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Prague: A Destination Guide

Introduction

Prague had long been high on my travel list – and I couldn’t really tell you why. I honestly didn’t know very much about it, but the photos I’d seen had always drawn me in. I recently got to visit this gorgeous city on my recent trip to Europe, and now I know why everyone I talk to just adores this city. Here’s our list of must-dos in a weekend for a first time visitor in the City of Spires – from touchdown to wheels up.

Know Before You Go:

  • Currency: Though part of the European Union, the Czech Republic still uses their own currency, the Koruna (CZK), so you unfortunately will have to swap your currency for this if you’d like to have some handy.
  • Airports: The main airport (serving both international and Schengen zone flights) is Václav Havel Airport Prague (PRG).
  • Language: Czech is the official language in the Czech Republic, though in the city of Prague, many people speak English.
  • To/From the Airport:
    • Metered taxis are available at the airport, and can cost anywhere from 400-800 CZK (or 15-30 USD) to get to the city
    • There is an Airport Express bus that takes about 35 minutes to get from the Airport to the Main Train Station that runs about every 15-30 minutes and costs 60 CZK (less than 3 USD). Click here for more details.
    • Ubers are allowed to pick up and drop off at the airport. Ours cost us about 400+ CZK (just over 15 USD).
  • Getting Around:
    • Ubers seemed fairly popular – we never had to wait more than 5 minutes each time. There are 3 types of Ubers – UberPop, UberSelect, and UberBlack. UberPop and UberSelect cars are both driven by individuals who own their cars, though UberSelect cars will be higher end cars.
    • While there’s a public transportation system, we never used it, since Prague is fairly small and walkable.
  • Tipping: Tips are not included in the cost of your meal, and a 10-15% tip is customary.
  • Credit Cards vs Cash: Chain stores, hotels, and restaurants will accept credit card, though expect smaller restaurants and shops to prefer cash.
  • City Guides: Prague has some great information about the city that are worth looking at before or while you’re there. Check out their website for details and history on major sights to visit. Be sure to download the Prague Guide app, created by those that run the official tourist website for plenty of information (and tons of photos) on the background of historic buildings.
  • Charles Bridge – If coming from Mala Strana or the “Lesser Town” side of Prague, start the day by crossing the river into Old Town on the Charles Bridge. The pedestrian-only bridge, built in 1402, was the only means of crossing the river until 1841. The bridge is regularly bustling with people – even at 11pm at night!
    • As you cross the bridge, you’ll pass the Old Town Bridge Tower. You can climb the tower for a view of the city for 90 CZK, but there are plenty of opportunities to sneak a peak of a view of the city
  • Old Town Square –A few minutes away from the bridge is Old Town Square, which is, well, exactly what it sounds like – the town square in the Old Town area of the city. During Christmas and Easter, holiday markets are held on the square.
    • At the square, you’ll find the Church of Our Lady before Týn, which has served as the main church of Prague since it was built in the 14th century.
    • While there, you’ll see the Prague Astronomical Clock, or Prague Orloj, which is the oldest medieval astronomical clock still in operation.
    • Christmas Markets – If you manage to be in Prague during the Holiday season, you’re in luck – the city is decked with Christmas cheer – and the Christmas Market at Old Town Square is full handmade goods and local treats like Trdelník, dough wrapped around a stick, roasted, then covered in sugar.
L-R: Charles Bridge from Náplavka u Hergetovy Cihelny, Old Tower Bridge, Church of Our Lady before Tyn, Prague Astronomical Clock
  • Powder Tower – A quick five minute walk away from Old Town Square is the Powder Tower, where the coronation processions of Bohemian kings would enter town; the start of the royal path to Prague Castle.  The tower is located next to Municipal House, which houses Smetana Hall, a concert hall and ballroom. The area today is a bustling commercial area, with plenty of shopping centers nearby.
  • National Museum – The National Museum, located by Wenceslas Square is the largest museum in the Czech Republic. Currently, the museum is under construction (and will continue to be so through early 2018), so the museum is not open. However, the museum’s  exhibits are currently located in other museums in the city – Natural History Museum, the Historical Museum, the Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American culture, the Czech Museum of Music, and the National Museum Library. Even though it’s currently closed to the public, we couldn’t leave this historic building off our list!
  • National Theatre – From the National Museum, walk over to the National Theatre, home to the Prague’s opera, theatre, and ballet. Even if you’re not a fan of the arts, there’s no denying the architecture of this building is anything short of spectacular.
