Prague, Czech Republic

By Haley Steinhauser

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Getting There

 

  • Airport – Václav Havel Airport (PRG)
  • Currency – Czech Koruna (CZK)
  • Language – Czech
  • Population – 1.25 Million
  • GDP (Czech Republic): – $208 billion (51st Overall)

 

Introduction to Prague, Czech Republic

As a breathtaking city with a rich history, it’s easy to see why Prague stands out as one of Europe’s top travel destinations. Located in the heart of Central Europe, Prague serves as the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Its history is evident all around the city, with attractions ranging from the Prague Castle to the John Lennon Wall.

 

History

The Czech Republic has been under numerous authoritative powers and has had to change territories for centuries—from under the rule of different Empires, Nazi occupation, communist regimes, and recently an independent democracy. As it wasn’t until 1993 when the country gained its independence, Prague has evolved as one of the best European cities. If you’re a history buff or just a cultural enthusiast this city has much to offer.

 

Airport

Prague has one main airport, Václav Havel Airport. If traveling to Prague from another European city, there are several easy and inexpensive flight options in getting there. Traveling from the U.S., however, may get a little pricier, but there are often many choices when considering your flight options.

Getting to Prague from the Airport:

  • Public Transport – Recommended
    • Take the bus to City Center (Approx. $2 USD)
    • Buy ticket on machine (accepts Credit Card)
    • Take Bus 119 (runs every 6 minutes) to City Centre
    • Then can transfer via subway to your exact location
    • Your bus ticket is good for the bus, subway, and tram
  • Uber
    • $17 – 22 USD and takes 35-40 minutes
  • Taxi
    • $28 USD and takes 35-40 minutes
  • Shuttle Bus
    • $8 USD

 

Getting Around

The tram and metro in Prague are very simple to figure out as well as an inexpensive and fast way to get around the city. A quick fun fact: Prague has some of the longest escalators in the world at 87 meters.

Buying tickets for public transportation can be a pain, as there are often no tellers at the ticket counters. There are machines in the metro stations to buy tickets, but almost all only take coins, so come prepared.

If you plan to avoid public transportation, I would advise you to be cautious of taxis. The best way to get around in cabs would be by calling for one beforehand, or preferably taking an Uber.

 

Weather

Just like the United States Prague experiences all 4 seasons, so depending on when you arrive, your packing list will vary, but it does often stay pretty mild with the exception of mid-winter (in which case you should plan to bring plenty of warm clothes). Many of the residents of this city dress well even for simple outings, so bring along nice items. Throughout all seasons it is also often cloudy or rainy, so don’t forget to pack an umbrella!

 

What to Bring

One of the greatest perks of traveling to Prague from the United States is the exchange rate. Unlike most European cities, the Czech Republic does not operate on the Euro, but the Czech Koruna. The exchange rate is around 24 Korunas to a dollar. Usually one will get more for their money! Getting cash in Prague is easy as ATMs are very accessible, yet always be aware of your surrounding when withdrawing money. Another tip is to make sure you bring a bag that stays close to yourself to store money as well as passports, IDs, and etc.

While traveling be sure to bring the right adapters because finding these in the city can be harder than you would think. The Czech Republic uses a type E power socket — 2-pin plug with 230 voltage. For the ladies, check the voltage of your blow dryers or straighteners prior to coming or else it might just end up being wasted space in your suitcase. If you are planning a trip for the fall or spring it is advisable to bring a rain jacket with you.

For your electronics, be sure to have the correct plug adapter, one that has two circular prongs and a voltage of 220 (widely used throughout many parts of Europe).

 

Language

Although the official language spoken in Prague is Czech, you will find that it is quite easy to get around with English, or even another language like German or Spanish. Most residents of Prague, especially the younger generations, will be happy to speak to you in English.

