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Jackie Harding: Prague has so much more to offer adventurous travelers than tourist clichés

The capital of the Czech Republic and the capital of Bohemia, Prague has a long history dating back a thousand years. Its most recent history sees Prague as the hub of the “Velvet Revolution” when in 1989 the communists were removed from power. The following year Czechoslovakia split peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

With its historic cobbled streets, history and reputation for brewing some of the best beer in the world Prague is a popular destination for tourists. Everyone wants to see Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, the Astronomical Clock and the beautiful Staré Město, or Old Town.

But Prague has so much more to offer to the adventurous traveler.

Prague is a big city, with way more than the Old Town attractions. (All photos by Jackie Harding)

To do:

Petrín Lookout Tower is visible from all over Prague. The lookout tower, 63.5 meters high, was inspired by the Eiffel Tower and built in the 1800s and offers great views over the city and beyond. You can either hike up to it or take the funicular railway. Either way you definitely will get to see Prague from a different perspective.  

Stromovka was once a game reserve and is now a 95-hectare public park. Easily accessible by tram, it provides beautiful English gardens to wander. It is home to Prague’s Academy of Fine Arts and the Prague Planetarium, which has the largest dome in the world. 

Hotel Jalta Bunker is a Cold War bunker beneath the hotel. Thankfully, it was never used as a nuclear refuge, but the secret police occupied it and listened in to the international guests during the communist years. Now it is the Museum of the Cold War and worthy of a visit. The 30-minute tour must be booked in advance through the hotel and is in Czech but there is an English text. 

Havlíčkovy sady, Prague

Havlíčkovy sady is a beautiful Italian Renaissance-style park with statues, a pond, a romantic grotto, a fountain and great views of the city. “Vinohrady” literally translates as vineyards, so don’t be surprised when you come across terraced vineyards so close to the city centre. In the park, not only is there a children’s playground, but there is also exercise equipment for seniors. When you have finished exploring (or exercising) take yourselves to the wine bar Altán Gréovka.

Church of St. Ludmila has a splendid interior with art and stained glass windows designed by Czech artists. In the square fairs during Christmas and Easter can be found and open-air concerts often take place. During the digital visual festival, Signal, the church is used for projections.

National Gallery Trade Fair Palace (Národní Galerie) is a great example of Czech Functionalist architecture from the early 1920s. It now houses 2,000 of the National Gallery’s art works.

Marks & Spencer. The UK’s largest department store chain has several locations in the city. You have to be a British expat to appreciate how exciting this can be. The largest store is in Wenceslas Square where you can reacquaint yourselves with M&S undies, clothing and food treats.

Jazz Dock

To eat and drink:

Jazz Dock is a super jazz venue on the adjacent to the Vltava River. They have fabulous live music, great cocktails and a reasonable selection of food. Check out its program here.

PARK Riegrovy Sady Beer Garden is situated in a park, believe it or not! It offers beer in an outdoor environment and has heated tents for those chillier evenings.

Irish Times Bar is a friendly (show me an Irish bar that isn’t!) spot in downtown Prague offering a vast collection of Irish and Scotch whiskies, a great selection of beers and some wonderful cocktails, plus good honest pub food.   

To stay:

Prague offers a plethora of hotels but why not stay a little further away from the centre? Public transport is cheap and easy to use, so getting around the city isn’t a problem. If you visit Prague over the festive season, as we did, you will even see trams decorated with Christmas lights. 

Tickets for all transport are easily obtained and cover the periods of 30 mins, 90 mins, 24 hours or 72 hours. If you are over 65 years old, then transport is free!

The neighborhood of Vinohrady is a residential area that is popular with expats and professionals. From here, you can easily walk to the centre, or take the tram or metro. The district has several good hotels and a great selection of bars and restaurants.

In Prague you can be one of the tourist crowd or just take a 20-minute walk off the well-trudged path and experience the real city with the locals.

 Hodně štěstí při objevování!

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Photographer/writer Jackie Harding was born in the United Kingdom. As a long-time expat, she lived in Boston for 12 years and in the Netherlands for the past 10 years.

Trained as a nurse in the U.K., she worked for nine years in the United States as a special education teacher’s assistant. Since moving to the Netherlands, she has discovered writing and photography.

Contributing to Dispatches since 2016, Jackie has written about her travels around Europe as well as about expat life and issues.

She also covered the Women’s March Amsterdam.

She’s married to British businessman Martin Harding and is the mother of two international adult children.

You can read more of Jackie’s work for Dispatches here

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