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your Prague guide by someone who lives here

Escape the tourists and exerience the real Czech - space is available at my Airbnb

Walk Prague

Prague is very walkable. If you dropped from the sky and landed in Old Time Square you would be in a good position to walk everywhere interesting within 30 minutes. The city sits in a valley split in half by a river and surrounded by rolling hills. The encircling hills forced compactness on the city builders. Streets are narrow, buildings are pressed against each other, and the ‘other side of town’ is a 30 minute walk. The valley is where most of the historically interesting sights are. Charles Bridge, Wenceslas Square, Jewish Cemetery and Old Town are all on the flat valley floor - this makes walking easy. Of course there are exceptions, the hilltop perched Prague Castle is an example (see below).

Walking is preferred but if you need to avoid walking because its raining or the soles of your shoes have worn off you can use the metro. The metro system is well thought out and will get you from almost any point of the city to any other point. Convenient if you want to avoid walking but in most cases will not save you time. To prevent surface damage of the old and fragile city the metro is dug deep underground. So usually it is much faster to walk above ground then to descend down into the depths of the metro, ride for 3 minutes, and ascend back up to the surface again.

Bring Your Comfortable Walking Shoes

I do not have the statistics but I am certain that Prague hospitals receive a steady stream of women patients with sprained ankles. The ancient architects of Prague sidewalks did not take high heels into consideration. Streets and sidewalks are cobble stoned. And the older they are the father apart the stones. Sidewalks are hundreds years old and each rock hand-picked and hand-placed into the sidewalk. Each stone is unique and each gap between stones is unique. Navigating through the randomly assorted stones is impossible with high heels. You will break your ankle or at best just your heel. Wear comfortable, well-padded shoes.

Prague Walking Street

Hike up to the Prague Complaint Department

Even as an experienced walker I need to admit that the walk up to Prague Castle is a strain on the hamstrings. The castle sits perched on a hilltop overlooking the city. The walk is all uphill. Up a cobbled street, up stairs, up a street again, up stairs again. Without resting it takes about 40 minutes to walk from Charles Bridge to the castle door. A workout but worth it when you make it. At the top, your gluteus maximus burning, you begin to realise the ingeniousness of placing the seat of government high above the citizens.

Imagine living five-hundred years ago as a peasant Prague city dweller. One day you are fed up with a unthoughtful neighbour who keeps throwing his garbage on your head as you walk under his window. One day, head dripping in potato peels and egg shells, you decide to file a complaint with the Good King Charles. You look up at the castle and commit that after a quality night’s sleep, first thing in the morning, you will march up the hill and into the complaint department of the castle.

You get up, put two layers of leather on your feet, tie it tight with horse hair, and start climbing. It’s a hot day, the stench of donkey excrement is filling your lungs, but regardless you begin with gusto. Half way up, sweat rolls down your brow and legs burn with pain, you look up at the castle - almost there. With a deep sigh you continue the march – up, and up. Then, three quarters of the way up – you are on your knees. It’s too far, it’s too high. You give up and head back down. Garbage on the head is not that terrible - it’s liveable. You turn around and head back down. The complaint is not filed. The King on the hill is rarely bothered by his people and their pedestrian problems.

Enjoy your walk up to the castle.

Walk Along the River To The Oldest Building in Prague

At the risk of waxing poetic and corniness let me describe a scene for you. You are standing in the heart of Europe, in the city of a thousand spires. The river ripples by and fills your lungs with scents scraped from the Bohemian Forests upstream, to your right high on the hilltop stares down the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, behind you the arched legged Charles Bridge and all around you buildings which witnessed Mozart walk amongst them. Walking along the Vltava river, no other way to say it, is romantic as hell.

Starting on the east side of the river at the Charles Bridge head south. Soon you will hit a walkway that follows the river for many kilometres. The air is clean, the people are few, the view is inspiring, and there are river side patio’s along the way to enjoy it all with a cold beer.

