A city known for its terracotta-coloured rooftops, for its hundred spires and for its rich history of gothic and baroque architecture.
Personally, it’s a place best appreciated when viewed from above.
It is however also a place where we had two unsuccessful robbery attempts. In the first few hours of experiencing it we were really wondering if we were right to visit this place. We put it all aside and set onto our usual exploring with care and now can say we are so glad we visited it.
Prague didn’t give us a good first impression but when we were leaving we were sad we didn’t have a longer stay here. Love it when a holiday changes it’s first impression, that’s what traveling is all about.
TIME TO VISIT PRAGUE
We had visited Prague in September and were welcomed with a pleasant weather. It is said Prague can be unpredictable so we considered ourselves lucky. Since we love exploring the streets on foot September worked out ideal for us.
Late spring and early fall which is between mid-may to September is said to be the best time due to the weather. Daylight hours also is good during this time but this is also the busiest time. If you want less tourist and don’t mind the cold then November to March would be best time to visit. Christmas and Easter is said to be well decorated should you want a break during the festival seasons.
There is never a wrong time to visit Prague. I have heard every season is welcoming here so plan as per your preference.
TRAVELING AROUND PRAGUE
Most of our Europe travel was done using the train but when we were monitoring the prices and timings from Amsterdam to Prague we weren’t happy. The trains took longer and were more expensive as compared to the flights. Hence to reach Prague we had used the plane option from Amsterdam. From Prague we were traveling to Budapest hence we choose the overnight train. The trains were on time and we didn’t experience any problems.
During our stay in Prague we used the public transport and walking as our mode of travel. Wherever possible we preferred walking with the help of map as we absolutely loved the streets of Prague. Where the distance was far we choose metro, bus and tram option. Overall the transport was easy to use but be very careful of pickpockets. They are well dressed individuals who would pretend to help you and their partner would rob your wallet, speaking from personal experience. Don’t let that scare you, if you’re careful and aware it happens you will be fine.
There are three metro lines namely Line A (Green), Line B (Yellow) and Line C (Red). The three transfer station included Mustek, Muzeum and Florenc. For Tram the main one which we used was Tram 22. There is also the Historic Tram no. 41 which runs on weekends and holidays from April to Mid-November. Wherever the trams don’t run you have the options of using the bus. From the airport there is bus 119 and 100 which connects to the metro.
The tickets are also very easy to understand. You have the option of choosing Short-Term (30 mins to 3 days ) tickets or Long-Term (1 month to 1 year) tickets. For tourist short- term tickets are ideal. The different options include 30 minutes ticket, 90 minutes ticket, 24 hours ticket and 72 hours ticket. The ticket works as the name suggests, you can use it for transfer within the specified time. I would recommend choosing as per your itinerary. We had chosen 30 mins, 90 mins and 24 hours during our trip. You have to validate the ticket before your travel and keep punching it before every journey. The tickets are available at ticket vending machines, ticket offices, news stands, tourist information desk and through mobile phones or from the app.
WHERE WE STAYED IN PRAGUE
We had chosen two separate hotels during our stay in Prague. The reason for this decision was on the first day we arrived late at night. The last day we were taking the train to travel to Budapest and also wanted to be near old town.
We had booked Holiday Inn Prague Airport hotel for one night room only option. We had used the shuttle option from the airport which arrived soon after the call was placed. It is not far from the airport and you can also walk if you don’t want to wait for the shuttle. Our check in was smooth and we were very happy with the friendly team at the front desk. The rooms were clean, nice view from the windows, spacious and well equipped. We didn’t use the hotel restaurant, hence not sure on how it was. Overall we had a good stay, no complaints and would recommend.
For the second night we had chosen Hotel Noir for one night room only option. The hotel is located roughly 25 mins from the airport and trams and subways were walking distance from the hotel. There were also many convenient stores nearby and we didn’t have any issues walking in the neighbourhood. We received a warm welcome from the front desk who checked in and guided us on all our queries. We were very happy with the room size and cleanliness. Our room was facing the road but we didn’t experience any noise. The only negative is we experienced a small amount being charged to our credit card which was given for security deposit. This happened a week after our stay and we notified the bank it wasn’t our transaction. During our stay we didn’t have any issues and hence were happy.
THINGS TO DO IN PRAGUE
OLD TOWN SQUARE
This was where we first started exploring Prague and fell in love with the place. A historical square between Wenceslas Square and Charles Bridge.
There are many popular buildings with different architectural style throughout the place which you come across while walking. There are also various statues along the way.
Enjoying the locals perform, indulging in the food and being lost in the shops were some of the thing we loved doing here. You will end up spending a lot of time here and see fellow tourist doing the same, hence will find it crowded.
