Amazing Things To Do In Vienna, Austria

Explore the National Library Hall

The biggest Baroque library in the whole of Europe, the State Hall of the National Austrian Library is almost 80m long and 20m high. The dome is magnificently decorated with frescoes by the court painter Daniel Gran, and the shelves contain more than 200,000 volumes, including the comprehensive library of Prince Eugene of Savoy as well as one of the largest collections of Martin Luther’s writings from the Reformation Era.

Ordered by Emperor Karl VI, the former Court Library was created in the first half of the 18th century as a private wing of the Hofburg imperial residence. It was built by Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach according to plans of his father, Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach.

Enjoy a Carriage Ride

One thing you will always see in Vienna are horse-drawn carriages taking people across the city. At the end of the 19th century, the carriage business began to boom: more than a thousand fiakers (how the carriages are called by the locals) were on the road in Vienna between 1860 and 1900.

The drivers used to be very famous characters from the city, and also sometimes performed as singers. They were also known for their discretion, and not sharing with anyone what happens inside the carriages. It is safe to say that the experience is very similar to that of the gondolas in Venice.

Pay Respects at the Imperial Crypt

Below the humble church and monastery of the Order of the Capuchin Friars, the mortal remains of the rulers of the Habsburg empire are laid to rest. Walking through the Capuchins’ Crypt takes you through 400 years of Austrian and European history, from the Thirty Years’ War to revolutions and the first ideas for a united Europe.

Each sarcophagi was designed and built individually by the greatest artists of the time, in order to sybolize the life of the royal who has passed away. Signs of transience and faith reflect personal trust in God and humility before their Creator. Today, the mortal remains of 150 Habsburgs rest in the Capuchins’ Crypt.

Visit the Mozart House

Mozart, the famous pianist, moved to Vienna in the early years of his life. There he often performed as a pianist, notably in a competition before the Emperor with Muzio Clementi, a competition that would established him as the finest keyboard player in Vienna. Today a museum, you can visit the house where he lived while he furthered his pianist career in Vienna. 

Wander by the St. Stephen’s Cathedral

In the middle of the 12th century, Vienna was starting to become one of the most important centers of the German civilization. And the four little churches that existed there were no longer sufficient to cover the religious needs of the demanding population.

The current Romanesque and Gothic form of the cathedral, seen today in the Stephansplatz, was largely initiated by Duke Rudolf IV and stands on the ruins of two earlier churches. Today, it is the most important religious building in the city, having been witness to many turns in Habsburg and Austrian history.

See the Monument to the Plague Victims

Vienna, being a trade cross-road during the 17th century, was the perfect place for a large epidemic. During the Great Plague of Vienna, it is believed that between 12.000 and 75.000 people have been killed by the hands of the Bulbonic plague.

Unlike in the previous plague outbreak, when people were simply ostracized and left untouched, this one got taken care by the Church. A religious organization known as the Brotherhood of the Holy Trinity created special plague hospitals to take care of the victims.

The current monument was built in 1693, in the place of a simpler column erected during the plague by the Brotherhood. The figures at the very base represent the triumph of faith over disease, while the middle of the sculpture is dedicated to coats of arms and a praying figure of Emperor Leopold I, and at the very top one can find golden cherubs and other religious figures.

Relax at the Schmetterlinghaus

At the heart of Vienna you will find a unique, tropical oasis of relaxation: the butterfly house. In one of the most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in the world, you will enter a fantastic world dedicated to the most tender and colorful animals, the butterflies.

The place itself is a massive greenhouse with tropical fauna and flora, emphasis on the 500 butterflies living there, each displaying beautiful and invididual color patterns. It is quite warm and humid so be prepared to sweat a little if you visit it during the winter. Make sure to climb the stairs inside of the giant tree trunk, so you get a view of the entire place from above.

Take a Look at the Roman Ruins

Where Vienna now stands used to be the Roman military camp of Vindobona. The asymmetrical layout of this military camp, which deviates from the classical standardised Roman encampments, is still recognisable in Vienna’s street plan: Graben, Naglergasse, Tiefer Graben, Salzgries, Rabensteig, Rotenturmstraße.

Apart from that, many of the ancient buildings from the camp are still visible throughout the city. The most notable places where you can see these ruins are at the Schönbrunn Palace Park and right on the street in front of the Hofburg Palace.

