Franz Kafka was born in Prague to a middle-class Jewish family, in what was then…
Czech Republic: Prague – Lesser Town; Malá Strana
1. CHARLES BRIDGE
Most people will access the Lesser town across the iconic Charles Bridge, which crosses the Vltava River. As a consequence, this bridge is often packed with people making it difficult to get that cute shot. The best way to see the bridge when not full of humanity is to go out early in the morning. I managed to drag myself out of bed before 6 am and set out for the Charles Bridge and it was beautifully quiet. Most of the activity was young married couples getting their wedding photographs – which I did find quite entertaining!
2. MALÁ STRANA
The Lesser Town (Malá Strana) is extremely picturesque with its ancient burgher houses, quaint side streets and St. Nicholas Church, one of the finest examples of High Baroque architecture in Central Europe, this massive imposing green dome and the Catholic church have continued to look over and protect the Lesser Town for centuries.
At its heart is the Baroque Lesser Town Square (Malostranské náměstí). Here, and all-around in the cobbled side streets, there are small shops to browse, churches to explore and traditional Czech pubs and restaurants to discover; including some with fine views over the river.
The Lesser Town is a lovely area to stay in. It is quieter than the Old Town and the New Town, particularly at night. To wander through the almost deserted, lantern-lit streets during the evening is an utter delight, affording visitors a real sense of olden day Prague.
3. PRAGUE CASTLE
Malá Strana is dominated by Prague Castle which stands high on the hill overlooking the whole of Prague. It is a brisk uphill walk to reach the castle but it is well worth the effort. From the balcony adjacent to the castle you can look across the red tile roofs or Prague towards Old Town with its beautiful buildings and numerous church towers and steeples. Outside the main entrance of the castle is a stunning square lined with many buildings featuring spectacular architecture.
Best time to visit the Czech Republic
Peak tourist season in the Czech Republic coincides with the summer months when temperatures are pleasantly warm and humid with occasional thunderstorms. Between May and September the Czech Republic is at its busiest with major festivals held at this time to benefit from the good weather.
The early spring months of March and April can be unpredictable when it comes to the weather. The winter snows are beginning to melt and temperatures begin to rise above freezing but it can still be quite chilly with strong winds. The autumn months of October and November can be equally as unpredictable with temperatures starting to drop although the countryside comes alive with colour.
Winters in the Czech Republic are cold, cloudy, icy and wet with freezing temperatures. It’s still possible to visit most of the country’s monuments though opening hours are reduced.
Vegan dining ideas
1. VEGAN’S PRAGUE
Vegan’s Prague is found in a 16th-century building near Prague Castle on Nerudova street. It is a narrow building with the restaurant located on the first and second floors (second and third floors for my American friends), which are accessed with a steep and winding staircase. There is no elevator so disabled access is almost impossible.
Our favourite areas in the restaurant were the top floor, with its sloping roof, and from there the terrace which has a spectacular view across to Prague Castle.
The top floor room has exposed beams with simple furnishings and gets ample light from the numerous skylights that have been put into the roof.
The outdoor terrace is simply the best place to be. It is small and intimate, with only about four tables, so you will have to be lucky to get a table there.
Located close to the historic Old Town Square in Prague, Forkys is a vegan bistro with international recipes, serving breakfast until 11 am, then burgers, kebab, hot dogs, bowls, and a daily menu. This is a great place to grab a quick bite to eat, with great energy to boot. I loved the wall at the entrance that lists all the famous people who have been vegan, dating from ancient Rome to the present day.
Small takeaway health food bistro in the city centre since 2017. The menu is based raw vegan and cooked vegan cuisine. Serves lemonade, smoothies, milkshakes, raw spreads on sourdough, veggie wraps, summer rolls, salads, and raw desserts.
Where to stay
1. U PÁVA
For our stay in Prague, we wanted to stay close to the city centre as we planned to walk everywhere. After looking around on hotel booking websites I decided to book a room at U Páva – which means ‘At the Peacock’ in Czech. The hotel is ideally placed to explore the surrounding markets, museums and historic buildings of Mala Strana, but it’s also just a 15-minute stroll across the bridge to the Old Town. It is only a 10-minute walk to Prague Castle.
U Páva is an intimate four-star hotel, located right next to Charles bridge, offering 26 romantically inclined rooms in a historical building, parts of which date back to the late 15th century.
2. BOAT HOTEL MATYLDA
For something more unusual you should consider Boat Hotel Matylda.
Lying at anchor on the Vltava river in the centre of Prague, 0.6 miles from the Charles Bridge and a 10-minute stroll from the Charles Square
Standard double rooms are situated on the original Matylda boat. This boat also has a bar and the well-known restaurant with a summer terrace serving Italian cuisine. The other rooms are to be found on the newer Klotylda boat.
Each of the cabins on the two boats features an elegant interior design with hardwood floors. Some have their own private balcony and dark leather armchairs.
The Boat Hotel is situated in the vicinity of the famous Dancing House, right next to the tram stop Jiraskovo namesti and 1,000 feet away from Karlovo namesti metro station.
3. CHARLES BRIDGE HOSTEL & APARTMENTS
For the more budget-conscious the Charles Bridge Hostel and Apartments is a good option
Charles Bridge Economic Hostel is a small boutique guesthouse located in the very heart of the historic centre of Prague, right at the Charles Bridge. All important sights are within walking distance of the property. The building comes from the 14th century and belongs to protected cultural heritage.
Rooms and dorms are fully furnished and have been recently remodelled. A kitchen is located on all floors and inside all private rooms. Bedsheets, linen, towels and toiletries are provided free of charge.
Charles Bridge Economic Hostel provides free tours daily at 6 pm, as well as a free Ghost Tour. Luggage storage is available for free. The laundry facility and dryer is available for an extra fee.
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