Forty-Eight Hours in Prague
Prague is a city of history, architectural beauty, and old world glamour. My first time visiting was to run the Prague Marathon and the second time was for a weekend getaway when I was still living in Brussels. Whether it is a stop during a European itinerary or a weekend trip, Prague is definitely a must on European destination lists.
If you are traveling within Europe, there are plenty of low-fare carriers that will take you there for less than 80€ if you book in advance. There are also plenty of ways to arrive there from other major cities such as Berlin, Vienna, and Budapest via rail or even car.
There is a wide variety of options for places to stay in Prague, from high-end luxury hotels such as the Four Seasons Prague to hostels and apartment rentals. I prefer small design, boutique hotels. During my first visit, I stayed at Hunger Wall Residence, which I loved due to its residential location on a quiet street away from the tourist crowds. The hotel is located on the west side of the Vltava River (the New Town), which for me was the perfect location. You can easily cross the river to the Old Town but will find peace and quiet in the neighborhood.
If you prefer to stay in the Old Town, I also enjoyed my stay at Hotel Josef. Located on a quiet side street behind the Old Town, the hotel’s top floors provide a gorgeous view of the city. Bonus points for Hotel Josef: I was sick one day during my stay and the staff brought me soup and tea at no extra cost.
As for attractions, Prague Castle is at the top of my list. Arrive early to avoid crowds and experience the beauty of the castle. On a spring day, walk by the lilac-adorned walls and take in all the history of the city. Tip: Climb to the tower to take in one of the best views of the city. If you are in Prague for a limited time, take a guided boat tour on the Vltava River. We sipped on Czech beer on a small wooden boat and admired the castle, the Charles Bridge, and the architecture that lines the river.
If you are a lover of architecture, I suggest you put on comfortable shoes and go for a long walk to discover the wonders of the city. Start at the Dancing House Building, a Frank Gehry-designed structure that also includes a restaurant and an observation point. Head north to the Charles Bridge, an ornate bridge bringing the old and new towns together. End at the Old-New Synagogue, Europe’s oldest active synagogue, and admire the intricacies of the façade. In between, take the time to stop at many of the cafés of the city, which give you a glimpse of local gathering spots.
I asked my friend Lida, a Prague native, for her favorite places to eat. For traditional fare, she suggests Potrefena Husa, which is an old Czech traditional kitchen with a modern touch. If you’re looking a more intimate setting, she recommends Krcma and its good selection of wine and food. Head to Zelezna Street off Old Town Square, where locals and tourists come together for beers. And if you’re in the mood for casual Italian, Lida’s pick is Ambiente. Her favorites in the New City are Ujezd and La Bastille, a French/Czech fusion restaurant. As for my dining experiences, one of my favorite food memories of the city was to have Czech beer (Pilsner Urquell) and a sausage at the food stands of the Old Town Square on a hot summer afternoon.
My favorite recollections of Prague consist of drinking beers after my race with my Czech hosts, having a delicious Thai dinner at Noi and a bottle of Bohemia (Czech sparkling wine) with my friend Jimmy to celebrate our athletic prowess (or lack thereof), and chatting in Spanish with a Mexican-Czech couple who owned a jewelry store in the Old City. To me, an experience in a city is made by the food, drinks, and most importantly, feeling of welcome by the locals. Prague easily and beautifully achieves that.
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