Prague, Vienna, Barcelona: what to do
August 18, 2008 7:40 AM   Subscribe

I am going to Prague, Barcelona and Vienna. What should I do there?

A friend lives in Prague, so she'll have advice for me there, though the more ideas the merrier. I want: walking tours, museums, and in Barcelona, beach. Reasonable restaurants would be nice, though I'm perfectly happy picking up stuff from street vendors or a grocer. I like good coffee, and I eat fish but not seafood. I'll probably just search out hostels in Barcelona and Vienna (staying with the friend in Prague).

A Gaudi walking tour would be excellent. I don't have the vaguest idea what to request for anywhere else.

I am leaving Thursday. I'd prefer not to bring guidebooks since I need to bring books to read and have weight restrictions, so I'm hoping there is web-based stuff I can print out.
posted by jeather to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Each of those cities will have some version of a free city walking tour. The idea is that you tip the guide at the end (usually about EUR10). "Free" does not mean "bad" in this case -- these are usually great tours. Ask someone at the hostel.

We stayed at one of the Wombat's properties (the blue one closer to the tracks) in Vienna when we were there. It's a rowdy, stereotypical hostel with a bar, but it's impossible not to meet people and have a great time, if that's your thing. We really enjoyed it. They have a nice kitchen, too.
posted by nitsuj at 7:59 AM on August 18, 2008

In Vienna - don't miss the Museum of Natural Science! The building itself is gorgeous, housed in a lovely square, in good central location...and I had the best afternoon ever wandering from room to room, looking at their extensive collection.

Make sure and grab pastry and coffee at one of the many coffee houses. I know the Sachre Torte is world famous, but to me, it isn't the GREATest cake ever - the Sachre Hotel, DOES do some other WONDERFUL cakes, and the coffees and hot chocolates and hot wines are amazing.

For me, I'd say above all, Don't miss the Naschmarkt! Go hungry, and bring your camera. So many things to sample there! And there's a sushi restaurant that does the most amazing, cheap bento boxes. I would go back to Vienna just for the Naschmarkt...
posted by InfinateJane at 8:02 AM on August 18, 2008

Do not mix the Black Light Theater in Prague.

Read The Good Soldier Svejk before you go. Maybe also The Golem.
posted by charlesv at 8:13 AM on August 18, 2008

Since my mom is a total science geek we made our own Walk-the-footsteps-of-Kepler-and-Tycho-Brahe tour of Prague a few years back. That was awesome. Not suggesting you do exactly the same but having 4-5 locations to go made the whole sightseeing experience feel much less random.

In the the end it took us to the Klementinum which deserves mention since it probably has the nicest library in the world.
posted by uandt at 8:14 AM on August 18, 2008

A bunch of the Gaudi buildings are within walking distance of Placa Catalunya. Parc Guell isn't and it's really worth going there since one of Gaudi's houses is on the grounds - this one you can go into, see furniture and other artistic objects he created. There is a private bus that runs all around Barcelona which stops nearby.

Part of the fun of being at the Sagrada Familia is seeing stonecutters at work on detailed exterior pieces. It's worth the price of the tour. Also, there is a museum in the attic of La Pedrera which is utterly fascinating and not-to-be-missed.
posted by jet_silver at 8:54 AM on August 18, 2008

Previously (for Barcelona, at least)
posted by benzo8 at 10:08 AM on August 18, 2008

A few quick pointers:
Barcelona - the Fiesta in Gracia (the area north of Plaça Catalunya) should be starting about now, so you're in for music, dance, street food and overall fun (mostly in the evening); for lunch etc. the Mercat de la Boqueria is on the side of the Rambla and a great place to have a snack. There's a couple chains which serve (simple but pretty good) spanish sandwiches (cat: entrepans) called Bocatta and Pans&Company all around the city. Museums: if you're interested in contemporary art, see the MACBA, if you're into modernisme (art nouveau) I seem to recall there's walking tours of Gaudi architecture, you'll have to ask st the tourist office (the main one is in the cathedral square, in the Barri Gotic). Also The Palau de la Musica Catalana is really unique.

