Dec 06

A Winter Break in Prague

by in Culture, Europe, Holiday

Take a winter break in Prague… It’s a perfect time to visit – not too many tourists, wintry weather which fits with the scenery, lots of cultural things to go to ie opera, ballet, concerts and theatre – and you can get a table at any bar or restaurant with no hassle. I was there during Obama’s inauguration and spent a memorable evening with locals & foreigners at the American-run Globe Bookstore watching the historic event on a huge screen and celebrating with excellent local ‘champagne’.

Here are five things to do in that wonderful city …

1. Indulge in the glories of Art Nouveau. Visit the Mucha Museum and learn about Alphonse Mucha, one of most famous exponents of the form. You can find wonderful original examples of his work, including his Four Seasons posters and those he did for his Muse, the English actress Sarah Bernhardt. There’s a beautiful stained glass window by him in St Vitus Cathedral (See pic above) and many fine examples of Art Nouveau architecture and design all over the city. My favourite building was the Obecní dům (Municipal Building), a fabulously ornate concoction to delight the senses.

2. Walk around medieval StaromÄ›stské NámÄ›stí (Old Town Square) and look at the fantastic collection of buildings from over 400 years. One of Prague’s most atmospheric Churches, Our Lady Of Tyn is beautifully silhouetted against the sky. Find a table at one of the restaurants (expensive but what a view!), watch the world go by and wait for the most beautiful Astronomical Clock in Europe strike the hour.

3. Slow down and get into the Cafe society. This city must surely rival Paris for the variety and quality of its Coffee houses. One of my favourites was the Grand Cafe Orient with its unique Cubist decor. Its other name is the House of Black Madonna, in honour of the statue on the corner. Behind Our Lady of Tyn is another gem – the Cafe Ebel Coffee House; very cosy and quirky – with excellent carrot cake. If you fancy trying the local tipple that drove Toulouse Lautrec and others mad – Absinthe – then go to the Art Deco gem Cafe Slavia and have their Seksinst Cocktail. It’s a potent mix of champagne and Absinthe – you have been warned …

4. For a slightly different perspective visit the The Vysehrad Cemetery Vysehrad, the burial place for many famous and important Czech people. You’ll find the composer Dvorak just round the corner from Smetana and in the large Slavin Memorial many illustrious Czechs including the Art Nouveau artist, Alphonse Mucha (see above). The cemetary is in the grounds of the Vysehrad ‘Castle on the Heights’ and there are great views over the city from its ramparts. To get there, you can walk there along the river, get the Metro or try the excellent tram system.

5. Watch the Changing of the Guard at Midday Prague Castle In the winter the Guards wear great-coats and furry hats (unlike their powder blue & decidedly fey summer uniform!) and at Midday when they do the Banner exchange, they march about to music that sounds vaguely reminiscent of the Thunderbird Theme tune. You can then go round Prague Castle, a glorious hotch-potch of buildings from different periods and also see the magnificently Gothic St Vitus Cathedral.

There’s so much more … Charles Bridge, the Kafka Musuem, the quirky wooden puppets, the Black Theatre shows, the micro-breweries, Petrin Hill – a weekend is not nearly enough time! I found the best things of all was to simply relax into the rhythm of the city, take time to absorb the multitude of glories that this city presents and let it work its magic …

I also visited Prague in the Autumn when it is at its most mistily beautiful – discover some more city delights here.

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14 Responses to “A Winter Break in Prague”

  1. From BrittArnhild:

    I visited Prague in October/November and wrote alot about it here:
    //brittarnhildshouseinthewoods.typepad.com/brittarnhilds_house_in_th/prague-praha/
    And it was also in Prague the idea of mt travel blog Caffe Avec came up:
    //brittarnhildshouseinthewoods.typepad.com/caffe_avec/
    ….or actually it was in Krakow a month earlier, but there are several coffee posts from Prague here as weel 🙂

    Posted on February 7, 2010 at 1:44 pm #
  2. From quirkytraveller:

    Loved your Prague post and thanks for your comments. Maybe see you in London later in Feb 🙂

    Posted on February 7, 2010 at 2:05 pm #
  3. From Jfrancisco:

    Hi Zoe,
    I loved reading your post about your winter break in Prague. I lived in the easter Czech Rep. in the late 90s and spent lots of time in Prague, and I have so many fond memories (and returned 3 yrs ago). I agree– the best thing to do there is explore the cafes, architecture, and the wonderful rhythm of the city. I recently wrote 4 posts about Prague that you might enjoy:
    travelfrancisco.wordpress.com
    Happy traveling!

    Posted on March 11, 2010 at 6:26 am #
  4. From quirkytraveller:

    Yes, it’s a wondrous magical city isn’t it. Love your blog site //travelfrancisco.wordpress.com and your photos are superb 🙂 Travel quirkiliciously 🙂

    Posted on March 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm #
  5. From Jfrancisco:

    Thanks so much and glad you visited my site (I’m done with Prague for a while and am working on a post about small places to visit in the Czech Rep.). I look forward to checking out more of your posts and seeing how you travel so quirkily 🙂
    Happy travels!

    Posted on March 12, 2010 at 6:57 am #
  6. From uk net guide:

    I have used trip advisor and written one review-with some succes.I think that they need to make sure that they verify a percentage of reviews and perhaps restrict how many can be made from one email address.

    Posted on September 25, 2010 at 1:48 pm #
  7. From Zoë Dawes:

    Yes, Trip Advisor has drawbacks but I reckon it’s the best thing out there for getting some idea of what a place is like if you have a number to of mentions to choose from. Thanks for the comment.
    Zoe

    Posted on September 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm #
  8. From Charu:

    Hello Zoe, so lovely to read about your Prague trip. I’ve never paid a visit there, but I’m a big fan of classical music (I play the piano) and plan on doing a composers’ tour at some point down the road. Looks like a “bucket list” city.

    Stay tuned soon on my posts on Aruba…I’m coming home to NYC after a week here, and loving the sun.

    Charu

    Posted on February 13, 2011 at 10:48 pm #
  9. From Zoë Dawes:

    As a fan of classical music (how lovely to be able to play the piano) you will love Prague. The winter season is especially good with concerts throughout the city in gloriuos settings. Look forward to reading more of your writing Charu 🙂

    Posted on February 14, 2011 at 1:13 pm #
  10. From Zoë Dawes:

    if you like this article you might also enjoy this one about Prague’s very quirky Black Theatre
    //www.thequirkytraveller.com/2011/05/prague-top-black-theatres-shows/

    Posted on May 7, 2011 at 10:19 am #

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