Prague is a pearl
Romantic. Exciting. Beautiful. Those are some of the words that come to my mind when thinking about Prague. One thing is for sure: I can strongly recommend to come here! It’s one of my absolute favorite cities on earth. A place where I could live.
Honestly I do not know exactly how many times I have been in Prague, but it must be quite a lot. It started with my first travel by air to Prague more than 15 years ago. There was also a time (2014/2015) when I came to Prague almost every week! And now it’s about every other month or so. I just can’t get enough!
I guess because I have been here so often, frequently people ask me for tips, where to go, what to see and do, etc. so I decided to write this blog with my favorite addresses in Prague. Favorites so far, because even after all these visits, there are still so many more things to explore! Never a dull moment in Prague…
So what to see? Actually just walking around in this city is already a great pleasure because of its great architecture and history. More and more people discover what a good place this is to live in, property prices are rising. Czech Republic actually recently ranked #6 on the list of Safest Countries in the World. Let’s go a bit into more detail of all that the capital Prague has to offer.
Okay, so for those who have never been in Prague before, let’s start with the obvious highlights. For your orientation: most of them are in Old Town (Staré Město) or Mala Strana. Prague is divided into numbered parts (1, 2, 3, etc.), Prague 1 is the main center of the city.
- Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, picture above) the big central square where it seems like always something is happening and yet time has stood still.
- Old Town Hall & Astronomical Steam Clock
- Charles Bridge (Karlův most) one of the most beautiful, romantic bridges in the world. Pedestrians only! If you go early in the morning (before 07:00 am) you might see some Asian newlyweds having their pictures taken, as this is particularly popular among Chinese, including famous people. Don’t forget to check out the beautiful entrance gate (you can go inside), Saint Salvator Church (Kostel Nejsvětějšího Salvátora) and Klementium at the Old Town side of the bridge (east of the river).
- Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) on the hill west of the Vltava River (Moldau). Hradčany is the name of the area surrounding the Castle.
- Josefov the Jewish neighborhood in the northwest part of Old Town here you will find many beautiful houses, synagogues and the statue of Franz Kafka (Czech writer 1883-1924).
Less famous but definitely worth a visit
- Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) is one of the main squares in Prague. A World Heritage Site where many historical events took place. On the uphill end of the square you will see the National Museum, which building is currently (September 2016) under renovation.
- Close the Prague Castle (see above) there are many other sights worth visiting, such as the Cathedral of Saint Vitus, Golden Gate, the Old Royal Palace, Saint George Basilica and the Golden Lane.
- Strahov Monastery at Strahovské nádvoří 1/132, especially its stunning Library. Worth the steep walk up the hills, good for your calf muscles! The entrance fee will be higher if you want to take pictures.
- Petřínská rozhledna a.k.a. Petřín watch tower at Petřínské sady for a breathtaking view of the city. The tower is not far from Strahov Monastery (west of the river).
- Kampa is an island in the Vltava River with live music during long summer evenings. In the Kampa area you will also find the Bronze Babies of David Černý, a museum, restaurants with nice view on the Charles Bridge (especially for dinner, see Restaurants below), houses from the 17th and 18th centuries, lots of green, etc. Go and enjoy!
- John Lennon Wall to remember the great artist and where you may feel free to express own creativity. It’s between Kampa and the west side of Charles Bridge, at Velkopřevorské náměstí. Nearby there is also a John Lennon Pub with many collectables. Besides you can take a picture with a wax version of John Lennon at the Grévin Museum at Celetná 15 (east of Old Town Square).
- Museum of Communism at Na Příkopě 10 is a unique museum where you can learn more about post-World War II the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia in general and Prague in particular.
- U Fleků at Křemencova 11 is the oldest and most famous beer brewery in Prague, since 1499. Large place in New Town which includes a restaurant (1200 seats), beer garden, museum and live cabaret entertainment. Quite a touristy place, you’ll hate it or you’ll love it.
What is life without good food?! Exactly, every man and woman needs to eat properly! Here are some personal recommendations.
- Cafe-Cafe at Rytířská 10 is a classy yet not expensive bar-bistro in Old Town, serving delicious modern dishes like risotto with Hungarian sausage and fab salads. Ignore the sometimes-a-tiny-bit-arrogant-staff, reservation is recommended.
