I love reading 24 hour city guides. I like to see what others would get up to if they had only 24 hours, because I think it highlights their best parts of a city.
Although my recent visit to Prague was for 3 days, bear in mind that this was a business trip, so a lot of the time our schedule was packed with interviews, launches and store visits. But, I did manage to experience a full day of exploring before jetting back to SA – as well a few sights sneaked in between the agenda.
If you’re planning a trip to the kingdom of Bohemia, then here’s a few of my travel tips…
Where to Go
Old Town Square in the centre of Prague is where the magic happens! It’s where the city comes alive, and without spending too much money, you can really enjoy all the beauty Prague has to offer in one place.
Here you can watch the Astronomical Clock Strike, eat Trdlnik and walk among the Praguers to enjoy a true taste of their culture.
If you haven’t already, check out my quick video post where I take you on a walk with me through Old Town Square.
I love to immerse myself in the culture of a new city, walk among the locals, eat local food, listen to local music and chatter. It’s what I live for whenever I travel.
Old Town Square is the perfect place because there are sights everywhere. Besides the Astronomical Clock, you can visit the Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn or take a picture by the Jan Hus Monument. Nearby, you can walk to the Powder Tower, St Nicholas Church or Charles Bridge among others.
FACT: The Medieval Astronomical Clock at Old Town Square is over 600 years old! It’s one of the third oldest Astronomical Clocks in the world and the oldest one that is still working today. Every hour, on the hour the Parade of Apostles happens and even though it may not seem like much to us modern folk, when you think the mechanical marvel was installed in 1410 (and still works) its pretty amazing!
TIP: Be shoe smart! Prague, like many European cities has cobblestone sidewalks – great for the ambiance, not so great for your feet! Remember to bring along a good pair of walking shoes for exploring – or stop at the Bata Flagship store and pick up a new pair 🙂
What to See & Explore
Prague Castle would have to be top, top, top of my list of Tourist Attractions to check off your list when visiting Prague.
We got to the castle super early on Sunday morning (before our flight back to SA that day) and can honestly tell you, that if you want to see the majesty of this gothic castle in all its glory, get there early and before the crowds.
The castle opens at around 9am; where you will also get a chance to go inside. We got there at 7am and it was the perfect time to wander the courtyards without the litter of tourists.
We also got some really fun shots that I will forever treasure as amazing travel tales; especially considering I set up my Gorilla Tripod in the centre of the square, and the three of us jumped around (in aim of the perfect shot), while the castle guards giggled under their freezing cold breath.
Those mad tourists, they must’ve thought!
It was too cold for us to hang around until the castle opened (FYI Spring in Prague is NOTHING like Spring in SA), so we spent our time walking around the outside and taking in the architectural beauty of the castle, before wandering through the little alley ways.
I’m not sure what this area was called, but we walked through the castle to almost the back entrance and found this little gem of a view before exiting onto the main street.
What To Experience
Charles Bridge and Lennon Wall are great touristy things to experience whilst in Prague, and the best way to experience them is in a Vintage car!
We took a walk along Charles Bridge during the day – it was raining and cold, but beautiful nonetheless. At night and on the weekends apparently they have live bands playing music along the Gothic statues.
Charles Bridge connects from Old Town Square to Malá Strana and is a beautiful walk – especially in the rain and if you have an umbrella! So thankful our wonderful hotel had umbrellas available for us to use.
Start your walk from Old Town and after you’ve admired the scenic treasures and breathtaking views, you’ll land up in the small town at Malá Strana.
At every corner of these Baroque streets you’ll find Vintage Car Tours available for you to explore the city in a unique way. If you’re lucky like us, a friendly driver, like Jan who knows what he’s talking about and has a sense of humour (he told us that their “wildest animal” in Prague was a squirrel – haha).
We went on a 30min drive around the city; visiting the Lennon Wall, a drive past Pařížská (Paris) Street, which is lined with luxury designer shops… Dior, Gucci, Hermes – oh my – and a few stops at sculptures like The Piss Sculpture (yes really!) and the Golem Statue (AKA Darth Vadar) among others.
The great thing about this Vintage Car Tour is that it gives you the sense of Nostalgia. Our car was a red Mercedes C8 from 1938 and I was drawn to it because Midnight in Paris is one of my favourite movies, and it kinda made me re-live a similar experience – although in Prague, not Paris of course.
