Budget and Europe may not be 2 words you would normally put together. But that’s because you have never been to Prague (the city where beer is actually cheaper than water). I’ve been to other places in Europe and was shocked to find out just how affordable Prague is.
It’s an amazing place to head if you’re looking for a vacation full of history and culture, where you can actually ball on a budget. Here is my ultimate Prague travel guide that includes 6 tips to Prague on a budget.
Ultimate Prague Travel Guide to Prague on a Budget:
1. Travel in the Offseason:
The most popular season to go to Prague is summer, when the weather is beautiful and you can be outside all day. This is also when the city is the most expensive and crowded, and not the way to experience Prague on a budget. I actually went to Prague in March. Not many people would visit in the winter and brave the cold, but we did (because we found flights for an amazing price with Skyscanner) and it’s totally worth it guys!
This is the same if you want to save on any vacation. Always travel in the offseason. The weather might not be ideal but there are so many advantages. The biggest plus to traveling to Prague in the winter is that EVERYTHING is cheaper. The hotels, the tourist attractions, the flights, everything!
Another perk: the streets aren’t filled to the brim with tourists. In fact, a lot of the places we went, we were the only ones there! Less people = less lines = more time to explore. And, amazing pictures without the millions of random people standing behind you.
Also, Prague in the winter is a gothic wonderland. It looks like a fairytale constructed by Walt Disney himself but the creepy, leafless trees and gothic-era towers popping over the skyline give it that dark beauty.
2. Stay in Airbnb’s or Hostels:
If you’re traveling with friends or by yourself in Europe and you’re on a budget, the BEST place to stay is a hostel. Most hostels are fun, safe, inexpensive, located in popular areas, and full of other young travelers. They also usually have a restaurant or a bar right there in the hostel. But, now that I travel with my fiancé, we want a little more privacy. And, it’s actually kind of hard to find hostels with private rooms. And when you do find one, it’s the same price as just staying in a regular hotel.
But, now that I travel with my fiancé, we want a little more privacy. And, it’s actually kind of hard to find hostels with private rooms. And when you do find one, it’s the same price as just staying in a regular hotel.
So, we decided to look into private apartments on Airbnb for this trip. While researching I found that Airbnb actually had the cheapest options and the best locations. We got a little apartment in a great neighborhood right outside the city for only $14 USD/night!
TRAVEL TIP: Stay outside of the city! The most expensive hotels, Airbnbs, and hostels will be in the city center. Find something a little further away that’s close to public transportation, and you’ll be able to save TONS of money. That’s what we did for this trip. ☺️
It was only a 5-minute walk to the Metro and only 10 minutes (by train) away from the center of Prague. There was also a close gas station to purchase cheap water, beer, and snacks. It was kind of old and didn’t have the best amenities (and a bath with a shower head which was strange lol) but it was perfect to just sleep at the end of a long day of exploring. And the host is SO nice and helped us with any questions we had.
Here’s a whole list of private apartments and homes in Prague for $40 and under a night.
3. Eat/Drink Where the Locals Do:
In EVERY city it’s always best to avoid the restaurants in areas where the tourists flock. They tend to not only be more expensive but also, less authentic. You didn’t travel all this way to have a burger! Do some research and find the authentic places where the locals love to hang out.
While in Old Town Square we went to a few bars and the beers were outrageously expensive. I also got a little bowl of Halusky (sour potato dish) from a food street vendor for over $13. That’s a RIDICULOUS price for Prague and it totally wasn’t worth it either.
So we did some research and found this amazing little video. We visited the first restaurant on the list, Svetozor Restaurant, and ended up having lunch there every single day. It was THAT good. It was amazingly authentic, they gave you a ton of food, and they did not have “tourist prices.” We got a huge lunch plus a beer (when in Prague you must drink beer at ALL times) for about $4.50 each. What?!
If you’re wanting to head to a famous tourist spot, then Uflecku is an obvious choice. The pub was founded in 1499 and is known as the oldest brewery in Prague. We were able to sit in one of the rooms that had long tables and benches that you share with other customers. There was an accordion player and waiters passing around beers and 2 different types of shots. The pub has only one kind of beer, its own popular dark lager which is actually brewed right there on site and not available anywhere else.
