The Golden City of Architecture
Trip Cost ($ – $$$): $
Time to Hit the Highlights: 5 days
Must See: Prague Castle, Strahov Monastery, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square
Time of the Year to Visit: Any Season! We went in winter and it was wonderful. Plus, there’s less tourists!
- It’s easy to fall in love with Prague. The Gothic architecture protrudes over the low red-roofed buildings to pierce the sky, creating a stunning skyline that seems vast, but achievable.
- Due to the Golden City’s picturesque charm, Prague has grown to be a popular tourist destination, especially in the summer months. There’s good reason for its popularity. While the city isn’t very large, like other popular European cities like Paris and Barcelona, Prague offers a lot to see and do. You can easily venture to this city for either a long weekend or a full week trip and never run out of sites to see and day trips to take.
- You’ll find it easy to pack your day with beautiful historical sites, but at the end of the day your favorite activity may just be getting lost in the maze of Prague’s beautiful streets or simply strolling the shores of the Vltava River.
- You can learn more about Prague on the city’s website here: http://www.prague.eu/en
- You can fly into the Prague airport (PRG) on many major airlines all year round. Depending on the airline you will likely have a layover somewhere else in europe, unless you live in near a european airline hub.
- Another great option for getting to and from Prague is the train or bus.
- The trains and buses can take you to many amazing destinations in the area. It is worth pulling out a map, or checking out the bus and train maps, to see if there are potential destinations to DIY your own multi-city trip.
- Once on the ground, we used rideshare apps to get around, but mostly we walked, as everything is close. The subway is also an easy way to get around the city.
- There are a variety of hotels, hostels and houses/apartments for rent throughout Prague and since the city is very easy to navigate, there are countless good options.
- That being said, we highly recommend trying to find a place in Old Town or Lesser Town. Lesser Town will be slightly less crowded, as Old Town pulls in a lot of the tourists.
- We stayed at The Augustine Hotel (it’s an SPG property for those with points or a loyalty number) in Lesser Town. This is a unique hotel as it used to be an old monastery that they converted into a hotel. It is in a great location, just 2 blocks from the Charles Bridge and just down hill from the Prague Castle.
- The Prague Castle is more than just a castle. It is actually an entire grounds with 10+ buildings you can visit, vendors with yummy treats, gardens for strolling and views of the entire city.
- You need tickets to see the big attractions and there are a variety of building combo options, with ticket prices starting at CZK 250 ($12 USD/$10 EUR) for an adult.
- Our must sees for this amazing compound are the St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace and Golden Lane, but there are many other historical buildings worth seeing if you have the time.
- This 12th century monastery is beautiful inside and out! The simple exterior gives way to an opulent interior that housed monks until the mid-1900s.
- Today you can explore the grounds, library, gallery, basilica and of course, the brewery! Located uphill from Lesser Town, this monastery is worth the walk.
- Once you’re done exploring the monastery you can walk upPetřín Hill to the Lookout Tower for sweeping city views!
Petřín Lookout Tower
- You’ll surely notice this mini Eiffel Tower peeking out from the trees above Lesser Town. While the modern construction may seem odd against the old skyline of Prague, the Petřín Lookout Tower does offer incredible views of the entire city.
- Since the Tower sits atop a hill, it takes a little time to reach it. However, there are two ways to get there. The first is to take the Funicular Railway from Ujezd Street (near the Ujezd tram stop) Lesser Town to the top of Petřín Hill, the second is to walk, either through the park up from Lesser Town or up from Strahov Monastery.
- Tickets start at CZK 120 (6 USD or 5 EUR), but you can add on other adventures like the nearby Mirror Maze which is a fun, little building that will have you walking into walls.
- Please note that you can pay extra to take the elevator up, but you can always just walk up. Most people walk down, but I’m sure it can be arranged to take the elevator down for those who need it. Also beware that the tower is older and the elevator is very tight!
- The Charles Bridge is a Prague must-see, and it’s on EVERYBODY’S list. You’re sure to find that out firsthand when you see the crowds. That being said, it is worth the hassle of walking across this beautiful 15th century pedestrian bridge and taking in the amazing statues that line it’s walls.
