Jul252019

Travel budget diary: what I spent for 7 days in Prague

Kelley and I spent 7 nights in Prague and 2 nights in Liberec in June and July 2019. While In Stockholm 10 days later, I read a Lonely Planet article by Joe Davis –Spending diary: what I spent on a two-day trip to Prague about his trip in June 2019 and decided to write a similar article for our 10 day travel budget.

This was my seventh trip to Prague since 2017. Each trip more restaurants and pubs become part of our knowledge base for where to find good food cheap eats and drink. I estimate our overall cost was about $765 for the two of us to spend 9 nights and 10 days in Prague and Liberec, Czech Republic.

Two days in the middle of our stay required doubling and tripling our expenses to hang out with friends from California, mostly in Old Town Prague at places I call tourist attractions – the kind of places where nearly everyone around is a tourist, not a Czech local.

Pre-Trip Spending:

Airfare: $63.84 two Ryanair one-way tickets each

$63.84 each for 2 Ryanair tickets Copenhagen to Prague, Prague to Krakow, Poland purchased in late April 2019.

  • Ryanair FR8221 Copenhagen to Prague $30.27 with Priority Boarding and one carry-on + 1 personal bag allowance.
  • Ryanair FR 4069 Prague to Krakow $33.57 with Priority Boarding and one carry-on + 1 personal bag allowance.

Ryanair

Accommodation: $121 out-of-pocket for 7 nights; $503 fair market value price if I had needed to buy all hotel points

This is a convoluted analysis since my travel strategy is based on earning and burning hotel loyalty points. My actual cost for 7 nights in Prague this summer was $121 based on $82 I spent to buy 16,000 Choice Privileges points in May and $39 I paid for 5,000 IHG points. I already had IHG and Radisson Rewards points to spend for Prague hotels earned from hotel stays over the past several years.

I use $503 as fair market value since if I did not already have these hotel loyalty points, $503 is the amount I could have spent to buy all the points I used for 7 nights in Prague. Basically $72 per night.

2 nights Clarion Prague Old Town = $82 to buy 16,000 Choice Privileges points during U.S. Travel Association 2019 Daily Getaways sale May 15, 2019. Clarion Prague Old Town seasonal reward rate was 8,000 points through June 30 for weekdays. Rates rose to 20,000 points on July 1 and we stayed at two different hotels in Prague.

Clarion Prague Old Town buffet breakfast included on my stay

3 nights Holiday Inn Prague Congress Centre = $225 to buy 45,000 points. I show $225 as the expense to buy 45,000 points during the current 100% bonus buy points promotions for travelers without points. My actual out-of-pocket expense was $39 to buy 5,000 points for one Points & Cash reward night. I redeemed 40,000 points + $39 for three reward nights. Four additional paid nights in Poland for $400 earned 47,500 points.

I will also receive an additional 4,500 points sometime this week as an IHG credit card 10% rebate in points for the 45,000 points redeemed for 3 nights at Holiday Inn Prague Congress Centre. My net cost for 3 nights in Prague was 35,500 IHG points ($177.50) + $39. All in I paid $439 for 7 hotel nights = $62.71 per night for 7 of 21 hotel nights on my Europe summer 2019 trip.

Besides a voucher for two free beers at the hotel bar, I also had access to the Executive Lounge with complimentary beverages and some snacks. An ice machine in the hotel offered welcome relief during Prague’s 39C/100F hottest day on record.

Holiday Inn Prague Congress Centre Executive Lounge

Holiday Inn Prague Congress Centre is located about 100 meters from Vysehrad, one of Prague’s largest park areas on a hill above the Vltava River.

View of Vltava River from Vysehrad walls

2 nights Park Inn Prague = $196 to buy 56,000 Radisson Rewards points.

Radisson Rewards currently has a buy points 50% bonus promotion through Sunday July 28 with points at $4.67 per 1,000 points. That would make this hotel about $131.50 per night. Setting a price tag on this hotel is difficult for me since I built up an account balance of Radisson Rewards points in the upper 6-figures with hotel stays from 2011 to 2017. These points were earned from hotel stays years ago. Radisson Rewards members could have purchased 56,000 points for $196 during last November’s CyberMonday sale.

