This weekend I went to Prague for three days and I can safely say it lived up to my hopes and dreams. Prague is one of the coolest cities I’ve ever been to in Europe. It’s a mixture of the European best traits—windy streets, markets with tasty food and cute touristy souvenirs, breathtaking architecture, handsome men and women, colorful houses and cobblestones, horse drawn carriages, and a clock tower that chimes the quarter hour. It’s like a fairy tale city out of a Disney movie. Read on for my how-to Prague guide, and if you’ve never been, I highly recommend going. It’s the perfect city for a weekend away with friends, a bachelor/bachelorette party, a honeymoon, or a trip with the family.
1. Take Sandman’s New Europe Free Walking Tour, STAT
Whenever you go to a new city it’s a given that you’ll want to orient yourself. Most of the time a quick glance at a map and a few directions from a hostel receptionist does the trick, but with Prague’s winding streets, take Sandman’s New Europe free walking tour. The tour starts daily at 11am and 3pm outside of the Starbucks at the Old Square in the Prague city center. It’s three hours long so wear solid walking shoes. Guides operate on a tips-only basis so they are entertaining, funny and you’ll get a good lay of the land before you head out to explore on your own. Definitely hit this up the first morning or afternoon you’re in the city.
Quick tip: Skip the metro and the bus! Prague is a totally walkable city and everything looks farther on a map than in reality.
2. Stroll Across the Charles Bridge
Take your time and wander across the Charles Bridge during the day. Its Prague’s oldest pedestrian bridge, you can’t miss it. You’ll find street performers, musicians, even the ‘Bridge Band’—a quintet—that plays jazz and blues for much of the afternoon. Artists come to paint and sell their photographs and caricatures, jewelry merchants set up stands and people mill about. Life seems to slow down a little bit on the Charles Bridge.
3. The Currency Shakedown
When you sit down for dinner and get a bill back that says you owe 300, don’t freak out! The Czech Republic currency is called the Czech Crown and converting can be a bit…frustrating. A good rule of thumb is to figure out how many multiples of 25 fit into your bill, and that is how many euros it is. So, for example, 100 Czech Crowns is about 4 euros. That’s a huge generalization obviously since the exchange rates fluctuate, but it’s a decent estimate. Figure you’ll be spending about 45 Czech Crowns on a beer. About 150 Czech Crowns on a meal, and about 100-400 on a night out with club covers and drinks.
4. The Sites
One of the greatest things about Prague is that most of the sites are free or semi-free and easily accessible. Don’t miss the castle and cathedral on the west side of the river. The John Lennon wall, a graffiti covered wall with brightly spray painted symbols of peace and love isn’t far from the main road off of Charles Bridge. Bring a permanent marker or a pen and leave your own tribute to the Beatle. The Old Town and the New Town are distinguishable sections of Prague’s city center—the Old Town has restaurants and smaller boutique shops, as well as a huge market and the occasional outdoor concert. The New Town is a renovated section of town complete with a street of theaters and corporate stores like H&M and Zara. In the Old Town don’t miss the astronomical clock tower. On every hour little statues of the apostles come out and parade across the clock face. The Jewish quarter of town has a couple of synagogues and museums. According to our Sandman’s tour guide, the only reason the Jewish quarter of Prague is stands today is because Hitler wanted a “museum” standing testimony to a race he hoped would be extinct one day. At night, check out The Beer Factory if you like competitive drinking and pulling your own beers. Or if you’re into a pub crawl/clubbing scene, hit up the 5 story Karlovy Lazne near the river.
5. La Casa Blu
This hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant was recommended to us by a student who lived abroad in Prague. It’s off a side street (Kozi) from the Old Town center and is totally worth it. The value for price is amazing; enjoy a beer on tap and a tasty burrito. Like any European city, the restaurants located on the main plazas are overpriced, but if you like Mexican you won’t be disappointed with La Casa Blu.