The Czech Republic capital Prague is one of the cheapest cities to visit in Europe. With many attractions free of charge and public transport costing no more than a few Euros per day, the city is a budget traveler’s paradise. Discover the best places to sleep, eat and visit with our insider’s guide to the best the city has to offer.
Where to stay
Mosaic House is both a hotel and a hostel, and although popular with young people, it’s well-suited for older travelers and couples too—plus, it also offers a music bar and lounge, a terrace garden and plenty of quirky sculptures. For something slightly away from the center, Plus Hostels Prague offers private rooms and top amenities that include an indoor saltwater pool, private gym and a bar/restaurant. If location is important, try the chic Miss Sophie’s Hotel, housed in an Art Nouveau building in Prague 2.
Where to eat
For cheaper prices, skip the restaurants and cafés around Charles Bridge and instead look for smaller places to eat, especially those offering traditional Czech cuisines. The cheapest place for a quick bite is the typical Czech hospoda, a type of tavern that serves beer and a number of typical dishes. Although you’ll rarely see the word on signs or windows, you can identify hospodas by the menu posted, which usually includes more drinks than food. For affordable sweets, snacks and baked goods, look for the word cukrárna (which loosely translates as “cake shop”) on windows or signs. Many will also sell open-face sandwiches and other quick savoury snacks. If you’re in a rush, there are sausage stands (which also sell fried cheese and burgers) all around Wenceslas Square.
Where to drink
Drinking is almost always cheap in Prague, a city where a bottled beer will cost you less than a bottle of water at any bar or pub. To avoid high prices, skip cocktail bars, specialty pubs and anything around Old Town Square, where you’ll be charged tourist prices that are at least double what you would pay anywhere else. Beer gardens are a favorite spot for cheap cold drinks in summer, or you can try almost any bar in the Žižkov neighborhood, full of pubs competing for your attention.
Museums to visit
Prague has plenty of free or almost-free museums and galleries for visitors to enjoy. The Museum of the City of Prague normally charges admission, but on the first Thursday of every month, you can get in for 1 Kč (the equivalent of €0.04). The first Monday of every month you can visit the National Museum‘s main building for free, while the National Museum of Agriculture is free the first Wednesday of the month. Both the Military Museum and access to exhibitions at the Hall of Architects inside the Old Town Hall are always free of charge. You can also tour the grounds of Prague Castle for free, although there’s an entrance fee for some of the buildings.
What to do
There’s plenty to do in Prague without spending a cent. You can walk the castle grounds for free, cross Charles Bridge for great photo opportunities, and then explore the Astronomical clock or watch the Changing of the Guard at Prague Castle. In warmer months, Náplavka (the riverbank) is always alive with festivals, free concerts, and chances to sit and watch the swans go by. For something different, visit the Baroque Wallenstein Garden, or hike up to Letná park for some of the best free views over Old Town and Prague’s many bridges.
Where to day trip
Local trains leaving Prague’s central station are very affordable. A 40-minute trip will get you to Karlštejn Castle, with return tickets costing the equivalent of less than €5. Entrance to the castle grounds is free, but if you want to see the inside of the castle you’ll have to join a guided tour (the equivalent of about €9). A trip to Kutna Hora and its famous Sedlec Ossuary will take about two hours one-way, while you get to Dresden, Germany and its many outlets in about the same time. Both trips will cost the equivalent of less than €20 for a round trip. You can also take a train to the historical town of Tábor (90 minutes away) for the equivalent of about €10 and spend the day exploring.
What neighborhoods to check out
Žižkov‘s nightlife has boomed over the past few years, and the neighborhood has more cafés and pubs that any other area in Prague. For shopping, you can’t beat the Smichov area, which offers a mix of shopping centers and small boutiques, as well as many movie theaters and affordable places to eat. Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter) and Staré Město (Old Town) are on the pricey side when it comes to eating and shopping, but this is where most historical sights are—many of which are free to explore—so you shouldn’t miss them.
How to get around
Prague is best discovered on foot, especially the historical center, so change into some comfortable shoes, grab a map and get lost in Prague’s cobblestone alleyways. For longer treks or to reach far-away attractions, there’s always Prague’s public transport system, which runs 24 hours a day and is cheap and clean. You can buy one-day, three-day or 30-day passes, which are usually the best option if you plan on staying at least a week: you’ll pay 310 Kč (equivalent to about €12) for a three-day pass, but only 550 Kč (equivalent to about €21) for a month-long pass.