Your alternative city guide for couples, friends and families
Ever noticed how the same destination can often look, sound and even taste different depending on who you’re experiencing it with? Take Prague, the compact capital of the Czech Republic. Whether you visit with your partner, friends or have little ones in tow, you’ll find plenty of curious delights in one of Europe’s quirkiest cities.
1. For Couples
A thousand years of history etched into baroque and cubist buildings. Quaint, little burgher houses. Couples strolling through cobbled streets and rows of cherry trees in the Petrín Hill gardens. Majestic swans drifting under the Legionnaire’s Bridge. You don’t have to wander far from the elegance of your boutique hotel in Prague to imagine you’re in a romantic, art-house style film.
After all, the Golden City is where the word Bohemian came from. Linger over lunch at the Municipal House, surrounded by Slavic murals and art-nouveau splendour. Then round off the evening with a classical performance of Dvořák in the magnificent Smetana Hall. For mellow, toe-tapping tunes, stroll down to Cechuv bridge for a cruise aboard the Jazz Boat.
Is ferreting through ‘junk’ your idea of heaven? From Communist books, creepy marionettes and garnet jewellery to Bohemian maps, rare lithographs and vintage film magazines, all kinds of weird and wonderful bargains hide in small shops and antikvariát.
A romantic touch…
Prague’s oldest cinema in the Lucerna arcade is a cosy snug for watching a movie. Then if chocolate is your food of love, pop into the Cukràrna Saint Tropez cake shop. And if you’re here during winter, warm up at the Christmas market stands with some svařák mulled wine and traditional Trdlo spit cake – a caramalised cinnamon pastry baked on a wooden spit that’s much more delicious than it sounds!
2. For Friends
Prague’s tumultuous past is movingly displayed in the Prague Jewish Museum – with its collection of artefacts rescued from synagogues destroyed during the ghetto slum clearance. While Wenceslas Square evokes the sense of the cultural freedom brought about by the 1989 Velvet Revolution when Communism ended.
Sail down the Vltava River to the UNESCO-listed Prague Castle complex and ornate St Vitus Cathedral. These Medieval landmarks tower over the 14th century Charles Bridge linking the two sides of Prague. Early morning or evening are the quietest periods to appreciate the panoramic views, when fewer people, hawkers and musicians are buzzing about.
For the world’s best pilsners, head for the non-touristy neighbourhoods of Holešovice, Libeň and Karlín. And to try some local beers, accompanied by nibbles of cheese, pickled sausage and pork chilli, book yourselves onto a tasting session at a microbrewery. If you prefer a moodily lit ambiance, that’s more private salon than brightly lit beer hall, the Bar and Books Manesova specialises in expertly crafted cocktails, whiskies and cigars.
3. For Family's
Prague promises a feast of parks, playgrounds and museums. Start with the magic of the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square – an extraordinary piece of 600-year-old engineering. When the hour strikes, little windows open, a skeleton rings a bell and 12 apostles walk by. A crowing golden cockerel then closes the show.
Look out as well for the sculpture in Lucerna Palace of a horse hanging upside down from the roof with a figure of St. Wenceslas still riding it. This satirical piece is by the same provocative pop artist, David Černý, who created the giant, crawling baby statues next to the futuristic TV Tower.
Even more colourful decorations pop up here over Easter, including bright eggs and ribbons in the city trees. The ever-popular Prague Zoo also lays on egg painting activities. Renowned for its record number of animal births, there’s likely to be some new arrivals to coo over as well.
Unleash their creative spirits:
Keep little feet busy by hiring a paddle boat and letting them race ducks around the central Střelecký Island. Or feel the love at the Lennon Wall – a national symbol of peace with its constantly changing graffiti. Bring coloured chalk or spray paint and let your child’s inner Banksy run riot. Nearby in the Kampa area is the Devil’s Stream where a Vodník water goblin crouches by the spinning water wheel. Featuring frog-like feet, webbed hands and tendrils of green hair, this mythical creature is the stuff of all the best dreams.