Prague is a city I have always wanted to visit, especially for the Christmas markets and ridiculously cheap food and drink! So that’s exactly what James and I did: we booked a last minute Christmas break to Prague to explore the city, try their delicacies and of course, sample their infamous beer.
We flew with Ryan Air from Stansted Airport to Prague Airport, which took just under two hours.
Prague are renowned for having untrustworthy taxis, with drivers conning tourists and charging extortionate amounts. When booking a taxi in Prague, never hail one on the streets – always prebook one and agree on a price and pay before the journey begins.
Fortunately, we had a Blacklane executive car waiting to pick us up from Prague airport. Blacklane are a worldwide professional company specialising in executive airport transfers. They operate in 250 cities and have a handy app to easily book and pay for transfers. We used Blacklane going to and from the airport; the drivers were friendly and the cars super comfortable – we even had fluffy head rests and arm rests to relax on! The easy and comfortable transfers made for a perfect stress-free Christmas break.
We stayed at Hotel 987 Prague, a stunning boutique hotel in the heart of the city, which we managed to snap up in a great deal on booking.com. I’ll be writing a seperate post on the hotel, and the history behind the name!
The food in Prague was just insane, so that also deserves a post of its own – so keep your eyes peeled for my recommendations on what to eat and drink in Prague!
The Czech Crown currency
The currency in Prague is the Czech Crown. Food and drink in ordinary cafes, restaurants and shops in Prague is considerably cheaper here than in Western Europe. Beer and wine in pubs is also super cheap – with a pint of Pilners coming in at just 35czk – so around £1.19!! One night we had a 3 course meal and two drinks each, and that came to less than £30! Prague is a really cheap and enjoyable city break worth booking!
Czech banknotesare issued in: 100/200/500/1000/2000/5000.
Current rates as of 22/12/17: 1000czk = £34/€38/$45
Some places in Prague do take Euro, but it’s best to use their currency – and it works out cheaper in most cases too. It’s also worth noting that almost all restaurants, cafes and bars in Prague have excellent wifi – so you needn’t worry about using your data!
987 Prague Hotel
James found a great deal on booking.com for a stay at the boutique 987 Prague Hotel; a beautiful modern design hotel, just a short walk from the city centre and Main Train Station. The hotel deserves it’s own little blog post – but it’s clean, sleek and stylish, with super comfortable marshallow-like king size beds, quirky little room features and a delicious buffet breakfast included in the price! It’s a 20 minute walk from the city centre, with the metro just outside and trams to hop on and off to explore the city.
Wenceslas Square Christmas markets
We dropped our bags off at the hotel and walked out to Wenceslas Square Christmas market, around a 15-20 minute walk from the hotel. It’s a fairly small sectioned off Christmas market, with a beautiful glistening Christmas tree at the start, and a dozen or so stalls selling delicious foodie treats and homemade souvenirs.
There’s also an animal pen in the middle where you can feed ponies and sheeps. We snapped a few photos of the market and noted down stalls we wanted to visit the next day, and headed out on a walk that lead us through the Old Town Square and to Charles Bridge.
The Irish Times
The weather was really bad on the first night and we were soaked through after our walk, so we popped into a pub on the way back to the hotel to get warm and dry off a bit. We found The Irish Times, a friendly English pub with a warming and inviting atmosphere. James ordered a Mojito, and I ordered a Bailey’s hot chocolate, and we watched the world go by outside.
After we warmed up, we walked back to the hotel, had a little rest and then headed out for dinner.
Dinner at Staromacek
We found Staromacek on a whim, tucked down a side street just a short walk from Old Town Square. The restaurant was cosy and intimate, and a clear hit with the locals. The menu had a variety of Czech classics, so James ordered the traditional Goulash served in a hollowed out bread roll and I ordered chicken schnitzel with cheese and button mushrooms. We also ordered fries on the side, and enjoyed our (mostly) Czech meal!
City Sightseeing Prague
We spent our only full day on the City Sightseeing Prague bus tour. The tickets cost £20 per person and entitled us to hop-on-hop-off two different routes, visiting tourist hot spots such as the Dancing Building, Prague Castle and the John Lennon Wall. You can choose 24 hours or 48 hour ticket, and even combine it with various guided tours and boat trips.
We sat through a whole lap of the red route – which took around an hour – and then hopped off at Prague Castle to explore the grounds.
We explored the castle grounds first, which were seriously impressive, and snapped lots of photos of the stunning buildings and towering spires. Prague Castle is an ancient symbol of the Czech state and serves as a significant monument in Prague. It’s the largest castle complex in the world, covering 70,000m². We walked around the castle and looked inside the stunning cathedral, with stained glass windows and incredibly intricate arches.
We took a walk around the grounds and stumbled on a Christmas market, serving home made souvenirs and gifts and delicious food. There was so much to try, but we finally decided to try a baguette and hot dog from a hot food stand. James’ had the American baguette, torn chicken, coleslaw, salad and onion in a soft brioche bun. I ordered a chorizo hot dog, topped with sauerkraut and spicy mayo, in a soft brioche bun – hands down the BEST hot dogs/baguettes we have had in a LONG time!
It was the for something sweet, so we tried a hot waffle from Waffle Garden. I ordered the ‘Piano’ waffle on a stick; covered in milk and white chocolate. It was warm, sticky and chocolatey – the perfect sweet treat to round off a super delicious lunch.