It’s pretty inexpensive with beers costing about $3 and food from $7-$10 for traditional Czech food. Not the cheapest option you can find in Prague, but it’s one of the cheaper tourist attractions. What we decided to do is just drink there and we went to a more inexpensive place for dinner. We drank a few beers (and downed a few shots) and enjoyed the fun atmosphere. It was SO worth it.
Other amazing foods and beers we tried that you MUST gobble down in Prague include Trdlo (kind of like a donut), Fried Cheese, Garlic Soup (I had a creamy version that was to die for – just don’t kiss anyone right after 😉), Krusovice beer (obsessed!) and of course the famous Pilsner beer.
4. Avoid Taxis:
If you want to do Prague on a budget, be smart about your transportation. Taxis in Prague (and taxis in general) are known for scamming tourists. So, the best 3 transportation methods to use in Prague are Uber, the Metro, and good old-fashioned, walking. We either always took the Metro or walked wherever we wanted to go. We used Uber twice, to and from the airport.
Metro Tips: There are no barriers to get down into the Metro system like in New York City. So we were extremely confused about it for a while. We eventually creepily watched enough people and figured it out. I wanted to include this in my ultimate Prague guide so you guys don’t end up creeping out the locals like we did.
You have to use the machines that are right before you get down to where the trains are. The machines only take cash! So make sure you have cash on you, specifically coins. Choose a time frame you need it for (we always did the smallest amount of time – 24 CZK (about $1) for a 30-minute ride or the single transfer ticket – since we were on the trains at most for 10-15 minutes at a time. There are also 24-hour tourist tickets (110 CZK = about $5) and 3 days (310 CZK = about $14) as well.
It’ll print you a ticket. Validate this ticket with the machines right before the escalators (it prints the date/time). Then hold onto this ticket. Fare inspectors do occasional inspections to see if you have a ticket on you and that is how they check to see if you paid. We weren’t checked at all during the 7 days we were there but if you get caught without a ticket you will get a fine.
You may be worried about trying to navigate on the Metro in a country where you don’t know the language. Don’t worry about it at all guys! It was extremely easy to get around on the Prague Metro since there are only 3 lines.
Here are the main tourist stops to know:
- Můstek: Wenceslas Square (middle and lower part)
- Muzeum: Wenceslas Square (upper part)
- Staroměstská: Old Town Square, Charle’s Bridge
- Malostranská: Prague Castle (to the steep, beautiful walk), Lesser town, Kampa Island
- Pražský hrad: Prague Castle (direct to entrance)
- Malostranské náměstí: Lesser town, Charles Bridge
- Hlavní nádraží: Main Train Station
TRAVEL TIP: Be aware that the Metro stops running at midnight. We were actually stuck in the city center one night because we didn’t know this (New York City subways run all night so we didn’t even think about them closing down) so we had to take a taxi. Luckily we weren’t scammed and paid a reasonable amount but still MUCH more than we would have if we had caught the train before midnight.
Other than that, we walked everywhere! Walking is the best way to see the city and explore little interesting corners you wouldn’t normally see. It also doesn’t take a long time to walk everywhere because a lot of stuff you want to see is close together.
5. Take Advantage of All the Free, Historical Things to See:
There are SO many free things to do and see in Prague, you probably won’t need to spend any money for hours (until your next beer, that is). There are even free walking tours. Take advantage of them if you’re wanting to do Prague on a budget! Here are a few things on my ultimate Prague travel guide that you can actually see for free:
Wenceslas Square is the heart of the New Town of Prague which was built 600 years ago. It’s a super busy street full of hotels, restaurants, department stores, boutiques, theatres, food stands, and museums. There’s a big bronze statue of St. Wenceslas who was a popular Czech King that ruled over Prague in the 10th century. On the far end of the square is the famous National Museum. It’s the perfect place to go shopping, eat, and people watch.
The Jindřišská Tower:
This tower can be seen from a mile away and is unique because a new tower was actually built inside the shell of the old one. If you step inside, you will find yourself in a tower within a tower. We enjoyed just gazing at the beauty but for a fee, you can go to the top where you will be able to see the inside of the old shell in some places along the staircase. Inside it also has a café, museum, and a restaurant.
Old Town Square:
One of our favorite spots in Prague and the heart of Prague’s historical center is the Old Town Square. The history of the square dates back to the 10th century when it was home to one of the most popular markets in Prague.
