“Prague never lets you go… this dear little mother has sharp claws.” - said the author who’s name is synonymous with Prague (Franz Kafka - for the record).
When I first came here in 1989 to visit my family for the first time after the Cold War ended I hated this place, it was grey, dirty, smoky and the people pissed off, but something kept drawing me back - to the point I moved here for 2 years in 1992, and I’ve been back several times over the last 20 years. Prague has changed a lot since those days (i.e. better food, hotels) however baring the crazy tourist hordes, many of it’s fine attractions have remained.
I was asked recently for a list of my picks for a friend that was visiting, so in the spirit of sharing…
MY PRAGUE LIST
http://www.aircanada.com/en/home.html there are no flights direct between Canada and Prague so you have to connect. I suggest Munich, Copenhagen or Zurich (London, Paris and Frankfurt are dumps IMHO).
Fusion Hotel http://www.fusionhotels.com/ kinda like the Prague version of the Ace Hotel.
Josef Hotel http://www.hoteljosef.com/ the original design hotel, still one of the best.
Hotel Sax http://www.hotelsax.cz/ love midcentury? you will love it here plus the location is perfect.
Dum U Tri Capu http://www.hotelthreestorks.cz/jazyk-anglicky.html Prague is now chock-a-block with “design” hotels. The House of 3 Storks is an excellent one.
Cafe Slavia: http://www.cafeslavia.cz/index.php?id_page=uvod&id_rest=slavia&id_lang=en like most of Prague’s cafes it’s very historic - the view is the highlight, food not bad either.
Cafe Savoy: http://www.ambi.cz/ambi_cafesavoy_kontakt_eng.php cafe society is alive and well.
Grand Cafe Orient: http://www.grandcafeorient.cz/ gorgeous interior. enjoy with a czech crepe + spiked coffee treat.
Cukrkavalimonada: http://www.cukrkavalimonada.com/en/ young, hip and beautiful.
Cafe B Braun: http://www.cafe-bbraun.cz/ one of the most modern cafes you will ever see.
Pradelna Cafe: http://pradelna-cafe.cz/onas.php a “laundry cafe” worth czeching out even without the wash.
Dobra Trafika: http://www.dobratrafika.cz/ local local local cafe. with beer (of course).
Bio Zahrada: http://www.bio-zahrada.cz/en it means “Organic Garden”.
Sansho: http://www.sansho.cz/ the only place you should eat Asian in Prague.
Hergetova Cihelna: http://www.kampagroup.com/en/restaurant.php?rid=1 designer and solid restaurant.
La Terrassa: http://www.rezavakotva.cz/default.htm nice terrace on the river with Spanish tapas.
Lokal: http://lokal-dlouha.ambi.cz/cz/ BEER!
Na Kopci: http://www.nakopci.com/ a very nice locals bistro.
Jirak Farmers Market: http://www.farmarsketrziste.cz/en/jirak-en
Nota Bene: http://www.notabene-restaurant.cz/ more beer - and some pretty good food.
Radost FX: http://radostfx.cz/ disco club that has stayed on top for 20+ years. Attached is a pretty good veg cafe.
Jazz Dock: http://www.jazzdock.cz/en/ jazz on the water.
Agharta Jazz Centrum: http://www.agharta.cz/index.php?p=club_info&site=agharta_ajc the long running and famous club where Bill Clinton played his horn.
Prague Castle: http://www.hrad.cz/en/prague-castle/prague-castle-tourist-information/visit-of-prague-castle.shtml yes it’s touristy, but this landmark is a must. The surrounding area is wonderful for a wandering afternoon.
Leica Gallery: http://www.lgp.cz/en.html
Botas 66: http://www.botas66.cz/
Lucerna: http://www.lucerna.cz/kino.php the first permanent cinema in Bohemia with lots of history in the building and cinema, I spent so much time here watching films hiding out from the bitter cold winters when I lived in Prague.
Prague Spring Festival: http://www.festival.cz/en too late for this year, however for anyone into classic music this festival is a treat
Prague Fringe Festival: http://www.praguefringe.com/en/ again, it’s over for 2012 but keep this fun festival in mind for next year.
A FEW TIPS
http://www.praguepost.com/ is the local English language newspaper.
speaking about language, locals won’t be impressed with you trying to speak Czech (it’s very difficult to learn) so don’t bother. seriously. everyone under 35 who you will encounter in Prague will speak English. Outside Prague however it’s another matter. Don’t bother with Russian - nobody under 65 speaks it. German is good only at hotels and tourist sites.
SUMMER is by far the busiest time to visit. Prague is one of the most popular destinations for tourists so be prepared to put up with some serious crowds EVERYWHERE! I seriously recommend late April to mid May or late September when it’s still nice weather and the crowds are thinner.
Prague is a smile free zone. Don’t expect anything resembling North American service standards or friendly reparte. It takes a few beers to loosen up the serious locals.
WALKING - Prague is a wonderful walking town, (be warned however there are some hills) and everything you will want to see is in a compact area however make sure to wear really comfortable footwear - those cobblestones don’t feel like it - but they are murder.
Prague is no longer the “cheap” deal it used to be in the early 90s. Restaurant meals and shopping in most shops is on par with Western Euro standards. The only thing that remains cheap is beer. :) OH and since so many hotels have opened in the last decade - hotel rates have lowered significantly, thankfully so as Prague hotels used to be crazy overpriced.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096332/ The Unbearable Lightness of Being, based on a Czech novel, is worth a view. Although it was not filmed in Prague (Communist era) it does perfectly capture the mood + feel of 1960s Prague.