Last Autumn, my dad came up with the idea of leaving on a city break for my 17thbirthday. The toughest part was deciding the destination and we ended up flipping a coin between the final choices: Budapest and Prague. Looking back, three days in Budapest would have been rushed, as the city is much larger, and the important sights are very spread out. In Prague, everything is within walking distance. Being so compact, Prague is the perfect destination for a city break!
As I see it, the best time to take a trip to Prague is from mid-October to late November. Why? Well, there are a number of reasons. First of all, the foliage is stunning, the medieval city reassembling an Autumn fairytale. The colour palette is truly picturesque, due to the matching of the bright yellow, red and orange leaves with the houses. As for the weather, with appropriate clothes, you can be all day outside without being bothered by the cold. Another factor to consider is the small number of tourists compared to spring or summer. I would also advise against going to Prague around Christmas if you are interested in sightseeing, because the Christmas Market attracts thousands of tourists daily in the tiny Old Town centre.
Where to stay?
Hotel Paris Prague is a perfect choice for many reasons! The location is excellent: very close to the historical centre. I especially loved the Art Nouveau style of the interiors, which offered a feeling of warmth and coziness that modern hotels rarely have. The breakfast variety was great too.
Here’s a breakdown of each day’s activities that we checked off during our stay:
- Climb to the top of Powder Tower (optional- only if you really want to get a good shot of Prague from above)
- Explore the Old Town Square and surrounding streets
- Visit the Klementinum Library
Dubbed the “Most beautiful in the world”, this baroque library is definitely worth seeing. Few people actually go inside, as the entrance is in the interior garden of the building. The tour takes 50 minutes and, contrary to what I was expecting, you can’t actually walk inside the library itself (you can go about 2 meters in). In their efforts to conserve it as much as possible, the room is protected by dark glass windows, wooden doors and dim lighting.
An interesting fact we learned from our guide was that the most important and valuable book in Europe, Vysehrad Codex, is hidden in the library. A facsimile is exposed in the library hall.
At the end of the tour, you will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the historical centre from the balcony of the Astronomical Clock Tower.
- Cross Charles Bridge
- Visit Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral
- See the entire Old Town from the top of a hill
- Walk in the park and feed the swans
If you look at the city map, it’s easy to spot the abundance of greenery on the left riverbank. The hilly area has many gorgeous and quiet parks where you can take a relaxing walk. Right next to Charles Bridge, swans flock to be fed by tourists, creating a picture-perfect frame. Another alternative is the island you can see on the river, where a smaller group of swans can be found and nearly no people.
- Watch how the head of Franz Kafka moves
- Visit the National Museum (optional)
- Attend a classical music concert at the Klementinum
This activity was one of the highlights of the trip, as it was a unique experience. My mother had been insisting to buy concert tickets in Prague from the moment we landed, but the one we saw advertised overlapped with my birthday dinner. On the last day, while fighting over whether to cancel the reservation or not, the ticket man heard us (he happened to be Romanian) and told us that there’s another venue, slightly smaller in size, that hosted a concert in one hour. Ecstatic that we could make it to dinner AND see the show, we rushed there to buy tickets. To this day, the concert was one of the most magical I have ever been to.
Where to eat?
Traditional food: Cerny slon (Black elephant) Hotel & Restaurant
How could we leave Prague without enjoying some local dishes? This hidden gem is one of the best places to do so. We had the pork ribs, “half a duck” (literally) and lamb. All were incredibly delicious – not to mention the size of the portions! If you do eat here, just don’t order dessert (it’s a hit or miss situation).
French cuisine: Ungelt
My dad was in Prague for a business trip and had dinner here, so it was his initiative to bring us there (I’m the one who does the restaurant scouting usually). The plating is highly detail-oriented, the food is great, and the place has an inviting atmosphere.
Long before leaving home, I had started looking for a cool place to celebrate my birthday. It just clicked when I came across SaSaZu. It had everything I wanted: club-like music, Asian cuisine (my all-time fave), and unique décor. I booked a table almost two weeks in advance (as there’s a very big demand) and couldn’t wait for the dinner.
Now I can say that it has even surpassed my expectations and ranks as my favourite restaurant. The food was other-worldly, other words just wouldn’t do it justice. Our server was incredibly kind, friendly and made the experience even more memorable by bringing out a spectacular birthday dessert at the end! I would return any day in a heartbeat.
- Grab a TRDLO on the street! This famous Czech dessert is finger-licking good: a funnel cake coated with Nutella on the inside and other toppings on the exterior, ice-cream being a popular add-on too.
- Oh Deer Bakery – the place to eat some amazing cronuts in Prague.
TIP: Don’t fall in one of the many tourist traps in Prague, especially food-wise. The street food is extremely over-priced for what you get (not saying it’s not yummy), especially in the touristy areas. You can get the same food for half the price in a restaurant.