It has now been beautifully restored and has tons of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and street entertainment. It’s also the meeting place for a lot of the city tours. We actually always started our day here because it felt like the center of it all. Other important places within this square are the Týn Church, the huge statue celebrating Jan Hus (one of the most important Czech reformers who was burned at the stake for his beliefs), and the famous Astronomical Clock in the Old Town City Hall.
The astronomical clock was constructed in 1410 by the clockmaker Mikulas of Kadan in collaboration with Jan Sindel. It’s the third oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating. The astrolabe mechanisms they built over 600 years ago are still functional today.
There are three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the sun and moon in the sky, “The Walk of the Apostles,” and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. Everything BUT the actual time!
Over the years it has broken and been repaired many times. The most serious injury being during the Second World War in 1945. On the last day of the war, the center of Old Prague was attacked by the Nazis and the entire Old Town Hall burnt down. However, everything was restored and reconstructed after the war.
Watch at the top of every hour as the apostles and other figures move around the clock and bless the city. It’s not too exciting but definitely something you have to see once because of all the history. You can also go to the top of City Hall and get an amazing view of the city for a small fee.
The Jewish Quarter (Josefov) is not too far from Old Town Square. The name Josefov comes from the emperor Josef II, whose reforms improved the living conditions for the Jewish people in Prague. It has a bunch of synagogues and museums, the most famous being the Jewish Museum which has one of the most extensive collections of Jewish art, textiles, and silver in the world.
The famous House At the Three Musketeers is here too. It also contains the remains of Prague’s former Jewish ghetto. There are plaques on the floor honoring former homes of Jewish people who were murdered during the Holocaust scattered throughout.
One of the most famous tourist attractions and a symbol of Prague is the Charles Bridge. It is a Gothic bridge from medieval times made of stone that connects the Old Town to the Lesser Town (Malá Strana) Its construction began in 1357 during the reign of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor and has more than a few odd stories.
Legend has it Charles IV had everything thought up, even to the smallest detail. The date of its foundation is 5:31 am, 7/9/1357. All are odd numbers and all, except 9, are prime numbers. Another legend is that they added actual egg yolks into the mortar to strengthen the construction of the bridge.
It must have worked because the Charles Bridge has experienced tons of floods from the Vtlava River below and it still stands strong. Thirty Baroque statues were placed along either side of Charles Bridge in the 17th century. Now, many of them have been removed and replaced with copies. The originals can be seen in the Lapidarium.
The most popular statue is the one of St. John of Nepomuk, 8th on the right-hand side if you’re heading towards Prague castle. He was a priest who was executed during the reign of Wenceslas IV by being thrown off the bridge. There are a lot of theories as to why he was murdered but the most popular is that King Wenceslas IV suspected his wife of having an affair with John.
Touching the falling priest on the plaque is supposed to bring you good luck and guarantee your return to Prague. It’s been polished to a golden shine from how many people have actually touched this thing. A little before the actual statue is a small gold cross in the bridge marking the spot where the saint’s body was thrown into the river. Touch the cross and make a wish! It’s supposed to come true within a year and one day.
Besides all the long history and interesting stories, the bridge is gorgeous and romantic, and the views are incredible. Walk down it at night for a truly spectacular experience.
Right off the Charles Bridge is another cute little area you can spend some time walking around. Walk through the gorgeous park full of people walking their dogs and enjoy the view of the bridge across the river.
Prague Castle is another popular tourist attraction dating back to the 9th century and is known as the largest ancient castle in the world according to Guinness at 750,000 square feet. The first building in the castle area was the Church of the Virgin Mary, built in 870 AD. Only remnants can still be seen today. The Prague Castle experienced its greatest period during the reign of Charles IV (1346-1378) when it became the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor.
During the reconstruction of the castle in 1920, a huge archaeological site was discovered which showed that the original size of the castle is actually the same as the area that the castle covers today. The castle has faced many fires, invasions, and World Wars but has always survived. As time passed it became a symbol and legend of Prague.
It’s actually free to walk around the exterior areas. It’s open from 6am-11pm during the winter and 5am-midnight during the summer. There are tours you can purchase to enter other areas of the castle. We decided to just walk around the exterior and in the gardens right outside the castle for free and fell in love with the history and the views of Prague since it sits so high up.
St. Vitus Cathedral:
For more than 600 years, one of the most iconic landmarks in the Prague skyline is definitely the towers of St. Vitus Cathedral (which is inside Prague Castle). It is the biggest and the most important church in the Czech Republic and one of the best examples of Gothic architecture (and creepy gargoyles).
