Published: May 8th 2012May 8th 2012
Charles Bridge with Prague Castle in the background. Built in 1357 and the only bridge across the Vltava River for over 500 years.
Beautiful Prague was a great place to kick off my world tour. It was waaay
more crowded than I though it would be seeing as it was the first week of May but after 4 days here it is easy to see why Prague is a major tourist attraction. As a bonus, the weather was fantastic except for my last day which I spent exploring the Prague Jewish Museum. An additional bonus is that my poorly spoken Russian is generally understood as poorly spoken Czech as many words are similar especially the numbers which is always helpful.
Travel Related Details
$1 ≈ 19 Czech koruna (Kč) Accommodation and Food
I reserved my accommodation before I left the USA since I wanted my own room as opposed to a cost cutting dorm bed. But I was stymied in my attempt to book 4 nights in a single room at the Extol Inn so I booked my first night at the cheapest hostel I could find which was Czech Inn for $5/night. I wasn't expecting much at that price and was very surprised at the quality of the hostel - great staff, immaculate facilities, free WiFi, good location
fairly close the center and Náměstí míru metro station which is conveniently on the same line as the airport bus stop at Dejvická. The immense breakfast buffet is an additional 110 Kč and well worth it. There are a couple of decent places in the vicinity for lunch and dinner. A set lunch is the more economical choice but smooth Czech pilsner can always be quaffed for ~20 Kč for 0.3 liter (a bit less than 12 oz.). On the second day I switched to Extol Inn on the north side of the Vlatava River in Holešovice. Booked on Hostel Bookers for 50% off the rack rate including a breakfast buffet but sharing a bathroom with an adjacent room (no issues). It worked out to ~$22/night which is a steal for being so close to the center of Prague which can be reached in 10-15 minutes by frequent tram (stop is 2 blocks away). Knowing what I know now, I wish I had stayed at Czech Inn for all 4 nights, saving ~$33 in the process to be placed in the beer fund. The restaurant scene was pretty spartan in Holešovice but for cheap Chinese food I headed to Wok
on the main drag a couple of blocks north where soup, rice, and a main dish went for about 100 Kč. Lucky Lucciano's around the corner served a good version of pasta puttanesca and massive pizzas (reckon ~150 Kč per pie). There was also a Czech restaurant near the tram stop. In the center close to Malostranské náměstí tram stop on Karmelitská was Il Balcone serving excellent value classic Czech lunches for 145 Kč including soup, main, side, and dessert. Needless to say, beer was quite reasonably priced at 30/45/80 Kč for 0.3/0.5/1 liter - definitely a bargain for anything close to the center. I went to McDonalds a couple of times, initally for a pit stop, but the fast food chain is no longer the free access to facilities as in the past. That distinction now belongs to KFC. But the McCafe did serve decent and inexpensive espresso drinks. Transport
Could not be easier or more efficient. From the airport, bus 119 heads to the end of the metro line A at Dejvická from where any metro station can be quickly reached. Single use tickets are 24/32 Kč for 30/90 minutes or 24/72 hour passes can be purchased
Castle Square and municipal building.
for 110/310 Kč. There is supposedly a half charge for large baggage but I'm not sure if that's enforced and the passes include any baggage charge. It should be noted if referencing Lonely Planet that the guidebook claims that the 30 minute ticket is not valid for transferring between trams, buses, and metro. That is not true and both tickets are valid for transfer. Be sure to run the ticket through the validating machine once on board. There are indeed transit police on patrol.
Leaving Prague, I bought a ticket to České Budějovice (home of the original Budweiser beer) with Veolia Trans for 147 Kč and leaving from Roztyly (metro stop of same name) on the outskirts of the city. The bus pulled up on time and many people bought tickets from the driver saving the 15 Kč advance reservation fee that I paid when I purchased the ticket at the main bus station at Florenc. Also paid 15 Kč to stash my pack in the luggage compartment. Student Agency does not charge baggage fees unless it is oversized. Unfortunately they do not operate directly between ČB and Brno, my next stop. Pražský hrad
Prague Castle is the
largest castle complex in the world and probably has the largest castle complex entry fee as well, a whopping 350/250 Kč for the long/short tour. I opted for the latter which included entry into the Basilica of Saint Vitus, the Basilica of Saint George, Starý královský palác (Old Royal Palace) and the Golden Lane (area of artisan shops). Tickets are good for 2 days although each building is allowed only one entry. The long tour includes several more buildings but two days may be needed because it would be maddening to deal with the crowds to see all the buildings in one go. There is also the changing of the castle guards every hour on the hour but the 12:00 pm changeover is quite the production with a small band and a procession of guards. Prague Jewish Museum
300 Kč entry fee includes admission to the Pinkas Synagogue, Old Jewish Cemetary, Maisal Synagogue, Klausen Synagogue, Spanish Synagogue, and the Ceremonial Hall which was closed because of some sort of accident. There is also the option of the combined 480 Kč ticket which includes the Old-New Synagogue. The history and the antiquities are all really impressive but like the castle,
St. Vitus Basillica
Built in the 10th century.
dealing with the crowds is a struggle. The museum is naturally closed on Saturdays.
There are more photos below