Tag Archive: Prague Castle


I have been blessed to call this spectacular city my "home" since July 2011!

I have been blessed to call this spectacular city my “home” since July 2011!

I still have to pinch myself to believe that I live in Prague!  Can you see St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle in the top right of the photograph?  I see that out of our bedroom windows every day, from the other direction! Ordinary errands, like going to the dentist yesterday, are surreal.  I picked Nate up from school, took a bus to the metro, went by metro to Staromestka in the Old Town, then hopped a tram which took us along the Vltava River with stunning views of the castle as we passed by Charles Bridge. We got off at our stop along the river, and walked five minutes to the dentist’s office, past a beautiful 400+ year old church in a neighborhood with incredible architecture. It was an evening appointment, so after the check up we took a tram home through the city as all the lights were coming on. Prague is truly lovely…you really must put it on your bucket list!

From the castle walls!

From the castle walls!

We have hosted more than 50 guests since we moved to Prague in 2011!  Many more will visit us this year. Below is my top ten list of things to see and do in Prague if you have only a short time.  I’ve also included our favorite inexpensive restaurants (main dish for under 200 CZK ($10/8E) near the sites.

1. Prague Castle and Gardens

Take a picnic lunch with you to the gardens.  Or stop at the outdoor restaurant on the way down the hill to Malostranska. It is surrounded by an ancient vineyard and has the most spectacular views of Prague.  They usually advertise dessert and coffee for 99 CZK($5/4E)…other items are quite expensive.

See my post for insider tips about Prague Castle:

https://globalnomadfamily.com/2013/04/13/beautiful-prague-prague-castle-and-st-nicholas-church/

The view of the castle from the gardens.

The view of the castle from the gardens.

2. Charles Bridge and Old Town Square

Going inside the clock tower is quite interesting. By some crepes (palacinky) from one of the food stalls in the square and enjoy the excellent people watching opportunities.  Don’t eat at one of the cafes around the square unless you don’t mind paying exorbitant prices!

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge

Old Town Square in 2010.

Old Town Square in 2010.

3. Jewish Quarter and Museums

Allow several hours to see this area, as there are six sites to visit in the Josefov district. Here’s a link to find out information about the ticket costs and other information:

http://www.jewishmuseum.cz/en/ainfo.htm

http://www.prague.cz/prague-jewish-town.asp

The Jewish Cemetary

The Jewish Cemetery

My friend took this photo in the Spanish Synagogue before we were told no photos are allowed.

My friend took this photo in the Spanish Synagogue before we were told no photos are allowed.

Find your way to the Cartouche restaurant for an interesting atmosphere and decor that makes you feel like you are in a tavern from the 1700’s. It has a pricier menu but there are a few Czech and other dishes for 199-249 CZK.

http://www.cartouche.cz/en/index.html

Inside the Cartouche.

Inside the Cartouche.

Celebrating our 10th anniversary last year!

Celebrating our 10th anniversary last year!

4. Wenceslas Square

It’s a pleasant walk from Old Town Square to Wenceslas Square.

This is looking towards Old Town Square. The blue building will be on your left if you are in OT Square heading for Wenceslas Square.

This is looking towards Old Town Square.

Nate with dear friends Curt and Sandra, AKA Doc and Marmee.

Wenceslas Square with dear friends Curt and Sandra.

The Powder Tower and Municipal house are also a short walk away from Wenceslas Square.

The Powder Tower. There's an interesting little museum inside.

The Powder Tower. There’s an interesting little museum inside.

This is the view from the Powder Tower.

This is the view from the Powder Tower.

If you have some time, stop in at the Museum of Communism…

LOVE this sign!!

LOVE this sign!!

If you are hungry, try one of our favorite restauranst in Wenceslas Square: O Balouna.  It says “Traditional Czech Restaurant” on the outside. Here’s the website:

http://www.ubalouna.cz/en/

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It’s a few doors down from the Thai Massage place with big tanks of water in the window, where tourists sit with their feet in the water, allegedly getting their dead skin nibbled away by the fish. I say allegedly because my friend Elsa tried it and didn’t notice a difference…but it was a great photo op!

