Day 1. Arriving in Prague

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Hotel Pav

After taking an early morning flight from London Gatwick to Prague’s Vaclav Havel airport we transferred to the city centre by bus and metro.  Arriving into a winter wonderland of thick snow we made our way to the Best Western Hotel Pav, our home for the next three nights.

Settling in to our room, we were soon ready to start exploring the city.  We walked down to the Vltava river from where we had some splendid views of Prague Castle and other elegant buildings lining the river bank.

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Charles Bridge
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Charles Bridge

As we approached the famous Charles Bridge we could see that it was crowded with tourists, artists, buskers and street vendors all admiring the magical views from the bridge across the wide expanse of the river.  At each end of the bridge there is a tower, the bridge connecting the old town from the lesser town (Mala Strana).  75 statues adorn the bridge some of them replicas where the originals have been washed away in floods.

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Wenceslas Square

A few minutes walk from here we came to Wencelas Square, it’s actually more of a broad avenue than a square and is lined with hotels, shops and banks.  The square lies in the heart of the new town (Nove Mesto), new being a misleading term as the square was laid out in 1348 by Charles IV, originally as a horse market.  At the top of the square is the National Museum with a statue of St. Wencelas on his horse looking down on it, and to the left stands the Prague State Opera.

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The National Museum, Wenceslas Square

After a rest back at our hotel we enjoyed dinner in an authentic Beer Hall along the same road as our hotel which was crowded and atmospheric.  Portions were huge so we only ordered a main course each accompanied by large tankards of the local beer.

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Day 2. Visiting Prague Castle

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Climbing the steep hill to the castle

After a hearty breakfast in the Hotel Pav’s modern restaurant, we wrapped up well to protect us from the below freezing temperatures and set off to visit the castle.

Overlooking the Vltava river stands the magnificent Prague Castle, the largest medieval castle in Europe and today the home of the President of the Czech Republic who rules from here.  The castle, located above the Lesser Town covers an extensive 18 acres and is centred around three courtyards.

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St Vitus Cathedral

Dominating one of these squares is the St. Vitus Cathedral which we were able to look round.  A changing of the guard takes place hourly on the hour and at midday this includes a fanfare and banner exchange which we were fortunate to see.  As it was a chilly Saturday in January there were few tourists about so we had excellent views of the guards performing their exchange.  It’s possible to walk round the castle grounds without charge but to view inside the historic buildings a ticket is required.

Astronomical Clock, Prague

Needing to warm up, we carefully made our way down the steep, cobbled hill which was very slippery in places.  Soon we came across a comfortable small bar where we indulged in pancakes with cream and chocolate sauce followed by mugs of hot coffee.  Our afternoon was spent wandering round the Jewish Quarter with its stunning architecture and collection of synagogues, some of which were open to the public.

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Lunchtime pancakes

We then returned to the main square which is the focal point of the city and bursting with life.  We marvelled at the buildings surrounding the square painted in a palette of pale pinks, blues and yellows that had stood the test of time and were so well preserved.  Groups of people were gathering to watch the astronomical clock perform its actions on the hour.

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The Main Square

Tourism has arrived with many cafes and bars, their terraces spilling out onto the square, but this adds to the atmosphere.  Some more time was spent wandering along the maze of narrow cobbled lanes leading from the square.  Horse drawn vehicles passed by, their passengers huddled beneath thick red blankets keeping out the cold air and we felt we were in the midst of a winter wonderland.

It was then back to our hotel for a little rest before wrapping up snugly and braving the cold once again to find a cosy inn for our evening meal.

Day 3. Petrin Hill and a walk along the Vltava river, Prague

After breakfast we decided to visit Petrin Hill and Observation Tower.  Getting there was by funicular from Ujezd Street in the Lesser Town.  The funicular railway forms part of the Prague public transport system so our day ticket covered this journey.

Perrin Hill, Prague

On reaching the summit of Petrin Hill we saw a replica of Paris’s Eiffel Tower in front of us, it’s called the Petrin Observation Tower and was built in 1891 for the Jubilee exhibition.

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The Petrin Observation Tower
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At Petrin

Although the tower is only 60 metres tall it appears larger as it’s built on a hill top.  It’s possible to climb the 290 steps to the viewing platform for good views over Prague but as it was hazy today we didn’t go up.  The tower is set in landscaped gardens and a planetarium is also on the site.  We had a pleasant stroll through the rose gardens and could see the many spires and turrets of Prague down below from the park walls.

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Lunch venue

Returning to the city centre, we warmed ourselves with bowls of thick pea and ham soup in one of the many cafes.  We then enjoyed a walk on the far bank of the Vltava river which provided us with many lovely views not only of buildings but also of the ducks and swans on the partly frozen river.

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Near Charles Bridge

After a little rest back at our hotel we enjoyed a hearty dinner in a beer hall near our hotel.

Day 4. Our final day in Prague

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Vitava River

The sun was shining this morning so we headed across the river to the Badeniho district and into the Letna Park as we had read that some of the finest views of the Vltava river and its bridges were from here.

Climbing the flight of stone steps we came to a giant metronome and spotted photographers with tripods all around.  Looking back we understood why,  in front of us the river Vitava in all its glory framed with several of its bridges and the city spires.

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Hanavsky Pavilion, Prague

After taking some photos ourselves we continued through the park, it resembled a winter wonderland as fresh snow had fallen overnight and it glistened in the morning sunshine.  Strolling along the wide tree lined avenues we passed joggers, people walking dogs and children playing in the snow.  We warmed up with mugs of hot chocolate in the beautiful Hanavsky pavilion on the left hand side of the park with the river behind us.

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Letna Park

Enchanted by the snowy conditions we decided to continue along to the far end of the gardens.  Leaving the park gates we spotted Sparta Prague football stadium so decided to take a look.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to see very much but we did take a look in the Club shop before taking a tram back to the city centre from outside the ground.

Prague

Back in the centre we were drawn to the Charles Bridge and the Old Town square for one last look and then having a final meal in Wencelas Square before our flight home.

We walked the short distance to the Best Western Hotel Pav to collect our luggage then returned to the airport by a combination of metro and bus.  Our flight was delayed by about two hours and as the terminal was overcrowded we had to sit on the floor whilst waiting to board.  Eventually we were on our way back to London Gatwick airport after a very pleasant city break in Prague.

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Old Town Square

This has been my second visit to this fascinating city and it was just as enjoyable as my first, there’s always something new to discover as well as beautiful sights to re-visit.

If you have enjoyed reading this series of posts on Prague you may also be interested in the following:

Bratislava

Budapest

Berlin

Kraków

Tallinn