Last updated September 29th, 2019.13 minute read
Mid-way through my mini Euro-trip, I arrived at one of my most anticipated destinations: Prague, Czechia. While Germany is amazing, I had a feeling Prague would be my favorite, and I was spot on.
The architecture in Prague 1, AKA Old Town, is absolutely breathtaking. That combined with great food, great sights, and great accommodations had me wishing I had stayed longer!
Where to Stay in Prague
In other posts, I have put this off until the end of the post. But I figured I’d change it up a bit; plus, in Prague, where I stayed is very central.
I stayed at The Roadhouse Prague because it has a ridiculous 9.9/10 on Hostelworld. Sure, it’s only been open since 2017. It’s also easier to maintain a high rating with fewer reviews.
However, as of this writing, they do have 637 reviews, which is no small number.
In any case, this hostel is great! It ended up being tied for my favorite hostel along with Lotte the Backpackers Heidelberg. Sure, I only stayed in four hostels, but this place is really nice.
In addition to being quite new – as I said, it just opened in 2017 – I really like the overall feel. It has around 20 beds, which I’ve decided is a great number to shoot for.
This gives hostels a much more communal feel, and Roudhouse is no exception. They eat dinner together every day before heading out before doing something together.
Sometimes this is a bar, but one night we went bowling. Pretty good way to get to know your hostelmates! I think I just made that word up…but I’m sticking to it.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Roadhouse. And, like I said, it’s in a great location. It’s only a 5-10 minute walk from Charles Bridge, one of the main attractions in the city. If you ever stay in Prague, I recommend it.
Charles Bridge and Exploring Prague
I ended up not having a ton of time to do much the day I arrived in Prague. I took a late morning FlixBus from Munich; it ended up taking around six hours. As a result, I wasn’t checked into the hostel and settled until around 5 p.m.
In addition, many attractions tend to close at the end of business hours in Europe, unlike the US where they more often stay open later.
So, I did what I could. As I mentioned above, the hostel is only a 5-10 minute walk from Charles Bridge, so I made that my first destination.
Before walking onto the bridge itself, I had to get a picture of this gate with a TON of locks on it:
This gate is right next to the bridge entrance. After stopping for that quick photo, I continued onto the bridge itself.
I continued on through the bridge. Although it was early April, it was already very crowded!
It was a hustle and bustle of tourists as well as street performers and vendors. In addition to those selling souvenirs, there were also some pretty entertaining performers.
Take this group doing an all-strings cover of Coldplay for example:
I thought it was pretty cool. Charles Bridge is a lively, happening place, and you can really feel the positive energy. Good times for sure.
There are various statues that line the bridge as well. I made sure to grab photos of those, although the lighting was unfortunately not great:
After seeing all there is to see on the bridge, I continued on to Malá Strana. This is the central area in Prague 1 where you will find the majority of the shops and storefronts.
At the entrance to Malá Strana is yet another beautiful archway.
And here are a few photos of Malá Strana:
As you can see, Malá Strana has the characteristic cobblestone that is still so common throughout Europe.
After seeing Malá Strana, I had to at least get someone to take one photo of me! I kind of hate taking selfies, so.
A Note About the Architecture
What really sets Prague apart is the architecture. Prague has a wealth of several types: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.
Prague is known around the world for its stunning architecture; in fact, this is one of the biggest draws to the Czech capital. But how does the architecture remain so pure and pristine? One reason is there are strict regulations around what can and cannot be done architecturally.
For example, one of the people who works at the hostel said that they were having issues getting air conditioning installed at the place. That’s because they wanted to use window units. The building is old, so central air is of course nonexistent.
I’m not sure what they will end up doing, but Prague is that strict about building codes! I guess it’s a pro and a con. Prague 1 is certainly breathtaking.
Also, Prague 1 is the central district, also commonly known as Old Town. I’m told that once you get outside of Prague 1, though, Prague starts to look more like any other city. I take that to mean that the building restrictions don’t apply elsewhere – or they simply aren’t as strict.
Prague Castle, St. Nicholas Church, and Wallenstein Garden
On my second day, I had to check out the thing that everyone goes to Prague for (other than Charles Bridge): the mighty Prague Castle.
There is a TON to see at this castle. If I were to go to Prague again, I would give myself more than just one day to explore!
While I was still able to hit the highlights, there were several things I had to skip over due to simply not having enough time. Oh, yeah, and I was getting a bit tired.
Before actually seeing the castle, I stopped at St. Nicholas church for a few photos.
Side note: in Prague, you have to pay to get into what seems like just about every attraction. I don’t know that St. Nicholas Church is extremely well-known, but I couldn’t even look around here without paying. If memory serves, it was 100 koruna to enter (about $4), which isn’t a ton – but this can really add up! Just something to keep in mind.
After the quick stop at St. Nicholas, I continued on to the castle!
One of the first things you see when entering the castle grounds is St. Vitus Cathedral. Inside and out, this church is one of the most visually stunning buildings in all of Prague.
In fact, I had to get a bunch of photos just at this one building.
After I had seen everything there was to see at St. Vitus, I continued on to the Old Royal Palace. Built in the 12th century, it features both Gothic and Renaissance styles.
Prague Castle: The Golden Lane
After I was done at the Old Royal Palace, I continued on to the Golden Lane. I’m not sure when it was originally built, but the official website suggests it has 16th-century dwellings, so that’s what I’m going with!
