Whether you head to Prague in the heat of the summer or the frosty chill of winter, you’re bound to be blown away by the city’s beauty and bustling vibes. It’s stocked full of brilliant places to eat, delicious places to drink like a fish and sights that will leave you amazed! There’s so much to see in Prague, it’s paramount that you wear comfy shoes that you can walk for miles in as you’ll be getting so much exercise exploring the Czech city.
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic – a little fact I had to divulge to a crew of Bristolian ladies who were off to party for a Hen do on my EasyJet flight. They were beyond excited to head off to this little gem of a city, despite not knowing much about their destination and being absolutely blind drunk by 11am on Lambrini.
Sure, Prague is a very attractive option for hen and stag do’s, but ignore the fact that bride-to-be passengers spew within 45 mins of the flight, and focus more on how to see as much as you can on a weekend break to the city.
Typically, I had done minimal research on the city as the trip had come around so fast, but luckily I explored my socks off with the help of numerous recommendations that didn’t fail me one bit. Armed with a city map with scrawls of notes (that unfortunately covered many street names) and a lust to explore, I ventured off to meet my old university friend, Hazel, for a European reunion that I wanted to douse in a good helping of goulash and cocktails.
For those who also do minimal research, here’s a concise guide to Prague and the steps you need to take to see the sparkling city. From where to stay to candlelit hidden gems, you’ll have a blast if you make sure you hit up all these places!
1. How to get there
Many airlines in England fly to Prague and you can get flights for very little. If you choose to fly out of peak season (the Christmas months and the hot summer months) then you can grab a bargain and have more spending money to enjoy.
I flew with EasyJet with carry-on (gosh that was hard to pack!) and had booked a shuttle to take me to my hostel. It’s so easy to book and although it’s pricer than using public transport, I’m a fan of getting to my destination as easily as possible. You can book a shuttle here and be picked up from the airport. Just be aware that all Prague drivers are nuts and always wear a seatbelt (followed by a quick prayer).
2. Where to stay
I managed to find a place that shared my name. Miss Sophie’s is run by some absolutely lovely people who really know the city inside and out, so anything they recommend is dependable!
Miss Sophie’s is a hostel/hotel hybrid – you can book a private room with your own bathroom or spend a bit less in a dorm or sharing a bathroom. Set in a magnificent tall gothic building, you hike up to your floor on a stunning spiralling stone staircase and enter modern, clean rooms that have chandeliers and great storage units to unpack in.
Miss Sophie’s also do a breakfast buffet for 5 euros – it looked great but we had too many places to hit up to stay in the hostel for the morning meal. But I have to say that the coffee was fantastic and I must have drank a few litres during my stay.
The owners also have two other hostels available in the city, and going off my experience at Miss Sophie’s, I’ll assume that they must also be rad. I would definitely go and try out their other locations from my positive experience!
3. What tour to take
I don’t usually take tours, but the sheer amount of sights in Prague was slightly intimidating. Our hostel was a pick-up point for the Free Walking Tours that are run through the city so we thought we’d go for it.
We were picked up by James fresh and early, and were taken to the centre of the Old Town to begin the tour. It was clear that our Prague tour guide, James, absolutely loved this city and his knowledge was astounding – the tour is ‘pay what you think its worth’ so unfortunately it wasn’t free for us as we had to pay a good amount to show our epic appreciation. No regrets though!
You’ll be taken through the Old Town of Prague – the historic and architecturally impressive quarters that will have your camera steaming from overuse. See the Town Square with it’s famous astronomical clock, see the Powder Gate that is one of the last remaining Gothic towers that surrounded the city, see the rich Art Nouveau Jewish quarter and hear the extensive history that surrounds every single monument.
The tour lasts until lunchtime so you get taken around to a heap of sights, before ending at the river. It’s a tour that has changed my mind about city tours as I swear I would have missed out on so much without James.
4. Don’t worry about money
With European holidays, I was used to having to pay a small fortune to live it up. I want to dine out and taste local food, I want to have a drink at midday, I want to explore the shops and I want to go see sights that may require paid transport or entrance fees. I don’t like being restricted by cash, but it makes me sad having to see my bank account drained dry by getting out and about.
As I went to Prague for a long weekend, I decided to not care about the budget and just go for it. But on my first night, we dined out and drank many alcoholic beverages without looking at prices (YOLO) and were SO surprised by the bill. Pleasantly surprised, that is!
If you eat and drink at the right places, you can eat SO cheaply! Our meals were always matched with either, beer, wine, gin or dessert and we never paid more than £8 each in one sitting. And that was when we really pushed the boat out! Hot Toddies? For £2? Yes please. Two mains each? Only £5? Ok then! Souvenirs for greedy housemates? Sure, they can have a wooden Prague-stamped harmonica for £0.50 if they want! Money was no obstacle here so live it up and do whatever Prague attractions you fancy.
5. Eat Goulash like a local
You need to avoid the Prague restaurants and cafes that surround the tourist areas. You’re likely to find expensive food and dishes that just aren’t up to scratch if you follow the crowd and join queues that trick you into thinking the people are lining up for something incredible.