Vienna is really a coffee city. The Sacher is in my opinion overly posh and tourist-oriented (Demel, just a few blocks away is even poshier, but way more authentic, so is the cafe at the Imperial Hotel on Ringstrasse) and ask the locals. My personal favourite is the Pruckl, right in front of the MAK (design museum, which is well worth a visit), but there's really countless others and they're generally of a high standard all across the city.
Lunch: my place is the Naschmarkt, right out of Karlsplatz, an open air market. Schnitzelland is the small local chain for your fill of wiener Schnitzel, and most supermarkets (there's a few also in the city centre) will prepare you sandwiches for the price of the ingredients. Museums: the MAK, the KHM (art history, the twin building to the natural science museum mentioned before), and the ones in the MQ (Museumsquartier, in front of the two, there's a Modern and a Contemporary art museum, and the place is my favourite hangout in the evenings, with free wireless as a bonus) plus the Albertina Gallery for graphic arts and the Gallery at Belvedere. Also, now there should be the Music film festival in the Rathausplatz (city hall square) which usually is accompanied by a lot of stalls with ethnic food from pretty much everywhere.

Prague: the only city out of the three where I spent some time just as a tourist and - must admit - I was underwhelmed: really overly touristy and a bit soulless as a result, so it's a good thing you're with locals. The beer is possibly among the best in the world, though.
posted by _dario at 11:59 AM on August 18, 2008

_dario: "A few quick pointers: Barcelona - the Fiesta in Gracia (the area north of Plaça Catalunya) should be starting about now, so you're in for music, dance, street food and overall fun (mostly in the evening); ."

A few quick points: Barcelona sits at an angle on the coast - we don't really have a north or south, so we talk about Mar y Muntaña. Muntaña is basically north-west... In between Gracia and Plaça Cat is first the fairly large expanse of Eixample, so if you decide to walk from the square, take the El Corte Ingles corner, and walk up Passeig de Gracia, all the way - you'll end up at Gran de Gracia. Turn right into Gracia itself. Should take 30-45 minutes depending on how interesting you find the shopping on PdeG. And unfortunately, the Festa started last week and will be over by the time the OP leaves on their travels...
posted by benzo8 at 12:12 PM on August 18, 2008

In Prague, perhaps venture out to see the Sedlec Ossuary?
posted by K.P. at 1:02 PM on August 18, 2008

Vienna - no trip is complete without a visit to the KunstHausWien. And eating Sachertorte of course!
posted by finding.perdita at 2:56 PM on August 18, 2008

I really enjoyed the Fat Tire bike tour in Barcelona. They go all over the place and make a big city much more understandable. No reservations, so just show up if the weather is nice. The only place they didn't go was over to the Olympic area (Montjuic), but there's a bus that runs over there and that's a good walking tour, among the venues and a pretty park and an old fort.

I stayed at the Kabul Hostel, which was... interesting. Good location, but I don't know that I'd reccommend it especially, unless you really like generic beer during happy hour at stupid prices (3 euros for 2 liters at 7 PM).
posted by smackfu at 3:06 PM on August 18, 2008

Following benzo8's comment, I checked: at least the film festival in Vienna is there until Sept. 14!
posted by _dario at 9:38 PM on August 18, 2008

For Prague then can recommend highly checking out Vysherad castle (the less touristy one but still very central). Regarding walking then get the train to Karlstein- 20 minutes on train and great castle and walking country.

RE good coffee- this is the most difficult thing to find in Prague. Would recommend Kava Kava Kava if you need a fix of the black stuff. The stuff sold in cafe's in Prague is generally very bad.

Be aware that the Czech crown has rocketed in value recently so not as cheap as you may expect but decent food can be had.

posted by Gratishades at 8:46 AM on August 19, 2008

« Older Staying on good terms with SO's ex?   |   Man Attempting to Move Leopard Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.