Trip to Prague, any general adviceWatch
Just wondering - anyone who has been to Prague, any advice about when you're there? Things to do, Things to watch out for, things to avoid, general comments etc
I'm a travelling beginner as such an have never been on a city break before so whatever is said will be helpful
Prague is amazing, you will love it! It is one of those cities that has wonderfully held on to its history. You feel like you are walking the streets of medieval Europe!
First thing is first? Have you booked your accommodation yet? Prague is bet explored on foot (there is nothing you can't get to within an hours walk through the Old Town (Staré město) or even the New Town (Nové město) for that matter. Note, that the New Town is actually not new, but was founded in the 14th century when the city expanded, it is where the city's biggest attraction is - Prague Castle (Hradčany). Anyway, try to stay in the Old Town - even if it costs more, it will be worth it not spending the money on taxis or transport. Prague is safe (and very beautiful) to walk around, so stay central. If hostel is your thing, there are many great, cheap hostels dotted around the old town. I would use Wencesles Square as good point of reference, if you are near here, you are not smack bang in the middle of the Old Town (meaning higher prices) but close enough to walk to it (barely a 10 minute walk). Wenceslas Square is the main transport hub of the city, making to and from train stations and the airport much easier.
What to do? The list is endless. I would recommend at least the following in this post.
Prague Castle - you will do this, and rightfully so! This is a castle of all castles, expanded over centuries incorporating different architectural styles that visually display it's history. It's wonderful. They do a changing of the guards everyday, however since there is no royal family residing in the castle, it is fake. Worth seeing if you like that type of stuff. If not, just go first thing in the morning. Each section of the castle has a different ticket, so I would just splurge and get the ticket that covers all the areas, that way you can just do it at your own pace. You will spend an entire day here. Highlight is St. Vitus Cathedral, that is essentially a giant cathedral in the courtyard of the palace. Amazing stain glass windows, let's hope the sun is shining.
To get over to the New Town, you will most likely do it crossing Prague's other famous monument, Charles Bridge. Easily one of the most famous bridges in the world, some would say the most famous in Europe, it was built by King Charles IV to connect the Old Town, to the New Town. It is adorned with famous statues, all each with it's own traditions, superstitions and myths. You can explore each one as you walk down! You will most likely cross the bridge more than once to access both sides of the cities. It was the only bridge crossing the city for centuries, but now there are many more, but this one is by far the most beautiful.
Old Town Square - This is the centre piece of the Old Town, the heart of the Old City. There are heaps of things to see and do around this area. Just to list a few around this area:
- Týn Church - this is reportedly the church that gave inspiration to Walt Disney for the Disney Castle. You will be able to see some of the resemblance I hope! Notice the two spires of the church, one is bigger and slightly wider than the other - I'll leave it to you to work out why that is. Please note, that it is way more impressive from the outside rather than inside.
- Town Hall - one of the oldest buildings in Prague, and it shows. You can go up it's tower for some of the best views in town, do it! It's cheap and will give you the best photos from your trip. At the best of the tower in the pavement is a bunch of markings - another mystery you can solve!
- Astronomical Clock - on the Town Hall tower is one of the oldest working clocks in Europe, also one of the most famous in the world. Dating back to a time of religious superstitions, you can certainly see how it is dated as the clock depicts the world as being flat and not round! In the peak of summer, thousands come to watch the clock chyme on the hour. This is a fun experience, don't expect fireworks however the chicken at the end is always sure to rouse a laugh. The trumpet player around lunchtime from the top of the tower is a nice touch. Even better, bet at the top when he does.
- St Nicholas Church - A nice church from the Baroque period, often gets unnoticed due to other Gothic structures in the square, but this is none the less beautiful.
One of the most preserved of its kind, the Jewish Ghetto (Josefov) cannot be missed. Spared due to the macabre intentions of Hitler to make an open-air museum of the area of Jewish culture in Europe, which from his intentions would have ceased to exist. What remains is one of the best examples of medieval Jewish history, this is a real treasure. A favourite of many who visit Prague, it is worth exploring the synagogues and the Jewish cemetery.
Finally, a really cool museum to go to, shedding light on the more recent history of Prague, is the Museum of Communism, ironically located above a McDonalds! If you are interested to see what life was like during the Soviet occupation of the city, then go here. It doesn't cost much, a nice way to break away from the crowds on the streets.
Going out is super fun in Prague, you find many people are in the city for the weekend to party. While this is fun, it means that finding where the locals go a bit more difficult. Many of the bars around the Old Town are reasonably priced, full of travellers and usually have a great atmosphere, enjoy! The Czech Republic is famous for historically being one of the best Absinthe producers in Europe, so you will find many Absinthe bars dotted around the Old Town. While these bars are really fun, be careful with Absinthe! It is super strong and can quickly turn a fun night into a bad night.
Prague is a really safe city, however there are a few basic things to be aware of. First thing is money. The official currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech crown. The best rate of exchange is probably straight from your bank, meaning withdrawing money direct from an ATM to avoid exchanging money. One of the biggest scams for tourists in Prague involves money exchange. Never exchange money from someone on the street, even if they will take you to their 'office'. None of the legitimate money exchange office operate this way. They will most likely exchange your money for Hungarian forint, which has ten times less exchange value than the Czech crown, leaving you severely out of pocket. Even the most official exchange offices (for example, Travelex) can have exchange rates and fees that can feel too much, so budget what you think you will spend, withdraw direct form an ATM at the beginning of your trip and see how you go.
The other bit of advice if have is with taxis, hence the advice to say as centrally located as possible. They are notorious for bad driving and overcharging tourists. Always agree on a price before you enter the taxi, pay the amount that you agreed upon the arrival of your destination. If the driver demands more, which he shouldn't, simply hand over the amount you agreed to and walk away. They will most likely move onto their next journey.
This is just a few things for now.
I hope this helps!