And now, a city guide to Prague that's been hanging around in my draft folder for a while...
I don't even remember why we decided to visit Prague in January now. But going in the winter turned out to be perfect. It has a bit of a reputation in the UK for being full of stag parties looking for cheap beer, but not in January it isn't! The snow added to its charm and there are cosy cafes and restaurants on every corner if it gets too chilly (one day it got down to -17°C). If you can go in the winter, do it.
We stayed in Vinohrady for two months and loved our neighbourhood. It's only a 15-minute walk to the centre but there are far fewer tourists than the Old Town.
Here are a few ideas for things to do and eat:
Things to see
Prague's Old Town is like walking through a fairytale. The buildings are all different pastel shades, there are cobbled streets, art deco touches, old school trams. The windy streets are easily walkable and one of the great things about going out of season is that it was quiet during the week.
Featured in Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being (one of my favourite books as a teenager), Petrin Hill has lovely views over the city.
On the edge of the park is the Strahov Monastery. There are a couple of different rooms you can visit, we chose the ornate libraries, which you're only allowed to peep in from the entrance.
Old Jewish Cemetery
This is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe, with graves from the 1500s up to 1786.
Nicknamed Fred and Ginger, this is one of Prague's more unusual landmarks designed by Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry.
There are a number of farmers' markets around the city selling all sorts of seasonal produce. In our last week, as it got warmer, they started up again. When we were there it was all root vegetables and apples and hot drinks.
After his murder, John Lennon became a pacifist hero for lots of young Czechs and this wall has been covered in political graffiti and Beatles lyrics since the '80s.
Walking around Prague you can't help but notice the funny art everywhere. My favourites were the babies crawling up the television tower and this dangling man. There are also a few Kafka-related ones.
This is sort of niche. But if you're in Prague for a while and you like Vietnamese food, then go to the sprawling Sapa market. Housed in a warehouse complex, it's a world away from what you imagine Prague to be like and the food is fantastic.
To get there take the C line subway to Kacerov, and then catch the 113 bus to the 'Sidliste Pisnice' stop. And Taste of Prague has some great info on where to eat when you're there.
One of our favourite things to do in Prague was go to the cinema. There are independent cinemas all over the city, they play a good selection of blockbuster and arthouse films, and some of them have beautiful interiors. Plus the tickets are great value (the equivalent of £3 for a Friday or Saturday night screening). We liked:
Museums & Galleries
There are so many museums and galleries in Prague but for some reason we didn't visit many (too busy drinking coffee and going to the cinema).
We were unlucky to arrive just as a German school group did, which diminished our experience a bit, but this is an interesting place to learn about one of the world's most influential writers.
We loved this contemporary art gallery complex in Praha 7. It has a lovely cafe and the surrounding area is nice to explore too.
Where to eat
Food is great value in Prague, just as good as you'd get in London and other European cities but about half the price.
- Onesip: This tiny spot serves excellent coffee in the city centre.
- Praktika Bakery: Our very favourite place in Prague. We visited every other day; incredible sourdough breads, a bright, unpretentious space, lovely owner and great coffee.
- EMA Espresso: A central coffee shop that became another favourite. Good coffee and lots of snacks and sandwiches.
- Cafe Savoy: This is a bit of an institution in Prague. Art deco interiors, with classic breakfast and lunch options during the day and then a traditional menu in the evenings. Pop down to the bathroom before you leave, the corridor has a floor length window into the patisserie kitchen.
- Sisters: Chlebíčky are traditional open sandwiches and Sisters serves up delicious modern versions. Left to right: beetroot cream with goats' cheese; herring with wasabi; roast beef with coleslaw and crispy onions.
- Tràng An: If you don't have time to go all the way to Sapa, this Vietnamese spot serves up great pho in the city.
- Lokal: Lokal is a good place to try traditional Czech food. Think dumplings, schnitzels and roast duck.
- Dish: The best burgers in Prague – perfectly cooked with buttered brioche buns, lots of different filling options and really good fries. I'm hungry just thinking about it. Book on a Friday or Saturday evening or you won't get a table.
- Pizza Nouve: This is legit Napoli pizza that's as good as I've had anywhere (apart from Naples itself obviously).
- Vinohradský pivovar: We stayed around the corner from this brewery and it served some of the best traditional food we had in Prague.
- Sansho: This spot is perfect for a special meal. Simple decor and Asian fusion dishes like salmon sashimi with soy and sesame, soft shell crab sliders with wasabi and incredible prawn dumplings.
We left Prague thinking it would be an amazing place to live. We'll be back!