I was really drawn to the fluffy flokati back seats with blankets and a heater at our feet inside the vintage car.
We were frozen solid (seriously, I’ve never been colder in my life and honesty packed like an idiot) so this was a really great way to see the city in warmth and comfort, with a knowledgeable tour guide and an unforgettable experience.
FACT: If you visit Lennon Wall, take a picture, because it’s unlikely you’ll see it with the same art again on your next trip. When the walls are covered in arty graffiti, they are painted again in white and the whole tribute to the legend starts a-fresh.
Where to Stay
Since I’ve only been to Prague once, I cant speak for “the best” hotel in the city. I can however recommend a wonderful hotel based on my experience.
If ever I found myself in Prague again, I would likely stay at the beautiful Boscolo Hotel.
The thing that makes The Boscolo fab, besides the beautiful hotel itself, is that it is so close to Old Town Square. We walked a couple of times to and from, passing the Powder Tower – and once, even twice in a day.
Its literally, around the block from Old Town Square and within walking distance to Municipal House, which is another great spot to keep in mind for your Prague adventures.
The staff are friendly and helpful and what ever you need, they are always happy to assist. PLUS they serve really amazing breakfasts and call your Taxi!
What to Eat & Where
The number one food I had to try whilst in Prague was, of course, the infamous Trdelník. A few of my Instagram followers recommended I try it and man oh man, it was everything I had dreamed of and more.
Trdelník is basically a pastry on a spit. The dough is rolled, dusted in sugar and cinnamon and then wrapped around a gigantic skewer and grilled on an open flame until its crisp to perfection.
You can have it plain or with a choice of Nutella or Ice Cream.
I tried mine, both times with Nutella and my tastebuds were amazed. It was the perfect warm and tasty treat to bare the cold Spring chill, plus you can eat it while you walk and explore Old Town Square.
TIP: For the best Trdelník, sample the local vendors on the streets of Old Town Square and eat it while exploring the Old Town. Just make sure you ask for extra serviettes, since warm Nutella could leave you in a messy situation.
Get a taste of true Czech Cuisine…
When we arrived in Prague, I asked our local transfer driver to recommend a “traditional Prague” dish.
Without even thinking twice, he suggested Czech Goulash and Pilsner Urquell (traditional Czech beer) to wash it down.
To experience Czech food at its best, I would highly recommend a stop at Municipal House. It’s close to the Powder Tower and within walking distance from Old Town Square and the Boscolo Hotel.
In the basement of Municipal House, you’ll find Plzenska Restaurace, a grand Art Nouveau restaurant, with live music and a buzz of locals and tourists alike.
The menu is vast, with many, many true Czech dishes, but I immediately went for the Prague Style Beef Goulash (as per the friendly transfer driver’s recommendation) and even though I don’t drink beer, why not wash it down with a glass (might have even been 2) of Pilsner Urquell?
The combo was divine and the portion size, way beyond my expectations – especially considering my main costed 250 CZK which was under R140.
I couldn’t finish it, even though I desperately wanted to.
It’s served with home made bread dumplings (another traditional Czech food), and finished with roasted sausage and crisp onions.
The flavours together are divine and hit the spot.
The beer, well, even if you don’t like beer, Pilsner Urquell goes down sooooo well with this dish. Maybe it was because I was “on holiday” that the beer tasted so good, or maybe Czech beer really is one of the best in the world?
TIP: Municipal House is a buzz in the evenings. Besides the amazing Plzenska Restaurace, it offers you a chance to escape into the atmosphere of the golden age of Art Nouveau with guided tours, surrounded by the works of Prague’s iconic sculptors and painters.
At Municipal House you can also experience theatre events, live performances, exhibitions, concerns and a whole lot more.
What to Buy
Whenever I travel abroad, I like to bring back a piece of my travels. Something special and something that is unique to the city, country or place I visited.
Having said that, I try to avoid touristy “memorabilia” (although I did get a fridge magnet). I couldn’t resist!
I like to keep these little gems in my lounge to remember my travels; like my olive branch Tavli (backgammon) board from Greece, my smoking wooden Buddha from Mauritius and my ornate hubbly from Dubai… something that I can’t get back home – and definitely something that isn’t made in China, but rather the land that it’s from.
The Czech Republic is well known for their (Bohemian) crystal and you will honesty do your nut with some of the amazing pieces on offer.
