Continuing with my Eastern European Gems Post, this feature is on two of my favorite cities, Prague and Budapest. Both are so unique and not quite what I expected, but I found myself desperately wishing to go back to both. The architecture and intricacies are stunning in both places, I barely put my camera down the entire tip. Here are a few of my favorite can’t miss spots.
P R A G U E
Prague Castle: This is the largest ancient castle in the world and dates back to the 9th century. It is an absolutely massive complex filled with multiple buildings. We walked across the city (26 miles round trip) to get to the castle and it didn’t even phase me. At home I get tired jogging 1 mile. Definitely wear good shoes as the trek to the castle is predominantly up hill, but once you get there you can see the entire city from above.
I am the epitome of an over planner. Almost to the point where I can ruin a trip because I try to see too much. I wanted to go into this trip a bit more relaxed and just explore. I loved not having a checklist of places to go to, and felt free to roam around and get lost in the city. This was my first time in Prague and I completely fell in love! I was blown away by the architecture, the mix of high and low end shopping and shocked at how much I liked the food.
Old Town Square: The moment I walked into this square I felt like I was at Disneyland. It was crowded, yet pristine. The stunning Church of our Lady Before Tyn looks like something from a storybook. This square is filled with great restaurants and cafes, the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by. Narrow streets lined with cute shops and pubs branch off of the square, so be sure to wander around this area.
Charles Bridge: Perhaps one of Prague’s more recognizable attractions, this bridge is busy and filled with some shady characters waiting to rip off tourists. The architecture and size of the bridge are beautiful, but I preferred the views of the surrounding buildings with bright rooftops.
Kutna Hora: Sedlec Ossuary a.k.a The Bone Church at Kutna Hora is probably one of the craziest places I have ever been in my life. About an hour outside of Prague, this tiny church is decorated with the bones of around 40,000 – 70,000 people. The chandeliers are made of bones, they line the walls, and ornamental statues are made of skulls.
St. Barbara Church and the surrounding area in Kutna Hora is wonderful. Small flower shops, bookstores and coffee shops make up this quaint city that felt a world away from Prague.
B U D A P E S T
Compared to Prague, Budapest feels like a very large overwhelming city, but it is comprised of so many wonderful details and history. Originally two separate cities, Buda and Pest the two sides are separated by the Danube River. Due to the unique history of the city, each side feels very different and distinct.
Chain Bridge: Chain bridge connects the Western (Buda) and Eastern (Pest) sides of the city and serves as a symbol of the city. It can be viewed best by walking across it or heading over to the Buda side and up the hill to Buda Castle. The views from Buda Castle are breathtaking and the compound is like its own city atop a hill.
View of Buda Castle from the Danube River
Great Market Hall: This massive indoor market is a great stop for local cuisine. Despite the heavy foot traffic and kitschy tourist trinkets, this place has every kind of Hungarian food and spice imaginable. You can buy fresh meats, cheese, produce, pastries, local candy and coffee. I loved walking around and picking up Hungarian cookies and coffee. The second story has a variety of different merchants selling clothing and jewelry, but all I could think about was the candy!
Szechenyi Thermal Baths: I was a little hesitant to go sit in a big thermal bath with a bunch of strangers, I mean its just a giant hot tub, but it seemed odd. Once we got there I learned it is a combination of a thermal bath, swimming pool and adventure pool (which is like a very mild wave pool) They are all different temperatures so you can move around to each one. You don’t even have to go in the water to enjoy this place. They offer spa services such as massages or you can rent a towel and grab a lounge chair to layout.