You might notice early on in your trip that people in the Czech Republic are not the most welcoming. One of the first cultural differences I picked up when living in Prague was that people don’t always smile at one another and I was told that it is not a common social custom, so don’t take this personally. But when you get to know them, the Czech people are extremely friendly and can be very helpful!


Activities

 

Prague has so many sights to see that there will never be a boring day while traveling. Like every place, there are classic must-see tourist locations and those that are known to the locals. Exploring both make for an unforgettable trip experience.

Here’s a clickable summary to skip to an activity of choice:

 

Old Town Square

The Old Town Square is one of Prague’s key features. It is located in the heart of the city and boasts beautiful architecture with lots of quaint, cozy shops, and cafes. There are many walking tours of Prague’s Old Town offered if you are interested in learning more about the history of this iconic area of the city. If you prefer, it is also a fun area to explore on your own. Every little street leading in and out of the Old Town Square has something to offer!

 

Astronomical Clock

Located in the Old Town Square, the 600-year-old Astronomical Clock is one of Prague’s greatest treasures. The climb to the top of the clock tower, which is a part of the Old Town Hall tour, for only 160 Kč (about $7 U.S.), is well worth the stunning 360-degree views of the city

prague travel

 

Lennon Wall

The John Lennon Wall has become a fascinating icon of Prague, starting in the 1980s as a way to speak out against communism. The wall has since then been covered in graffiti over and over again, despite protests from the authorities, and serves as a symbol of peace and a mode of expression. Recently, objections to the graffiti have stopped and the wall has instead become an inspiration to all who see it.   Visit the wall to read messages of love and peace and even add your own!

prague travel

 

Petřín Lookout Tower

(Not Open Year Round) Truly one of the best overviews of the city, as some would call it Prague’s Eiffel Tower. You can go to the top of this and have an unbeatable ariel view of the city. While most of Prague’s attractions are outdoors, and thus free, the lookout tower does cost 120 CZK (approx. $5 USD) to get to the sky deck.

After your hike to the top and back down, I would suggest walking down through Letnápark and stopping at the beer garden.

prague travel

 

St. Vitus Cathedral

This is one of the most breathtaking cathedrals in the world and is filled with an invaluable history of the city. Dominating the skyline, this is one of the tallest standing buildings in the city. Its gothic architecture is one that can be seen on many buildings but is truly exemplified on the cathedral.

travel guide to Prague czech

 

The Jewish Quarter

One of the most beautiful areas, The Jewish Quarter is located next to Old Town Square, with great restaurants, shops, and sites this is the place to be. The Jewish history in Prague is extremely interesting and the significance of the City during German occupation often takes foreigners by surprise. Sites to visit in the Jewish Quarter: Old Jewish Cemetery, Old New Synagogue, Spanish Synagogue, and Prague Jewish Museum.

 

Prague Castle

Home to the nation’s president this castle is one of the most historically brilliant places to go in the city. It is recommended taking the given tour because you get a lot of information from it than you would otherwise. Depending on how long your stay is in Prague, taking two trips to the castle would be advised. One during the day where you can admire the stunning towers on its side and one at night where the castle is lit up to be seen from miles away. Within the castle walls lie The Golden Lane, which has many souvenir and other shopping opportunities. The best part is the entry is free!

 

Charles Bridge

This bridge finished being built in 1402 and is one site that the city is infamous for. Reading up on the bridge before crossing is suggested, as many of the statues on it are extremely telling of the city’s history. The crowds on the bridge can be overwhelming and thus a perfect place for pickpockets, so be sure to watch your belongings while crossing. If you are up to the challenge, crossing the bridge at sunrise is one of the best scenes you will catch in Prague; an empty majestic bridge, beautiful sky and unbeatable view of the city.

 travel guide to Prague czech

 

Dancing House

As one of the most intriguing buildings in the city and nicknamed Fred and Ginger, the waterfront property provides for a truly remarkable sight at night when the Dancing House lights up and reflects along the river. A restaurant is located within the building, a popular place for tourists to dine. Make sure you call ahead for reservations, as the restaurant fills up quickly!

