I have been so lucky to get two international trips in the same year! The big trip to Ireland with our entire family was amazing but I was very happy to get to sneak away for five days with just my husband to visit Prague in the Czech Republic.
Prague has never been on my bucket list of places to check out but, if you make me an offer, “Hey, want to check out a cool European city for a few days?,” I probably wouldn’t even ask you, “Which one?” before replying, “HECK, YES!”
Visit Prague: Heathrow or Bust
Prague was very easy to get to from our home base in North Carolina. A direct flight from Charlotte to London’s Heathrow Airport overnight was pretty straightforward. We left Charlotte as the sun was setting over the Queen City and flew into London as the sun was rising. It was absolutely stunning. As soon as I got off the airplane, I desperately needed a coffee. My options were extensive. With my coffee, I could also do some shopping. Burberry? Hermes? Seriously the fanciest airport terminal I have ever been in!
If you have a longer layover and want to sit down and eat something delicious, I highly recommend Oriel Grande Brasserie. If you are in a rush, tell your server and they will guarantee a quick turnaround. If you are not in a rush and are looking to kill some time, this is the place for you. My husband and I shared a French Press coffee and then we both had delicious hot breakfasts.
When we finally got to Prague and made our way to the hotel, our room wasn’t quite ready. The weather was a little overcast and dreary – perfect for tea and soup – so I ordered tea service – hot, ginger tea with honey – and a mushroom soup. You will notice a theme – I ate a lot of soup in Prague! And it was all really, really, good.
Visit Prague: Walking and Shopping
Prague is a beautiful city – the architecture is like taking a step back in time. Every street corner I turned, I wanted to take another picture. The people are so friendly and everyone you might encounter in a tourist capacity – hotels, restaurants, cabs – speaks English. I am ashamed to admit that the only phrase I had mastered by the time I left Prague was “Dobry den.” “Hello!” However, if you venture off the beaten path and encounter friendly faces without any English, your trusty smartphone will come in handy! I know this first hand…
True story: I flew to Prague without packing a single bra. Eek. Breast pump. Got it. Bra? Oops. When my husband left for his conference on our first morning in the city, my mission was clear. As I wandered along the streets of Prague, heading for a large shopping center I had found on google maps, I tripped across this cute little lingerie store. Perfect! Although no one in this tiny little store spoke English, I was thankfully able to do a google search – how to convert American bra sizes to Czech. Of all the things I thought I would be searching for on my trip! I showed the shop owner my results on my phone and I was on my way.
If you have a chance to explore Prague, bring some spending money. While we were there, the exchange rate was about 24 Czech crowns to 1 US dollar. I hate to use the word CHEAP but, wow, everything seemed so cheap! After a successful morning shopping expedition, I hit the road looking for coffee and breakfast and maybe a farmers market.
Visit Prague: Coffee, Beer, and Fruit
My favorite coffee shop was a little underground coffee shop called Kavárna Pražírna . Lots of establishments are in basements in Prague with a few steps down and dark, cozy, underground spaces surrounded by thick cement or brick walls. This cave-like coffee shop was full of people chit-chatting at small tables while 3 women were working behind the counter. Although the women did not speak English, they definitely understood my request for a cafe latte. Delicious.
As I walked around the city, enjoying my coffee, I found a few spots with macarons on display. This girl cannot walk by macarons in a window and not buy them. There were macarons everywhere. Even Starbucks. I need to look into this … why no macarons in US Starbucks??
After coffee, I was thrilled to trip across a farmers market. At least a dozen stands with greens and root vegetables as well as fresh fruit – the strawberries were amazing – and lots of desserts and bread. Loaves of freshly baked bread were the equivalent of less than one dollar. There was a little spigot with water at one end of the market where I saw a few people rinsing off their apples or other fruit before sitting down to enjoy it right on the lawn.
Since I was full on coffee and macarons, I kept my purchases in the bag but, if I had a blanket, I might have been tempted to hang out on the lawn and just relax and people watch for a bit.
If you like to hunt down local beers on your travel adventures, you will have quite a few options in Prague. Close to Prague Castle (you must wander around there, too!), there is an Abbey where they make small batches of beer – Strahov Monastic Brewery. You can sit inside or out and enjoy hard pretzels and cool beer. Monks don’t mess around. And the view is INCREDIBLE. Brian was even able to sneak away from his meetings for a bit and join me while I explored.
Visit Prague: Meals
For sit-down meals, I had a few favorites and they couldn’t have been more different.
Fancy dining on the river. Boat Hotel Matylda – Ristorante – I enjoyed a tasty aperol spritz and ate melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella with sliced tomatoes and a gorgeous Caesar salad. And soup. Of course! Super simple. Really well executed. We ate outside on the boat deck and enjoyed a beautiful, relaxing view of the river.
Beerhaus chic. U Fleků – Are you interested in community dining, being serenaded by accordion players and servers who never want to see your beer stein empty? This is the place for you. My husband and I loved it here. We found a spot at a long, wooden table and sat down beside an air traffic controller from California visiting Prague before heading to Oktoberfest in Germany. We had the best dinner as I peppered him with questions about his solo travel adventures.
South American cuisine – in Prague? Yep. La Arepería en Praga serves an almost entirely gluten-free menu tucked away on a side street in Prague. This Venezuelan menu has something for everyone and their cocktails were delicious as well. It was kind of neat to be in the Czech Republic reading a menu in Spanish. The only menu I understood all week… and such a nice, helpful staff to guide us to pick out some excellent dinner options.
If you have the chance to venture to this beautiful city, do not hesitate. I am already planning a return trip to see other parts of the Czech countryside and venture out of my comfort zone a bit more.