We wanted to visit Prague for a long time, and although it was very high on our travel list, it took us a while to get to discover the Czech capital because we don’t have direct flights from our hometown nor from the neighboring airports and the other transportation options take quite a long time – there are over 1,000 kilometers between the two cities. So, because we couldn’t wait for an airplane to appear by magic and take us to the desired destination, we looked at other ways to get there and, in the end, found a pretty good one:
How to get to Prague?
Well, it depends where do you want to start your trip. If you are lucky enough to have a plane or even a train or coach from your initial location – you’re all set! But let’s talk about limited to no direct or at least comfortable transportation options from your location – as was our case.
Because the distance between Cluj and Prague is quite long and we would’ve lost valuable time travelling by car or by several coaches, we looked for a plane that will take us somewhere close, and after all the options have been taken into consideration, we chose to fly to Vienna with Wizzair, and from there hop on a Flixbus to Prague.
The flight to Vienna lasted for an hour and a half and the plane tickets were very cheap as we purchased them long in advance – see here how to fly cheap with Wizzair.
From there, directly from the airport, we took a Flixbus to Prague, the trip takes between 4:30 and 6 hours, depending on the itinerary, and the coaches are super comfortable, with air conditioning, toilet, free wi-fi, electricity sockets and plenty of space for legs. Although we spent some hours in the bus, we almost didn’t notice how time has passed as we had the opportunity to work on our laptops in order to be free to explore Prague when we got there.
Where to stay in Prague?
There are plenty of accommodation options in Prague, being an extremely touristy city with record numbers of visitors in recent years. The price for one night at a hotel starts from 30-40 euros and can go up to … many hundreds depending on the neighborhood, facilities and star ratings. You can choose which hotel you like and is within your budget on booking.com.
If you prefer a more “home-like” accommodation, where you can experience the city like a local, have a kitchen where you can cook to save the money on restaurants and stay in a more spacious place, you can choose to rent an apartment through Airbnb – the prices are generally lower than at the hotels. If you don’t have an Airbnb account yet, sign up here to get a discount starting at 35 euros on your first stay.
Quick facts about Prague
A delightful city, the largest in the Czech Republic, the capital of the country and of the Bohemian region, situated on the banks of the Vltava River. Including the metropolitan area, Prague has 2.6 million inhabitants. Also called “the city of the 100 spires” or “the golden city”, Prague has the gift of enchanting visitors and making them forget about the rest of the world.
It is an important European economic, political and cultural center, and the University of Prague, founded in 1348, was the first one in Central Europe.
The rich history, monuments of immense value, museums, theaters, art galleries, the charm of centuries old cubic stone streets, the vibrant rhythm of life and all that means Prague bring here over 8 million tourists every year, making it the fourth most visited European city after London, Paris and Rome.
There are over 2,000 officially recognized architectural and artistic monuments in the city, most of the historic buildings here survived the Second World War, while other cities in Europe such as Berlin or Warsaw suffered significant destruction following bombing.
What to visit in Prague
Everything! Or just the sights that are most interesting to you, because obviously you will not be able to reach everywhere in one visit unless it lasts at least two weeks. During the four days we stayed in Prague, we managed, with much will and determination, to see a rather big part of the wonderful places here, and we will tell you about them further:
Prague Old Town
The historical center of Prague or Staroměstské náměstí, as the locals call it, has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage since 1992. It stretches over a fairly large area between Wenceslas Square and Charles Bridge, comprising numerous old buildings with beautiful architecture, the town hall with the famous astronomical clock and several impressive churches. Many street artists keep the atmosphere in different corners of the Old Town Square.
On the street leading to the central square of the old town, you will surely notice an interesting Art Nouveau building with a mosaic above the main entrance. It’s the Municipal House, a very popular place in Prague where various concerts and cultural events take place. This is the place where the independence of Czechoslovakia was proclaimed in 1918. In the past, on this place was the Royal Court Palace, where the King of Bohemia lived in the 14th-15th centuries.
As you walk into the old center through the Powder Tower, lots of vintage cars steal your gaze and transport you a few decades in the past. They are used for touristic purposes and can be hired for city tours, but the prices for this pampering are rather high.
The Church of Our Lady before Týn or Kostel Matky Boží před Týnem rises majestically in the old town square, dominating the other buildings and being a point of reference for locals and tourists alike. Built in Gothic style in the 14th century, with a distinct architecture and 80 meters high towers, this Roman Catholic Church is a very popular attraction in Prague.
The astronomical clock adorning the old town hall building (Pražský orloj in Czech) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Prague. Every hour, it offers an extraordinary show with its moving statues, which attracts so many curious and enchanted eyes that the wide space in front of it becomes scanty.