Pass by the Hungarian House

For those who do not know Elizabeth Báthory, she is believed to be the most successful female murderer of all time, having tortured and killed over 600 virgin women in order to drink and bathe on their blood. All this to fulfill her belief that doing so would keep her eternally young. 

At the turn of the 17th century, the ‘Blood Countess’ lived in this very house at 12 Augustinerstrasse, where she began her ‘career’. The city’s nearby markets served as a hunting ground for her servant Ficzkó, who was instrumental in providing a steady stream of young Viennese maids for the countess.

The place is not really open to the public, so all you can do is take a look at the facade and imagine what sort of thing happened inside this horrific place.

Visit the Vienna State Opera

The Vienna State Opera is a Renaissance Revival building with as many as 1.709 seats, being the first major building on the Vienna Ring Road. It is closely linked to the Vienna Philharmonic, which is an incorporated society of its own, but whose members are recruited from the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera.

The Wiener Staatsoper is one of the busiest opera houses in the world producing around 50 operas per year and 10 ballet productions in more than 350 performances. Make sure you see the building at night, as the lights outside make for an unforgettable sight.

Amazing Things To Do In Budapest, Hungary

Walk Inside The Great Market Hall

The Great Market Hall in Budapest was built in 1897 and is the most beautiful and largest of all Budapest market halls. It is also known as the Central Market not only given its central geographic location within the city, but also due to the sheer volume of trade happening there daily.

There is plenty to see in the three floors of this amazing market, such as little souvenirs, fruits, vegetables, meats, bags, clothing, etc. Apart from those, you can check out the top floor for delicious traditional Hungarian food.

Get Lost At The Panoptikum Labyrinth

It is said that the King Matthias Corvinus marched towards Wallachia to free Vlad Tepes (Dracula) from Turkish captivity. But for some unknown reason, the king who previously intended to save Vlad and even had married one of his family members to him, saw something so terrible that he dragged Vlad to Buda and imprisioned him inside his labyrinth for 10 years.

The labyrinth under the Buda Castle is open until today, now serving as a sort of Museum displaying statues of the monarchs of Hungary. But if you go deep enough, you will find long passages which are entirely without light, and the old prisions where Vlad Tepes was left to rot. Just take into consideration that getting lost here for a couple of hours might be an actual possibility.

Discover The Secrets Of The Gellért Hill

The Gellért Hill gets its name from the legend about the death of St. Gerard. The bishop was assassinated by pagans during a huge rebellion in 1046. He was put in a barrel and rolled down into the deep from the top of the hill, the poor fella.

During the 19th century, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Habsburgs built there a Citadella due to the stretegic position of the hill refferent to both Buda and Pest. The Hill would also see battle during World War II and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Nowadays, you can find there the famous mineral springs, a gorgeous crystal cave and the lovely church on the hillside.

Take A Break And Relax At The Gellért Baths

The Gellért Baths are located within an Art Noveau building which dates back a whole century. It opened in 1918 offering medicinal water treatments using the same deep underground springs that the Knights of St. John used in the 12th century to feel the invigorating powers of such mineral rich waters.

You can buy a one-time ticket for the baths, and there is no time limit to it, but if you leave the spa, you have to buy another ticket to return. In the same building you have a massage parlour where you can have a relaxing massage before leaving the place, to get you ready to explore more of the city.

Taste The Amazing Hungarian Street Food

Hungarians are specialists at meat dishes, and going to Budapest without trying some kolbász (a spicy sausage made with paprika) or hurka (blood pudding with rice) is definitely a nope.

You can find stands selling delicious traditional Hungarian small and fast dishes throughout the whole city, but my suggestion would be to get it inside the Great Market Hall, which will protect you from both the sun, rain or snow, depending on the season in which you visit the city.

Explore The St. Stephen’s Basilica

During the 18th century, the place where the Basilica now stands was occupied by the Hetz-Theater, where animal fights took place. That was until a wealthy inhabitant named János Zitterbarth decided to build a temporary church there.

What Mr. Zitterbarth did not expect was that the Lipótváros Parish, which formed in the church, would gather over a thousand believers until the beginning of the new century. There believers raised money for the building of a newer and bigger church in homage to St. Stephen, the King of Hungary who became a saint. You can still see his ‘incorruptible’ hand in the reliquary inside the Basilica.