Loyalty Traveler – Club Carlson $1,300 for 24 nights my great value year in review (Dec 30, 2017). 2017 was the last year of lucrative promotions for me. Radisson Rewards (name change 2018) has been far less useful to me as a hotel loyalty program and this summer 2019 trip cleared out most of my remaining points. I do not see sufficient value in the program to speculative buy points at $4.67 per 1,000 points for future hotel stays. I expect there will be a better sale later in 2019 to buy points around $3.50 to $4.00 per 1,000 points. CyberMonday week tends to be the best time of the year to purchase discount hotel points, in addition to April-May Daily Getaways.

Loyalty Traveler – Daily Getaways 2019 May 6-June 4 Hotel Points Deals analysis (April 29, 2019).

Loyalty Traveler – Radisson Rewards $3.50/1,000 points offers good hotel discounts (Nov 27, 2018).

Radisson Rewards is scheduled to be integrated into China’s Jin Jiang hotel loyalty program later this year.

Loyalty Traveler – Radisson Rewards integrating into Jin Jiang loyalty program beginning summer 2019 (April 27, 2019).

Park Inn Prague relaxation on my own rooftop room pub.

Notes on my hotel stays

Lonely Planet Joe mentions arriving very late to his Airbnb in Prague 1 Old Town and being concerned about not being able to access the room with a late night arrival. One of the great advantages to a full-service hotel is all-night front desk staff.

11pm: We landed delayed and stressed at Prague Airport to a barrage of messages from our Airbnb host saying we’d missed the check in time. Not ideal. We booked an Uber (£6.50 each) while going through passport control and were on our way in no time. – Joe Davis

I actually prefer not to stay in Old Town Prague with hoards of tourists. Prague has wonderful neighborhoods for miles around Old Town where most of the 1.5 million residents live in the city. Prague is divided into 22 cadastral districts numbered 1-22. Clarion Old Town is Prague 1, Park Inn Prague is Prague 2 and Holiday Inn Prague Congress Centre is located in Prague 4. This was my first time in Prague 4 and I enjoyed early morning walks exploring Prague 4, Prague 10 neighborhoods and Nusle Valley during my stay.

If you want to meet locals, get out of Praha 1.

Prague Lounských Nusle – Praha 4 street sign

In Nusle Valley under the Nusle Bridge, Praha 4

Prague 10 green belt path near Makuchova Lavka

Transportation Costs: $25 for 7 days = $2 to $3 per day; $9.98 Flixbus Prague to Liberec round trip per person.

Lonely Planet Joe mentions saving on transportation cost by staying in Praha 1. Given that the price of a ticket to ride Metro, tram, bus and ferry for 30 minutes is $1.05 and rises to $1.40 for a 90-minute ticket, transportation costs in Prague are negligible. Higher prices for food and drink in Praha 1 negate any public transportation costs to commute around the city.

We were able to meet friends at Old Town Square in 35 minutes from the time we left Holiday Inn Prague and picked up the Metro at Vysehrad including a Metro transfer from C line to A line.

From Park Inn Prague we could be at Old Town Square in 20 minutes via tram. Walking to Old Town Square from Clarion Old Town is about a 10 to 15 minute walk.

The only time we purchased 90-minute tickets were rides between the airport and Prague city center, which take about 45 o 50 minutes.

We typically spent about $2 or $3 each per day to travel around Prague. Prague has an excellent and efficient urban transportation system.

Prague Public Transportation tickets

Smíchovské nádraží metro B line, Prague

We also spent two days in Liberec, CZ. Flixbus tickets cost $4.99 each way.

Flixbus

Amazingly empty Prague Old Town Square on June 26 sweltering afternoon

Total: $300 airfare, hotels and transportation for 7 nights in Prague for the two of us.

On the Ground

(Combined expenses for two persons; exchange rate 1 USD = 22.39 CZK)

Total for 10 days in Prague and Liberec, Czech Republic = $463.56 + $300 pre-trip = $763.56 for 2 people for 10 days.

