Prague is one of my favorite cities in the world. I love visiting here so much that, for a number of years, I ran tours here! With its winding cobblestone streets, medieval buildings, and spacious squares, the city is a photographer’s dream come true. Much of the architecture dates to the middle ages, giving the city an unrivaled historic charm.
Over the last decade, Prague has become one of the most visited destinations in Europe. When I first visited in 2006, it was popular but still “off the beaten path.” Today, it’s a huge tourist destination and, now, a big spot for people to move to thanks to its growing digital nomad scene.
Despite the crowds, I can’t help but fall in love with Prague every time I visit — the city, the parks, the history, the cheap beer, and the wonderful people. It’s all wonderful!
This travel guide to Prague will show you how to fall in love with the city like I have while also saving you money!
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Prague
1. Visit Prague Castle
2. Stroll through the Old Town Square
3. Cross the Charles Bridge
4. See the John Lennon Wall
5. Peruse the National Museum
Other Things to See and Do in Prague
1. See the astronomical clock
Built in the 15th century, this intricate clock in the main square is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Every hour, on the hour, people gather in front of the clock to watch the Procession of the Twelve Apostles. It’s a bit anticlimactic and I wouldn’t go out of the way to see it but since you’ll probably pass through the square often you might as well check it out since it’s free.
2. Relax at a Beer Garden
Spend an afternoon at a beer garden — any beer garden! Drink cheap local beer, meet some locals, and have an awesome time soaking in the city. I like Riegrovy Sady Beer Garden. Stop by for food, to meet some locals, then and sit on the nearby hill for a spectacular view of Prague during sunset.
3. Visit the Josefov (the Jewish Quarter)
Located in the Old Town, this small area dates back to the 10th century. It was the birthplace of Franz Kafka and is home to some of the city’s less-visited attractions such as the Old Jewish Cemetery and the synagogue. Today, 6 synagogues and a historical Jewish cemetery remain and are worth checking out. You can purchase a ticket that will give you access to all the synagogues for 100 CZK.
4. Ride a boat on the Vltava River
The Vltava River is the main river that runs through Prague. There are several activities that you can do on the river such as renting a paddleboat, taking a river cruise, or going on a nightly booze cruise. Prices will vary, but a two-hour cruise costs around 290 CZK. It’s touristy but a nice way to have fun see the city from a new perspective. Paddleboats rentals cost around 200 CZk per hour.
5. Shop in Wenceslas Square
This is the main shopping area and the center of business and cultural communities. Many bars, hotels, stores, offices, shops, and delicious fast-food vendors are located here. Over the years, the square has been the setting for many protests and demonstrations, which means all kinds of historical events have taken place here (specifically during the Velvet Revolution in 1989).
6. Climb Petrin Hill
This 327-meter hill lies along the Vltava River and is one of the greenest places in Prague. There are always people here chilling with their friends, drinking beers, or having a picnic. This is where you can visit Prague’s iconic Petrin Tower (which looks like a mini Eiffel Tower). Also, the Church of St. Michael, a 17th-century wooden building (relocated to Prague from a village in Ukraine), is located on this hill.
7. Visit Kutna Hora
Located a few miles outside of Prague is “the bone church,” a Roman Catholic chapel home to over 40,000 bones. There are strings of skulls and bones hanging from the ceiling, a skull candelabra, and a display case showing skulls with wounds inflicted by various medieval weapons. Admission is 690 CZK. Children enter free…though I don’t know if this is really a place for kids! You can read about my visit here.
8. See Powder Tower
Be sure to check out this Gothic medieval tower, one of the original 13 city gates. Construction began in 1475 and, during the 17th century, the tower used to store gunpowder. It was heavily damaged in 1757 during the Seven Years’ War and most of the sculptures on it were replaced in 1876. Inside, you’ll find a small museum with information about the tower as well as a spiral staircase offering spectacular views over the city. Admission is 100 CZK. (Temporarily closed due to COVID)
9. Explore Vyšehrad Castle
While Prague Castle gets all the love, Vyšehrad, located in the southern part of the city, was also one of the original castles of the kings of Prague. It was built around the 10th century and contains Prague’s oldest surviving building, the Rotunda of St Martin. It offers picturesque views of the city from the hill. General admission to the castle is free, but you need to pay if you want to visit the some of the rooms inside the castle: The Old Burgrave’s Residence is 60 CZK, Vysehrad Gallery is 20 CZK, The Brick Gate and Casemate is 60 CZK, and The Gothic Celler is 50 CZK.
