Prague, City of a Hundred Spires, a UNESCO monument and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Get to know it in person! Best Ways To Enjoy Prague – The Old Town Hall with the famous Prague Astronomical Clock. The winding lanes of the Jewish Quarter, which you know from the novels of Franz Kafka, steeped in the legend of the Golem.
Take Your Own Free Walking Tour
Cross the statue-lined Charles bridge to the Malá Strana district and admire the rich baroque architecture along the Royal Way as you ascend to the looming, and sprawling, complex that is Prague Castle. This offers priceless yet cost-free views back across the city. Tickets to the castle’s various buildings and gardens are a reasonable £7-£9.50, but it’s free to enter the striking vaulted interior of the 14th-century Saint Vitus Cathedral and admire the stained-glass windows, some of which were crafted by Czech art nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha.
Explore The City’s Jewish Heritage
North of the Old Town Square is the Jewish Quarter (Josefov). You’ll have to pay £8 to access the half a dozen historical sites that make up the Jewish Museum – still mostly intact because Hitler had plans to preserve them as a museum to a vanished race – but you can admire the exceptional architecture of the Spanish synagogue and more from the outside. Saturdays tend to be much quieter since the complex is closed for the Sabbath. Literature fans will enjoy Jaroslav Róna’s Franz Kafka sculpture on the corner of Dušní and Vězeňská, where Kafka was born. Taking the form of a large man with no head (or hands) carrying a small man on his shoulders, it references Kafka’s story Description of a Struggle.
Museums And Galleries For Free
Most of Prague’s museums seem to have stopped offering the traditional monthly free, or reduced entry, days, but you can still often get in free on public holidays, as well as the annual Prague Museum Night in June. Since these differ from place to place, it’s best to check individual websites. For example, the excellent National Museum, whose collection of medieval and modern exhibits is spread across several different venues throughout the city (and beyond), has a changing roster of free entry dates; this month it’s 5 and 28 September.
Likewise, you can see the Kampa Museum’s peerless collection of pioneering abstract and cubist works by Czech artists such as František Kupka and Otto Gutfreund, for a reduced fee (£1.35) on 28 October (anniversary of the foundation of the Czech Republic) and 18 December – the anniversary of the death of Václav Havel. Outside the Kampa Museum you can view controversial Czech artist Černý’s giant, slightly creepy, slot-faced babies for free. More of Černý’s work can be seen at his own contemporary art and cultural centre, Meet Factory, in the Smíchov district. In a 1920s factory complex, its three gallery spaces offer curated exhibitions, concerts, avant-garde theatre and discussions. The exhibitions and studios are free to enter; entry for the rest starts at £5.50.
Also in Smíchov, the three-floor Futura Centre for Contemporary Art hosts free group and solo exhibitions by Czech artists, as well as respected international artists; and one of the best and biggest art centres, Dox in Holešovice, has a constant flow of unconventional and thought-provoking events and exhibitions. Entry is normally around £4.90 but there’s a 50% discount until 10 September.
Catch Some Classical Music
While it might cost a pretty penny to see the Czech Symphony Orchestra in the splendid Rudolfinum, slightly cheaper classical treats can be found around the city. Aside from the accomplished solo violinists and string quartets who frequently busk around the old town square and Charles bridge, you can hear Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart and Dvorak being played in many churches and institutions for around £20. Check the listings for the 18th-century Saint Nicholas Church, the mirror chapel of the Klementinum, and the Lobkowicz Palace, which hosts popular midday classical concerts. In addition, the Czech Museum of Music, inside the Church of Mary Magdalene in Malá Strana, has regular free and cheap concerts (from classical to jazz) as does the Prague Conservatoire.
Parks And Picnics
You can easily spend an afternoon exploring the wooded paths, mirror maze and rose garden of Petřín Hill, as well as enjoying the great views from around the Strahov monastery. If you don’t want to walk up the hill, take the funicular, which is fun for kids (and adults) and only costs 90p (though note that it’s closed between 7 September 2015 and March 2016 for renovations). On the other side of the castle is the fabulous Letná Park, with its beer gardens, lawns for picnics and a skate park.
