My life is filled with love and laughter thanks to the amazing people I get to hang out with. As well as being awesome, they’re creative, talented, generous, and fun! I thought you might like to meet them so I’ve asked them to come and give us a behind-the-scenes look at what they’re passionate about.
My guest today is my husband, Vlad Kratky. He definitely has a travel bug and is an expert about all things Czech! We once had a relative from Czech Republic stay with us, and they said Vlad was the most patriotic Czech they knew! He loves to travel to Czech Republic so I’ve asked him to share his invaluable insider travel tips.
First, when you arrive, look for a newspaper called Prague Post – which is an English weekly that will get you up to speed on the local scene pretty quickly. (They usually sell it at the newspaper shops as you walk to get your luggage at the airport.)
I don’t know how many days you’ll be in Prague, but absolute minimum 2-3 days is recommended since there is so much to see. The top sights are:
Charles bridge (Karluv Most)
Old Town Square (Stare Namesti) with the astronomical clock on the Old City Hall (a must see for ‘on-the-hour’ show)
Prague castle (Hradcany) (overlooking the city that you see in all photos.
Wenceslas square (Vaclavske Namesti) – (which is the main square in “new town”) – go to Jalta Hotel cafe for some Zatec beer!!
Municipal house (Obecni Dum) – an art deco building just west of old town square (my favourite); go and have a snack and cappuccino in the cafe!!
When you first head out sightseeing, go to the Old Town Square where there are a couple of great tourist information offices with lots of info…one is near the Parisian Street (great for shopping) and the other near the famous astronomical clock. There is also a little sightseeing mini-train (right near the statue in the old square), which is great way to start and get a feel for the layout of town and the major attractions.
When you visit the Prague Castle (which is the largest castle by area in the world!) plan at least a few hours…there is lots to see including the St. Vitus Cathedral and the Golden Lane, etc. Before you leave the castle hill, check out the Strahov Monastery just west of it. You’ll get some amazing sights of the city below. The easiest way to get to the castle is to take a street car (#22) or cab up the hill…you can walk up but it’s quite a hike 🙂 It’s better to return to the city by walking down from the castle…follow the crowds down Nerudova Street and check out the old houses with the ‘pictorial’ house numbers…when you come down from the castle you are in Mala Strana (lesser quarter) with lots of neat shops and an impressive St. Nicholas church…follow the crowds and you will be back on the Charles bridge which connects you with old town.
Language is not a problem as everyone under 45 years old speaks English, especially in tourist areas.
Prague is a walking city, especially the Old Town so don’t bother with a car or leave it at the hotel. The public transport especially the Metro (subway) is also a very efficient way of getting around.
Hotels: There are many to choose from, but I would again make sure you’re within walking distance to the old town. Some really nice ones are Hotel Paris, Imperial Hotel or Intercontinental Hotel – check them out on the web; bit pricey for this part of Europe, but on par with Toronto and other big cities in N. America (and cheaper than London, Paris!). The first two have definite turn of the century flavour (i.e. 1900’s) and the last one is on the bank of Vltava river, which is the main river that bisects the city.
For night-time culture, it is worthwhile seeing something at the National Theatre, which is an amazing historical building in itself. It is on the banks of the river just west of old town/new town junction. Your hotel will help you with tickets. The “Black Light” Theatre is a Czech invention and also very worthwhile – there are several venues, but I liked the one on Parisian right north of the Old Town Square.
For shopping try Parisian street or the Palladium Mall which is just east of the old square.
For metro or street car…buy tickets at your hotel (the machines at the metro are too hard to figure out); buy one that’s good for 1 or 2 days.
Cash…I don’t bother with airport exchange, just use an ATM when you see one. Czech currency (crowns or korunas) is still most widely used, so just get that. Officially, Euros are accepted, but only big businesses take them and most Czechs dislike them. 1 Can $ is about 20 Crowns (or “korunas”). Credit cards are accepted by hotels and big restaurants but smaller places love cash…and tipping is minimal!
Safety – no violent crime but pickpockets may prey on unwitting tourists, as in other big European cities…keep your wallet on an inside pocket.
Restaurants…there are lots!! and most are good even in the tourist areas; eating on the old town square is a great experience; otherwise try “Kampa Park Restaurant” which over looks the river and the Charles Bridge…the main beers are Pilsner Urquell and Budvar (Czech Budweiser, which has nothing to do with the US one!); for local ‘beer hall’ experience try “U Fleku” or “U Medvidku“. Also try some pub food, which is heavy but good. For a typical Czech meal have either “svickova” or “knedlo-vepro-zelo” or a schnitzel. For after dinner shot, go for Becherovka (a herbal bitter) or if brave, a Slivovice (plum brandy but very strong). The local wines can also be surprisingly good, especially from South Moravia.
For a great day trip, go to probably the most scenic medieval town in Europe: Cesky Krumlov about 2 hours south; or the famous Karlstejn castle 1 hr south-west…hotels can help you with tour bus excursions; both worth it.
I could go on and on but a small guidebook would be more organized…It’s probably best to pick one up here in Canada and look it over on the plane over (such as the Pocket Prague by Lonely Planet guides). In addition to being concise, it comes with walking tour maps you can do yourself…here are also a couple useful websites:
Vlad, thank you very much for sharing this information and all your amazing photos too!! Happy travels everyone!