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Prague on a Wing and a Prayer

Destination(s): Prague

Let’s face it, just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you have an unlimited budget. The current prices of intercontinental flights can often mean that getting to your vacation spot has to be your big splurge. Unfortunately, though, most “must-see” European destinations expect every bed, every meal, and every memory to be another “vacation splurge.” Prague, however, is a different sort of city. Possibly related to its communist past is the fact that most Czechs don’t consider that higher prices mean a better time. For them, cheap food and drink (especially beer) is a universal right. In addition, Prague’s most breathtaking sites aren’t massive-yet-stuffy museums with steep ticket prices. The wonder of Prague lies in the city itself. When you wander through its narrow streets lined with stunning buildings you find yourself thinking these must all be exceptional. Visitors often point at a particularly detailed faade and ask, “What’s in there?” Its beauty suggests that it must have some special significance but inside simply live modestly-priced apartments. Additionally, the city’s main tourist sites, like Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, and even Prague Castle, are free. Even those that do cost some money, like the Old Jewish Cemetery, utilize a currency worth a fraction of the dollar, making the exchange rate very generous for Americans, especially when compared to the Euro. This guide proves that, when it comes to Prague, you don’t have to miss out to save money. read more about Prague on a Wing and a Prayer

Bakeshop Praha

Bakeshop Praha

All homemade, all delicious. Bakeshop Praha will win dessert lovers over with their famous carrot cake, chocolate chip cookies and fabulous brownies. Sourdough bread fans will find a winning selection that includes black olive and multigrain. A variety of sandwiches, soups and savory pies are prepared daily; so while this isn't the cheapest place to stop for lunch; it will be well-worth it. read more about Bakeshop Praha

Bohemia Bagel

Bohemia Bagel

TV Tower

TV Tower

  • Mahlerovy Sady 1
  • tel:+420 242 418 778
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 130 00
Prague Castle

Prague Castle

The Prague Castle (Pražsk hrad) is the largest castle complex in the world and one of the most important cultural sites in the Czech Republic. Founded in the 9th century as a wooden fortress, it expanded to include a palace, three churches, and a monastery. Extensive renovations took place in the early 20th century and again after the Velvet Revolution. Over the course of its many face-lifts, the castle has taken on Baroque, Gothic, and Neo-Gothic qualities. The complex includes three courtyards, in which you can find such important sites as St. Vitus Cathedral, Mihulka Powder Tower, and St. George's Basilica, among others. The ceremony of the changing of the guard takes place every hour; at noon, some fanfare accompanies this ceremony. The Prague Castle currently houses the Czech President and is the seat of Czech political power. read more about Prague Castle

Josefov

Josefov

  • Next to Old Town Square
  • tel:+420 2 2171 4444
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 110 00

Located between Old Town Square and the Vltava River, the Jewish Quarter (Josefov) is what remains of Prague's Jewish ghetto. In the 13th century, Prague's Jewish community was ordered to all move to this one small area. As time passed, the population grew and this part of Prague became extremely overpopulated. In late 19th century, an intense redevelopment was undergone but that doesn't mean the Jewish people were off the hook. They remained in this ghetto until WWII, when the majority of the Czech Republic's Jewish population either died or was forced out of the country by communist leaders. Today, Josefov is an important cultural area. Within its borders lies the best-preserved group of Jewish historical monuments in Europe. This includes six synagogues, including the Old-New Synagogue and the Spanish Synagogue, the Jewish Town Hall, the Old Jewish Cemetery, and museums, such as the comparatively new Robert Guttmann Gallery. Most of these sites are controlled by the Jewish Museum in Prague. read more about Josefov

Mucha Museum

Mucha Museum

  • Panská 7
  • Panska 7
  • tel:420 221 451 333
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 11000
Jewish Cemetery in Žižkov

Jewish Cemetery in Žižkov

Established in 1680 as plague burial ground for Prague's Jewish Community, the First Israeli Cemetery continued to be valuable when a ban on burials within the city began in 1987. Burials continued there until 1890, when the New Jewish Cemetery came into being. Although some 40,000 people rest here, it fell into a state of disrepair, even before the massive Zizkov TV Tower was built just above it. In 1998, the oldest parts of the cemetery became part of the Jewish Museum in Prague and, after extensive restoration work, it was opened to the public in 2001. Notable rabbis and leading Jewish entrepreneurs were laid to rest in this cemetery in addition to prominent members of the Enlightenment and contemporary Jewish intelligentsia. read more about Jewish Cemetery in Žižkov

