Tyn Church at Sunset, Touring Prague
Touring Prague – Get There
Our group of 4 arrived by air from Venice in the middle of May to begin touring Prague. We took a cab from the airport to our AirBnB at Wenceslas Square. Rain fell heavily that evening and temperatures were in the 50s (5 C). Certainly not spring weather. Staying at an AirBnB is a nice option for two couples when visiting Prague. Unfortunately for the locals, it’s forcing them to live farther and farther from Old Town Prague and contributing to even further overcrowding by tourists. Venice and Dubrovnik are suffering from this same situation too.
Astronomical Clock, Touring Prague
Touring Prague – Royal Route
In the morning the rain had stopped, but the weather was chilly and overcast. We began touring Prague by walking toward the Old Town along Wenceslas Square. Our first stop was the Powder Tower and the Prague Municipal House at the beginning of the Royal Route through the Old Town. You can easily follow the Royal Route from the Powder Tower past the Old Town Square to the Charles Bridge. The Royal Route has very few turns and you will be following hundreds of tourists as you walk.
Tourists waiting for Astronomical Clock, Prague
Touring Prague – Old Town Square
As you begin walking the Royal Route from the Powder Tower, you quickly realize that the architecture makes Prague one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. After a few short blocks you arrive at the Old Town Square and you see that Prague is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The Old Town Square is centered on the Jan Hus Memorial in the center of the square. The Tyn Church faces the square with its twin towers dominating the scene. At the other side of the square the Prague Astronomical Clock Tower is a popular spot for tourists to watch the clock at the top of each hour. Watching the tourists there is more entertaining than watching the clock. No idea why this has become so popular, but clearly “it’s a thing”.
Touring Prague – Trdelník
In the Old Town Square, you can buy fresh charcoal roasted ham and also trdelník. Trdelník is dough rolled on a stick dipped with sugar, walnuts or other toppings. Tourists also get ice cream served in trdelník. I was warned about the quality of trdelník and the advice was correct. If you want excellent pastry in Prague, try a bakery or cafe instead.
Tourists on Charles Bridge, Prague
Touring Prague – Charles Bridge
The architecture of all the buildings on the Old Town Square is magnificent. The beautiful buildings continue all along the Royal Route to the Charles Bridge. You will find several opportunities to buy tickets to regular concerts being performed in churches and venues near the Charles Bridge. At the bridge, the concentration of tourists increases because you lose all the side streets. The Charles Bridge is the main way tourists move between the Old Town and Prague Castle. The bridge has lots of sculptures which tourists use for their selfies.
Lennon Wall, Touring Prague
Touring Prague – Lennon Wall
Immediately at the end of the Charles Bridge on the Lesser Town side, we visited the Lennon Wall. The graffiti makes a nice tribute to John Lennon, which is a surprising contrast with the historic architecture nearby. After viewing the Lennon Wall, we stopped for lunch near St Nicholas Church in the Lesser Town. We needed to warm up too from the cold weather.
Touring Prague Castle
After lunch we climbed the stairs up from the Lesser Town to Prague Castle. You can spend a long time on the hill top at Prague Castle. West of the castle you will find a square, historic palaces and art galleries. The Loreta Sanctuary is particularly beautiful. To the east, you enter through a security checkpoint to the palace grounds. Admission to the grounds is free. The main attraction on the Prague Castle grounds is St Vitus Cathedral. You can enter St Vitus Cathedral for free, but must pay a fee to walk in farther than the main door. North of Prague Castle, you will find extensive gardens too.
We finished touring Prague by retracing our route all the way down from Prague Castle, across the Charles Bridge, through the Old Town Square and back to our AirBnB.
Cesky Krumlov Castle, Vltava River
Cesky Krumlov Day Trip
On our second full day in Prague, we rented a car and made the 2 hour drive to Cesky Krumlov. With all the construction delays and rush hour traffic, taking the train would have been a better option. You can take a train from Prague to Ceske Budejovice and then transfer to a second train to Cesky Krumlov. Even though it was still spring, the village of Cesky Krumlov was busy with tourists. We found inexpensive parking near the Castle. The uphill walk from the parking lot was very short.
Cesky Krumlov from Castle Tower
Our first stop was the viewpoint at the castle entrance. The viewpoint is a classic photo spot and we had to press through the crowd to see the view. From there you can go up to the gardens or enter the Cesky Krumlov Castle grounds. Entrance to the castle grounds is free. You pay a fee to tour the castle interior or to climb the tower. I chose to climb the tower, which was a bit awkward because of the narrow, curving wooden stairs. The views at the top were well worth the short climb.
Cesky Krumlov Castle Grounds
Český Krumlov – Hotel Dvořák
After the castle we descended to the bridge over the Vltava River where you can then enter the small village of Cesky Krumlov. The foods being served at the Hotel Dvořák looked and smelled so good that we immediately stopped for lunch at a table beside the river. We watched the kayaks come down the sluice on the Vltava River while we enjoyed delicious meals.
St Vitus Church, Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov – Old Town
Touring the Cesky Krumlov Old Town after lunch didn’t take long. We visited Svornosti Square and St Vitus Church. Then we discovered the popular viewpoint beside the Regional Museum. The viewpoint looks back at Cesky Krumlov Castle and St Jost Church. Next we crossed the bridge over the Vltava River at the southern edge of the village, which then gives you great views back to St Vitus Church. We finished our Cesky Krumlov day trip by walking along the west bank of the Vltava River to the castle. Here we found a way to walk underneath the castle to the parking lot instead of climbing back up again.
Touring Prague Old Town One Last Time
Traffic was very congested on our return trip through Ceske Budejovice and even worse when we reached downtown Prague. The hassle of returning the rental car downtown made me regret not having taken the train. Afterward, we walked back to the Old Town Square for one last visit. The Tyn Church was brilliantly lit in the setting sun. Unfortunately the sunshine and the timing of a Friday evening meant that thousands of others were there to eat, drink and party. Prague is beautiful, but you need to get up early in the morning to enjoy it peacefully.