Looking for a travel guide to The Czech Republic – land of beautiful castles, affordable lodging, and delicious carbohydrates? I brought in expert ex-pat Naomi to share her best Czech travel tips with us!
I first went to the Czech Republic in 2007 to study abroad in Prague. I lived with a homestay family and actually ended up meeting the love of my life in Prague – romantic, no? When living in Germany, I visited often. I confess I’m pretty obsessed with this place. I’m even an expert on 1980’s Czech Communist-era pop music!
Must go in Czech Republic
Wander around in Prague
Though it’s been overrun with tourists since the end of Communism, it’s still an amazing place. There are many “must sees” in this city, but take the time to wander across the cobblestones into hidden alleys and seek out the treasures and secrets of Prague.
Make sure to cross over the Vltava and explore other neighborhoods of Prague. Go where the tourists do not venture!
Beautiful Bohemian villages
Once you leave Prague (which, though great, you should) you’re in for a treat. I particularly recommend the Renaissance and Baroque villages all over Bohemia. One of my favorites is Litomerice, pronounced Lee-toe-mer-jhi-tzeh.
It’s one of the oldest Czech towns, founded in the tenth century, and has lots of gorgeous old houses and churches. I also like Ustek, which has Gothic gables and a synagogue that is lovingly maintained as a historic site.
Must do in Czech Republic
Cafe and pub life
When I’m not in the Czech Republic, I often find myself missing the incomparable atmospheres of Czech cafes and pubs. Cafes range from luxe Art Deco coffeehouses to the hole-in-the-walls frequented by students, who study with a cup in hand and cigarette in mouth.
Don’t miss a visit to a cajovna, the teahouses that have become enormously popular. Pubs are community gathering places to share a cheap and delicious mug of pivo (beer) and relax with friends.
Czech art scene
Whether it’s theater, visual art, music, writing or dance, the arts have a vibrant tradition in the Czech Republic. When you’re there, you absolutely must attend an arts-related event or, at the very least, visit a museum or gallery.
Before you embark on your trip, read some great Czech writers like Bohumil Hrabal, and listen to some Janacek and Martinu to get in the right mindset. Great independent films are screened at Prague’s Aero, the tiny town of Techonice hosts magical plays in an old barn.
The annual Povalec three-day music festival is free of charge (camp out in a small, picturesque Baroque village and meet young, alternative scenesters and hippies).
Must eat in Czech Republic
These are large dumplings that can be made of either potato or bread. Knedliky are eaten with some kind of yummy sauce (I am fond of mushroom sauce) and cabbage, and generally accompany meat.
This is a great Czech garlic soup. It goes really well with hearty, dark Czech bread.
After dinner, get yourself a slice of medovnik, a scrumptious honey cake. Wash everything down with a pivo or two, or maybe a shot of homemade slivovice (plum liquor).
Cultural tips for Traveling in Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has some truly wonderful seasonal traditions that, depending on the time of year you visit, you should definitely try and participate in. For example: in the fall, many Czechs take to the woods to go houby (mushroom) picking. Make a local friend or link up with a nature expedition. I promise the results are very tasty!
If you go to the Moravian parts of the country in the fall, a popular drink is burcak, a fermented grape juice that is not quite wine—but watch out, it’s alcoholic! It’s sold by the sides of the road in plastic bottles.
I think the biggest cultural tip, though, is talking to people about their personal stories. The Czech Republic is a country that’s been through a lot—several empires, world wars, and most recently Communism, and the land is saturated through and through with history. Educate yourself a bit on the country’s past before going, and ask lots of questions.
Cheap travel tips for the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic can be a bargain-friendly destination, you just have to be savvy about it, particularly in Prague. (Once you leave Prague, just about everything is less expensive.)
If you’re a student, it might be worthwhile to invest in an international student discount card. Check to see what days museums are free to the public on, and take advantage of open-air festivals—of which the country has many. Check out inexpensive, filling pub fare.
Airbnb is usually cheaper than a hotel and gives you a more ‘authentic’ travel experience. Here’s a six-bedroom apartment for $60 USD per night and here’s a private bedroom for $26. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!
Thanks so much for sharing, Naomi! Do you guys have any other Czech travel tips to share?