Prague Travel Guide
Prague is one of my favorite cities in the world and truly beautiful, the capital of old Bohemia and the Czech Republic of Modern times. A visit to the Czech capital is a highlight of every European itinerary, with its medieval style, ancient buildings around every corner, antique architecture and cobblestone streets and so many free things to do in Prague. It has something for everybody and it doesn’t take long to fall in love with the unique architecture, beautiful views, and everything else this city has to offer.
When To Plan
I have planned my Prague trip in the month of June, during that time weather was really very pleasant, the temperature was 16 to 20°C, so if you are not fond of too cold weather then you must plan your trip in the month of May to October (late spring or early fall )for the comfortable temperature if you are planning your trip during the off-season can avoid big crowds, and you might get low airfares and reduce hotel rates too.
Currency and Cards
The name of the currency in Prague is the Czech Crown (CZK), Some of the places like Hotels, Shops, Restaurants may accept Euro but the exchange rate may not be very favorable, so it’s better to use CZK because here many take only Czech Crown.
If you are carrying cash you can exchange in Prague airport or in the city from any currency exchange but make sure to check the exchange rates or you can skip the currency-exchange booths use your international debit cards or credit cards to withdraw local currency from ATMs. Don’t worry about the international transaction fee which your home bank will charge because they are anytime less than the money exchangers rate.
Credit cards are accepted in most places in Prague, for example in hotels, restaurants, and international shops. However, some local shops, cafes, and bars do not take credit cards. Cash is still king in the Czech Republic, so if you are able to do so, pay in cash.
You can buy a Czech SIM card to have internet access on your mobile phone, look for the Vodafone retail outlet it is at Airport Terminal 2 (which is about 200 meters from Terminal 1).
First thing you need to know how much budget do you have? accordingly, you can plan your trip. Prague can be a very cheap city to visit but it can also be very expensive. It all depends on where you are purchasing, eating or staying, etc. Because there are so many tourists and almost all of them visit the same few sites, it is just good business sense for a shop or restaurant owner to raise their prices and collect as much as they can.
Hotel prices – In Prague budget hotels will range from 1000-2500 CZK (Approx 50-100 Euro) for a basic twin or double. In Prague, Airbnb is a great option you can get the room at good prices, it can be a bit lower than hotels. Prices will be highest during the busy summer months as that is when most tourists come to the city.
Food – Food is pretty cheap in Prague, it has lots of great street food which you can pick up on the run for as cheap as around 75 CZK if you are looking for fast food you expect to spend around 130-150 CZK per meal. and if you would like to have a meal at a mid-range restaurant, it might cost around 350-400 CZK per meal, if you are looking for Indian food, there are many restaurants just search for the nearer one.
Alcohol is generally cheap in Prague, but prices have been increasing a bit in recent years. The first thing you will notice is how cheap the beer is – and it’s a really good beer. A half-liter of the popular one costs an average of 35 CZK at a non-tourist bar, so you can say that beer is cheaper than the coke.
Transportation – Prague has great public transport (Metro, Tram, Buses, Taxi) facility all over the city, You need to buy a ticket before you board a bus, tram or metro. Tickets are sold from machines at metro stations and tram stops, at newsstands, snack shops, newspaper kiosks, hotels, Prague tourist information offices, and metro station ticket offices. Tickets are valid on tram, metro, and bus. A 30-minute bus ticket will cost you 24 CZK and 90-minute tickets cost 32 CZK. If you plan on using the public transit often, consider buying the 24-hour pass for 110 CZK. You can also get a 3-day pass for 310 CZK. As for intercity travel, there are plenty of train and bus options to get you around the country or into neighboring lands.
Indian passport holders are required to obtain a Schengen visa in order to enter any European country in the Schengen Zone.
How to apply schengen visa will write in my next post.
Where to Stay
You will find some of the most expensive hotels in Prague, but there are many affordable options as well it completely depends on your choice. Here I can mention some of the best areas where you can think of staying in the affordable range. if you would like to stay in New Town areas that will be quite expensive but still you may find some hotels in your range too.
If you are visiting first time in Prague than I advise to stay in Old Town since it is very close to many of the tourist attraction, and just walkable distance so you don’t need to get any transport for visiting those sights. even you can find many good restaurants to eat.
If you would like to stay in New Town, then you can visit the places like Banks of the river Vltava, Castle district, Lesser Town, etc.