There are hundreds of vendors all over the city. Some really have really exquisite (and expensive) pieces, while others have a beautiful selection that’s just as striking and perhaps a little more attainable.
I’m not big into Crystal ornaments, but I found a beautiful Bohemian Crystal Honey Pot which I resisted at first, but then went back for it again. It was well priced for me at under R500 and it was just perfect.
I also bought a ceramic tea light/ incense burner fantasy house. I love these pieces and again, I found something beautiful for my home, that was Authentically Czech.
Both the Crystal piece and Fantasy House I purchased from a shop in Old Town called Diamit (Vaclavske namesti 15) who have a wonderful selection of souvenirs.
Prague is also well known for their wooden, hand made puppets. If you have kids, this would be a great gift.
If you however, have no use for a puppet but can’t resist a slice of this Authentic Czech item, there’s a shop on the way from Powder Tower to the Old Town Square called Hračky u Zlatého Iva that has a wonderful selection of handmade, wooden toys and other things.
I bought a bouncing wooden Zebra (it was cute okay) and a Jiminy Cricket fridge magnet (also dang cute and made in Czech), but you can get things like pencils, pencil holders, spinning tops and lots of toys that are all wooden and handmade in Prague.
Leather Gloves & Sheepskin Slippers
If you want beautiful, coloured leather gloves, with a decent, high quality lining, furry mittens, leather jackets or fluffy head wear, there’s a shop very close to Diamit in Old Town Square (sorry I can’t remember the name) that sells a nice variety and isn’t a rip off.
Another must, and something I’ll definitely stock up on my next Prague visit is a pair of Authentic sheepskin slippers. I bought myself and the hubs a pair from one of the vendors in Old Town Square, and honestly they are amazing!
I paid about 25 Euros per pair, and haven’t wanted to take them off since I got them in April!
Things to know before you travel
Although part of Europe, Prague does not, “formally” use the Euro. They have their own currency, the Koruna, also known as Czech Crown.
It was impossible for me to get Crowns before my trip so I opted for Euro. Luckily, in Old Town, there are many places that accept Euros. Some of them give you change in Crowns, while others take Euros and give you change in Euros.
I negotiated all prices with vendors in Euros and everyone gave me change in Euros. There was however, one or two places that did not accept Euros. But overall, I was ok traveling with just Euros.
Weather in Prague
Traveling to Prague in the Spring is beautiful, but be warned! Spring in Prague is nothing like Spring in SA. Its cold! And Unpredictable!
I underestimated how cold, because I’ve traveled to other European destinations in Spring before, but Prague Spring is more like our winter! Be sure to pack a windbreaker! The wind is icy. Take an umbrella as it’s cold and wet!
Pack a warm beanie, scarves and gloves. You will need them.
The People in Prague are very different to South African people, so don’t get offended if you get spoken to abruptly. It’s just their culture. They’d probably get highly offended of you being overly polite to them in SA, so keep that in mind.
They are very helpful in assisting you as much as they can, but don’t waste their time and move along.
There are of course those that couldn’t give a rats ass about your situation, but I don’t think it’s fair to target all Praguers as unfriendly.
Make sure you have data on your cellphone and download Uber. Hailing a taxi in Prague seems non existent.
While there are tons of taxi’s, from what I discovered, you have to call one (that’s if you have international calling credit), otherwise you can ask your hotel or restaurant etc to call for you.
You can’t simply sway your hand up – they don’t stop.
You can also use the Tram to get around. One warning about Trams though, if you’re not used to them, they can be scary! Scary in that you may not realize that they do not stop unless they reach their Tram stop. Which means if you’re merrily crossing the street and a Tram is in the distance, you better move or it’s bye bye Charlie!
In terms of language, many Praguers can speak in English and you’ll probably be able to communicate.
However, there are some that can’t understand a word! Try explaining to a Czech driver that you’d like to go to the Cable Cart and he has no idea what you’re talking about. Luckily in our case, our Taxi Driver had an iPad in which to “type the destination” but it was the Concierge who managed to explain where we wanted to go.
Prague is a beautiful city, it’s alive with history and every corner is an Instagramable moment with rows and rows of awe inspiring architecture. It is even more beautiful and more magical in the evenings and I felt very safe in Prague.
Have you been? Are you planning a trip? What do you love most about Prague?