It’s the seat of the Archbishop of Prague and the place where saints, kings, and princes of Bohemia are buried. The coronations of the kings of Bohemia were held there until 1836. It’s free to walk around and observe the spectacular exterior architecture, which is what we did.
Lesser Town (Malá Strana):
The area around the Prague Castle is beautiful and unique as well. The Church of Our Lady of Victory contains the world-famous Infant Jesus of Prague. Mala Strana is also home to the famous John Lennon Wall.
John Lennon Wall:
Before 1989 when communism ruled the Czech Republic, western pop songs were banned by Communist authorities. John Lennon’s songs, in particular, were forbidden because of their messages and praises of freedom. He actually never visited Prague in his short life, but became a hero to a lot of young Czechs after he was murdered in 1980.
To protest communism, young activists risked prison and started filling a (formerly ordinary and random) wall in Mala Strana with paintings of Lennon as well as other John Lennon-inspired graffiti and lyrics from Beatles songs. They then started to paint their own feelings and dreams. The Communist police tried to paint over the wall but could never keep the wall clean, even when they added surveillance cameras and an overnight guard.
It was one of my favorite moments during our trip. As a street performer sang “All You Need is Love” and as I read all the positive messages on the wall, my heart was filled with joy and gratitude that I was able to be born in a free nation.
I know the impacts of a Communist regime as my grandparents had to flee their home in Cuba to escape from Fidel Castro back when my dad was only 4 years old. If it wasn’t for their sacrifice, I wouldn’t be here today. I’m extremely happy the people of the Czech Republic were able to overcome and I only hope the people of Cuba will soon be free too.
6. Travel to an Inexpensive Town Outside the City:
Prague is definitely the most expensive city in the Czech Republic. So, booking a train ticket, hopping on a bus, or renting a car and heading outside the city for a day can give your wallet a break and allow you to explore more of the Czech Republic & the surrounding countries. There are tons of little towns outside of Prague that are worth a visit.
We found tickets for CZK 180 (about $8 USD) to the little town of Kutná Hora (famous for it’s Bone Church). It was only an hour away by train and it ended up being way cheaper than Prague for food, tours, etc. It was the perfect day trip! TRAVEL TIP: Book early because the popular times do sell out early.
Other cities for popular day trips include:
- Cesky Krumlov: About 3 hours away from Prague is this beautiful, fairytale town.
- Pilsen: It houses the iconic Pilsner Urquell brewery and is also the birthplace of about 70% of all the beer in the entire world! Plus, it’s only an hour by train away.
- Bohemian Switzerland: If you’re looking for exquisite nature outside the big city, you must head to Bohemian Switzerland. Rent a car or take a tour to reach this beauty.
- Karlovy Vary: Famous for their hot springs and thermal baths and only 2.5 hours away by bus.
- Terezin Concentration Camp: Only 50 minutes by bus is the Terezin Concentration Camp. An emotional day trip but an important one.
- Vienna, Austria: Head south and cross into Austria to explore beautiful Vienna, only 4 hours by train.
- Dresden, Germany: Or head north to Dresden, Germany. Full of classic architecture and art museums, this German city is only 2.5 hours away by train.
Weather: Prague is usually cold and rainy throughout the year. They experience mild summers (the warmest month is August) and very cold and windy winters (the coldest being in January).
Currency: The currency in Prague is the Czech Crown (CZK). It’s best to have cash on you at all times for street food and metro tickets. We took out money at one of the many ATM’s throughout the city since we had heard there are sometimes scams in the cash exchange places. The Euro is not widely accepted so make sure you have crowns.
Language: The official language of the Czech Republic is Czech, which is spoken by over 96% of its population. But almost everybody we spoke to understood English. We also heard a ton of Spanish while we were there and my fiancé was able to communicate to a few people who didn’t know English, in Spanish.
What to Wear:
Big coats (such as a 3-in-1 coat), oversized scarves and over the knee boots are perfect for the fall and winter seasons. The spring and summer would be perfect for a pair of jeans, a flowy top, and some comfortable, cool sneakers for the many steep streets. STYLE TIP: Since it’s rainy all year round make sure to bring a rain jacket or a waterproof coat, no matter what season you visit.
Shop My Prague Style Must-Haves:
And there you have it! My ultimate Prague travel guide to Prague on a budget. Have you guys ever been? Let me know in the comments!