Discovering Praha: A Destination Deep Dive Series
Recently the Solo Travel Woman Society hosted Discovering Praha: A Destination Deep Dive Series. To join our live series and workshops be sure to join the Solo Travel Woman Society.
Known as the ‘City of a Thousand Spires, Prague are the capital of the Czech Republic and its largest city. Founded in the late 9th century, it’s been a capital city throughout most of its history.
Prague’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its 14th-century medieval architecture. It was left largely undamaged by World War II, leaving a well-preserved labyrinth of cathedrals, bridges, and cobblestone streets that attract millions of visitors annually.
There are too many things to do in Prague, a month wouldn’t be enough, but in this destination deep dive will share some of the best ones!
Prague Fun Facts
You can visit a BEER SPA – Apparently, the high hop oil content in the beer helps to open your pores and have a more glowing appearance.
Prague is home to the world’s 2nd ugliest building. A lot of locals hate the Zizkov Tower building either for political reasons or for disrupting Prague’s medieval skyline as a very tall, grey structure that looks like it’s about to take off.
Home to Central Europes largest club, Karlovy Lázně.
Prague Castle is the world’s largest! The 130-meter wide medieval castle and its 70,000 square meters of land have over 2 million visitors a year.
THE CITY’S BEST VIEWS ARE FROM PETRIN TOWER
Locals consume the most beer per capita in the world.
Prague is known for its unusual sculptures – from 2 peeing men to the hanging man which is often mistaken for someone committing suicide.
There is an urban woodland just a short drive outside of the city.
Know Before You Go
Currency is the Czech Crown “Koruna”. $1 = 21.56 Koruna. The coins are available in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 denominations, while the notes are in 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, and 5000.
Traveler SIM Cards Vodafone offers a 10 GB data SIM card for visitors for 800 CZK, which is valid for 30 days. There is not much price difference between the 4 GB and 8 GB one. Vodafone SIM cards are available at the airport and in many supermarkets.
Best Time to Visit
Weather-wise, spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Prague. The weather is mild and there are relatively fewer tourists.
MAR-MAY: As described, spring is a great time to visit Prague, especially in April and May when it gets a little warmer. Temperatures are mild and it’s still considered the low season so you can expect a more tolerable number of tourists.
JUN-AUG: Summer is the peak season in Prague. The weather is ideal for sightseeing but it’s far and away the busiest time of the year. Tourist areas get fairly crowded even during shoulder seasons so I can only imagine what it must be like in summer.
SEP-OCT: Like spring, autumn is an ideal time to visit Prague. The weather is moderate and the leaves turning color makes it one of the most beautiful times of the year to be in the city.
NOV-FEB: Prague experiences cold winters so this may not be the most comfortable time to go. However, it’s also one of the most picturesque with the least number of tourists. If you can brave the cold, then winter may be one of the most rewarding times to visit Prague.
Best Areas to Stay
They’re the most touristy parts of the city but if it’s your first time in Prague, then it’s best to stay in the Old Town, New Town, or Lesser Town (collectively known as Prague 1). Staying in these areas will put you closest to the city’s top tourist attractions.
Most Convienent Areas
RED – Stare Mesto (Old Town)
BLUE – Nove Mesto (New Town)
PURPLE – Mala Strana (Lesser Town)
ORANGE – Zizkov
GREEN – Vinohrady
Discovering Praha: A Destination Deep Dive Series -Things to See and Do
Prague Castle: Built around 870 CE, Prague Castle dominates the city skyline. Once the seat of Czech Kings, here you can explore the castle gardens and much of the grounds for free. The St. Vitus Cathedral is the most famous building here and is home to the tombs of saints and rulers in Czech history. Tickets are 250 CZK.
Old Town Square: It is home to major sights, including the city’s very popular Astronomical Clock (15th century) and famous for its procession of the Twelve Apostles every time it strikes the hour from 09:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Apart from the clock, the square itself is a perfect place to admire the city’s breathtaking architecture, such as the Town Hall, the lovely Týn Cathedral, and the monumental Church of St Nicholas, so start your wandering tour here and enjoy various street performers, musicians, and merchants.
