Posted October 6, 2015
By EMILY EIDELMAN
PRAGUE — You’ve been in Prague for a few days now. Surely you’ve seen Old Town Square and the Prague Castle. You may have taken a walking tour through the city, or perhaps a river cruise on the Danube. You have hopefully tried the delicious (and quite pricey) Prague ham. So what’s next? There is so much more to Prague than tourism has to offer. Spend your last day in the city as the local Czech people do. Immerse yourself in the culture and traditions, and appreciate the history and beauty of Praha.
Your full day as a local will be busy. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep because you’ll be waking up early for your first activity. You’ll need to set aside around 1,000 Czech crowns (about $40). Prague is relatively inexpensive, especially when you are not visiting the tourist traps. Wear comfortable shoes for walking. Wear sunscreen and drink a lot of water, as it can get very hot on a summer day. Pack the essentials and hold on to your bag. You’ll be getting around by Metro, and pickpockets are common. Now, you are ready to go!
You have probably already walked across the Charles Bridge. During the day, it is nearly impossible to walk across due to all the people.
“At my math class in university, we did a study about foot traffic over the Charles Bridge,” said Libor Jordan, a student at Charles University who grew up in Prague. “We found that 10,000 people, mostly tourists of course, are crossing the Charles Bridge at one time during the summer months. It’s much better to go early in the morning or late at night.”
Take the advice from a local who’s been in Prague for his entire his life. Go to the bridge early and watch the sunrise above the Prague Castle. It is absolutely stunning. The bridge will be almost empty, besides any visitors who had the same idea as you.
After the sun rises, walk off the bridge towards Old Town Square. As you make your way towards the street, stop and look left. You will see a black fence, with the numbers 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1. Most people will walk by it, as it’s not even on the bridge. Take a second to appreciate it, and don’t forget to get a photo.
“No one really knows what those numbers mean, sometimes even Czech people,” said, Gail Vassogne, a historian in Prague. “Charles IV, who the bridge was named after, purposely chose to start construction in 1357, on the ninth day of the seventh month (July) at 5:31 a.m. He must have been pretty superstitious.”
Hop on the Metro and head to Petřín, the small mountains on the outskirts of the city. This is why you needed your walking shoes – it’s not a strenuous hike, but definitely more than a relaxing walk.
“Using the city has been my favorite way to exercise,” explained Mary Kate Mixan, an American student at Anglo-American University. “Hiking up the mountains give you the best view of the city, plus it’s free!”
Your hike isn’t over at the top of the mountains, for you can continue by climbing up the Petřín Tower. This tower is also known as Little Eiffel, because it resembles the Eiffel Tower. It’s 299 steps to reach the top, and for only 30 crowns (just over $1), it’s an unmatched view of Prague.
By this point, you’ve earned a reward. Head over to Lokal for a traditional Czech lunch. Everyone’s drinking a beer. That’s pretty standard for Czech people. At most restaurants, beer is cheaper than bottled water. Order a pint of Staropramen or Pilsner Urquell, the two major beers brewed in Prague, and peruse the menu.
“Lokal is a favorite restaurant of mine and my friends,” Jordan said. “The fried cheese is a classic Czech dish that they do right. The tartar sauce is homemade. It’s just delicious.”
After a busy morning and a filling lunch, it’s time to relax. Czech people love to enjoy the warm months outside. Hop back on the tram and head towards Divoká Šárka Park and swimming pools. The winding roads are so narrow, you won’t find a single car. The trees tower 40 feet above your head, giving you shade from the afternoon sun. Walk 20 minutes into the park, and you will find the swimming pool.
“The pools offer me the relaxation I need after a long week of work,” Lenka Vystrčilova, who visits the park often, said. “It’s so beautiful here, how could you not love a place like this?”
Admission to the pool is required, but it is less than 50 crowns ($2) per person. You will have access to two pools with a slide, a swing set, trampoline, sand volleyball courts and ping-pong tables. It is the perfect place to spend the afternoon with friends or family.
Along with almost everything else in Prague, alcohol is very cheap. Stop in one of the corner stores and buy a bottle of wine or a six-pack. Prague does not have any open container laws, so enjoy as you walk around the city. Head down to the river. Sit and drink with the locals. Enjoy the band, even if you don’t understand the lyrics. Czech people love to hang out with friends and unwind, making the river a popular spot every day of the week.
Czech people do not eat as late as some other European citizens do. If you go to a restaurant around this time, you will find it to be very busy. For more Czech food, visit UKroka. Located in Prague II, UKroka is a bit of a walk towards the outskirts of the city, but well worth it for all the food that you will eat. When you eat here, locals will surround you. There is a high possibility that your waiter or waitress does not speak English. If that’s the case, let them order for you. Your trust won’t be misplaced.
“UKroka is the best Czech food I’ve had since living in Prague,” said Zoe Georgouses, an ex-pat who moved to Prague two years ago. “They know I’m not from the Czech Republic, but they are always so hospitable and provide me with some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had.”
For a group of four, UKroka is a great option. You will all be able to eat and drink for less than 800 crowns ($32). Between the beer and the food, you will be stuffed. Walk it off, all while taking in the beautiful views that Prague offers.
Prague is a magical city. The beauty and the history combine perfectly with the loving people, who only want to show you the best time possible while you visit. Take advantage of the people. Ask them questions. Immerse yourself fully into their culture. You won’t regret it.
If You Go
Where to stay:
- AirBNB Prague: https://www.airbnb.com/s/Prague–Czech-Republic.
- AirBNB offers very cheap housing options for travelers. You can rent a shared room, a private room, or a full apartment. This is the perfect way to save money while getting the authentic, European-style apartment experience.
- Lokal – address: Dlouhá 33, 110 00 Praha, phone number: +420 222 316 265.
- UKroka – address: Vratislavova 28/12, 128 00 Praha 2, phone number: +420 775 905 022
The Metro: buy a one-day Metro pass! It’s only 30 crowns (just over one USD), so it’s definitely worth it. If you don’t have a pass, you could be subject to paying 750 crowns on the spot ($30). Keep your eyes peeled for the Metro security. They usually do not speak English and will target foreigners. Show them your stamped pass, and you’ll be good to go.
Keep it quiet: Czech people appreciate peace and quiet after a long day of work. Try to refrain from speaking too loudly on the metro and in a hotel room. If you don’t you’ll get a lot of dirty looks, or worse, they could call the police.
Drink responsibly: Drinking beer in Prague is treated similarly to drinking soda in the US. Enjoy it in casual situations. At night, drink in bars or nightclubs. Czech people don’t have “pregames” like Americans do in order to prevent drinking from getting out of hand.