January is pretty quiet in Prague; even the tourist areas attract little queues and there is a stillness about the place. There are so many things to see and do, but how do you comfortably go about in -8 degrees with your friend who is convinced her face has been wind burnt?
Taxi drivers = unsuspecting tour guides
Make friends/buddies/pals with your taxi driver. Our driver (nicknamed "Chiwi", much to his delight, as he was half Czech, half Kiwi), gave us some good intel on a club (indoors!) that had naked men with tattoos on one floor and fire breathing on another. It was just a shame he was our driver on the way home. Damn it.
Sounds obvious, but WRAP THE HELL UP. I definitely do not have a head for hats, but I'm talking the bobbliest hat, the longest scarf and the thickest gloves. Oh, and thermal underwear. If you're feeling more Mr Bean's Holiday and less Audrey and her headscarf, style it out with some lippy. Future you, stood at the top of the Astronomical Clock (also known as Old Town Hall Tower), or Petrin Tower, will be soooo thankful.
Remember: ice is slippery AF
Speaking of the Petrin Tower, do not, I repeat DO NOT, hike up Petrin Hill in the snow unless you are a trained hiker, or wish to die an ice-related death. TBH, it would be a pretty place to die, near the top of the hill, looking upon all the red roof tops below, but ya know...
We decided to cure my friend's minor allergic reaction to grapefruit by walking up the hill in cool air, instead of grabbing the little train near most Legil (one bridge down from Charles Bridge). So much for "fresh air"; 15 minutes later, we were all holding our breaths. Every movement on the increasingly icy accent could mean slipping right back down, flat on our arses. "Okay, ladies now let's get in formation" took on a whole new meaning: formation was link arms and stand with your feet pointing out like a penguin to hinder sliding on the ice. A further 45 minutes later and we made it. Google Maps, you liar, it was not only five more minute to the top.
Prague in winter is like one big Christmas market when it comes to food. Our favourite haunt across the weekend was a stall opposite the Astronomical Clock selling mulled wine for 29 czk/90p and Trdelník (a warm Czech doughnut type pastry) for 59 czk/£1.80. So warming and exactly the sustenance you need to break up a cold day's sightseeing.
Snack breaks aside, Prague's cuisine is proper comfort food. Goulash - a beef stew served in a bread bowl - dumplings, roasted duck and schnitzel appear on most menus. You can eat indoors like a sane person, or brave the outdoors like you would on a warmer holiday, armed with provided heaters and blankets . While the alcohol is far cheaper in Prague, the food is around a similar price to that in the UK.
There are so many beautiful buildings in the city. Don't just Instagram the outside; venture inside the buildings, if you can. As well as being marginally warmer, the architecture can be just as intricate, and the history just as rich. Venture into:
- The Old New Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, the oldest preserved synagogue in Europe.
- The Castle District, which has many indoor sections to explore, including St Vitus' Cathedral and Golden Lane.
I would 100% recommend Prague as a city break and I would definitely make a return trip or two (or three)! Cheap alcohol, beautiful sights and a great vibe during winter AND summer; what's not to love?