St. Vitus Cathedral

St. Vitus Cathedral

  • Jiřská
  • Pražský hrad
  • tel:420 221 714 444 (Tourist Information Centre)
  • Prague, 11800

A Gothic work of art, St. Vitus Cathedral (Katedrla sv Vita) is the largest and most significant church in Prague. Commissioned in 1344 by Kind Wenceslas, the cathedral was not actually completed until the second half of the 19th century due to the Hussite War and Thirty Years' War. St. Vitus Cathedral has seen a number of royal coronations. Today, visitors can walk through the Golden Portal (south entrance) and see the Last Judgment Mosaic. Further important parts include the decorated Chapel of St. Wenceslas (Svatovclavsk kaple) and the Wallenstein Chapel (Valdstejnsk kaple), where the cathedral's architects lie. In front of the high alter stands the Royal Mausoleum. Underneath, the Royal Crypt houses the bodies of some notable kings and queens. Additionally, the Sarcophagus of St. John of Nepomuk has a bit of legend associated with it. Allegedly, the body was exhumed in 1721 and, shockingly, Nepomuk's tongue was still full of hot blood. This was likely a ploy to create a new legendary hero for the Czech people and it accomplished this nicely. Additionally, St. Vitus Cathedral houses the Crown Chamber, the storage room for the Bohemian Coronation Jewels. This area is not accessible by the public. Finally, the incomplete southern lookout tower, called the "Big Bell Tower," contains a Renaissance gallery and a Baroque cupola. read more about St. Vitus Cathedral

Old Jewish Cemetery

Old Jewish Cemetery

The Old Jewish Cemetery (Star židovsk hřbitov) is Europe's oldest existing Jewish cemetery. In use from 1439 to 1787, there are more than 12,000 gravestones in the compact area, which houses the remains of over 100,000 people. To manage this, about 12 layers of graves lie under the storied soil. Prominent Jewish leaders and scholars rest here, most notably the creator of the mysterious Golem, Jehuda ben Bezalel, also known as Rabi Lw. read more about Old Jewish Cemetery

Franz Kafka Gallery

Franz Kafka Gallery

  • Staromestske Namesti 22
  • tel:+420 2 2422 7452 (Franz Kafka Society)
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 11000
Café Pavlac

Café Pavlac

  • Víta Nejedlého 23
  • tel:420 222 721 731
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 130 00

The custom bar is the centerpiece of this bright, modern caf just down the street from Palac Akropolis. Pavlac, run by a young Czech photographer, began with a specifically artistic idea: small exhibitions from local artists could be found out back, so you can imagine how local scenesters and artistic ex-pats were drawn to the joint. While there hasn't been much new art up for a while, free wifi and shockingly cheap but thoughtful fare keeps stylish students coming back to spend hours, chatting, working, and even conducting language exchanges. Although the service can be a bit curt, it's efficient and generally servers can conduct business in English, which can prove quite useful. This caf is perfect for a filling breakfast, a long lunch, or a cheap and trendy dinner. It's even got a fully stocked bar, making it a good place for a drink on a Friday or Saturday evening before hitting the lively Zizkov bar-scene. read more about Caf Pavlac

U Zavesenyho Kafe

U Zavesenyho Kafe

Conveniently located right between Hradčany and Petrin Park, this quirky caf has a less-touristy and less-expensive atmosphere than most restaurants in the area. A modest caf, the menu is small but honest, much like the dcor. The name, which means "the hanging coffee cup," comes from an unusual tradition: the idea is that affluent clients can sponsor a cup of coffee for the next starving artist who comes in. This support for struggling scribblers and sculptors exemplifies the warm spirit of this comforting caf. read more about U Zavesenyho Kafe

Old New Synagogue

Old New Synagogue

The Old-New Synagogue (Staronova synagoga) is one of the Jewish Quarter's must-see sights. Completed in 1270, it was one of Prague's first buildings built in the gothic style. This is the synagogue where Franz Kafka had his bar mitzvah. Furthermore, it is said that the body of Golem (created by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel to protect the Jews) is kept in the attic, which is not open to the public. Because the streets have been raised since the time it was built, the building is low and, in turn, quite dark inside. Even in the darkness, though, one can appreciate the Cathedral-esque interior, which hasn't been altered for more than 700 years. read more about Old New Synagogue