New Town is not new at all its just newer than Old Town. Here I can say that New Town is bigger than Old Town but it will be quite expensive to stay if you are ready to spend you can stay. New Town offers historical monuments and combines with the luxury shops and restaurants for the ultimate city-break experience.
If you really want to save money you can book a room from Airbnb or you can stay in a Hostel too which is pretty good in the city.
What to pack for Prague
Here are some must pack common things for Him and Her for every season.
- Raincoat and Umbrella
- Swimwear for the hotel pool
- Pair of Sneakers (Comfortable shoes)
- Travel Adaptor /220-voltage converter
- Women – classy dress and nice heels. Men – button-up shirt, slacks, and nice shoes- For going to the theater or concerts
- Soap/shower gel
- Makeup kit
- Toothpaste + toothbrush
- Razor + shaving cream
- Comb or brush
- Computer/phone chargers
- Power bank
- Money belts to prevent pickpockets
- Most importantly carry medicine kit – Bandages,First- Aid Ointment, Pain Relievers, Vitamins, Insect Repellent, Headache balm or tablets, fever tablets, and prescribed medicines
- According to the weather pack your clothes.
Is Prague safe?
Prague is one of the safest city, the rate of violent crime is low and most areas of Prague are safe to walk around even after dark. Be careful in crowded areas that are packed with tourists and the crowds make things easy for pickpockets. Prague is safe for solo female travelers to walk around.
Places to visit in Prague
There are great views of the Prague Castle throughout the city, but nothing beats getting up close and getting to see the details for yourself. The area surrounding the Prague castle gives you one of the best views of the city, with great street food options and occasional outdoor markets.
The Charles Bridge is one of Prague’s most famous attractions, located in the middle of a city known for its beautiful architecture. It is the oldest bridge standing over the Vltava River. SO when you are visiting Prague this is a must-do. This bridge is indeed a wonder however, it is mostly over-crowded with tourists that it is impossible to walk across it in a civilized way. Visit it instead at night, as late as you can stay up (or as early as you can get up) and avoid the huge crowds – it’s much more magical at night.
- Why is Charles Bridge famous? Until 1841 Charles bridge was the only way to cross the river Vltava, It was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town. This “solid-land” connection made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.
- Getting to the Bridge: Charles Bridge is a central part of the city, if you walk along the Vltava River you cannot miss it. It is within walking distance from Prague Castle on one side and the other side Old Town Square. It is also close to the John Lennon Wall and Lovers Bridge and accessible by metro, tram, or bus.
- Best Time to Visit: Charles Bridge is in the middle of many of the main attractions in Prague, including the Prague Castle. This means that it can get very busy during the day, so it may be best to go in the early morning before it gets busy, or in the evening to see it at night among the lights of Prague. “Prague is also known to be beautiful in the winter, and seeing the bridge covered with snow is a sight you really never want to miss.“
The Old Town Square & Astronomical Clock:
In the center of Prague, you’ll find The Old Town Square, which is one of the most beautiful and most famous squares in the world. The Old Town Square was founded in the 12th century, at the beginning served as a marketplace and since then has witnessed many historical events throughout the Czech history. “Old Town Square is the heart of Prague, the squares is one of the must-visit places when in Prague, which has its rightful place on every traveler’s itinerary.“
Old Town squares located between Wenceslas Square and Charles Bridge, so there is no way you miss it on your walk around the city. It is a lively place and at times (especially during Christmas when markets are open) it can get unbearably crowded. Even when it is very crowded, the square still keeps its medieval charm, and you won’t have a problem being in that atmosphere.
Nowadays, it is literally the place where the tourist heart of Prague beats.
Among the most significant monuments on the Old Town Square are Old Town Hall, Church of Our Lady before Tyn, Baroque Church of St. Nicholas, the Rococo Kinsky Palace, the Gothic House at the Stone Bell, the monument of Jan Hus, and last but not least, Astronomical Clock.
The well-preserved Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Square is dated back to the 15th century, which makes it the oldest still working medieval astronomical clock in the world. “The medieval tower clock is located at the southern side of the Old Town Hall Tower. When the clock strikes the hour (from 9.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m.), the procession of the Twelve Apostles sets in motion.”
From 9 to 11 you’ll find people gathered near the building waiting for the procession of Apostles, moving statues, who parade past the windows above the clock. Although everything happens in less than one minute, it is the must-see when in Prague. Don’t set your expectations too high though – it’s been voted the most disappointing sight in Prague.