  • Střelecký Island – Cross the Legion Bridge or most Legií (which, by the way, is a great spot for a photo of Charles Bridge), where half way across, you’ll find a set of stairs (or an elevator, depending on which side you’re walking on).  Head downstairs, and you’ll find a quiet park, where you can take a break from a day of sight seeing, and enjoy some great views of Prague’s bridges.
  • Petřín Lookout Tower – One of the tallest lookout points in Prague, you can see the whole city. Admission is 120 CZK and is open year-round.
L-R: Powder Tower, National Theatre, Střelecký Island, View of the Charles Bridge and Old Town from Střelecký Island
  • Prague Castle – This complex, home to the  President of the Czech Republic (no big deal), is the largest ancient castle in the world. There’s plenty to do and see on a visit, so give yourself at least a couple hours to walk around. There are three types of tickets – we recommend Circuit B to see all the main spots. Tickets cost 250-350 CZK (or 10-13 USD).
    • St. Vitus Cathedral  The largest church in the Czech Republic, this cathedral contains the tombs of several emperors and kings.
    • Old Royal Palace – Where Bohemian Kings ruled through the 16th Century. Don’t forget to stop by Vladislav Hall to admire the stunning vaulted ceilings.
    • Golden Lane – These picturesque houses were once named after Goldsmiths who were looking to produce gold, though never lived on this alley. Perhaps its most famous resident – Prague-born Franz Kafka lived in house #22.
L-R: St. Vitus Cathedral – Exterior, St. Vitus Cathedral – Interior, Golden Lane, View of Prague from Prague Castle
  • Teresa T-Anker – The Czech Republic has had a long history with beer – dating back to 993 AD at the  Břevnov Monastery. Be sure to stop by Teresa T-Anker to try some local beers for yourself. This roof top beer garden with views of Old Time Square and Prague Castle offers 9 craft beers on draft, plus a variety of 60 bottled beers – many of which are from local microbreweries.
    Kolmá 682/6, 190 00 Praha 9 – Vysočany
    http://t-anker.cz/
  • The Strahov Monastic Brewery – The Czech Republic’s history with beer is a big part of its culture, so when in Prague, it’s worth trying several local beers. Stop by Klášterní pivovar Strahov for a beer, brewed on-site. Brewing has been in existence on the monastery dating back the 1400s, though the brewery as it stands today has been around since 2001.
    Strahovské nádvoří 301, Praha 1, 118 00
    http://www.klasterni-pivovar.cz/
  • Letná Beer Garden – This beer garden, located at Letná Park, offers stunning panoramic views of the city and a few beers on tap. Though open only in the warmer months – May through September – it’s definitely worth stopping by to break from a day of sightseeing.
    Letenské sady (Letná Park), 17000, Prague
  • La Finestra – Stop by this self-proclaimed “Italian restaurant specializing in meat” for an incredible meal, in a small, quiet setting located in Old Town. The menu changes seasonally, and they offer daily specials. Brian had a filet mignon and loved it.
    Platnéřská 90/13, 110 00 Praha 1-Staré Město
    http://www.lafinestra.cz/en
  • Restaurace Mincovna – If you’re looking to grab lunch, try Restaurace Mincovna for local Czech food – Goulash, polenta dumplings, and pilsner! It might be located just steps from tourist central, but definitely worth checking out.
    Staroměstské nám. 7, 110 00 Praha 1-Staré Město, Czechia
    http://www.restauracemincovna.cz
  • Kampa Park – This riverside restaurant not only offers great cuisine and wine, but equally fantastic views of the Vltava river. Even in the winter, the restaurant has a covered “winter garden” area, waterfront seating is available year-round. Reservations highly recommended.
    Na Kampě 8b, 118 00 Praha 1-Malá Strana
    http://www.kampagroup.com/en/restaurants/kampa-park
L-R: St. Filet Mignon at La Finestra, Chocolate Cake at La Finestra, Poached Halibut at Kampa Park, Pepper Steak at Kampa Park
  • Augustine – Located in Mala Strana (and about a 10-15 minute walk from Prague Castle), this incredible hotel has charming rooms, service-oriented staff, and beer brewed exclusively for the hotel. See our review here. Room rates range from 250-400 USD.
    Letenská 33/12, 11800 Praha 1-Malá Strana
    http://www.augustinehotel.com
  • Intercontinental Prague – If you like shopping, consider staying at the Intercontinental – it’s located right on Parizska Street, the main shopping street in Prague. Overlooking the Vltava river in the north side of Old Town, the hotel offers a restaurant on the 9th floor of the property, overlooking the city. Room rates range from 150-250 USD.
    Pařížská 30, 110 00 Praha 1-Staré Město
    http://www.icprague.com
  • Four Seasons Prague – Just steps from the Charles Bridge in Old Town, the luxury hotel offers breathtaking river and city views and a fantastic on-site spa. Room rates range from 350-550 USD.
    Veleslavínova 1098/2a, Staré Město, 110 00 Praha 1 – Staré Město
    http://www.fourseasons.com/prague
L-R: Photos from the Augustine Hotel: Deluxe Room bedroom, private courtyard, third floor hallway, hotel entrance
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