Revisiting Prague

Prague is a bit of a special place to me because it was the first place John and I traveled to outside of Germany when we first arrived in 2013 (original recap here, written in October 2013). We agreed then that it was somewhere we wanted to revisit, because it was gorgeous and inexpensive. At the time when we said that, we had no idea that we would be back four more times, with friends during an Eastern European road trip, for a half marathon and an Easter market, for the Christmas markets, and most recently, for a family road trip.

Prague is an absolutely gorgeous city, but it’s not terribly large and it’s easy to see all of it by foot – which makes it quite amazing that every time we have gone, we have experienced something new or different.

Eastern Europe Road Trip 2015

When: May 2015
Hotel: Apartments Pushkin
Why Prague: I had written in blog at the end of 2014 that I wanted to go back to Prague and Budapest at some point, and my friend Renee said that she and her husband would be interested in going with us – and the Eastern European road trip was born. We would start in Prague, work our way to Budapest, then Vienna and close with Salzburg before heading back into Germany. (More on those destinations in a later post).

The Trip: Drawing off our earlier experience, the obvious must visits were the Prague Castle, the Old Town Square, and Wenceslas Square. From there, there were a couple of new additions – Church of St. James with a mummified arm, a beer festival, with a walk through Letna Park, and Petrin Hill (which John and I ended up skipping). 

We had one and a half days in Prague, which tends to be plenty of time to see it all – but add on if you want to really take your time or if you want to do a couple of close days trips.

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There are so many lodging options in Prague, but it is best to choose one in Prague 1. Location is key here, and if you have a close hotel, you can really get anywhere easy and pop back in as needed.

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A long look at the hotel

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The bonus of this place was the really good restaurant right downstairs. This was even more of a key!

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Our room with a view

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I am awed by this square – even after seeing it so many times. It is incomparable.

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Tyn Church and the Astronomical Clock

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So pretty!!

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Walking to Letna Park – this was new to us, and a really gorgeous view of Prague Castle

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Johnny on the bridge with the pretty sunset!

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One of my favorite pictures of us ever – on Charles Bridge walking to the Prague Castle

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The road heading up to the castle is uphill, but doable – especially with cute shops to pop into!

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St. Vitus Cathedral – so pretty! When you get to the castle, you can pick what ticket you want to buy to determine what level access. I suggest getting the ticket that at least includes the Golden Lane, because it is my favorite part of the compound.

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Inside the church

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View from the castle

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Walking along the river

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Interesting statues in the park on the Castle side

Final Impressions: The itinerary the second time around was very similar to the one the first time around and was a perfect introduction to the city. (And it’s lots of fun with good friends, so bring them along with you, if you can!) I was super happy we were able to go back on more time as we were scheduled to return to the states in September 2015. And while we had plans to make it back to Europe, we weren’t sure if Prague was in those plans.

Prague Half Marathon 2017

When: April 2017
Hotel: Iron Gate Hotel
Why Prague: The best way I have found for me to keep my running up is to sign up for a race, and with Prague just four hours away, it was the perfect option. Because we were just going for the race and the weekend, I didn’t make any other plans, and some of the times, it’s the unplanned that equals the most fun!

The Trip: We showed up late Friday and took a stroll around town, but had to get to bed early because the race was Saturday morning. I love European races because of the three halfs I have run here, two of them started at 9 am – so no early mornings here. It also meant I was able to pick up my bib the morning of – in a place outside of town so it was an adventure getting to the expo. But I made it, and finished the race! It was so much fun – the atmosphere was positive, the course was pretty and it was just a really good time…even with the 13.1 miles! 🙂

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The Expo – I love the slogan, “All runners are beautiful!”

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Starting the race in the shadow of the castle.

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Half #19 in the books!

It was unseasonably hot during the race, so I needed to take a little break before we headed out for a walk around. We got lucky with the timing – in addition to the race, we were there for the opening of the Easter Market! After browsing the stands (and picking up some cute handmade goods), we made the decision to go up the astronomical clock tower, which we had never done before. It was the best choice! We were there later in the day so there was no line, and there was an elevator up, which was good on my legs. And the cherry on top was the view – it is the best view of the square, hands down.

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The Easter Market in the Old Square

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Seriously – how cute??

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They had little stands that you could climb up into and get this view

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We found a friend in one of these stands

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The whole market was bright and colorful and fun!

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Handmade eggs for sale!

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You have to have a Trdelnik in Prague – they are bread with cinnamon and sugar

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Walking into the square

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Up the clock tower – we spent so much time here we watched the sun set!

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The best view!!

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A look down at the market area!

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The view of Prague Castle at sunset

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Looking down at the buildings on the square

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Wide view – we have so many pictures like this!

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Prague Castle!

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My turn!

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Even Starbucks had a stand in the Easter Market!

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My post-race treat!

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Wenceslas Square was decorated as well!

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The courtyard of our hotel

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We’d gotten an upgrade the second night when our first room started leaking water…this suite was nice!

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We couldn’t go to Prague and not visit the Charles Bridge

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The view of the castle from Charles Bridge

Final Impressions: This entire weekend was super fun, and was a good example of how not having a plan can lead to super fun discoveries! So add this to the list of things to see and do – ride the elevator up the Astronomical Clock to see the view!

Prague Christmas Markets 2017

When: April 2017
Hotel: Cloister Inn Hotel
Why Prague: I had visited so many of Germany’s Christmas markets, that I always try to branch out. As I have said repeatedly, Prague is so pretty that with Christmas lights and Gluhwein, I was sure it was going to be magical.

The Trip: We left after work with two of our friends to head to Prague. The nice thing about Prague is that it is a city you can walk around safely any time of day, and even though we were getting there later…we still had time to walk around the markets. Because it was our friends’ first trip to Prague, we had the usual stops planned, and thankfully Brian really wanted to see the Klementinum library, which is voted one of the most beautiful in the world. You sadly can’t walk through it, but it is as pretty as they say. The Prague Christmas markets are tucked in various parts of town, and we were surprised with some of them along the way. It is important to note, however, that the only place to get a glass Gluhwein mug is at the Christmas market in the Prague Castle.

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I mean, come on – how pretty is this?

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In the Old Town Square

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Lots of fun areas for pictures!

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Our travel partners!

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St. Nicholas’ Church

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Pařížská Street – the expensive shopping street in Prague

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Group Photo in Prague Castle

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The Prague Castle market (and home of the mugs!)

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So much yummy food!

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Another castle market

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Allie found a friend at the market in Mala Strana

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The Lennon Wall

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We always find a Belgium Beer bar with the Schultz’s – and even though Prague is ruled by Pils, we had to come here!

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The Wenceslas Market!

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Klementinum Library

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Attached to the library building is the Klementinum Observatory Tower

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Beautiful views!

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On the drive back to Stuttgart, there is a market we stop at outside of Plzen to pick up some incredibly inexpensive beer and wine. These plastic bottles are $1.15.

Final Impressions – Prague Christmas Markets did not disappoint even a little bit – the town all lit up in Christmas lights, with yummy food stands and delicious gluhwein. Prague is pretty anytime, but it just a little more special at Christmas, and if planning a trip to Europe to see the markets, don’t miss this one!

Our most recent trip to Prague was in 2019, during a road trip with my family…and I’ll wait to chat about that one and our new discoveries of Prague in a later post.

We’ve been incredibly lucky to get to experience Prague in multiple ways, during different festivals and seasons. I am awed every time I go – even as it has changed a little bit from our first visit in 2013. It’s definitely gained more tourists, and has picked up on its popularity, which is reflected in the higher costs of food and hotels – but the charm is still there, and that’s really the best part.

 

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