My wife and I are coming to Europe in July for our 1st Anniversary. We'll be in Prague for 4 days. What are the best sites, experiences, and hidden away gems that we should see. We're looking for authentic experiences which will show us what Prague is really like.
Wife and I went to Prague last month and absolutely loved it. I would recommend downloading Rick Steves app. It has a free audio walking tour that you can do at your own pace. I used that to get my bearings on the city. The history of Prague and the Czech people was fascinating to me, and I would highly recommend talking to locals who were there during the Velvet Revolution.
As far as costs, I would say Prague is cheaper than the states, but if you eat out for every meal it isn't really really cheap. However, my wife and I went to a grocery store and bought 2 different kinds of cheese, a big bag of grapes, crackers, some whipping cream, and a bottle of wine for less than $6!
Here were my personal favorite things to see in Prague that maybe aren't as obvious as Old Town Square area.
Strahov Monastery Library
St. Vitus Cathedral and the entire Prague Castle complex
I wish I would have spent much more time on the Charles Bridgeat night. Something about it at night is just magical.
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The classic core of the city is, in fact, quite small, and most tourists do that in a day or two....but there's so much more to the city, if you explore just a little bit farther!
NORTHERN AREA OF THE CITY:
As mentioned below, Strahov Monastery is a great pick, especially for the elevated views of the city. A tip: the monastery is on the edges of Petřínské sady, a sprawling green park, and if you keep on heading south through the park instead of staying around the monastery/castle edge, you'll be treated to a combination of royal gardens, deep forest trails and excellent hillside views.
Another monastery I would suggest, that gets far less notice than Strahov is Břevnovský klášter. The monastery grounds are great, but I would say the main attraction is the monastic brewery that's been around since the 1300s. You can buy/taste their beers on tours on certain dates, so be sure to check beforehand.
A second great park area (Prague has excellent historical parks) is Stromovka, the largest green area within the city, and has dozens of biking/walking/rollerblading paths throughout. There are many ways to access the park, but the most scenic would be through the Letnáneighbourhood. This is such a beautiful, quiet, tree-lined neighbourhood with some of the most interesting residential architecture in the city. It also has some excellent neighbourhood cafes (Prague in general has such a great coffee scene...), of which Kavárna Pod Lipami is my favourite. An excellent restaurant (in the Czech tradition, it's more beer hall first, restaurant second) on the edges of Letna right by Stromovka Park is Lokál Nad Stromovkou, my favourite of the Lokal locations (they have a few). Lokal is a relatively new (few years) restaurant that serves traditional Czech food in a more modern setting and has become extremely popular with Czechs. The beer they serve is non-pasteurised Pilsner Urquell straight from the tank, which is so fresh and crisp. Quick tip: if you exit Stromovka Park from the southwestern area, you'll end up in the Bubeneč neighbourhood, which is home to many of the city's embassies and higher-end historical villas. It's a fascinating walk.
One more suggestion for this part of the city, though it's almost the complete opposite of everything else I've mentioned so far, is Holešovická tržnice, an area filled with markets stalls that sell cheap, Made in China type things in a slightly rundown, industrial area of the city. The reason I recommend it though is if you're at all in to food, this is one of the best places to come for Vietnamese food--I'm talking Pho stall after Pho stall. Which sounds weird, right? Actually it isn't: the Czech Republic is home to one of the largest, if not the largest, Vietnamese communities in Europe. In fact, there is an even larger Vietnamese market area called Sapa, though it's a bit of trek outside the city.
SOUTHERN AREA OF THE CITY:
The Prague Castle complex, in the northern part of the city, is of course a must do; however, I would also suggest you make your way south to Vyšehrad a citadel-type fortress that's a few hundred years older than Prague Castle, and is the original ancient core of the city. This area of the city is a special, Czech favourite--especially in the summer. You can walk the entire perimeter of the Citadel walls, with excellent views of the city the whole way. There's a beer garden as well. If you walk through the residential area below the Citadel you'll find some of the highest concentration of Cubist architecture in the world.
And, finally, one more park suggestion: Havlíčkovy sady , which is a favourite little local park that borders the burgeoning, slightly hipsterish neighbourhood of Vršovice (you'll find a ton of bars and cafes and simple, cheap restaurants here). What makes this an interesting attraction, especially in the summer, is the Villa Grebovka, farther into the park, and its vineyards Sklep Grébovka. There is a newly remodeled restaurant that sits on the hillside atop the vineyards. You can get a similar experience in Mala Strana (where they also have a villa restaurant sitting atop vineyards), but this is so much more Czech.
One final general note: Prague has an unbelievably accessible arts and culture scene. There are so many small, free galleries sprinkled throughout the city. The Czechs have had a sizable impact on art of all forms over the centuries--in film, sculpture, photography, classical music etc. -- and you really see it in the small galleries and exhibits. However, this is one of those things that is more or less dependent on current exhibition programmes, though, so if you're at all interested in this be sure to ask around--students, especially, will know where to point you ( there is a heavy concentration of art students in Prague).
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If you want an amazing dinner go to La Finestra right by Staroměstské náměstí. It is italian but with a Czech twist. A nice restaurant, delicious food and 3 courses plus wine came to about $100 for two of us. Their store next door has an incredible back room with cheese and salumi at ridiculously low prices. Get a bunch of things, grab a bottle of wine from there or the grocery store, and go have a picnic at Letná Park overlooking Prague.
Some of the touristy things are cool- definitely go to prague castle and walk around. You can pay to go into the cathedral and some of the palace if you want, but even just walking through the complex is just as good.
Walk walk walk everywhere! Prague is very small so what may look like a far distance on a map isn't. The streets are confusing so definitely have a map if you don't have an international data plan to be able to use your phone for navigation.
You can take a cruise down the Vtalva either during the day or at night that gives some great views of the city. There is also a tram type thing to take you to the top of the hill on the castle side (I forget the name but just look it up).
If you want to do a day trip, go to Cesky Krumlov. Like a smaller Prague and beautiful. There are regular buses there as well as guided day trips, and they are not expensive.
There are also a lot of breweries in Prague if that is your kind of thing.
Have a blast! It is such a beautiful city, very inexpensive, beer is cheaper than water and the food scene has really exploded in the past few years.
Expats.cz is a great resource for restaurant reviews and tips in general that an English speaking tourist can take advantage of from people who live there. :-)
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