Reflect By The Shoes At The Danube Bank

The horror of fascism is not limited to Germany and Italy. In 1945-45, a militia associated to the Fascist Party of Hungary (also known as Arrow Cross) kidnapped three thousand and five hundred enemies of the party from their homes and workplaces, asked them to remove their shoes before the Danube and shot them into the river, as for it their bodies to be carried away by the flow.

In 2005, film director Can Togay in association with sculptor Gjula Pauer, created a monument to their memory, displaying the shoes left behind by the victims. It serves also as a reminder of the dangers of extremist ideologies.

Stroll Across The Liberty Bridge

The districts of Buda and Pest are connected by many bridges, but few are as elegant as the Liberty Bridge. It is the shortest bridge in Budapest’s center. Initially built as part of the Millennium World Exhibition at the end of the 19th century, the bridge features art nouveau design, mythological sculptures and the country’s coat of arms adorned on its side.

The bridge was inaugurated in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph; the last silver rivet on the Pest abutment was inserted into the iron structure by the Emperor himself, and the bridge was originally named after him.

Gaze At The Hungarian Parliament Building

Budapest was united from three cities in 1873, namely Buda, Óbuda, and Pest. Seven years later the Diet resolved to establish a new, representative parliament building, expressing the sovereignty of the nation. And then the Parliament Building was born. Construction from the winning plan was started in 1885, and the building was inaugurated on the 1000th anniversary of the country in 1896.

About 100,000 people were involved in construction, during which 40 million bricks, half a million precious stones and 40 kilograms of gold were used. During the People’s Republic of Hungary a red star perched on the top of the dome, but it was removed in 1990 after the fall of communism. Mátyás Szűrös declared the Hungarian Republic from the balcony facing Kossuth Lajos Square on 23 October 1989.

Buy Some Hungarian Souvenirs

When it comes to souvenirs, Budapest is rich in embroideries and the patterns originating from it can be put in virtually anything, from dinner plates to bottle openers. But there is something else that I find really special here.

Chess is a big thing in Budapest, with boards installed even inside the mineral baths. The city has even a famous chess move named after it, the ‘Budapest Gambit’. For that reason, everywhere you look for souvenirs in the city, you will find richly adourned chess tables with hand-crafted pieces, inspired by the most different motifs: traditional Hungarian patterns, medieval knights, etc. Those can be quite expensive, but definitely worth the investment.

Amazing Things To Do In Sofia, Bulgaria

Located by the Vitosha mountain in Bulgaria, at the very heart of the Balkans, Sofia is equally distant from the Black, Adriatic and Aegean Seas. Having a history that goes back millenia, Sofia is the perfect place to explore the history behing Greeks, Thracians, Romans, Bulgars, Ottomans and Communists.

Investigate the Largo

The Largo was built as a piece of Socialist Classicism to host the Party House and other government offices related to the communist regime. Nowadays, the main building hosts the Bulgarian National Assembly, while the lateral buildings contain the Council of Ministers and the President’s Office.

It is one of the most iconic pieces of architecture in town, and marks the very center of the city. It makes for a very good first stop, since there are many things to see around, such as churches, museums, ruins, malls and restaurants.

Watch the Change of Guards

Close to Largo you will find the President’s Office, where routinely the guards who protect the entrance change shifts. The regular change of guards is done every hour, five minutes before the full hour. But if you wish to see the full ceremony, come on the first wednesday of the month at midday, where you will see the official changing of guards, including music, shouting and weapon brandishing.

Explore the Serdica Ruins

Sofia not always had this name. To the Emperors of the Roman and Byzantine empires, it was called Serdica. Emperor Constantine himself used to say Serdica Mea Roma Est (Serdica is my Rome), as he considered shifting the capital of the Byzantine Empire from Constantinople to Serdica.

While the Bulgarian government did escavations to build their new subway system, they surprisingly found the ruins of this ancient Byzantine city. Although the subway was effectively built, the ruins remained exposed to remind locals and foreigners of the might and history of Bulgaria.

Visit the Cyril and Methodius Library

Cyril and Methodius are the two brother theologians and missionaries responsible for the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet. Although they did not come up with the modern version of it, they designed the Glagolitic alphabet, which is a proto-version of the Cyrillic, which was eventually created by their students following their instructions.

