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Prague Travel Guide: 48 Hours in the Czech capital

 

After my friend Toni and I kicked things off in Warsaw, the next stop on our inter-railing adventure was picture perfect Prague. I had already visited the Czech capital a few years previously, but was excited to go back and experience the city in warmer weather instead of in winter as I spent the whole of my last trip being FREEEEZING!! I spent my second visit to Prague seeing the sights again and finding new things to discover. Brimming with cobbled streets, stunning gothic architecture and an enormous amount of history, there’s so much to see in Prague and its hard to do it all in just 48 hours, but here are my tips on making the most of your short time in this fascinating city…

 

Take a walking tour

 

There’s nothing I love more than discovering a new city by foot, and the cobbled streets of Prague let you do exactly that! There are many different walking tours that’ll show you the city’s best sights and some of them are even free too. We took a free walking tour of the old town in the morning and then paid for a castle tour in the afternoon, which gave us access to the wonderful castle complex before finishing up at the iconic Charles Bridge. I know what you’re thinking, two tours in one day? Yep. Seven hours of walking? Yep. Our feet hurt and we barely sat down all day, but we made friends with everyone in our group and hung around afterwards with them for dinner, then for drinks, then we partied til 3am and we had the BEST TIME EVERRRR!

 

Explore Old Town Square

 

 

 

The focal point of the entire city is undoubtedly the old town square, with its astronomy tower, gothic church (Our Lady Before Tyn) and cobbled streets oozing character, charm and history. In and around the square you’ll find horse drawn carriages, souvenir shops and plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants to keep you occupied. At night the square totally comes alive and the tower and church are both lit up beautifully. Don’t forget to stand in front of the astronomy tower on the hour to see its enormous clock face come alive and create something very special. Prague’s New Town, with its Dancing House and famous Wenceslas Square are well worth a visit, but it’s the Old Town that totally steals my heart every time I visit this spectacular city.

 

Wander across Charles Bridge

 

Charles Bridge is one of the most amazing bridges I have ever walked across, and I’ve found myself just stopping in my tracks and gazing at it every time I’ve been lucky enough to be there. Built under the order of King Charles IV in 1352, the bridge crosses over the River Vltava and is part of the so called Royal Route. With statues, gargoyles and gothic towers at either end, the bridge is rich in history and is an absolute must see on your visit to Prague. Don’t forget to visit at night to see it lit up in all its glory!

 

Leave your mark on the John Lennon wall

 

 

I didn’t get to do this on my last visit, mainly because I didn’t know it existed and I had no idea what it was! Basically this wall is designed for anyone to come and leave their mark and express themselves, and is in memory of the late great John Lennon. The colours on the wall were so striking and it was such a cool, alternative thing to do in a city as historic as Prague. You can also stop by the world famous John Lennon pub if you fancy a pint – it’s conveniently located just across the road!

 

Discover the largest castle complex in Europe at Prague Castle

 

 

I’d been to Prague castle before on my last visit but kind of forgot how beautiful it was, especially when I was at the top of the fortress where the sun was shining and illuminating the pretty red roofs below. Our afternoon walking tour gave us access to the castle complex, including the grounds of the royal palace, the cobbled courtyards of the beautiful basilica and the inside and outside of the impressive St Vitus Cathedral. You could easily spend a few hours wandering around the complex, and exploring it’s many historical buildings too, and it was definitely a highlight of our visit to Prague.

 

Where to stay

 

 

We stayed in the super cool Sophie’s Hostel, located in a quiet neighbourhood just a 10 minute walk from Wenceslas Square and a 25 minute walk from the Old Town. The hostel had a real boutique hotel feel about it, and was much more glamorous than a standard hostel you’d expect to find. We had booked a private double room and we’re delighted to have been upgraded to an enormous apartment on arrival for the duration of our stay! We made the most of our giant bedroom, separate kitchen and big rainforest shower in the bathroom and loved having so much space all to ourselves. The bar and reception staff couldn’t have been more helpful throughout our stay, and we loved our pancakes at breakfast too! I would highly recommend Sophie’s Hostel as a fantastic place to stay during your visit to Prague, and it’s a great base for access to both the old and new town, as well as the airport and train station too.  Special thanks must go to the Sophie’s team for making our stay so wonderful!

