Tips for a great stay in Prague
Click&Go’s Kim Purcell is a big fan of Prague. In fact, she liked the city so much she got married there! With daily flights to Prague from Dublin, it’s an ideal destination for a few days away on a quick city break. There is also a great range of hotels in Prague to cater for all tastes from budget to 5-star. Have a look at what Kim has to say, or if you’ve been there yourself, feel free to leave your own suggestions for anyone planning a trip to Prague.
Sightseeing and tourist attractions in Prague
If you are planning a holiday in Prague, there are many interesting places worth a visit and there really is something for everyone. Whether you’re into history (from Medieval to the Cold War), architecture (including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque and Art Nouveau), art (there are many museums around the city), classical music, opera or ballet (you can find performances at any time of the day all over the city) you’re sure to find something of interest. Or if you simply want to party, there are hundreds of bars and clubs all over the city, some of which stay open through the night.
There are plenty of walking tours of Prague to choose from, most of which begin in Old Town Square. Tickets can usually be booked through your hotel or at tourist information booths, which are dotted all over the city. The ‘Castle by night’ Tour is organized by a company called The Naked Tour Guide. Set up by Irishman Marcus, the company offers small group walking tours with different themes and holds a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor.
My colleague Bettina spent New Year’s Eve in Prague and checked them out –
“They come highly rated and recommended and I agree 100%. The tour I was on was led by a guide called Imogen who was highly knowledgeable and made it a lot of fun. She even brought small hot water bottles to put under our coats to keep us warm in -5 degrees. After the walk, she took us for a beer in a cosy, traditional Prague pub, which is something they always do – and a great finish to our excursion”
Also, don’t miss taking a stroll across Charles Bridge. Just take in the buzz of the place and the views of the Old Town on one side and views of the Lesser Town & the Castle atop the hill on the other side. And you must visit Prague Castle! The Gothic Cathedral inside is spectacular and the views down over the city are fab.
If you fancy a bit of peace and quiet in this bustling city, take a visit to the park on Kampa Island where you can admire the city in peace and quiet from the opposite side of the river, or just veg out on the grass for an hour or two.
Shopping in Prague
On Wenceslas Square (which is actually a street), you will find some of the high street chains we have at home, including Debenhams and Marks and Spencers. There are also a number of small shopping malls off Wenscelas Square, towards the lower end of the street with plenty of reasonably priced shops selling well-known brands. There are also several large shopping centres dotted around the city.
If high-end shopping is your thing then there are plenty of designer stores in and around the Royal Road as well as off Old Town Square.
Finally, if touristy tat is what you’re after there are loads of souvenir shops dotted all over the city.
The official currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech crown (koruna), abbreviated as Kč, with the international abbreviation CZK. You will see many currency exchange shops around the city – AVOID these, you will be ripped off. Avoid the ATMs at these places too! It’s best to get your cash out of bank ATMs, which are located all over the city. Some shops, restaurants and hotels accept payments in euros but the exchange rates will be extortionate, so best to pay in local currency.
Staying safe in Prague
Prague is a relatively safe city. We never experienced any crime and never felt threatened, even late at night. However, as with any major city, we advise you to stay vigilant (but don’t become paranoid either) as we have heard pickpockets are common, also taxi drivers are known for their shameless and often rude treatment of tourists, so best to order taxis through your hotel if you require one.
We found the locals to be very pleasant, mannerly, good-humoured and well educated (almost everybody speaks fluent English). We’ve heard other people say that the locals can be quite rude, but we never encountered a rude Czech person. Many serving in restaurants, bars and shops may not always come across as very talkative, as it seems in their nature not to interfere, but if you start a conversation and give them a smile most will be more than happy to chat away and have a laugh with you. Of course, there are exceptions to this no matter where you go – not everyone can be nice!
Ladies (and perhaps gentlemen), if you venture out in heels when in Prague, carry a pair of flats in your bag. They’ll come in handy when trying to make your way around the city’s cobbled streets!