This library, created to their homage, contains works important not only to Bulgaria, but to the whole of Slavic nations. An example to that is the 1.700 volume original collection of Slavonic scriptures, dating from the 11th to the 17th century. Apart from that, there is a quite nice bar on the underground of the library.

Pay Respects to Vasil Levsky

Know in Bulgaria as the Apostle of Freedom, Vasil Levsky founded the Internal Revolutionary Organisation, which had the goal of fomenting a nation-wide uprising. He was the engineer behind the creation of the ideology and strategy that would eventually be responsible for freeing the Bulgarian people from Ottoman rule.

In 1872, he was captured by the Turkish police and put on trial. The court rules him guilty of his ‘freedom-seeking’ crimes and sentenced him to death by hanging. The place where he died is where the monument to his memory resides today. Six years after his death, with the help of the Russian Empire, Bulgaria rose against the Ottoman empire, and became the Republic that Levsky dreamt about.

Admire the Ivan Vazov National Theater

Ivan Vazov is another hero to Bulgaria. He turned into novels the plight and suffering of the Bulgarian people under Ottoman rule, contributing for raising the awareness of the nation about their slave-like condition. His most notorious book is called “Under the Yoke”, a Bulgarian idiom for being oppressed.

The National Theater was built by his friend Ivan Shishmanov, and the plays based on Vazov’s works were overseen by Vazov himself. So you can trust the authenticity of anything Bulgarian you watch here. It is definitely one of the best architectural pieces in Sofia.

Pay Respects to Tsar Samuil

One of the most important figures in Bulgarian history, Tsar Samuil was responbible for maintaining the territory of the Bulgarian Empire at its largest extension and defending it from Byzantine invasions.

Tsar Samuil was considered by his enemies an “invincible in power and unsurpassable in strength“, managing to hold the gigantic Byzantine empire out of Bulgarian soil for five decades. He is until today a Bulgarian symbol of indendendence and strength in will.

Train and Perfect Your Aim at Gerena

Weaponry is not strange to Bulgarians. After communist rule, most people in the country were used to handling weapons and it became routine. After the fall of the communist dictatorship, somehow the activity remained as a fun thing to do to pass the time.

The Gerena Shooting Range is the most popular places in town for shooting. It is relatively far away from the city center, but nothing that a cheap taxi drive cannot solve. There you will be personally assisted by a professional shooter on how to pick your weapon, reload and perfect your aim. Just keep in mind that you will need to bring your passport and register for security reasons.

Shop at the Vitosha Boulevard

Vitosha Boulevard is the place in Sofia for shopping and enjoying a nice meal with a view. It has an almost endless assortment of shops and cafes, as well as a beautiful view of the Vitosha mountain on the background.

There are two types of shops in Vitosha Boulevard: branded and outlets. If you go to branded stores, you will sure find some expensive items that are unnafordable for the average Bulgarian, but somehow accessible to foreigners. Outlets will be extremely cheap, even for Bulgarians, so take your pick. Vitosha Boulevar is also one of the best picks for buying rose oil and cosmetics, so you will see a lot of shops related to that throughout the street.

Get Yourself Bulgarian Souvenirs

Sofia has one of the best assortment of souvenirs I have ever seen in any city. I think you can attribute this to the fact that the country has a very strong traditional culture, and people really enjoy propagating it through handicraft. Here you can buy handmade Orthodox icons, Rakija barrels, embroideries, and even Kukeri miniatures (my favorites).

Amazing Things To Do In Venice, Italy

Located in the Venetian Lagoon, the city of Venice was built over 118 small islands connected by more than 400 bridges. Growing due to medieval commerce, Venice attracted many guilds, artists and merchants, who built a culture and traditions that have lasted for over a thousand years.

Venice holds a special place in my heart, as I have lived and studied in this lovely city for quite some time. In this post, you will find my top picks for the best things to do in Venice.

Admire the St. Mark’s Square

St Mark’s Square is one of the most popular places in Venice, and for good reason. Apart from being an incredible architectural sight, it is surrounded by buildings that are very important to the city, such as the St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Bell Tower, etc.

The square is located at the southern entrance of the Grand Canal and is easily accessible both by foot and Vaporetto (water bus). Nearby you can have a nice cup of coffee, but be aware that anything you purchase around the square is going to be expensive and with a high probability of also being overpriced! If you are traveling on a budget, leave the meals and souvenier-buying for other neighborhoods of the city.