As we stayed out of the Old Town, we were surrounded by eateries that weren’t too pretty in decor, but their food was incredible. We tried the Czech dish, Goulash, several times as it was winter and we needed hearty warming food, but we managed to find some spots that did not fail us. The first goulash spot was ____ and although I was tired and starved from my flight, I knew it was bloody good. Stewed beef in a rich gravy with odd bits of sausage and a variety of doughy dumplings captured my heart and I had high hopes for the trip if the food was going to be this good!
Another great spot was Hajnovka where the tankards of Czech beer cast shadows across our whole table and the dish was positively drowned in the delicious gravy. Beige and brown food doesn’t photograph particularly well, but hopefully you can feel the tasty vibes!
6. Hunt for those cocktail bars
I was totally caught unawares by how many cocktail spots there were in Prague! With a bit of research, you’ll be able to find the best places to sip on top-notch drinks that won’t blow your budget at all!
My top favourites include El Mojito, a dimly lit latino bar that specialised in my favourite cocktail… Mojitos. They had a whole A4 page dedicated to the drink in their menu, but I went for the classic which was perfect. It’s buzzing and relaxed, with plenty of tables and flirtatious Spanish staff.
If you like finding hidden bars, then head to Jazz Club. We found this by accident as we wandered the alley ways and were coaxed down a street by cool jazz music playing from a basement window. Step down the staircase and enter the subterranean bar with high vaulted raw cut stone ceilings. Set in the cellars of Prague, you can listen to the live music while sipping on £3.50 cocktails, relaxing to the max.
Another top choice is Bar and Books, the sister cocktail bar to the NYC venue. Ok, so this wasn’t cheap but you’re paying for the opulent surrounds and attentive, glamorous staff who take your coat at the door and nestle you amongst the clientele against rich wood and leather seating.
Oh yeah, you’re also paying for the most incredible cocktails as my Basil martini was flawless. Discovering this place really made my Prague trip.
7. Take a jaunt up the castle
Yes, this is a must for those heading to Prague. Not only will you see the complex of contradicting architectural styles, but you will also take in amazing panoramic views of the city!
The gothic part of the castle is incredible and make sure you go view it in the late afternoon to skip the crowds and capture the scene in the stunning golden hour light. The intricate design of the castle is phenomenal and I was blown away by the sight. FYI it can take a lot of impress me, especially with notorious tourist attractions.
The castle lies north to the Old Town, and is a short walk up hill. On your way down, meander down the streets and walk across the Charles Bridge to get back to the bustle. The bridge is super busy, but it has to be done!
Go late or early in the day to avoid the crowds and look at the statues of the deities that loom sinisterly over you. If you want great photos, walk a bit further down the river to look back and capture the bridge in all its glory.
8. Have a boogie
A guide to Prague always needs to include where to go to dance your socks off! Prague is home to a booming nightlife full of places to dance the night away. Cross Club was recently named as one of Europe’s best night clubs, and although we didn’t make it over there (OK we’re lazy and it was on the opposite side of town to our hotel) we ventured to Chapeau Rouge for a night that didn’t see us slinking home till 4am.
The epic goulash might be the answer to our stamina, but the house music was freaking great! I have a love-hate relationship with House music as I’ve seen many House DJ’s which are awful, but this three-tiered club (free entry!) had plenty going on. The basement level saw a female duo absolutely kill it on the decks and I developed a mega girl crush on them as they kept the music spinning.
Just be careful of the taxis in Prague, as they will try scam you. We ended up walking home after being quoted a £20 price for a ride home that should have been about £6. No thanks!
9. Go outside of Prague
This is a bit of a curve ball as it involves you getting on a train and leaving the city far behind, but you should definitely add it to your Prague To Do list. Head to the train station and get a return ticket for about £3 out to Kutna Hora to see a gothic wonder if a church. If you’re squeamish about skeletons and bones, then this isn’t for you. But if you have a macabre streak in you then you’ll enjoy this.
Tours will charge you double the amount of the train fare to take you out there, so we decided to DIY our excursion. We boarded the massive old trains that looked like they were straight out of a Wes Anderson movie and relaxed/dozed on the 45 minute ride.
It’s so easy to get directions to the Ossuary, the bone chapel, and it is a quick 15 minute walk from the train station. It’s estimated to contain between 40,000 – 70,000 people. In 1400, a gothic church was built over the cemetery and this lower chapel was used to store the bones of the graves that were disturbed in the construction.
The job of arranging the bones was given to a blind monk, and he put them in incredible patterns. The myth is that he regained his sight after this job, and the arrangements are truly fascinating. The piece de la resistance is the chandelier that contains every bone of the human body.
When returning, ask around on your platform if you’re getting on the right train as we nearly ended up on a train bound for the complete opposite direction of Prague….
So there you have a quick recommendation of a guide to Prague in 9 steps. Add these to your itinerary and you’re bound to catch some great things in this beautiful city that will NEVER bore you!
Do you have any more Prague tips to add to my list?
All photographs by Sophie Saint, apart from Chapeau Rouge via Visit-Prague