Day 1: 1,404 CZK = $62.71 USD.

64 CZK / $2.86 – Prague Airport to Old Town by bus and metro (32 CZK per 90-minute ticket).

796 CZK / $35.55 – U Sadlu restaurant meal of salmon, trout, grilled vegetables, potatoes and 4 Budvar pints.

85 CZK / $3.80 – Penny Market 8 pints of beer from grocery store to stock up room refrigerator. (Plus 3 CZK per bottle deposit refunded when I returned empties).

40 CZK / $1.79 – Albert Market flavored water 1.5 liter.

111 CZK / $4.96 – Rossman sunscreen lotion

308 CZK / $13.76 – Yuan Dong running Sushi. Chinese food takeaway 2 meals. I would not necessarily recommend this restaurant, but our first day in Prague was 99F and an all-time record breaking June high temperature. I went out for the nearest nearby takeaway to bring back to the Clarion hotel and eat in the air conditioned coolness of our hotel room.

Restaurace U Sádlů, Praha

Day 2: 539 CZK / $24.07 USD

440 CZK / $19.65 Hany Bany Prague falafel sandwich, chicken sandwich and 6 pints Staropramen (included 50 CZK tip).

Hany Bany has the best deal I know in Prague during 3-4pm Happy Hour when a liter of Staropramen 10 (abv 4.0%) is 33 CZK /$1.48. Regular price is 33 CZK for a 1/2 liter. 5 minutes walk from Charles Bridge.

Hany Bany Prague falafel burger

100 CZK / $4.47   U Vejvodu Prague 2 Pilsner Urquell (45 CZK each) + 10 CZK tip. This place does not get great reviews, but was a nice respite from the heat for us sitting in the umbrella covered interior garden courtyard area.

Prague U Vejvodu

The heat in Prague kept hunger at a minimum and we supplemented the beer with plenty of water. Prague was so hot during the late June 2019 heat wave our first two days that the city placed drinking water tanks around Old Town.

Pitná voda-drinking water on Prague Old Town street

Best part of the hot days in Prague were the brilliantly blue clear skies for photography.

Prague Castle

Day 3: 846 CZK / $37.78

48 CZK / $2.15 for two 24 CZK 30-minute metro tickets Namesti Republicky to Florence Bus Station.

78 CZK / $3.49 Billa Market 1.5 liter water and cherries.

Liberec, Czech Republic – most towns outside Prague are lower priced

524 CZK / $23.40 Restaurace Radnicni Sklipek (#3 of 149 TripAdvisor Liberec restaurants) 4 Svijany pints, goulash, Caesar salad with chicken. Charming restaurant in basement of Liberec City Hall.

Liberec Town Hall

Liberec Radnicni sklipek goulash and potato pancakes.

Liberec – Restaurace Radnicni sklipnek

196 CZK / $8.75 Billa Market food and drink supplies to watch Women’s World Cup in our air conditioned Clarion Grandhotel Zlaty Lev (Golden Lion) hotel room.

  • spinach 30 CZK
  • cherries 48 CZK
  • Lindt chocolate bar 50 CZK
  • 4 bottles Krusovic beer 68 CZK

Day 4: Liberec: 1,009 CZK / $45.07

200 CZK / $8.93 Cafe Praha Bar 4 pints Stella Artois

270 CZK / $12.06 Hawaiian Pizza and 2 pints Pilsner Urquell

90 CZK / $4.02 Hospoda Na Růžku Liberec (adjacent to Clarion Hotel) 2 pints Pilsner Urquell (+ 2 free pints with Clarion Hotel voucher).

Breakfast included at Clarion Liberec and we ate leftovers from Town Hall restaurant meal day before.

Day 5: Liberec/Prague 867 CZK / $38.73

3,702.30 CZK / $165.36 Clarion Grandhotel Zlaty Lev for 2 nights (Tripadvisor #2 of 14 hotels in Liberec).

Hotel and bus trip ($4.99 Liberec to Prague) not included as part of daily on the ground expenses.

Clarion Grandhotel Zlaty Lev Liberec

Flixbus back to Prague from the frying pan and into the fire of Prague’s hottest day in 244 years.

