I’ve now sent you to several other places to get a Prague-type experience. I was incredibly lucky to be living in Germany as Prague began to blossom as a tourist destination so I got to see it in a very virginal state from a tourist perspective. It has always been in my top ten travel experiences. Service was pretty terrible and a lot of the city was full of ugly Soviet-era architecture but there was much to admire about the culture and there was also beautiful baroque architecture. There were quirky things to do like attend a black box theatre experience or climb to the top of a hill in search of witches.
Since then, I have traveled a lot all over Europe and kept meeting people complaining about how crowded Prague is. It kept dissuading me from a return visit but then one of my friends got invited to a conference in Prague. We live in different cities so I don’t get to see him a lot so an opportunity to revisit Prague and hang out for a few days post-conference was too enticing to resist.
The first time I had stayed in cheap B+B type accommodation in an ugly Soviet-style apartment block. This time I decided to go larger and stay at the Hotel Josef. It was an excellent decision. It is moderately priced, right in the middle of all the tourist action and there is a metro station nearby if you want to explore beyond the typical tourist sites. Breakfast is included and it is exceptional. Luckily, there is lots of walking to do post-breakfast to wear it off 🙂
I thought October might offer some respite from the tourist masses. The weather was definitely cold but that did not stop the tour buses. I would definitely advise visiting off-season as it is hard to imagine the main square could hold many more people! The tourists tend to flock only in a few super famous spots so you can get away from the crowds by being intrepid.
The Old Town is small so the best way to begin is to wander aimlessly through the cobblestone
streets and get a sense for the place and imagine you are in an entirely different century. Eventually make your way to the Charles Bridge so you can join the tourist throngs snapping photos and check out the wares of the merchants littered chock-a-block along the length of the bridge.
You will now be in Malá Strana where it is easier to escape from tourists and get plenty of exercise climbing the steep streets.
There are very few places in the world where you can feel like you have wandered into a real life place that would be the perfect setting for a fairy tale. Be sure to stay for a few days and get up really early at least one morning so you can see the Old Town Square and the phenomenal Astronomical Clock while the other tourists are still sleeping. That’s when you will feel you really are a 16th century prince or princess – with a great 21st century camera 😉