Charles Bridge: Originally constructed in 1357, this is one of the oldest standing bridges in the world. Along the bridge, you’ll find street artists, musicians, dancers, and other entertainers. It’s almost always a sea of people, so if you want to beat the crowds get there early in the morning or late at night.
John Lennon Wall: Since John Lennon died in 1980, his face (and lyrics and political graffiti) has been painted on the plain wall opposite the French Embassy. Although it was painted over several times, the art was always re-posted and so they have “let it be.” The wall is now a symbol of love and peace.
Kunta Hora: Located a few miles outside of Prague is “the bone church,” a Roman Catholic chapel home to over 40,000 bones. There are strings of skulls and bones hanging from the ceiling, a skull candelabra, and a display case showing skulls with wounds inflicted by various medieval weapons. Admission is 690 CZK.
Cruise Viltava: Seeing Prague from the Vltava river is a special experience and offers a way to see all those medieval buildings and monuments from a different perspective. Cruises can be pricey, from €12 to €30, but it is totally worth it, and depending on the time when you embark, you get a lunch or a dinner too.
Drink a world-famous beer: Czechia has been the beer capital since the 10th century and is the country with the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. The Czech claim to have the best beer, or as they call it, pivo, in the world, Prague is the best place to test their claim. As the people there are traditional when it comes to this, ales aren’t very popular in the country and the most famous Czech brands focus strictly on lagers.
Visit the old Jewish Ghetto: Although a big part of the buildings in this area was destroyed in the late 19th century, many significant ones remained, including six synagogues which are definitely worth your visit. During the Second World War, Hitler left Josefov alone, even expanded its wealth with Jewish artifacts, as he wished it to become ‘an exotic museum of an extinct race’ at the end of the war. Josefov today is home to the Prague Jewish Museum, The Museum of Decorative Arts, high-end shopping, and fine dining and is also the birthplace of the great Franz Kafka.
Discovering Praha: A Destination Deep Dive Series – Places to Stay
Prague has a lot of hostels. They’re all pretty comfortable and sociable but there are a few standouts that I love the best. These are my favorite places to stay in the city:
Le Palais Art Hotel Prague – Boutique Hotel, Independent Hotel
Golden Well Hotel – Boutique Hotel, Luxury
NYX Hotel – General hotel
Iron Gate Hotel & Suites – Boutique Hotel, Luxury
Prague Carlo IV – Luxury, Independent Hotel
Alchymist Prague Castle Suites – Independent Hotel
Hotel Černý Slon – Boutique Hotel
Blue Oak Prague – Serviced Apartment
Hostels – Dorms start at 200 CZK per night for a 6-8 bed dorm. Free Wi-Fi is standard and some hostels have kitchens. A couple of hostels in the city also include free breakfast. For a private room, expect to pay at least 1,250 CZK per night.
Camping is available outside the city with basic plots without electricity costing around 120 CZK per night. Expect to pay double that for a plot with electricity. Wild camping is illegal so you’ll need to stick to official campgrounds.
Budget hotels – Budget hotels start at 900 CZK per night for a basic double room. Expect stand amenities like a TV, AC, and a tea/coffee maker. Many budget hotels also include free breakfast. Prices will be higher in the summer (and availability slim) so be sure to book early if you’re visiting then.
Airbnb is a budget-friendly option available around the city with private rooms starting at 450 CZK per night. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay at least 800 CZK per night.
Food – Czech cuisine is hearty, heavily influenced by its neighboring countries, Poland and Germany. When going to a local restaurant, expect a lot of soups/stews, sauerkraut, potatoes, breaded meats, and dumplings. One of the most famous dishes is goulash, a pork stew flavored mainly with paprika and served with knedliky (bread dumplings). Beef tartare (raw minced beef) is a popular choice, as are German-influenced dishes like sausage and schnitzel. Be sure to try but, a sweet bun, if you’ve got a sweet tooth.
Some favorite places in the city are Vinograf (wine bar), Country Life (vegetarian), Prague Beer Museum (beer/traditional food), and Pivovar U Medvídk? (traditional cuisine).