64 CZK / $2.86 Metro two 90-minute tickets from Cerny Most to Vysehrad.

264 CZK / $11.79 Billa Market 4 bottles beer, 2 dry soups, bread, chicken deli meat, Gouda cheese, sports drink, cinnamon rolls.

539 CZK / $24.08 Kandelabr Restaurant (TripAdvisor #425 of 5,122 Prague) Caesar Salad, roast pork, soup and 2 pints Pilsner Urquell.

Day 6: 930 CZK = $41.54

360 CZK / $16.08 Nepal House Restaurant near Park Inn Prague. Wonderful tasting meal in restaurant with no air conditioner and I broke out in heat rash on my legs by the time we left.

92 CZK / $4.11 Pizzaria Donna for 2 Pilsner Urquell.

The next 54 hours in Prague were more expensive than average as our friends from California arrived and had certain places they wanted to visit and no concern for good value prices.

360 CZK / $16.08 Olivia Nera Italian Restaurant Prague (Tripadvisor #665 of 5,122 restaurants) – extremely overpriced place for Prague, but enjoyed the outdoor setting on another hot day. Four small 0.33 Staropramen beers (At $4 per small beer, this place was most expensive 1.33L beer I ever bought in Prague).

70 CZK / $3.13 Klub Zazemi (#235 of 752 Night Life Prague)  2 pints (1.0L) Jezek lager. After the most expensive beer in Prague we hit a student club two blocks away for decent priced beer.

48 CZK / $2.14 Prague tram two 30-minute tickets.

Day 7  2,678 CZK = $120

262 CZK / $11.70 Zabka Market vitamin water 4.5 liters, hummus, bread rolls, chicken deli meat, milk, Gouda cheese, breakfast pastries, yogurt

427 CZK / $19.07 Prague Castle food stalls – 2 pints Staropramen (120 CZK), grilled vegetables (147 CZK), chicken skewer (160 CZK).

Prague Castle panoramic view

80 CZK / $3.57 1.25L rip-off price for ice cold bottle of water at Sweet Prague tourist shop near Prague Castle.

400 CZK / $17.87 Green Devil’s Absinth Bar Prague (TripAdvisor #5 of 752 nightlife bars) absinth sampler for 4 and my beer. Total bill about $65 for 5 people with absinth taster round for 4.

367 CZK / $16.40 Fashion Club rooftop bar at Namesti Republiky (TripAdvisor #1,316 of 5,122 Prague restaurants) Tapas (190 CZK), 3 pints x 59 CZK Pilsner Urquell (177 CZK).

Fashion Club Prague rooftop bar view

642 CZK / $28.67 U Betemske kaple restaurant (TripAdvisor #717 of 5,122 Prague Restaurants) 427 CZK pork knee, 35 CZK potatoes, vegetables, 180 CZK Pilsner Urquell 4 pints. I recommend Restaurace U Tri Bojoviknu (see Day 10 below) for the best and best value pork knee (269 CZK) I have eaten in Prague. Keep in mind if you order pork knee that it is a meat meal for a minimum two and easily can feed four. There were three of us working on it. We had another full meal from the leftovers the next morning, which is why we could drink so much without eating at another restaurant before dinner.

500 CZK / $22.33 The Irish Times Bar (TripAdvisor #199 of 5,122) Stella Artois 4 pints to watch USA women’s soccer match (second most expensive beer ever had in Prague).

Green Devil’s Absinth Bar Prague

Day 8 1,716 CZK = $76.65

110 CZK / $4.91 Prague Beer Museum 2 pints Cesky Krumlov lager (TripAdvisor #289 of 5,122 restaurants in Prague). The one place where Lonely Planet Joe and my trip intersect.

290 CZK / $12.95 Prague Boats 50 minute tour on Vltava River (TripAdvisor #12 of 68 Boat Tours in Prague).

177 CZK / $7.91 Prague Boats – 3 pints Staropramen in pint glasses was a real treat and surprised me for a metal boat with steep stairs to the upper deck.

