The best things to do and avoid in Prague
Doing a post about Prague was one of the best experiences we have had since we started this blog. This is because Prague is actually spectacular even for virtual travel. It sure is one of the most charming places in the world. And almost every location here is photo-worthy.
Sure, all the people might not be too friendly, and you can’t expect every stranger to smile back. (If they do, there’s a high chance they were tourists like you.)
But the beautiful, extravagant architecture everywhere and the cheap rates, when compared to the rest of the popular tourist destinations, make all the things to do in Prague perfect for a weekend getaway. Even for a nice long summer.
It’s a city where days go by a little slower and you get to appreciate life a little better.
What are the COVID 19 Restrictions in Prague?
The Czech Republic advises most people to avoid traveling at this time. However, if you do need to travel, then you would have to undergo a viral test 1-3 days before your trip. And they also advise you to take another viral test before leaving the country.
The social distancing rules and the necessity of a mask are also heavily emphasized. Once you have reached Prague, it is mandatory to quarantine yourself for 7 days (if the test was negative.)
And if by any chance you traveled without testing, then a quarantine period of 10 days is recommended. For more information, check this site out.
What are the VISA regulations in Prague?
To enter Prague, you need a Schengen Visa. However, citizens of the EU (European Union) do not need a visa and can enter the country at any time. For the citizens of the countries listed below, you wouldn’t need a visa in case of stays up to 90 days.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Trinidad and Tobago
Visas are also not needed in case you already have a Schengen visa although for a different country. Also, if you’re a family member of an EU citizen, you would not need a visa to enter Prague.
If none of these conditions apply to you, make sure you book a visa well ahead of time. They do not provide visas at the airport or at the border. For more information specific to your country, checkthis site out.
Where can you stay in Prague?
- Timmy Apartment
- Cosmopole Hostel
- Little Quarter Hostel
- Hostel Boudnik
- Hostel Lípa
- Adam&Eva Hostel
- Mosaic House – Perfect for business trips.
- Secret Garden Apartment
- Old World Prague
These were some of the best places suggested by fellow travelers to stay on a budget in Prague.
Prague is a great place even for those of us who are on a budget. Each place offers something really unique and specific for all travel lovers. In short, here, there is something for everyone.
Be it a vacation on a budget or a luxury visit to Europe’s finest, Prague’s definitely got something for you. That is, after all, one of the things Prague is famous for.
Which are some of the must-try foods in Prague?
Prague is known for its delicious and affordable cuisines. The various flavors in their many dishes simply will not fail to entrance you. From palačinky to trdelník and the simple chlebíčky, Czech cuisine is surely a delight.
Oh, did I mention the smažený sýr that is just to die for? The spicy goulash, the grilled sausages, the pickled cheese, dumplings, well the list will never end, and to be honest, I do not want it to either.
Which are the best restaurants in Prague?
- Mistral Café – Here, the quality of food is of utmost importance.
- Field Restaurant – Famous for its paired menus, Field restaurant serves local and Scandinavian dishes.
- Café Savoy, Malá Strana – It is advised to make a reservation in advance here as there is a slight chance it could be full and reserved. This beautiful restaurant serves classic Czech dishes and authentic French cuisine as well.
- Café Vitkov- This cafe stands on a flat roof that serves as a terrace. And it is surely one of the most authentic places to visit in Prague.
- Eska – A must go place for people who love the bakery and baked items.
- Kmotra Pizzeria, Nove Mesto – Well we cannot avoid a pizza parlor in town as we are pizza lovers. Now if you are too, then you just cannot ignore this place that is the oldest pizzeria in the city. It still uses traditional methods to make the Pizza and maybe that’s their secret for ranking on the top.
- Lehka Hlava– Reservation is almost becoming a need here at this vegan restaurant. Maybe it’s the starry ceiling or maybe it’s the fresh meat-free menu.
The very first thought that comes to Philip’s mind when I say the word Prague is food. (Okay between us, I think it’s the first thought that comes to my mind too). Hence almost all the restaurants and cafes that situate at this authentic place enlighten our moods and bring a smile without a doubt. But since the best is in question, we think these are the best.
What are the best things to do in Prague?
So, you’re finally here. The places look beautiful. The restaurants are great. But what next?