The area around the giant, slowly swinging metronome – where Stalin’s statue once stood – is a popular local spot for sipping beer, impromptu foxtrot sessions and watching the sun set over the city. For something peaceful yet not too far from the centre, the hilly grounds of the 10th-century Vyšehrad Castle are a pleasure to explore; the graveyard features many Prague luminaries such as Neruda, Dvořák, Mucha and Smetana. Go on a Saturday morning and you can stock up on delicious local cheeses and other picnic items from the excellent riverside Náplavka farmer’s market (8am-2pm), just below the castle.
Cut-Price Family Fun
If you have younger kids or are looking for something closer to the centre try the lovely and quite-hidden Franciscan Monastery and Garden near Wenceslas Square. Its rose and herb gardens have been cultivated (by the Franciscans) since the 17th century and there’s a playground with climbing frame, see-saw and large sandpit, set in the peaceful courtyard. A bit further out, but with lots of facilities and a great location next to the Vltava river, is Žluté lázně, which costs £2.20 for adults and £1.40 for kids over 100cm; it’s free for kids under 100cm – and for everyone else after 5pm.
The 35,000-square-metre area offers playgrounds, several kids’ pools, sand volleyball court and football cages among many other activities. Some of the larger activities require extra fees and these costs can mount up, but things such as outdoor chess and indo-board are free. There are also a couple of restaurants on site – the one opposite the main entrance is the cheapest. For something more natural (and free), go to the nature reserve Divoká Šárka; just half an hour by public transport from Wenceslas Square; it has rugged cliffs and waterfalls, lakes for paddling and swimming, and biking and walking trails. Also, Prague Zoo now has a Happy Mondays offer, which means a special “symbolic” entry fee of just 1 CZK to selected groups of visitors (eg donators, children from orphanages, visitors coming on bikes or public transit, including boat).
Visit A Puppet Theatre
Prague is famous for its puppet theatres and Divadlo Minor is the largest in the city. It has shows for all ages in an atmospheric and modern space that are mostly in Czech, but sometimes have subtitles. In any case are quite easy to keep up with (especially if you research the story first). The smaller theatre is slightly cheaper (£4 adults, £2.70 children) and it’s also possible for children to hang out in the Minor Gallery, an exhibition space and play area. Afterwards they might enjoy a bite at Vytopna, which has a 400m miniature railway and decent food and drinks at reasonable prices.
Thanks to the carb-heavy nature and abundance of traditional Czech food in the city, it’s easy to fill up quickly and cheaply. Atmospheric local spots such as U Houdků and the old town’s U Sádlů have menus of goulash, dumplings, pork and potatoes for as little as £5 (arrive before 2.30pm to bag a lunch special). There are numerous international options, including Vietnamese pho (try Pho Viet in the old town or Pho Vietnam in Vinohrady).
Bohemia Bagel has several branches across the city and serves salads and other reasonably-priced dishes as well as free coffee refills. A cheap and tasty local option are chlebicek (open sandwiches), and the swanky Sisters bistro has taken them to another level, with toppings such as pickled herring and wasabi mayo for £1.05. Many of the city’s high-end restaurants also offer daily specials and discounted business lunches. Sleek, seasonal restaurant Field has two- and three-course menus from £7.60 and Asian-fusion restaurant Aureole has five-star views and a three-course menu for £13.
Cheap beer abounds: U Fleků has been brewing for 500 years and the venue’s complex of lounges, beer garden and regular live music and cabaret have made it perennially popular. A 0.4l glass of its delicious house brew costs £1.60 and an accompanying potato soup will set you back just £1.90. A map of Prague’s cheapest beer haunts can be found at nelso.com.
Room prices have been creeping up in Prague, but the sheer number of hotels and hostels keeps things competitive and you can still get cheaper prices (up to 40% lower) in the off season. In Malá Strana, the Little Town Hotel and Hostel has quaint and clean en suite doubles for £33 – £26 if opting for a shared bathroom (in low season it drops as low as £17). The Bohemian Hostel group consists of several well-run design-savvy hostels and decently-priced hotels just outside the main centre: backpacker spot Sir Toby’s has en suite doubles from £18; the slightly flashier Czech Inn has en suite doubles from £25 and the chicest hostel in town, Miss Sophie’s, has en suite rooms – with customised metallic beds and rain showers – for £30. For something central, St Christopher’s at the Mosaic House has stylish dorm rooms (from £6) and en suite doubles from £23, as well as a lively bar and a restaurant that offers lunch specials such as beef in dill sauce with dumplings for £3.20.
Source: The Quardian
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