Getting off the beaten path a bit may be difficult in a capital city like Prague. But it is still possible to get an indie experience here.
- Instead of visiting the famous Prague Castle, make plans to visit Vysehrad Castle, sitting on the top of a hill. It’s been left to fall into ruin and all you can see the ruins of a former fortification of the castle. Oh and the stunning views of the city!
- The Botanical Gardens are a lovely place to escape the touristy spots. In winter, you can warm up in the green house, while in the summer you can hide from the sun under the trees.
- Visit a vineyard. Within the city, you can find Vinični Altan, which is easily reached by tram. Taste the locally produced wine.
- If you feel like to need to work out a bit – after all that good food and wine – head to Stromovka Park. Rent a pair of rollerblades or just take a long walk on the alleys.
- Visit the Medieval town of Cesky Krumlov. It is located on the Vltava River and is well known for the 13th century castle.
>>Check out these off the beaten path experiences in Prague
Why you should add Prague to your RTW travel list
Of course Prague wouldn’t be complete without seeing some of the sites that makes it famous. Here are some ideas on what to do if you’ve never been there or plan on staying for a while.
- Visit Prague Castle, the biggest ancient castle in the world.
- Walk on Charles Bridge. For the best views of the Castle, plan your visit at sunset (or sunrise, if you can wake up early).
- Visit the Old Town, with its Astronomical Clock, Gothic Týn Church and other historical buildings.
- If you plan to be in Prague for the Christmas Market, don’t leave without souvenirs. You can find anything , from hand made jewelry to interesting tree ornaments. And let’s not forget the food and the mulled wine.
- Take a walk in the Lesser Town (Malá strana). It is known for the beautiful streets and the Venetian-like canal with water wheel. The Lesser Town is located across the Vltava River from the city centre, leading to the castle.
- Eat in a local pub. Don’t expect the bartenders to speak English – so bring a phrasebook – but do enjoy the food and beer.
Why you should not add Prague to your RTW travel list
- Prague was very cheap, but over the years that has changed. Still, it’s not as expensive as London, Paris or Rome, but it’s not very cheap either.
- The low season only brings cheaper room rates but , otherwise, the city is busy with tourists year-round. The Christmas Market is very popular so December is packed with shoppers; and the sites are filled with tourists during the entire summer.
- If you want to visit other Central-European countries while you are in Prague, your best bet is to take the train (and most likely go via Budapest). Don’t expect any low-cost flights within the area.
- Going off the beaten path is amazing, but you need some knowledge of the local language. A phrasebook is a good start, always.
Prague, or Praha as it's locally known, is the capital of the Czech Republic. Its historic old center is hospitable to tourists, as the vast majority of the city's sites are within walking distance. In fact, many visitors to Prague never venture outside the old town to the sprawling modern city beyond. That's okay, because there's enough to see and do in old Prague to keep you occupied for quite awhile.
What to do
Prague's Old Town, the oldest part of the city, sits on the right bank of the Vltava River. There's plenty to see, including the popular hangout the Old Town Square and the nearby astronomical clock (crowds gather every hour to see the puppets move). The architecture of historic Prague is distinctive, partly because the city suffered far less damage during the war than other cities, so its interesting buildings remain interesting to this day.
Nearby, you'll want to take a stroll on Prague's most famous bridge over the Vltava - Charles Bridge. Before the Velvet Revolution in 1989, the bridge was pretty but lifeless. Now, the days find it full of musicians, artists and vendors.
The Jewish Quarter (Josefov) is adjacent to the Old Town, and is the historic Jewish ghetto. The collection of synagogues (along with a few other important buildings) is called the Jewish Museum, and there's a combined ticket for all of them. The Jewish Quarter is remarkably well-preserved, especially since Prague was occupied by the Nazis, but there's an explanation for that. The Nazi intent was to set that part of the city aside as a museum of an extinct race - so in a twisted way, we have the Nazis to thank for the preservation of the Jewish buildings and relics.
Of particular note in the Jewish Quarter are the Spanish Synagoguge (a Moorish style building that's beautifully deocorated inside), the Jewish Cemetery (the oldest in Europe, where people are buried in layers for lack of space and there are estiamtes of more than 12,000 people buried within its walls) and Franz Kafka's house. Europe's oldest active synagogue, the Old New Synagogue, is also in the Jewish Quarter.
Beyond the Old Town, Prague Castle sits atop the highest point on the left bank of the Vltava, and is the largest ancient castle in the world (ask Guinness). From the Castle's find perch you'll get a great view of central Prague, and inside the Castle's walls you'll find the lovely St. Vitus Cathedral. The New Town's biggest draw is the bustling Wenceslas Square. And architecture buffs will want to check out Prague's Dancing House, nicknamed the "Fred and Ginger Building," co-designed by Vlado Miluni and Frank Gehry.
You can book a flight into Prague's Ruzyne International Airport
(code: PRG), which is about 10 km outside the city. Airfares are usually reasonable, but you might also consider flying into Frankfurt and arriving by train. Prague's central location makes it a great stop for those using a Eurail Pass
Where to stay
There are plenty of hotels in Prague
, but they aren't as cheap as one might expect. There are also quite a few hostels in Prague
, which definitely help people on a backpacker's budget.
For more cheap hotels in Prague
, visit our friends at EuroCheapo.