“So are you visiting for the light festival?” our friend who is originally from Prague asked to us. We looked at each other and burst out laughing. “No, actually we don’t know anything about it. We are here because last week was Nico’s birthday and both of us have never been to the Czech Republic so here we are” we explained to her.
Apparently we had arrived at the highlight of the cultural calendar. The SIGNAL Festival of the Lights is one of the largest cultural events in the Czech Republic. I guess we were lucky. Besides the weather being fabulous during our weekend stay in Prague, we got to see one of the most anticipated events in the Czech Republic.
We understood why the metro was so busy and everything seemed so packed. Despite the crazy crowd, Prague is still enjoyable and charming. I would like to share our itinerary for the 2 days we spent in Prague and yes, 2 days were not enough. There are several museums that we (would love to visit but) didn’t visit and we want to explore the nature, maybe a day trip to do some hiking near Prague when we return.
Saturday Farmer’s Market by the river – Vyšehrad area – Pass the Dancing House – Climb the Old Town Bridge Tower – Old Town Hall (Prague Astronomical Clock) – pass the Powder Tower – Jerusalem Synagogue (all the synagogues are close on Saturday) – Jewish quarter – Pedal Boat – Light show at Namesti Miru and two other spots
We arrived in Prague the night before around 11 pm. We started the day around 9 am went straight to the Saturday Farmer’s Market. It was down by the river and our lovely Airbnb host suggested we visit.
The best thing about the market was the people. Communication was a challenge, but most people could speak varying levels of English, some could only speak Czech… don’t worry you can always use body language and finger pointing to get by if things become complicated. We had so much fun at the market and I think you should visit if you happen to be in Prague during the market day. The breakfast there was fantastic. Our biggest problem was deciding what to get.
After eating breakfast and feeling like we had spent enough time wandering around the market, we walked up to Vyšehrad (that is Czech for “upper castle”). It is the oldest settled part of the city and has several nice points that you can explore. We managed to visit the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Vyšehrad Cemetery. We also walked around the area enjoying the breathtaking views of the city.
We continue our venture by walking towards the Old Town. On the way we passed the Dancing House and decided to climb up the Old Town Bridge Tower, before going to the Prague Astronomical Clock. The view of the busy Charles Bridge from the tower was really interesting. There were lots of people on the bridge. Probably more than usual, because of the festival, though we weren’t aware of that at the time.
Arriving at the square where the clock is located at around 1:40, we (with lots of people) waited until 2 o’clock to see the clock strike the hour. While I stood there in the middle of the crowd I overheard a lot of people trying to interpret the clock. This means this, that means that, it has zodiacal ring, it has the moon, the sun and etc. Personally I had a difficult time understanding it, though the clock did look impressive.
When finally the clock struck 2 o’clock, there were sounds and movements; probably a lot of people (including myself) thought it would be more than that. Nerveless it is still cool to be able to observe the clock.
We continued our journey in the Old Town area. We headed to the Jerusalem Synagogue. It looks quite different from the rest of the synagogues, probably because it is the newest synagogue. We passed the Powder Tower on the way. Since every Saturday all the synagogues are closed, we couldn’t enter. Maybe next time we visit Prague we’ll actually enter synagogue (the photos do look amazing).
You might think that all this didn’t take much time, but it did. By this point we’d walked almost 14km and spent the best part of 8 or 9 hours exploring the city. So as we were walking back to the apartment along the riverbank, it was Nico who came up with the idea of taking a cruise on a peddle boat (he actually wanted to go for the rowing boat but I denied his idea because the rowing boat doesn’t look as relaxing as the pedal boat) and I’m so glad we did it.
You should do something to cruise the river in Prague. The other option besides the pedal boat and the rowing boat is joining a cruise. Well I also saw some a Venice style boat ride… it looked so fancy. Our Airbnb host said that in the summer you find a lot of spots where you can do stand-up paddle. It sounded like an interesting-add to “list of things to do next time in Prague” activity!
In the evening we met up with our friends at a bar nearby Namesti Miru and watched a light show at the square. We walked to two other spots where the light festival was happening that night. It was a super busy day but totally fun! There were several points around the city where the Festival of Lights was shown. I loved the SSSSSSpace project!