10. Take the underground tour
Located 5 stories under Prague, this museum is full of Cold War paraphernalia. The bunker was designed to house civilians during a nuclear attack, after which they would then flee into the countryside. You’ll learn about life behind the Iron Curtain and get to explore the bunker yourself. Tours with Prague Underground Tours last two hours and cost 450 CZK.
11. Enjoy in a classical show
Prague is famous for its classical performances. Whether you’re interested in ballet, opera, or classical music you’ll be able to find something to your liking in Prague. Prices will vary but expect to pay anywhere from 100-1,000 CZK. Check out venues like the Karlin Music Theatre, the National Theatre, the Black Light Theatre Srnec.
12. Visit the Franz Kafka Museum
If you’re a fan of Kafka, this is an obvious place to stop. And if you’re not familiar with his work, a visit is a must. Born in Prague in 1883, he is regarded as one of the most important writers of the 20th century. The museum displays the first editions of some of his most famous short stories (such as The Metamorphosis), photos, diary entries, and drawings. The museum also includes audiovisual pieces as well as a soundtrack composed especially for the exhibit. Admission is 200 CZK.
13. Take an Alternative Prague Tour
This fun tour is one of the best guided tours in the city. It’s made by artists and musicians who take you to Prague’s non-touristy neighborhoods. You’ll discover famous local contemporary art, hidden street art and graffiti, cool markets, crypto houses, and beer gardens. Tours start at 500 CZK. (Temporarily closed due to COVID).
Prague Travel Costs
Hostels – Hostel dorms start at 200 CZK per night for a 6-8 bed dorm. Free Wi-Fi is standard and some hostels have kitchens. A couple of hostels in the city also include free breakfast. For a private room, expect to pay at least 1,250 CZK per night.
Camping is available outside the city with basic plots without electricity costing around 120 CZK per night. Expect to pay double that for a plot with electricity. Wild camping is illegal so you’ll need to stick to official campgrounds.
Budget hotels – Budget hotels start at 900 CZK per night for a basic double room. Expect stand amenities like TV, AC, and a tea/coffee maker. Many budget hotels also include free breakfast. Prices will be higher in the summer (and availability slim) so be sure to book early if you’re visiting then.
Airbnb is a budget-friendly option available around the city with private rooms starting at 450 CZK per night. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay at least 800 CZK per night.
Food – Czech cuisine is hearty, heavily influenced by its neighboring countries, Poland and Germany. When going to a local restaurant, expect a lot of soups/stews, sauerkraut, potatoes, breaded meats, and dumplings. One of the most famous dishes is goulash, a pork stew flavored mainly with paprika and served with knedliky (bread dumplings). Beef tartare (raw minced beef) is a popular choice, as are German-influenced dishes like sausage and schnitzel. Be sure to try buchty, a sweet bun, if you’ve got a sweet tooth.
If you’re looking to eat out, some of my favorite places in the city are Vinograf (wine bar), Country Life (vegetarian), Prague Beer Museum (beer/traditional food), and Pivovar U Medvídk? (traditional cuisine).
For an inexpensive meal of traditional cuisine, expect to pay at least 265 CZK. Fast food (think McDonald’s) costs closer to 150 CZK. For Indian, expect to pay around 300 CZK for a main dish and for pizza, expect to pay around 325 CZK for a large.
A three-course meal of traditional cuisine costs around 800 CZK, including a drink. Expect to pay around 50 CZK for a beer or 58 CZK for a latte/cappuccino.
If you are planning to cook your own food, a week’s worth of groceries costs around 375-400 CZK for basic staples like bread, cheese, seasonal produce, and some meat.
