Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe – its nickname, the Golden City, is a testament to that! Prague has had this nickname since 1942, when a German film of the same name was released. I can promise you that Prague still has the same appeal as it did 70 years ago, because the old town and all of the historic buildings makes for a very special city break indeed. People often forget that it’s not at all complicated to travel to Prague from the UK. There’s plenty of direct flights across the country – if you’re flying from London it’s just an hour away, and even from more northerly airports like Manchester or Edinburgh it’s just a little over two hours. Easy!
I’d like to show you the easiest ways to get to Prague and which sights you really can’t afford to miss! Of course I’ll also reveal to you the culinary highlights as well as the best insider tips and places to go. After all, a city break is only perfect when you can live like a local!
Travelling to Prague from the UK is dead easy – there are flights that depart from airports from all over the country! EasyJet in particular offer plenty of flights for a very reasonable price. They fly from Bristol, Edinburgh, London Gatwick, London Stansted and Manchester, and prices start from around £30. Bargain!
Prague Airport is just 20 km from the city centre and you’ll be at the Golden City within 45 minutes. When you’re at the airport stop at the yellow ticket counter which is where you’ll get your tickets for the bus to bring you to the centre. Depending on where you’re staying you can take either the 100, 119, 254 or the 179 buses. Eventually you’ll have to change at the final stop to take the A line on the metro.
Saving with the Prague Card
Prague is a city you can quite comfortably discover by foot. Most of the sights are located in the historic city centre. The longer you stay in the city the more it’s probably worth getting a Prague Card – with it you can travel on public transport for free and you can even use the Airport Express bus when you’re leaving. For around €50 per day you can also gain free entry into more than 50 sights and museums, go on a boat trip along the Vltava, and even have a session with a tour guide and a round trip around the city. This means you sit back and relax as a very competent guide tells you all the interesting facts about the Golden City. And, when you get back from your boat trip or excursion, you could visit all of the exciting museums afterwards! A perfect combination, don’t you think?
Another little tip: not all of the currency exchanges in the city offer a good exchange rate. Either exchange the money before you go, or ask for the current exchange rate when changing money – you might be able to get a fairer sum of money. Bartering will definitely pay off!
All the sights at a glance
Prague consists of 22 districts in total with more than 1.2 million inhabitants. For all of the tourists the districts to the left and right of the river are of most interest. You might even be lucky enough to stay in one of the small hotels in the old town. Then, when dusk falls and all of the tourists are long gone, you can enjoy the city’s special flair.
The impressive Karl’s Bridge
When wandering through the streets, try to be on Karl’s Bridge when the sun is setting because here, on the oldest and most famous bridge in the city, the street lanterns are lit by night watchmen. It’s a very peculiar sight – not too long ago the lanterns were reconverted, shall we say, so that they run once more on gas. The lanterns cast a romantic light on the bridge. The statues enthroned on either side of the bridge make me think of a bygone era every time. Just imagine how people used to cross the river 500 years ago as they hurried about their business! Nowadays traffic is banned so you don’t have to worry about someone making a wrong turn and knocking a statue off!
If you like photography and you’re trying to find a point in the day when Karl’s Bridge is completely deserted like the picture above I’m afraid you’ll only be disappointed. Even when it’s dead early in the morning and the city is still fast asleep the first photographers will already be on the prowl to get the bridge in the first light and gentle mist.
Old Town Square
Just a stone’s throw away from the beautiful Karl’s Bridge is the Old Town Square. Here you’ll find the old Town Hall with its impressive astronomical clock. Don’t be surprised when everyone suddenly stops and stares completely spellbound on the hour – the clock will be coming to life! The building is already over 600 years old so it’s a real institution in Prague. You’ll find all sorts of old buildings in every part of the old town. It always makes me so happy – the medieval times are a secret weakness of mine! The Old Town Square is a popular square in the centre of Prague. Here you’ll find lots of cafés, pretty façades and plenty of street artists. Just sit in one of the cafés and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the square. In the evenings the locals also like to sit in small groups together on the floor in the middle of the square if the weather’s good, and they’ll drink a Czech beer and just enjoy life! Join them and chat a little – I’m sure you’ll be integrated straight away.
Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral
The next few highlights of Prague will come one after the other, because from the Old Town Square you’ll be at Prague Castle in no time. The imposing castle lies on top of a hill in the Hradçany district and is over 1000 years old. If you can make it up to the castle for midday you might be able to see the changing of the guard! Today the castle is the residence of the Czech president – a heck of a lot cooler than the White House, right? You can visit nearly the entire castle grounds and even have a look around the wonderfully pristine gardens. Everyone who wanted to be a knight at one point can at least relive that dream again here.
