Prague is a tourist destination I fell in love with again in 2017. The combination of low priced hotels, inexpensive dining and bars, and beautiful architecture and outdoor spaces over an extensive area of the city makes Prague an easy place to get around and live inexpensively.
Over the past year I traveled to Prague on four trips in January, July, October and December/January New Year’s holiday. I have read dozens of articles about Prague tourism from Czech sources, international sources and travel writer/blogger sources.
Most common complaint I read about Prague is too many tourists. Certain areas of Prague have tourist bottlenecks around Charles Square, Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. One of the issues contributing to the dense tourist crowds are 7 million tourists annually and almost all first timers spend part of their tourist time walking around Old Town Prague with its many roads that narrow to alleys between centuries-old buildings.
Nearly all my hotel nights have been in Vinohrady staying at Clarion Prague City or Vysehrad staying at Park Inn Prague. A couple nights at Radisson Blu Alcron Prague is the closest I have been to the main crowds of Prague in the area by the National Museum. The main pedestrian street Vaclavske namestie (at Muzeum metro)has retail shopping stores and centers. Sheraton Prague is in this same area, but a couple blocks farther from Vaclavske nam.
Prague Staré Město / Old Town
The deal with Prague is the city is far more pleasing to me when I am not around Prague Old Town and Prague Castle. Seven days in Prague and we only walked through Charles Square and across Charles Bridge twice. Our days were spent in areas of the city south and east of Old Town.
Prague is a Huge City
Prague is a huge city of 1.25 million in 22 designated cadastral areas (Prague 1, Prague 2, Prague 3… Prague 22). I walked over 75 miles in Prague in 2017, primarily either starting from Park Inn Prague near Vysehrad by the Vltava River south of Old Town or Clarion Prague City in Vinohrady, east of Old Town.
Many hours of walking took me all across Prague cadastral districts 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7. The other 17 cadastral areas are fairly far by foot from the central Old Town/Nove Mesto/Prague Castle area. Fortunately, Prague also has a cheap and efficient tram and metro network. A 30 minute ticket is 24 CZK, about $1.20 or 32 CZK for 90 minutes.
Transportation Tip in Prague
One rule I came up with to make Prague easier to navigate is always have a couple of 30 minute tickets (24 CZK) in my wallet since we frequently found ourselves wanting to take a tram, but no ticket sellers or automated machines around the tram stop.
All metro stations have coin machines and ticket sellers. Best practice is keep sufficient coins to buy tickets from machine to avoid long lines for ticket vendor.
I developed the habit of buying multiple tickets with coins whenever I saw a tram stop kiosk or a vendor selling tickets. Then, we had unused tickets when we wanted to take a tram. Tram drivers do not sell tickets.
Get away from Old Town and Mala Strana for lower prices
As of Jan 2017, a pint of Pilsner Urquell should be priced 41-48 CZK for 0.5L at most pubs and restaurants. Beer prices are more uniform than meal prices. I saw restaurants charge 65CZK per pint when the pub next door or across the street charges 41CZK. Food prices have an even larger disparity. We tend to return to restaurants where we had good meals and reasonably priced beer.
After 7 days of dining, we came up with the 500 CZK average rule. Two good meals with 4 beers priced between 475 and 525 CZK /$22.90-$25.30 for most of our meals.
That breaks down to about 170 CZK for 4 beers ($2.05 per pint) and 305 to 355 CZK for two meals, an average $7.35 – $8.55 USD meal price per person.
U tří bojovníků restaurant around the corner from Park Inn Prague became our favorite 500 CZK dining and drinking experience. We ate three meals there.
Pork schnitzel above is common pub food. Pork knee below is a filling meal for two persons.
The inn “U Matěje Kotrby” on Kremencova is a place we liked to stop by for a cheap 41 CZK Pilsner pint, but we did not eat there. Cute decor, lots of trinkets to stare at and primarily a tourist ambience. Kremencova is a major drinking street.
Wok & Sushi, Masarykovo nábř., 120 00 Nové Město, Czechia is a place by the riverside where I have eaten a couple of Asian meals. Typical prices around 120 CZK. Their website link listed on Google Maps is blocked.
Kelley decided on day 5 that she prefers Staropramen to Pilsner Urquell. Only then did I realize Staropramen beer, brewed in Prague and Czechia’s second largest brew, is not that easy to find in Prague restaurants and pubs.
Meduzzy was a good trout meal for me in Mala Strana, Prague 5, although at 780 CZK ($37.56), a much higher than average meal price for our trip. A couple of sub-$5.00 pizza meals helped balance the daily dining budget to stay around $50 per day for the week.
I took out 7,600 CZK ($366) for one week in Prague and paid cash for every meal and drink transaction. I left Prague with about 700 CZK. Our daily expenses came out to less than $50 per day for food, drink and transportation, along with some souvenir shopping.
17 days in Prague in 2017, yet I never made it to Prague Castle on any of my four trips.