Quick guide to Prague, Czech Republic Currency: Euro
Prague might be thought of as a prime stag do destination, and its beer is certainly worth the hype, but this historic city has plenty to offer the more discerning visitor. It is the both the capital and the largest city in the Czech Republic with a population of 1.2 million. Founded 1,100 years ago, the so-called City of a Hundred Spires was mercifully unscathed by the Second World War and is home to some of the most stunning medieval architecture in Europe. The River Vltava, which can be crossed by bridge, flows through its centre.
The relatively compact nature of the city means that much of it can be easily reached on foot. However, the public transport system in Prague is cheap and very reliable. A ticket valid for 90 minutes on the bus, metro and tram will cost you 32 Kč (equivalent to less than £1). Good options for city-breakers are the one or three day passes which cost 110 Kč or 310 Kč respectively. Don’t forget to validate your ticket before travelling. The last metro is at midnight but night trams (numbers 50-59) operate until 4.30 am. Hailing taxis is best avoided as fares can be high.
Summers in Prague are typically bright, sunny and warm with highs in the mid-20s °C (high-70s °F). Although there is little rain over winter, late spring and summer can bring heavy downpours and thunderstorms. Winters get fairly cold and temperatures often dip below freezing, particularly during the months November-March when snowfall is common. Prague’s geographical location means that it is often buffeted by westerly winds. The best time to visit is early autumn or spring, although temperatures can drop in the evenings even after a warm day.
After decades under communist rule, when fresh ingredients were scarce, the restaurant scene in Prague is now flourishing. Heavily influenced by its European neighbours Germany and Austria, there is a lot of meat and sausage on offer. Steamed dumplings known as ‘houskové knedlíky’, served with a generous helping of gravy, are a local delicacy as well as ‘kolače’, pastry with a variety of sweet fillings. Prices in tourist traps like the Old Town are much higher than other areas such as the charming Lesser Quarter (Mala Strana).
A study conducted in 2015 found that Prague was the second cheapest city in Europe for alcoholic drinks, making it an attractive proposition for those who enjoy a night on the town. One of the best purveyors of Prague’s world-famous Pilsner and craft beers is U Zlatého Tygra (At the Golder Tiger). Originally a fourteenth-century burgher house, this busy pub is frequented by the likes of Bill Clinton and always packed with locals. In the summertime head for Náplavka, a trendy spot by the riverbank where you’ll find a multitude of alfresco pop-up bars and a lively atmosphere.
The Old Town
The Old Town district (or Stare Mesto) is a charming maze of cobbled streets which form the medieval heart of the city. Head to Old Town Square to see the Church of Our Lady before Týn, a stunning example of Gothic architecture whose spiked bell towers have dominated the square since the 1400’s. If you time your stroll to perfection, you might just catch the hourly display of the Prague Orloj. This astronomical clock dates back to 1410 and is the oldest working model in existence. A large Christmas market occupies the square over the festive period.
Prague Castle is one of the largest and oldest castles in the world, and was home to Holy Roman Emperors and Kings of Bohemia before it became the official residence of modern-day presidents. Other must-sees include St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Charles Bridge. This fifteenth-century, pedestrian-only bridge spans the Vltava River and is lined with thirty Baroque statues. Don’t miss the Gothic bridge tower which sits at its eastern end and affords impressive views of the city, particularly at night.
Although some establishments do accept payment in Euros, the official currency in Prague is the Czech koruna (Kč) with £1 being equal to roughly 37 Kč. The average cost of a transfer from the airport to the city centre by taxi is roughly £20 (750 Kč). Getting to the city centre by public transport takes around an hour by catching a city bus (numbers 119 or 100) to a metro stop and then the metro on to your final destination, all for 32 Kč. The beer in Prague is very inexpensive and costs around 40 Kč (£1.35) for 0.5l in most pubs and less in quieter areas.