A Disappointing Weekend in Prague

I have yet to write about our hike up Scafell Pike last October and our recent visits to Amsterdam and Gibraltar, but I decided to get Prague out of the way first. You might have guessed from the title, it was not the trip of a lifetime…

To be fair, it was not all Prague’s fault; Edward and I were both knackered and feeling a bit ‘travelled out’. The city itself was crowded but beautiful.

We landed at Václav Havel a little before lunchtime and made our way through passport check rather slowly (which is to be expected when you carry a non-EU passport). We had booked a private taxi and after the early-morning drive and the cramped up flight, we were very glad to have done so.

Prague started with a 40-minute journey to our hotel in the company of a rather chatty and very opinionated (and for some reason, pro-Trump) driver. It was soon followed by a 30-minute walk into town to get some food and find the Museum of Communism, which was to be our first stop and probably the only most interesting place we’ve seen in Prague.

I must admit, I knew very little of Czech Republic’s history and its communist past but I learned a lot. The visit took us most of three hours; there were lots to see and read on the rise of communism in Czechoslovakia, the different aspects of life in a communist country and the birth of Czech Republic. My favourite sections were certainly the ones touching everyday life and propaganda, a subject that has long fascinated me (I highly recommend CBC’s documentary series Love, Hate & Propaganda – the three seasons are excellent). The museum is amazing and well worth a visit.

After the museum, we wandered a bit around the Old Town Square, glanced at the astronomical clock, had a look at some of the Christmas market stalls and watched some very original street performers before heading back to our hotel for an early night in.

On the second morning, we headed back to town to see the famous Charles Bridge and climb up the hill to visit St. Vitus Cathedral. After crossing the bridge – miraculously unharmed by the flock of selfie-sticks – we opted for a coffee break and a slight detour to have a look at the Lennon Wall, an interesting and ever-changing piece of art in a quiet corner of the city.

We left Malá Strana, took a wrong turn (no surprise here, Edward and I excel at getting lost) and somehow ended up feeding swans on a beach by the Vltava River.

Honestly, that hour spent looking a graffiti and trying not to have my fingers bitten off by birds as tall as me was one of the highlights of the trip… That tells you a lot about the rest of it.

Another highlight was the climb towards the castle and the views of the whole city from above. Stunning!

We expected to spend most of the afternoon exploring the castle area and visiting the Cathedral but it actually took us around an hour; I guess it would have taken more time if we had booked a tour of St. Vitus but we were not in a mood for it and decided to pass. Instead, we headed for the small Christmas market held in the Cathedral’s square. It was a lovely little market and perfect to grab a bite for lunch, but we didn’t stay long there either.

In fact, after only two days in Prague, we felt like we had already seen everything there was to see. I can’t understand all the hype around this city; its rich history is hidden under a multitude of souvenir shops and trdelník stalls, its stunning architecture is lost behind the waves of selfie-sticks and since beer is so cheap, the streets are filled with drunk students and stag/hen do.

Prague is relatively cheap to visit, easily walkable and caters heavily for tourists but we never really felt safe or even welcomed. In all honesty I wouldn’t recommend it but in a way, I’m happy we went… It made me realise that I am done with random city breaks planned only a few weeks in advance – at least for now. I want to travel back to places I loved and explore more of them, or start planning longer and more adventurous trips.

33 thoughts on “A Disappointing Weekend in Prague

    1. Maybe I will go back some day but probably not anytime soon. Like you said, visiting at less busy times would probably be a great idea… Thanks for your comment, I’ll certainly have a read if your post! :)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve never been to Prague but I’m going there soon. So far I’ve only heard good things about it so it’s interesting to read another opinion! Everyone says it’s overcrowded though, I think the city is a victim of its own success… and it can definitely ruin an experience I think.

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    1. I think it’s a different experience for everyone. In our case, it was the second trip abroad within two weeks, we were tired, unprepared and it left us underwhelmed… But I had also heard lots of good things about it before going so some people do like it! I hope you have a good trip! :)

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    2. Prague is lovely, believe me, but if you go the main touristic streets and main places, you will get the same as any oher tourist center: overcrowded tiring experience. Better to be prepared or get a guide, who will take you to the best places through the secret passages or streets an even better, guide will take you to lovely places which are less touristic and beautiful, with the real Prague atmosphere :-)

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      1. I might have to give it another try someday because I have heard loads of good about it. I think my husband and I were both very tired that weekend as well; it was our 9th trip of the year. I’ll certainly have a look at your blog!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree, our first afternoon in Prague we were literally pushed along in a shoulder to shoulder throng of tourists. Meeting a tour guide at around 8.30 next morning, the streets were virtually deserted and we had a very different and enjoyable experience. You really need a guide to get the most out of the experience

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  2. I’m from Czechia, so this was an interesting read for me :) I’m not a huge fan of Prague, too much hype and too little bang for the buck. I was seriously amused by your observation that the city is “relatively cheap to visit”: you are right, it’s cheap relatively to the rest of the world, but it’s whopping expensive when compared to the rest of the country.

