Admit it: you’re a tourist. You want to see the iconic sites, yet another part of you wants a taste of what it’s like to be a local. But don’t worry, you don’t have to choose between the the tacky tourist and the refined resident—you can do both. Satisfy your inner-visitor by snapping photos of famous landmarks while you indulge your native spirit by eating traditional Czech cuisine. Sound like a plan? Let’s go.
Start your morning with a classic Czech treat, called a kolach. You’ll find the delicate pastry in most local bakeries and sweet snack shops. Get it in a to-go bag and make your way to the metro.
The Metro: With only three lines, the metro in Prague is easy to follow. The metro is about 40 years old, which translates to a clean, modern and user-friendly environment, according to myCzechRepublic. Trains arrive every 1-3 minutes during peak hours and every 4-10 minutes during the late evening hours. Stations open at 4:45 a.m. and close at midnight. For 310 CZK, about $15, you can buy a 72-hour pass that gives you access to the metro, tram and bus systems. You can also purchase 30-minute, 90-minute and 24-hour passes. Be sure to validate it before entering the station.
Kolach: According to the Kolach Factory, this traditional Eastern European pastry dates back to the 1700s. The name originates from the Czech word “kola,” meaning wheel, for its round shape. The warm, sweet pillow of dough traditionally encompasses a fruit filled center, though variations of the Czech classic include meat, cheese or Nutella filling.
Fun fact: Prague, Oklahoma, hosts a Kolach Festival every May, celebrating the Czech culture that has influenced the city since its foundation in 1902.
Where to find it: Erhartova Cafe
Address: Vinohradská 125, Prague 3
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
The subway stop at Staromestska is the one that will bring you closest to Prague’s tourist-centric Old Town Square. While in this historic plaza, enjoy a customary Czech snack called trdelnik and climb up the iconic Old Town Hall Tower.
The Tower and the Astronomical Clock: Built in the 14th century, the 69.5-meter tower gives a bird’s eye perspective of Prague’s unique towers, turrets and domes. Red roofs span for miles, creating a view that Prague City Tourism calls the most beautiful view of the entire city.
Descend the tower to visit the Astronomical Clock, one of Prague’s most famous icons and an intrinsic feature of Old Town Hall, according to Prague City Tourism. Forged in 1410, the clock chimes at every hour signaling the crowds to gather and witness the animated display of the carved characters, planets and the calendar date.
Fun Fact: At the top of each hour, 12 apostles and figurines pop out of the window above the astronomical dial to announce the time. Huddle around the clock for a fun show.
Trdelnik: This chimney-shaped pastry gets its name from the Slovak word “trdlo,” meaning “a churn staff” since the cake is made from rolled dough roasted around a stick. After it turns a crispy golden-brown, the treat is lightly dusted with cinnamon sugar and bits of walnut.
Where to find it: These classic Czech treats are almost impossible to miss — stands are located on almost every corner throughout Old Town Square.
Once you’ve roamed around Old Town Square, give your aching feet a break and enjoy a scenic boat tour along the Vltava River.
Experience Prague’s panoramic views and historic landmarks in “one of the most wonderful ways to see the city,” says Prague Boats. The 50-minute or two-hour cruise, which is offered every hour in more than seven languages, includes views of the Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and the National Theatre.
Where to find it: Cechub Bridge, Pier No. 5
Price: 50-minute cruise: CZK 290, or $14, 120-minute tour: CZK 450, or $22
For lunch, a walk across the Charles Bridge takes you to the bohemian area where you will find a variety of options. Shorty’s, a small restaurant where you can buy a classic Czech sausage, is one choice. Just around the corner you’ll find the John Lennon Wall.
The John Lennon Wall: What once was an ordinary white wall is now a colorful creation that pays homage to the famous 60’s rock group, The Beatles. Located in Mala Strana, the wall is covered with Beatles lyrics, odes to Beatle’s vocalist John Lennon and beautiful illustrations. According to Prague.net, Lennon was a hero to the Eastern European youth stifled by totalitarianism and communism. His songs spoke of liberties that ceased to exist here. After Lennon’s death, Prague residents painted his picture on the wall, along with messages of freedom and peace. New paintings are added daily, displaying messages of peace, love and, of course, Beatles lyrics.
