Prague : Travel Guide
If you are mid-way through your "Euro experience", there is no better place to wind down and prepare for the onslaught to come than Prague. It is absolutely one of the finest cities in Europe.
What defines Prague and sets the scene is its face. If you know your Baroque from your Gothic, or your Romanesque from your Art Noveau, then Prague is a dream made in heaven. If you don't, then you'll love the buildings.
As can be expected, such a jewel in the forests would not go unnoticed.
Since the velvet revolution in 1989, when the communists were swept aside by the power of a poet, Prague and the Czech Republic have opened their doors.
This has brought wealth, prominence and prosperity to the Czech people, but has also resulted in the usual distractions, of crowds, congestion, and high prices.
When to go
The best time to visit Prague is in the summer months between May and September.
The hottest time is July with the coldest being January. If you decide to go during the warm peak season, prepare yourself for hordes of travelers and students.
What to see
Wencelas Square is the best place to head for when you hit Prague. More a boulevard than a square, Wencelas neatly separates Prague's old and new towns. Here you'll see St. Vaclav on his horse as well as the National Museum. (The museum still bears pockmarks from the '68 invasion when the advancing Russian troops mistook it for Parliament.)
Old Town (Stare Mesto) is north west of Wencelas Square and has buildings dating back several hundreds of years.
Not much to take in during the day, but at dusk it takes on a macabre feel as moon-lit shadows roll off the tormented skyline leaving you feeling like you have just entered the Twilight Zone.
Powder Tower is a great place to go to get a bird's eye view of the city. On your way to the tower, you will invariably come across the Tyl theater in the Old Town Square where parts of the film Amadeus were shot.
Charles Bridge is one happening bridge. Apart from being the scene where Tom Cruise lost his team in Mission Impossible, it is also where street performers and various artists and crafts people peddle their wares. A great view of the city can be had from the Defense tower on the Old Town side.
Prague Castle probably on everyone's to do list and rightly so. It's a pretty vast conglomeration of buildings with great walled courtyards to get lost in. When finished, take a walk down Golden Lane.
People don't say Prague is a party town for nothing. If you are into live music, especially Jazz, then you will find more than enough to keep you happy.
Some of the bars and clubs we liked best were the Bunkr, set inside an actual bunker, and the Reduta Jazz Club. For the trivia purists, this is where the 'Prez' Bill Clinton lead a jam session on his first official visit. A popular place for expats is also the Radost. They play mostly modern rock and on Sunday evenings have poetry readings.
What it costs
As with most major cities around the world, the closer you are to the center the more expensive everything gets.
Staying on the outskirts of town will save some of your travel budget. If you don’t mind hopping the tram, a great place to stay at TJ Slavoj, also known as "The boathouse". Trams 3 and 17 will take you out there. Dorm beds are about US$8 a night.
The bottom end of the scale for a daily budget is about US$15 if you do your own food and stay out of town. If you require a nicer place to lay your head and opt to eat out, then food and lodging will run you about US$25-30. If you just have to be downtown, then you're looking closer at US$50-60 a day.As a guideline, budget for:
- Cheap food: US$2-5
- Restaurant food: US$10-15
- Hostel: US$10-15
- Cheap Hotel: US$25-40 (double)
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