Travel Report: Prague In October

While the trip is still fresh, I wanted to give a little report about our visit to Prague. I LOVED your recommendations — they informed our trip a ton. I’ve gathered my favorites from our visit here, and added lots of your tips as well. Also, I made a highlight on Instagram of our trip and I think you’ll find it helpful/informative.

The first thing I should mention is that the weather was really lovely — much better than we expected for the end of October. (I assume due to global warming?) So that really affected the kind of things we did. We stayed outdoors almost all day, and did a ton of walking. If the weather had been colder, I think we would have spent more time at indoor activities, like museums.

I’m going to jump right in with my favorites:

Design Mom’s Prague Favorites To Do:

– Get out on the water. The Vltava Rivers runs through the city and taking a boat ride is great way to get an overview.

Take whatever boat tour looks best to you. We took one in an old wooden boat that took us through the “Venice” part of the city. It was a recorded tour with headphones and was available in lots of languages. I learned a ton! I didn’t realize how old the city was, and that at one point, Prague was one of the biggest cities in the Holy Roman Empire — Rome, Constantinople, and Prague!

– Climb the tower at the beginning of Charles Bridge — then climb back down and walk across the bridge too.

The views from the tower are terrific! And the tower was one of the only not-busy parts of the Old Town — no one seems to notice the entrance. Hah! Bonus: it was really inexpensive.

– Visit the Old Jewish Quarter. I did not understand what this was going to be, but I loved it. Prague doesn’t have a huge Jewish population, but it does have one of the most concentrated collections of preserved Jewish historical sites. They say it’s partly because Prague wasn’t bombed in WWII — so they city is in amazing shape.

There’s an old synagogue there with the names of Czech Jews who were killed in WWII — 80,000 names, all hand written. It’s a holy place.

There’s also a cemetery in the Jewish Quarter that dates back centuries. It was the only place in the city where Jews were allowed to be buried, so the coffins were stacked up to ten deep, and the surface of the graveyard rose higher and higher above street level over the years.

– Sit at Cafe Mozart and watch the Astronomical Clock — but read up about the clock first so you know what’s happening. (Otherwise it can feel anti-climactic.) Get a table maybe 30 minutes before the hour. Order food and watch the clock do its thing a story above the crowd.

– Go to a concert. Prague has an important classical music history — some of the most famous classical pieces were written and first performed in Prague. There are concerts every night, all over the city — often in ancient cathedrals. They’re typically short — like no more than an hour — and you can get last minute tickets easily.

-Check out the Kafka Head sculpture. It transforms while you watch it!

(There are tons more things-to-do recommendations below!)

Design Mom’s Prague Favorites To Eat:

– Communist Cola! During the communist era, Coca-cola wasn’t available in Prague (or anywhere in the country). But they had their own version. It doesn’t taste anything like Coke (but I really liked it).

– Try to find these cream puffs. We were told that hands down the best ones are at Café Savoy.

– Restaurace U Provaznice for traditional Czech food — like goulash and dumplings. We ordered one of every dessert to try!

– L’Osteria. This is not Czech food, it’s Italian, but it’s terrific. The pizzas are HUGE and overlap plates by several inches. : )

– Creme de la Creme Gelato. Also not particularly Czech, but delicious all the same. I ordered the salted caramel and it was probably the best salted caramel gelato I’ve every had (and I’ve had quite a few).

(There are tons more food recommendations below!)

Design Mom Favorite Prague Shops To Check Out

We didn’t make time to do much shopping, but I tried to be on the look out for Czech design shops and found two I really loved.

– Lipa is a gift shop focused on design, craft, and Czech tradition. Really beautiful wares. We bought a gorgeous journal.

– Pietro Filipi is a mens and womens clothing line that I can’t stop thinking about. The fabrics were so good. And it’s completely designed and manufactured in the Czech Republic.

-And I always love a visit to a local grocery store. Just walk up and down the aisles and see what’s the same and what’s different. In Prague, the canned food section had canned strawberries — I’ve never seen canned strawberries before.

Design Mom’s Prague Helpful Things To Know:

-The city has towers and spires everywhere you look. No exaggeration. And every side street has a view. The whole city is done up in the prettiest pastels. It’s truly a jewel.

