Guide to Prague

So everyone keeps asking me if I’ve ever been to Ireland. Fun fact: Neither Matt nor I have ever been! A lot of y’all think that it’s absolutely bananas that we are just moving to a place we’ve never been, and I get that. It’s a WAY different climate than sunny ol’ Scottsdale.

However! While we haven’t been to Ireland before, we HAVE been to plenty of other places in Europe.  I wanted to do a little series of posts on where we’ve been and what we loved in each place. That way, if you’re ever in the neighborhood and want to visit the continent before/after you visit us (of course), you’ll have all our recommendations!

So, without further ado, I present to you: Prague.

Prague, Czech Republic 

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Prague is the most magical place in the world. If there’s anywhere in Europe I’d recommend above all, it’s Prague. It’s beautiful and old and full of amazing food and kind people. The history is so rich and it honestly feels like a fairytale!

We came into Prague via FlixBus from Berlin, Germany. I really recommend FlixBus to anyone that wants to travel cheaply and see the countryside. They’re these great charter busses with wifi and snacks and bathrooms. Now, I know what you’re thinking: busses sound sketchy. Let me assure you, this one isn’t. I felt completely safe and comfortable the entire time. And get this: Tickets are typically around the $15-20 range. It’s a price point that you really can’t beat.

As we drove into Prague, we got a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside. The rapeseed fields were in full bloom and it was amazing. Just another perk of taking a bus ride into the city!

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If busses really aren’t your style or you aren’t as budget conscious, Prague also has an airport that is easy to fly into from anywhere else in Europe.

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Where to stay

We stayed at Hotel Julian, a beautiful four star boutique hotel in the heart of Prague.  Hotel Julian is within walking distance to all the famous sights like St. Charles Bridge and the Astronomical Clock. We absolutely loved staying here – it was so authentic and the customer service was so amazing and helpful.

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It’s in a  great location between the historic Lesser Town and the business/shopping center, Andel.  It even has a cozy restaurant specializing in modern Czech cuisine! The highlight of the hotel is a beautiful rooftop summer terrace with panoramic views of the Prague Castle.

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Hotel Julian was a great starting point for us. We were able to walk anywhere we wanted to go, it was near some great local restaurants, and their wifi was speedy! Thankfully, Prague is in no shortage of accommodation, so there’s plenty of other places to stay as well. Here’s a few different options for a few different budgets:

Budget

Mosaic House Hostel: A cute little Hostel in the heart of Prague. I remember walking by the big mushroom statues outside of it! It’s near a lot of the cool bars and restaurants. It’s also known for being eco-friendly and clean. Private rooms start from €65; a bed in a dorm from €10-€15, depending on the time of year.

Sophie’s Hostel: Probably one of the more popular hostels in Prague. You’ll meet lots of people here! It’s in the New Town part of Prague, and is close to public transportation. It’s known for its local charm and yummy breakfasts. Rates: €14 for a dorm bed, twin/double room €66 (all in low season).

Mid-Range

Hotel Julian: Like I said, I LOVE this place. I can’t recommend it enough.  The location is great, the customer service is great, the breakfast is delicious, the rooms are clean. The rooftop bar/terrace is beautiful. Rates: €90-€140 depending on the season and availability.

Hotel Unic: A stylish hotel with a great location. They’re really close to the main attractions of Prague. Popular nightlife is also close by – be sure to check out all the bars, restaurants, and shops! Rates: €119-150, again depending on season and availability

Hotel Josef: This modern hotel is literally famous for it’s amazing breakfast and super fun bar. Some of the rooms even have balconies! It’s also centrally located, so you’re close to everything. Rates €130-160, higher in the summer months

Luxury – Treat Yo’ Self 

Four Seasons – One of the city’s most glamorous and best-located hotels. You can choose between an old-world  styled room, or a more modern luxury. It’s got every accommodation you could dream of; it’s the cream of the crop. Rates: €300 in the off-season, €400+ in the more popular months.

Emblem – A luxury hotel situated near Old Town Square. The Emblem boasts modern rooms, a spa/gym, as well as a world-class restaurant and bar. It has an exclusive and private feel. Rates: €180-280 depending on season and availability.

Alchymist Prague Castle Suites – Want to feel like Cinderella? Then this is the place for you. It’s small – only seven rooms and one suite – so be sure to book way ahead of time. This opulent boutique is situated in Mala Strana, near Czech parliament. Charles Bridge and Prague Castle are just a quick walk away. Rates: €215-€400+ depending on availability.

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What to do and see

Prague

St. Charles Bridge

St. Charles Bridge used to be the only connection from Prauge Castle to historic Old Town.  It’s construction was finished up in the 15th century – so it’s pretty old. It’s a magnificent stone bow bridge with 16 arches shielded by ice guards.

