Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

Where to stay: Where you stay in Prague really depends on how involved you want to be involved in the local culture versus tourist culture.  If you’re looking for a more local experience, I highly recommend the neighborhoods of Zizkov or Vinohrady (Prague 3 or 2), as they’re full of great pubs and cafes, and there are often markets and festivals in that area.  You’ll be able to find both Airbnb and hostel options in these neighborhoods, it’ll just take some research to determine what’s best for you.  The most important thing when choosing a location is that you be close to a metro station, as the metro is really convenient for helping you to get around the city.  Alternatively, you can look in the Old Town, as this will put you very close to almost all of the tourist sites, and also close to almost all major public transit routes.  I once stayed at Hostel Orange on Wenceslas Square, and despite the fact that this particular square can get a little sketchy at night, I would recommend staying there.  Prague is generally a safe city, so it’s nothing to be afraid of, but because Wenceslas Square is so touristy, it brings out some of the crazy that you’ll find in any city.

Where to eat: Prague is a great city because it certainly has its own authentic flavor, but it also offers options for food from around the world.  In terms of Czech food, my favorite is definitely beef goulash and dumplings- it’s a classic, and almost anywhere you get it it’ll be good.  I absolutely recommend staying far from the city center, and particularly Old Town Square.  Anywhere that advertises “Authentic Czech Food” probably sells over-priced and potentially not actual authentic Czech food.  Instead, head to U Sadu near the Jiriho z Podebrad metro station/TV Tower, and you’ll have a much cheaper and authentic Czech meal.  If you’re looking for something cheap for lunch, go to Kolonial near the Old Synagogue and Jewish Cemetery, and order off the lunch menu (the white papers laying on the tables, not the regular menu).  If they don’t give it to you in English, you can ask for it, but the meals around just over 100 CZK, and they’re quite good!  For a great breakfast, you should definitely try Cafe Louvre near Narodni Trida.  It’s an absolutely stunning building with a fabulous history (both Kafka and Einstein were regulars) and delicious brunch menu items.  You might also try the Bakeshop in the Jewish Quarter for some tasty treats, although it is slightly more touristy than the previously mentioned suggestions.

What to do: Prague offers a multitude of things to see and do for people with many widespread interests.  The one thing that is particularly striking about Prague is its architecture, particularly in the Staromestska and Mala Strana neighborhoods.  I certainly recommend spending an afternoon wandering through these neighborhoods down side streets and such to explore the most beautiful areas of Prague.  Prague has many tour options, so it’s hard to choose which to take, but I have had wonderful experience with Discover Prague Tours free walking tour- they meet quite close to Old Town Square, and offer a wonderful insight into the city.  Of course, a visit to Prague would be incomplete without a stop at Prague Castle, but while you’re up there, you might also consider a visit to the Strahov Monastery, just up the hill from the castle, where you can visit a gorgeous and historic library, as well as a restaurant where they brew their own beers.  Despite how touristy the area is, I also recommend a stop to the Lennon Wall, simply because it’s a cool place to be, but also because the neighborhood is really beautiful and there are some great museums around that really showcase Czech art.  You might also consider getting tickets to see an opera or a ballet, as the tickets can be really inexpensive, particularly for students, and they’re always incredible.  Seeing Don Giovanni at the Estate’s Theatre is a particularly special experience, as this is the theatre where the opera first premiered with Mozart himself conducting.

If you’re visiting Prague in the summer, you should definitely check out the area called Naplavka along the river, where you can buy beer and snack and sit along the water- it’s a gorgeous place to be.  If you’re looking for a great market area, Jiriho z Podebrad Namesti has a beautiful farmer’s market every Wednesday and Saturday, plus special other occasional markets and festivals throughout the week which are definitely worth checking out.  While you’re in that neighborhood, a ride up to the top of the TV Tower will give you a great view of the city.  Near the Namesti Miru metro station, there is a gorgeous park with a chateau and winery which is essentially unvisited by tourists, so if you’re looking for a bit of an escape, certainly check out the Vinicni Altan winery for their tasting schedule.  For great views of Prague, head over to Petrin or Letna parks, or up to Vysehrad, as these are the best places to view all of Prague for free!

Overall Opinion: I have really fallen in love with Prague, and truly enjoy living in this gorgeous city.  There is so much to see, do, and explore, that walking around the city never gets old.  One of the best things about Prague is how often special events like markets and festivals are held, so it’s certainly worth doing some Googling to see what’s going on while you’re visiting.  I also love the emphasis that this city places on the arts and culture- there are so many great cultural activities to participate in, whether it be art museums, operas, art galleries, plays, etc., there is always something interesting going on, and almost always something to suit everyone’s taste.  I definitely recommend spending a few days in Prague to explore, and then perhaps getting out of the city to visit places like Cesky Krumlov, Terezin, Pilsen, or Kutna Hora, as these also offer a great insight into Czech history and culture.

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