Dubbed “the heart of Europe,” Prague is considered by many to be the most gorgeous city on Earth. Due to its central location in Europe, its rich history, and its unparalleled beauty, Prague has become a leading tourist destination. From the Holy Roman Empire to the Habsburg Monarchy, Nazi occupation to Soviet oppression, the capital of the Czech Republic has seen quite a lot. However, these significant historical periods have shaped it into a cultural mecca, making trips to Prague an ideal opportunity to learn and explore the rich history of central Europe. The city lays claim to a wide range of museums, galleries and historical exhibits that are both picturesque and socio-politically significant. Local Czechs pride themselves on their national identity and adore Prague for all that it is: stunning, vibrant, and constantly transforming.
Galerie Rudolfinum: Located in one of Prague’s classiest buildings, the Rudolfinum is considered by many to be the finest collection of art in the Czech Republic. Though the gallery is very refined, it is not fussy; admission is relatively cheap and the atmosphere is relaxed. Galerie Rudolfinum is a place where contemporary art merges with neo-renaissance architecture to produce an exceptional cultural experience. Because the exhibitions change regularly, the museum never gets old. And because of its central location right in Old Town, it is a great place to discover while sightseeing.
Nová Scéna: Translated as “New Stage,” this ultramodern theater was created exclusively to showcase new multimedia productions. Though at first the modern architecture was controversial in a city that has been kept in such pristine condition for centuries, Nová Scéna is now one of Prague’s most beloved theaters. The modern dance, plays, concerts, and everything in-between makes this theater a prime place for artistic experimentation and expression – something that was strictly forbidden during the Czech Republic’s era of Soviet rule. Even if this type of modern art is not your cup of tea, you can always check out the NoNa café on the second floor of the theater – it is considered one of the best cafés in Prague.
U Zavesenyho Kafe (The Hanging Coffee): This local eatery, just up the road from Prague Castle, has quite a unique story behind it. This restaurant gets its name from an old Czech tradition; you may choose to pay for a coffee and not drink it, thereby allowing someone without money to come in and enjoy it. This quaint little restaurant is quintessentially Czech, with a strange and colorful history that is reflected in the artwork on the walls. There is a lively atmosphere here, complete with cozy worn tables, and the food is fantastic. This is where you try traditional Czech cuisine such as roast pork, goulash, or potato dumplings.
Czech Extraliga: Although Czechs, like most Europeans, love watching and playing soccer, hockey is the true sport of the Czech Republic. You can catch a game for either of the two major hockey clubs in Prague: Sparta and Slavia. The energy at these games is palpable, with thousands of boisterous fans taking immense pride in their team. Plus, you can find savory Czech meats at the concession stands – perfect for the chilly ice rink.
Letná Park: This tranquil outdoor space is the perfect place to take a breather. Situated atop Letná hill over the Vltava River, this park presents spectacular views of Old Town, a major destination for any walking tour of Prague. Not only is this park scenic, but it is also culturally significant; during the Velvet Revolution, many significant demonstrations and protests against the communist government took place. Additionally, the oldest carousel in Europe is located here. Overall, it is a great place to wander to absorb Prague’s glory from above.
Smažený sýr (Fried Cheese): Americans aren’t the only ones who love their fried food! This is the most classic type of Czech fast food, and you can find it in restaurants and food stands all over town. Fried cheese is usually either Hermelín or Edam, breaded and fried. It is most commonly served with tartar sauce, which is surprisingly delicious. Side note: if you are a vegetarian traveling in the Czech Republic, you will be eating a lot of this.
Ruzynsky Second Hand: If you’re looking for something just as unique as Prague is, thrift stores are always the way to go. What you find at a thrift store is unpredictable. It might be horrifying or wonderful, but either way it is always a fun experience hunting for treasures. And above all, as a visitor, it is a great place to scavenge to find a unique souvenir that you would never find at a tourist shop.
Photo Credit: Mioslav Petrasko