Check the time at the Clock Tower

Right on the St. Mark’s Square, there is another interesting sight. An early Renaissance building at the entrance to the Merceria, the Clock Tower shows the time of day, the dominant sign of Zodiac and the current phase of the moon.

In the early 1490s, the city decided that the greatest sea power in the world could not rely on the old clock of Sant’Alipio, which was located on one of the corners of the St. Mark’s basilica. For that reason, the building of a clock that was both accurate and symbolic of the power stemming from Venice was scheduled.

Legend says that the city’s Senate blinded the master mechanics of the tower, so they don’t repeat such work anywhere else. That, of course, is a myth. The original creators lived with their families inside the clock tower, and the following master mechanics kept this tradition alive.

Experience royal life at the Doge’s Palace

Built in Venetian Gothic Style at the St. Mark’s Square, the Palazzo Ducale is without a doubt the main landmark of Venice and one of the most important of the north of Italy.

The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), as the name suggests, was the house of the Doge, the elected lord and chief of state of the former Venetian Republic. It’s architecture and treasures remain as evidence of the power stemming from this small city which ruled the Adriatic sea.

The interior contains an amazing gilded ceiling, which has panels depicting the glories of the Venetian Republic, as well as walls that are painted with portraits of the Doges and frescoes done by artists such as Tintoretto, Veronese, and Bella.

Stroll across the Rialto Bridge

Connecting the districts of San Marco and San Polo, the Rialto bridge is one of the most imponent sights in Venice. It is the oldest of the four bridges which cross the Grand Canal.

It was initially built in 1181 as a floating bridge, but given the increase in commercial traffic coming for the Rialto market on the eastern bank of the canal, it was replaced in 1255 by a wooden bridge. But wood was not sufficient, as the bridge collapsed in 1444 due to the weight of a large crowd that was watching a boat parade, and then again in 1524. Talks of rebuilding the bridge in stone followed, with Michelangelo himself being considered as a potential designer for the new bridge. But eventually, Antonio da Ponte designed the current bridge, which was finished in 1591.

Get a View from the Rooftops

Venice is not really known as “the city of skyscrapers”, as most of the buildings don’t exceed three floors. But there are certain spots in town, which will give you a priceless view of the city. Many buildings around St. Mark’s Square, such as the St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Campanile Tower allow for great views of the Venetian islands, the ocean, and the square itself.

Buy a book at the Libreria Acqua Alta

One of the most interesting bookstores in the whole of Italy, the Libreria Acqua Alta is a must-see spot in Venice for booklovers.

Located in the tiny district of Castello, the Acqua Alta offers a variety of books both in Italian and English stored in very interesting ways, be it on a gondola that is stuck inside the building or inside a bathtub. Apart from that, you will often find the keeper’s cats taking a nap or walking around the place.

On the back, you can climb a staircase made out of old books that have been ruined by the high water, or ‘Acqua Alta’. It can give you a nice view of the canal on the other side of the building.

Investigate the Arsenale di Venezia

The Venetian Arsenal was a complex of medieval shipyards and armories, known as one of the earliest large-scale industrial enterprises in history.

Built in the 12th century, the Arsenale would only find a match in production capacity in the modern Industrial Revolution. With high walls to avoid curious public eyes, this maritime giant was able to produce one ship per day. Their secret: division of labor. Each part of the Arsenal built a different part of a ship such as munitions, rope, and rigging. Afterward, similarly to an assembly line, the pieces were quickly put together, creating the final product.

The Arsenal was such a historically iconic piece, that is was mentioned in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy:

As in the Arsenal of the Venetians
Boils in winter the tenacious pitch
To smear their unsound vessels over again
For sail they cannot; and instead thereof
One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks
The ribs of that which many a voyage has made
One hammers at the prow, one at the stern
This one makes oars and that one cordage twists
Another mends the mainsail and the mizzen…

Take a Gondola ride through the canals

The Gongola rides have become an iconic symbol of the city of Venice and are one of the most frequent items in the bucket list of tourists in town. All this for good reason, the Gondolas are a very traditional mean of transportation, and provide a unique view of the city, one that exists for hundreds of years.

The standards ride usually last for 30-45 minutes and cost between 80-120 euros, getting more expensive during the night. The Gondoliers can be found all around town, mostly close to the Grand Canal.

