Travel Recommendations: Prague, Czech Republic
Length of Stay
I suggest you allow yourself four full days to explore the local area and take a day trip to a nearby country such as Slovakia. Don’t forget your passports!
Prague has an excellent subway and train system; it is definitely the best way to travel. Uber is also available and we used it on two occasions; first, to reach Lokál Dlouhááá on our last night (to test it out) and secondly, to the airport.
Rent a flat since it’s so easy to get around and many people speak English.
Pack warm clothes if you’re traveling in the winter.
Goulash—be sure to try the goulash!
While ten percent (10%) is the standard amount when tipping, adding the tip is slightly different. For example, if a waiter brings your bill and it’s 100 Kč and you use a credit card, you’ll want to tell him or her to run the card for 110 Kč. If you are paying cash, either give the exact amount plus the tip or if you have 200 Kč, ask for 90 Kč for your change.
Make certain the heat is working if you’re traveling in the winter! Additionally, when you check into your rental, make sure the hot water is turned on. We arrived at our flat rather late and discovered the hot water was not turned on which also impacted the heat.
I Love Trains
Traveling through Europe by train is amazing! We traveled by train from Vienna to Prague for several hours and it was a smooth and enjoyable trip. Another advantage is that you can see the countryside. After we arrived in Praguem, it was a beautiful day and we decided to walk to our AirBnB flat from the train station. This was a big mistake because it was much further than it appeared on Google Maps, with hills and sidewalks made of small, square stones to navigate. We arrived in about 20 minutes, which wasn’t too bad, but I would take public transit or a taxi if I could do it over again.
Food and Beer
First, we went out to get some lunch. I order gnocchi with a sheep cheese, bacon, and chives and it was so delicious! Eli ordered something with duck.
When I returned home, I attempted to recreate the gnocchi with some success. I used goat cheese and it turned out well.
We decided to check out Beer Geek, which has a lot of delicious beers and that I highly recommend. We were taking a tour to Kutna Hora the next day and decided to find the meeting location in the old town square. It’s a good thing we did because we got very lost. While down in the square, we checked out Pivovar U Supa and sat at the bar. It was the best seat in the house because the bartender only had one job and that was to pour beer! Seriously, he just poured beer after beer after beer non-stop.
Silver Gem of Czech – Kutna Hora
The next day, we set out for Kutna Hora. Named after a silver mine was discovered, it was once the richest city in the Czech Republic and also home of the Sedlec Ossuary, aka the Bone Church. The church ran out of space to bury people in the cemetery, so its members decorated the interior with the bones of people who wished to be buried there. You may be wondering why so many people wished to be buried there. Well, one of the priests traveled to the Holy Land and brought back dirt to the church and it was believed that if you were buried in the Holy Land you would have a direct line to heaven. The thought was that if you were already buried there, the church could dig up the bones and you would still have a direct line to heaven. The bones were then piled in the basement of the church until a family invested in the church and hired an artist to decorate. It’s quite interesting.
There are also some beautiful churches to tour around the area. Be sure to keep up with your tour guide as the last train leaves around 4 p.m. We got back to the Prague city center and decided to check out one of the local favorites Lokál Dlouhááá for some beer. This place was awesome! They give you a page with beers listed on it and the bartender just checks off the beer you order. So fun.
A Little Bit of History
We enjoyed our Kutna Hora tour so much that we decided to join a walking tour the next day through the same tour company. We LOVE these free walking tours (they are free, but make sure you tip your guide) and are a great way to learn about the local history. You also have someone to help you take photos—an added bonus.
We learned about the astronomical clock and the person who designed it. The clock was so popular that the king worried the designer would go to Vienna and create a bigger and better one. So, the king ordered the designer’s tongue cut our and his eyes gouged so he would be unable to tell or show anyone else how to make the clock. The designer made his way up the clock and threw himself into the gears, killing himself and breaking the clock. It was not fixed for over 100 years. The clock is quite beautiful and complex—it tells time, the current astrology sign, the moon phase, where the sun is in the sky, pictures of the farming phase (e.g., tilling, planting, harvesting), and the name of the day.
We also learned about Jan Hus who spoke out against the Catholic church about 100 years before Martin Luther! We learned much more while on this tour, which I highly recommend. We used Discover Prague for our tours.
We decided to check out the Prague Castle while visiting on our own. Having survived World War II, it has the most diverse buildings and an impressive view of the old town square. Be sure to walk across the Charles Bridge after you visit the castle.
In Good Spirits
While visiting Prague, be sure to indulge in some absinthe! This spirit garnered a bad reputation when it started to become more popular than wine. Rumors swirled that is was a hallucinogenic. We enjoyed the drink in the traditional French way, the Czech way, and in a mixed drink. I personally liked the French way.
Czech-ing Things Off the List
During our last full day, we decided to check off our list and visit a few more sites, including the Žižkov Television Tower, Old Town City Hall, Dancing House, Museum of Communism, and U Flecků (the oldest bar in Prague). We ended our last day at Lokál Dlouhááá where I ordered beef tartare (raw ground beef) served with fried bread and a raw garlic clove. I had no idea it was raw, let alone how to eat it, so I began to awkwardly look around to try and see if anyone else had the same dish. Well, you take the garlic clove and scrape it on the toast, and then you add the beef and enjoy. It was actually pretty good, although I must say I was surprised to find it was raw.