If at all possible, you HAVE to go here at sunrise. The views are spectacular. You watch the sun rise over Prague Castle and the terracotta roofs seem to glow. It’s also really quiet – during the day the bridge is overtaken by foot traffic. As far as I’m concerned, you can really only experience the bridge in all it’s glory during the wee hours of the night up until sunrise. It really feels like you went back in time.

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As an added bonus, some of the famous “love locks” are close by. It’s near the statue of St. Charles himself. Legend has it, if you write you and your loves initials on a padlock and lock it to the bridge and throw away the key, your love is “locked” forever. You can see Matt and I’s lock toward the center – it’s the silver and blue one.

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Prague Castle

It’s a bit of a hike, but if you can manage walking up to Prague Castle, I’d highly recommend it.  You can stroll through the beautiful Mala Strana along the way and visit the shops. There’s also a Starbucks – yes, I said Starbucks – along the way that has an amazing rooftop view of the city.

Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. It’s definitely the most prominent and well-known of the landmarks in Prague. It was once the seat of the monarch, and boy oh boy, is it magnificent.

Set atop a hilly vantage point overlooking the Vltava River, the castle is a staggering work of architecture. Its twin spire church, St. Vitus Cathedral, is especially impressive. An abundance of arches, gargoyles, and massive Gothic spires reach into the sky. It cathedral looks straight out of a fairytale. The stained glass is some of the most marvelous I’ve ever seen – the colors are simply unreal.

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The park around the castle is peaceful, green, and well-groomed. A walk amidst the blooming paths while marveling upwards at the castle is something you won’t forget anytime soon.

Definitely take the guided tour while you’re there!

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Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock

We actually found the square and the clock on accident one night – we were walking through the city enjoying a beer or two, and lo and behold, we found the square. Experiencing Prague “by accident” like this is actually a really great way to do it – you see and find things you might not have otherwise found, and when you find something cool, it’s kind of a happy surprise. So grab a beer and some friends and start walking!

Anyway, the Square is really cool. The square has seen centuries of history with some of it’s Gothic buildings dating back to the 14th century. This is where the famous Astronomical Clock is located.

You can go the top of the Old Town Hall tower for about five bucks. There are elevators for those who have a time time climbing stairs and the views from atop are AMAZING. You’ll get a really good look at the church the rest of the Prague’s Old Town.

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Petrin Lookout Tower

Conceived as a mini version of Paris’s Eiffel Tower, the Petrin Lookout Tower was built in 1891 for the Jubilee Exhibition. You can climb the 299 steps to reach the top of the tower and the view over Prague is magnificent. Surrounding Petrin Tower are landscaped gardens, including a lovely (and large!) rose garden. The views of Prague are terrific, even without climbing the tower.

Other attractions at the summit include an observatory, a hall of mirrors, a church, and several cafés.  Much of the stone used to build the famous historical sights in Prague was quarried out of Petrin Hill. Today this is hidden beneath park and woodland that cover the hillside.

To reach the Lookout Tower and the other Petrin attractions, you could take the Funicular Railway, or you could walk. We chose to walk. The climb is steep, but the hike is beautiful, and you can see the city really well.

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Other fun things to do:

  • Paddle Boat in the Vltava River
  • Go to the bars/night clubs – a lot of them are underground and it’s really cool
  • Visit the many cathedrals in the city
  • Check out the Wallenstein Garden 
  • Visit the Franz Kafka Museum

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What to eat

Okay okay, so there’s a ton of place and things to eat in Prague. There’s no way I could name them all, and besides, everyone will have their own favorites. Here’s just a couple of the things that I loved while I was there:

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Angelato 

Italian-style gelato in Prague? Am I crazy? No. This place is amazing. There’s always a line out the door, but don’t be intimidated. This place is worth the wait. It’s creamy and fresh and delicious – everything good gelato should be. This is definitely a place you can’t miss.

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Trdelník

This Czech Cinnamon Pastry is sold by street vendors all over Prague. A yeast dough, wrapped around a hot metal cylinder, rolled in cinnamon sugar and then baked over an open flame. You can get it filled with custard or chocolate or nuts or other sweets. It’s like a dreamy donut from heaven!!

Goulash

Czech goulash is a thick, hearty stew flavored primarily with paprika and often served with knedliky, slices of spongy, bread-like dumplings. Though this basic presentation doesn’t change much, cooks can vary the experience by using different meats — pork and beef are the standard choices — or adding other flavors like caraway or sliced raw onion.

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Vepřo-knedlo-zelo

Roast pork, bread dumplings, and stewed cabbage are ingredients that make up this hearty dish. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. You can get this at basically any traditional Czech restaurant.

Other things to try:

  • Aperol Spritz – A favorite afternoon drink throughout Europe
  • Czech Pilsner – No visit to Prague would be complete without beer
  • Palačinky – Similar to crepes and deliciously sweet
  • Smažený Sýr – Fried Cheese. Enough said.

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So, there you have it! I hope that if you ever decide to visit Prague (which you should), this gives you a good starting point. Have any of you been to Prague before? Is there something I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Na zdraví!

Kaity

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