Ghost Museum - Mostecka

Ghost Museum - Mostecka

This interesting museum offers visitors a selection of the most famous ghosts and legends in the historical city of Prague. The house dates back to the early 14th century and the museum claims all contents of the exhibition are based entirely on authentic records and legends, not on fairy tales, films, or the organizer's imagination. read more about Ghost Museum - Mostecka

Riegrovy Sady

Riegrovy Sady

  • Riegrovy Sady
  • tel:420222717247
  • Prague, 130 00

In a city that isn't heavy on grass, this park offers wide-open spaces, a great view of Prague Castle, a kid's playground, and a massive outdoor pub. Named after a 19th-century Czech politician, Reigrovy Sady was established in the early 1900's as an English-style public garden. There isn't anything particularly English about it, but that's part of its charm. Riegrovy Sady is full of locals on any given day, as long as the weather's nice. Stroll through the greenery and enjoy the view before enjoying a fresh Gambrinus beer and maybe some grilled meat in the pub. There's even a huge screen where sports can often be watched. read more about Riegrovy Sady

Petrin Gardens

Petrin Gardens

  • Újezd
  • tel:+420 2 2171 4444
  • Prague, 15000
Robert Guttmann Gallery

Robert Guttmann Gallery

  • U Staré školy 3
  • tel:420221711511
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 110 00

Named after the Prague painter Robert Guttmann, this modern venue is a new addition to the Jewish Museum in Prague. It is dedicated primarily to displaying work created by Czech Jewish artists from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, although these aren't strict boundaries. Much of what is exhibited will come from the Museum's significant art collection, which previously had no permanent venue through which to rotate. The Gallery offers the perfect venue for displays of the Jewish Museum's ongoing research and restoration work to be relayed to the public. Promoting young or lesser-known artists is another goal of the Robert Guttmann Gallery. With four to five exhibitions a year, the gallery is dynamic but gives each artist a bit of time for their great work to get noticed. At only 30 CZK for an adult ticket, this is a valuable stop on your tour of the Jewish Museum; it will, like the other parts of the Museum, tell you stories from Prague's rich history but the Robert Guttmann Gallery will speak through beautiful and thought-provoking art instead of tombstones and sad stories. read more about Robert Guttmann Gallery

Museum of Antonín Dvorák - Memorial of Antonín Dvorák

Museum of Antonín Dvorák - Memorial of Antonín Dvorák

  • Nádražní 12
  • tel:+420 (0)2 1578 5099
  • Visit website
  • Nelahozeves, 277 51
U Sadu

U Sadu

  • Skroupovo namesti 5
  • tel:420222727072
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 130 00

Walking into U Sadu is like walking into a junk shop. Relics from the communist-era litter the place. Fascination with the bizarre decor or the prospect of sitting in the summer patio out front might keep you upstairs, but keep in mind that billiards and access to the summer beer garden await below. At U Sadu, you can enjoy beer after beer without having to hunt down a waitress (even if that also means without a smile from the waitress) and have a hearty Czech meal off their eclectic menu. This completely enjoyable, authentic Czech experience is one you shouldn't pass up, especially if you're visiting the TV Tower just down the street. read more about U Sadu

Petrin Hill Funicular

Petrin Hill Funicular

Spanish Synagogue

Spanish Synagogue

  • Vezenská 1
  • tel:420 221 711 511 (Jewish Museum)
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 110 00
Powder Tower (The) - Prašná brána

Powder Tower (The) - Prašná brána

  • náměstí Republiky
  • tel:+420 7 2406 3723
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 110 00
Mozaika

Mozaika

  • Nitranská 13
  • tel:+420 224 253 011
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 130 00

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Contemporary cooking in an upscale atmosphere makes Mozaika a great choice for a relaxed yet refined meal. You'll have a choice from American (burger); Italian (fusilli with spicy sausage) or French (duck breast) just to name a few of the unique creations on offer. Competent staff and a fashionable interior add to the enjoyment. Reservations recommended.