Of course, the many festivals conducted throughout the year are something worth going for. So are the Christmas Markets in the Old Town. Here we have compiled a small list of things for you to check out while in ‘the City of Hundred Spires.’
1. Old Town Square
This is definitely something worth your trip. Yes, you will have to keep an extra eye on your wallet but otherwise, a simple walking tour all around the Old Town Square is just the perfect way to start off your stay in Prague.
Not only is it one of the best places to admire the architecture, but it’s also quite lively with all the performers and musicians. Christmas Markets are held each year in the Old Town Square so if your visit takes place during the Christmas season, you just got luckier.
2. The Prague Castle
The Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in the world with a huge area of up to 70,000m². But that’s not what attracts people to this beautiful monument. The castle has a rich history and a huge place in the Czech culture.
Until a while back, it was the natural headquarters of the arts and sciences in Europe. Many of the buildings inside like St Vitus Cathedral also add to the attraction because of the architectural genius in them. The castle grounds are free to roam for anyone but some of the buildings inside would require entry tickets.
3. The John Lennon Wall
The wall is a memorial to John Lennon who advocated for peace and free speech. It’s not just any graffiti covered wall. It used to be a wall filled with anti-Communist graffiti but now it’s a wall which tries to spread a message of hope in difficult times.
Many of the original graffiti is lost under a sea of the new ones but that’s just the specialty of this wall. There was a time when anyone could contribute to the wall but due to problems of vulgar messages being painted on this monument, tourists are now asked to write on it with only chalk and markers.
At any cost, this wall is definitely worth a trip and an incredible photo.
4. Vltava River
Prague is also known for the Vltava river, which is the longest river in the country. Cruises on this river are definitely another thing for which you should go. Many of the city tours include cruises on the river.
If you get access to one of the really good ones, you’ll be able to see different but beautiful views of the Charles Bridge, the Prague Castle, and many other attractions from the river.
The best time to go for these cruises is during the evenings in spring or fall as the castle is illuminated and makes for a really wonderful view.
5. Mala Strana
I wouldn’t recommend buying the souvenirs here but a walk on the streets of Mala Strana would do you a lot of good. The cobblestone squares, the beautiful churches, and the many activities definitely make up for the overpriced food too.
Mala Strana looks like it’s been taken straight out of a fairytale. You could take a walk across the beautiful Charles Bridge to cross over to the Mala Strana from the Old Town. The best time to do so would be in the early morning or at late night so as to enjoy the stroll without the crowds.
6. Petrin Hill
The Petrin tower is found on the peripheries of Mala Strana. To reach the top of the tower, you would have to hike up the hill first and then climb 229 steps. So clearly, this isn’t for the faint-hearted. However, the climb is well worth the final view at the top.
The tower is an amazing lookout and provides the beholder a stunning view of all that Prague has to offer you. It also has a funicular that provides you better views of Prague Castle, Prague’s numerous spires, and many more. Petrin tower is also quite hard to miss as it even slightly resembles the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
7. KGB museum
If you’re into history or you have always been a fan of spy stories, you would really enjoy this tour. (You would also enjoy it if you’ve always wanted to be bestowed super-spy skills one day like me.) It does cost a certain fee to enter it, but you also get a guided tour with it so it’s pretty good.
The museum contains many unusual items like the death mask of Lenin, Soviet uniforms, spy cameras, the Trotsky murder weapon, and many other things from back then. But the best part of the museum is the unique photographs. I’m not going to tell you more actually. It’s just something you’ve got to see yourselves.
Josefov is the Prague Jewish Quarter. This is another one of those things that may not be mentioned in every city tour but it’s still an integral part of Prague. The Jewish Quarter was actually meant as a protection for Jews in the starting. And then it was turned into a ghetto when the authorities soon learned of its existence.
It was after many years of torture and suffering that the Roman Emperor Josef II emancipated them, giving rise to the area’s name, Josefov. The beautiful architecture within and the rich history compels you more to visit this tourist attraction.
What should I avoid in Prague?
Prague is definitely one of the safer countries in the world, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy for tourists here. And if you’re new to Prague, these are definitely some things you want to watch out for.
1. No. 22 Tram
Almost anyone who has gone to Prague can tell you either of how their wallets were stolen or how they took many precautions to avoid that happening. The no. 22 tram is especially very famous for this. Looking like a tourist makes you more vulnerable to these problems.