“Try to visit The Old Town Square early in the morning when it’s deserted, and the city is waking up. By no means, do not exchange money in the exchange office opposite Astronomical Clock – they rip off tourists.“
John Lennon Wall
If you are a Beatles fan or looking for some inspiration, this place is a must-see. here you can click a nice photo. It was constantly busy with tourists visiting here. and the wall constantly changing, so take your photos, and if you revisit again in years to come, it will have changed with new graffiti. If you want to leave your mark, I suggest bringing a sharpie or some paint because it is not always available.
“John Lennon was best known as a singer, songwriter, poet, and guitarist for the British rock band, “The Beatles.” Throughout his career, he also was known as a solo musician, political activist, artist, actor, and author.”
The building is metaphorically called the Dancing House or also Ginger and Fred. It is named this way because of the towers reminding of the famous dancers Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair. The male part of the dancing couple is represented by a rock tower and the woman is symbolized by a tower made of glass.
Letna Beer Garden
The Letna Beer Garden is known for three things: good beer, beautiful views, and also the small hike it takes to get to the top, and there is a back way to reach the top that requires fewer stairs tp go up, but either way, what is waiting for you at the top is well worth sweating a little on your way. Look over the Vlatava River while eating some fried cheese and enjoying a drink with friends!
Did you know Prague has it’s very own version of the French monument? You might not have thought that you can visit a tower which is somewhat similar to Eiffel Tower when you are very far from France, so here you can take a hike through Petrin Park or take the tram to the top and enjoy the view of the Vltava River, gardens, and cafe at the top of the hill. here you need to pay a small fee so that you can even climb to the top of The Petrin Lookout Tower which looks like the Eiffel Tower.
- Use Public transport like Tram, Bus. use a Taxi if it really required.
- Stay in Old Town.
- Eat local meals, don’t eat near tourist places like Charles bridge.
- Visit in off season.
- Take a free walking tour.
What to Eat
In Prague, you can try different variety of international cuisine. But when you are in Prague why not try some Czech Dishes, below i will mention some dishes which is a must try in Prague.
- Kulajda – mushroom & potato soup.
- Česnečka – garlic soup or hangover soup.
- Bramboráky – potato pancakes.
- Trdelník – chimney cake/pastry.
- Grilované klobásy – grilled sausage.
- Pečené kuře s brambory -roasted chicken with potatoes
I Have tried only above mentioned dishes there are many more which you can try, if you are looking for some Indian restaurants, I have been to The Pind Indian Restaurants and Sangam Restaurant food was good so you can try eating there too. The Czech Republic is famous for its extraordinary beer and at amazingly cheap prices, So if you drink beer than it must try when in the city.
What to Purchase in Prague
The capital of the Czech Republic has its unique customs and traditions. Here are some suggestion you can consider while for shopping in Prague.
- Bohemia Crystal: It Is the unique design in crystal artwork and superior products created from this magnificent glass have made it popular around the world. In Prague, Hand-cut crystal appears in many forms, like vases, wine, Champagne glasses, plates, fruit bowls, and decanters. These beautiful items make excellent gifts.
- Czech Garnet: Garnet is a semi-precious stone, and it has a long tradition as a royal gem in the Czech Republic. It is usually deep red, but if you don’t like to buy in Red color you can find in black or transparent. so here Garnet prices may vary according to their size, quality and quantity so you can always find something which fits in your budget, but be careful with the fake garnets before paying please to ask for the certificate of authenticity.
- Mucha Posters: Mucha is best known for his posters of beautiful women, and while most originals are in museums or private collections, you can buy reproduction prints almost everywhere in the city.
- Marionettes: Prague puppets can be found all over the city, but you can get the best one from Old Town, you can find that in different sizes and prices may vary as per size. In Prague Locals like to say that you don’t choose the puppet, the puppet chooses you, so before going shopping go without an idea of what you want, and once you reach the shop see where your eyes fall. Whichever one you choose, you’ll leave Prague with a unique souvenir.
- Beer cosmetics: The Czech Republic is famous for its beer, but beer cosmetics make more travel-friendly souvenirs. they make all kinds of cosmetic items from bathing items to hand creams etc.
What not to do in Prague
- Don’t visit Charles Bridge during peak hours.
- Don’t expect much from the Astronomical Clock.
- Don’t get scammed at Money exchange offices.
- Don’t pay in Euros.
- Don’t take taxis until its really necessary.
- Don’t ride Tram for free, always remember to buy a ticket before getting in.
Note: I have planned my Prague trip through Travel Triangle, Had a good experience. They have really good service and the best things they planned the trip in my budget, So if you are visiting the first time I recommend you to check with them.