There’s plenty of awesome things to discover within the castle grounds: there’s the Holy Cross Chapel, the National Gallery, three parade squares, and the Golden Lane which got its name from the alchemists who supposedly created white gold from stone. Even Franz Kakfa, a very famous German author, used to live on this street! It’s no coincidence that he used to always praised Prague so highly.
Even with all these sights we’re still not done with everything here – up on the castle grounds you can visit St. Vitus Cathedral too. The construction of the venerable cathedral lasted a total of 500 years up until its final completion. Make sure to go up the spire – from up there you’ll get by far the best view of the city.
A special feature of Prague is the network of trams. With the 22 line you can travel right through the centre of the city. When you’re roaming the streets you’ll more than likely realise that the trams seem to actually go right in between the houses. You’ll often get this feeling, because sometimes there’s barely a hand’s breadth either side of the tram. In this areas it’s forbidden to go through these narrow alleyways, because a collision is otherwise bound to happen!
The Jewish quarter of Josefov is particularly suited to leisurely strolls – there’s lots of beautiful façades, a gorgeous synagogue and tiny alleys to discover.
The Dancing House
If you’re feeling curious and want to take a look outside of the medieval old town you should by all means do it, as that way you’ll get a feel for the wider city. The Dancing House is symbolic of it – it was built in 1996 and it definitely lives up to its name!
If you’ve bought the Prague Card you can take a free tour around the city. If you’d also like to do a further guided tour I have the ultimate tip for you: the experienced guides from Tip Trip start their free tours twice a day at the Old Town Square. You’ll be able to recognise the guides from their neon green umbrellas. The tours begin at 10:30am and 14:00pm.
Culinary Tips in Prague
As you already know I’m always up for trying some delicacies from every culture or nation – I’ve already tried a kebab with sheep’s entrails in Istanbul and I wouldn’t be reluctant to try grasshoppers if I saw them on a menu in Prague. Instead I’ve scoffed my way through the magnificent Bohemian kitchens and learned to love some of the goodies there!
Prague is (even more so than Germany) the land of beer. There’s an endless amount of rustic beer bars where you can try one of the many Czech beers available. If the selection is too big I tend to just go by the label – last time I ended up choosing a beer with a goat on the label which turned out to be great!
The Czechs like to serve Bohemian snacks such as sausage salad or bread and dripping with garlic along with the beer. They make for a hearty meal, but they’re an adventure for the taste buds – simply delicious! These snacks are very good value for money, so you can slowly make your way through a whole selection. How about a potato soup followed up with plum dumplings for dessert?
If you want to try some typical Czech food I recommend the restaurant Baracnicka Rychta. Here there’s traditional, hearty meat dishes which will send you into a coma every time. Dumplings of different varieties and delicious sauces are served alongside all the meat dishes. Then, after the main course, there’s still Bohemian apple strudel with vanilla ice cream and cream to come. Anyone who’s coming to the Czech Republic on a diet is going to regret it!
You absolutely need to have breakfast in one of the many small cafés – you’re best looking for one of these in the side streets – because here there’s tons of great snacks and coffee that are all going for a better price than at larger establishments. If you’re looking to have breakfast in a lavish setting make your way down to the Grand Café Orient – the décor is really unique. If the weather’s good you should sit on the balcony outside and watch the people on the streets below as they stroll past.
Diverse Nightlife in Prague
The beer bars are just as good a place to linger about in at night time as they are during the day. You can also take a beer with you and allow for a little sit-in at the Old Town Square.
Radost FX offers the perfect recipe for a successful evening. First you can cosily dine here, and then afterwards go for a cocktail in the lounge. And then, when you think you’ve had your full, you can party in the adjoining club. Not bad!
Particularly popular is the Dejavu Music Club, which has even been awarded the Certificate for Excellence on TripAdvisor. The cocktails are quite cheap and also very good – and of course there’s a cracking party atmosphere.
I have another treat for the music fans among you: Prague is famous for its many jazz clubs which are often open until the small hours of the morning. The AghaRTA in particular is worth checking out.
One Last Real Highlight: The Beer Spa
After an exhausting night there’s nothing better than a day in a spa, and in Prague you can do just that! Here you can relax in theBeer Spa and have a great time. Guests can use the baths for up to one hour, relax in a vat of beer, chill in the sauna, rest on the straw beds, and above all sip on a few beers as you go! A hour for two people costs €100. A great conclusion to an exciting city break!
Prague is a compact city that is really worth seeing and I’m sure you’ll just end up coming back to it again and again. The Golden City really lives up to its name and doesn’t just shine with all the amazing sights on offer but also with the fascinating history behind it. Thanks to its position on the river Vltava you’ll always have the time to grab a coffee or a bite to eat and enjoy the views of the city from the riverbank. Don’t forget to just go on a little stroll either- that way you’ll see all of the tiny details you’d otherwise miss if you were a bit too hasty. Have fun! Find the latest Prague deals on my blog!
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