PRAGUE ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK
Installed in 1410 making it the third-oldest operating astronomical clock in the world. Mounted on the southern wall of Old Town in Old Town Square. It is believed with the locals that if the clock stops working then the city will suffer. The place is filled with tourists every hour, hence find a time or be there ahead of time to enjoy it closely.
It’s a very interesting clock when seen closely. The dial represents the position of the moon and sun along with a number of astronomical details; on either side of the clock is the statues of various Catholic Saints; on an hourly basis you will witnesses the moving Apostle and sculptures.
THE OLD TOWN HALL
Most visited monument in Prague which you can see during your walk in Old town Square. The place has changed a lot since 1338 but you will still see a small portion of the Gothic stone portal on the western side of the building.
JAN HUS MONUMENT
Standing in Old Town square this monument stands proudly showing Jan Hus who stood against corruption in the church and was burnt alive. It is a bronze sculpture where Jan Hus is standing in the middle with Hussite troops on one side and oppressed Protestants on the other.
CHURCH OF OUR LADY VICTORIOUS
It is also referred to as the Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague. The statues is from 16th century showing infant Jesus holding a globes cruciger which was donated in 1628. The church may not attract you from the outside but the inside is a must see. The baroque styled architecture makes it different to the other churches we visited during our time in Prague.
ST. NICHOLAS CHURCH
Here is another Baroque styled church near Lesser Town square. It was built from 1723-1737. In 1945 the church was used to hide radio broadcasts as the radio building was under attack. The 75 m high dome makes it the most striking building around the area. The green dome with its traces of gold can be very eye-catching.
This Gothic tower separates the New town with the Old Town. The entrance is small and can be easily overlooked. The stairs are narrow and spiral but on reaching the top you do get to witness an awesome view of Prague. As the name suggests it’s where gun powder was stored.
CHURCH OF OUR LADY BEFORE TYN
A dominant featured Gothic church which has 80 m high towers. The towers have spires with eight smaller spires in two layers of four. The exquisite spires with black and cream colours leaves a lasting image. Since 14th century this was the main church of the city and the towers are visible all over Prague.
We saw this on our way to Powder Gate, it is where the concerts are celebrate. Built in the Art Nouveau style which looked very impressive from outside. We only passed by this but later read that the interior decor is even more impressive. We regretted not seeing this from inside, so plan one should you have the time.
Built in the 9th century and still inviting visitors from all over the world. The walk along makes you visualise the whole history behind the place.
Prague castle also includes Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, Romanesque Basilica of St George, several other palaces, gardens and defence towers. I absolutely loved the Golden Lane where tiny houses are still seen which are almost 100s of years old.
The view of Prague is best observed from here. You get to see some of the iconic sights from this place which I truly enjoyed. This is definitely a must see place in Prague, you won’t be disappointed.
ST. VITUS CATHEDRAL
A Gothic styled cathedral which was completed in 1929. It is owned by the Czech government and is part of the Prague Castle Complex.
You really need to see the place to understand the hundreds of years of history to the place. It is pretty both inside and out, really very impressive. Loved seeing the stained, hand painted glasses. From outside each part of the church had a different structure.
A street built in the 16th century near Prague castle to house Rudolf II’s castle guards. The place is filled with small bright coloured houses on either sides. Many of the houses have now been turned into souvenir shops. When you do visit the miniature houses you will be fascinated with how they used to live in low ceiling and tiny moving spaces. I actually loved this particular lane. If you buy the Prague castle ticket then this lane is included.
Another iconic and popular place to see when visiting Prague. Constructed first back in 1357 but has gone through many restoration over time. This was the only means of crossing the river Vltava until 1841. There are Bohemian sandstone used and one of the most interesting stone bridges we had seen. They are decorated with 30 statues and statuaries along the bridge, all telling a story.
One thing really interesting now is it’s the main connection between Prague Castle and city’s Old Town. Hence you can always expect crowd here, which makes it harder to enjoy the beauty of the place. We had visited it during sunset and the place was filled with tourists.
This is the main city square where the business and cultural communities of new Prague is seen. It happens to be the place where main gathering and events takes place. The place is filled with pedestrians and is part of the World Heritage Site of Prague. We had heard that the place is not very safe but we didn’t experience anything bad.
When I first heard of this I was wondering why anyone would call it this. But upon seeing the place I do feel the name goes really well with the design. The place is in totally contrast to the rest of the city, a modern touch.
It was named after two dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers where the house represents two pair of dancers. The style is known as deconstructivist. It has won the Magazine’s design contest in 1997 and is also featured on the gold 2000 Czech Koruna coin issued by Czech National Bank.
PETRIN LOOKOUT TOWER
Built in 1891 with 208ft tall towers and is said to resemble the Eiffel Tower. There is a climb to reach the tower and has two observation deck. The long queue is always an issue, we personally didn’t want to wait in line. I would recommend doing this as the view is awesome. We did use the cable car to reach the place and enjoyed the ride.