read more about Mozaika

Petřín Hill Observation Tower

Petřín Hill Observation Tower

The lookout tower (Petřnsk rozhledna) on Petřn Hill looks much like a miniature Eiffel Tower. Built in 1891 as a celebration of the Czech lands, it initially did the trick. However, since that time it has become a topic of debate, with many people harboring serious dislike for what seems like an inferior version of Paris' main attraction. Although the exterior is the source of some resentment, the tower's purpose makes it a major tourist attraction. Set atop Petřn Hill, it takes a mere 299 steps to reach the top, where a breathtaking view awaits. It is said that on a clear day, you can see 150 km in any direction. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and offering the most comprehensive bird's eye view of the city, Petřn Observation Tower has earned its spot as one of Prague's top-ranking tourist sites. read more about Petřn Hill Observation Tower

Beas Vegetarian Dhaba

Beas Vegetarian Dhaba

The word "dhaba" refers to a small local restaurant along a highway in India. They are usually in gas stations and open 24 hours a day. Sometimes they even have places for a quick nap. Beas Vegetarian Dhaba, located about 100m off Old Town Square, doesn't offer naptime but it does offer cheap and tasty Northern Indian cuisine. It has a small set menu but the best value changes daily. You can choose the "Male" (small) or "Velke" (big) menu. Cafeteria-style, your Czech order-taker will take a big stainless steal platter and spoon several of the day's specials into the individual compartments. For about $4 you can have a fresh, flavorful, and very velke lunch. You'll find pitchers of free water on each table but if you want something a bit more authentic to drink with your meal, a lassi (Indian yogurt drink) will only cost you an extra $0.50. read more about Beas Vegetarian Dhaba

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge

This stunning stone bridge in the Gothic style replaced the Judith Bridge, which collapsed in a flood. Called the Stone Bridge for several centuries after its construction in 1357, Charles Bridge (Karlův most) connects Old Town to Lesser Town. Allegedly, egg yolks mixed into the mortar strengthened the bridge's construction. Perhaps it is those egg yolks that helped Charles Bridge to survive many disastrous floods. At each end of the bridge stands a tower, like bookends for the row of 30 Baroque statues that have lined the bridge since 1657. Today, Charles Bridge is a constantly bustling pedestrian bridge, lively with artists, musicians, and vendors. read more about Charles Bridge

Mirror Maze

Mirror Maze

  • Petřínské sady
  • tel:420 257 315 212
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 15000
Old Town Square

Old Town Square

  • Staroměstské náměstí
  • tel:420 221 714 444 (Tourist Information Centre)
  • Prague, 11000

Since the 10th century, Old Town Square (Staroměstsk nměst) has been the central square in Prague. At its conception, it was the city's main market place. Then, in the 20th century, buildings began to rise around its rim, bringing with them stories of ghosts and intrigue. Now, the square stirs with cafes, souvenir shops, and art galleries. A mixture of Romanesque and Gothic buildings surround the Old Town Square, the most notable being the Old Town City Hall (on whose exterior the Astronomical Clock can be found), the Church of Our Lady before Tyn, St. Nicholas Church, and Kinsky Palace. Old Town Square's centerpiece is a monument to reformer, martyr, and Czech hero, Jan Hus. read more about Old Town Square

Strahov Monastery

Strahov Monastery

  • Strahovske nadvori 1/132
  • tel:420 233 107 722
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 118 00

The Strahov Monastery (Strahovsky Klaster) was established by the Premonstratensians, a Catholic religious order of canons founded by St. Norbert. The Romanesque stone monastery was first built in 1140. However, the abbey has met with serious challenges. In 1258, a fire almost completely destroyed the church. Hussites plundered the monastery, followed by a similar event during the Thirty Years' War. Then, in 1742, the French army bombarded the church. In dealing with this devastation, the Strahov Monsatery was reconstructed in the Gothic style then given Baroque qualities in the early 18th century. Finally, in 1989, the monastery was given back to the Premonstratensians. Today, believers still take pilgrimages to this site. On the Strahov Monastery's peaceful and beautiful grounds are an important museum and word-renowned library, rife with rare volumes. read more about Strahov Monastery

Bar Bar

Bar Bar

  • Vsehrdova, 17
  • Újezd
  • tel:+420 257 312 246
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 110 00

Bar Bar's underground locale in Mala Strana is popular with many thanks to its well-priced meals and interesting interior - one that is kept fresh by rotating art exhibits. The drink and menu list are both wide-ranging, making it a perfect stop for lunch, dinner, or simply a drink. read more about Bar Bar