Buy Fresh Fish At The Rialto Market

If you wanna have an almost exclusively local experience, you can always shop for fresh sea fruits at the Rialto Market. Here you can find a variety of options, such as squids, octopi, shrimps, salmon, etc.

Although you will not have where to cook it while staying at a hotel, you should definitely give it a try if you are renting an apartment to visit the city.

Visit San Giacomo di Rialto

Legends say that this is the oldest church in the whole of Venice, dating back to 421. Bu truth be told, the first document mentioning the church dates back to 1152. Still, the place is considered an important piece of Venetian history.

It has a large 15th-century clock above the entrance, considered a useful item in the Venetian business district but regarded as a standing joke given its inaccuracy.

Amazing Things To Do In Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, also known as the “City of a Hundred Spires”, is famous for its particular architecture, traditional food, and delicious beer. But apart from such aspects, the city also hides many treasures, stemming from its medieval past up until its liberation from communism, that are worth experiencing.

Thinking of visiting Prague or already in town? I personally visited this incredible city and the following are my top picks for the best things to do in Prague, Czech Republic.

Visit the Many Museums

From Alchemy to Communism, there are many interesting museums to see in Prague. And believe me, none of the ones I visited were even close to being boring.

For some reason, Prague is very fond of creating visuals representations of events, instead of simply displaying clothing and historical items in general. When you visit an alchemy museum, you will see the laboratories as they looked when operating; when you visit the Museum of Torture, you will hear screams and see representations of executions (be prepared for that).

So, if you want an authentic experience, Prague is the place for you when it comes to museums and historical discovery.

Check the Astronomical Clock

The Pražský Orloj (Prague Orloj) is a 15th-century astronomic clock located in the Old Town Square. The clock consists of two dials; the astronomical, representing the medieval view of the universe, and the calendar, describing the measurement of time across the year.

Local legend says that the entire city will fall into a curse if the maintenance of the clock is neglected, a ghost sitting on top of the clock will give the sign of its doom.

Taste the Delicious Czech Food

From luxurious cafes such as Cafe Louvre to traditional restaurants like Lokal, there are plenty of places to enjoy good food while visiting Prague.

The food here is mostly based on meat and roots, like in most countries in Central Europe. But what makes it unique and gives it a delicious taste is the assortment of creams and natural sauces that go with the main courses.

Rest at the Franciscan Gardens

Prague can be exhausting to explore, especially since the cobblestones that the streets are made of can seriously hurt your feet if you walk too much on a single day. For that reason, it is important to take breaks while exploring Prague.

Not every tourist knows that there are beautiful 14th-century gardens right on the side of Wenceslas Square. They are called Františkánská zahrada (Franciscan Gardens) and are the perfect place to take a break and eat some chlebíčky.

Try the Local Pilsner Beer

Czech beer is no joke one of the best in Europe, and perhaps of the world. There is a centuries-old tradition involved in crafting traditional Pilsner beer in Bohemia, a tradition that is reflected in the incredible taste.

Even the manner in which the beer is poured into the glass and created foam results in a difference in taste and experience. And these details are what make Czech beer so special.

Stroll across the Charles Bridge

Crossing the Vltava river, the iconic Karlův Most (Charles Bridge) serves as the main connection between the Old Town and the Prague Castle. It was built in the early 15th century to replace the old Judith Bridge, which had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342.

The bridge has a Gothic style, displaying Baroque iconography from the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Prominent Bohemian sculptors such as Matthias Braun, Jan Brokoff, and his sons Michael Joseph and Ferdinand Maxmilian, took part in its meticulous construction.

Take a tour of the Prague Castle

The Pražský Hrad (Prague Castle) was built around 880 by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty (Přemyslovci). It is the largest castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 m², consisting of a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, from the remains of Romanesque-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modifications of the 14th century.

Admire the Head of Franz Kafka

The Head of Franz Kafka is an outdoor sculpture by David Černý depicting Bohemian German-language writer Franz Kafka, author of the famous novel ‘Metamorphosis’. It is 11 meters tall and made of 42 rotating panels, each moving individually.

It is right on a square, so there are no ‘opening hours’. But be prepared to spend some time here, since you will have to wait for quite a lot until the sculpture actually forms the face of Kafka.