She said it tickled!

She said it tickled!

Elsa attracted lots of attention...she is in photos of other random tourists who stopped to watch.

Elsa became a tourist attraction…she is in photos of other random tourists who stopped to watch!

5.  Stroll along the river and rent a paddle boat.

Take a walk along the river from Charles Bridge heading south. After passing another bridge (Most Legii) and the National Theater (Narodni Divadlo)  you’ll see a small bridge leading to a little island (Slovanski Ostrov) which is pleasant to walk around.  You can rent paddle boats from here.

Our river walk in 2011.

Our river walk in 2011.

When you are ready for a meal, enjoy one of our favorite restaurants, Club Cestavalu (Caravanserai on the sign outside, a mint green building across the street from the island). The food is Arabic and Lebanese, with Indian menu choices as well. They have unusual photos of exotic places as part of their decor.  They also have some free exotic snacks for the brave of heart (which I was not)!

http://www.hedvabnastezka.cz/klub-cestovatelu-praha/english

What are they holding? Why does Nikolas look like he is going to throw up?

What are they holding? Why does Nate look like he is going to throw up?

Fried grubs! Nate and Andy said they tasted like fried styrofoam!

Fried grubs! Nate and Andy said they tasted like fried styrofoam!

Another favorite restaurant of ours is Grosseto’s Marina. We love taking guest here because the views of the city and of Charles Bridge are spectacular, and the prices are reasonable.

http://www.grosseto.cz/en/marina

The view from the boat is outstanding.

It looks like a boat but it isn’t.

6.  Take a boat cruise on the Vltava River.

There are many different companies with a variety of cruise options, from a quick one hour spin to a several hour dinner cruise.  Our favorite is Prague-Venice, because it is a one hour cruise on a small boat which takes you through some hidden canals as well as along the Vltava.  Currently it costs 290 CZK ($14/11E) and includes a drink and ice cream.  You can buy tickets from the guys in white sailor suits at the end of Charles Bridge on the Old Town side.

http://www.prazskebenatky.cz/en/cruise

You can see the boat sign behind Nate. We also went to a concert in the church behind him.

This is the area to buy the tickets. Taken in 2010

Cruise with Grandma and Grandpa, summer 2012.

Cruise with Grandma and Grandpa, summer 2012.

There are several other options.  I have heard good things about the Jazz Boat.

http://www.pragueexperience.com/sightseeing/river_cruises.asp

We did a dinner cruise with the Zidek family. That's Vikki and me:)

We did a dinner cruise with the Zidek family. That’s Vikki and me:)

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Sunset is a great time for a cruise!

There’s also another cruise option, free with your transportation ticket!  It’s a little boat that zigzags along the river; especially fun for kids. We found it when we were walking along the river and hopped on.

The free boat (with your valid public transport pass).

The free boat (with your valid public transport pass).

7.  See an opera or ballet.

We  have seen three operas and one ballet and have really enjoyed them…even Nate (although he looks bored in the photo below)!  You can pay a lot of money to sit up close, or you can sit up high in the middle for 480-530 CZK ($25/20E) at the Prague State Opera. You will have a great view of the stage and orchestra, and the acoustics are great.

If you forgot to pack your opera clothes, it’s ok…at least in the cheap seats:)

The Prague State Opera House.

The Prague State Opera House.

Buy your tickets from Bohemia Tickets.  They don’t add a surcharge like other sites.  You can purchase them online, or get them when you are in Prague.  Go to the Mustek metro stop and follow the Na Prikope exit. The address is Na Prikope 16.  If they try to tell you they don’t sell the lower price tickets, tell them a local friend told you that they are available (unless they are truly sold out, which you can verify online).

http://www.bohemiaticket.cz/WBS/ang/contact.php

In front of the Estates Theater.

In front of the Estates Theater.

8.  Go to a classical music concert in one of the beautiful churches or other historic buildings like the Rudolfinum or the Municipal House.

