The Golden City. The Heart of Europe. The City of a Hundred Spires. Praha. Though the Czech Republic might not be at the top of your travel list (it really should be though), this city is a must see when in Europe.
Located in the center of Europe, the capital of Bohemia boasts hundreds of attractions and museums that survived the destruction of most of Central Europe in the 20th century. There is something to see and do whatever your interests are. Many people have come back from Europe telling me that Prague was their absolute favorite place or they highly regret not going to Prague. Don’t make the mistake of missing out on such a unique, historical and beautiful gem of Central Europe.
What to See
Prague is a walking city. It is very backpacker friendly! I would recommend AT LEAST two full days in Prague to see the major sites, but you could do up to 4 or 5 days!
-Old Town: Old Town square is a historic square in the Old Town quarter of Prague. Cafes and restaurants line the square, but be careful they can be a little pricey! Jet off into the little alleys and sidewalks to find cheaper food. While in Old Town Square, make sure to check out the Astronomical Clock, which is the oldest working astronomical clock in the world! Every hour the clock sets in motion, so make sure to check that out! There’s typically a big around at that time. There are also two churches in this square that are really neat, so pop into those as well.
-Charles Bridge: One of my favorite spots in Prague is the Charles Bridge. This gothic style bridge is a pedestrian only bridge, lined with statues, vendors and musicians. It’s great for people-watching and picture-taking. Take your time walking across the bridge to experience the beauty of Prague!
-The Jewish Quarter: This small section of Prague is the old Jewish ghetto which dates back to the 12th or 13th century. The Jewish Quarter houses 7 synagogues, the Jewish Museum, the Old Jewish Cemetery, and more. It’s an important site to visit while in Prague. It will give you a better look at the history of the Jewish community in Prague.
-Prague Castle: Explore the grounds of the largest castle complex in the world while in Prague! The Castle is the official office and residence of the President of the Czech Republic. The Castle includes St. Vitus Cathedral (must see!), several palaces, a monastery, several staterooms, offices, residences, gardens and more. While you are up at the Prague Castle stay for the Changing of the Guards, which happens on the hour. The one to see is at noon though, it is the ceremonial changing of the guards.
-Wenceslas Square: This is one of the main city squares and is the more modern part of the city. It is the center of business and shopping, so if you are needing to do some shopping head here! At the end of the square is the majestic Czech National Museum, which I didn’t go into, but if you like museums I have heard its a good one!
-John Lennon Wall: This colorful and ever changing homage to John Lennon is another favorite in Prague. This wall was an important symbol of the revolution against the Communist regime in the late 1980s and continues to be a symbol of ideas such as freedom, peace, and youth.
-Prague Metronome: This functioning 75-foot metronome is located in Letna Park. After walking a breezy climb up a few stairs, this spot offers an incredible view of the city of Prague. The metronome was erected in 1991 by international artist Vratislav Novak. Not only is the structure a neat thing to check out, but the park offers a nice alternative to a city lookout. This area is a cool hangout for locals or young travelers and is a popular spot for skateboarders. With a relaxed feel and beautiful scenery, the metronome is a great spot to hang out after a long day of walking around.
What to Eat
-Svíčková: This is a traditional Czech dish also known as beef sirloin in cream sauce and it is so good! From the former vegetarian, trust me on this one. It is served with dumplings and topped with whipped cream and cranberries. You can find this dish at pretty much any traditional Czech restaurant. You must try it at least once!
-Smažený sýr: This dish is basically just fried cheese, nothing too fancy. It’s a favorite in many restaurants, usually served with tartar sauce and french fries. It’s pretty similar to a giant mozzarella stick, but good! This one is something even the not-so-adventurous eaters can try!
-Párek v rohlíku: This is a commonly found street food in the Czech Republic. It’s a hot dog dipped in ketchup and/or mustard and served in a roll. They are relatively cheap and a good snack/lunch!
Side Note: There are BAGELS. Bohemia Bagel has three locations in Prague. It’s English-friendly, there is wi-fi, free calls to the US and Canada, and bagels! They have more than just bagels though, if you are in need of a cheeseburger or apple pie stop by!
Want to try some Czech beer?
-Prague Beer Museum: Relatively close to the Old Town Square, you can find the Prague Beer Museum. It’s not actually a museum, it’s more of a pub. But, you can find over 30 Czech beers on tap in addition to traditional Czech snacks. Stop in and try some of the country’s traditional beverage!
How to get around
Like I said earlier, Prague is a very easy city to walk. It is compact and very pedestrian friendly. The only time I used the public transportation was getting from the bus station to my hostel. Florenc, the busiest bus station in Prague, has a metro stop, which makes getting to and from there easy. The airport does not have a metro line, so you will have to take a bus or taxi into the city. There are three metro lines in Prague: A, B, and C so the metro is easy to navigate!
You can buy your ticket at the metro station. A ticket usually costs about 20-40 czk, a little more than a dollar. Don’t forget to validate your ticket at the orange machines before getting on the metro!
Where to Stay
There are numerous cheap hostels and apartments in Prague! It might be some of the cheapest lodging you will pay for in Europe! I was in Prague twice and stayed at an apartment once and a hostel the other time. Search around hostelworld.com , hostels.com, or http://www.popularhotels.com/en to find a place. If you can, try to stay close to the city center! It makes getting around so much easier. Otherwise, staying close to the bus station isn’t a bad idea either since you can just hop on the metro line. Check out these places:
- Hostel Elf
- David’s Apartments
- Mosaic House
- Hostel One Home
Enjoy Prague! Take lots of pictures and try to immerse yourself into the culture! Prague can get to be pretty touristy, so try to dive deeper into the city – you’ll enjoy it a lot more!!