Learn About Czech History

You would be surprised by how easy it is to find books in English about the history of Prague and the Czech Republic as a whole.

From the influence of Alchemy in medieval science to the recent Velvet Revolution, you will find books on many interesting topics that will help you better understand the Czechs and how they see the world.

Climb the Powder Tower

Originally meant to be an attractive entrance to the city of Prague when it began being built in the 15th century, the Powder Tower was then turned into a gunpowder deposit during the 17th century.

The climb is a little bit tough, but once you get up there, you will have an amazing view of downtown Prague. My personal suggestion would be to visit at night since the city looks particularly beautiful at this time.

Visit the City’s Synagogues

Prague has a long story built together with the Jewish community, and it can be seen and experienced in the famous Jewish Quarter. There you will find beautiful synagogues, both ancient and new, that had an important role in constructing the identity of the city and its inhabitants. Part of this story and an interesting thing to investigate is the legend of the Golem of Prague.

Amazing Things To Do In Munich, Germany

Munich is the heart of Bavaria, a region that has built up since antiquity a culture that includes a unique language, cuisine, architecture, festivals and elements of Alpine symbolism.

The city is the physical representation of Gemütlichkeit (a German word used to convey the idea of a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer). So get ready to enjoy! Here are my top picks for the best things to do in Munich.

Visit one of the many Churches

Catholicism is very tightly connected to the story of Munich, and Bavaria as a whole. For that reason, the Church and the Bavarian royalty invested a lot in their churches, which display incredible architecture and iconography.

Visiting the churches in Munich will give you an idea of the importance of religion to Bavaria. Two of the most prominent churches you will find in town are the Frauenkirche and the Asamkirche, make sure to check them out.

Have a Picnic at the Englischer Garten

One of the biggest urban parks in the whole world, the Englischer Garten (English Garden) is the perfect place in Munich for nature-lovers to enjoy. There is plenty of space to jog and cycle on the 78-kilometer-long network of paths within the park, as well as fields that are big enough to play soccer.

The English Garden is located by the Isar river, which spreads a network of canals throughout the whole park, giving a very refreshing feel to the place. It is the perfect place to have brunch or a picnic.

Visit the many Art Museums

Munich has over 80 museums for art and history lovers to enjoy. From prehistoric to modern art, the city has permanent exhibitions with collections including ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, as well as Art Nouveau, Natural History, and of course, the terrible history of National Socialism. Two of my favorites are the Egyptian Museum and the Glyptothek.

Many museums are admission free in general while some of the museums offer special prices on certain days or for children and adolescents. That includes some of the top museums offering a 1 Euro admission fee on Sundays.

Buy a small Souvenir

I know this sounds very cliché, but the reality is that many stores around Marienplatz sell very pretty souvenirs such as themed silver spoons, nutcrackers, and snow globes for as little as €8. It is a very nice way to bring back home a physical representation of the good memories you will have from this lovely city.

Feel like a Royal at the Munich Residenz

For over 400 years, the Munich Residence was the seat of residence and government of the Bavarian dukes, electors, and kings. The art collections found here stem from the Renaissance, Early Baroque, and Rococo periods through to Classicism, displaying the sensibility to art and the political claim of the Wittelsbach family.

A must-see in this place is definitely the Antiquarium. Built between 1568 and 1571, the Antiquarium is the oldest surviving room of the Munich Residenz. It is a 66-meter long Renaissance hall, the best north of the Alps. It contains 16 paintings by Peter Candid, displaying allegories of fame and virtues; as well as busts and sculptures partly from the collection of antiquities by Duke Albrecht V.

Grab a Beer at a Beer Hall

Let’s be honest, one of the top things to do in Munich will always be to try out traditional beer! If you want to taste traditional Bavarian food accompanied by great beer, a beer hall is definitely the place for you.

Typically decorated with wooden barrels and with live Bavarian music played by oompah bands, beer halls such as the Augustiner Bräustuben, Der Pschorr, and the famous Hofbräuhaus offer the most traditional Bavarian experience.

Get a Stunning View of the City

Munich, like many other European cities, does not have many skyscrapers. But this does not mean it is impossible to get a nice view of the city. The Olympia Tower, the Rooftop Bars of the TU München and the Bayerischer Hof Hotel, and the Hugendubel bookstore at the Marienplatz are some of the places in Munich where you can have a stunning view of the city.