We went to one at Saint Salvatore Church and loved it! The music, acoustics, and atmosphere were outstanding.

Waiting for the concert to start.

Waiting for the concert to start.

9.  Take the funicular up to Petrin Hill.

It’s free to ride the funicular with your valid transportation ticket.  Take a picnic lunch and enjoy it in the gardens at the top. Climb the “Prague Eiffel Tower”.

There's a nice view of Prague waiting...

There’s a nice view of Prague waiting…

Kids--big and small--will love the mirror maze at the top.

Kids–big and small–will love the mirror maze at the top. Taken in 2010.

Head down the hill...

Head down the hill…

Quench your thirst with the world's best beer--or apple juice:)

Quench your thirst with the world’s best beer–or apple juice:)

10. Take a day trip to Karlestejn Castle.

The castle was founded in 1348 by King Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor. It is easy to get here by train from Hlavni Ndrazi.  See the websites below for how to walk to the castle from the train station…it’s good exercise!  The town below the castle is very picturesque, with many options for restaurants and shops.  Souvenirs are cheaper here than in Prague.

http://www.hradkarlstejn.cz/informations-for-visitors-2013/

http://www.myczechrepublic.com/regions/karlstejn.html

Taken with our friend Vanda in summer 2010.

Taken with our friend Vanda in summer 2010.

This was taken in March...the views are more spectacular in spring, summer and fall.

This was taken in March 2012…the views are more spectacular in spring, summer and fall.

It's pretty fun to stand on a real drawbridge!

It’s pretty fun to stand on a real drawbridge!

So, that’s my list!  There are so many more wonderful things to see and do in Prague.  I’ll get to them in a future post.  Are there any other places you would count in a top ten list?

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View from the Powder Tower

Make sure you read these tips before arriving in Prague!  They will save you money and help you to enjoy your trip more.

1. Choose one of these three options to go from the airport to your accomodations:

A. When you exit with your bag, look for AAA Taxi Kiosk.  Give the taxi driver the address of your accommodations written on a piece of paper: avoid misunderstanding because you don’t know how to pronounce the street name!  A 15 minute taxi ride to where I live costs about 450 Crowns/CZK ($23/18 Euros).  They will give you a coupon for 47% off your return trip to the airport (which we think means you pay regular price). This is pretty reasonable for taxi fare, but read on to save more money…

B.  Leave the terminal to the outdoor parking lot.  You will see taxis of other companies coming and going.  Call Speed Taxi (see number below) and ask them to pick you up from the terminal parking lot (specify exactly where you are). Doing it this way  costs me 150 CZK less($8/6 Euros) than using the official AAA taxi. Read on for the most cost effective way…

C.  Buy a public transport ticket and take the airport bus #119 to Dejvicka. You can then enter the metro and proceed to your destination.  Alternatively, you can take a tram from Dejvicka or nearby Vitezne Namesti to your destination.

View from Prague Castle

View from Prague Castle

2.  Take public transport from Hlavni Nadrazi (main train station) to your accomodations:

NEVER use the taxis waiting at Hlavni Nadrazi Railway Station.  It will be double the cost! Instead, go upstairs and exit by Fanta Kavarna.  Call a taxi from one of the recommendations below and ask them to pick you up at Hlavni Nadrazi outside of Fanta Kavarna. See the link below so you know where to go:

http://www.360cities.net/image/fantova-kavarna-cafe-in-prague-czech-republic#-624.62,-11.73,110.0

However, it is really easy and much cheaper to arrive at your destination by public transport.  There is a metro station at the train station, and you can easily reach all parts of the city.

Basilica of St. George at Prague Castle

Basilica of St. George at Prague Castle

3.  Use a reliable taxi:

Never !!  call a taxi that is waiting on the street.  You will be overcharged!  Instead, call or send a SMS to one of the two taxi companies below.  Generally taxis are not expensive, from about 150 to 300 CZK.