Keep walking for 20 minutes and leave the city behind. To your left will appear the bastard and forgotten older brother of the Prague Castle. In its heyday it was the castle of the king but was usurped when Charles remodelled the Prague Castle and made it fit for a king. Vyšehrad’s glory is gone but its majesty remains. Unfortunately the old castle receives none of the love because it is in the outskirts. But its bad fortune is your good fortune because you will have it mostly to yourself. As you stroll around the gardens and famous cemetery keep an eye out for the Rotunda of St Martin, built around the 10th century it is the oldest standing building in Prague.

Walking Tour Guides At The Astronomical Clock

If you are the curios type that needs to know what you are looking at - it interests you that Charles Bridge is held together with egg yolk and you wonder why gargoyles look evil and point down - then a walking tour guide could be helpful.

Tour guides with their bright umbrellas and tail of tourists worm through every part of the city. They move for 10 minutes, stop, point, tell a story, answer questions and move on. There are guides for every niche and fetish. Interested in gothic buildings - there is a tour for that. Interested in the torture dungeons under the city - there is a tour for that. Interested in gargoyles - there is a tour for that. Interested in Communism…. Needless to say you will have no problem finding a walking tour to fulfil your specific intellectual perversity.

You could book your walking tour guide in advance online but there is really no need to do that. At Old Time Square near the Astronomical clock there is an unofficial meeting spot for freelance walking tours. Smiling tour guides stand in front of the clock with signs offering their specialty. They are suppose to be licensed and have some kind of training blah blah blah but most of them don’t. They simply know the city well and for a fair price are able to show you around. I have heard only praise about their level of service. They work for themselves, it is their livelyhood and they are genially passionate about the city.

Go to the Astronomical clock, walk up to the grinning man with the ‘Prague torture in the night’ sign and ask him to show you.

Walk with the Homeless

Obviously as a Prague local it is beneath me to go on a guided walking tour of the city, even though I would learn more on the walk then I have discovered on my own in the 8 years of living here. But there is one tour that I did go on. Actually this tour is more popular for locals than for tourists. Your guide is a homeless man. He will walk you around Prague from the viewport of the penniless. He might not know or care that Kafka frequented this or that coffee shop, but he does know which bridge is the best to sleep under or the foremost street corner to buy cheap drugs.

Some of the guides are rough in appearance but all are clean in spirit. And most of them, thanks to the creative entrepreneur who created this service, are no longer homeless. They enjoy their work and although not proud of their past are happy to talk about it and show you the darker side of the golden city. Unfortunately because of their scattered past they never had the opportunity to study another language so unless you are fluent in czech you will need to take a interpreter with you.

I enjoyed our tour of the underbelly. Our guide was funny and considerate of our privileged lives. We asked for a rest so he offered to take us to his favourite coffee shop. To our surprise we walked up to the entrance of the aristocratic Cafe Louvre. He lead the way and we followed him in. Shabby clothes, pirate inspired makeup around the eyes and rings on every finger he strolled in as if walking into his personal squatters apartment. The customers turned and coffee cups froze between saucer and puckered mouth. The waiters smiled and waved, ask how he was doing, and showed us past the gawkers to the secluded back room.

The tours are so successful that they are daily and bookings are required.

Walk Prague Without Walking

I cringe at even mentioning this because it is so antithetical to the spirit of Prague, but for completeness I will. If for some reason which I cannot fathom you do not want to peacefully roam the city on your own two feet you can, I can’t believe I am saying this, rent a Segway. For some reason, which again I cannot fathom, they are popular in Prague. But let me warn you - there is no louder way to shout out ‘look at me - I am an abundantly rich tourist too lazy and too shallow to appreciate a slow meditated walk through the city.’ You have been warned.

The Local Explore Kit includes detailed maps and guides for walking tours around Prague.

Am I Being Helpful?

I hope you find this website helpful. I created the website because I love Prague, I enjoy writing about it, and I get a weird kick out of helping you make your trip to Prague more enjoyable.

I wrote a book about local travel in Prague. The book is my pride, my joy, my unbiological offspring. It was written with a passionate heart. If you find this website helpful consider reading my book. You will receive an entertaining book full of useful tips that will instil in you the confidence to wander the local streets of Prague. The book is also included in the popular Prague Local Explore Kit Bag.

Thank you,
Roman : Prague 2017

Prague Local Travel Book