When I was laid off in 2015, the very first thing I did was book some flights to Europe. I was going through what I can only describe as a quarter-life crisis and I was super excited to be able to take some time off and really focus on me. My adventure was split into two trips, checking out western Europe for two weeks (Paris, Ghent, & Amsterdam) followed by central Europe for three weeks (Prague, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, and Budapest).
My trip was split up for two reasons: one, I was dating someone at the time and I didn’t want to be away for too long; two, central Europe intimidated me so I wanted to visit western Europe first.
Honestly, I kind of struggled in western Europe. Language ended up being a much bigger barrier than I expected and frankly I found the crowds overwhelming. I enjoyed myself – don’t get me wrong – but it made me really nervous for my jaunt to central Europe.
Luckily, Prague was my first stop in central Europe and it quickly alleviated all my fears. My first experience was when I hailed a cab to my hostel. Greeted by an older gentleman, I immediately assumed his English would be weak. I was surprised when he greeted me in great English. We had a full conversation all the way into central Prague – something I rarely experienced in western Europe. I ended up asking him how he learned English and what he said stuck with me:
Learning English felt like a rebellion against Communism in the mid to late 80’s. It felt like hope. It felt like being one step closer to freedom.
This was a common theme throughout central Europe. In the end, there was so much to see, do, experience, and taste. In fact, Prague & Budapest are now two of my favorite cities ever.
If your travel philosophy jives with mine, then I think this post will serve as a comprehensive guide for planning your visit to Prague!
I’ve sorted this guide into things to do, things to see, and things to eat. Na zdravi!
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Things to Do
Prague Free Walking Tour
I’ve said it before: I’m a big fan of free walking tours. Free walking tours are a great first introduction to a city and they’re cheap. Yes, they are marketed as free, but you should always tip your tour guide.
In my opinion, you should always start your trip with a free walking tour. You’ll quickly see the city, get ideas for things to check out, and get insider tips and tricks for places to check out.
The Communism Tour
I found that Communism (and central European history) is often underrepresented in American history classes. Czech history is fascinating. There is no better way to learn about it than to take a Communism tour.
Check Out Some Weird Museums
I am not a museum person which I say all over my blog. I don’t care about pottery or mock-ups of animals from long ago. However, two of my favorite museums ever happen to be in Prague.
The KGB Museum
This came recommended from a friend and I’m glad I went. It’s wild. Come prepared with cash and be open-minded. When I went, the lone employee at the museum left his station to give me a tour of KGB artifacts. He wildly waved around brass knuckles and handed me a Russian machine gun – “here, for Facebook.” Just go, trust me.
The Museum of Alchemy
You’ll enter through a secret passage and descend into a literal dungeon to learn about alchemy in Prague. It’s a short tour but I think checking out a dungeon through a secret passage is reason enough to go.
Take a Day Trip to Kutna Hora (and the Bone Church!)
Kutna Hora is a city just outside of Prague in the Bohemian countryside. It’s kind of creepy but the Kutna Hora bone church is reported to contain the bones of 40,000 – 70,000 people. It’s definitely an experience, especially if you’ve never been to an ossuary before.
Go Shopping For Ceramic & Garnet
I’ve recently decided I will only purchase nice, quality souvenirs when I’m traveling. No more keychains or magnets for me! Czechia is famous for their garnet and ceramic products, so I advocate for these purchases.
Pro tip: the best price I ever found for ceramic or glassware was J S Porcelan located at Mostecká 45/20, 118 00 Malá Strana, Czechia. It’s on the castle side just down the street from the KGB museum!
Things to See
Old Town Square & the Astronomical Clock (obviously)
No guide to Prague is complete without this. Fair warning: the Astronomical Clock has been voted as one of Europe’s Most Overrated Attractions. It’s cool, of course, just hyped up.
My advice? Go earlier in the morning to check it out. If you get there just before 9, you’ll get it practically to yourself. The “Walk of the Apostles” occurs every hour on the hour between 9a – 9p. Once early afternoon rolls around, you’ll be stuck in a swarm of tourists waving selfie sticks.
