Plan the perfect city beak to Prague with my in-depth guide
The Golden City, the City of a Hundred Spires, the Mother of Cities… There aren’t many cities in the world who can boast poetic nicknames like Prague! The Czech capital is renowned for its well-preserved architecture, Medieval streets and breathtaking views. I’ve put together my best tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your next city break to Prague!
Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe. In fact the city’s historic heart is so well preserved that you’ll almost feel like you’re taking a step back into a time long gone by.
But it’s not just the architecture that makes Prague one of the best and most popular city break destinations in Europe. The thriving nightlife and buzzing atmosphere gives Prague that special edge and charm that attracts plenty of curious travellers and romantics to the city. So, if you’re planning a trip to this gorgeous place yourself, then be sure to take a look through my top Prague tips – you’ll be in for an unforgettable time!
The flight time between Ireland and Prague is pretty negligible – it’s just a short 2½ hour hop in the plane to get there! However the only Irish airport that’s served by direct routes to and from Prague is Dublin. I’m very sorry, Cork and Shannon peeps – you’ll have to endure a stopover along the way!
However if you want to combine a trip to Prague with other European destinations, then there’s plenty of cities in Germany and Poland that offer great connections too. Dresden, a very grand German city, is just over two hours away by train. And a little further away is Wroclaw, an idyllic and cute Polish town with plenty of charm. Coaches run between the cities – they’re dirt cheap and take up to around 4½ hours.
If you’re planning a stay that’s somewhat longer, or you intend on seeing a lot of sights and museums, then it’s definitely worth getting a Prague Card. There are loads of benefits that come with having this card, so you’d be mad not to pick this up! The Prague Card gives you
Free use of public transport in the city
Free use of the Airport Express bus
Free 2-hour bus tour of the city
Free entry to Prague Castle, the Jewish Museum and over 50 sights
Discounts across the city
You’ll be saving a serious amount of money with it, so for first-time visitors to Prague this is pretty much an essential to have!
As for the city itself as a whole, the usual rule applies: the more touristy the area, the more expensive things are. However in general, the city offers fantastic value for money (and yes, the beer is cheap!). Here’s a small tip: not all currency exchanges in the city offer good exchange rates. It’s best to either exchange your Euros before you go abroad, or if you do decide to exchange in Prague, ask what the current exchange rates are to increase your chances of a fair deal. It pays to negotiate a little!
Top Sights in Prague
Prague consists of 22 districts in total with more than 1.2 million inhabitants. For tourists, the districts to the left and right of the river are of most interest. You might even be lucky enough to stay in one of the small hotels in the Old Town. Then, when dusk falls and all of the tourists are long gone, you can really take the time to enjoy the city’s special flair. But check this out – you know already that if you’ve bought a Prague Card you can enjoy a free bus tour. But if you want to do a proper little tour of the city by foot, then be sure to speak to one of the very experienced guides from Tip Trip – their free tours run twice a day in the Old Town Square at 10:30am and 2pm. Just look out for the neon umbrellas.
When wandering through the streets, try to be on Charles Bridge when the sun is setting because here, on the oldest and most famous bridge in the city, the street lanterns are lit by night watchmen. It’s a very peculiar sight – not too long ago the lanterns were reconverted, shall we say, so that they run on gas once again. The lanterns cast a romantic light on the bridge. The statues enthroned on either side of the bridge make me think of a bygone era every time. Just imagine how people used to cross the river 500 years ago as they hurried about their business! Nowadays traffic is banned so you don’t have to worry about someone making a wrong turn and knocking a statue off!
If you like photography and you’re trying to find a point in the day when Charles Bridge is completely deserted like the picture above I’m afraid you’ll only be disappointed. Even when it’s dead early in the morning and the city is still fast asleep the first photographers will already be on the prowl to get the bridge in the first light and gentle morning mists.
Old Town Square
Just a stone’s throw away from the beautiful Charles Bridge is the Old Town Square. Here you’ll find the old Town Hall with its impressive astronomical clock. Don’t be surprised when everyone suddenly stops and stares completely spellbound on the hour – the clock will be coming to life! The building is already over 600 years old so it’s a real institution in Prague. You’ll find all sorts of old buildings in every part of the old town. It always makes me so happy – the medieval times are a secret weakness of mine! The Old Town Square is a popular square in the centre of Prague. Here you’ll find lots of cafés, pretty façades and plenty of street artists. Just sit in one of the cafés and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the square. In the evenings the locals also like to sit together in small groups on the floor in the middle of the square if the weather’s good, and they’ll drink a Czech beer and just enjoy life! Join them and chat a little – I’m sure you’ll be integrated straight away.
Prague Castle & St. Vitus Cathedral
The next few highlights of Prague will come one after the other, because from the Old Town Square you’ll be at Prague Castle in no time. The imposing castle lies on top of a hill in the Hradçany district and is over 1000 years old. If you can make it up to the castle for midday you might be able to see the changing of the guard! Today the castle is the residence of the Czech president – a heck of a lot cooler than the White House, right? You can visit nearly the entire castle grounds and even have a look around the wonderfully pristine gardens. Everyone who wanted to be a knight at one point can at least relive that dream again here.
There’s plenty of awesome things to discover within the castle grounds: there’s the Holy Cross Chapel, the National Gallery, three parade squares, and the Golden Lane which got its name from the alchemists who supposedly created white gold from stone. Even Franz Kakfa, a very famous German author, used to live on this street! It’s no coincidence that he used to always praise Prague so highly.
Even with all these sights we’re still not done with everything here – up on the castle grounds you can visit St. Vitus Cathedral too. The construction of the venerable cathedral lasted a total of 500 years up until its final completion. Make sure to go up the spire – from up there you’ll get by far the best view of the city.
