Prague is a beautiful-budget city with colorful historic buildings, narrow alleys, intricate architecture, and a river that divides the city. I was in Prague for two weeks in mid-August and the weather during this time was just perfect, with no rain on most of the days. I had enrolled in a 10-day, so it helped me experience Prague both as a local as well as a tourist. In this post, I will share the top things that you should do while your stay in Prague and some tips to keep in mind as you explore the city.
First things first - Where to get your money exchanged?
The best solution to get local currency is by using your international debit or credit card to withdraw money from the ATM, given that bank charges are not too high. If that doesn't work for you or you have carried enough cash from home, you can exchange your Euros/Dollars that you have from trusted exchange offices. One of the biggest scams in the city is money exchange, so you need to be wary of where you get your money exchanged. There are so many exchange offices that will claim to offer you the best conversion rate but do not fall for them. Most of these places will take a commission that will leave you with much less amount after exchange than what you'd normally get. Most accepted currency in Prague is Czech Crowns (CZK). We exchanged our money at Praha Exchange located right in the city center on Jindřišská street. It offers one of the best rates and zero commission.
PS: Many places don't accept credit/debit card for payment, so do ask before you purchase anything.
Buy a SIM card?
I decided to not buy a SIM card during my stay in Europe and it worked perfectly fine for me. You can read more details on how I managed to survive without a SIM card for 30 days here.
If you are a budget traveler who likes to buy and cook their own food, I am sure grocery shopping must top your list of ToDos on reaching a new city. There were many small supermarkets near my hostel, Botič Student House on the main Vršovická Street where you could get all kinds of basic items. But a few things to be careful of are, one, if you are tight on cash and need to use the card, make sure to ask before you start selecting items. Second, I bought some food without checking and it was expired. So make sure you check the dates before you buy anything - you don't want to waste all that you bought. Also, you can buy the same item at different prices in different places. Although, I don't exactly remember the rate difference.
If you want to go to a proper supermarket, I would suggest Tesco Express or Lidl for more trustworthy purchases.
Visit Pubs and Party in The Best Dance Clubs
Prague is famous for its beer and is often referred beer capital of the world. With frequent hopping to different pubs and clubs in Prague, I'll list down a few of my favorites.
The Pub - It had a fun concept of pouring your own beer at the table and also monitor the amount of beer you have had and the price for the same. You can also compete with other tables, with score directly proportional to the amount of beer consumed at a table. With average food and rude staff, this place is best only if you want to have good beer and hang out with friends.
Hangar Bar - My personal favorite because of good music and ample space to dance. With a non-stop music, we were dancing pretty much the whole time we were in the club.
Golden Tree - Crowded yet fun, mainly because of a good choice of songs they were playing. Despite the creeps that were trying to enter our group and broken glass and beer on the floor, we didn't get bored here.
Karaoke Night in Jampa Dampa - We visited Jampa Dampa on a Karaoke night on Thursday. Hidden between streets in the basement, is this small fun club. We were a group of multiple nationalities and the person on the computer was kind enough to find our countries' songs and play for us.
Eat Drink Repeat!
Prague is full of cafes and restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines. From coffee to pizza to Indian food, the city will not disappoint you. Check out this link for tried and tested food options in Prague.
Have a Barbecue in Stromovka Park
Take some time out of visiting the touristy spots and spend an evening with your friends barbecuing in the park. There are some parks in Prague where grilling is illegal, therefore find a park that allows it and if the weather permits, then you are all set for your picnic time.
We had BBQ near the Vltava Canal in Stromovka Park. In maps, you can see it as Stromovka - Grill Bod 5. Enjoy your grilled cheese and burgers with chilled beer. Go for a swim or paddle-boarding in the small stream that flows nearby.
Just a few steps from our BBQ spot was a small stream flowing. After having lunch, some of us went for paddleboarding there. You can find rental shops in the park where you can rent a paddle board from.
It was my first ever experience standing on a paddle board and river waters were quite calm for the first-time paddle-boarders.
Other Points of Interest
Petrin Hill and Prague Castle
Surrounded by nature, Petrin Hill is one of the best places to see the sunset and the city from. You can reach the top either by a tram or walk up the stairs. But the best way was to climb up the hidden paths through the gardens. Once there, you can also go to Lookout Tower to get even better city views. I did not do that because the views from the hill were pretty good as well.
You can also visit Prague Castle since it is just around the corner a few minutes walk from the hill.
Charles Bridge & Lennon Wall
Flooded with tourists throughout the day, visit Charles Bridge for its history, statues, and live music. But the best way to get a good view of Charles Bridge is from Alšovo nábřeží. It is a walkway between Charles Bridge and Mánes Bridge right by the river.
PS: Alšovo nábřeží was suggested by a friend and we happened to see a beautiful sunset from this place and it wasn't as crowded as well
As you cross the Charles Bridge, get down a few stairs on the left and make a stop at Lennon Wall. With tons of artwork done on it, it's a must visit to reminisce about the history behind the wall, when people used this wall to express their emotions.
Museum of Communism
I wouldn't say it was the best museum, but it worked quite well for me since I did not have a lot of information about European History. It was like a physical Wikipedia and the reading walls made it a bit boring.
Get past the gardens after getting down at Výtoň station to St. Peter and St. Paul Church and then to amazing views of Vltava river and the city from Vyšehrad Hill.
Wenceslas Square and Old Town
Stroll around Wenceslas Square, Old Town, and Jewish quarters admiring the beautiful European architecture and get a hint of the city culture and history.
Day Trip to Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov is a beautiful city just 3-hour drive from Prague. It is famous for it's State Castle, that is surrounded by Vltava river in the south and Polecnice stream in the north. After touring the castle, you can sit in a river-side bar and enjoy your beer.
End your trip with a rafting in the surrounding river.