The medieval horologe was installed in 1410, making it the third oldest clock in the world that still works.
If you pay attention, above one of the pedestrian streets in the old town you can see a statue hanging from the roof of a building that at first glance might scare you. Don’t worry, this is not a real person in danger, but a sculpture by the Czech artist David Černý that portrays the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and is said to be a representation of his fear of death. Another interpretation would be the uncertain situation of intellectuals in the 20th century. The statue is very easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there, so look up when you are at the corner of Husova and Skorepka streets in the old center.
Do not leave the historic center before having a genuine Czech beer at one of the dozens of chic terraces, or in a restaurant with authentic traditional decorations which are abundant in this area.
The Old Town of Prague is worth exploring on foot while enjoying the beauty of every building, breathing in the historical air with modern touches, admiring the colorful windows of small traditional shops, stepping through centuries on the cobblestone streets and immersing yourself in the bohemian atmosphere.
Probably the busiest and most photographed attraction of the city, which appears in most of promotional materials for Prague is the Charles Bridge. It connects the old city with the Prague Castle area and is crossed by thousands of people daily.
Karlův most, as the locals know it, is a historic bridge whose construction began in 1357 under the patronage of King Charles IV, hence its name. 621 meters long and 10 meters wide, this bridge crossing the Vltava River was the only link between the two banks until 1841.
With its impressive high towers, historical statues that adorn it all the way through, the 16 arcades under which countless watercrafts with tourists cross every day, the army of artists and craftsmen who expose their work and wait for buyers, Charles Bridge is a sight that is not to be missed when visiting the capital of the Czech Republic.
Charles Bridge Museum
At the base of the bridge, by the entrance from the old town, there is a museum that presents its history from the beginning of the construction.
Here, you will find figurines demonstrating the hard work people of those times put into raising this symbol of the city, paintings and drawings with views of medieval Prague, a souvenir shop and a café where you can rebuild strength after exploring the old town.
A boat cruise on the Vltava
Vltava is the longest river in Czech Republic and flows smoothly along the forests of Bohemia. In Prague, it is crossed by 18 bridges, which, together with the impressive buildings and the spires on the banks, form an extraordinary landscape.
Thus, a visit to the Czech capital is not complete without a boat ride on the tranquil waters of the Vltava River, to admire the beauty of the city from a different angle and to observe the tumultuousness on the banks and bridges from afar.
There are many companies that offer such tourist experiences on board of smaller or larger crafts. We purchased tickets at the Charles Bridge Museum ticket office, and our ride on the river started from under the bridge.
If you are not part of a guided tour group but travel individually as we do, reserve more time for boarding, because organized groups have reservations for boat rides and get priority when boarding, so you may have to wait a few full boats to depart until it will be your turn to set sail.
But the wait was worth it, and we recommend a boat cruise on the Vltava to anyone visiting Prague. Included in the ticket price, we could choose on board to get beer or water and ice cream or gingerbread.
On the other side of the old town, when passing towards the new part of the city, lies the Wenceslas Square, named after St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia.
In the past, a famous horse market could be found here, but today the spacious square is a popular meeting point for local people, an area that successfully combines history and modernism, with old, impressive buildings and shopping areas with tens of stores of well-known brands.
On the upper side of Wenceslas Square rises perhaps the most impressive building in the area. It is the Czech National Museum, founded more than two centuries ago, in 1818.
Besides the fact that the impressive interiors of the museum can be referred to as artworks themselves, the vast premises here accommodate over 14 million exhibits that tell visitors about the history of the country.
On the left bank of the Vltava River, reaching up to 130 meters above the hustle and bustle of the old town, Petřín hill stands up, an area almost entirely covered by parks that offers wonderful views of the city. This is the place preferred by locals for relaxing and spending time outdoors.
On the top of the hill, an observation tower built in 1891 makes you wonder whether you entered a magic gateway and were teleported to Paris. The 63.5 meters high Petřín Tower resembles the symbol of France – the Eiffel Tower – and allows breathtaking views of the city for anyone who ventures to climb to the top.
If in the past tower’s functions were observational and broadcasting, today it is an important tourist attraction in Prague, and most of the time you’ll find a queue at the ticket office – over half a million visitors come here every year.
The top of the tower can be reached by climbing the 299 circular steps or by a lift, for an additional fee. We chose the “sporty” option and we can say it wasn’t difficult at all, and the satisfaction when reaching the top deck we think is greater this way. 😊
Once you climb down the tower, you can also visit nearby a mirror labyrinth hidden in a building that resembles a miniature castle – a fun place for children and adults alike.
The Petřín hill is reachable on foot, after an approximately 30 minutes’ walk on the rustic alleys or by the 100-year-old funicular that is operated by the public transport company of Prague.
