Old Town Hall
Standing below the Gothic Old Town Hall, along with hundreds of fellow visitors, gawking up at the medieval clock as it goes through its hourly procession (on the hour from 9am to 11pm) is a rite of passage. It is rather brief and admittedly underwhelming, but a must-see.
Prague Castle • www.hrad.cz
Visiting the permanent collections at Prague Castle can cost a king’s ransom in entry fees. What many visitors don’t realize is that it is totally free to enter the castle grounds and wander around to your heart’s content. Don’t miss the changing of the castle guard on the hour from 7am to 8pm (till 6pm in winter).
Spread across seven sites in Prague, the Jewish Museum is world class, with impressive exhibits and admission fees priced to match. If paying the full fee is beyond your budget, you can catch a small but worthwhile glimpse of the multitude of sombre tombstones in the Old Jewish Cemetery for free through a small window set in the western wall of the cemetery on Ulice 17. listopadu.
Velkopřevorské náměstí, Malá Strana
This towering stretch of wall is covered with graffiti dedicated to Beatles frontman John Lennon. It is a relaxing – even spiritual – spot (see John Lennon Wall). Occasionally, buskers belt out their own renditions of “Yesterday” or “Imagine”. Peaceful Kampa Island, a minute’s walk to the east of the wall, is filled with hidden delights and well worth a wander.
Vyšehrad • www.praha-vysehrad.cz
The cemetery at Vyšehrad fortress is the country’s most prominent burial ground and is free to enter. Fans of classical music will enjoy looking for the graves of Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana, among others. Many of the tombstones are works of art in their own right.
Feeding the swans on the Vltava is a great activity for kids – although you’ll have to shell out for for seed mix (not bread as it makes the swans ill). The classic spot is on the Malá Strana side, south of the Malostranská metro station.
Old Town • www.extravaganzafreetour.com
This is a great way to explore Prague with a guide. Free Prague Tours is run by licensed English-speaking guides who are also history buffs and people-orientated. Even with a generous tip at the end, you’ll still save money. Tours normally begin at the Powder Gate at 11am and 3:30pm.
Climb the steps at the northern end of Čechův most (“bridge” in Czech), north of Old Town Square for picture-postcard views of the Old Town and the bridges traversing the river below. Keep an eye out for the metronome (see Letná Park) on the hill.
Malá Strana • Open Apr–Oct: 7:30am–6pm Mon–Fri (from 10am weekends; Jun–Sep: to 7pm) • www.senat.cz
The embankment on the riverfront south of the National Theatre is home to nightly free summer concerts, and a fun, popular farmers’ market on Saturday mornings from April to October.
1. Opera and classical music in Prague is subsidized and tickets seldom cost more than a few hundred crowns.
2. Even if you’re not a fan of multibunk hostels, consider renting a private single or double hostel room. Many hostels offer these at a fraction of the price they would cost in a hotel.
3. Time your stay to avoid the peak seasons around the Christmas, New Year and Easter holidays, when hotel rates go through the roof.
4. Consider renting an apartment rather than a hotel if you’re staying for three days or longer. You’ll not only save money but will have more privacy.
5. Buy a discounted 1-day or 3-day pass for Prague’s public transport. These are valid for the metro, trams, buses, trains and boats, as well as transfers between them throughout the city. You’ll save money and be spared the inconvenience of buying individual tickets for each journey.
6. When arriving by plane, take the municipal bus into town from the airport. A single 32Kč ticket can often get you very close to your hotel.
7. Resist the temptation to hop into a taxi. Most distances in the city are easily walkable, and public transport is reliable and cheap.
8. Eat out at lunchtime instead of dinner to take advantage of the popular three-course set menus.
9. Skip wine at meals in favour of beer. Czech wines can vary greatly in quality; the local beer is generally cheaper and excellent quality.
10. Seek out pubs in outlying districts like the working-class Žižkov, where a half-litre (pint) mug of beer can cost half the price it does in the centre.