Known for: Its old world charm, beer, architecture and stunning parks. But that list doesn’t even cover half of the INCREDIBLE experiences this city offers. Oh and compared to other European cities, Prague is such a great value for any traveler!
Prague: (“Praha” in Czech), is the capital and the largest city in the Czech Republic. Walking through the winding streets it’s not hard to understand why many call it one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s known as the “City of a Hundred Spires” because there’s literally a ton of those pointy things everywhere you look.
When you think of Prague you most likely think of the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, the John Lennon Wall and beer. Lol, the fact that beer is cheaper than water on most menus might play a role in that. But the city is more than just what’s in the history books.
CHECK OUT MY PRAGUE VIDEO:
Climate: You’re not going to Prague to sunbathe, that’s for sure lol. But the climate is pretty moderate. Winters are cold with temps around 0 °C or 32 °F and mild summers with highs in the 70s (idk what that is in Celsius, you don’t need to know that anyways). My first visit was in early November and the weather was chilly but not unbearable. The leaves were at their peak color, which made me a happy camper. The best weather is between mid-May and mid-September. Unfortunately that’s also the time where the crowds are CRAY CRAY, so it might not be a bad idea to consider visiting off season.
Side note: Prague offers a ton of different activities for each season so if you visit over the holidays to enjoy their Christmas Markets, you might want to plan another trip in late spring/early fall to enjoy all the awesome rooftop drinking/dining experiences.
A bit of history: Prague’s history is thousands of years old, but don’t worry I won’t go into all of that. It’s important to know that at one point it was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Later, it became an important city to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and after World War I, Prague was named the capital of Czechoslovakia. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split and Prague became the capital of the Czech Republic. See not too much history to bore you with.
Oooo fun fact: Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world and dates back to the 9th Century
How to get here:
If you’re coming from the US, you can find non-stop flights to Prague from New York, LA, Chicago, Boston and San Fran. You’ll be flying into Vaclav Havel Airport (PRG) which is only 9 miles outside of Prague city center. Public transportation from the airport is available but the easiest and more comfortable way is via airport transfer service. We booked ours through Scorby Travel but you can also book yours here. It’s around $23 and slightly cheaper than a taxi which would be ($20-$30).
Getting around: Once you’re in the city center, you can basically walk everywhere. But if your feet are tired, Ubers were the best way to get around. If you’re more into public transportation, the metro is the quickest and most efficient way to get around the city. If you need more info on that click here.
YES = ANO (ano)
NO = NE (ne)
PLEASE = PROSÍM (proseem)
THANK YOU = DEvKUJI VAM (dyekooyi vam)
GOOD MORNING = DOBRÉ RÁNO (dobrye rano)
GOOD AFTERNOON = DOBRÉ ODPOLEDNE (dobrye odpoledne)
GOOD NIGHT = DOBROU NOC (dobroh nots)
HELLO = DOBRY' DEN (dobree den)
GOOD-BYE = NA SHLEDANOU (nas-khledanow)
WHAT IS YOUR NAME? = JAK SE JMENUJETE? (yak se menooyete)
MY NAME IS... = JMENUJI SE... (menooyi se)
DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH? = MLUVÍTE ANGLICKY? (mlooveete anglitskee)
I DON'T SPEAK CZECH. = NEMLUVÍM CvESKY. (nemlooveem chehskee)
There’s a few different neighborhoods in Prague and it will be easier to navigate if you know them, so let me break it down.
Mala Strana (Little Quarter): This is honestly my favorite neighborhood in Prague. We didn’t stay here but when I go back I’ll make sure to stay on this side of the river. This neighborhood is the oldest and most beautiful part of the city. The cobblestoned streets are lined with medieval homes and gorgeous buildings. This is where many of the embassies are located and there are TONS of great restaurants and hotels.
5 Star: Alchymist Grand Hotel & Spa
4 Star: Hotel Bishops House
3 Star: Hotel Pod Vezi
Nove Mesto (New Town): As the name suggests, this is the newer part of town and also where Wenceslas Square is located. (Heads up: Wenceslas Square is not a square. It’s a long street with tons of touristy shops/chains you can find anywhere). This is probably where the highest concentration of hotels and restaurants is within the city.