Prague Castle (Pražský hrad in Czech), is one of the most visited attractions, or rather complex of attractions in the city, being a very extensive fortification dating back to the 9th century and comprising several streets and historical buildings, being mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest in the world.
Here lived the most important people in the country and in Europe – kings of Bohemia, Roman emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia.
The largest and most beautiful building in the fortress is the Cathedral of St. Vitus – which impresses by its dimensions (the height of the main tower reaches 100 meters), the Gothic architecture and the history of over 700 years of the current premises.
The interior of the church is equally impressive – with arcades carved with craftsmanship, religious statues, colorful stained glass which lets in timid rays of light and the sober atmosphere which is at the same time extremely familiar and calming.
Another place of worship worth visiting in the area is St. George’s Basilica, the oldest church in the castle, founded in 920.
Today, the edifice hosts a 19th Century Art Exhibition with works from the Bohemian region, and occasional concerts are organized here.
One of the most famous streets in Prague Castle is the “Golden Lane” (Zlatá ulička in Czech), a relatively narrow alley with an array of 11 tiny colorful houses where initially the Emperor’s Guards lived.
The current name of the street comes from the goldsmiths who lived here later, in the 17th century. Some of the houses are featuring decorations reminding of those times, while others are used as small shops selling souvenirs and traditional local products.
Writer Franz Kafka lived in one of these miniature houses together with his sister more than a century ago, writing here some of his famous stories.
Besides the historical monuments found in the Prague Castle, the whole area is lined with beautiful buildings, paved alleys with bohemian air and intimate terraces full of people serving traditional beer and dishes, all in a very special atmosphere, created by braiding centuries of history with the modern world.
From the Prague Castle too, the view over the city is wonderful!
The Jewish Quarter
Josefov, the Jewish quarter of Prague, is located right in the heart of the city, surrounded from all sides by the old town.
Not many buildings have been preserved from the past, but tourists and anyone interested in the culture and history of these people can still visit here six synagogues, the old Jewish cemetery and the old town hall, all of which are currently part of the Prague Jewish Museum.
We just couldn’t visit a new city and not to go to the zoo! The overwhelming cuteness of the animals there doesn’t let us to just pass by their home.
More than 5000 souls from nearly 700 species live here and are lovingly taken care of by 235 employees. The 58 hectares of the Prague zoological garden offer generous inside and outside spaces for the inhabitants, so they could live in comfort and happiness.
If you like such places and especially if you travel with children, we recommend that you put aside a whole day to visit the zoo – the beauty of the place, but especially of its dwellers, will make it very hard for any animal lover to leave the premises.
For those tired of walking so much, there is a chair lift that connects the upper and the lower part of the garden, offering as a bonus nice views of the city and the river.
Some things you need to know before visiting Prague
The official currency in Czech Republic is the Czech crown or koruna (CZK), 1 euro is worth about 25 korunas. Be careful when going to the exchange offices – many have hidden fees or disadvantageous exchange rates for customers. First check the official exchange rate of the national bank on the internet and always ask how many crowns you will receive in exchange for your money. Avoid the exchange offices at the airport, train or bus stations – usually the exchange rate is much worse than in the city. Under no circumstances accept to exchange money on the street – you can get fake money or old Czech crowns that are out of circulation now – just go to banks or authorized exchange offices.
Avoid traveling by taxi or seek information first about legitimate companies that charge fair prices. Unfortunately, there are a lot of taxi drivers in Prague that “hunt” tourists and charge them even 10 times more than the normal price for a ride. If you need to take a taxi, especially from places with a lot of tourists like the airport or the train station, before you get into the car ask the driver what the price for a ride to the desired destination is.
If you are not in a hurry, we recommend using public transport, which is well organized in the Czech capital. You can choose to travel by subway, tram or bus and the price of tickets is quite low, comparable to cheaper European countries. To find out all the details about public transportation in Prague, click here to see the public transport company website.
Be aware of pickpockets! – although Prague is a safe city, in highly touristic areas that are very crowded like the Astronomical Clock or the Charles Bridge, pocket thieves are often present. Be careful where you keep your valuables and money and do not put everything in one place.
To see as many sights as possible while sparing your travel budget, you can choose to buy a Prague Card – a tourist card that offers free entry to 60 local attractions, a city tour on a touristic bus, a boat ride on the Vltava river and many discounts. See all the details here and decide if it suits you. We used it and found it helpful.
Finally, do not forget that Prague is a very touristy city, so expect to find looooots of people and big crowds everywhere, plus long queues at the ticket offices to visit the most famous attractions. Equip yourself with patience and enough time and don’t let the agglomeration ruin your vacation. After all, you also contribute a little bit to it, right? 😊