Backpacking Prague Suggested Budgets
On a backpacker budget, expect to spend at least 810 CZK per day. On this budget, you will stay in a hostel dorm, take public transportation, need to limit your drinking, do free hikes, take free walking tours, and cook most of your own meals. If you plan to go out and drink more, expect to spend closer to 1,000 CZK per day.
On a mid-range budget, expect to spend at least 1,700-2,000 CZK per day. On this budget, you can stay in an Airbnb or private room at a hostel, take the occasional taxi or Uber to get around, do some larger activities like a wine tour or rafting, eat out for most meals and restaurants, and enjoy a few drinks.
On a “luxury” budget of around 4,700 CZK per day you can stay in a four-star hotel, do any activities you want, eat out anywhere you want, go out for drinks, take a booze cruise, and rent a car for some day trips. This is just the ground floor for luxury though — the sky is the limit!
This chart can give you a rough idea of day to day costs (prices are in CZK):
Prague Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
While Prague has become incredibly popular in recent years, it’s still rather affordable, especially if you stay in the heavily touristed area of Prague 1. Here are some tips to help you save money when you visit Prague:
- Don’t eat near the Charles Bridge – Restaurants near the Charles Bridge will be considerably more expensive than spots further afield. Ask around, see where the locals dine and enjoy a cheap meal for a fraction of the price. You’ll need to walk a few blocks but you’ll save a ton and the food will be better.
- Take a free walking tour – Explore Prague’s many winding streets and breathtaking architecture as part of a free tour. You’ll find a plethora of walking tours in the city, such as Free Walking Tour Prague. Their tours will cover all the highlights and give you a solid intro to the city. Just be sure to tip your guide! (All walking tours are temporarily closed for COVID)
- Visit the free parks and churches – There are lots of beautiful parks, gardens, and churches that you can explore for free. The Wallenstein Gardens in Valdštejnský palace are gardens lined with fountains, trees, and numerous bronze statues. There are also many free concerts and performances taking place here so make sure to check out the schedule. Saint Vitus Cathedral, Saint Nicholas’ Church, and The Church of Our Lady Before Tyn are beautiful free churches to visit.
- Eat cheap – If you want to save money on your food you can take the tram to the city outskirts to find restaurants. Prices here will be significantly cheaper than in the city. Otherwise, stick to outdoor vendors in the city for cheap eats.
- Bring a reusable water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle so you can save money and lower your reliance on single-use plastic. LifeStraw makes a reusable bottle with a built-in filter so you can always ensure your water is clean and safe!
- Stay with a local – Prague has an active Couchsurfing community so if you’re on a budget and love meeting locals, stay with one to save money and get insider tips! Just be sure to send your requests in advance since it is a popular destination.
Where To Stay in Prague
Prague has a lot of hostels. They’re all pretty comfortable and sociable but there are a few standouts that I love the best. These are my favorite places to stay in the city:
For more hostel suggestions, check out my list of the best hostels in Prague!
How to Get Around Prague
Public transportation – Metro fares are based on time, tickets range from 30 minutes (24 CZK), 90 minutes (32 CZK), 1 day pass (110 CZK) or 3-day pass (130 CZK). There are 4 lines (A, B, C, and D) which run from 4:45am until a little after midnight.
Bus – The bus lines in Prague operate in areas not reachable by the metro, but if you are at a bus station marked with an “M” it means you can exit the bus and continue your trip on the metro.
Tickets work the same way as the metro and buses run every 6-8 minutes during peak hours, every 10-20 minutes during off-peak hours. The wait time for buses is a little longer on the weekends, around 15-30 minutes. There are also night buses that run from midnight until 4:30am.
Bike rental – Biking is a fun way to see the city also while getting some exercise. There are lots of different bike rentals in Prague. Places like Okolo, in the heart of Prague’s Old Town neighborhood, offer accessories like helmets and bike locks are offered for no extra charge with your rental. Prices start at 200 CZK for 1 hour, and a full 24 hours is 400 CZK.
