This is a simple travel guide for Prague, Czech Republic based on our personal short trip to this European city nicknamed, “City of a hundred spires”. What we did was do the free tour on the first day we were at Prague, had late lunch and went back to the hotel to rest and went out again at night to see the Christmas market at Old Town. The next day, Pristine (my preteen daughter who was with me during this trip), walked around the city on our own, going to Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. More on that in the next posts!
For now, an overview.
First things, first: money. Czech Republic uses the Czech Koruna or Czech crown as its currency. Check xe.com for the conversions. I tried to buy Czech money from Dubai but the exchange centers did not have them, including the ones at Terminal 2 in Dubai. I exchanged USD to koruna at the money exchange shop at the arrival area of Prague airport as soon as we arrived as I need it to buy bus tickets.
There are several airlines that fly direct from Dubai to Prague’s Vaclav Havel airport. Playing on certain dates on Expedia.com shows Czech Airlines having the cheapest flight during off season for US$300 round trip. Yeah, it’s time you change your perception that traveling to Europe is too expensive. With proper planning and budgeting (and saving beforehand) it is totally doable.
However, we got on a morning flight from Dubai to Prague with Fly Dubai, one of the UAE’s budget airlines that has some pretty cool new destinations from and to Europe – Prague, Sofia or Bratislava…just to mention a few. I won 2 business class tickets I used for this trip from an Instagram contest, by the way.
PRAGUE AIRPORT TO CITY CENTER
Unlike the other European airports I have landed before, there is no train service from Prague’s Vaclav Havel airport to the city center. But don’t fret! There are buses that travel frequently from the airport to the city center. The cheapest option is to take a city bus. After arrival just find the kiosk where you can buy bus tickets. You can also buy from the driver but at a slightly higher price.
Bus 119 leaves from outside the Arrivals terminal and runs from around 4.20 in the morning until around 11.45 at night. It will take you to the Nádraží Veleslavín metro station on line A (Green Line) or take #100 that goes to the yellow line Metro station Zlicin. From there, you can take the metro using the same ticket to continue to your destination. The metro will get you to the center in no time (6 – 8 stops, depending on where you’re going). The most popular metro stations on the route are: Malostranská – Lesser Town (Malá Strana), Staromestská – Old Town (Staré Mesto), Mustek – bottom and middle of Wenceslas Square, Muzeum – top of Wenceslas Square.
Don’t forget to validate your ticket when you get on the bus or train!
Reference: Public transport fares in Prague
WHERE TO STAY
There are several hotels in Prague, depending on your budget, purpose and preferred location. We spent our first two nights at my friend’s house, a short 30 minute train ride from Prague’s main station.
The next two nights, we spent it using my IHG Rewards Points at Intercontinental Prague. The hotel is a short walk from Staromestská subway station and very close to the Old Town, the location of Prague’s biggest and oldest Christmas market (one of the reasons I chose this destination).
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Of course you could walk around and tour Prague by yourself but I would suggest booking a walking tour with the Sandeman’s Prague tour – it’s a FREE tour that work on a tips-only basis! We arrived in Prague from Kolin on a Monday, rushed to check in and l our bag at the hotel and walked back to Rudolfinum, the meeting place and start of the tour at 10:45 am. I admit, I did sweat a lot running to catch the start of the tour!
Our guide was very passionate about the history of the city and had a sharp wit that made our walking tour on a cold, wet day in Prague very memorable. There are other free walking tours in Prague. Make a search and book which one you think is best!
The walking tour lasted for a little more than two hours, ending near Wenceslas Square. It was a bit of a challenge to walk in the rain but our guide was flexible to seek shelter and expand his talk to discuss history under one corner with a roof, for example as some of us were wearing non-waterproof jackets. We couldn’t use umbrellas at one point because the wind was strong.
TIP: When traveling to Europe (or any place when it’s winter), it could be a better idea to bring a waterproof winter jacket. After living in the desert for a long time, I’ve completely forgotten about that.
I wanted to purchase a local SIM card so I have a number my husband can use to call me if necessary. Most of all, I wanted an internet connection while on the go, because, duh, Google maps…and Twitter and Instagram or Facebook. There’s an option of renting a pocket WiFi device (it was not cheap and needed deposit) so I opted to buy a SIM. There’s a Vodafone kiosk at the end of the arrival area where I bought a SIM with 4GB data for 600 Czech crowns (US$25). The cheaper option is 1.5GB at 500 Czech crowns (US$20).
Our time in Prague was up very quickly! We were there for 4 nights, 5 days. It was raining all of the days except for one – I thank God for giving us one full day of sunshine so we were able to see the city, including Prague castle (more on separate post!)…this was after I bought a waterproof jacket though.
Weird things like this always happen to me. Oh, well.
Prague, we really enjoyed our short stay and your charming old world cobblestone roads…except when we’re dragging a heavy bag!
If you’re planning to visit the city soon, I hope this little guide will help you in some way. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment! I can’t wait to write about our first mom-daughter travel experience in Prague!