Czech Republic Travel Guide
- Sep 12, 2017
- Category: Travel
When I was 20 years old, way back in June 2006, I landed in Prague knowing no one nor a thing about the country. All I knew was to find the admissions staff, holding a sign with my name on it at baggage claim. I was enrolled in a study abroad program at Charles University, and so at the airport, I found the group and piled into a van toward an apartment I’d share with two Canadian classmates and one Czech lady who was to ensure our safety. I had class three days a week, and the rest of the time I was out and about exploring Prague as well as neighboring cities/countries. The gothic architecture lining the streets, the unobstructed local culture, the electricity all around because the World Cup was in full swing—it all drew me in and I immediately fell in love with the first foreign city in which I lived. Here, with help from my college intern, Cole, is my (our!) Czech Republic Travel Guide (focused mostly on Prague with a few added suggestions elsewhere in the country!).
- Like in all major cities, the main port of entry is the airport. In the past decade Prague has set itself as a prime travel destination, so flights are plentiful!
- If arriving from a neighboring town or country, buses are a popular option. If on a public bus, they regularly run to and from Florenc, the main station in Prague. Private buses are often scheduled through travel agencies and tours.
- The extensive train system throughout Europe makes traveling super easy. Trips can be long, though convenient and decently comfortable. The main train station is Hlavni Nadrazi with the tram station close by for easy access. Go here for more information about times and prices.
Where To Stay
Old Town Square Hotel
- The Old Town Square Hotel is a 5-star hotel in Prague for those wanting to treat themselves to luxury. In my opinion, it’s in the best possible location: right in Old Town! The 13th-century buildings offer modern, upscale interior design. You’re literally in the thick of Prague, walking distance to most city sites!
- For the budget traveler, the Mosaic House is a great option. This hostel is in the heart of Prague. With live music almost every night, this art-themed hotel is of what young travelers dream. Social, upbeat, filled with culture. Because Prague was an epicenter for creatives, the hotel really celebrates art and culture. Everything is original. The rooms are “nice enough,” my friend says. You can stay in a double or quad, and the private showers are clean. Downstairs is a bar with karaoke unlike most karaoke joints to which you’ve been. Those performing are actually good! Be sure to check out La Loca, a restaurant next door that’s connected to Mosaic.
Adventure + Activities
- Nothing says European quite like a castle! Across the Charles Bridge and the Vltava River, atop the hillside in New Town, sits an enormous complex of churches, museums, and government residences that beams with history, dating back to the 9th century! Either walk or take the tram to the foot of the castle and take a long walk through gardens and cobblestone streets, overlooking the Czech Republic capital. I recommend a walking tour so a local guide can share its extensive history. Be sure to walk inside the church to view its stunning gothic architecture, stained-glass windows, and high-vaulted ceilings. And I challenge you to make the guards at the entrance gates, standing at attention, dressed in blue to smile, to crack a smile!
- One of the main hubs of culture and commercial life in Prague, Wenseslas Square is more rectangular than square, where restaurants, hotels, and businesses line up, one after the other. It’s a main attraction for tourists and often where city events and even demonstrations are held. At one end of the square, where it slopes upward, sits the Czech National Museum with a statue of St. Wenseslas himself in front.
Czech National Museum
- The Czech National Museum is an absolutely stunning feat, architecturally inspired by neoclassicism. Enjoy the art, but even more so look up and around inside at the spectacular interior craftsmanship!
John Lennon Wall
- You can’t visit Prague without visiting the John Lennon Wall. Decorated with colorful drawings and lyrics inspired by The Beatles, this hints at Prague’s communist past, where citizens were forced into conservative conformity. The wall is all about self-expression, just as Lennon himself was, and often mentions current issues. You can tag the wall yourself and share your message with the world!
- The Charles Bridge is the staple of Prague. Iconic, photogenic, and busy, the bridge is romantic and full of history. It’s lined with artists and gift sellers, so be prepared to feel like a sardine. Or, walk along the bridge between 4 to 6am when no one is really there for a much more peaceful experience. (Pictured above at the top of this article.)
- In the middle of Old Town Square, you can find the Astronomical Clock. People wait hours to see the hands move, i.e. the 12 apostles passing by the window. Personally I never understood the appeal; I was more wowed by how many people gather for this hourly occurrence!
Old Jewish Cemetery
- Considered one of the oldest in the world, the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague draws many tourists. Tombstones are stacked one on top of another, in seeming disarray. Prague had a vibrant Jewish community that suffered greatly during World War 2; therefore you can find many Jewish memorials around town such as this.
Museum of Medieval Torture
- If you’re looking for a bit different museum experience, stop into the Museum of Medieval Torture. It’s right before the Charles Bridge and showcases a ton of torture tools. Very creepy, very fascinating.
Pražačka Swimming Pool
- Whether you want to get in a workout or simply cool off during the hot summer months, definitely don’t miss the Pražačka pool. Wear a suit or bare all, this is a truly local scene. Laid back, bustling with loud kids and many naked adults!
- The corner markets aren’t technically a “sightseeing destination” but more so a cultural experience. Almost every street offers small shops with produce and basic essentials. They’re authentic and give you a true local flavor.
- For the full Old Town Square experience, head over to the White Horse, an upscale restaurant serving authentic Eastern European cuisine. Sit on the patio, facing the square, or go inside to enjoy the cellar-like interior. Pre-warning, not the most vegetarian-friendly spot. Eastern European food is all about hearty meat dishes.
- For those itching for some healthy, plant-based food, definitely check out MyRaw Cafe, a vegan restaurant a few blocks off Old Town Square. The area feels non-touristy area–peaceful atmosphere, the streets lined with traditional architecture.
- Angelato is considered the best gelato in town… well, that’s really all I need to say.
Retro Music Hall Praha
- The Electronic Dance Music (EDM) scene is very popular in Europe, especially with the young folk. Late night, head to the Retro Music Hall for a mini-rave environment to sweat your ass off.
- Harley’s Bar is a super popular spot that’s all Jack Daniels themed with fish bowls as big as your head! You’ll get a mix of locals and travelers, ages mostly ranging from 20 – 40.
When you’ve explored all of Prague, head to some of the smaller Czech towns nearby and visit these sites:
Church of Bones
- This small, sleepy town is known for the Church of Bones. The Sedlec Ossuary, a gothic church, similar to a church in Rome, Italy, is decorated with the bones of those who perished during the plague. The chandelier is made from every human bone in the body. Very creepy yet very cool!
Terezin Concentration Camp
- A 45-minute drive from Prague, the Terezin Concentration Camp is where hundreds of thousands of Jews and other Nazi prisoners were detained and perished during the Holocaust. It’s always a sobering experience seeing firsthand where catastrophic events occurred.
Pilsner Urquell Brewery
- In the Czech Republic, beer is cheaper than water. Locals love of beer is obvious it’s Pilsen, home of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, one of the world’s oldest breweries. You can tour the site, where you can check out the lime-washed cellar where the beer used to be stored.
WHAT TO PACK
What you pack for a trip to the Czech Republic depends solely on the time of year. Winter can be brutal and snowy, while summer can be hot and humid. So plan accordingly! Read my Packing Suggestions for warm weather here. And for winter, I recommend a coat like this…
Are you inspired to check out the Czech Republic? (Pun intended.) Comment below with your added suggestions and favorite parts of the country!