- Butcher’s Grill & Pasta (Beef House) at Mlynářská 3 serves steaks to-die-for, grilled on classic charcoal. They have many more delicious options, such as the spicy slow-roasted short-rib burger, nachos with guacamole, grilled salmon, spaghetti & meatballs, etc. Good red wine. Nice modern interior and open kitchen.
- Chagall’s Club Restaurant at Kozí 916/5 is a classy yet not too fancy restaurant, a bit upscale, bright decor so not “dark club-ish”, reservations recommended. Good choice for couples, colleagues, alone, etc.
- Looking for a place with a good view? Terasa U Prince on the 4th floor of Hotel U Prince at Staroměstské náměstí 29 is a popular roof top restaurant at Old Town Square. Not cheap and not the absolute best food in town, but definitely a remarkable view from the terrace! Reservation is a must-do.
- Hergetova Cihelna, restaurant of the Kampa Group, is mentioned in the Michelin Guide 2016. To give you a rough idea about the prices here: their smooth veal tenderloin is about €33 and their crispy New Zealand Marlborough white wine is ±€6.50 per glass. All high quality, delicious food, friendly staff and a beautiful view from the terrace to the Charles Bridge as a big bonus!
- If you happen to be in New Town, looking for a good place for breakfast, lunch or something sweet with tea or coffee, I suggest to go to Les Kamarades at Myslikova 13 or Petite France at Myslikova 22.
- According to some of my friends in Prague, Monarch Tapas is the best brand new place to eat! Didn’t get to chance yet to go there myself, but did not want you to miss out on this local piece of advice… Let me know if you go!
Bars & clubs
Prague is an excellent city to go out for a drink and -if you like- a dance! Whether you want to sit on a sunny terrace
- Wine O’Clock at Liliova 16 is a pretty wine bar close to the Charles Bridge, excellent local and Italian wines, fantastic ‘Italian tapas’ and small oven dishes. Cash only, very nice staff, reservations highly recommended due to limited seating.
- Restaurace Jáma at V Jámě 7 is a typical Czech bar/restaurant, come here for just drinks with friends or colleagues, also serve snacks and other non-complicated dishes such as nuclear wings, burgers, Czech sausages, fries, etc. A good start of a long night out!
- U Bileho Lva at Na Bělidle 310/30 is a typical Czech bar/restaurant. There are multiple locations; I was in Prague 5, southwest of the river, which you can easily access by tram to Andel or by foot crossing the old Palacký Bridge (Palackého most). Beer, wine, Czech food, long wooden tables, live music… Enjoy!
- Čili bar at Kožná 499/8 is a small yet very pleasant cocktail bar where you can try everything and hang out until 2:00 am, reasonable prices.
- Nebe cocktail & music club at Křemencova 10 (New Town) is a good place to go to when you are in the mood to dance. Nice decor underground, possible to pay by credit card, no entrance fee (when I was there).
- Nominanza River Restaurant at Smetanovo nábřeží 6 is an outdoor terrace at the river bank with some nice live music. Sipping a glass of wine in the sun with some good company, watching people paddling their rental boats in different shapes and sizes, gave me that fantastic summer feeling. So if you are looking for a refreshing beer or a simple glass of wine, a unique river view with a summer vibe, this is a nice place to spend some time. Move on to somewhere else for super high quality wine, food, seating or service. Cash only!
Marionettes, wooden toys, Swarovski crystals, souvenirs, trendy wannahaves… Anything you want, shop till you drop in Prague!
- Týn, also known as Tyn Hof or Ungelt, is an idyllic, historical courtyard with 18 houses and some very cute shops. Close to Old Town Square but not very well known among tourists.
- Celetná connects Old Town Square with the Powder Gate. It’s part of the Royal Route and named after bread that was baked in the area during the Middle Ages. Gallery Kubista on the corner of Celetná and Ovocný trh fruit market includes amazing accessories, fabrics and pieces of furniture.
- Pařížská with its luxury boutiques of brands such as Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Hugo Boss. Lots of window shopping!
- In the streets between Charles Bridge and Old Town Square, such as Karlova, you will also find many small shops with for example souvenirs, jewelry, candy and casseroles.
- Palladium is a well-known modern shopping mall in Old Town, with numerous shops for clothes, beauty products, etc.
For information about shopping at Christmas markets in Prague please see the last paragraph of this blog post.
There are so many hotels in Prague, the list may feel endless when searching for a good one. Partly it depends ofcourse on your budget, but even if you have a good budget, there are too many not-so-good hotels around! I have been to Hilton, Novotel, Barceló, etc. but they don’t really have “it” for me. Here are my favorites.