170 CZK Glass Bar Dancing House rooftop (TripAdvisor #924 of 5,122). Deal here is a beer was 85 CZK and rooftop admission free with purchase of a drink or 100 CZK without drink purchase.

Dancing House Glass Bar

245 CZK / $10.94 Hemingway Bar (TripAdvisor #14 of 752 Prague Night Life) seriously overpriced bar. A pretentious place that I would not return to again. Best part is our group broke every house rule except work on a laptop by getting everyone in the room to introduce themselves and take photos. Countries represented were Australia, Belgium, California, Canada, Peru and Zimbabwe (young black guy wearing a Kevin Durant Warriors jersey is why women in our group started talking to him and before long every table in room was a large group).

540 CZK / $24.12 Las Adelitas Mexican Restaurant (TripAdvisor #322 of 5,122 restaurants)

120 CZK / $5.36  O’Che’s Bar 2 pints Pilsner Urquell (TripAdvisor #576 of 5,122)

64 CZK / $2.86 tram Two 90-minute tickets to change hotels from Holiday Inn to Park Inn.

Day 9  660 CZK = $29.48

358 CZK / $15.99 Albert Market 4 x Pilsner Urquell, milk, hummus, deli chicken, yogurt, Caesar salad, baguette.

144 CZK / $6.43 Telepizza Hawaiian pizza with olives.

50 CZK / $2.24 Tesco Express 3 liters water (19 CZK) and Coke Zero (31 CZK).

108 CZK / $4.83 Tesco Express 4 pints Pilsner Urquell.

We had a cheap rest day hanging out at Park Inn Prague alone after hyperactivity of previous two days. The next day we flew to Krakow.

Day 10 588 CZK = $26.26

516 CZK / $23.05 Restaurace U Tri Bojoviknu (Tripadvisor #283 of 5,122 Prague restaurants) – 2 pork cutlet lunch meals and 2 Pilsner Urquell. One of my favorite restaurants in Prague for Czech food, near Park Inn Prague.

72 CZK / $3.16 Metro from Karlovo namesti to Prague Airport. Interestingly, I learned Bus 119 screws tourists by charging 40 CZK to buy a ticket on board the bus at Nádraží Veleslavín for the airport. I needed a new ticket after the 24 CZK ticket I was riding on expired. A 32 CZK 90-minute ticket was sufficient for Kelley’s entire ride on Metro and bus. I did not see a ticket kiosk at Nádraží Veleslavín or the bus stop and did not want to risk being caught without a valid ticket.

Miles and miles of walking around Prague, especially time around Vysehrad, and miles walking along the riverfront consumed much of our time for the week. Time in between pubs and restaurants is usually hanging out experiencing the city. Long walks are generally free.

Best tip for finding restaurants in Prague is simply deciding when we want to eat or drink, then searching restaurants on Google Maps for nearby places with a combination of high ratings and low prices, designated by $ or $$. That is how I have learned about restaurants I tend to return to when in different parts of the city. I generally find a new place or two each trip.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Your picture of the little “lounge” at the Holiday Inn Congress immediately takes me back 3 years to the very same place. It’s etched there because we met people from our home city and even a classmate of our high schooler, as we were all raiding the little fridge at the same time! So, thank you for posting that picture–arguably the most mundane of all the pics you posted in today, but the most meaningful to me. 🙂

  2. Ric,

    I appreciate your invaluable insights, as well.

    I was in Europe around your time for about 2 weeks visiting Berlin, Karakow, Brno, Pilsen and Dublin, using a combination of Marriott free nights and Hilton points/free nights.

    I was wondering if you could post more pictures and commentary about your stays at other than Choice hotels — a program that I know you find value in but which I don’t participate. However, I do participate with IHG and Radisson, among others.

    I would also like to get your comments about the Air-conditioning, or lack thereof, at the hotels you stayed at for I can’t seem to discern that the hotel in Liberec is so equipped.

  3. @bluecat – a pathetic IHG lounge at Holiday Inn Prague, but certainly appreciated the cold soda on a couple of the hot days.

    @PT – After publishing the piece I thought of a few expenses left out. Probably raises my total about $30.

