Here are some tips for those of you traveling to Prague! First, we arrived by plane and we decided to take an Airport Express shuttle to the city for around 60 CZK. In Czech, they have their own currency, although we found that some places would accept euros. We just took out some money from the ATM machine at the airport, and the rate wasn’t too bad. Anyways, the Airport Express dropped us off at a location close to a metro line, but we decided to walk the rest of it to our hostel. We got lost along the way, so it took around 30 minutes by feet. For accommodation, we stayed at Mosaic House, which I swear was one of the best and cheapest places I stayed on all my trips. I believe I paid around 5 euros a night, which is unbelievable. I still remember when K told me that we would be paying around 10 euros for 2 nights, I gave huge doubts on whether K had chose a sketchy, dirty hostel. Not at all. It was basically a hotel or even better than some hotels I’ve stayed at. The only difference is that you don’t have queen beds, but bunk beds, which is totally fine with me. I can tell you for a fact that I’m a clean freak and hostels are not my thing, but Mosaic House was perfectly clean and I’ve never been happier. They’re also Eco-friendly, so they had really cool technology in the rooms with lights shutting off with sensors and such. For around 5 euros a night, we had a 4 people room with a private bathroom. I swear the bathroom was better than the one I had back in Barcelona… I’m not sure if the rooms are still as cheap now, since when we had visited, the hostel had just opened for around a month so everything was brand new. Also, it’s located in a great location in Praha 2, and we basically were able to walk to tourist spots. We didn’t take public transportation at all during our trip, since Prague is actually quite a walkable city! At night, we went out to see the Christmas market, which was only around a 10 minute walk from our hostel.
The next morning, we decided to take a Walking Tour. If you’re lazy or just don’t want to fuss about planning where to go, these free walking tours are a really good option! They have these tours all over Europe and basically a local will take you around the city, teaching you a bit about the history and also provide you with local tips. All they ask for is a tip at the end of the tour and as students, 5 euros is already a good tip. Our hostel had organized one these tours, so a group of us, mostly young adults were led by this young woman to tour around Prague. I wouldn’t say she was the best tour guide I’ve had, since she was fairly quiet and shy, but she knew a lot about the history of Prague. It’s always great to go one these tours, since a lot of times, unless you have a tour guide book, you won’t really know the history or significance behind some tourist spots. First, she took us into the Old Town, where the Astronomical Clock was located. It was built in 1410 and is the third oldest clock in the world. What’s even more significant is that it’s the oldest clock that is still running in the world! Impressive! Other must see sights were the Tyn Church and Powder Tower also in Old Town. We then went to New Town, where we saw the Wenceslas Square, the National Museum and National Theater. The tour was great, but the fact that we often stopped so she could talk about the history of the landmark was a problem since it was very chilly that day!
She also took us to the famous Charles Bridge. Named after Kings Charles IV, this bridge crosses the Vltava River and connects the Old Town and Prague Castle. It was an important trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.
The bridge is decorated by statues on the side all along. After the tour, we walked along the bridge, which is actually a short walk. We were going to go visit the Prague Castle!
Along the way, we came across these colourful buildings. It was at a uphill slope too, but wasn’t too bad to walk on. The sidewalks are paved, whereas the road is still cobblestone.
We had to constantly go into souvenir shops to warm up a bit from the cold. One of the shops was named the “Gingerbread Museum“. I’m not sure if it’s really a museum, since it seems more like a gingerbread shop with a huge variety of decorated gingerbreads. Some of them were super intricate, but they were also quite pricey.
We just wanted to get a taste of the gingerbread, so we bought these mini ones, that weren’t decorated as nice, but were much cheaper. Not bad!
Finally, we got to the top of the castle. The view from here is beautiful! Love the orange-red rooftops. Extremely windy up here though, since it’s pretty much open space at the top of the hill.
This was the entrance to the castle. I didn’t know that they also had guards here, similar to what they have in London. The Prague Castle is the residence and office of the President of the Czech Republic. It’s also the largest ancient castle in the world! We decided to pay for a guided tour since you get to learn more about the history and also enter some areas which aren’t open to the public for free. However, we went on the last guided tour of the day, so the tour guide seemed to be in a rush. Apparently, the security people try to clear the buildings as quick as possible when they close.
This was St. Vitus Cathedral, which is a Roman Catholic Cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Prague. It’s owned by the Czech government and dates back to 1344.
The interior showcases the beautiful Gothic-style architecture. It also houses the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors.
We were then taken into the Old Royal Palace where the Vladislav Hall is. It’s a large room used for public events, such as banquets, receptions and such for the Bohemian monarchy. Another room in the palace held reproductions of the Bohemian Crown Jewels. I believe the real ones are stored in St. Vitus Cathedral. The jewels include the Crown of Saint Wenceslas, the royal orb and sceptre, the reliquary cross and St. Wenceslas’ sword. The gems on the reproduction look pretty spectacular and I could only imagine how beautiful the real jewels look!
Near the evening time, St. Vitius Church looks beautiful!
One tip when traveling in Prague during winter months is to plan most of your sightseeing early in the day. By around 5 pm, the city was already dark and many tourist attractions that have specific opening times are often closed. We found that we had to squeeze most of our activities in the day time to make the most of it, and for the evening, we could explore the city on our own and go to the Christmas markets. It was also very cold, and although it’s similar to Vancouver weather, it’s not as ideal. In Vancouver, we wouldn’t be walking around the city for hours. However, when traveling, we want to walk around to see everything, so staying outdoors for hours in the cold isn’t the best feeling. The Charles Bridge is beautiful at night though, and I would advise to see the bridge during both the day and night. Here is a statue of John of Nepomuk on the bridge at the spot where he was thrown into the river. He is known as the national saint of the Czech Republic and you will spot him with a halo over his head with five stars.
Overall, I felt like Prague was a city with such deep history and you could really get a sense of the medieval feel. Beautiful bridges, castles, and architecture. The views you get from the top are breathtaking. I would highly recommend just walking to the sites as you get to really see the whole city. As for language barriers, we actually didn’t find it difficult to communicate. Although their official language is Czech, everyone seemed to understand English and was able to speak it well.