 

Where to eat/drink

 

There are plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes to choose from in Prague, and most of them can be found in and around Wenceslas Square and the Old Town Square. We chose to eat in some of the side streets in the old town, as they generally tended to be much cheaper than the eateries that were situated on the square itself. We ate beef goulash in traditional tavernas and enjoyed wonderful meals both evenings – with so much choice you’ll find good food everywhere in Prague. We also ended up in the super cool Absinthe Bar on both of our evenings and had absolutely no regrets the next day – it was such a cool place to visit and our new friends from the tour loved it too!

Although I’ve been to Prague twice now and have seen such a lot during my time there, I know there are tonnes of other things to see and do that I haven’t even discovered yet. If you’re short on time though, this 48 hour guide should give you a good starting point on the main sights to cover and will stand you in good stead for your trip. Have you ever visited Prague before and would you go back like I did? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Love Jess X

 

*NEW BLOG POST* September Newsletter: Read what I've been getting up to this month! ((link in bio)) #wordpress #newpost #newsletter

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Travel Guide to Warsaw: 48 hours in the Polish capital

 

 

Last month I had the pleasure of visiting Warsaw for the first time, and it was my first ever visit to Poland too! Warsaw was the first stop on my recent inter-railing adventure with one of my best friends, and it was the perfect city from which to kick start our time in Europe. Warsaw is brimming with colourful buildings, cobbled streets and tonnes of history, and with so much to see and do it was impossible to get round everything in just 48 hours, but here’s my tips on making the most of your short time in this amazing city…

 

Take a FREE walking tour

 

 

I really love free walking tours and feel they are the best way to discover a new city for the first time, especially if you only have a couple of days and want to squeeze in as much as possible! The free Old Town Walking Tour in Warsaw begins right underneath Sigismund’s Column and departs every day at 10.30am. Our tour guide was so friendly and really gave us an insight into the history behind Warsaw, going into particular detail about the horrendous destruction of the city during world war two. The two hour tour passed by a number of points of interest and within that time we saw pretty much every important landmark there was to see in the historic Old Town, and got to make some brilliant photo stops along the way too.

 

Wander round the Old Town

 

 

If, like me, you only have a couple of nights in Warsaw I would definitely recommend basing yourself in the old town as I think this is the most popular area of the entire city. With its historic cobbled streets, vibrant market square and a vast array of colourful buildings, old town Warsaw is a UNESCO world heritage site and is best explored on foot meaning everything can be seen within a day or two. I really enjoy visiting cities that have a small historic centre, particularly if I’m pressed for time, as it means I can really immerse myself in the atmosphere and soak up the culture at the same time too. Don’t forget to climb the clock tower just opposite Sigismund’s column for spectacular panoramic views of the castle square below, and a visit to the famous mermaid statue is a MUST too!

 

Walk along the Vistula River

 

 

After a busy day of sightseeing I love nothing better than venturing a little out of the city and just taking a gentle stroll along the river. Warsaw’s old town is so compact that it was nice to explore a little further afield and see other parts of the city that were completely new to us, and the views from across the river were pretty stunning too! A wander along the Vistula will take you to Warsaw Zoo, Park Praski and the quirky neighborhood of Praga, which was the location for the award winning film The Pianist.

 

Visit one of the many museums

 

Warsaw is full of interesting museums to visit, containing everything from war and jewish history to music, science and modern art. I do think it’s difficult to find the time to visit museums if I’m on a super short city break though, so I don’t tend to put them at the top of my list, but there are so many in Warsaw that I just HAD to include them in my guide! We actually wandered around the Museum of Warsaw, which is located in the archway/city gate just behind the iconic market square, and found the history so interesting. Another must-do is the Uprising of the Jews and the Palace of Culture which is somewhere I really wanted to head to but sadly we ran out of time!

 

Where to eat/drink

 

 

There are a variety of restaurants in the old town, most of which serve a mix of traditional Polish food and popular European dishes too. We chose to eat at a local restaurant called Zapiecek on our first night as it was just a few doors down from our hostel and served amazing pierogi (dumplings) which are a traditional Polish dish. Serving a variety of mains including everything from pork and chicken to salmon and sausage, Zapiecek restaurants can be found dotted across Warsaw and are a must visit when looking for somewhere to eat in the city. Other restaurant recommendations I received, but sadly didn’t dine at, were Magda Polka in the Castle Square, and Michelin starred U Fukeria which can be found in the market square, just opposite the famous mermaid statue.

