Last Updated: 01/23/20 | January 23rd, 2020
My life as a backpacker began in Prague. I arrived there two months into my trip. But those two months were spent staying with friends and driving across the US. It wasn’t spent in hostels or meeting travelers. Up until that time, the trip had felt like an extended vacation.
But all that changed in Prague.
This was the first place I stayed in a hostel and had to make friends with strangers in dorms, navigate on my own (no one was there to meet me at the airport), figure out signs in a different language, and really get by as a traveler.
It was the first place where I was truly a stranger in a strange land.
I was on my own, and I loved it — from the hostel happy hours with the giant four-deck game of kings, to the craziness of being in a 20-bed dorm room, to that cute Aussie girl, to the friends I met who I stay in touch with to this day.
Prague showed me the wonders of hostel life and backpacking, and I was hooked.
Then, a few days later, I was gone. I was off to Milan to continue my adventures.
I hadn’t been back since, but with my Europe tour starting in Prague, last week I flew back to reacclimatize myself to the city, get the lay of the land, and connect with the local operators I’m working with.
After having been away for eight years, I was worried the city might have changed too much, and the memory of my first visit would be so powerful that today’s Prague could never live up to it.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
Prague is different (and more expensive), but the essence of what makes it wonderful is still there.
When I visited in 2006 on my first round-the-world trip, I fell in love with a city steeped in history, beautiful medieval architecture, cobblestone streets, charming cafés, beautiful women, and cheap beer. Prague seemed to have it all.
And it still does.
Time changes places, especially ones so popular with travelers — sometimes not always for the better. Many things indeed have changed in Prague —some good, some bad. There are more tourists, prices are much higher, English is more widely spoken, and there’s more international food, including a lot of vegetarian options (be sure to check out the Country Life buffet!).
But what makes Prague special as a city is still there, and that made me happy.
There was still Letenské sady (Letna Park), where I stared out across the city from a lookout as couples posed for photos and an art student drew the skyline. I also slowly meandered through Královská zahrada (the Royal Garden), where the urban noise fell away as the spires of St. Vitus Cathedral rose above the trees, and all that could be heard were the whispers of travelers talking about the area’s beauty.
As I wandered cobblestone streets, walked across the Charles Bridge, traipsed up and down the riverside, and plotted out walking routes for my tour, I fell for Prague once again. I remembered what made this city so special to me the first time: the feeling of being lost in time and in someplace truly different.
I’ve written about chasing travel ghosts before. It’s a thought that haunts me throughout my travels.
Will a destination be as good as I remember it?
Will each subsequent visit tire me out or renew my love?
Sometimes, like in Paris, returning renews my love.
Other times, like in Ko Phangan, it makes me realize that it’s time to move on.
But on my return to Prague, my love was rekindled. And that’s something special.
Each visit anywhere is unique in its own right, though it’s only natural to compare them. But when the essence remains the same, when that original spark is still there, you know your connection to a place is deeper than just one good time.
And that’s a great feeling. I can’t wait to come back in August and share this wonderful city with my tour group.
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Book Your Trip to Prague: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner. This is my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as it has the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels. My top two favorite places to stay are:
If you’re looking for more places to stay, here are all my favorite hostels in Prague.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will do the same for you too.
Want More Information on Prague?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Prague for even more planning tips!