20 years ago, Prague was still practically unknown. Tucked in just behind the then recently collapsed Iron Curtain, it was one of those central European cities that took some dusting off, but was essentially intact, even after that 40 year spell on the other side.
For those who need them, here’s an easy list of 5 really good reasons you should head off to Prague this year, for some travel, for some learning, and for a good break.
1) Prague is Better Preserved than Any Big European City.
As European capital cities go, there aren’t a lot that came out of World War II looking quite so good as Prague. The Czech people undoubtedly suffered, as did everyone in Europe, but their city wasn’t bombed flat like Warsaw or Dresden. So, a look around Prague is often a look at a lot of what’s missing from other bigger European capitals. That tower on the Old Town Square is from 1364! The much newer clock was added a little later on – in 1410. But both of these are later additions to the square itself, which has been serving as a market since way back in 1091. For sheer architectural variety, there is simply no other bigger collection of buildings than Prague. It’s also super pedestrian friendly.
2) Already Walkable, Prague has Magnificent Trams
We thought about calling this article “5 Things You Should Do the Moment You Get to Prague.” Number #1 would be “get on the Tram and start going.” There’s no better way to see the city – and an awful lot of the city – than on the street cars. They’re super easy and will whisk you from neighborhood to charming neighborhood. Yes, the metro is lovely – and super convenient for across town, but underground you just can’t see all that Bohemian goodness the way you can from the trams.
Not rowdy, ribald beer and not pretentious tart micro-beer either. Prague’s “Liquid Bread” needs to be enjoyed, just a pint or two late in the afternoon. With company, a quiet walk through the neighborhoods, or a hop on the tram, will be an absolute highlight. “Pivo” needs to be experienced to really be understood so order a round, and na zdraví!
4) Prague is Still Affordable
Unlike lots of European Capital cities, Prague is ultra compact, loaded with locals-only places where you’re eating for a couple of bucks, and gives you just plenty of action for next to no outlay. There are some luxury goods available, but by and large visitors arrive to Prague for the no-nonsense “luxury” of a good, interesting city vacation. If – or when – the Czechs say goodbye to the Koruna, their beloved Czech Crown, then prices may really rise to match what this place is worth.
5) Prague is also Safe, Secure and … Big.
Safe and secure usually goes along with being uninhabited or abandoned. The thriving metropolis at the heart of the new Europe is a city of some one and a quarter million people. It’s a working city, where lots of residents never go near the tourist districts. For that, there’s easy to find “real” culture: Music, concerts, well attended museums and exhibitions and very often a feeling that this is not just for visitors, but something permanent being built for good.
Even in the very dead of winter, Prague is always a good time. Those trams rattle along just the same (nearly always), and the sparks snapping off the wires into the winter streets are something everyone should see. A pint or two, and you will have no doubt it was worth the trip.