Taxi – The starting fare for taxis in Prague is 40 CZK, with an additional 24 CZK per kilometer. Skip the taxis (unless you really have to take them) if you’re on a budget. The city is walkable and the trams go everywhere.
Rideshare – For a cheaper alternative to taxis, use Uber. It costs around 10 CZK per kilometer. However, Uber drivers are limited in the city so it might not always be an option but they are cheaper than taxis!
Car rental – Car rentals can be found for around 450 CZK per day. However, I would only suggest renting one if you’re heading outside the city for a day trip. You don’t need one to get around Prague. Drivers need to be 21 or older to rent a vehicle.
When to Go to Prague
Prague has four distinct seasons. The summers are warm and dry while the winters are cold, snowy and also can get pretty windy too, with temperatures averaging to about 0°C (32°F). The most popular time to visit Prague is from May to September for good weather, but this is also peak tourist season.
The high season is from May-September. If you visit in the summer, expect highs in August to be around 25°C (77°F). June and July aren’t as hot, with temps averaging to 21°C (70°F). Avoid visiting in July and August; that’s when the city is overflowing with tourists. Prices will be higher and accommodation scarce. There will be wall-to-wall tourists in the Old Town.
During the shoulder seasons, you’ll avoid both the heat and the crowds. The best months to visit are between March-May or September-October, especially if you’re hiking. You’ll have cooler temperatures and, in the fall, you’ll get to see the leaves change. Expect temperatures around 14°C (59°F).
How to Stay Safe in Prague
Violent crime against tourists in Prague is virtually nonexistent. Petty crimes like theft and pick-pocketing can occur, however, especially in high traffic areas such as the city center in Prague. Keep your valuables safely tucked away when in public just to be safe and don’t flash wads of cash or jewelry. Pickpockets tend to target tourists on big walking tours so always be aware of your surroundings and keep your guard up when in large crowds.
If you experience an emergency, dial 150 for the fire department, 155 for ambulance, and 158 for police.
With so many visitors, scams against tourists can occur. Keep an eye out for people with fake petitions who will demand money, as well as taxi drivers that won’t use the meter. For other scams to be on the lookout for, here’s a list of 14 scams to avoid.
Always trust your gut instinct. If a taxi driver seems shady, get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, move. If that driver picking you up seems weird, don’t get in the car.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance protects 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. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Prague Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel to Prague. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Momondo – This is my other favorite flight search engine because they search such a wide variety of sites and airlines. I never book a flight without checking here too.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around Sweden, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get a discount when you click the link!
- Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It gives you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!
- EatWith – This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
Prague Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Prague Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
Alice’s Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, by Melissa Müller and Reinhard Piechocki
Alice Herz-Sommer was born in Prague in 1903. She became a famous pianist and was known all around Europe. When the Nazis rose to power, Alice and her family (including her six-year-old son) were sent to a concentration camp. They were sent to Theresienstadt, a “show camp” created to convince outsiders that the Jews were being treated humanely. Alice played over 100 concerts during her time in the camp, giving hope to her fellow prisoners during their bleakest days.
The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kakfa
Written in 1915, this novel by famous Czech-born author Franz Kafka, begins with a traveling salesman waking up to find himself transformed into an insect. Like most of Kafka’s wort, it blends elements of realism and the surreal. While bizarre, it’s also one of the most important (and most studied) novels of the 10th century.
Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937–1948, by Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Albright served as Secretary of State in the US between 1997-2001. She was born in Prague and, when she turned 12, the city was invaded. Drawing on memory, her parents’ written reflections, interviews, and historical documents, Albright reflects on her Czechia’s violent history and the difficult choices forced upon her parents. The book does a great job of balancing the personal nuance of one family’s story within its greater historical context.
The Twelve Little Cakes, by Dominika Dery
This is a heartwarming memoir about growing up in Czechoslovakia. The book focuses solely on the author’s childhood in the 1970s, giving us a unique lens into a bygone age. We not only get a glimpse at every-day life in the country but also a sobering glimpse at Soviet control and the risks regular people faced day-to-day under Communist rule.
Prague Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Europe and continue planning your trip:
Photo credits: 6 – Jorge Láscar