 

Vyšehrad

This abandoned castle is still standings next to the Prague Castle for which it was left. History says this castle was the first settlement of the area, later becoming Prague.

 

Wenceslas Square

This is one of the main city squares. While Old Town Square is more historical in nature, Wenceslas Square is the center of business and culture, making it a very popular destination for tourists and a must-see. There are places within the square to stay the night as well.

 

Clementinum

This gorgeous complex includes many buildings, although it is different from many of the sights for its true beauty lies inside the walls. It houses many exquisitely built and painted libraries.

 

Wallenstein Garden

Many people know about Letná Park and the Prague Zoo, but most don’t know of this garden frequented by free-roaming peacocks and other animals. The garden is housed in a baroque style open building, matching much of the city.

 

New World Street

This is such a cute little street that few people know about. Go explore this fantasy land filled with adorable colored buildings. There will be few people or cars to disturb your experience.

 

Břevnov Abbey

Outside the main city center, you can find this abbey. Another peaceful getaway due to lack of people traffic. It’s home to beautiful architecture and delicious restaurants.

 

Church of St. Michael

Probably the most difficult to find, this sight is surrounded by a park full of trees and natural made foot pathways. It’s smaller than the grand churches within the city, providing for a nice change of pace. Far from roads, and only nature to be seen, this hidden gem is perfect for a quick getaway

travel guide to Prague czech


Food

 

Czech Food

Many locations visited by tourists are popular for their special, one-of-a-kind, traditional dishes and Prague is no exception. Most of this food is pork or beef cooked in sauce. The most common side dish to the main meat dish is dumplings made from wheat or potato flour.

Czech food traditionally comes second to beer in a meal. With the perfect beer being the priority, the food is often then meant to serve as a complement.   One of the most common traditional foods is dumplings, or “knedliky.” The dumplings are served as a side dish and usually contain pork or beef. The Czechs are also famous for their pastries, which can be easily found in cafes and food carts throughout the city.

Traditional Czech cuisine is typical of Eastern and Central Europe; you will see a lot of meat and potatoes. Dishes such as goulash, roast pork, or schnitzel are to be expected. But once you get sick of that food, Prague has so much more to offer. Many fantastic restaurants have started using cultural fusion in their food, taking a modern spin on traditional Czech dishes.

 

Dishes to Try

Koleno

Roast pork knee, usually large in size, is covered in a thin crispy skin. The meat falls off the bone and remains juicy from the fat right under the skin.

travel guide to Prague czech

Vepřo-knedlo-zelo

Roast pork with bread dumplings and stewed cabbage. This tangy-sweet dish is classic Czech food, although it is lighter than much of the meat-heavy plates.

Tatarák

Raw beef mixed with egg yolk, onion, mustard, salt, pepper, paprika, and usually served with Worcestershire sauce or ketchup. It’s served either pre-mixed or on a plate with all the ingredients separate so you can mix it yourself with however much of each you prefer

travel guide to Prague czech

Ovocnéknedlíky

A sweet dumpling made with fresh fruit; usually strawberries, apricots, or plums. Traditionally, they are topped with butter or cottage cheese although you can find other toppings such as chocolate when served at restaurants

Bramboráky

This potato pancake is fried golden brown and very popular among Czechs, however not a traditional plate. The greasy snack can be found among street food vendors and some restaurants offer it as a side dish of a meat plate

 travel guide to Prague czech

 

Restaurant Recommendations

 

Na Pekarne

Located in a small village of Cakovicky, it takes a drive to get here from the main city. One of the more popular dishes is svickova, beef with vegetable sauce and dumplings. For dessert, many enjoy the plum jam ravioli.

travel guide to Prague czech

Kastrol

This place does the classic Czech meaty dishes very well. It’s located away from the city as well, but its distance allows it to not be congested with crowds. They are pub styled and have great beer as well

