else.
I suspect the organising company overlaps various tours, with the more serious tour (this one) unfortunately sharing some rooms with the gimmicky “ghost” tours. This leaves a mixed experience, where you’ll be told excellent information about the expansion of Prague over time, immediately followed by some nonsense about witches!
Overall it’s worth doing, but don’t expect to enjoy all of it, regardless of what you’re looking for.
This is a tricky experience to review, as it had some great bits, and some absolutely awful bits.
The 2-3 hour experience was pretty much what the description says: food and drinks in a dungeon, whilst performances happen around you. It’s definitely a unique experience, and I don’t regret it whatsoever, but it could have been so, so much better.
When we visited, something clearly went wrong with the queueing. We arrived 15 minutes early as requested, and found a wall of 100+ people in an alleyway. Talking to those around us, we discovered everyone had a booking, yet for some reason weren’t being let in. Every few minutes, a latecomer would arrive, think they had a reservation so could go straight in, barge their way to the front only be told to go away. This, plus the natural jostling of a crowd resulted in a massive crowd getting thicker and thicker over time. There were no updates whatsoever from the organisers during this time.
We waited around 20 minutes in this crowd, and due to the environment (a long alley), by the end I was pretty concerned about a crush happening. I have no doubt that if there had been an announcement (or rumour) about overbooking, the resulting push could have turned extremely dangerous extremely quickly. I’m sure there was a reason for this, but I shouldn’t have to be keeping an eyeline on escape routes and physically insisting on personal space for my own safety, especially not when attending a pre-booked meal.
Anyway, the actual experience: The courses were somewhat smaller than expected, with the 5 courses being very small with very long breaks between. I was still a bit hungry when I left, and I’d had lunch that day already!
Similarly, whilst the drinks are free, actually getting them can be challenging. The servers are understandably very busy, and it took 15+ minutes to get my partner anything except beer or wine (both of which I had poured over my hands accidentally!). In a similar vein, scraps of food (such as the bread) were very sparse, with everyone clearly hungry. The final “course” was a small square of homemade cake that was… fine. Luckily everyone was pretty full from the main course, large slabs of chicken / pork.
Our experience specifically was worse than it should have been, due to our table having 10 people instead of the intended 8. This resulted in a very cramped experience, with the unfortunate couple at the end being on opposite sides and essentially unable to communicate throughout! I felt very sorry for them, especially when the guy next to me got pulled up into a dance unexpectedly. A horrifying experience for him.
The entertainment was decent, with fire breathing, belly dancers, and dramatic swordfighting / wrestling. Unfortunately we also got tricked by a woman going around asking if we wanted a photo (sure!), who then hands it over printed on a magnet later complete with a request for 200 CZK. Expensive, and manipulative.
Overall it was good, I think. It had awful bits, and I wouldn’t have paid for the environment, the entertainment, or the food separately, but put them all together and it’s just about worth it.
After our very busy day before, this was a pretty relaxed day visiting Letna Park. Whilst we moved around a lot, it was mostly just relaxed wandering, resulting in 14,644 steps (6.65 miles) walked.
Unfortunately the metronome wasn’t working when we visited, and had a fair amount of graffiti on it. Luckily there were great views across the city to mostly make up for it.
I recommend visiting, make sure to explore the surrounding park too for a nice walk.
We visited Letna Park during a cold 24th December, and were happy to find Na Baste open but empty of customers. Since we intended to walk around the park, we just purchased 2 mulled wines and left.
Nothing especially positive or negative to comment on, besides the door seeming stuck and unable to fully open or close!
Pretty little unexpected lake with plenty of seats, lots of nearby joggers and dog walkers.
An excellent Korean restaurant! Most of the customers are Korean, and the dishes taste (and look) authentic whilst still being affordably priced. Note that there is a large, quieter downstairs area, so even if it seems full a space should appear soon.
I had bibimbap, and it was undoubtedly the best I’ve ever tried. I wish I lived closer to Matzip so I could come here repeatedly!
Somewhat similar to the day before, we spent Christmas day wandering around a small mountainside. Despite our relaxed pace, we ended up with 18,370 steps (8.00 miles) walked.
Tickets to this museum need to be bought in the shop before entering, somewhat confusingly. The actual museum starts in the upstairs, progressing to downstairs later on.
The museum is larger than it seems, with the (rather warm) large first room tricking some people into leaving early! In total the museum contains all the scraps of information about Kafka possible, from diary entries, his doodles, his work, past lovers, letters to his father, his family tree, etc.
Since relatively little of Kafka’s work actually survived (despite his wishes!), the museum has done an excellent job of documenting everything possible. This includes his route to school, first editions of his work, exploring some of his themes, etc.
Definitely worth visiting for anyone who has enjoyed Kafka’s work, it’ll likely take around an hour.
A haunting memorial that is as striking as it should be. Unfortunately during our visit there were homeless people… relieving themselves nearby. Maybe don’t spend too long here!
A steep hill that is well worth climbing yourself. Whilst the attractions at the top are quite busy, the paths themselves are quiet and a relaxing climb. The view at the top is quite good, but I’d highly recommend coming during sunset and seeing the spectacular views of the city!
There is a funicular to the top, but it has a fairly long queue and the walk only takes 20 minutes or so.
A very useful bridge, with spectacular views of the city in the evening! The park halfway across is an unusual addition, worth visiting during the day.
A word of warning about the reviews: The restaurant is offering free food to any 5 star reviews that are shown to a waiter, so read the content more than the number itself.
The food here was pretty good, if a little more expensive than expected. They were unfortunately sold out of the item my partner ordered, but the replacement choice was good too.
After being excited to see this, I found it’s closed and covered up for repairs! A real shame it isn’t left visible despite not turning
We were leaving for Berlin just after lunch, so we only had enough time for one last thing in Prague: the National Museum! Most of today’s 10,151 steps (4.05 miles) walked were before we left Prague.
We did a very quick visit due to time constraints, but still found plenty of interesting bits! A mixture of art and science, the ticket office offers a somewhat confusing selection of tickets, sometimes resulting in slow purchases.
Most of our time here was spent in a fascinating exhibition titled “Fifties” covering Prague’s history during the Soviet Union era, and the various changes that happened in such a short time. As my first time visiting a former USSR satellite state, I really appreciated the detail on what actions were taken, why, and the impact they had. Highly recommend visiting this section if you have any interest in the Soviet Union.
I recommend the basic “Museum Complex” ticket for a shorter visit, this will get you access to all of the main museum, missing out on any specific additional exhibitions or buildings (e.g. children’s museum).
I loved Prague. It’s probably my favourite city I’ve ever visited, and I’m not even fully sure why! The mixture of beautiful architecture, plenty of green areas, and a lovely river all combine to give me everything I want from a city.
Similarly, the exchange rate is very generous if you’re spending GBP, with a pint of beer costing maybe £1-£1.50, instead of the £4-5 back home! This applies to food, travel, and pretty much anything that isn’t a brand name good. This resulted in not having to worry about cost at all during our trip, and constantly feeling like we’re getting excellent value for money, even in the city centre.
Overall the city felt like it welcomed tourists (maybe due to the previous point!), with everyone speaking at least a little English, and more importantly most signs / museums featuring English & Czech. The overall vibe of quieter streets and shops felt very “me”, and I could absolutely see myself living here.
Out of all the cities we visited on this trip, we spent the longest in Prague, yet it was also the only one where we still had plenty of ideas for things to do. I’d love to come back here, maybe visiting the smaller “Brno” in the South East of the country.
Next up: Berlin!