Jan Hus Monument

Jan Hus Monument

  • Staroměstské náměstí
  • tel:+420 2 2171 4444
  • Prague, 11000
Strahov Monastery Picture Gallery

Strahov Monastery Picture Gallery

  • Strahovske nadvori 1/132
  • tel:+420 2 3310 7711
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 11800
U Glaubiců

U Glaubiců

  • Malostranské Naměsté 5
  • tel:420257532027
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 110 00

Once upon a time, a central location, clean water, and cool Romanesque cellars inspired the opening of a classic pub, one that became a fast success. Seven hundred years later, it's still a popular Mal Strana watering hole (in spite of a decade-long closure owing to crumbling foundations). U Glaubiců serves up classic Czech dishes, albeit at a slightly inflated price. The beer, in contrast, is still impressively cheap considering the neighborhood. As a matter of fact, U Glaubiců prides itself on the low low price of a half-liter of Pilsner. This traditional tavern has a long history in this city among politicians, nobility, and the public alike, so it's a good place to visit for a refreshingly inexpensive beer when you're in the very expensive Mal Strana neighborhood. read more about U Glaubiců

Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock (The)

Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock (The)

  • Staromestské námestí
  • tel:+420 2 2448 2751
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 11000
Cloister Restaurant and Brewery (Klasterni Pivovar)

Cloister Restaurant and Brewery (Klasterni Pivovar)

  • Strahovské Nádvoří 301
  • tel:420233353155
  • Visit website
  • Prague, 118 00

With a brewery, restaurant, and patio, just choosing where to sit is something to think about at this monastic pub. Right on the grounds of the exquisite and meditative Strahov Monastery, the restaurant offers decent fare at slightly inflated prices. The microbrewery, where you can order off the extensive food menu, serves some excellent beer. The dark is smooth and rich while the amber is simultaneously deep and crisp. There's also a special, of which only a batch or so is brewed, that, more often than not, is also quite tasty. If you love beer and peaceful beauty, the Strahov Monastery and its brewery should definitely be on your itinerary. read more about Cloister Restaurant and Brewery (Klasterni Pivovar)

Church of Our Lady before Tyn

Church of Our Lady before Tyn

Maly Buddha

Maly Buddha

Near Prague Castle and Strahov Monastary, Maly Buddha (Little Buddha) offers sanctuary from overpriced tourist traps. You walk into a long corridor, where the calming atmosphere already begins taking effect. Low lights, fragrant teas, bamboo, and some gorgeous paint on the walls are overwhelmingly relaxing. Stop here for a pot of tea off of their long list of options or for a healthy, Vietnamese-style meal. The food won't blow in terms of variety but, overall, it's good-for-you food with good flavor for a great price. Taking into account location and ambiance, Maly Buddha offers idyllic refuge from the hustle and bustle of vacation. read more about Maly Buddha

Chapeau Le Club Enfer Rouge

Chapeau Le Club Enfer Rouge

Giallo Rossa

Giallo Rossa

You spend hours seeing everything there is to see in Old Town (which is A LOT), and you're hungry but everything you can find is either a tourist trap or some swanky spot. Enter: Giallo Rossa. This very central restaurant serves up good pizzas, pastas, and drinks in a clean, comfortable (although sometimes slightly cramped) environment for shockingly low prices. Giallo Rossa doesn't just offer food, but connections, too. Free with any meal is 30 minutes of Internet use on one of its four upstairs computers. Although this place is small, tables aren't terribly hard to come by. If you can't get a table, though, Giallo Rossa's got you covered. Immediately next to the restaurant is a take-away counter where you can get a slice of pizza for a dollar. This is also a convenient service when you're on your way to a bar and you haven't had dinner yet… read more about Giallo Rossa

Hany Bany

Hany Bany

Extremely popular among students, this tiny Old Town pub (near the Staromestka Metro station) is generally pretty crowded, day or night. Reserve a table in advance or try to wedge your way in at the bar until you can snatch one up as it empties. During the day, you'll find local students and ex-pats (and, sometimes, their professors) having a quick lunch or enjoying interesting conversation over a cup of coffee or a pint of beer. In the evening, crowds are a bit more raucous, what with the live music and well-priced cocktails. A visit to Hany Bany is definitely worth enduring the cramped quarters. read more about Hany Bany