As you read last week, we were heading to Prague for the weekend with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Prague is an incredibly beautiful city with it’s towers and spires piercing the skyline, and, of course, the food and beer in the Czech Republic is legendary. At the same time, we knew there were going to be bus loads (literally) of tourists. Well, knowing this beforehand allowed us to make a plan and to deal with the crowds and we ended up having an excellent time. Yes, the crowds were still there, but they can be avoided and their impact on your experience can be minimized. In the end, our love for the city was rekindled, we discovered Prague at night with new parts of the city where the coach tours don’t go, made a few new friends, and had some laughs along the way.
Of course, this is Prague so there’s always another “must see” sight to visit; there’s no way you can see them all in one trip. So after our evening arrival and checking into our hotel, we started our weekend with a tram trip up and around the castle hill to the beautifully baroque, Strahovský Klášter (Strahov Monastery) to meet up with some traveling friends. The view from this 12th century monastery is fabulous It is perched atop a hill overlooking the castle and the old town, just incredible. But more to the point, the monastery brewery has been pumping out there delicious ales and stouts for hundreds of years. The brewery restaurant is in a set of restored monastery buildings and offers up some really good beer. The food was good but our recommendation is to go for the view and the beer and eat elsewhere.
Leaving the monastery we chose to walk down into the old town through the Castle district and Malostranske Square. This part of the city is much more subdued at night, the tour guides have all shepherded their flocks away and the small pubs, bars and restaurants are cozy and much more local feeling then in the old town. This is definitely part of the city that is on our return visit list. A walk across the Charles Bridge is a must, despite the expected crowds, so we continued down the hill, through the magical gate tower and over the bridge with the rest of the nighttime foot traffic. At 11:00 PM there were still hundreds of others enjoying the brisk, winter air and planning later revelries.
On the old town side of the bridge we turned right, heading upriver and past the city’s latest club craze, Ice Pub Prague, nestled into a corner of the massively frenetic Karlovy Lazne and the newest hot spot for Prague at night. Everything in the pub is made of ice so bring your jacket! But don’t worry, when you get too cold you can check your jacket and jam and dance the night away in central Europe’s largest (5 story) music club. The music here is pumping, the floor is shaking, and the drinks are flowing cheaply. As we walked by, thinking about stopping in later on, the crowds were just forming at the doors for a night of partying that would go long into the next morning.
We ended the night with a cappuccino and a slice of gorgeously rich chocolate cake at a café near our hotel. The Kavarna Slavia has been serving the National Theater district coffee, sweets, and delicious meals since the 19th century. It is an art deco masterpiece, with charm and history that really must be experienced. We sat sipping our hot drinks and talking about the evening while the piano player soothed away the last cares of the night. By the end of that first night, Prague had done it, the memories of her selfie-stick, toting crowds had vanished with the sunset to be replaced by the soft, amber glow of her city lights reflecting off the cobblestones.
Have you been to Prague? What is your favorite thing about the city?
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