    One of our favorite pubs on Vysehrad hill is a small place with a large green space called Hospůdka Na Hradbách near the St.Martin Rotunda. We watched New Year’s Eve 2017-18 fireworks from that pub. Probably $6.
    Also recall a $4.00 Powerade purchased from a convenience store that same hot day.

    And at least one grocery store visit I missed where I probably spent $12 on food and a couple of other smaller purchases from grocery stores.

  4. @Hadley

    https://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/loyalty-traveler-travels/

    I have dozens of hotel reviews with numerous photos for IHG and Radisson Hotels in my trip reports. I will be writing up Holiday Inn Prague.

    Park Inn Prague I covered a couple of times before. One of my favorite hotels in Prague.
    https://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/?s=park+inn+prague

    I will be writing a piece on the new Radisson Prague, formerly Sheraton Prague Charles Square, where I stopped by for photos of the lobby and a room.

    Air Conditioning – Clarion Old Town air conditioner was simply adequate on the day the temperature hot 100F. Clarion Liberec was okay too. What I remember more about the Liberec room is our top 5th floor corner room had two sets of windows and we opened both at night for a cool breeze blowing through the room. By about 6am I had to rise and shut the windows and curtains to block out the sun and let the AC cool the room.

    Park Inn Prague had great AC as long as patio door closed.
    Hotel Indigo Krakow had best AC of all hotels.

    .

  5. Thanks, Ric!

    Simply adequate AC on 100 degree days is not bad!

    I did not know that Liberec even had AC!

    I stayed at the HGI Krakow — great AC and the D/T Krakow — ok AC, but a nice new hotel with great executive lounge if you get access. My nephew works at a D/T so the rates at the Hilton properties were phenomenal – $35/night at D/T and ~ $50/night at the HGI.

    Many thanks!

    Hadley

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  7. thanks for the article. I actually used to live in Prague, but I still like to visit and I learned something new here.
    A good place to stay in Prague in my opinion is Prague 6 district, it’s the closest city part to the airport which saves some time and stress. It is the part of the city most people cross (Evropska street) on the way to their hotel. Not very picturesque, this is a quiet and safe residential area with only some historical landmarks, also very few restaurants around. But access to the center is quick with the metro line and if you are not in a rush then taking tram is interesting. Public transport to the area is good also in the night. I stay in a cheaper Avion hotel, serves its purpose, no AC as I remember from one hot summer stay but it wasn’t a problem then. Avion also has a decent restaurant. It’s 2 or 3 tram stops to Divoka Sarka in the airport direction, which is a nature park with a open air pool (this a longer walk from the tram stop). In the other direction is an interesting Dejvice neighborhood.
    Other interesting places off from the usual tourist path: Andel, a shopping area in a newer but still historical part part of the city, there’s big shopping malls, but also a lot of restaurants and pubs around. It’s close to the river, can be reached on a longer walk from the Charles Bridge. One interesting place for a stroll is Obora Hvezda park. And if I go for a beer in the summer, I go to Cafe Na Pul Cesty in the middle of the big park next to Pankrac.
    I also have note about the public transport tickets in Prague, if you’re not a resident, the best option is to buy a 3 day ticket for 310 crowns. it’s not too much, about $13, you can buy it in every ticket machine and it gives you the freedom to just get on and off anywhere as you wish.

  8. I originally planned to stay in Prague 6, an area of Prague I checked out in April 2019. Low Choice Privileges rates at Clarion Old Town and IHG Accelerate bonus points made Holiday Inn Prague a better deal for me this trip.

    Andel is an easy walk from Park Inn Prague. That area has been on my radar for a couple of years. I have passed through a couple times on my way to somewhere else. Still need to give more attention to checking out the local pubs and eateries.

    A multi-day pass is a good deal for transportation if you plan to travel around many areas of Prague or don’t want to spend a lot of time walking. We generally don’t get sufficient value from multi-day transportation passes in most cities where we have purchased them. Usually we find ourselves only taking two rides, maybe three in a day when staying in Prague. Many days we don’t use public transportation at all.

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