– There are SO MANY people! (I mean tourists.) Get up really early if you want to avoid them. You can also ditch the crowds if you go anywhere outside of the Old Town area — but we noticed that also means there will be less English.

-The entire city is super walkable, but if you want to ride, try the trams. They’re really easy to use and they have credit card readers so you can buy tickets right on board. If you don’t want to walk up to the castle, try Tram #23 — it has great views of the city on the way up.

– There’s a youtube series made by a Prague local that’s really good. It’s called Janek’s Honest Guide — it’s especially focused on how to avoid tourist traps.

– We enjoy Rick Steve’s books and his walking tour of Prague is a good one. You begin at the Wenceslas Statue by the National Museum (yes, it’s Good King Wenceslas like the song), then he guides you along, talking about architecture and Art Deco and the story of Czech independence, as you walk through statues and gardens — all the way down to the square. Then you get to the Powder Tower and he guides you through old town to the astronomical clock.

– When you’re looking at the photos of the city, the Prague Castle isn’t the castle looking point-y building at the top of the city — that’s the St. Vitus Cathedral (with stained glass windows designed by Mucha). The lower buildings surrounding the church are the Prague Castle.

-Prague has a large Vietnamese population, so it’s a great place to find things like Bahn Mi sandwiches.

– Trdelnik are fried dough cones filled with fruit and cream, or ice cream, or simply rolled in cinnamon and sugar. They smells delicious and they are sold everywhere in the Old Town area. But it’s actually not a traditional Czech food — it’s just good marketing. And our kids loved them anyway.

Okay. I think that covers all of my notes. Next, I’ve compiled the rest of the recommendations from Design Mom Readers. There’s so much good stuff! I already want to go back.

——-

More Prague Food Recommendations From Design Mom Readers

– Follow @tasteofprague on Instagram for food recommendations from locals.
– Leka Hlava! It’s a vegetarian restaurant where the ceiling has been painted to look like the night sky. Tiny lights are embedded to feel like twinkling stars. Never had a bad meal there. So magical. – Got lots of love!. This got lots of love!
– Cafe Savoy for breakfast. This was recommended lots of times!
– Choco Cafe at Liliova 4 (which is the original location), or at Bethlehem Square for exotic hot chocolate.
– Eska is cool restaurant with high quality and reasonably priced food. They do a take away breakfast and seated supper.
– Las Adelistas — best Mexican food in Europe
– Cantina — Another mexican food recommendation. Hah! We were not expecting Mexican food recommendations in the Czech Republic. We have never found good Mexican food in Europe — so we probably should have tried these.
– Naplavka Farmers Market on Saturdays along the river for fab local faire.
– A really good Italian place on the square called Oliva Verde.
– We found a great vegetarian restaurant that serves re-imagined versions of traditional Czech cuisine: Maitrea, smack in the middle of Old Town.

More Prague Things To Do Recommendations From Design Mom Readers

I should note, if the weather had been wet or cold, I’ll bet we would have done a bunch of these. : )

– The Communist Museum.
– A giant toy store called Hamley’s that’s similar to FAO Schwartz. (We’ve been to Hamley’s in London, so didn’t feel urgent about stopping here.)
– Mucha Museum.
– Leaving Prague so you can get a sense of the lovely countryside too. There are many castles you can do as a day trip.
– Muzeum Smyslu (Museum of Senses).
– The Library of Strahov Monastery.
– Kafka Museum.
– Not many people go to see Novy Svet. It’s by the Prague Castle (and readers said I would love it).
– If you are thinking of a day trip, try going to Kutna Hora where there is both the Bone Ossuary (building made of bones) and St. Barbara’s (I believe that is the name??) which is one of the greatest example of gothic architecture.
– Prague Metronome for great views of the city.
– Visehrag for a fabulous walk through the oldest part of Prague (dating back to about 900!!!).
-The National Gallery at St.Agnes (Anezka) convent for beautiful medieval art and a small lovely sculpture park.
– Frantiskanska zahrada (gardens) right off Wenceslas square for a moment of peace.
– Skateboarding at Stalin Square.
– Vysehrad for a lovely walk in the park, one of the oldest churches, stunning views from the ramparts and cubist buildings on the way down to the river (the only country where cubism was translated into architecture). You can easily walk to the centre along the river from there, too.