NEW TOWN HALL
An administrative centre in Prague where in 1419 the first defenestration occurred. We actually didn’t have this on our plan of visit but happened to stumble upon it during our walk. There is an observation deck should you want to enjoy a different view of Prague. Beware of the climb up as there are roughly 200 plus steps.
OUR ITINERARY IN PRAGUE
We used the below map to plan our day during our stay. My itinerary mentions the places we visited while exploring.
- Arrived late night by flight at Prague. Took the hotel shuttle and checked in to Holiday Inn Prague Airport Hotel.
- Early morning checked out from our hotel. Took bus no 119 (or 342) to Nadrazi Veleslavin. Walked to Skalka Station and took the metro to Muzeum. From here walked 750 m (12 mins) to Hotel Noir.
- Checked in to Hotel Noir.
- From our hotel we then walked to Wenceslas Square (roughly 1 km). There is Tram no. 6 which will also take you there should you not want to walk.
- We walked to Old town square next.
- We first went to see the Old Town Hall. The Astronomical Clock was also on the west side of the same building. (No.8 on the above map)
- From Old Town Hall we walked to Jan Hus Monument. (2 mins away)
- We then headed to Powder Tower (No. 10 on the above map) on foot (roughly 500 m).
- Municipal House (No. 11 on the above map) was 1 min walk so we saw that on our way.
- Less than 5 mins (500m) away was Church of Our Lady before Tyn (No. 9 on the above map) so we walked there next.
- Walked to Charles Bridge(roughly 1.1 km). You can also take bus 207 or 194 should you not want to walk. (No. 5 on the above map)
- We choose to walk back to hotel (2.5km). You can also take Tram 22 to I.P.Pavlova should you not want to walk.
- From our hotel we took Tram no. 22 from I.P.Pavlova to Malostranske namesti and walk 700 m to reach Prague castle (no.1 on the above map). There are also other tram (Tram no. 6) option but you will have to change. The metro option makes you walk a lot hence we avoided it.
- From Prague Castle we walked to St. Nicholas Church (550m and no. 6 on the above map).
- We then walked to Church of Our Lady Victorious (350m and no. 7 on the above map)
- Later took the Cable train to Petrin lookout tower from Ujezd.( No. 4 on the above map)
- To get to Dancing house ( No. 19 on the above map) there are various bus and tram options to choose from. We took bus no.176 to Jiraskovo namesti and walked.
- We walked roughly 750 m to see New Town Hall. (No. 17 on the above map)
- Took the tram back to Old Town to enjoy more time here. Tram 9 from Vodickova and got off at Narodni Trida to reach Old Town.
- Walked to our hotel to pick up our bags and went to the station to catch late night train to Budapest.
THINGS TO NOTE IN PRAGUE
- Euro is not used here, you have to get Czech Crown. It’s easily available, walk around and check which gives best rates with less commission. Make sure you change in a known bank to avoid getting cheated.
- Czech is pretty hard to learn but an effort is always appreciated with the locals. Not many speak English here but we didn’t face much issues.
- There are five information centres to get more information on things to do in Prague. Old Town Hall, Wenceslas Square and Airport Terminal 2 would be ideal places as you would be visiting these places.
- Prague card offers free entry to 50 major tourist attraction and complimentary used of Prague public transport. It also offers airport connections and discounts in various boat trips. We didn’t use this but you could get more information in the information centre.
- Most of Prague tourist spots are walkable distance, advice wearing comfortable shoes.
- Museums are closed on Monday. Many shops are also not operational on Sundays. Plan accordingly.
- Some places like Charles Bridge or Old Town is always crowded. Sunset views are usually packed with people. Recommend waking up early morning if you want to avoid crowd.
- Petrin Tower usually has long queues. There are special skip the line tickets which can help you avoid the wait time if you’re keen on seeing the place.
- Climb to Prague Castle maybe daunting but it’s well worth the effort. Would recommend taking necessary precautions if you have difficulty walking.
- If you have time then visit other districts within Prague. Since it was our first visit we couldn’t plan anything else as we had to see the main things.
- Be careful while using cabs, I have read they do scam tourist. We didn’t use one.
- Be very careful of pickpocket, we did experience one in the train but were able to catch the thief. Be very careful of your belongings, they pretend to help you but end up stealing your wallets.
- Most hotels ask for credit card for deposit. Be careful and monitor your cards we had a small amount being charged which we called our bank and said it isn’t our transaction.
- Beer is cheaper in Prague than water, enjoy the change.
- 10% is usually the tipping norm here, or you can round the bill up.
- Would recommend trying out the local cuisine. Some of them included Trdelink (chimney cake), Vepro-knedlo-zelo (roast pork), Chlebicky (an open faced sandwich), Goulash, Palacinky (Czech pancakes), Grilovane Klobasy (grilled sausage)