Bars and Restaurants in Prague
Traditional Beer Halls & Taverns
If you are looking for really cheap beer and a more authentic atmosphere, wander a little further off the beaten track and you will find loads of these bars tucked away (many underground). You can pay as little as 29CZK (that’s about €1.20!) for a pint of local brew. It’s really nice and goes down very easily and at that price, you really can’t go wrong. Keep an eye out for the blackboards hanging outside advertising the prices and simply find the one that’s cheapest!
One of our favourites is a little bar that only fits about 30 people. I have no idea of the name of it but if you are visiting the John Lennon Wall in the Lesser Town, it’s at the end of that street, just before you turn right for Kampa Island. The food looked a bit dodgy, but there was a group of friendly old locals sitting in the corner, which gave the place a nice authentic feel.
The Dubliner Irish Bar and Restaurant
We’re not usually fans of going to Irish bars when away, but somehow always end up in one! The Dubliner is a good little spot (if a tad touristy), only 100 metres from Old Town Square. It’s the kind of place that will suit nearly everybody. There is a nice large area to sit outside in the summer (on Tyn Square), while indoors it’s underground in a converted cellar (like many bars, restaurant and clubs in Prague). The drink is slightly cheaper than you would pay at home, the music is decent (though the live bands can be a bit hit & miss) and there are big screens with Sky Sports on at all times (yes, you can catch the football here). There’s a late bar, the pub grub is pretty decent here and the barman is Irish too, so he knows how to pour a proper pint of Guinness!
Traditional Czech Cuisine
If you enjoy hearty filling food and lots of gamey meat, potatoes and dumplings then you will love the traditional food in Prague. However while there are tonnes of restaurants that offer “Traditional Czech Cuisine”, but some are tourist traps with sub-standard cuisine.
If you do fancy real Czech food at a reasonable price, then there is one restaurant that we would highly recommend called U modré kachničky. It is a charming little restaurant in the Old Town (though not the easiest to find). The food is delicious, the staff are very polite and attentive, the decor is really quaint and you can sit outside in the summer.
International Cuisine – Italian, French, Chinese, etc
There is a huge selection of restaurants in Prague to suit everyone’s taste and budget, from fast food to five star French cuisine. We have eaten out in plenty of restaurants and have never had a bad meal (well, bar one, mentioned below). The food, in general, seems to be of a good standard and reasonably priced (certainly cheaper than you would pay in Dublin).
Restaurant Sarah Bernhardt, Hotel Paris (French & Czech Cuisine)
The food in the Restaurant Sarah Bernhardt is absolutely delicious, prepared and presented with tender loving care while the interior art nouveau architecture makes it without a doubt the most stunning dining room we have ever eaten in. The staff are polite & non-intrusive (don’t expect a chat) and the atmosphere is quite formal. If you do want to eat here, make a reservation at least a day before. Even if the dining room is half empty, you will not be seated without a reservation (we saw many people turned away). This restaurant is not cheap by Czech standards but is extremely good value for what you get.
Restaurants & Bars to avoid
The key to ensuring you don’t have a disappointing experience when you go out to eat is to keep away from the main squares and tourist zones and their immediate vicinities (Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square etc). If you don’t want crappy food thrown at you by staff who couldn’t care less in restaurants that are dying to rip you off, just wander a little further and you can find some gems. The one bad meal that we experienced was at the Hard Rock Cafe, just off Old Town Square – AVOID it like the plague! It’s overpriced slop & the booze is watered down (I mean how can you get a burger wrong and then justify €30 for it?)
The same rule applies to bars – stay off Old Town Square if you don’t want to get ripped off and receive poor service. The one exception to this is Caffrey’s Irish Bar (and not because it’s Irish), right on the edge of Old Town Square. It’s a really nice place to sit outside and people watch. The drink is not extortionate (a bit cheaper than Dublin), the staff are very friendly, they show the football inside and they do some seriously killer nachos!
More information about Prague
If you’d like to learn more, have a look at the following links and feel free to share or leave your own suggestions:
- City breaks to Prague (hotels and flights)
- “Welcome Prague” official website
- Prague on Google Maps
- Prague on Wikipedia
View Prague in a larger map