Prague has everything. A rich history, beautiful squares, museums, good food, incredible views. And most importantly: cheap beer.
Nearly two years after I travelled through South East Asia, my trip to Prague with six other friends was the closest I’ve been to backpacking again.
I’ll be honest, we spent a lot of time getting familiar with Prague’s bars and clubs, but we did spend some time exploring the city too.
From the historic castle and Charles Bridge, to shopping around the Old Town or visiting the various museums, there is something for everyone in Prague.
We flew into Vaclav Havel airport, and got an Uber to the centre. It cost around 300czk, with taxis asking for closer to 500czk. If an airport transfer is an option, save the hassle and get straight to your hotel.
Alternatively, buses do run into the centre but the information at the bus station isn’t entirely obvious.
If you’re arriving overland, the Florenc coach station is close to Nemesti Republiky square. Operators like Flixbus arrive and depart from here, and we found them cheap and efficient when we left Prague for Brno. The city’s main rail station is five minutes from the bus station.
Where to stay:
We stayed at the Old Prague Hostel, and I couldn’t recommend it enough. While there are definitely cheaper options around, the hostel is in a good location in the Old Town and has a really welcoming atmosphere.
Rooms are clean, and communal areas are great for socialising. Staff were also really helpful and fair with a big group like ours.
The entrance to the hostel is not the clearest, so we found ourselves walking around the old town looking for the right street a few times, but our overall experience with the hostel was great.
What to do:
Possibly Prague’s most famous attraction is the Charles Bridge. At dawn, the bridge is apparently quiet and beautiful, but I was never in a state to wake up that early! Instead we joined every other tourist in Prague and walked over the bridge in the middle of the day. The statues and tower at the beginning are impressive, despite the tourists.
Across the bridge is Prague’s iconic castle which dominates every postcard stall in the city, and it’s easy to see why. Overlooking the river, the castle gets more impressive the closer you get. Despite being the oldest ancient castle in the world, it is still the official residence of Czech Republic’s President.
The climb up the hill to the castle gates offers amazing views of the city, and the narrow lanes inside he complex show how the castle has been used over time. Basic entry is 15CZK, but more specific tickets are required for access to various parts of the castle.
We didn’t buy a full tour, but were happy enough admiring the seriously impressive cathedral in the centre of the complex. Guards still stand at the gates to the castle and change in a ceremony every at noon every day.
Also over the river from the Old Town is the Letenske sady park, which is best accessed from the Cechuv bridge and a steep climb up the hill. At the top is the Prazsky Metronom. It’s an odd choice for a sculpture, but the views over Prague are arguably better than at the castle. The park is a relaxing alternative to the busy tourist areas.
On the other side of the park is the Generali Arena, home of Sparta Prague. We were lucky enough to catch a game at Sparta while we were in Prague, and I wrote about it as part of my Travel Goals sports travel blog series.
Just walking around Prague is a great way to see the city. The Old Town is full of narrow streets and old buildings. The Old Town Square itself is a lovely place to relax and people-watch. The astronomical clock in the corner of the square is impressive, although the building was undergoing work while we were there.
A short walk from the Old Town Square is Wenceslas Square – a larger and more commercial area of the city. This is where the proclamation of independence of Czechoslovakia was read in 1918 and many demonstrations have been held, particularly against Nazi and then Soviet invasions.
Be prepared to fend off promoters advertising strip clubs in the area. We found simply asking if there were any men in the clubs an effective way to get rid of them.
At the top of Wenceslas Square is the National Museum, which has a good range of scientific and historical collections. Nearby is also the Army Museum for anyone interested in Czech military history.
As I mentioned, the main attraction of Prague for us was the nightlife, and we weren’t disappointed. Beer in Czech Republic is cheap and strong, and there are no shortage of places to drink. In the Old Town, we spent time in James Dean, Chapeau Rouge, and the Dubliner Irish Pub. We spent our last night at the Dubliner, and even though Irish Pubs are not normally my sort of thing, a folk band playing Angels by Robbie Williams soon persuaded me!
Most nights we ended up at Karlovy Lazne, which claims to be the biggest club in Europe. Whether that’s true or not, there’s five floors of different music, an ice bar, and even more cheap beer. The queue and entrance price both increase at the weekend, but it didn’t seem to bother any of us!
If clubs aren’t your scene, there’s plenty of quiet bars around the Old Town and beyond.
After Prague, we continued to Czech Republic’s second city, Brno. Then, I spent a crazy 24 hours in Vienna before heading back home. It may have only been a week, but this small reminder of backpacking whet my travelling appetite again.
Blogs on Brno and Vienna are coming soon.