Prague on a budget
Prague is a city of beautiful architecture and cheap beer. Constantly on lists of top 10 must-see cities in Europe, many people would love to visit if they had a chance. Fortunately, European readers, you do.
However, vacations aren’t cheap. Hotels, meals, transportation and souvenirs all add up to a hefty price tag. Just an unfortunate part of vacationing, right? Contrary to popular belief, traveling doesn’t have to break the bank. If you are willing to sacrifice some luxury to see Prague’s gorgeous landmarks and eat tasty local food, all for a reasonable price, this guide is for you.
While your average hotel in Prague can cost well over 100 euros a night, an average hostel costs about 20 to 30 euros per a night. Hostels are geared toward younger travelers, those traveling solo or with friends. Instead of solo rooms, most hostels are structured as dorms with four to eight people staying in one dorm. Dorm-style lodging may not be as comfortable as staying in a private hotel room, but it still has some perks: opportunities to form friendships with travelers across the globe and a down-to-earth staff. Another nice bonus is that most hostels include free breakfast. I’d recommend the Elf Hostel for those who love to party and make new friends. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about Prague’s nightlife.
Some hostels offer private rooms, more suitable for couples and families. While hostels aren’t hotels, their quality is comparable. For families and couples, I’d recommend Sir Toby’s Hostel or Prague-1 Hostel. Both offer private rooms for those traveling on a budget.
Like most popular tourist cities, Prague offers a city pass, the Prague Card. It is worth every penny for the budget traveler who wants to see everything in a few days. These cards come in two-, three- and four-day passes costing 58, 68 and 78 euros, respectively. Discounts are available for students and those who order online.
With this card, you can visit many of the major attractions, such as Prague Castle and the Jewish Quarter, and use the public transportation system for free — crucial when on a budget. I estimated that I saved 30 to 40 euros by buying this card, roughly a day’s worth of meals. A word of warning: withdraw Czech crowns first because the Prague Card vendor, located in the tourism office in Central Station, will not accept euro payments.
Dining in Prague is often relatively inexpensive. Beer is usually cheaper than water, and a typical meal costs about 200 Czech crowns (about 8 euros). Just be careful to avoid tourist traps where prices tend to be higher. You can get a 6-euro pizza at the Pizza and Pasta Factory in the new town, an amazing value meal.
Mlejnice, near Praha 1, is decently priced with meals ranging from 150 to 350 Czech crowns. The restaurant serves authentic Czech food and is a favorite among tourists. If you do visit Mlenjnice, I recommend you try the goulash, a popular soup in Prague.
Bredovský dvůr, near Central Station, also has Czech foods at 100 to 400 Czech crowns. I tried deer meat and pig neck, both of which were good for the price. This spot is more like a pub, but the food is amazing, and if you choose to sit on the outside terrace, the view and atmosphere are nice, too.
Prague has delicious street foods. Just walk around, and you are bound to find a vendor that sells a meal for less than 125 Czech crowns. Německa Kvalita is a must-try vendor in front of the Florenc Metro Station. The cooks make amazing kebabs for only 99 Czech crowns.
Prague has many street vendors and tourist shops that sell overpriced souvenirs. You will see a multitude of Bohemian glass shops, some selling genuine goods and others, overpriced imitations. The farther you move away from popular sites, the more likely your Bohemian glass will be authentic. One way to tell if the glass is authentic is to see if it’s hand blown. Authentic glass will have a small mark on the bottom or a cut rim. Another way is to see if the glass style is simple and has marble-like swirls, traits often found in Bohemian glass. The decoration is usually very fine and detailed, but the general style of the glass should be simple.
Street vendors in the Jewish Quarter sell souvenirs for cheap. Postcards and magnets can go for 10 to 30 Czech crowns, a great deal compared to offerings in other gift shops. My general advice is to avoid tourist hotspots for souvenirs. If something catches your eye, look carefully to make sure you’re paying for a genuine, quality item.