We managed to catch the City Sightseeing Prague bus just on time, and stayed on a few stops until we hopped off at Mala Strana.
John Lennon Wall
We took a stroll along Prague’s “mini Venice” and walked past Charles Bridge until we got to the John Lennon wall. Lennon was seen as a pacifist in Prague when communism ruled, as western pop songs were banned by authorities, especially John Lennon’s songs, because they praised freedom that didn’t exist there.
After John Lennon’s murder in 1980, A single image of Lennon was painted on a wall in a secluded square opposite the French embassy, along with political graffiti and Beatles lyrics. Since then, visitors have been adding their own contributes to the peaceful wall. The messages are colourful, bright and poignant, expressed in a variety of colours and materials.
John Lennon pub
We popped into the John Lennon pub to order a hot drink and warm up. The staff here were once again incredibly warming, friendly and inviting, and we made good use of their wifi whilst I drank my hot chocolate and James his spiced rum and coke – although a coke and espresso turned up instead!
We snapped a few photos of the little Christmas markets we passed along the way to the Charles Bridge.
Charles Bridge is a historic bridge, crossing the Vltava river in Prague. Construction began in 1357 by the support of King Charles IV, and was completed in the 15th century. Until 1841, Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the City’s Old Town and surrounding areas.
We walked over the 621 metre bridge and took in the stunning views of Prague until we got to the Old Town Bridge Tower, often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world! There’s a little museum to find out about the history of the bridge, something I wish I’d seen at the time.
We headed back to the hotel for a change of clothes (and to warm up!) and walked to Vytopna for dinner.
Dinner at Vytopna
Vytopna is a popular restaurant in Prague with a model train track running around the entire restaurant to deliver drinks to the table. It’s a good idea to book to secure a table, but luckily we nabbed a table right by the bar. They charge each customer 25ck (£0.86p) on top of the bill to help service the trains and keep them going – which is incredible cheap considering! The menu features some Czech specialities, as well as fresh baked pizzas, pasta dishes and salads.
James ordered a beer and sure enough, it came chugging around the corner ready to be picked up! (You can watch the video here and it still makes me smile even now!). I ordered a cocktail which arrived shortly after, and we perused the menu for what to order.
We ordered freshly baked rosemary and garlic bread to start, and then ordered our mains. James ordered a bacon, mushroom and sweetcorn pizza and I ordered the special turkey and pesto pasta dish. We also ordered french fries because yknow, who doesn’t love a good carb? The food was piping hot, fresh and super tasty – and all the waitresses were super friendly too which made the whole experience so much fun.
The bill came to around 30 Czech Crowne (around £22!) which is incredibly cheap. Had this exact restaurant been in the centre of London, they could easily charge £30-£50 for the experience and food alone.
Old Town Square Christmas market
Old Town Square christmas market: The Christmas market of ALL Christmas markets!
The first thing you can see is the incredible 24-metre tall spruce, taken from near a river in Bohemia. The company behind the Old Town Square Christmas market carefully select trees that are in danger of being cut down in the future. This way, the impact of cutting down the tree is minimal because it was due to be taken down. There are thousands of lights, installations and decorations on the Christmas tree, lighting the market up beautifully.
At Old Town Square you can walk around and sample food, drink mulled wine and shop for gifts. I tried the hot honey wine – super sweet but really, really tasty. We had our first Trdelnik (chimney cake) of the trip here. It’s hard to explain exactly what it is but, it’s basically a sweet pastry treat made from rolled dough wrapped around a stick, grilled and then topped with a sugar and walnut mix. You can have it plain or add fillings like nutella, cream or ice cream. We ordered ours with Nutella and it was just absolute heaven – I miss these SO much and you have to try them when you visit Prague!
We had a guide book in our hotel room and when I flicked through it, I found a voucher for money off tickets to the LEGO museum. So after a quick Google, we located the museum and headed there on the last morning of our time in Prague. It took around 20 minutes to walk there from the hotel and was quite easy to navigate. Open 10am – 8pm every day, a ticket costs around 210CZK (£7) for access to the museum under the LEGO shop. If you want to take photos in the museum, you have to pay an extra 20CZK (£0.69!!) which is incredibly cheap, considering the displays and collections you can view at your own pace.
Lunch at Sad Man’s Tongue
James’s found this burger joint on Tripadvisor, and we noted it down as a place to visit as it had so many raving reviews from locals and tourists. Luckily, it was just a 15 minute walk from the Lego museum, so we headed there for lunch. Sad Man’s Tongue is a bar and bistro with a 1960’s vibe. The environment is relaxed and super friendly, so much so everyone in the room said hello when we stepped in! The food is big portioned and hearty, served piping hot and fresh.
I’ll reveal all in the what to eat and drink in Prague post, but the burgers were INSANE. We ordered cheese stuffed onion rings to start, then James ordered the cheese and bacon burger and I ordered the cheese and bacon burger with cherry jam – both of which were incredibly juciy, full of flavour and mourish. The staff were super friendly here and the owner even came and had a chat with us – an all round perfect experience.
On the walk back to hotel, we had one last trdelnik (with nutella, of course) then Blacklane took us to Prague airport for our 6pm flight.
I had the best time eating delicious food and going to the Christmas markets in Prague with James. If you’re looking for a Christmas break, I’d definitely recommend a trip to Prague for a weekend break!