Speed Taxi: +420 722 234 234 (my favorite, most reliable)

Taxi Nejlevnejsi:  +420 736 300 299

SMS: Please pick us up at ________address________.  My name is _______________.

The company will send a confirmation SMS with the make and model of the taxi, and its arrival time.

St. Vitus Cathedral

St. Vitus Cathedral

4. Get these three free apps for your smart phone!

MHDapp:  You can enter your location and your destination and it tells you exactly how to get there on public transport. You need to enter the name of the tram, bus or metro stop and it does the rest.  The app even tells you how many minutes before the bus or tram comes, so you know if you need to run!

http://mhdapp.cz/

CG Transit: Similar to MHDapp, and  it also shows you on the map how to walk from your current location to the bus, metro or tram stop.

http://www.topappstoday.com/apps-travel/430848814/cg-transit-ndash-public-trans

Tripadvisor city guide for Prague: I love this app!  It gives you suggested itineraries, restaurants, and descriptions of the top attractions.  You can download it with WiFi, and use it offline.  It has a great map feature, and helps you find your way using your smartphone signal.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/apps-icityguides

Prague at dusk

Prague at dusk

5.  Get a Czech sim card at any Vodafone office (airport, Vitezne Namesti, Wenceslas Square and more).  They are only 200 CZK ($10/8Euros) and include prepaid credit for calls, sms, and you can add data for 175 CZK ($9/7Euros). You avoid  roaming charges, and you can use the travel apps and Google Maps online using 3G. Any calls or SMS you send will be at the local rate.

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge

6.  Don’t bother with expensive tours or the Hop on/Hop off bus!!

Prague’s public transport system is excellent. Trams are fun to ride as they wind their way around this beautiful city! Get a good map with the metro and trams marked, and you can navigate the city like a local:)

Here is the website for the transportation system.  You can find tariff prices, and you can use Journey Planner to figure out how to get from one area to another.

http://www.dpp.cz/en/fares-in-prague/

If you stay for more than 6 days, consider purchasing a one-month pass.   You can buy them at most major metro stations, including Hradcanska. The pass is transferable, and you can make someone’s day by giving it away at the airport or train station when you leave, to a tourist who is just arriving!

The “green” or “A” line will take you to almost all the important sights in the city center.  Here are some of the stops and what you will find at each of the stops:

Hradcanska: You can walk to the castle in about ten minutes from the metro at Hradcanska. Walk down K Brusce to the right of the old gate (Pisecka Brana, now a café), out to Marianske Hradby. You will see the Summer Palace (now a porcelain museum) across the street.  Go in the side gate and you will see the castle gardens.  It is a lovely walk through the gardens to Prague Castle…and no steep hill to climb!  Note:  the gardens are closed in winter, so instead take the tram one stop from Kralovsky Letohradek to Prasky Hrad.

The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace

You can also walk to Letna Park from Hradcanska.  It has lovely walking and cycling paths, with lovely views of the Vltava river and the city.

The views are stunning!

The views are stunning!

Fall 2011

Fall 2011

Malostranska:   You will be around the corner from the bottom of the path to the castle.  There is also a lovely walled garden, Wallenstein Gardens, which has its entrance next to the metro. Walk to Malostranska Namesti to see St. Nicholas Church and Charles Bridge.

Wallenstein Gardens

Wallenstein Gardens

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St. Nicholas Church in Mala Strana

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge

Staromestka:  You can get out here to walk to Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, and the Jewish Quarter.

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Old Town Square

The Jewish Cemetary

The Jewish Cemetary

Mustek:  This stop takes you to Wenceslas Square.  You can also change to the yellow line. From here there is a nice walk to Old Town Square. You can also enjoy all the shops, and walk to the Municipal House and the Powder Tower.

Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square

The Municipal House

The Municipal House

The Powder Tower

The Powder Tower

Muzeum:  Prague State Opera is here.  You can change to the red line here.

Prague State Opera with Mom and Dad

Prague State Opera with Mom and Dad

Tram Stops:

Malostranska Namesti is the stop to see St. Nicholas Church, and the Mala Strana side of the Charles Bridge is a short walk away, just around the corner.