 

Where to stay

 

 

During our time in the city we chose to stay at the super cool Oki Doki Hostel, one of the only original pre war buildings left in the city. The location couldn’t have been more perfect for us as we were right in the middle of the old town with a number of shops, bars cafes and restaurants within a few minutes walk. We were staying in a private double room on the third floor with our own en suite bathroom. The beauty of staying in a private room is that you pay hostel prices for hotel standards and this couldn’t have been more true for our stay at Oki Doki. The communal areas including the kitchen, garden and breakfast place were kept very clean and tidy but were also great places to hang out and meet fellow travellers. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Oki Doki Hostel to anyone looking for a comfortable stay at a fantastic price right in the heart of Warsaw’s old town. Special thanks must go to Agata for making our stay so wonderful!

I could have spent at least another two days exploring everything that Warsaw has to offer, and even then I still don’t think I’d have scratched the surface! Considering Warsaw lost pretty much everything during World War Two, the defiant spirit of this city is incredibly powerful and shines through its core. Have you ever visited Warsaw before? I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

Love Jess x

 

 

Hotel Review: 25 Hours Hotel, Vienna, Austria

Currently writing up my #review from my time at @25hourshotels in #Vienna last week and can't wait to share it with you all! 🏨

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Just over a week ago, as part of my mini European adventure with Lucy, the two of us were invited to stay at one of the quirkiest hotels in Vienna: 25 Hours Hotel at Museumsquartier. We stayed on a bed and breakfast basis for two nights and had the most amazing stay. Part of a chain, with other properties in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin and Zurich, this hotel is a tourist attraction in it’s own right and boasts it’s own rooftop bar, restaurant, garden, gift shop and an actual, real life mermaid’s cave. Yep, you heard me right, this is what dreams are made of! If you’re looking for an edgy, quirky, extraordinary place to stay on your next trip to the Austrian capital, the 25 Hours Hotel is an absolute must…

The Location

The edgy, quirky district of #Museumsquartier made the perfect base to explore #Vienna 😍 @viennatouristboard

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The hotel is in the perfect location for exploring all of Vienna’s famous landmarks and is situated in the 7th district, Museumsquartier, one of the largest cultural neighbourhoods in the world. Home to an abundance of shops, restaurants, bars and, yep, you guessed it, museums, this place was seriously cool and you could easily spend a whole day here wandering around the parks and checking out all the fantastic buildings! Positioned between metro stops, tram stops and bus lines, the location of this hotel enables you to see everything that you could wish to see in the Austrian capital. We mainly used the metro to get around, and hopped on and off the trams whenever we got the chance, but with the nearest metro stop (Volkstheater) just 300m from the front door of the hotel, it was super easy to whizz around the city using this method of transport.

The Room

Oh my goodness I don’t even know where to begin! This room is hands down the coolest, funkiest, most frikkin’ freakiest room I have ever stayed in and I absolutely LOVED IT! I am used to staying in really lovely hotels whenever I travel, and I generally go for 3-4* mid range properties with a touch of luxury, but this place was something else altogether! I wouldn’t say it was because it was particularly luxurious, there were no silk linen duvets or duck feather pillows, but it was luxurious in that it was big, bright, modern, spacious and extraordinary and, for me, all of those things add up to something even better than luxury.

With a grand total of 217 rooms laid out over 7 floors, the 25 Hours Hotel is made up of M, M+, L, XL, Suites and Panorama Suites which are the equivalent of Economy, Standard, Luxury, Extra Luxury etc etc, you get the idea. We were staying in the M room, so the most basic of them all, and even that was a real treat and unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before. With a colourful headboard, Bluetooth sound speakers, LCD flatscreen TV, workspace, wardrobe, mini bar and safe, the room was fitted with everything we could ever need and more.

I miss my super cosy room @25hourshotels #vienna – can I just be back there already pleaseeee?! 🏨🏨

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The smart bathroom, with incredible power shower, complimentary toiletries, hairdryer and little look-through window (cheeky) was just right for us in every way and was deceptively spacious. Lucy and I shared a double bed and it was so big that we didn’t have to worry about who was nicking the covers (or snoring in each others ears) and the pillows and duvet set were super comfy. We were also greeted with lovely goody bags from The Vienna Tourist Board and from 25 Hours Hotels themselves – thanks for making us feel so welcome!

