June 18, 2024
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Visiting Prague on a Shoestring

Prague is now one of the most popular destinations in Europe for a city break, and the prices reflect this. Nevertheless, you don’t need a Platinum Amex to enjoy a break in Prague. It’s definitely possible to visit Prague on a shoestring budget.

In 2017, Prague was the fifth most popular city. Every year, millions of people flock there to admire the architecture, castles, and nightlife. It’s known as the City of a Hundred Spires, the Golden City, or Mother of Cities. Thanks to a reputation for cheap booze, Prague can get horribly busy with throngs of tourists, many of them following organised pub crawls or celebrating hen and stag dos.

If you’re willing to overlook the beer tours and drunken tourists, the city is full of charm and history. The architecture is beautiful and there are lots of free attractions to enjoy.

Read on to learn more about how to experience Prague on a shoestring.

Getting There

Flights to Prague are inexpensive if you’re happy to use budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizz Air. Direct flights from London and regional airports are available and take around 2 hours.

It’s also possible to travel from the UK to Prague on the Eurostar train for less than £100, but it will take a lot longer than two hours! Try 19+ hours to be exact. However, it’s a chill way to travel and if you have plans to visit Brussels on the way, it’s not a bad way to go. You can also avoid airport chaos at the same time.

The absolute bargain basement way to get from the UK to Prague (other than taking your life in your hands by hitching a ride with a trucker), is to catch the bus. Tickets on a Flixibus from London to Prague cost from £47. The downside is the journey will take 29+ hours and you are likely to be sleep deprived when you arrive, not to mention stiff.

Prague on a Shoestring

Accommodation

While it is possible to stay in Prague on a shoestring budget, accommodation is likely to be your biggest expense. Hostels are not the cheapest in Prague because it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, but there are still beds available for around £20 a night if you don’t mind staying further out from the Old Town.

Airbnb is a good budget option, too. A private room in a shared house is the same as a cheap bed in a hostel, and probably quieter. Self-contained accommodation is typically around £50 a night for something fairly basic.

Budget hotels are a bit pricier but there are always good deals to be found if you are flexible with your travel dates and not bothered about staying further out from the city centre.

Food and Drink

Bars and restaurants in the main tourist areas are more expensive, as you might expect. If you want to eat out, walk a few streets away from the tourist attractions and pay close attention to where the locals eat. This will save you a fortune. Many classic Czech dishes like goulash and schnitzel are inexpensive and delicious.

Free Attractions

While some of Prague’s attractions require the visitor to cough up some money, such as the Prague Jewish Museum and St Vitus Cathedral, there are plenty of free things to do in Prague.

Prague Castle’s gardens are free to explore, but you will need to buy a ticket to check out the lavish interiors. The gardens can get busy during the day, especially at weekends, but tend to quieten down in the evenings. Take a stroll around the courtyards after 6 pm and soak up some history without being jostled by crowds of people.

Petřín hill has lovely views of the city. It’s reached by a funicular railway or if you are feeling spritely and don’t want to pay for a ticket, you can walk. There are lovely rose gardens and woodland walkways, and it’s a chill place to spend a sunny afternoon.

650-year-old Charles Bridge is one of Prague’s most famous landmarks. Take a free stroll across the bridge and enjoy the artists and buskers.

The Astronomical Clock has a fun mechanical display every hour, on the hour. The clock was installed in 1410 and is wonderfully intricate. If you want a closer look, visit between showtimes to avoid the crowds.

Vyšehrad Castle is Prague’s second castle, but this one is free to visitors. A former royal residence, Vyšehrad Castle is perched on a hilltop overlooking the Vltava River. The views from the Citadel walls are magnificent and Vyšehrad Cemetery has a wonderfully Gothic atmosphere. The castle also has an excellent beer garden in the summer.

The Nový Svět Quarter isn’t far from Prague Castle. Here you’ll find pretty pastel-coloured houses dating back to the 16th century and cobblestone streets amidst remnants of the old city walls.

Letná Gardens is a vast expanse of wide open space in the city. From the top of the hill where a metronome replaced a statue of Stalin, there are fantastic views of the city and Vltava River.

Getting Around Prague

Most people are happy to walk or use the metro to get around central areas in Prague. The city is a lot smaller than London or Paris, so it’s easy to get around on foot.

The Metro covered the central area if you don’t want to walk. Fares for the Metro are calculated according to how long the journey takes, so the shorter the journey, the lower the fare. There are four Metro lines that run from early morning until midnight.

Buses take passengers into areas not served by the Metro lines, but many bus stations are also Metro hubs, so you can start a journey on one and finish on the other.

Bike rentals are available and prices start from around £7 for an hour. This is a fun way to explore Prague on a shoestring, and is great if you need some exercise to exorcise a brutal hangover.

Like most cities, Prague has taxis, but they tend to be expensive. There is no point splashing out on a taxi, as most places are within walking distance in the centre, and those that aren’t are on a Metro line. If you do need a taxi, try calling an Uber instead. There aren’t many in Prague, but they are cheaper than taxis.

Exploring Beyond Prague

Once you have soaked up the atmosphere and beer in Prague, why not hire a car and travel a bit further into the Czech Republic? There are many charming towns and villages to explore, including Český Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Karlovy Vary, in Bohemia. The Krkonoše National Park is also well worth a visit, as are Karlštejn Castle and Hruboskalsko.

We hope this guide to Prague on a shoestring has been helpful. Happy travels!

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