Fun Fact: “The original portrait of Lennon is long lost under the layers of new paints, but if you look hard enough you can still find tributes to Lennon and a yellow submarine!” — Prague.net
Where to find it: Velkoprevorske Namesti, Mala Strana
Czech Sausages: If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat in the midst of your sightseeing, buy a traditional pork sausage. Filling, satisfying and easy to eat on the go, Czech sausages are highly rated by travelers on Tripadvisor.
Where to find it: Shorty’s
Address: Malostranske namesti 272/1 | Mala Strana, Hlavni Mesto
The Prague Castle: As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Prague Castle is the most-visited place in the city, according to Prague.net. Covering more than 753,000 square feet, the castle grounds are so vast that the Guinness Book of World Records named it the largest castle complex in the world. Built 1,100 years ago, the complex has survived wars, fires and invasions and featured numerous rulers and architectural styles. Home to more than four churches, four palaces, three grand halls, and eight gardens, the castle grounds require time to explore. The Gothic-style St. Vitus Cathedral and Romanesque Basilica of St. George are among the complex’s most famous works.
Fun Fact: Every hour on the hour from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., watch the ceremonious changing of the guards.
Come back to the Charles Bridge and eat dinner at the Mylnec Restaurant overlooking the river for a scenic way to enjoy a traditional Czech favorite: goulash.
The Charles Bridge: Built between the 14th and 15th century, the Charles Bridge is the oldest bridge in Prague, according to Prague.cz. The Gothic masterpiece allows pedestrians to leisurely stroll down its cobblestone pathway and gaze into the surrounding Prague cityscape. Adorned with 30 statues around its edges, the bridge’s 16 arches rise 1,700 feet above the Vltava River. Visit around sunset to enjoy a view of the Prague Castle silhouetted against the changing colors of the night sky.
Fun Fact: In 1965, the site became a pedestrian-only bridge due to the threat carriages, buses and cars posed to its preservation.
Goulash: The dish originates from Hungary but is also “quintessentially Czech,” according to National Geographic. The meal is a soup or stew filled with savory pieces of tender, seasoned meat and vegetables. In the Czech Republic, no goulash is complete without bread dumplings to soak in the sauce and spices.
Where to find it: Mylnec Restaurant
Address: Novotneho Lavka 9, Old Town
Hours: Daily 12:00-15:00 & 17:30-23:00
Begin your day at Mama Coffee and order a traditional cake called babovka. Take your breakfast around the corner to the Prague TV Tower.
The TV Tower: The 700-foot tower provides Prague with TV and radio as well as a beautiful 360-degree view of the city, according to myCzechRepublic.
Fun Fact: In 2000, the artist David Černý added sculptures of babies to the tower’s edges, making it seem as though babies are crawling up and down its façade.
Where to find it: Mahlerovy sady off Ondříčkova street, outside of Vinohrady in the neighboring district of Žižkov
Hours: Daily 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Babovka: More commonly known as a pound cake, this light and fluffy pastry is a common delicacy in the Czech Republic. Baked fresh every Sunday by mothers and grandmothers, the pastry contains ingredients that change based on the season, says a Mama Coffee clerk.
Where to find it: Mama Coffee
Address: Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad 12, Praha 3
Hours: Mon-Fri: 8:00 am – 7:00 pm. Sat-Sun: 9:00 am -7:00 pm.
The Czech Republic has the highest consumption of beer worldwide, according to Czech Beer Tours. If you want to be part of the beer culture the Letna Beer Garden offers an afternoon outdoors that features Czech classic beers and cheese.
Letna Beer Garden: Atop a hill, this green haven hosts rows of canopied trees that stand over long, wooden picnic tables. Guests can overlook Prague’s famous red-roofed cityscape without even having to leave their seats. With a beer in hand, this site is great for relaxing and enjoying Czech tradition, beauty and nature.
Beer and Nakládaný hermelín: Nakládaný hermelín is a Czech cheese soaked in oil and spices that give it a traditional flavor and soft, gooey texture, according to Prague.net. Paired with beer and bread, this cheese is a Prague classic that compliments the country’s most famous drink.
Where to find it: Letna Beer Garden
Address: Letenské sady (Letná Park)