The Golden Lane is interesting. In addition to those small dwellings, it has several displays of Medieval clothing, weapons, and armor:
It’s pretty cool. Apparently, this building was used as something of a fortress. Having lived in the US my whole life, that sounds like something that’s only in movies. But it was a reality for these people.
Is Prague Castle Free?
Not entirely, no. You could walk around the outside of the castle grounds without paying. However, if you want to get into the cathedral and other attractions, you’ll have to pay.
The Wallenstein Garden is part of the Wallenstein Palace estate. Built by Albrecht von Wallenstein in 1623-1630, Wallenstein only lived in the palace for one year before his death.
Its Baroque architecture is typical of the area – which is, to say, quite beautiful.
As far as the garden itself, I actually wasn’t even sure if I would stay. I took a couple of steps through the gate and I saw that there were these vertical bushes that are used as walls in the garden. Well, those bushes were barren as though they hadn’t yet bloomed for the season.
Given that this is a garden, I thought that was a bad sign and almost walked out. However, I didn’t have much else planned for the day and at this point, it was around 5 p.m., so I figured I would just walk around a bit. And I was glad I stayed.
As I walked through the garden, I came upon something I was not expecting – peacocks! The reason it was unexpected, though, is not just the fact that they were there. It’s that they were just walking around the path and were not secured in any way.
Those who have already seen these photos have said they’ve never seen a white peacock. I hadn’t either, so I had to Google it. Turns out, this is a rare genetic mutation of certain species of peacock – typically the blue peacock.
The last thing I did that day was try trdelník. These things have been all the rage in Prague, although they are actually of Hungarian origin.
Vyšehrad, Old Town Square, Petrin Tower
On day three, my main agenda item was to make it to the Vyšehrad Fortress. This was at the suggestion of Justin of Root of Good. I figured it would be cool, but it was even better than I was expecting.
It is not known exactly when it was built, although probably in the 10th century The site has been used throughout Prague’s history as a royal residence, at times in conflict with Prague Castle.
While there are definitely some interesting buildings at the Vyšehrad, the best part about it is the views! The views there turned out to be some of the best I had in Prague.
“Czech” these out:
Old Town Square
After admiring the views at Vyšehrad, I went over to check out Old Town Square. This is the central area in Prague, and the busiest part as a result.
I didn’t even try to eat here because I’m sure it would have been very expensive! As I hinted at earlier, Prague has definitely embraced its tourist economy, so you can expect to pay a premium if you opt to dine in a place like the square.
The closest thing I did to eating was to get a cocktail at the rooftop bar at Hotel U Prince. It was just so festive, I couldn’t help it:
Other than that, I decided to just walk around and snap a few photos, as per usual. I had to see the astronomical clock (pictured below).
John Lennon Wall
After walking around Old Town Square, I headed over to the John Lennon Wall for a quick photo. The crowd made photos difficult. I did manage to get one, though:
After that quick photo op, there was just one last thing I really wanted to see during my time in Prague. So many things to do – so little time!
The Petrin Tower is basically a mini Eiffel Tower. Though the two buildings don’t look exactly the same, they are clearly similar. The Petrin Tower is made of steel, while the Eiffel Tower is made of wrought iron.
But I’m sure you can see why I say they are similar:
Again, they don’t look exactly the same, but it’s basically the same concept.
While there is a lift inside, it didn’t seem to be in operation because no one was using it. So, I took to the stairs instead. The 63-meter (206-foot) climb definitely took a lot out of me. I actually had to stop once.
But I did make it to the top, and once again, took a few photos!
After admiring the sights at Petrin Tower, my time in Prague had just about come to a close.
Getting Around Prague
I spent a total of three nights in Prague and barely had to rely on public transportation. That’s because Prague 1 is fairly compact and I didn’t really venture outside of it.
There is naturally a TON to do in Prague 1 and you could easily spend a week or more in just that part of the city and probably never need transportation of any sort.
However, as mentioned I did go to the Vyšehrad which is in Prague 2. At 2.6 km (1.6 miles) from the hostel, it’s not extremely far, but it still a bit far to walk, so I decided to take the tram. They do have a subway as well, though I didn’t use it.
Here is why I’m bringing this up: as a total “noob” to transit in Prague, I was not aware that you can’t buy tickets directly on the tram. So there’s no way to pay unless you already have a ticket.
And ticket checks seem infrequent, but they do check sometimes. So be sure to pay attention to that.
You have to buy them in advance, and several convenience stores sell them. Just keep that in mind so you plan accordingly. I actually ended up not paying a couple of times – not intentionally, but because I honestly had no idea how to pay.
What To See In Prague: Conclusion
I loved Prague. This city and in particular Prague 1 could not be more beautiful. I know I’m talking it up, but I would be surprised if anyone were disappointed by it.
Anyone who appreciates history and architecture should absolutely love Prague.
It’s not horribly difficult to get by without spending too much money, but, as mentioned, be leery of tourist traps. There are a lot of them in Prague because they have embraced tourism as a big part of their economy.
This probably more true in Prague 1 than in other parts of the city, but I recommend planning your meals in advance. Walking into some random restaurant could have you spending a lot more than you wanted to for lunch/dinner.
An easy way to find cheap restaurants is by browsing the “cheap eats” section on TripAdvisor.
If you haven’t considered seeing Prague, you really should. This is a gorgeous and charming city, and everyone should see it at least once.
If I can, I will definitely be going back someday.