A Popular City Break
Prague has traditionally been a popular choice for European and overseas travelers as a city destination. Its beautiful architecture, plethora of activities and affordable accommodation make it ideal for all budgets, ages and lifestyles. With the opportunity of a long 1st of May weekend I found myself in Prague for the second time; I was last in the city before Christmas 2014 and I found its vibe completely different in spring.
St. Francis of Assisi Church, Prague Old Town
As expected, I was not the only one that had the same idea! The city was extremely crowded, some parts of the old town being totally congested, especially surrounding the impressive Charles’ Bridge. Nevertheless, Prague’s always a delight with its Gothic architecture and natural surroundings blending in a unique canvas of shapes and colors.
This photo guide includes pictures and impressions from my 24 hours spent there. Because of the limited time, I mostly roamed in the touristic old town and its direct surroundings. Most of the pictures were taken with a phone or tablet, thus explaining their lower quality. This allowed for more flexibility on the go, as pick-pocketing in the crowded center is not unheard of.
Prague is just so photogenic; it’s really hard to disagree with that statement! But if one corner alone is enchanting, then imagine how special its beautiful panoramic views can be. The dramatic Prague Castle overlooks the city and is thus visible from most parts of town. As the 1st of May is a holiday closely associated with nature, we decided to go for a hike to the Petřín hill. Initially discouraged by the long lines for the funicular, we decided to walk uphill and take beautiful pictures instead of taking the easy way up.
Vyšehrad is another part of town that is known for its beautiful views of the city. Lying south from the old town borders close to the Palacký bridge, it is a renowned spot for catching the prettiest panoramas of the Czech capital.
Bridges and Waterscapes
The Vltava river gives Prague a very special vibe, blending in perfectly with its architecture and surrounding green areas. The river is fully navigable, therefore cruises are a popular choice among visitors. Smaller canals, dams, gates and islands make the river even more interesting to the eye. I spent about 15 minutes following a boat passing from one canal to the other, seeing the gates open and close to control the water levels. Additionally, it was great to see locals enjoy the natural surroundings of their city, many of them canoeing, water biking or enjoying other activities on the river waters.
Everyone that has visited Prague or has read at least one travel article about it is probably aware of Charles’ Bridge. This majestic bridge connects Prague castle with the old town and dates back to the 14-15th century. Until the mid 1800s it was the only crossing point across the Vltava, thus making it an essential part of the city’s development. It is famous for its statues, raised in the 17th and 18th centuries and depicting various patron saints of the city. The Bridge tends to get insanely crowded during the day; therefore, the best time to visit it for pictures is early in the morning or after nightfall.
Also keep the bridge as a point of reference in terms of pricing. The closer shops and restaurants are to it, the more likely that they will be overpriced. Be smart and allow yourself time to explore and find a less crowded and more authentic place to enjoy a meal or buy your souvenirs.
The real beauty lies in the details! Prague is full of those, from gorgeous facade decorations to half hidden alleys and statues. Man Hanging Out was one of the statues that caught out attention the most; it depicts Freud considering holding on or letting go. The statue is so popular that it has been put in display in London, Chicago, Amsterdam and elsewhere.
Another popular corner, especially among musicians and hippies is the Lennon Wall opposite the French embassy. Covered with graffiti from random artists and visitors, it pays homage to the great John Lennon. It is almost impossible to catch a clear shot of the wall; its usually swarming with people hoping to get new Facebook profile pics or bands posing for a photoshoot. Music is performed around the landmark from as early as 8am and well until nightfall.
If you smell something sweet in the horizon there’s no need to wonder; just follow your nostrils and you will most definitely reach a Trdelník stand. A specialty of the Czechs, this kind of spit cake can be found almost everywhere. It comes in a few varietions, plain, with nutella or with icecream. Don’t be surprised if all selling points come with queues! Not only is trdelník delicious, it’s also very sought-after by locals and tourists alike.
There are of course many other things to see, smell, taste and discover in Prague. 24 hours are by no means enough to fully explore the city, but it definitely gives the visitor enough to want to return. Prague is very well-connected by train to many German, Austrian, Slovak and Hungarian cities and by plane to most European capitals. If it isn’t already in your bucket list then I certainly hope this photo guide will at least make you consider it!
Last visited: May 2017
Local name: Praha
Currency: Czech Koruna (1€ = 27CZK, 1$ = 25CZK as of April 2017)
Calling Code: +420
Timezone: CET (+1)
Emergency Numbers: 158 – Police, 150 – Fire and Rescue Service, 155 – Medical Emergency