Prague: More than just hen dos and lads on tour
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Prague: a city perhaps best known in the UK for stag dos, cheap shots and even cheaper beer.
Whilst the booze is undeniably cheap, the Czech capital has so much more to offer than a bad hangover and even worse regrets. From cathedrals, to castles, to canals, there’s a lot more to see than just clubs. Of course, the five-storey Karlovy Lazne nightclub makes for a night not to be missed, but more on that later. Eurolines coaches run connections to Prague from all across Europe and the city is a must see destination for backpackers.
The Czech Inn hostel, credit: Czech InnIf travelling on a backpacker’s budget why not check in at the Czech Inn? A large boutique hostel with a large bar and lounge, the Czech Inn provides clean and tidy dorms with shared bathrooms at very reasonable rates. The hostel is lacking in air-con, which can be particularly irritating if you happen to visit during a 35C heat wave, but this is to be expected from a hostel in a city that doesn’t need it for the majority of the year.
Old Town astronomical clock and tower, credit: Petr KratochvilOnce checked in your first stop should be the old town, just a short tram or metro ride from the hostel. In the centre of the old town you will find the beautiful town hall and astronomical clock, where you can climb the clock tower for stunning views of the city. Near the town hall you will find the stunning Church of our Lady before Týn and beautiful winding cobblestone streets full of shops, cafés and bars. Take a walk across the Charles Bridge, which connects the old town to the new, admiring the statues that adorn it as you go. From the other side of the bridge you can hop aboard a riverboat tour with Prague Boats. The cruise takes you back and forth along the river, where you will get a great view of the sights accompanied by a useful audio guide. Discounts are available for Prague Card holders.
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A tour with Prague Boats, credit: Prague BoatsTake the metro to Malostranská, from where you can walk or take a tram to Prague Castle gardens. The largest ancient castle in the world, the complex sits atop a hill with beautiful gardens built into the ramparts. Entry is only a few Euros and well worth visiting for both a relaxing stroll around the gardens and vineyards and an amazing view of the city. Once you have walked to the top of the hill and made your way into the walls of the complex there are many sights to be seen and something to suit every taste. In addition to the main palace and gardens themselves, visitors will find the imposing gothic St Vitus Cathedral, a number of smaller palaces and churches including the Basilica of St George, and plenty of cafés in which to grab a drink after your long trek to the top. The castle is huge and it would take far more than a day to see everything, but whatever one of the dozens of churches or palaces you decide to visit you’re bound to be amazed by the history to be discovered there.
The view from the gardens of Prague CastleTake a tram to Hellichova in the lesser town and walk to Újezd LD, where you can take the funicular to Petrin Lookout Tower. The tower sits atop the sizeable Petrin hill, putting it at a higher elevation than the Eiffel Tower. The height and location of Petrin make it one of the best lookout points in the city. Entry is just a few Euros, or free with a Prague Card and well worth the climb. Rather than taking the funicular back down, why not take a relaxing walk along one of the park’s many winding paths, taking in the beautiful scenery as you go.
Petrin lookout tower, credit: Wikimedia CommonsAfter all of this sightseeing you’ll probably fancy a drink or two. Thankfully, the Czech Republic is the European home of cheap beer. Away from the tourist heavy old town you can find most pubs and bars selling quality Czech Pilsner at roughly one Euro a pint. For a unique nightlife experience, head to Karlovy Lázne, situated on the east side of the Charles Bridge. Karlovy is open seven nights a week and at five-storeys high is the largest nightclub in Europe, even boasting an ice bar. Entrance is approximately five pounds on the weekend and drinks are pricey by Czech standards - but visitors from the UK Western Europe will still find them very reasonable at less than £2.50 for a bottle of beer.
Credit: Karlovy LázneIf you’re feeling a little worse for wear the next morning, head to one of the many restaurants in the old town serving up traditional Czech cuisine, such as Ambiente Lokal. The hearty beef Goulash is certain to do a good job of soaking up your hangover and those of you seeking a little hair of the dog will be pleased to find draft beer served from kegs so large they look a little more akin to a brewery.
Credit: Ambiente Lokal
Coaches provided by Eurolines, passes start from €195 for 15 days and can be purchased from www.eurolines.com/en/eurolines-pass/
Prague Card provided by Visit Prague. Card holders recieve unlimited usage of public transport and free access to 50 attractions. Prices start from €33 for students at www.praguecard.com/index.php?lang=en