- For other views of the bridge, walk along the river on the Lesser Town or Old Town side. There’s less people and you get to see the bridge in all its glory.
- If you’re looking to cross the river and avoid the crowds, there’s a bridge on either side of the Charles Bridge that will take you across the river.
- For those looking to snap that amazing photo of the empty bridge, you’re going to have to stay up really late or wake up really early. There are many photographers looking to get the same shot, so it is unlikely to ever find the bridge completely empty, but it’s always worth a shot!
Old Town Square
- Not doubt you’ve seen pictures of the many beautiful buildings throughout the Old Town Square. The square is large, but quickly fills with visitors thanks to the popularity of the Astronomical Clock, the Baroque Church of St. Nicholas, the Rococo Kinský Palace, the Gothic House at the Stone Bell and the monument to Jan Hus.
- Depending on how you want to spend your day, you can simply enjoy these places from the square or venture inside to see their incredible interiors.
- If you’re visiting Prague in the winter, you may be there during the Christmas Markets! Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, you can always enjoy the food, drink, local arts and general magic of the market found in the Old Town Square.
- The Jewish history runs deep through Prague and it’s amazing to re-live today through the incredibly preserved architecture and stories of those who lived there.
- Whether you’re religious or not, you’ll appreciate the Jewish Town. You can simply walk the beautiful streets or pay a small fee to explore a number of the buildings, including synagogues, a town hall and a cemetary.
- Tickets for adults start at CZK 200 (9 USD or 8 EUR) and increase based on the number of places you’d like admission to. Tickets can be purchased at buildings throughout the Jewish Town.
- The Historical Building of the National Museum is located south of Old Town on Wenceslas Square and has been closed for reconstruction since 2011.
- However, the museum is set to open again in 2018 with new exhibits for those lucky visitors who are arriving just in time.
- Famous for its natural mineral water springs, Karlovy Vary is the perfect getaway for thermal bath lovers. You’ll find both public baths, as well as many hotels that boast natural springs right in their hotel!
- Karlovy Vary lies just Northwest of Prague and is easy to get to on one of the many bus lines that leave from the Prague Bus Terminal. The ride will take you 2 hours and 15 minutes each way.
- Once you’re there you can spend your time on the many hiking trails that lead to great views of the town, walk and shop along the river, stay hydrated all day from the free and ever flowing mineral water pouring out of spouts throughout the town, or revel at the beauty of Moser glass at their factory or their downtown shop.
- Probably the most popular day trip from Prague, Cesky Krumlov oozes charm. It is easy to simply spend the day walking the streets, enjoying the river and taking pictures of the charming town from vantage points you stumble upon.
- A 2 hour and 45 minute bus ride (each way) will take you to this delightful town south of Prague. Be sure to buy your tickets well enough in advance as this is a popular destination.
- Like most Eastern European countries, meat is on the menu!! Meat lovers will have no problem finding a spot to satisfy their hunger, but there are many international restaurants that happily serve fish and vegetarian meals.
- Here are a few spots to try:
- Lokal (for pork lovers – 2 locations)
- River Boat (many options – great for NYE)
- Pálffy Palác (upscale and delicious)
- Malý Buddha (yummy vegetarian options)
- Since Prague is popular destination, reservations tend to be a great idea, especially with larger parties and around holidays.
- We always love to try local wine, beer and liquor wherever we go and Prague delivered. Take a chance on the Czech wines and definitely venture over to the Augustine Hotel and go down to the St. Thomas Brewery in the carved out underground where they still serve the original beer recipe of the monks who once lived in this old monastery.
- Compared to Western Europe, you can get a lot more for your money in the Czech Republic.
- Prague is a popular destination all year round, so if you’re looking for a quieter getaway with less people, this may not be the spot for you.
- Most places take credit or debit cards throughout the city, but it is always good to have some Czech Koruna on hand.
- You can exchange money before you arrive or once you’re in country, we personally prefer to just take currency out of the ATM as we need it. Just make sure your bank won’t charge you extra for international cash withdrawals.