24 thoughts on “Travel Report: Prague In October”

  1. I love this post. Prague has been on my must-visit list for years; my great-grandmother came from the Czech Republic (Bohemia, at that time) and it has always fascinated me. I will definitely re-read your summary when I’m ready to go.

    1. Something I felt so uneducated about: I didn’t understand where Bohemia was until this trip. I long ago stopped thinking about Bohemia as a place, and have only thought about it as a style, you know? It wasn’t until the boat tour that I realized how and where Bohemia existed as a geographic location. I mean Bohemian-style and Boho Chic are everywhere in both clothing and interior design — but I was not picturing the Czech Republic when I thought of bohemian style.

      Related, almost all of my Jewish ancestry comes from Bavaria, which is now Southern Germany, but from what I understand, Bohemia and Bavaria were areas that bordered each other.

      1. Living close to the bavarian-bohemian border, I allow myself to precise:
        Bohemia is still existing as a geographical area. It is not in an administrative part of the country or a nation itself as it was for hundreds of years, but it is very comman to refer to “Böhmen” or “Bohemia”, as quite a large region of the Czech Republic.

        And even moren. Because of the very, very long history of Prague and Bohemia I find it quite disturbing that a lot of tourists make comments like “this all looks like a town Disney invented”. Because it is just the other way round: Disney was influenced a lot by different styles of european architecture (roman, baroc, gothic or a mix of it all)

  2. Just a note about the additional recommendations – the Szecheny Bathhouse is absolutely worth a visit but it’s in Budapest, not Prague! I actually think Budapest is a more interesting city to visit than Prague and would highly recommend it. It’s also way less crowded!

    1. Thank you! I’ll update the post. And I totally want to visit Budapest! We have been considering a visit to Budapest – Bratislava – Vienna for the week between Christmas and New Years.t

    1. Thanks for that clarification. So the 80,000 names in the Pinkas Synagogue are just a portion of the total names. (Now I’m curious about how they chose which names would be listed there — maybe just those who were connected to Prague?)

  3. Thank you for describing my city so lovely. I miss it daily and can’t wait to go back home.
    Pietro Filipi is a one of the best stores – you should check one of the designers – Ivana Mentlova. She is a pure genius.
    So glad you and your family enjoyed it. Jewel it is!

  4. Your communist cola had me laugh out loud! It’s just a local drink of cola and the world is full of these local brands. Now that you’re in France you could try Breizh cola, from Bretagne. In Perou they hace Inca Cola, Thumbs up in India, Brisa cola in Portugal, LA ice cola in Australia, etc. Best laugh of the day. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos.

    1. Oh shoot! Were we given the wrong info? We were told this was the only cola available in Prague during the communist era (obviously the cola itself isn’t communist).

      1. No, you were right. It is “communist” Coca Cola and honestly – even though I grew up in communism – I’ve never tried it! Ha!

      2. from what I know, it was invented on a medicine syrup, not as an intent to copy the coca cola version and it really doesn’t taste at all like the coca cola. But who knows. I love all the local soft-drinks!

  5. When my friends and I were there last year, I feel like we were told that the reason Prague wasn’t bombed during World War II was because Hitler wanted to move his headquarters there after the war and so wanted it preserved.

    And all the yeses to Cafe Savoy! So, so good.

  6. after Prague, We went to Vienna and Budapest so we didn’t have as much depth as you did. I definitely want to go again. Your children would like to read a book called Someone Named Eva — a young adult historical novel about a young girl in the CR during WW2. My daughter loved it in 6th grade.

  7. Lovely post but I think it’s important to note that the 80,000 Jews that were killed, were actually killed in the Holocaust not WW2. Genocide and war are two different things.

  8. I love watching Rick Steves on PBS’ create channel at night. What a wonderful family trip! I Would love to see beautiful Prague someday.

  9. I visited Prague in 1992 and it remains one of my favorite cities. If you want to see many of these same locations while it was still under Communist control, check out the INXS video for “Never Tear Us Apart.” (Charles Bridge! Jewish Cemetery!) Not like you need any excuse to behold Michael Hutchence.

  10. Amazing article. I totally loved Trdelnik. My husband and I were in Prague during the Christmas of 2018. It was amazing and we loved the Gothic architecture and just strolling around the streets. Although, the start of trip was not great because we got scammed by a currency converting booth just outside the train station, but then we overcame the loss with all the joy around Christmas.

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