5 Star: Art Deco Imperial Hotel
4 Star: Boho Hotel
Stare Mesto (Old Town): This is where we stayed and it was perfectly located for everything we wanted to do. This is the medieval heart of Prague and as the name would suggest, the oldest part of town. In this neighborhood you’ll find Križovnický Square which is where Prague’s famous astronomical clock is located. Plus there’s loads of bars, restaurants, shops etc.
5 Star: Four Seasons Hotel Prague
4 Star: K + K Hotel Central (where we stayed)
3 Star: Old Town Boutique Apartments
Hradcany & Letna: This is the area where Prague Castle is located. It’s perched atop a hill so there’s spectacular views of the city below. There’s not too many hotels here (20 hotels compared to 200 in any of Prague’s other areas) and it’s short drive outside of city center. But it’s worth a visit for sure!
Josefov: This is the Jewish Quarter. This area is completely surrounded by Staré Město (Old Town). There are really no hotels here (the closest one is .2 miles away) but you absolutely must spend some time walking around to understand how the Jewish community is intertwined with Prague’s great history.
Vinohrady & Vrsovice: While this might not be my first choice in neighborhoods to stay (not a lot of hotels), they are certainly becoming trendy, up and coming locations. This is the place where the locals reside but it’s also home to many of the hipster, alternative and gay scenes in Prague. You can find so many great restaurants, artsy bars and beautiful parks.
Honestly my favorite thing to do in Prague is wander around with zero plan. That doesn’t always work in all cities, but it was the perfect place for aimless wandering on one of the days we were there. It’s weird for me to say that because I’m such a type A personality who LOVEEEES a detailed itinerary but sometimes it’s good to release a little control. But if relinquishing control sounds terrible to you, here’s a list of all my favorite things to do in Prague
First rule of thumb: walk around. Literally grab a map, walk out of your hotel/Airbnb and hit the streets (preferably if you’re staying in the central part of the city-see my previous section). I like doing this in any city because it helps you get a lay of the land and begin to understand the different neighborhoods.
Walk across the Charles Bridge before or after the tourists do
No matter how you feel about touristy places, you need to walk across the Charles Bridge at least once (preferably at sunset). But if you can’t stand massive crowds of people, my advice is to get up early and check it out before the crowds descend. The magnificent fairytale views of the city and the castle in both day and night can only be appreciated while standing on this bridge.
If you’re wondering what the heck the Charles Bridge is, it’s this iconic gothic bridge, originally constructed in 1357 during the reign of King Charles IV and finished in the beginning of the 15th Century. It was the only means by which citizens could cross over the Vltava River until 1841. Back then, the bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town and adjacent areas. It put Prague on the map as an important trade route between Eastern and Western Europe. The bridge is decorated with 30 statues and statuaries, most in baroque style. When original construction was completed, the only decoration was a simple crucifix. Later, the Catholic desire for ornamentation resulted in 30 statues being erected between 1600 to 1800. There are over 75 statues on the bridge at present and most are copies. The originals were destroyed by floods or other catastrophes The statue of St.John Nepomuk is said to bring anyone who rubs its bronze plaque, good luck and back to Prague for a future visit. Its really easy to spot the statue as the plaque has turned gold from rubbing and there are many tourists surrounding this guy. There is a really colorful story about this guy that you might find interesting.
Repairs are scheduled to begin on the bridge in late 2019 and will take about 20 years to complete. Walking across it you’ll find street artists sketching, local musicians/bands playing music entertaining the passers by.
SHOP MY PRAGUE OUTFITS
Hunt for Truffles in Petrin Park
This was hands down my favorite Airbnb Experience ever.
On this tour you learn the ins and outs of truffle hunting from Prague Truffle’s guide and the star of the show Nela ( Petr’s truffle hunting dog). Petr (Nela) supply all of the Czech Michelin-starred restaurants with truffles. During the experience you get to walk around Petrin park (epic views of Prague) and watch as Nela expertly sniffs out truffles. Fun fact: truffles look like pieces of poop. ANYWAYS...after you’ve gathered all your truffles, the tour ends with a delicious lunch overlooking Prague Castle.
Have a photoshoot around town
Even if you’re not a travel blogger or influencer photoshoots are FUN! Well, at least I think so. There’s a ton of photographers offering up their services via Airbnb experiences. I booked a photoshoot and it was under $100 for two hours. It’s hard to find that good of a deal anywhere else. Plus you’ll have some great photos to remember your trip by.