The Breakfast

Breakfast each morning was served in the 1500foodmakers restaurant just next to the reception area on the ground floor. We were seated promptly and could then go back and forth to the buffet as many times as we fancied. With a whole host of yoghurts, fruits, cereals, breads, cakes and hot and continental items on offer, as well as juices, water and hot drinks, the breakfast was plentiful and set us up really well both days. I’ve gotta be honest though, as I always am with all of my blog posts, I don’t think I would have paid for this breakfast if it wasn’t included as the price is pretty steep. Although the food was great, the cost would set you back £16pp per day and, for me, it just really isn’t worth the money. Maybe it’s because I’m not a big breakfast eater, even at home I barely manage a slice of toast, so when I go away I usually just stay room-only and opt to get something small from the nearest café or shop when I start feeling hungry. Having said that, it made a really nice change to have breakfast included, so if you like your continental then GO FOR IT!

The Facilities

When looking for accommodation I always make sure there are facilities onsite to maximise your hotel experience, and the ones at 25 Hours Hotels certainly don’t disappoint! The property in Vienna was home to a super cool reception area complete with Apple macs, pinball game station, swing bench, photobooth and a gift shop/kiosk selling a range of quirky items. At the very top of the hotel you’ll find Der Dachboden, their rooftop bar, with views across the entire city that seemed to stretch for miles. The rooftop bar was incredibly busy during our stay, probably because the weather was so good, but also because its super popular with residents and locals alike, so get there during the early part of the afternoon if you want to reserve a seat! Outside and to the left of the hotel you’ll find their very own garden area complete with Burger de Ville, it’s very own burger van serving fast food to eat onsite or to take away with you, perfect if you want to grab something and go! As partners of Mini, 25 Hours Hotels also offer complimentary bicycle and Mini car hire to all of their guests, such a cool idea and it would have come in so handy, but sadly Lucy and I didn’t get chance to take these out for a spin during out visit!

The Mermaids Cave

Ok so this thing deserves its OWN PARAGRAPH and I don’t even care if it makes this post too long I just have to write about it and share it with you all! The mermaids cave, aka the sauna, steam room, gym, relaxation area, whatever you wanna call it, was single handedly the BEST thing about this entire hotel. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it ALL, but this place was just extra special. Located in the basement, the mermaids cave is kitted out with showers, a sauna, steam room, gym, workout area, relaxation hideaway and giant swings where you can be a child and put your hands in the air (and wave them around like you just don’t care – literally, I did this).

You can also soak your feet in large wooden tubs if you need to chill out for a while, and you can help yourself to hot drinks, bottled water and fresh fruit too. There’s toilets and washrooms for your convenience,  as well as lockers for your valuables which will save you going back and forth to your room. Both times Lucy and I visited the cave (around 8pm-10pm) it was completely empty and it we had it to ourselves which really made us relax and totally zen out for the duration of our time there. It really was the most magical place and, for me, it was the total highlight of the entire hotel – if you’re thinking of going anytime soon you HAVE to check this place out!

The Verdict

Room 309 – our little home during our time in #Vienna 🏨🏨 @25hourshotels

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Overall we had a fantastic stay at the 25 Hours Hotel and I would highly recommend staying here on a mid-week or weekend visit for a really cool and quirky stay in the heart of the Museumsquartier. Every aspect from the brilliant location to the buffet breakfast, amazing facilities and colourful bedroom made our stay such a pleasant one; the staff made us feel so welcome throughout the whole of our stay, from the minute we arrived at check in, to the second we checked out, nothing was too much trouble. They were super helpful when we were asking about public transport, and about how far away all the major sites were, and they even helped us sort out our train back to Bratislava upon check out – thank you SO much for really going above and beyond, you guys were amazing!

So there we have it, my full review of the wonderful 25 Hours Hotel. I cannot recommend this hotel highly enough for those looking for a stylish and comfortable stay in the heart of the Museumsquartier district – thank you to the lovely staff for making our stay so wonderful, we will most definitely be back! For more information or to book a room please visit their website directly.

NB. I was a guest of 25 Hours Hotel for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are of course my own.

Don’t forget, we are all mad here…