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    1. Ah, it’s interesting to have your point of view of this! Would you recommand anywhere else in Czech I should visit to have a better experience of the country and its culture? :) We found it extremely cheap… We booked an hotel for around £30 a night and spent less than £40 for both of us on food, etc. whilst we were there. It was our cheapest trip of the year!

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      1. Oh that doesn’t sound expensive actually! You probably researched carefully and made a good deal. I’m not sure I’d even recommend visiting the Czech Republic at all, not too much to see here; but should someone insist, I’d send them to Olomouc, which is second to Prague in its architectural value, except it’s not touristy, so you really get the local experience.

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      2. Definitelly recommend South Bohemia (Ceske Budejovice, Cesky Krumlov, Tabor, Trebon, Jindrichuv Hradec), or spat at the West Bohemia (Karlovy Vary, Loket, Marianske Lazne, Frantiskovy Lazne, Chodova Plana), South Moravia (Brno, Lednice, Valtice, Kromeriz), Eastern Bohemia (architecture of Hradec Kralove, Podebrady), … and lot of castles around the whole country (Telc, Dacice, Sternberk, Karlstejn, Konopiste, Krivoklat)…, not to forget Kutna Hora, Olomouc, ….

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      3. With the expenses: Prague is cheap for tourists, and the reason is quite bad exchange rate – for locals. When you take into account that the median salary is about 1000 USD monthly, it is not that cheap at all. And unfortunately quite a lot of daily needs are even more expensive here than in for example Germany, like the same shampoo: here 60 CZK (>2euros), Germany 0.99 euros, etc …. It’s just about the money :-).

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    1. I think it can be a good experience, if you are prepare and know what to expect. We didn’t expect it to be this crowded or touristy. If you do go, I hope you have a good time! We bought the DK travel guide before going, it is filled with great information. :)

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  3. I’ve always wanted to visit The Czech Republic after reading The Twelve Little Cakes, by Czech author, Dominika Dery. It was my first memoir and was so interesting! I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience in Prague. I agree that all of the modern aspects of our world takes from the history of certain places. Strangely, as a selfie addict myself, I find that we all need to take a step back from technology once in a while to truly see what’s around us.

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    1. If you do go, I hope you have a better experience than mine. Maybe it just wasn’t for me… You know, I do love a good selfie myself and we usually take some but I get annoyed when I can’t walk somewhere without getting hit by selfie-sticks or when, like in Amsterdam, I have to queue tio take a “real” photo (with my big camera) while a girl takes 32 selfies and shouts at her boyfriend because he doesn’t takes the photos “right”… -_-

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    1. We felt that locals were mostly annoyed with us; they were never particularly nice or even polite. Nothing to help us feel welcome! Unsafe, possibly because our hotel was a bit outside of the center of the city and it didn’t feel like a place to walk alone at night. Our experience might have been different if we had stayed in a more touristy area.

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      1. So far Prague is one of the safest places in Europe, unfortunatelly even here you can have a bad luck, unfortunatelly very often by meeting some non-Czech (even Czech but thats less probable) elements :-).
        And politness? You are right, Czech people (we) really do not look much helpful, we just don’t smile that much on the street at everyone, bu we are very friendly and helpful, when we get a chance. Again, in tourist sevices there is a lot of people that are not Czech and in the touristic places you almost do not meet a local. And Czech people really can be tired of tourists, specially the drunken ones, so please understand us, when we are not that much smilong and helpfull at the first tiem :-))

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    1. Thank you Megan! I’ll certainly have a look at your post. :) I don’t plan on going back to Prague anytime soon, but who knows… I do feel I didn’t give this historic city a fair chance.

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  4. This was a really interesting read! We’ve just got back from Stockholm and I’ve been looking into Prague as everyone is so hyped about it. It just doesn’t seem like it will be as good as what Sweden was!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! :) Well, as you can see in the comments, loads of people seem to like Prague so I guess it depends on what you are looking for and maybe how you chose to experience the city. I know that it wasn’t for me and one of my good friends pretty much disliked it too. I think it was too hyped, i ended up being disappointed. Ooh, Sweden is on my wanderlust list as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. oh no shame you did not enjoy more. Compared to other cities, it maybe is a little limited on attractions. I loved the wall and went back to it as it changes constantly. It sounds like you did not do Jewish quarter, we spent a whole afternoon on that. We also enjoyed couple of brewery tours that we did.

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