The Petrin Tower – Prague Castle area (St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica and The Golden Lane) – Walk around the parks nearby the Kafka Museum – Fly out (our flight was at 8 pm)
We started a little later on the Sunday and decided to explore the other side of the river. Our first stop was the Petrin Tower. To reach the tower you have to walk through a park. While I say walk, it’s more like a 20-minute hike! I like walking, but our friends said to not to walk (up) to Petrin Tower. She told us, “you’ll be exhausted!” I’m so glad that I listened to her. We took the tram and funicular up to Petrin Tower. Afterwards we walk down to the Prague Castle area.
If you are into getting a bird’s eye view of a city I think Petrin Tower, which was inspired by Eiffel Tower in Paris, is a must visit. It is quite tall and was a little bit wobbly on the top due to the wind and the number of people (I guess).
If you are afraid of heights… umm you might struggle a bit, but I’m sure you can do it. After climbing to the top of the tower we walked down towards Prague Castle. Finding your way to Prague Castle from Petrin Tower is so easy: just follow the crowd. Hahaha… it was not difficult at all and there are plenty of signs (plus you can also use the map on your phone. I usually download the local map before I arrive in a new country).
Before entering the Prague Castle area you can see the change guards procession. Well, if you arrive at the right time you can. We only saw the last part of the changing of the guards from a distance.
I think it is important to see how much time you have for the castle area and also which places you are interested to visit. This means research… There are several options for the ticket depending on the circuit (route) that you want to do.
We bought the circuit B ticket, which was 250 Czk per person. It had all of the things that we wanted to visit and we didn’t have much time anyway. The circuit A ticket costs 350 Czk per person and there are a few more spots that you can visit. The circuit B covers St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica and The Golden Lane.
I enjoyed the Golden Lane. You can visit Franz Kafka’s house, but I found the whole thing quite weird. I would expect some kind of exhibition inside the house, like a little museum. Instead the house was full of souvenirs about Kafka. Not only that almost all the small houses on the Golden Lane are actually shops. It is just strange for me that you have to pay to enter a shop. After getting out from the Golden Lane you’re greeted with a beautiful view of the city. I really enjoyed my walk down to the city from the Golden Lane.
- I’m sure some of the restaurants and cafes in the city centre are great. If you plan to save some money eat outside the city centre (old town area). A meal costs around 300-400 Czk in the town, while outside the centre (just a 10-20 minute walk), one meal costs around 150-200 Czk.
- The public transport in Prague is super awesomesauce. The rate is based on travel time. I think the cheapest is the 30 minutes; which was 24 Czk. The basic one is 90 minutes and costs 32 Czk. We were staying nearby the Botanical Garden, and from the airport we took a combination of bus (number 100), metro and tram. We only paid 32 Czk (equal to 1.5 USD or Rp 21,000). The journey took around 1 hour-ish. You can also get a 1-day pass. I think this is 110 Czk. A 3-day pass costs 310 Czk. So transportation is cheap and really great.
- There are several towers you can climb around Prague to get a bird’s-eye view (you usually have to pay to climb these). If you want to see the view but are not willing to pay and don’t really want to climb a tower, you can go to Vyšehrad hill. The view is nice too. Alternatively, if you want a view from a tower but don’t really want to climb then visit Petrin Tower as it has an elevator. We climbed the tower at Charles Bridge. It was nice to see the busy Charles Bridge from above.
- Prague is a famous weekend destinations for people in Europe. If you would like to avoid the crowd maybe try to visit during weekdays.
- Czechs are into beer. Their beer o’clock starts really early (as early as 9 am we saw people roaming around the town with a plastic glass of beer in their hand). Don’t be afraid, they don’t count beer as alcohol.
- If this is your first time in Prague and you want to explore the Old Town stay close to the centre. Our Airbnb (in Podskali area) was a 25 minutes enjoyable walk to the Old Town. We could easily walk by the river. It is USD 10/night more expensive than the initial place that we thought about booking, but we saved so much time and it was so good to be able to walk to the town.
There you go my itinerary for 2 days and some tips if you want to visit Prague. I can understand why Prague is a favourite for a lot of people. The city is beautiful (it is like a fairy tale land) with a lot of old buildings in pastel colours. The public transport is great, it is reasonably cheap and there are many things to see and do. I would love to come back to Prague again someday.
Have you ever been to Prague? How did you like it? What do you think I should do/see on my next visit to Prague?