Prague! Tips and Tricks For Visiting This Gem In Europe!
I first visited Prague several years ago. It was a business trip and pretty quick, so I had very little free time to explore the city.
While my visit was quick, I immediately fell in love with the city. In fact, I remember texting my husband during the trip and telling him to pack everything up – I was never leaving!
If you follow my blog, you know I recently spent 18 days visiting 9 different cities in Europe following around Dave Matthews Band. You can read more about the shows and my experience here:
My DMB Europe Tour!
Read more about my DMB Europe Tour here!
As luck would have it, Prague was one of the cities that was on the tour. I was so excited to finally have the opportunity to show my husband this magical city. And to my surprise, there is so much more to Prague than I was able to discover in that quick business trip several years ago.
Keep reading to learn more about Prague, as well as some of my tips and tricks for getting the most out of your visit!
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ABOUT THE CITY
Prague (or Praha in Czech) is the capital of the Czech Republic and its largest city. The city has over a thousand years of history. Prague has survived a number of wars, as well as being under communist control between 1948 and 1989.
Luckily, unlike many cities in Europe, Prague did not sustain much damage during World Wars I and II. While many cities lost some of their most amazing structures and had to rebuild, Prague remained almost completely untouched.
There are so many beautiful structures and monuments like this one throughout the city. It’s one of the few places in Europe that was virtually untouched during the wars.
THE COMMUNIST YEARS
After World War II, Czechoslovakia (as it was then called) was under the control of the Soviet Union. In fact, the largest Stalin Monument was built on Letna’ Hill in 1955, and destroyed in 1962. With the fall of the Soviet Union, Prague – along with several other major cities in Eastern Europe – started to gain its independence and was released from the grip of communism.
In 1993, Prague became the capital of the newly formed Czech Republic. Almost immediately, the city began growing and building as it was opened up to the rest of Europe and the rest of the world.
In today’s Prague, the old mixes with the new seamlessly!
Today, Prague is the fourth most visited city in Europe after London, Paris and Rome. It’s population has boomed, with people from all over Europe and the world relocating there due to its location and low cost of living. Most everyone we ran into spoke English very well. I noticed a lot of young people, bringing a great vibrancy to the city!
SO, HOW DO I GET THERE?
Prague is located in eastern Europe and is nearly smack in the middle of the Czech Republic. Bordered by Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia, it’s a big tourist destination in Europe, so there are lots of options.
The main train station in Prague is called Hlavni Nadrazi and is centrally located in the city. On our recent trip, we took the train from Vienna to Prague. It was about 4 hours or so, and the scenery was beautiful.
The train ride from Vienna to Prague was beautiful!
Have I told you before how much I love train travel in Europe? Wine, cheese and fruit from the dining car on the train!
Prague’s airport – Ruzyne Airport – is located about 12 miles from the city center. The airport is fairly small. While there are lots of flights within Europe, you’ll likely have to connect somewhere else to get back to the U.S. During our recent trip, we connected through Heathrow in London to return home to Philly.
Tip #1: While the airport is small, it took us more time than I expected to get through it for our flight home. There were no self-serve kiosks, so we had to wait in line to check-in for our flight. If you can, get your boarding pass online in advance to avoid the line. After check-in, you have to go through passport control as well.
Tip #2: After you get through passport control, you’ll be tempted to waste time and shop in the duty free store, wander around, etc. Don’t waste too much time. You still have to go through security right near your gate.
I’M HERE – WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET AROUND?
Unless you plan on taking day trips outside of the city, I never recommend renting a car when you are visiting a major city in Europe. Parking is extremely difficult, and you don’t need a car to get around.
RIDING ON THE METRO!
Prague’s public transportation system is easy to use and very cheap! The metro, buses, and trams all use the same ticket. You can typically buy tickets from your hotel or the local newsstand kiosk. Or, buy your ticket from an automated machine at most entrances to the metro.
Tip #3: Be sure to validate your ticket before boarding the bus, tram or metro. Inspectors do pop up randomly and ask for tickets. If you are caught without one, you will be fined.
When I was in Prague several years ago, my co-worker warned me about taking taxis there. He said there were a lot of corrupt drivers and you really had to be careful.
Well, Uber has arrived in Prague and it is fantastic! During our recent trip, whenever we had to go further than somewhere we could walk – including the airport – we just called an Uber. Every ride we got was great. The cars were nice, the drivers were friendly and it was ridiculously cheap!
GET THOSE STEPS IN AND WALK!
Prague is a very “walkable” city. If you are staying near the Old Town or New Town, you can get to all of the main sites pretty easily on foot.
We had beautiful weather the day we spent walking the castle area. Plan to wander around and get lost a little. You won’t regret it!
WHERE SHOULD I STAY?
There are lots of choices for hotels, hostels, and Air BnB’s in Prague. Many are small and unique hotels, which I love. Sure, you can stay at the Hilton, but why not try something different?