Cestr

Meat lovers swear by this place, as the restaurant has an in-house butcher so the meat is as fresh and therefore as good as possible. They serve traditional meals in a more modern way by using different spices and seasonal ingredients. They are known for their beer on tap, steak tartare, and slow-cooked stews

Nota Bene

This restaurant is particularly fun because they do not have a set menu, it’s always changing. However, they are always serving classic Czech dishes and are known for their thick sausages. Always busy, calling ahead for reservations are a must.

travel guide to Prague czech

Grosseto Marina

A riverboat converted into an Italian restaurant, Grosseto Marina offers a serene atmosphere with excellent views of the Prague Castle across the river. If the weather is warm enough, there is an outdoor bar and deck seating, which gives you the full experience of being on the water! The menu has a wide selection ranging from pizza to fish and steak.

Renommé

This is a cozy family restaurant, which offers traditional Czech food with some French and Italian variety. Located in Prague’s New Town, Renommé is the perfect place for a family-friendly lunch or dinner.

Restaurace Mlejnice

If you are checking out the local tastes this is the place to go. The portions are large and I suggest getting different dishes to try it all.

Sansho

As rated one of the best restaurants in Prague, Sansho makes modern Asian dishes that have a Czech influence. It was probably one of the best dinners I had in Prague. As it is also open for a more casual lunch, there is a set menu for dinner, which includes primarily fish and meat dishes. Tip: Make a reservation ahead of time.

travel guide to Prague czech

Pastacaffé

Great for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Pastacaffé is located in the Jewish Quarter. My favorite dish was the tuna pasta with a poached egg on top. Amazing.

Kavárna Místo

A great meal to get the day you are touring the Prague Castle, as it’s located in a more residential neighborhood nearby. An ambient setting with amazing coffee, music, and food. Specialties: huevos rancheros, beef Carpaccio, pork belly open sandwich.

 

Craft Beer

It wouldn’t be a visit to Prague without tasting their craft beers. People travel all over the world to taste these, so it rightfully deserves its own section.

Known to locals as pivo, beer has a special place in the hearts of many Czechs. Brewing is recorded to have taken place in Břevnov Monastery starting in 993. The most common Czech beers are pale lagers, with the well-known golden color, light flavor, and lots of foam. The Czech Republic has the highest consumption of beer per capita in the world

Not surprising, the country has many beer festivals throughout the year. The Czech Beer Festival (Českýpivní) in Prague is the biggest beer festival in the country. During the month of May, you can see people tasting more than 70 brands of Czech beer for 17 days straight!

The city is filled with little craft breweries and pub style places to enjoy them. Often, beer-famous restaurants and other places of the like will have top floors for customers to enjoy the view while they drink their locally brewed beers.


More!

 

Pedal Boats

There are different stands near the Charles Bridge to rent 2 to 6 person pedal boats. Although somewhat touristy, on a nice day this was my favorite thing to do. Getting a bottle of wine and snacks and spending a few hours out on the water with the perfect view of the city and bridge.

travel guide to Prague czech

 

Beer Baths

A bath in the enzymes used in beer, with free flowing Pilsner on tap by your side. This is a ridiculous and fun activity to do with friends.

 

Holiday and Food Markets

Prague has amazing local markets to offer at certain times during the year. So when you’re visiting be sure to check if any are going on!

 

Nightlife

Prague’s nightlife is one of its best features and offers everything from quiet pubs to clubs that will stay packed until 5:00 a.m. One of our favorite destinations is U Sudu, a bar that seems average upon entering but extends into multiple cave-like underground rooms. Designed during the Communist regime, bars like U Sudu were meant to keep the noise off of the streets of the city. U Sudu is the perfect place to grab a drink with friends while offering an experience that is entirely unique to Prague.

 

Beer Gardens

The city also boasts many beer gardens, which make a great stop throughout the day or night. Letná Beer Garden, located within Letná Park, is a great place to start your night while getting some of the best views of the city!

 

 


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