Welcome to Prague or Praha, capital city of the Czech Republic, a city that divided by the Vltava River. Prague is the equal of Paris in terms of beauty. Its history goes back a millennium.
This magical city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes, has been mirrored in the surface of the swan-filled Vltava River for more than ten centuries. Almost undamaged by WWII, Prague’s medieval centre remains a wonderful mixture of cobbled lanes, walled courtyards, cathedrals and countless church spires all in the shadow of her majestic 9th century castle that looks eastward as the sun sets behind her. Prague is also a modern and vibrant city full of energy, music, cultural art, fine dining and special events catering to the independent traveler’s thirst for adventure.
It is regarded by many as one of Europe’s most charming, colorful and beautiful cities, Prague has become the most popular travel destination in Central Europe along with Vienna and Krakow. Millions of tourists visit the city every year.
Prague is very well connected with the rest of the European rail network, and trains run daily between Prague and most major European cities. We took 4 hours 30 minutes train ride from Berlin to Prague.
Day 1: Getting around & Money Exchange
Prague is renowned as a very “walkable” city. For those who enjoy seeing the old and new city by foot, one can easily walk from Wenceslas Square to the Old Town Square, or from the Old Town to Charles Bridge and the Castle District. However almost all of the streets are cobbled, rendering it very difficult for disabled or elderly travellers to get around effectively. Drivers must yield to pedestrians at all marked pedestrian cross-walks. Remember that in the Czech Republic, it is illegal to cross at a pedestrian crossing on a red man, and if caught this incurs a fine of 1000CZK.
Public transportation is very convenient in most of the areas visitors are likely to frequent. One key thing to note if you are staying outside of the the city centre is that public transport buses do not enter the historic districts (Old Town, New Town, Lower Town, etc.), so as to prevent air and noise pollution. One must transfer to a cleaner and quieter electric-powered tram or a metro before reaching historic areas.
There are three metro (subway) lines, numerous bus and tram (streetcar) lines, regional (S) trains within Prague, as well as a funicular to Petřín hill and few ferries across Vltava river – all integrated in Prague integrated transport (PID).
The tram and bus schedules are posted on the stops, and the metro operates from early in the morning (around 05:00) until approximately midnight. Buses and trams start earlier and finish later to connect to metro. Between 11pm and 1am you can use trams going to the depot, sometimes taking unusual routes. The schedules, maps and prices may be consulted at their website.
Prague public transport is fast and efficient when you know how to use it. Sometimes you have to change a few times – the schedule website is the best way to plan your trip. If you get lost, you can take some bus / tram, almost all lines pass through a metro station where you can orient yourself.
The official currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech Crown (koruna), abbreviated as Kč, with the international abbreviation CZK. The current exchange rate can be found at the official website of the Czech National Bank.
Sometimes it is also possible to pay with Euros (hotels in the centre of Prague, McDonalds, KFC, Marks & Spencer, Albert and Billa supermarkets, etc. also accepts British pounds), but the exchange rate may be slightly unfavourable and change is almost always given only in CZK.
Keep in mind that payment cards (Visa/Mastercard including Google/Apple/Garmin/Fitbit Pay) are accepted almost everywhere in Prague and it is the best way to avoid being ripped-off by exchange offices. Czechs are used to pay by card even very small amounts. Contactless card is recommended, especially if you want to buy tickets on airport bus 119 or on trams (possible from April 2019).
In Prague, especially around tourist sights, there are plenty of Exchange offices with very bad rates which also charge commission. Be sure to always ask the employee how much money you would get before you give them your money – there might be some commission fee included which might not be easily visible at first sight. It is also advisable to ask at several nearby Exchange offices before changing your money.
The best place to exchange money is at eXchange office located in the centre of the city is in Kaprova Street 14/13. If you take a print out of the VIP coupon from their website you would receive the preferential VIP rates. The office is open till 20:00. One of the best rates are found around Main Railway Station (Hlavní nádraží) – exit the station, left across the park, to street “Politických vězňů”. There are about 5 offices, mostly arab-owned, and offer very good rates even for smaller amounts, and even better or negotiable for higher (over 1000 EUR, USD or such). A very good exchange place is to the left of Palladium Shopping Centre’s main entrance, it’s called Alfa Prague. With VIP rate probably the best place in the centre.
In terms of its café scene though, not many people know just how many beautiful little coffee shops are scattered across the city, offering excellent espresso (and some delicious Czech beer) along with tasty pancakes and cakes. Unfortunately We haven’t explore much on it.
Costa Coffee, a British coffeehouse chain. It was founded in London in 1971 by two brothers Bruno and Sergio Costa as a wholesale operation supplying roasted coffee to caterers and specialist Italian coffee shops. This coffee chain are spread across the city, not the best one, but it serve a good coffee whenever your caffein deficiency kick in.
EMA Espresso Bar, This stylish café with its clean and minimalistic, almost Scandinavian, interiors uses one of the best La Marzocco espresso machines, which can only be found in one other coffee shop in Prague. It makes coffee from the beans by different European roasters, is well-known for its amazing quality brews.
Day 2: Prague Castle, Charles’ bridge and Mala Strana
On the second day of our trip in Prague, we start to explore further more of the city. We were scheduled to have photoshoot with our fellow photographer Khiria, but due to the rain we decided to postpone it to the next day, so we use the time to check some photo spot location beforehand.
Prague Castle: This is the biggest ancient castle in the world, according to Guinness World Records, and rises like a dream above the city offering beautiful views of the areas below. Also on site is the St. Vitus Cathedral with its lookout tower, the Castle Picture Gallery, several palaces and museums and the beautiful Royal Garden, among others. You can also watch the Presidential Guard, and the changeover of the guards on duty on the hour.
Lesser Town (Malá strana); Across the Vltava River from the city centre and leading to the castle, this quarter also offers beautiful streets and churches (of which St. Nicholas Church is the most renowned). The Lennon Wall, which used to be a source of irritation to the communist regime, is also found here, near a Venetian-like canal with water wheel and close to the Charles Bridge.
Charles Bridge: connects Old Town with Lesser Town. Its construction started in the 14th century and it is one of Prague’s most beautiful structures. During the day, it is a bustling place of trade and entertainment, as musicians busk and artists sell their paintings and jewelry.
Day 3: The Photoshoot day
Prague has a temperate climate with variations throughout the year. In the winter, Prague has definitely its own magic. However, the weather is pretty unpredictable so it very well may burst into a foggy day, rain or snow storm, but that is not very common. When we woke up, the sun shine so bright and it give us big hope for the photoshoot. We grab our coat, and ride a train back to Prague Castle. Few minutes later, the fog coming and cover the whole city. Mehhhh…
Day 4: Train Ride to Austria
It just a short 4 days trip in Prague, and we wish we can spend more time here. There so much more to explore, the food, wine, beer, coffee, everything is much affordable compared to the other European city we have ever visited. So if you looking for a Holiday destination that show pure European look & feel with affordable price. Prague must be in your first list!