Tips, recommendations, suggestions for a trip to Prague?
December 7, 2004 8:53 PM   Subscribe

TravelFilter. Need tips, recommendations, suggestions for a trip to Prague.

My friends and I are trying to think of what to do during spring break this coming year. I want to do something different, and go somewhere I wouldn't go otherwise - Prague seems perfect. Anyone got tips on stuff to do over there? Restaurants, activities, nightlife, etc. How bad is the language barrier? Any other random thoughts? Note that we're in college, and this is an alternative to a Mexico beach type of spring break trip - some people need convincing that Prague will be fun. I saw a lot of good suggestions on previous travel threads, so I thought I'd throw it up here.
posted by swank6 to Travel & Transportation around Prague, Czech Republic (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
From Prague, for roughly $8US, you can take a train down to Ceske Krumlov, one of the coolest small cities in Europe with a very cool vibe. It's very worth a day or two -- a couple of hostels service it.

Many American ex-pats in Prague, so English is familiar to many. Everything was very cheap when I went a few years ago. Hostels can be as expensive as some hotels.

Restaurant not to be missed: Radost FX. One of the most amazing meals I've ever had, and quite cheap. And actually vegetarian too. It was awesome when I went there. A bit less local clientele then kids, but mostly because it's also a club. Mostly hip-hop the nights I was there. Only hip-hop club/high class vegetarian restaurant I've ever been to.

Oh, and don't buy from the guys on the corner whispering "marijuana...hashish". It's probably not...
posted by ontic at 9:20 PM on December 7, 2004

Ah, found it. Also saw some very good jazz after hours at AghaRTA off Wenceslas Square.
posted by ontic at 9:39 PM on December 7, 2004

In Prague, check out the castle, but be warned as it's expensive. The area around the Charles Bridge is very touristy but still fun.

I enthusiastically second Ceske Krumlov. There are lots of hostels there these days. I stayed in Hostel Postel, but their English is not so good. I hear it's worthwhile to reserve a place at Hostel Merlin, as the owner is weird but cool. If you would like a short hike, climb Klet Mt.; you can see the Alps from the top. However, if you are interested in any outdoor activities that involve renting equipment (kayaks, canoes, bikes, horses), I suggest arranging in advance - maybe call ahead from Prague or even try to set something up online before you go.
posted by amber_dale at 11:37 PM on December 7, 2004

The old town is ridiculously touristy but groovy anyway. Charles Bridge, the Old Town Square (complete with markings where people 27 got beheaded for starting the thirty years war or something), and the Castle are all pretty cool. The view from the tower of the Old Town Hall is magnificent.

On no account should you miss the Old-New Synagogue (800 years old, was somewhat underwater recently, may contain Golem) or the Pinkas Synagogue and its attached cemetary. I would not call the Pinkas Synagogue 'fun' in any sense; it's tremendously upsetting. Go anyway.

The Museum of Communism is well worth checking out.

There is lots of good cheap food to be had; I was paying 8-10 Australian dollars for a three course meal with drinks.

I did not find the language barrier any worse than other European countries.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 2:25 AM on December 8, 2004

Oh yeah, also, if you have not read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the early chapters are set in Prague and were largely responsible for me going there.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 2:32 AM on December 8, 2004

The Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments was pretty good. The Museum of Sexual Instruments less so. There was a surprising overlap between the two...
posted by salmacis at 3:20 AM on December 8, 2004

prague is wonderful. and very very reasonable - prices were often lower than chile! you don't need to stay in the centre as long as you're near a tram line. the public transport is excellent. the modern art museum was good, but don't go in the lift - a group of japanese tourists were trapped there for several hours when we visited. the technology museum is a bit depressing (it stops with technology that was cool before i was born) but has some great planes and cars. food is great (did i say the prices were low?!). beer too. it's a great place to just wander round and hit the cafes, listen to music etc.

i wasn't that keen on ceske krumlov (kind of place that might appeal to americans, though - lots of old buildings), but we stayed in an amazing place. unfortunately, i can't find the address. it was clean, comfortable and yet, while the bathrroms had been renovated, the rooms themsevlves were out of the last century.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:51 AM on December 8, 2004

Holy crap, ontic, Krumlov is one of my favorite places in the world.
Great minds, huh?
posted by signal at 6:04 AM on December 8, 2004

agree with everyone

nicest damn people in the world, too

if you enter the city by train, there are lots of folks wandering about that will offer to let you stay in their homes for incredibly small amounts of money (we were so moved by how welcoming they were, we gave them double and felt bad at how little it still was - and we were poor college students at the time)

they are proud of their city and of their velvet revolution. if you do hook up with local folk, as them where they go out to eat and such - you'll get amazing food and beer, including Pilsner Urquell and the original Budvar
posted by angry jonny at 6:27 AM on December 8, 2004

For something a bit off the tourist trail, there is an old communist mausoleum up on a hill near Zizkov - the walk up there through a quite steep park is good, and the view is great (and very different to the one you get from the top of the mini eiffel tower by the castle, which I also recommend). The mausoleum features a statue which is reputedly the largest equestrian statue in the world. It's pretty big.
posted by handee at 6:36 AM on December 8, 2004

nothing is more romantic than a moonlight stroll across the ancient karlovy most (charles bridge), with a wonderful assortment of street musicians quietly bowing their violins and singing old czech folk tunes...
posted by moonbird at 6:37 AM on December 8, 2004

Honestly, I find Prague way too touristy. Wenceslas square is no longer a historic square, but more of an outdoor mall. English is widely spoken, primarily in attempts to separate you from your money. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it just goes overboard, in my opinion. It's basically become a (slightly) less expensive Paris. Don't imagine it's like Eastern Europe when wine can be had for $.50 a bottle, and food is dirt cheap. Prague is expensive. Others have mentioned the surrounding areas, which I haven't explored much, so can't comment on. Maybe they're better.

