The first of May is a very special day in the Czech calendar. You can be sure that certain things will simply happen on the first May day. The Communists will have a rally, again. The few Neo-Nazis and Anarchists we have will try to beat each other somewhere (although that is sooo 90s). And couples in Prague will kiss each other under the blossoming Cherry or Cherry Blossom trees in the Petrin park.
Yes, one of the most romantic Czech traditions involves kissing on the first of May at the Petrin hill (underneath the mini Eiffel tower we have here). The tradition is related to one of the most popular pieces of Czech poetry, a romantic poem “May” written by Karel Hynek Macha (not to be mistaken with the Japanese tea, the Czech “ch” sound is very similar to the “j” sound in Spanish). The poem starts like this:
There you have it. Many Czech couples see it as an obligation to walk to Macha’s statue in the park and kiss in front of it (as enacted by yours truly) or under the blossoming trees. In a wonderful mix of awkwardness and hilarity, couples wait in line to kiss and take photos of each other to document that the obligation has been fulfilled. And what says romance more than a wait in a cue?
But the Petrin park is indeed undeniably romantic. Great views, hidden corners, benches, blossoming trees... unless you have a pollen allergy, this is the stuff surprise engagements are made of. To get a full, local experience, we have created a small itinerary based around the park. It includes some food and lots of sights.
Café Savoy. You can’t be blamed for wanting to start your day (and your journey to the Castle) here. Their breakfasts are opulent and delicious (their French toast is one of our top guilty pleasures in Prague), their sweets are fantastic, and their schnitzel like grandma’s.
Café Lounge. Good coffee, very nice lunches, excellent staff. What more do we need to say? They rent out picnic baskets in the summer you can use in the Petrin hill nearby. Great outdoor seating in the summer. The sweets are ok, not great.
Angelato. One of the best places for ice-cream in Prague. You can sweeten up your day right from the start and share a scoop of Bacio or mango sorbet, our favorites.
Petrin funicular. The line connects the Petrin lookout tower and the Ujezd area. The cable car service forms a part of the Prague public transport system so you can use regular tickets to get a ride here. Get to the middle stop to connect to the Macha statue.
Macha statue. You know what to do. If you don't, read the first two paragraphs.
Petrin Lookout Tower. If you have the consequences of romance (otherwise known as "kids") with you, make sure you visit the house of mirrors next to the tower - lots of distorting mirrors that make you look tall, short, slim, fat etc. in one place - we loved it when we were kids!
Strahov Stadium. The largest stadium in the world, now in a state of disrepair. Not that romantic, more of a reality check, but with a great view of the southern parts of Prague nearby, and a haunted atmosphere inside the stadium. It was used for the meetings of the Sokol movement and later for the monstrous Communist Spartakiada Games; now it's used by Sparta Prague as its training grounds. As the signs say when you enter the stands: Enter on your own risk.
Strahov Monastery. Founded in 1149, the Monastery has it all - a breathtaking basilica, its own brewery, wonderful Baroque library, and did we mention the excellent view of the city? A clear winner.
Novy svet cafe. The Novy svet area is a fantastic place with the atmosphere of an old village that virtually no tourists ever visit. The local café is small, intimate and eager to please. If you can, get the table in the balcony for added romance.
Dear Moat. Yes, we are circumventing the Prague Castle, but you want this day to be just about you two, and the last thing you want is to snuggle with complete strangers in the crowds that flood the castle during the day. The Dear Moat is a secluded, green place with a majestic atmosphere. And you will be alone there.
Vinograf and Lokál. Finish your journey here. After the walk, you will deserve local wines at Vinograf, or the Pilsner lager at Lokal, the two establishments in the Misenska street near the Charles Bridge. The choice is yours. Just make it romantic, ok? (That's harder in the pub, though.)