For the record, the clock is really technically cool. The hoard of tourists is what I don’t like.
Besides the clock, lingering in Old Town Square is fun because there’s so much to see. Street vendors & performers come out of the woodwork so it’s great for people watching.
Another no brainer in Prague. If you take the free walking tour mentioned above you’ll almost certainly see the castle. The story of the castle is super interesting. Mish-mashed architecture, a King ripping off some Spaniards, and my favorite historical moment, the Defenestration of Prague.
Stroll down the street and take in the sights. There are tourist traps, convenience stores, the occasional demonstration, and fantastic architecture. If you take the Communism tour mentioned above, you’re sure to spend more time here.
St. Charles Bridge
No visit to Prague is complete without strolling across this bridge. Check it out both during the day and at night – you’ll get a beautiful view each time. Rub the bronze plaque as you cross the bridge to ensure you’ll visit Prague again!
The Franz Kafka Head Statue
There’s a moving statue of Franz Kafka’s head. It’s super cool and worth checking out: Charvátova, 110 00 Nové Město, Czechia.
The “Piss” Statue
Kafka was born in Prague so there are monuments to him all over. It’s located just outside the Kafka museum!
Also: yes, it’s a peeing statue.
St. Wenceslas Riding a Dead Horse
Don’t just wander around with your eyes at street level. If you look up, you’ll find unique art all over. This one is just off of Wenceslas Square. Walk into the Art Nouveau Lucerna Palace and don’t forget to look up!
If you’re sick of being in a city, checking out a park is a great way to unwind. I remember sitting here and reading for a few hours. So nice and relaxing!
The John Lennon Wall
Come here and linger for a bit. The wall is adorned with lyrics from The Beatles and other tributes to social causes. The musician playing music from The Beatles really added to the moment.
“Man Hanging Out” Sculpture
Remember I said to look up? This statue of Sigmund Freud dangles over the narrow streets of Old Town Prague. Check it out at Husova 110 00, 110 00 Staré Město, Czechia.
Things to Eat
Choco Cafe! My Favorite Cafe IN THE WORLD
Go here. Do it!
There are two locations, both quick walking distance from Old Town Square and kittycorner from each other. If one is crowded, just meander to the other one.
I recommend the milk chocolate hot chocolate with a splash of brandy. Rich, decadent, boozy, and CHEAP. This isn’t Swiss Miss, y’all. It’s pretty much ganache.
I love this so much I would almost go to Prague just to have some more. In the meantime, I make do by purchasing high-end chocolate, pouring hot cream over it, and adding my own brandy. But it’s not the same.
Fill Up on Some Goulash
Beef chunks smothered in a rich, thick, salty sauce served with hearty bread and potato pancakes.
Need I say more?
Warm Up With Some Pálenka
Best enjoyed with some goulash.
This is literally Czech moonshine. Typically made from distilled plums or apricots, it packs a punch. It may hurt on the way down but it’s a great nightcap.
Have a Beer at the Dancing House
The Dancing House is an architecturally interesting house south of the historic district. They charge an admission fee but admission is free with a beer. The beer is cheaper than the admission price, so you obviously need to have a beer.
Pilsners originated in Czechia so enjoy a Pilsner and check out the views.
Eat some Trdelnik (aka Chimney Cake)
Mmmm trdelnik! You’ll find this street food all over but especially around Old Town Square. Technically a form of a “spit cake”, it is dough covered in crushed nuts and sweet spices, wrapped around a spit, heated over coals, and eaten with your hands. It’s a rule: you need to have some every day.
Drink Some Beer Brewed By Monks
Located near Prague Castle, the Strahov Monastery has a beer garden with beers brewed by monks! Here’s your chance to drink on Holy Land. You can check out the Monastery during your visit as well!
Cute local tip: you get cash for returning your empty beer bottle. Locals often leave their bottles adjacent to trash cans so the homeless can collect the bottles and exchange them for cash.
Have you been to Prague? What did you love? Comment below!