One of the many lovely things about Prague is that it is a nicely sized city, meaning to me, the city itself, with all its neighbourhoods, does not seem too large to get around. However, there are still times when I am travelling around the city and see an area that looks familiar to me, only to realize that I had been there once before when I had not yet got my bearings. I’ll admit, I get a kick out of that. So, today, I’ll share my experience there so you can also enjoy Prague the way I did.
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So you may be asking what, exactly, are the best free and or cheap ways to enjoy Prague? Below I’ve compiled a list of ten of my most memorable moments and activities that I’ve come across in this Bohemian city that I suggest to fellow travellers.
Ways to enjoy Prague
1. Go people watching in Old Town Square.
Play a little game I call “American or European” in which you try to figure out whether or not people are American or European based solely on their clothing.
There are many other things to see in the square, like the Jan Hus statue, the Astronomical Clock that chimes every hour on the hour (worth seeing), and its proximity to my number two suggestion below. However, if you’re on a budget, I’d stay away from the restaurants in this more touristy area, as they are more expensive than elsewhere in Prague.
2. Try Trdelnik (with Nutella oozing out).
You must experience it for yourself. I can’t say enough about this little pastry, Transylvanian, but it was brought to Slovakia. The pastry consists of dough wrapped around a trdlo (a wooden cylinder that makes the pastry hollow) cooked over an open fire and then rolled in a mixture of sugar and almonds.
A few stands around Old Town Square will even put Nutella in the middle of the trdelnik hot off the trdlo creating the most delightful (if messy) treat for only a few more crowns. Totally worth it.
3. Hang out on the Charles Bridge.
While this area is also made up of primarily tourists, you should at least see it once during a trip to Prague. It provides a perfect view of Prague Castle and the Vltava River and is also a great place to get some more artistic souvenirs for friends and family back home from local artists who peddle their wares along the bridge.
Sometimes you can even catch a little marionette show or music by street performers.
4. See some green outdoors (around Letna park or Petrin Hill).
Wander away from tourists and farther into the heart of Prague by visiting the gorgeous 25-hectare Letna Park, Prague 7. The park provides a prime location to overlook the busier tourist sections of Prague while enjoying a beer in Letna’s beer garden, skating, biking, or seeing some famous monuments.
Petrin Hill in Prague 1 also has a lovely view of the city below. Climb up the hill using the trails or take a cable car ride to the top for a small fee. See the gardens, have a picnic, visit the Štefánikova Astronomical Observatory, go to the Mirror House, or for another small fee, climb the tower to get a great view of the city.
5. Paddleboat in the Vltava River.
From April until late October, paddle boating around in the Vltava River is a fun way to spend an hour or so with friends for 150-200 CZK per hour (cheaper if done in a group where you can split the cost). You can travel about 500 meters up and down the river, but you are not to go past the buoys on either side.
Bring along some snacks or drinks (yes, even alcohol) for a bit of picnic in the river. (Helpful hint: When my friends and I went, they asked to keep a photo ID/driver’s license of one person renting the boat, I suppose to have to make sure the paddle boat was returned or for safety reasons. They will replace your ID for you when you return the boat. So be sure to have one on you).
6. Enjoy a Czech beer in a pub. (“Pivo, prosím!” = “Beer, please!”)
Going to the Czech Republic and not drinking beer is like going to a zoo and not seeing any animals–you don’t do it. Czechs are famous for their beers–Pilsner, Gambrinus, Budweiser, Staropramen–so get to drinking!
7. Visit the Lennon Wall.
One of my favourite sites in Prague to visit is its symbolism, and it’s constantly changing. It has its post dedicated to it. Bring along a spray can or sharpie to leave your mark.
8. Eat at Cafe Louvre (Narodni 22).
Intellectuals Albert Einstein and Franz Kafka were just a few of the former patrons of this historical cafe. I’ve eaten cake and coffee here in the garden/terrace area and breakfast indoors with a group; both times, the food was delicious and the atmosphere relaxing. A little more expensive, but still reasonable price-wise.
9. Discover unique art.
If you look closely, you can find several pieces by Czech artist and Prague native David Cerny all over the city. These giant faceless baby statues can be found near the Lennon Wall (on the other side of the Charles Bridge, past a square) and are usually accompanied by kids climbing all over them. They can also be seen climbing up the TV Tower in Zizkov.
10. Admire the city with a bird’s eye view (from Petrin Tower or by walking up the hill to Prague Castle).
As the sun gradually comes out more and more in the coming weeks and the Vltava River recedes from the banks, the Charles Bridge and other notable sites next to the river near the Old Town of Prague will eventually reopen, and a flood of tourists will take the water’s place.
Soon, I, too, will recede from this great city in Czech and the Czech Republic altogether as I move on to another adventure. But I will often look back and think of the Czech Republic and of my time there, realizing that I most surely took it for granted when I was bustling about in the heat last summer.