You can’t exactly stop looking like a tourist in most cases, but you can do many things to avoid this. Taking the more historic tram line no. 41 might be a good substitute. It provides good views and fewer crowds.
2. Overcharging by taxis
Another common problem is that most taxi drivers take advantage of your ignorance. Most of them cite prices that are much higher than regular prices. Most people consider Prague as one of the cheaper destinations with many things to do and yet they find themselves ripped off.
Prague has limited the maximum rate per kilometer to 28 CZK ($1.10) per kilometer. So, make sure to check this out. Also, do ask for the final price before getting in the taxi. In most situations, Uber is the best option.
3. Fake souvenir shops
These are another set of tourist traps. Fake souvenir shops are set up all over Prague to trick tourists into buying cheaply manufactured items for higher prices. Most of us who visit here may not necessarily know the authenticity of many souvenirs and may not even think of asking.
After all, if they claim Russian nesting dolls are made in Prague, who are we to dispute them? This isn’t just limited to these dolls. Many ushankas (furry hats), ‘Made in China’ t-shirts, etc are sold here daily to the unquestioning tourist crowd. But not all of these shops sell bad stuff.
There are also those shops that sell real Prague souvenirs which include (but are not limited to) handmade marionettes and Bohemian garnets.
4. Money Exchange offices
To be honest, I didn’t know this still happened so frequently, so it surprised me. Many tourists get scammed and lose their money quite regularly due to tricky deals in money exchange offices. So that’s one thing to keep in mind. Keep a good look out for such scams.
Never exchange your money on the streets, no matter how good the rates may seem. You can lose up to a third of your money due to hidden commissions or be a victim of fake notes. Try to not exchange money in airports because the rates aren’t very good there either.
It is also advised to withdraw money from ATMs next to banks instead of separate ATMs. However, not everything is bad. There are also many authentic exchange offices that offer fair rates at 0% commission. Check out this site to find a few reliable offices.
5. Overpriced food
Most of Prague’s cuisine is available to the common man at affordable prices. So, if you end up going to a place that over charges for food, you’re definitely in the wrong place. Most of the restaurants in and around the Old Town are included in this list.
The best thing to do would be to take a tour led by a friendly local. They could probably show you where you could get the best food at the best prices.
6. People in seasonal costumes
It’s also a good idea to avoid places with people dressed in medieval costumes. It’s a cheap marketing technique and may even lead you to restaurants and hotels with higher prices. Moreover, do watch out if they hand you tickets to concerts or shows.
There’s often the chance of fraud and it would be better if you book those concert tickets yourself. After all, you do want to remember those famous orchestras of Prague with nostalgia rather than loss.
7. Shady neighborhoods
You don’t have to be too worried about the safety of the city. The Czech Republic is one of the safest countries in the world. But at the same time, well-placed precautions are always good.
Charles Bridge, Karlova and Melantrichova Streets, the Wenceslas Square, the Old Town Square, and other such crowded tourist attractions are some places where an extra piece of caution would do you good.
But if you’re out in Prague for a weekend and you are standing in a huge crowd for hours to see something, let me already tell you. It’s not worth it. Yes, the Astronomical Clock is indeed fabulous but if half a day is spent just trying to catch a glimpse of it…you see my point, right?
There are many other picturesque and charming locations all over the city, where your time would be much better spent. An afternoon in Vyšehrad or a walk to the monument at Vitkov might just be the thing for you. Moreover, if you absolutely have to visit these rather crowded places, try going at late nights or early mornings.
Early mornings are absolutely wonderful for taking beautiful pictures.
A Few Extra Tips:
- The best time to visit Prague is in the springtime. Autumn isn’t bad either. It’s when the city is at it’s most beautiful with lots of things to do.
- You’re advised to always leave a 10% tip for services. It’s polite and frankly, very much expected. However, do make sure that your tip isn’t already added to your bill.
- The best places to eat are located away from the tourist hub of the city. That’s where you get good food at good prices. You even get a closer look at the daily life in Prague.
- You do get good beer and at cheap costs but that doesn’t mean the Czechs have any tolerance for drunk drivers.
- Get the Prague Card or the Prague City Pass depending on the length of your stay to use public transportation for free as well as to see visit anywhere from 15 to 39 attractions during your stay.
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