Prague is a city of history, architectural beauty, and old world glamour. Two days in Prague are not enough to see it all, but enough to fall in love with the city and plan your next trip (like I did). My first time visiting was to run the Prague Marathon and the second time was for a weekend getaway when I was still living in Brussels. Whether it is a stop during a European itinerary or a weekend trip, it’s definitely a must on European destination lists.
Getting there: If you are traveling within Europe, there are plenty of low fare carriers (my guide to European low cost carriers) that will take you there for less than 80 Euros if you book in advance. There are also plenty of ways of arrival from other major cities such as Berlin, Vienna, and Budapest via rail or even car.
Where to Stay: There are plenty of places to stay in Prague, from high end luxury hotels such as Four Seasons Prague to hostels and apartment rentals. I prefer small design boutique hotels. During my first visit, I stayed at Hunger Wall Residence which I loved due to its residential location on a quiet street away from the tourist crowds. The hotel is located on the west side of the Vltava river (the new city), which for me was the perfect location. You can easily cross the river to the old town but find peace and quiet in the peaceful neighborhood. If you prefer to stay in the Old Town, I also enjoyed my stay at Hotel Josef, located on a quiet side street behind the Old Town and its top floors provide a gorgeous view of the city. Bonus points for Hotel Josef: I was sick one day during my stay and the staff brought me soup and tea at no extra cost.
Must See: You can see most of the city highlights with two days in Prague. The Prague Castle is on the top of my list. Arrive early to avoid crowds and experience the beauty of the castle. On a spring day, walk by the lilac adorned walls and take in all the history of the city. Dining Traveler Tip: climb to the tower to take in one of the best views of the city. If you are in the city for a limited time, take a guided boat tour on the Vltava river. We sipped on Czech beer on a small wooden boat while admiring the castle, the Charles Bridge, and the architecture which lines the river. If you’re a runner, I highly suggest the Prague Marathon. It has been one of the most scenic courses I’ve ever ran.
Architecture: If you are a lover of architecture, I suggest you put on comfortable walking shoes and go for a long walk to discover the architectural wonders of the city. Start at the Dancing House Building, a Frank Gehry designed structure which also includes a restaurant and observation point. Head north to the Charles Bridge, an ornate bridge bringing the old and new town together. End at the Old-New Synagogue, Europe’s oldest active synagogue and admire the intricacies of the façade. In between, take the time to stop at many of the cafes of the city which gives you a glimpse of local gathering spots.
Eat: I asked my friend Lida, a Prague native who talked me into running the Prague Marathon and discovering this beautiful her top suggestions for two days in Prague. Her picks: For casual Italian, her pick is Ambiente. For traditional fare she suggests Potrefena Husa for old Czech traditional kitchen with a modern touch. For a more intimate setting, she recommends Krcma with a good selection of wine and food. For nice pubs, head to Zelezna Street off Old Town Square where locals and tourists come together for beers. Her favorites in the new city are Ujezd and La Bastille, a French/Czech fusion restaurant. As for my dining experiences, one of my favorite food memories of the city was to have Czech beer (Pilsner Urquell) and a sausage at the food stands of the Old Town Square on a hot summer afternoon. My favorite memories of Prague consist of drinking beers after my race with my Czech hosts, having a delicious Thai dinner at Noi and a bottle of Bohemia (Czech sparkling wine) with my friend Jimmy post celebrating our athletic prowess (or lack thereof), and chatting in Spanish with a Mexican-Czech couple who owned a jewelry store in the Old City.
Verdict: To me, an experience in a city is made by the food, drink, and most importantly, feeling welcomed by the locals. Prague easily and beautifully achieves that with superb service, beautiful architecture, and lively restaurant and food scene.