I can’t feel my fingers and toes. It hurts to breathe. The main squares of Prague in the Czech Republic are deserted, with only a few brave souls hurriedly walking by. This is what Prague is like in the dead of winter – completely frozen, sleepy and old.
Prague feels like some sort of Gothic Disney movie. This city was one of the few mostly left unscathed by World War II, so it’s retained a charm (and mystery) outlasting many other spots in Europe. Despite the classic architecture, Prague is progressive and has lots of hidden spots for culture vultures. You can see rock shows in old churches, camp out at hipster coffee shops and dance the night away in hidden nightclubs.
On short trips, we like to simply pop into a city without too much planning. It helps get a real feel of a destination to simply wander and keep your eyes peels. With Prague, this would have been a great idea – but temperatures were around six degrees Celsius (42 degrees Fahrenheit). We tried our best to stay warm!
Homebase by the Vltava
A river runs through Prague, dividing the city into old and new sections. We found a lovely, modern place to stay in the new section, but close enough to see all the sites by foot. Bohemian Apartments provide spacious accommodations in the heart of the city, complete with full flat perks like kitchens, multiple bathrooms and great views. Our apartment in Prague could sleep up to eight people and had wonderful skylights.
When making reservations, do note the amount of people, as we needed some extra linen that was missing. You can check-in anytime, but each apartment is in different places, so someone will have to come out to handle the arrangements. This could be slower in the evening and cost extra.
We loved having an extra-large chill-out area for the common room, and a kitchen big enough for snacks and keep a couple bottles of bubbly on ice. Rooms are cleaned daily and toiletries are stocked well. We loved leaving the apartments and walking steps to the river, Old Town Square and plenty of tasty places to eat. Bohemia Apartments has options for every budget and for different travel group sizes to suit your needs.
A Day’s Worth of Sightseeing in Prague
From the apartment, we walked about 20-25 minutes to the Prague Castle up on a hill. The walk is doable, but the freezing environment made for many coffee shop stops! You can walk around the castle grounds, or choose to take a tour of the interior.
On the way back, take the route along the iconic Charles Bridge. Usually it’s full of buskers and people selling their wares, but in the winter it’s quiet with just a few picture-takers. The bridge is pedestrian-only and flanked by the Old Town Bridge Tower, worth gazing on it’s incredible detail and Gothic style.
During our visit, they were diligently working on the famous Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square, close to Charles Bridge. We didn’t have the chance to hear it chime, but the square surrounding it is still magical. There are a few art museums nearby, as well as concerts halls known for classic music performances during the year.
Eat Your Heart Out, Prague
Food choices in Prague was interesting and mostly hearty. Now again, we went in a bit blind and went along for the ride, but there wasn’t a bad meal to be had.
Breakfast was great in the apartment, but one morning we ventures a few minutes away to Mama Coffee, recommended by the guy who checked us in. The menu was limited, but the coffee was strong and delicious. It went perfectly with my pile of pancakes covered in honey and lemon.
Afternoon snacks mostly consisted of chocolate, as there were many high-end shops offering local treats. We also hunted down a classic Trdelník, which is a cone-shaped pastry covered in sugar. I really wanted the Instagram-famous version with soft serve ice cream, but my fingers were frozen, I just couldn’t do it in February!
Protip: I’d avoid restaurants in Old Town Square at all costs, especially Restaurace Kamenný stůl. Sadly, especially when the season is slow, restaurant owners are out to overcharge and turn tables quickly. We were also given a long story about the ‘water’ situation! Although we had been drinking tap water at the apartment all weekend, the manager at Restaurace Kamenný stůl insisted we must pay six Euros for a bottle of water as there were no other options. Check prices carefully and stick to the side streets for better food options if possible.
For dinner was some classic Czech food, mostly consisting of meat, gravy and dense dumplings. U Bulínů is a sure spot for tradition and delicious dishes, while being a little off the beaten track outside city center. For your next dinner, consider something Italian at the quirky Ristorante Italiano Buschetto. It boasts an unusual pirate-themed history and a wonderful fresh pasta menu to boot.
Beer flows like water in Prague, and locals like to tease it cheaper than the water! We didn’t do too much beer slugging this trip and preferred hot tea instead. But we did have some great warm spiked cider and a few pints at the John Lennon Pub. It’s located right down the street from the John Lennon wall. The wall is an old student project, protesting injustices in the city decades ago. Nowadays much of the message has been turned into a photo backdrop for tourists, but it’s still worth a peek. Then have a drink next door and check out all the Beatles memorabilia while warming up in big, wooden booths.
Enjoy Prague! It’s a must-see at least once for architecture lovers, street food fans and souvenir shoppers who love a nice city stroll. & thanks to Wandering Mel for some of her great photos!
What’s your favorite European city? Did you go in the winter, or another season?