Getting the most out of two days in Prague
March 1, 2011 3:56 AM   Subscribe

Help me get the most out of two days in Prague!

Traveling to Europe in early April. I will be at a conference in Budapest then I'll be going with my wife from there to Prague, where we'll be staying for a scant two days. So, I'm looking for any tips to make as efficient use of those two days as possible.

Is a Prague transit pass a good idea for a two day stay, and if so, where do I buy one?
(We'll be staying close to the Charles Bridge on the east side of the Vltava - Staré Mesto)

Are there any unique stores we should check out? Our interests include movies, music, books, and quirky stuff.

Are there any tourist attractions that aren't worth checking out when time is of the essence.

Are there any less popular attractions/places that should make our final list?

We'd like to go to some pub/bars to try some Czech beers and Becherovka. Specifically, places where we can sit and have a drink and where the music isn't too loud, unless it's live music.

Since we like our liquor, is there anywhere specific we should buy it from, (i.e. a better deal than duty-free)?

As for cash, is it better to change it before leaving Canada, or get it from an ATM on the spot, as was suggested by many tour guides for Budapest?

Finally, our plan is to take the overnight train from Budapest that arrives in Prague at 4:30am, is it a bad idea to wait to buy the tickets until I arrive in Budapest (about 4 days before the date we want to travel)? Is there another way to buy them? RailEurope seems expensive when I compare it to the rates direct from Hungary, but I can't book the night train online through the Hungary site.

I apologize in advance for the multi-part question, and thank you in advance for your tips and help.
posted by exolstice to Travel & Transportation around Prague, Czech Republic (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Two days is about a day or two short of what I think is the right amount of time to see Prague. I'm interested to see in this thread if I missed out on anything cool, having been there for a full week a while back. (Apparently I didn't tag my Flickr photos, so I don't know where half of my pictures are from. Ergh.)

I enjoyed an evening Pivovarsky Dum. They have nettle beer, which is something I haven't seen in any of my other beer travels. My favorite Prague beer story was that my brother & I walked into a little bar we found randomly. We noticed we were the only ones speaking English. The staff noticed this, too, and without a word to us, switched the TV to, if I recall correctly, the White Rapper Show. We didn't know how to tell them that we had no interest in watching it.

I think Prague Castle is worth a few hours. Definitely walk over the Charles Bridge, at different times of the day. The National Gallery is not bad, but if you're not big on museums, skip it.
posted by knile at 4:32 AM on March 1, 2011

Try to walk the Charles Bridge in the early morning before the throngs of (other) tourists overtake it. My favorite cafe there was Hany Bany, a student hangout near the Charles University. The Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral are indeed cool if you like churches, but if you don't then skip the cathedral.

I lived in Prague about 5 years ago, so this is pretty dated advice, but if times haven't changed too much, there is a badass vintage store inside the gorgeous Art Nouveau train station, Hlavni Nadrazi. If you want a floor-length fur coat from the Soviet Era, this is your place.

My favorite bar was Klub Ujezd, and I have heard good things about Bar and Books. As for a traditional Czech pub, they will be on every corner where there are not said throng of tourists, so just wander away from the huge shopping areas and you'll find something.
posted by Viola at 4:47 AM on March 1, 2011

Are there any less popular attractions/places that should make our final list?

The Lobkowicz Collection might not be as well known as it only opened a few years ago. It contains an amazing collection of old masters paintings and has an interesting history of repatriation. The audio tour is an absolute must. It is narrated by the great grandson, I think, who now lives in America. I found it so moving, I started crying at one point. It is near Prague Castle.
posted by cardamom at 5:06 AM on March 1, 2011

For more on beers, Beer Advocate has a city guide to Prague. I also remembered a bar that is 3 cellars of adjacent buildings: the bar started in 1 building & its basement, then spread to the other 2 as time went on. Naturally these were cellars from the 1200s-1500s or something incredibly old (to my American mind). It was a student crowd and pretty busy on a Wednesday or Thursday night. Looking at others' photos, I am convinced it was Vinarna U Sudu.
posted by knile at 5:08 AM on March 1, 2011

Quirky stuff: blacklight theatre and the Sedlec Ossuary (the latter is a short ride outside Prague)
posted by K.P. at 5:58 AM on March 1, 2011

I was there for three days and didn't get the transit pass. It seems like it is more to connect the outskirts to the center, than to get around the center. Also, I couldn't figure out how to buy one... the automated machines didn't sell them in the train station (and only took coins) and the attended booth was closed when my train came in.
posted by smackfu at 6:01 AM on March 1, 2011

Petřín Hill was great for a little walk around. The flower garden up top is beautiful, and you can also go to the top of the tower there for the most amazing overview of the city there is.
posted by sanka at 6:07 AM on March 1, 2011

Central Prague is mostly walkable I found. - with occasionally jumping on a tram. - for which you can buy a bunch of tickets at the Tabac / Newsagent. I would probaly just get tram tickets and walk. I dont' remember the other transit going anywhere useful.

The Sedlec Ossuary is pretty cool but rather difficult to get to. - we went on a tour that used much of the day.

I'd probably just spend my evenings in some of the Beer halls in the Old Town. They are loud with voices (but little to no music) And seem to be equally popular with tourists and locals. Serve Pilsner Urquell (mostly) and a typical range of pork and carbohydrates - its great! and hearty. I would love a pork knuckle with some dumplings for dinner.

I don't remember there being much that was 'must see' - but we had 4 or 5 days and just wandered around over the bridges, down little streets, into castles, museums etc river cruise.

There are cash machines everywhere in Prague so I don't know it makes much difference where you exchange it. (depending on your bank fees). Though I usually like to take 100 Euro in cash when I travel just so I don't have to worry about finding an ATM as the very first thing to do.
posted by mary8nne at 6:17 AM on March 1, 2011

I spent two weeks in Prague as part of a summer program through Hampshire College, and proceeded to make an "annotated syllabus" of sorts, that has photos and whatnot. It's a difficult place to stay for only two days - most of my best memories are of wandering in places where most tourists never went...

If anything jumps out at you from the syllabus and you can't figure out where it was, MeMail me and I'll try to give you more precise directions.
posted by ananda gale at 7:06 AM on March 1, 2011

My favorite beer in Prague is at Bašta, which is a ~15 minute tram ride from city center. Delicious, cheap, microbrewed beer; camembert cooked in beer and garlic (which is holy-shit level good); and a lovely, very Czech atmosphere.

In addition to the castle, Vyšehrad is gorgeous and provides wonderful views of the city.

If you go up Petřín, on your way down please make sure to go to the Magical Grotto. It is a silly place, and unlike anyplace else in the world. Thankfully.

Avoid any restaurant that advertises the fact that it has an English Menu. Here be overchargers.

And probably the best thing about Prague is that just picking a direction and walking around is always an adventure. You'll see something amazing, pretty much everywhere.
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:15 AM on March 2, 2011

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