For an inexpensive meal of traditional cuisine, expect to pay at least 265 CZK. Fast food (think McDonald’s) costs closer to 150 CZK. For Indians, expect to pay around 300 CZK for a main dish, and for pizza, expect to pay around 325 CZK for a large.
A three-course meal of traditional cuisine costs around 800 CZK, including a drink. Expect to pay around 50 CZK for a beer or 58 CZK for a latte/cappuccino.
If you are planning to cook your own food, a week’s worth of groceries costs around 375-400 CZK for basic staples like bread, cheese, seasonal produce, and some meat.
Remember $1 = 21.56 CZK
Prague is a very walkable city so there is a good chance you’ll only use public transportation a handful of times.
30-minute ticket: $1
90-minute ticket: $1.35
24-hour pass: $4.65
3-day pass (72 hours): $13.20
Ticket (via Bus + Subway) Between Airport and City: $2.76
Taxi to Airport: $22+
Money Saving Tips
Don’t eat near the Charles Bridge – Restaurants near the Charles Bridge will be considerably more expensive than spots further afield. Ask around, see where the locals dine, and enjoy a cheap meal for a fraction of the price. You’ll need to walk a few blocks but you’ll save a ton and the food will be better.
Take a free walking tour – Explore Prague’s many winding streets and breathtaking architecture as part of a free tour. You’ll find a plethora of walking tours in the city, such as Free Walking Tour Prague. Their tours will cover all the highlights and give you a solid intro to the city. Just be sure to tip your guide! (All walking tours are temporarily closed for COVID)
Visit the free parks and churches – There are lots of beautiful parks, gardens, and churches that you can explore for free. The Wallenstein Gardens in Valdštejnský palace are gardens lined with fountains, trees, and numerous bronze statues. There are also many free concerts and performances taking place here so make sure to check out the schedule. Saint Vitus Cathedral, Saint Nicholas’ Church, and The Church of Our Lady Before Tyn are beautiful free churches to visit.
Eat cheap – If you want to save money on your food you can take the tram to the city outskirts to find restaurants. Prices here will be significantly cheaper than in the city. Otherwise, stick to outdoor vendors in the city for cheap eats.
Bring a reusable water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle so you can save money and lower your reliance on single-use plastic. LifeStraw makes a reusable bottle with a built-in filter so you can always ensure your water is clean and safe!
Stay with a local – Prague has an active Couchsurfing community so if you’re on a budget and love meeting locals, stay with one to save money and get insider tips! Just be sure to send your requests in advance since it is a popular destination.
Prague Travel Tips
Jaywalking is illegal in Prague and a fine will cost around $40.
There are no ticket takers on public transportation but there are uninformed or plain-clothed ticket inspectors that ride around and check tickets. The fine is around $30. If you do get approached, ask to see the inspector’s badge because there are fake inspectors.
Try to avoid getting a taxi on the street — call ahead or use a taxi app like Uber or Lift Go since you’ll always get a fair price and you don’t have to deal with cash. If this isn’t an option, try to have your hotel call you a taxi and insist on making them turn the meter on. But honestly, if you don’t speak Czech then there is a 50% chance you’ll get ripped off.
Looking for touristy souvenirs? Avoid the road that connects Charles Bridge and Old Town Square. Venture a street or two away and you’ll find the same stuff for half the price.
Wenceslas Square turns seedy after night as it is full of strip clubs, prostitutes, and pimps. It’s not unsafe but it does make some people feel uncomfortable.
Violent crime against tourists in Prague is virtually nonexistent. Petty crimes like theft and pick-pocketing can occur, however, especially in high traffic areas such as the city center in Prague. Keep your valuables safely tucked away when in public just to be safe and don’t flash wads of cash or jewelry. Pickpockets tend to target tourists on big walking tours so always be aware of your surroundings and keep your guard up when in large crowds.
If you experience an emergency, dial 150 for the fire department, 155 for an ambulance, and 158 for police.
With so many visitors, scams against tourists can occur. Keep an eye out for people with fake petitions who will demand money, as well as taxi drivers that won’t use the meter.
Purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.