The tower at Charles Bridge

The tower at Charles Bridge

Ujezd is the stop where you can take the funicular (included in your public transport ticket) to the top of the hill.  There are pretty gardens, the Prague “Eiffel Tower”, cafes, and a mirror maze (great for children).

The Prague "Eiffel Tower"

The Prague “Eiffel Tower”

Ok, so there is a lot more to tell you about, but I’ll save that for another post.  What are some of your favorite places in Prague?  What tips do you have for getting around Prague in the most efficient and enjoyable way?

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA My husband, son and I moved to Prague in July 2011. During the time leading up to the move, Andy and I would look at each other and say, “We are moving to Prague!!”  What a crazy, fun adventure!  Now, 18 months later, we still look at each other and say, “We live in Prague!” I still feel wonder when I see the Vltava River and all the lovely buildings.  I still feel like I am perpetually on holiday:)

This was taken on a dinner cruise we did with the Zidek family in June 2012.

We really enjoy hosting people in our flat. We have hosted new teachers, missionaries, college students, couples,and families who come from a variety of countries such as the U.S., Hungary, France, Spain, Italy, the U.K., and Argentina.  We have many more guests scheduled for the upcoming year.  So this post will be the first of a series, especially for our future guests…our top pics of what to see in Prague, along with some insider tips for transportation, food and entertainment.

1. Prague Castle and Gardens.

The best way to get to Prague Castle is to start at the Castle Gardens.  You can walk there from the Hradcanska Metro/Tram stop, or take tram #22 to Kralovsky Letohradek for the gardens, or to Prasky Hrad to go straight to the castle.  If you go this way, you will walk straight in…..instead of walking up a million steps coming from the other side.  Note: the gardens are closed in the winter.

Check this link for the many ways to get to Prague Castle:

http://www.hrad.cz/en/prague-castle/prague-castle-tourist-information/how-to-get-to-prague-castle.shtml

The gardens are the perfect place for a picnic.

Summer Palace in the fall:)

You will end up at the gates of Prague Castle.  Be sure to see the changing of the guard, on the hour, every hour until 8pm in the summer or 6pm in the winter.  The short tour, which includes Golden Lane, is sufficient in my opinion.

Here’s the link to Prague Castle’s website:

http://www.hrad.cz/en/prazsky_hrad/navsteva_hradu.shtml

Nikolas and Grandma being goofy!

St. Vitus Cathedral is stunning!  The entry fee is worth it.  Don’t forget to come back here at night and enjoy Prague Castle by night.

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The outside of St. Vitus Cathedral.

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Inside the cathedral

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Construction was begun in 1344!

Climb the tower to get this pic!

Climb the tower to get this pic!

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The view from the castle walls.

Elsa and me!

Elsa and me!

Once you have taken your dozens of photos at the castle walls, walk down the hill to Malostranska.  Go right at the bottom.  Walk through the small gate on the left of the metro station to stroll through the Wallenstein Gardens (spring and summer only). Exit out the gate on the left to Malostranska Namesti.

Prague Senate Building

Prague Senate Building

Alternatively, take a tram to….

2. St. Nicholas Church in Mala Strana

Tram stop: Malostranske Namesti

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Mozart played the organs here in 1787!

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Construction began in 1703.

This is a beautiful location for a classical concert!

This is a beautiful location for a classical concert.

Check this link for classical music concert information: http://www.stnicholas.cz/en/concerts/

Are you hungry yet?  Try Malostranska Beseda Restaurace, just across the street from the Malostranska Namesti tram stop.  Or try the kebab shop to the right of it.  Prices are reasonable!

http://www.malostranska-beseda.cz/en/restaurant/menu/menu.html

After a good meal, you walk it off on a walk across Charles Bridge…just around the corner!  For a future post…

Thanks to Elsa and the Zidek family for some of the above photos 🙂

Tell us about your favorite places in Prague!