Interrail 2017: Prague, Czech Republic
I hadn't considered Prague as a destination on this trip until a vegetarian friend mentioned that they ate steak tartar in a butchers there. I might be a carnivore, but I find it hard to stomach raw meat (the only time I've ordered it was on accident in a Parisian bistro, something which my stomach still punishes me for).
The only information about the Czech Republic I knew was: they use Czech Koruna and not the Euro (and thus things are cheap); it was the birthplace of the pilsner beer style; and a pint costs 90p... this last nugget of information was what whetted my appetite the most.
I hopped on a rickety local train from Bad Schandau that wiggled all the way down the Elbe river, crossing the German/Czech boarder—sheer mountains dusted with snow; muted post-communist towns littered with boarded copy-paste buildings; and expansive frozen ice drifted by for the length of the journey (video clip).
Street Art (and not graffiti!)
There's always a 'free' (read: donation) tour to be had in every city, but they usually only cover major landmarks, are light on details, and frequently overcrowded—typically you're a herd of sheep, yelled at by a non-native desperately trying to get 50 people to cross a road. This time I skipped the free tour.
There's a thriving graffiti and street art scene in Prague, and the tour that covers this exceptionally is the 'Alternative Tour'. It costs Kc 500.00 (around £17, tickets are £14 for students) and lasts 3 hours, ending at a dingy steampunk nightclub very much off the beaten path. Our guide led us to hidden gallery spaces, through painted backstreets, into permitted street art spaces and away from the throng of tourists. Our guide was interesting, a local, and could answer any question thrown at her. We all hung out at the end of the tour, swapping stories and asking more questions about life in Prague.
a city of two halves / Stark contrasts
Ancient and beautiful—a variety of Gothic, art nouveau, baroque and Renaissance architecture can be seen within a five minute walk—Prague is also full of stark contrasts. Buildings hundreds of years old collide with structures of ginormous, grey, imposing concrete, plopped thoughtlessly into the landscape. Sleek modern buildings (like DOX gallery) shuffle up with the duplicated communist walk ups, and rub up five story pastel neo-Renaissance flats covered in frilliness and pomp.
All this makes Prague an excellent wandering city, you can walk for an hour and see a thousand years of architecture.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Advice on: drinking cheep beer in Prague in 10 steps
- Bring cash
- It's nearly always table service
- Depending on the kind of bar will depend on what they automatically serve you
- If you're not getting served quickly enough, signal to a waiter for a beer
- The beer will come, fast
- Beer costs around Kc 35 (tourist traps will charge significantly more)
- It's assumed when you finish that you want a refill, place your beer mat on top of your glass if you're done
- Share a table, smile at your neighbours
- Order a dark beer
Walk. Walk everywhere. Prague is beautiful, has an amazing variety of architecture, plus it's dirt cheap to eat, drink and stay in! There's going to be a lot of tourist and tourist traps in the Old Town Square (please don't eat there), so make sure to visit the major attractions early in the day (before 10am).
For invaluable advice on Prague and the Czech Republic, check out Honest Guide, they have dozens of exceptional videos that I wish I had seen before I visited.
Food, Drink & Markets
- Headshot Coffee
- Home Kitchen
- Farmářské trhy Jiřák
- Kávový Klub
- café jen
- Nota Bene
- Lokál Dlouhááá
- Illegal Beer
- Pivovar U Tří růží
Museums, Art Galleries & Landmarks
- Prague Castle
- Charles Bridge
- Old Town Square
- Bastion XXXI U Božích muk
- DOX Centre for Contemporary Art
- Petřín Lookout Tower
Hostels, Tours & Nightlife
- Prague Alternative Tour
- Sophie's Hostel
- AghaRTA Jazz Centrum
- Cross Club
- Joystick Arcade Bar