Do a walking tour and take in the main sights
I’m a little old school this way. I do think it’s important to see the main sights + have someone give you some context. It’s one thing to look at the astronomical clock but it’s so much more meaningful to have a professional guide tell you the great history behind any iconic monument no matter what city you visit. I strongly suggest not doing the red hop on hop off bus tours (good for study abroad kids and newbies but not for seasoned travelers). Instead think about booking tours through through your travel advisor. No matter what city I am visiting for the first time, I am always certain to schedule an introductory tour (1-2 hours typical length) that gives me an overview and history of the destination.
Watch people watch the astronomical clock
Speaking of the astronomical clock, you gotta check it out. It’s the oldest (600 years) working astronomical clock in the world. Every hour (from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.) on the hour the clock rings out and a little show begins. There are 12 Apostles that circle around the clock as other figures move about. Personally my favorite is the….well I won’t ruin the ending.
Anyways, what might be more fun than actually watching the clock do its thing is watching the people watching the clock. Without fail there will always be a massive crowd of people watching the show, heads and phones pointed to the sky. You’d think Beyonce is performing or something. Snap a picture of the funny tourists and cherish it for years to come...
Visit the Jewish Quarter
It’s one of the few places in the city that was left largely untouched during WWII. What’s disturbing is that Hitler wanted to preserve it as a museum to the exterminated race. The Jewish Quarter, also called Josefov, is one of Central Europe’s oldest and most well-known settlements. Given its current name in 1850, to honor Emperor Joseph II of the Austrian Empire (ruler of the Czech Republic at that time). Joseph was an enlightened monarch who gave the Jewish citizens several basic rights, which included rescinding the wearing of the distinctive caps or the yellow Star of David on their clothing which had been in effect since the 11th Century. Unfortunately, Joseph II was also responsible for building the Theresienstadt military garrison just outside Prague in 1780. Before WW II was over, this garrison held over 86,934 Jews (by the Nazis) before their final transportation to the death camps.
One of the most visited spots in Josefov is the Old Jewish Cemetery. It’s believed that there are over 100,000 bodies buried there with some stacked on top of each other, in places 12 bodies deep. Believe it or not, this practice is not unusual for European Cemeteries where space is at a premium. Used from 1439 to 1787, the cemetery looks like a mishmash of crumbling headstones, squeezed together to fit all of its occupants. There are over 12,000 tombstones crowded together with almost no grass in between. It sounds a little macabre to tour a graveyard, but I look at it as a way of paying your respects to those who suffered persecution at the hands of not only Hitler but many other previous governments and religious groups.
Eat a chimney cake
You CANNOT go to Prague without eating one of the more iconic treats in the country: a chimney cake or Trdelník. You can’t walk ten feet without seeing a shop selling these sweet treats. The chimney cake is basically rolled dough that’s wrapped around a stick, grilled and topped with sugar. These are the perfect treat to walk around with as you take in the sights. I highly suggest getting one that’s filled with nutella (bomb).
Peek inside St. Vitus Cathedral
I hear ya...I’m over going into churches in Europe too. But this one has the most stunning stained glass inside that you really can’t miss. Plus the external structure of the church is really quite beautiful and worth seeing. If you’re visiting Prague Castle the cathedral is literally within the grounds of the castle (two birds one stone ya dig?)
SIDE NOTE ABOUT PRAGUE CASTLE: You should see it, but I personally don’t think it lives up to the hype. The view from outside though is worth the trip up.
Visit the John Lennon Wall
This has to be one of the coolest tributes I’ve seen. The wall got its start shortly after John Lennon was killed. An unnamed artist drew Lennon along with some Beatles lyrics as an act of protest against the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. The wall quickly became a place for young people to come and express their feelings and make their voices heard. Now the graffiti wall is legal and has turned into a symbol of peace, love and free speech. It’s located right across from the French embassy in the Mala Strana area of the city.
If you only go out to dinner/lunch at one nice restaurant in Prague, this is where you should go. I cannot say enough about this place. What initially sparked my interest was that it’s inside a 15th century bell tower. The atmosphere is incredible, original wooden beams, creaky stairs and at the center of it all is the original bell from 1518. The food was what sealed the deal for us. We enjoyed a pretty decedent lunch which started with a delicious beet salad with goat cheese and finished with truffle risotto. It was divine.