Hotel UNIC – Soukenická 1188/25
A pleasant, stylish design hotel I recently discovered. The best bed in Old Town! Great location with all attractions on walking distance yet noise free, super friendly staff, great food, delicious pineapple and my favorite tea at breakfast… Sometimes it’s simply the little things, all together this is what it makes a top experience, right?! Prices start from €68/78 per night for a double room including breakfast.
Radisson Blu Alcron – Štěpánská 624/40
A luxurious hotel in Art Deco style, right next to Wenceslas Square. The best steak I ever had was in their restaurant. Professional staff. Room prices start from €107 per night excluding breakfast.
Imperial – Na Poříčí 1072/15
The ultimate Art Deco Hotel experience! The extravagant decoration is everywhere, especially in the restaurant and lobby. Great location too (close to Hotel UNIC). Rooms are classic, some might say a bit old fashioned, and I didn’t feel like food or staff were super remarkable, but definitely all up to standard! Prices start from €98 per night excluding breakfast.
Want to see the best of Prague? See the city with a local? Discover the hidden gems and hotspots? Experience the city by bike? Do a ‘biergarten’ or Czech wine tour? With a guide that speaks your language fluently? For a reasonable price? My Prague Tours offers all of it, and more!
Mijn Praag Tours is the best tour company in town! Years of experience, offering exclusive private tours with lots of humor, by bike or by foot. There are lots of possibilities, tours can be customized according to your wishes, and can be given in languages such as English, Dutch or German.
I personally know one of the owners and some of the tour guides are former colleagues, so I can honestly say that this is a reliable company, offering the highest quality. This may all sound pretty subjective, and of course in a way it is, after all this is my personal opinion. Just read the reviews on their Facebook and Tripadvisor pages and you’ll know. Trust me, these guys are not the average, even liked by people who do not like regular group tours (such as me)!
For bookings and enquiries, you may want to contact Dennis Levi via +420778013055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I usually like getting around by foot, but sometimes you might want to take a taxi, tram or metro. For all options I suggest to make sure you have cash (Czech Koruna, CZK), although there are many taxis now with the possibility to pay by credit card. For more information on metro lines (or trains to other Czech cities) check out this website.
Like in every large city there are taxi drivers who take advantage of tourists and try to rip them off. Personally I find the taxi company AAA the most reliable in Prague. Call them (+420 222 333 111) and a taxi usually arrives within a few minutes. A taxi ride from/to the airport usually costs around 650 CZK (around €24), depending on your hotel location. AAA offers 40% discount for rides back to Prague airport. On your way from the airport to the city center, ask the driver for your discount coupon. And when making a reservation by phone, make sure you tell the taxi reservation operator in advance that you would like to use the discount coupon! Or try the Uber app.
Show me the money!
Not only for transport, but also numerous restaurants and other places in Prague still only accept cash payments. Upon arrival at Prague airport, you will find multiple ATM’s (cash machines) and exchange offices, for example at the entrance of the C gates and at the baggage belts. 1000 CZK is about €37. For more information on exchange rates see for example the website of Travelex including a handy calculator. I personally like using the Currency Converter app from netzfrequenz software GmbH on my smartphone.
By the way, when getting cash from the local ATM, always choose the option “Without conversion”, meaning that your own bank will determine the exchange rate and not the bank that owns the ATM. This will save you money as local ATM’s tend to charge higher rates. This is a general rule when traveling, not just for Prague!
Best time to go
For good weather and smaller crowds, it is best to avoid holidays and to visit late/mid Spring or early/mid Fall. I must warn you that, especially during the summer months, Prague can be super busy. For example visiting the beautiful Charles Bridge may feel like walking through an ant’s nest sometimes, unless you come very early (before 7:00 am). The good thing about the summer season is that you may expect excellent weather (average between 22 and 28 degrees Celsius) and weekly food and music festivals to enjoy! The everlasting dilemma…
For sure Prague has an extra romantic winter atmosphere when the cozy Christmas markets are set up. The largest Christmas Markets can be found at Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, smaller markets are located at Namesti Republiky, Havelske Trziste, Námestí Míru and Jirího z Podìbrad Square (Vinohrady). Christmas Market season usually runs from the first week in December till the beginning of January.
Last but not least let me say a BIG THANK YOU to all of my fun crazy Prague friends (you know who you are), who always make effort to show me the greatest places in town! Without them this blog post would not have been possible.