Once hidden behind the Iron Curtain, Prague has emerged as a fascinating tourist destination with countless historic and artistic gems. While this travel guide to Prague can only do justice to a few of these wonders, do not be afraid to explore once there.
Every Prague travel guide has its own hot spots and favorite outings. For the sake of a first time visit to the city — and a possibly tight budget — leave the high-brow entertainment for later. Instead, focus on the sights that are most definitive of the city.
First among them is the Vysehrad National Cultural Monument. Since it contains numerous sightseeing opportunities, be prepared to pay more than once. Permanent exhibits include a Gothic cellar, the subterranean Gorlice hall, a gorgeous cemetery and amazing casemates. Take your time here; it will take most of the day to do the area justice.
Another cultural institution is the Strahov Monastery. A fully functional monastery, it nevertheless welcomes visitors to the Basilica of Our Lady, the Theological Hall and also the Cabinet of Curiosities. Reserve the evening for a stroll through the Old Town Square and a stop before the astronomical clock; sunset is a beautiful time for this endeavor. By the way, this area is also home to numerous fantastic eateries.
Where to eat
No Prague travel guide would be complete without mentioning a few great spots to chow down. Granted, the familiar golden arches of McDonald’s can be found even in Prague, but you wouldn’t want to go this route, would you?
The Cafe Savoy can be a bit more expensive than other restaurants — if you choose from the gourmet menu. Of course, it is here that you may enjoy duck liver, caviar, escargot, veal and truffles. If you opt for the main menu, you won’t suffer sticker shock. On the other hand, Cestr — owned by the same parent company — is big on grilled and roasted meats. Order from the spit, and you won’t be disappointed.
Enjoying the City as a First-timer
It is tempting to go by the guide book and visit each and every noteworthy attraction. Seeing that Prague has been around for more than 1,100 years, there are worthwhile museums and architectural as well as archeological marvels everywhere.
As a seasoned European traveler will tell you, it is advisable to pinpoint a couple of must-see locations and then spend the remainder of the time soaking in the contrast between modern life and tangible history. It is this very contrast that makes Prague so fascinating.
Vysehrad National Cultural Monument
V Pevnosti 159/5b; CZ 128 00 Prague 2
Open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from November to March (until 6 p.m. for the rest of the year)
Costs vary from 20 CZK to 100 CZK
Strahovske nadvori 1/132, 118 00 Prague 1
Open Tuesday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Costs vary from 20 CZK for convent access to 60 CZK for the gallery
Vitezna 5, 150 00 Prague 5
Open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; weekends the restaurant opens at 9 a.m.
Legerova 75/57, 110 00 Prague 1
Open weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.