In my opinion, if I understand what you're looking for (an alternative to spring break), go to Budapest. I've had a much better time there. It's just as historic and picturesque. The shopping is just as good. The nightlife is better. You'll find far fewer tourists (especially North Americans), but just as much English is spoken. They have just as many McDonaldses and Pizza Huts as Prague (if that's a concern for some of your fellow travellers). And it's also far far far cheaper. And if you ask me, Hungarian food is far better than Czech food. And the people were much nicer. Can you tell I really like Hungary?
posted by loquax at 6:43 AM on December 8, 2004

My advice for Prague is the same as my advice for Venice or Paris or London: buy yourself a copy of the Henry Holt walking guide to the city. It's the best series of tour books I've ever read. Every book in the series that I've used (including "Praguewalks") has been like having an incredibly knowledgable friend who knows fascinating stories about every square inch of the city.

The series is, bizarrely, out of print, but it's pretty easy to buy a used copy of any given book in it. Amazon is selling used copies of Praguewalks for about $6 or $7.

Be warned that, since the book has been out of print for a few years, much of the data on prices, museum opening times, etc will be out of date, so you'll want to get a recent guidebook for that kind of stuff.
posted by yankeefog at 7:17 AM on December 8, 2004

I second the Radost FX nod — great vegetarian food.
posted by jed at 7:48 AM on December 8, 2004

Drink beer. Especially Budvar.

And I've only spent 2-3 days in each city, and people look at me as if I'm insane when I say this, but I'm with loquax -- I enjoyed Budapest much more than Prague.
posted by Vidiot at 8:03 AM on December 8, 2004

I will third the suggestion of Budapest over Prague... I feel like Budapest is now what Prague was ten years ago and what got it it's current fame among backpackers. Budapest is still cheap, and it still feels like Eastern Europe, while Prague is just a dressed up Western Europe. That was my feelings while I was there. I enjoyed my time in Budapest much more.
posted by Inkoate at 9:24 AM on December 8, 2004

I don't think it's an either/or thing. Budapest definitely is in transition--some buildings are beautifully restored, others are in a state of glorious decay--and, even a few years ago, Prague seemed more fully transitioned. But they're both stunning, world-class cities, and both worth visiting.

For the record, as any Hungarian will tell you, Budapest is NOT Eastern Europe. It is Central Europe. This seems to be a very important distinction to Hungarians.
posted by yankeefog at 9:30 AM on December 8, 2004

Yes, take a train/bus to Ceske Krumlov - an amazing castle, one of the best restored in the country and much cheaper to visit ($1.50, I think?) than the castle in Prag proper.

Dinner at the Architect's Club is always good.
posted by luriete at 12:27 PM on December 8, 2004

Use the transit system. It's good, it's flexible, and it lets you save money by staying a little further out from the city center. If you have the time for some non-party activity, consider checking out Cesky Krumlov (as others have stated), Cesky Budejovice, and Telc. I really like Telc myself, but it's a small town with an excellent medieval market square, and I like that sort of thing.

If you can still be swayed to stay elsewhere:

Budapest is nice; if you go there, go to one of the public baths. I like Szechenyi, but you probably wanna read up on them to pick one you'd like. If you're cultural types you should consider the local opera, as they're quite good. There are a fair number of bars and the like as well.

If you're willing to go the extra distance, I *really* enjoyed Sofia, Bulgaria. Sofia = teh rulez. Plus you can get used to Cyrillic faster than you think.
posted by aramaic at 2:20 PM on December 8, 2004

I haven't been to Prague since 1991, so I know it's very different now. The one thing that has stuck with me for 13 years is the Jewish cemetery. I remember it being overwhelming & moving to walk through.
posted by belladonna at 4:26 PM on December 8, 2004

Uhm, Prague, expensive? Hardly. I was there a few months ago, and lived rather well for about $30 USD a day, including the hostel I stayed at. I spent more in Paris in the three days I was there than I did my week in Prague, and got much, much more for my money in Prague. Both culturally, and gastronomically (the food and beer were excellent!). I'll second belladonna's recommendation for the Jewish cemetary; it would be even more interesting if you did a little research before you went.

For the most part the people were hospitable, but my two friends and I received more anti-American resentment there than anywhere else during our travels, and one of my travelling company spoke fluent Czech.
posted by still at 4:55 PM on December 8, 2004

Response by poster: Thank you all for the great information. Hopefully I'll be able to report back in March. :)
posted by swank6 at 10:00 PM on December 8, 2004

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