So, what’s Prague LIKE?
In one (overused) word, Prague is charming. Unlike many of its neighbors, Prague was spared severe bombing in World War II so the city’s gothic, neoclassical, baroque and art nouveau buildings are well-preserved. If you don’t know what those terms mean, not to worry: it’s really pretty. Yet there’s enough realism to make the city approachable. Many buildings are cloaked in soot. At night, the statues on Charles Bridge are covered in spiders. It’s interesting without being imposing.
Guidebooks give the Old Town the most acclaim, but I found Lesser Town to be the best place for a stroll. I liked the cafes, hidden streets, and quirky sense of irony and artistry. It’s also the old German area, for those looking for a bit of history with their espresso.
If you’re not into architecture, the city’s park system is a lovely way to pass an afternoon. We saw lots of picnics with wine bottles. Based on the number of sporting goods stores we saw, there are also hiking opportunities outside of the city. The Czechs seem to be fit, but not overly friendly. We didn’t chat with many locals. Then again, I imagine the appeal of meeting foreigners lost its luster long ago. Most people speak English well, though our Serbian came in handy at the rail station. Basic Serbian vocabulary is surprisingly similar to Czech.
Though Prague is no longer the cheap destination it was in the late 1990s, there are still tons of backpackers. We heard a lot of Spanish, Italian, and English. I’m past my backpacking phase of life (sort of), but it was fun to see so many people ready to take on the world with a tent and a rucksack.
The only part of Prague that disappointed us was the food. We didn’t go to high-end restaurants, but the local, traditional cuisine is a little bland. Meat is not as tasty as it is in Serbia. Restaurant service is indifferent. Yet beer is cheap and delicious. We didn’t see any stag parties but I hear they are ubiquitous on the weekends.
Would I recommend Prague? Absolutely. It’s gorgeous, easy to get around, and has a unique culture. Yet Prague is “on the map,” so to speak, and will continue to be a popular destination for people past the hostel stage. If you’re looking for adventure, I’d recommend other Eastern locales. Still, you can’t beat the romance of Prague…and the humor behind the public art.