Back in 2016, my friend Gina and I were supposed to go to Paris to kick off what would be our first true backpacking trip in Europe. A few weeks after we had booked our flights, the horrific attacks happened leaving both our parents incredibly worried. To give them some peace of mind, we decided to change our route. After days of debating where to go, we both settled on Prague. I honestly didn’t know anything about Prague but the fact that we had enough airline miles to get us there and it looked beautiful from the countless Google searches I did.
From the moment I got off the plane to the moment I stepped on the train to leave, Prague mesmerized me. I could have used a few more weeks to even feel like I saw half the things that caught my eye. This city honestly makes you feel as if you’re walking through the pages of a fairytale.
I feel like reminiscing a little bit so here is my guide to Praha.
I also want to thank my friend Garrett for contributing his ideas and pictures to this post.
First off, Prague is a rather inexpensive city making it great for a fun budget destination. They use the Czech Koruna which currently has a conversion of 1 USD=28.15 CZK.
Here is a great website that will give you a price breakdown of the city:
We stayed at The Mosaic House which is a hotel/hostel that is in a great location. The rooms are modern, clean and spacious as wells as very inexpensive. The Mosaic House has an awesome vibe that I couldn’t get enough of. Every day when Gina and I woke up to go down for breakfast, we thrived off of the excitement of all the travelers ready to start exploring. At night, this place comes alive. They have a stage with music as well as a bar that is filled with young people looking to meet other travelers. Gina and I managed to meet a large group from all around the world and spent the night hopping around the city with them. It’s still one of my favorite memories from all my times abroad.
Things to do:
The Charles Bridge is one of Prague’s most popular attractions. Built in 1357, this enchanting bridge is not something to be missed. Spend time strolling across while listening to the street performers playing music and take in all the eerie but exquisite statues that line the bridge. Everybody recommends waking up for a sunrise which Gina and I did. Unfortunately for us, it poured horribly (but from the pictures I have seen, it looks great). Another great tip is to go up one of the towers on either end of the Charles Bridge. It costs around 1-2 euros, but the view is priceless.
The Prague Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the oldest and largest ancient castle complexes in the world. The entire complex which was founded around 880, is made up of churches, palaces, halls, towers, gardens as well as various other buildings. There are different tours you can take on the grounds ranging in price. I highly recommend taking the long tour (it’s self paced) which includes St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, exhibition “The Story of Prague Castle”, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower, Powder Tower, Rosenberg Palace. Another great thing is that this whole tour will only cost you $17 USD. If you qualify for the reduced admission (age 6-16, students up to ages 26 and seniors over 65) you only have to pay around $8 USD so make sure to keep your student identification on you at all times.
Old Town Square
Prague has faced some darker times in the past, especially with the invasion of the Soviet Union. While many cities lose so much of their historical architecture during times like these, Prague remains remarkably untouched. You can really see this in the colorful Old Town Square, looking as if it has been frozen in time since the 12th century when it was built. The square is home to the famed 600 year old Town Hall with the Prazsky Orloj, an astronomical clock. It rings on the hour and has a mechanical show worth catching. You will also find the Church of St.Nicholas, Tyn Cathedral, the Jan Hus monument as well as many other significant sites.
Prague’s Jewish Quarter (Josefov)
Prague is home to one of the best preserved Jewish quarters in all of Europe. Before World War 2, there were around 80,000 Jews living in the ghetto. Within a few years of the war only around 3,000 remained. Hitler wanted to leave this area untouched to function as a museum about a race of humans that had existed. You can tour this area which is home to 6 magnificent synagogues, The Robert Guttmann Gallery, The Jewish Ceremonial Hall as well as the Old Jewish Cemetery. Gina and I spent a few hours touring Josefov. Though it’s history is tragic, it’s important to hear the stories of those apart of it as well as get a look into what their lives were like.
These are some of the things that my friend Garrett did during his trip and recommends you checking out.
- John Lennon Wall
- World War 2 Tour- Prague was Hitler’s favorite city. I did both a historical tour and a World War 2 tour.
- Make the hike to the prague metronome, beautiful view of Pragues 1,000 spires. During the cold war there used to be a statue of Stalin near where the metronome is currently positioned
- Brewery Tour, Prague boasts some very old breweries with some different styles of beer so it was really interesting.
- Cyril and Methodius Church- where the parachutists from the movie “Anthropoid” hid from the Nazis. Actual church is interesting but the crypt underneath it is really interesting too. Look for bullet holes on the outside of the crypt on the street near a window.
I just couldn’t do a city guide without mentioning some great food now could I?
- Beef Goulash
- Basically a beef stew served with bread dumplings
- Sirloin Steak served with various vegetables, double cream, cranberries and bread dumplings. My favorite dish as well as one of the most popular in the Czech Republic.
- Czech Schnitzel is typically pork unlike other places in Central Europe that serves it as veal.
- The dessert you have definitely seen on Instagram. You can find this cheap pastry from street vendors all over the city. It’s flaky texture and sweet caramelized outside make it perfect for a midday snack or end of the night dessert.
I’m not going to lie, I completely forgot to write down where Gina and I ate on our trip but one place that I will never forget is Cafe Savoy. This was probably my favorite spot on our whole backpacking trip and I would return here in a heartbeat. The cafe is very sophisticated and the food was delectable. Our pork schnitzel served with potatoes and salad, fresh bread, a glass of wine, apple strudel and cappuccino cost us around $22 USD. For a meal that large and incredibly delicious, the less costly price was surprising. Back in Minneapolis, a dinner like that would cost you triple, maybe even quadruple after tipping.
A few other tips
- Wenceslas Square- Great for shopping
- Karlovy Lazne- Largest club in Easter Europe
- Pilsner was created in Pilsen, Czech Republic. Urquell Pilsner is by far the most popular drink in Prague
- Foreigners should tip 10% at restaurants
- Prague’s main train station can be a bit tricky to figure out, make sure you give yourself a lot of time to find your train. It took Gina and I 40 minutes to find ours.
- The only time I have been scammed abroad was at the Prague train station. A man told me that he worked as a “helper” and helped stupid looking Gina and I find our train. He then demanded 20 Euros and made a huge scene.
- Use the website https://www.seat61.com/international-trains/trains-from-Prague.htm to find trains out of Prague if you need to. Gina and I got a first class ticket to Munich for ¼ of the cost the girls we sat across from paid.
As always, thanks for reading! Please leave any questions or comments below!