Being back in Prague after 8 years was amazing. New Year’s in Prague consistently ranks at the top of the lists of best New Year’s celebrations in the world, so it was a natural choice to end our holiday trip there. The celebration definitely did not disappoint – and neither did the rest of our visit!
We flew from Amsterdam to Prague because the train was just too long. The first morning we headed down to the Old Town Square to the Christmas Market, which I really enjoyed since I missed the market last time I was there.
We were shocked by the number of tourist in Prague. I guess that’s the result of an upswing in the economy. I definitely underestimated the number of people who travel abroad around Christmas.
Our trek over Charles Bridge was nothing more than a slow shuffle standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other people. We couldn’t have stopped on the bridge or made it to the side if we’d wanted to. Definitely a stark contrast to eight years ago!
The line to get into the castle was also hours long every day we passed it. Since we had both seen it before, we skipped a repeat trip and stuck to less crowded venues.
The Monastery was our first stop since Kyle never managed to make it there while he lived in Prague. The Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady can only be viewed through bars but it is very beautiful. Not far from the Basilica there is a trail that leads up to the Petrin Lookout Tower. We did not go up in the Tower but the views from the trail are lovely. The monks also brew a fair selection of beer there (judging by the sign) and have a small cafe. We’ll have to stop in for one next time.
Must Try Prague Food
I can’t recommend U Sadu enough. It wasn’t too far from where we were staying and the food was incredible. You must try their Devil’s Toast. It was easily an entrée, probably for two people. We certainly couldn’t finish the three dishes we ordered and we were pretty hungry after walking all day long.
In addition to the Devil’s Toast, we had Beer Cheese, and sausage. All of their food was so, so good. Red cabbage and dumplings are also favorites of mine in Prague. I think Kyle had pork at every meal – that’s what living in a pork-free country will do to you, I guess!
And, as mentioned in my last Prague post, the smazeny syr fried cheese sandwich is a must. It was a bit harder to find this trip though; we eventually located it at the New Square.
The only two bad experiences we had were at the Pivovar Narodni Brewery. We actually tried two different locations and they both had the worst service we’ve ever experienced, anywhere. And I’m really not a complainer – I promise. I’m convinced that our waitress at the second location was either drunk, high, or both. That’s the only way her behavior could be explained. I would definitely recommend skipping any of this brewery’s locations!
More Prague Fun
We saw the Kafka Head which was pretty cool. The statue is a tribute to the famous Czech author. Eight years ago there was a nasty metro station where Kafka now resides. The area is really nice now. The Dancing House was also on my list because I hadn’t seen it before. We made a special trip to see it and I took a minimum of five pictures, all of which completely disappeared from my gallery. I have no idea what else I lost but I’m sure those weren’t the only ones that didn’t make it to our next wifi location so they could be backed up.
Last trip I didn’t go up in the clock tower, so we made sure to go this time. The views are incredible and I’m so glad we went, even though the line was on the longer side. It was definitely worth the early wake up.
We spent some time looking for a little restaurant we both loved from my last visit. In our search we happened upon the Lennon wall which was a nice surprise. Kyle did eventually locate the lost restaurant – it had moved one street over sometime in the past 8 years, so no wonder we had such a hard time locating it. Definitely worth the search though.
Since the castle was off the list, we headed to the Metronome Park. The views of the city from here are unmatched. Unfortunately it was pretty overcast that day, but it was still stunning. If you’re looking for a spot to watch the sun rise or set, this is it. The featured photo at the beginning of this post was taken from here.
For us, no trip to Prague will ever be complete without spending some time at Jama. This was Kyle’s regular hangout to watch NFL games while he lived there. He made some great friends there, one of whom is the owner. We celebrated New Year’s there before and after going to the New Square for fireworks. In the last 8 years, the owner has also opened a steakhouse, which we also visited. Both locations are very near the Kafka Head and the New Square so I highly recommend visiting one or both locations.
The metro and tram system is one of my favorite things about Prague. It’s so easy to get around the city. If you’re planning to stay out late though, make sure you check when the last trains or trams are running. Even on weekends the metros last trains are usually midnight. We purchased 3 day passes, which are used for both the metro and trams. Once you buy the ticket, you validate it either at the station or at the little machines inside the trams. That marks the beginning of your 3 days. After that, you just need to keep the ticket in your wallet or pocket. You’ll only need to show it in the event that transportation officer asks to see it. You’re free to use the transportation as much as you want during the time period your ticket is valid.
New Year’s Eve
We had heard stories about the absolute madness that occurs on NYE in Prague. The stories consisted of a steady stream of emergency vehicles taking person after person to the hospital after being hit with bottle rockets and other fireworks in the New Town Square. The picture that was painted was a Square completely jammed full of people, all shooting off fireworks in every direction.
Luckily, it was very safe and we had a great time! Whether the dangerous scene has simply calmed down over the years or the stories were just exaggerations to begin with we’ll never know.
You can buy fireworks at the Square from people selling them out of a backpack. Nothing was blocked off so you could walk through the entire Square but most of the bigger fireworks were placed in the middle so if you wanted to venture out there you had to watch where you were going. Most people stood on the sidewalk to watch and many shot off fireworks just a short ways into the street.
When the cold started to catch up to us we headed back inside for maybe another hour before getting back to the hostel for a few hours sleep before our early plane to Istanbul on New Year’s Day.
Prague is such a fantastic city and I’ll always go back whenever the opportunity presents itself. This was definitely a top 5 New Year’s experience though! The perfect end to our winter trip to Luxembourg, Brussels, and Amsterdam.