During our visit, we stayed at Miss Sophie’s. I absolutely loved this hotel! It’s located just a few blocks from Wenceslas Square. It’s about a 20 minute walk from the Old Town area.
The hotel is cozy, but the rooms are very spacious for Europe standards. In addition, the staff is very friendly. We had a handwritten note in our room welcoming us, and the person that checked us in gave us all sorts of advice on what to do and see.
I think our bed at Miss Sophie’s was the biggest and most comfortable we had in 18 days in Europe!
Tip #4: Miss Sophie’s also has a hostel right across the street from the hotel. They have a happy hour at the bar in the hostel every night, so check that out. Also, they serve breakfast in the morning at the hostel. The cold breakfast buffet is included, but leaves a lot to be desired. If you want a hot breakfast, you have to order that separately. It was good, but overpriced. I would skip their breakfast and find something else on your own.
WHAT SHOULD I EAT AND DRINK?
Everything! Seriously… you can’t go wrong in Prague. The beer and wine are fantastic, and the food is delicious. Plus, it is CHEAP by U.S. standards. Here are a couple of my favorites.
BEER AND WINE FANS
Pivovarsky dum is a great microbrewery and restaurant in the New Town area. They have 8 different kinds of beer, with several really unique ones.
My beer flight at Pivovarsky dum!
When you are visiting the castle, be sure to visit the Strahov Monastery area and check out the beer. Monastery beer is always the best beer!
The beer from the monastery was delicious!
For a little higher end wine experience, I loved Wine Not? The staff was very knowledgeable about the wine and helping you select the right one. They also had beer and other drinks available.
Tip #5: If you visit Prague during the colder months, do yourself a favor and get a hot mulled wine. Just walk around the Old Town and you’ll find a stand selling the wine that you can walk around with. One of my favorite treats in Europe!
Tip #6: For something a little different check out one of Prague’s jazz clubs after dinner. We went to Jazz Republic and really enjoyed it. It’s a tiny room with a tiny stage, but they have live music every night. They also have a full bar with very reasonable drink prices. The music stops at 11:45 p.m. and they close at midnight. And I mean they will start shutting off the lights and ask you to leave. So plan ahead and don’t order a full bottle of wine at 11 p.m. like I did!
We got to check out some great live music at Jazz Republic! Really cool place to visit.
Probably the best meal we had during our entire Europe trip was at a place called Restaurant Mlejnice in Prague! They have two locations. One is right near the Astronomical Clock in the Old City. If that location is crowded, walk about 5 minutes off the square and you’ll find their second location. The food was spectacular. Really large portions too!
This was just our salad! Definitely enough to share.
Tip #7: Restaurant Mlejnice only takes cash so be prepared!
There are so many great restaurants around that you really can’t go wrong. One thing you need to be sure to try is one of Prague’s Tredlniks. You’ll find them cooking on the oven as you walk by many of the shops in the Old Town. You can eat them plain, or with various fillings. Delicious!
OK… TIME TO BE A TOURIST!
Of course, there is more to do in Prague than eat and drink. There are enough tourist attractions to keep you busy for several days. Here are a couple of highlights.
Old Town Square (Staromestske Namesti): The center of the city’s Old Town area, there are plenty of restaurants. You will also find the Astronomical Clock, Tyn Church, and Old Town Hall there.
The Old Town Square with Tyn Church in the background.
Tip #8: The Old Town Square is notorious for pickpockets. Keep your wallet and your phone in your front pocket and pay attention to what’s going on around you. In fact, a money belt is a great investment whenever you travel. Follow this link to purchase one from Amazon for less than $12.
The square gets packed when the clock is set to strike. Just beware of pickpockets.
Charles Bridge: This 500-yard bridge is probably the most famous site in Prague. The bridge can be packed during the day, so try and check it out early in the morning or late a night.
The archway as you enter the Charles Bridge. The bridge is typically packed with tourists during the day. Try and visit at night for a little less crowded experience.
Be sure to explore the area of the city under the bridge too!
The Castle: This is not just a castle, but an entire area in the city. You can easily spend several hours here. Be sure to check out the neighborhood around the castle as well.
One of the soldiers standing guard at the entrance to the castle.
The view of the castle complex from the Charles Bridge.
The New Town (Nove Mesto): This area includes Wenceslas Square, which is a cool area with lots of big buildings and bright lights.
Be sure to check out Wenceslas Square at night!
There are so many more things to see in Prague! Unfortunately, we only had a day and a half to really explore, which wasn’t nearly enough time. You could easily spend 3-4 days exploring the city!
I hope, however, that I gave you a good taste of what you can find in Prague, as well as some tips and tricks to help with your visit.
Prague – we’ll be back soon!
Have you visited Prague? Do you have any tips to share? Let us know what you think and share your tips by commenting below or e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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