My Quirky Top Ten Things To Do in Prague

by Zoe Dawes /
Zoe Dawes's picture
Jan 08, 2010 / 0 comments

Winter is a great time of year to visit the magical city of Prague in the Czech Republic.  Not only is it much quieter than in the summer months, but you may also get some snow which turns the city into a living Christmas Card.  It's perfect for a short break and there is plenty to see and do.

I went for 5 days last winter.  Here, in no particular order, are my Top 10 Quirky Things to Do in Prague.

Prague Castle Guardds

1. Watch the Changing of the Guard Prague Castle at Midday. In the winter the Guards wear great-coats and furry hats (unlike their powder blue & decidedly fey summer uniform!) and at Midday when they do the Banner exchange, they march about to music that sounds vaguely reminiscent of the Thunderbirds Theme tune.  You can then go round Prague Castle, a glorious hotch-potch of buildings from different periods and also see the magnificently Gothic St Vitus Cathedral

2. Visit the Kafka Museum  on the shores of the Vltava River. He was decidedly quirky (OK, some say genius but I say quirky)and one of Prague's most famous sons. I laughed out loud at the 'fountain' outside. I've not included a picture in case any of you of a 'sensitive' nature, but take it from me, it's decidedly Kafkaesque!

3. Spend a bit of time in the delightful Globe Bookstore with its eclectic selection of books from around the world, coffee/bar and tasty food. We spent the eve of Obama's Inauguration there and the atmosphere was electric.

Prague Astronomical Clock4. Grab a table at one of the many restaurants on Staroměstské Náměstí  (Old town Square), watch the world go by and wait for the most beautiful Astronomical Clock  in Europe strike the hour.

5. Find a concert or go to the Opera.  Music in Prague in winter is everywhere and the quality of the concerts, some of them free, is excellent. We saw Aida at the National Theatre - exquisitely Baroque, and had a truly memorable night out.

6. Have a wee drop of Absinthe, made there since time immemorial - but only a drop as it sends you mad! It tastes quite disgusting in my opinion, so mix it with something.  Live a little and have the Seksint Cocktail (a potent mix of absinthe & champagne!) at the Art Deco gem Cafe Slavia by the river.

7. For a truly quirky night out, go to one of the Black Light Theatre performances. With their unique combination of light, dark, dance and preformance art, this can be a magical experience. There are a number of theatres around the city, including Ta Fantastika (famous for its Alice In Wonderland) and the Image Theatre.

Puppet Shop Prague8. The Czechs are famous for their puppetry and a hand-made marionnette  makes a memorable, if rather pricey, souvenir.  (There are lots of puppets that look hand-made but aren't - make your choice wisely.) A really quirky old shop is Obchod Loutkami (The Puppet Shop)in Nerudova St on the way up to the Castle.  Another favourite was Truhlar Marionetty hidden behind Our Lady of Tyn Church (Oh those gleaming spires!) just off Old Square.  Whilst you are there pop into the delightful Cafe Ebel  opposite and rest your weary feet in one of the nicest coffee shops in a city full of wonderul ones.

9. For a slightly different perspective visit the The Vysehrad Cemetery  the burial place for numerous famous and important Czech people. You'll find the composer Dvorak just round the corner from Smetana and in the large 'Slavin' or Pantheon - Memorial are many illustrious Czechs including the Art Nouveau artist, Alfons Mucha. The cemetery is in the grounds of the Vysehrad 'Castle on the Heights'  with great views over the city from its ramparts. To get there, you can walk there along the river, catch the Metro or try the excellent tram system.

Mucha Window10. Finally, the simplest, cheapest and best thing you can do in Prague is walk around with your eyes WIDE OPEN. It is an exquisite city with the most incredible diversity of architecture. Look up all the time (avoiding lamposts as you do!) and you will see some of the best examples of Baroque/Neo-classical/Art Nouveau/ArtDeco and Medieval architecture to be found anywhere in the world.  Take your time and the let this very special city work its quirky magic on you ...

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Prague Castle & Vtlava River

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