A special feature of Prague is the network of trams. With the 22 line you can travel right through the centre of the city. When you’re roaming the streets you’ll more than likely realise that the trams seem to actually go right in between the houses. You’ll often get this feeling, because sometimes there’s barely a hand’s breadth either side of the tram. In this areas it’s forbidden to go through these narrow alleyways – otherwise an accident is just waiting to happen!
The Jewish quarter of Josefov is particularly suited to leisurely strolls – there’s lots of beautiful façades, a gorgeous synagogue and tiny alleys to discover. One highlight is the old Jewish Cemetery, where the headstones look as if they’re vying for space.
If you’re feeling curious and want to take a look outside of the medieval old town you should by all means do it, as that way you’ll get a feel for the wider city. The Dancing House is hard to miss – it was built in 1996 and it definitely lives up to its name!
Still got a bit more time left over? Then here are some more tips for you:
John Lennon Wall – lots of creative graffiti and street art to admire
Powder Tower – offers fantastic views of the city
Strahov Monastery – features a very impressive library and its own brewery
Lenta Park – an absolute must if the weather’s nice!
Wallenstein Palace and Gardens – a stately palace open to visitors at the weekend (serves as the seat of the Czech senate)
A slightly different take on wellness – Prague’s Beer and Wine Spa
If you fancy a very special spa experience, you’ll find an interesting alternative in Prague – the traditional Beer and Wine Spa. Yes, you read that right – bathing in beer and wine is not only relaxing but it also has positive effects on the body, skin and hair. In Lázně Pramen, you can choose between the two baths. Kick back in a bathtub made out of oak or larchwood filled with 35-38°C water with a bit of dark beer for good measure. While hops serve as an anti-inflammatory relief for skin conditions, they also helps against fatigue. The yeast contained in beer is rich in various types of vitamin B which cares for regeneration in case of skin conditions. Treat yourself to a 20 minute beer-bath and do your body and soul some good. Add a pint or two of beer (to drink!) and a relaxing break by the fireplace and your pamper day will be just perfect.
If you’re also interested in a wine bath, you should immerse yourself in a larchwood jacuzzi bath filled to the brim with water with a pinch of red wine, vine leaf and grape extracts, wine yeast, honey, lavender and essential oils. The wellness factor is the primary focus of the wine bath and it can even be used for health reasons: while it stimulates circulation, the nutrients contained in the treatment have a rejuvenating effect on the skin. A glass of wine enjoyed after your bath by a fireplace will also work wonders for your well-being. This unique spa experience makes a trip to Prague that little bit more attractive if you ask me. If you want to satisfy your curiosity at home, you can get a taste of the experience at pivnispa.cz. You’ll find a photo gallery there with a virtual tour that will give you an idea of the facilities waiting for you.
Culinary Tips in Prague
As you already know I’m always up for trying some delicacies from every culture or nation – after all I really believe that food and cuisine is inherently linked to travel! What better way to sample the local ways of life than by getting stuck into a feast of local goodies. And that’s exactly what I’ve done in Prague – I’ve scoffed my way through magnificent Bohemian cuisine and promptly fell in love…
Prague is (even more so than Germany) the land of beer. There’s an endless amount of rustic beer bars where you can try one of the many Czech beers available. If the selection is too big I tend to just go by the label – last time I ended up choosing a beer with a goat on the label which turned out to be great! The Czechs like to serve Bohemian snacks such as sausage salad or nibbles such as bread and garlic dip along with the beer. They make for a hearty meal, but they’re an adventure for the taste buds – simply delicious! These snacks are very good value for money, so you can slowly make your way through a whole selection. How about a potato soup followed up with plum dumplings for dessert?
If you want to try some typical Czech food I recommend the restaurant Baracnicka Rychta. Here there’s traditional, hearty meat dishes which will send you into a food coma every time. Dumplings of different varieties and delicious sauces are served alongside all the meat dishes. Then, after the main course, there’s still Bohemian apple strudel with vanilla ice cream and cream to come. Anyone who’s coming to the Czech Republic on a diet is going to regret it!
You absolutely need to have breakfast in one of the many small cafés – you’re best looking for one of these in the side streets – because here there’s tons of great snacks and coffee that are all going for a better price than at larger establishments. If you’re looking to have breakfast in a lavish setting make your way down to the Grand Café Orient – the décor is really unique. If the weather’s good you should sit on the balcony outside and watch the people on the streets below as they stroll past.
Diverse Nightlife in Prague
The beer bars are just as good a place to linger about in at night time as they are during the day. You can also take a beer with you and allow for a little sit-in at the Old Town Square.
Radost FX offers the perfect recipe for a successful evening. First you can cosily dine here, and then afterwards go for a cocktail in the lounge. And then, when you think you’ve had your full, you can party in the adjoining club. Not bad!
Particularly popular is the Dejavu Music Club, which has even been awarded the Certificate for Excellence on TripAdvisor. The cocktails are quite cheap and also very good – and of course there’s a cracking party atmosphere.
I have another treat for the music fans among you: Prague is famous for its many jazz clubs which are often open until the small hours of the morning. The AghaRTA in particular is worth checking out.
Prague is a compact city that is really worth seeing and I’m sure you’ll just end up coming back to it again and again. The Golden City really lives up to its name and doesn’t just shine with all the amazing sights on offer but also with the fascinating history behind it. Thanks to its position on the river Vltava you’ll always have the time to grab a coffee or a bite to eat and enjoy the views of the city from the riverbank. Don’t forget to just go on a little stroll either – that way you’ll see all of the tiny details you’d otherwise miss if you were a bit too hasty. Have fun!
Get inspired by the Golden City!
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