prague in 72 hours: day one
Whenever someone tells me they're going to Prague, my heart almost explodes almost as fast as my mouth does because I want to give them every recommendation that I possibly can. It is my sincerest hope that everyone who goes to Prague leaves loving it as much as I do. Having hosted family and friends for short periods of time during my first stint as an expat, I have a pretty decent handle on the must-sees in order to fall in love with my Prague. And you can see a lot in three days. I'd like to believe I've come up with (what I believe) is the perfect itinerary to squeeze every last drop out of your days in Prague without breaking the bank or losing your mind. Today marks the first day of a three day series so you can take it day by day.
A few last minute reminders: bring your most comfortable walking shoes, wear deodorant, and be prepared to pay cash for most things you want to do. Also: sunscreen! It doesn't seem like it would be bad, but the sun in Prague can surprise you. Nothing wrecks an awesome trip like sunburn!
Grand Cafe Orient is seriously one of the cutest cafes that I've been to. It's smack in the middle of Old Town and in a cubist building. Yes, cubisim is an actual art and architecture term and the building is kitchy, eclectic and polished (if you can use all of those things at once) and looks like it's straight out of a Wes Anderson movie. All of their coffee is good. Their tea is even better. And definitely order something off their breakfast menu. You won't be sorry.
Okay, so I know I'm advocating for some early, early mornings on this blog, but trust me, it's so worth it. One of my first days in Prague, I still hadn't adjusted to the time difference and was up obscenely early. Rather than wake up my roommate, I grabbed my coat and went exploring. Charles Bridge is EMPTY early in the morning and it looks like a dream. If you're big into photography, I definitely suggest going early for unrestricted access to the best shots!
Old Town Square
Go to Old Town Square in the morning too. This is the tourist hub of the city, but it's so worth it! I've said it before and I'll say it again: NEVER be above doing some of the touristy stuff. It's usually touristy for a reason. This is much of the old town in Prague. It's so beautiful, but definitely go in the mornings on weekdays (if you can) for the fewest people. The astronomical clock is the star of the show here, so make sure you're there on the hour to see it go through it's intense ringing sequence. Other notable mentions in the square are the town hall tower, which you can climb for some fantastic views, and Our Lady of Tyn, the dual-towered church that's tucked behind the other buildings. Souvenir shopping here is advised, but be careful, compare prices and pay cash.
Cafe Mistral is a great place to go for a light lunch. They have the traditional Czech cuisine but also the best salads, soups, pastas and more. It's light, airy atmosphere makes it the perfect place to share a meal with friends, and it's only a block from Old Town Square and across the street from the Vltava River. Definitely take your time here and enjoy the delicious food!
Vltava River Tour
This is a great opportunity to get off your feet for a while, as that first day on cobblestones can be tough. Those men in sailor outfits by the river you saw that morning? Does it seem like a scam? Yes. Is it? Surprisingly, no. It can be tempting to go to the places with bigger boats, but you miss out if you opt for a large watercraft, as the bigger boats can't get back into the smaller canals, which is where some of the sweetest surprises are hiding. When you're done, take a stroll down Naplavka to see the locals relaxing and maybe even take a second to watch the swans!
Obecni Dum, or the Prague Municipal House, is one of my favorite places to go. It's an Art Nouveau building that's been perfectly maintained, so stepping through the ornate doors feels like you're walking back in time. They bring your coffee or tea on beautiful dishes and then they bring the dessert cart around and you can pick your slice of cake then and there! It's so magical. Be advised: due to the historic nature of the building, photographs are not allowed. If you're curious about what Obecní Dum looks like, take a look at their website here.
Late afternoons at Letna are always perfect. Go for a stroll, rest under the shade of a beautiful tree. Be sure to check out the giant metronome at the top of the hill. It's incredible. What was there before was a massive statue of Josef Stalin, so the metronome symbolizes Prague moving at its own pace, away from outside influence. Please please please take part of your afternoon to enjoy one of the best green spaces the city has to offer.
Mlenice is a great place to go for traditional Czech cuisine. I would definitely recommend ordering from their "potato" menu. It's quite possibly where my love of potatoes first took root. My favorite is the potato bake with the smoked salmon and onions. I've also (grudgingly) explored the rest of the menu and can confidently say you can't go wrong. Pair it with your favorite Czech beer or Moravian wine and you're golden!
Enjoy your first day in Prague and remember: more will be here tomorrow, so make sure to check back in!