If you’re googling where to have a nice dinner in Prague, Kampa Park will certainly be at the top of your search. I usually am hesitant to pick places like that but I thought I’d give it a try, I’m so glad I did. The restaurant has a stunning view of the Charles Bridge. The restaurant is situated just above water level and you enjoy panoramic views of the Charles Bridge beautifully illuminated at night. The food was great but the view was what made all of it worthwhile.
Great place to grab a decadent breakfast! The atmosphere is outstanding. Gorgeous chandeliers hanging from a baroque ceiling. You’ll see delicate pastries sitting behind a glass window and loaves of freshly baked bread artfully arranged on their counter. If you go, make sure to get the Cafe Savoy Cappuccino.
We randomly stumbled upon this super luxurious hotel on our walking tour. It’s a 5 star boutique hotel that makes you feel like you’re entering a king’s palace when you walk through the doors and into the sitting area. The hotel is located next door to the American Embassy in the Lesser Town area just minutes away from Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge. I LOVED how over the top everything was. From the massive chandeliers to the floor to ceiling gold mirrors, this hotel made me feel like royalty.
We wanted a sweet treat so we stopped into the patisserie on property. They have delicious coffee and freshly baked goods. It’s a great place to stop for coffee if you’re near Prague castle or the John Lennon wall.
If you’re looking for Italian food GO HERE. It’s a little spot close to the Charles Bridge and the pasta is heavenly. We loved this place for a number of reasons but what stood out to us was the exceptional service. The previous night we had a HORRENDOUS experience at a popular Czech restaurant (U Modré Kachničky) and were treated so poorly (honestly I’ve never experienced worse service DON’T GO). Anyways, La Finestra was a breath of fresh air. The food, wine, atmosphere, all exceptional. And their downstairs wine cellar is extraordinary.
If you like kitschy bars this place is for you. While I tend to avoid touristy bars all together, this one was worth waiting for a table. The bar is inside the gothic cellar of the U Prince Hotel and features cocktails based on the preserved notes from a 20th century bartending legend Alois Krcha. KEWL! Also the drinks are served in fun glasses. Mine came in a tea cup and my mom’s was in a tiki glass. Also you’re not supposed to take photos but I snagged this one cause I’m a rebel.
So many people speak highly of the Four Seasons Hotel in Prague. Well as a whole people speak highly about any Four Seasons, but you get my point. My mom and I wanted to see what the dining options were like and we were happy we went. The food is delicious. I’m not sure why all we ate in Prague was Italian but it was what we were in the mood for. While we didn’t partake (given my mom’s allergy to fresh and saltwater fish), the restaurant is known for its Crudo bar, where the chef prepares fresh seafood table side. This is definitely a great choice for a nice dinner out on the town.
HIGH END: If you’re looking for designer shops and a gorgeous atmosphere, then nothing beats Parizska Street. It’s home to some of the most prestigious shops in Prague and it’s right in the heart of the city. If you’re American and looking to take advantage of the tax refund on designer items (Gucci, Louis Vitton, etc.) this is your street. It runs right through the Jewish Quarter and leads you straight to Old Town Square.
AUTHENTIC // AFFORDABLE: If you’re looking for souvenirs or not trying to break the bank I’ll suggest wandering through the streets near the Astronomical clock or check out Havel's Market (Havelske trziste) which is a permanent market in the city centre.
AVOID: Wenceslas Square. I know it’s one of the main areas you’ll see pop up when you search shopping in Prague but I would steer clear. Personally, unless it’s a designer store, I don’t really like to shop in stores I have back in the states. This street (it’s not really a square) is lined with chain stores and other touristy things. Nothing wrong with that, just not my first choice for shopping. What my mom continues to remind me of is that if the tourist shops (which she despises as well) didn’t generate the high value of rent and sales from all those daily tourists, the money to restore and maintain the monuments would not exist.
SHOP MY FALL / WINTER PRAGUE LOOKS BELOW
SHOP MY SPRING / SUMMER PRAGUE LOOKS BELOW
I can say with 99% certainty (there’s always gotta be one…am I right?) that anyone who visits Prague will have an amazing time. Linda and I were thrilled to finally check this city out and were blown away by how awesome it is. If you find yourself in the city and have any more questions don’t hesitate to pop into my inbox or shoot me a DM. Or if you need more heavy lifting Scorby Travel would be more than happy to plan your trip.
Have an awesome day and don’t forget to check out my other destination guides!