I seriously considered naming this blog post “The Stokes’ and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Trip to Prague” but then decided that it was neither entirely accurate or at all a positive way to get people to read it. So instead, let’s go with “5 People, 1 Day, Under $100 Trip to Prague”. Here we go!
This post contains affiliate links.
This post contains affiliate links.
It was that time again. Entire WEEKS had passed since we’d left Germany to explore another country and I started to get the itch to go see some other corner of the world. As we were still paying off our credit card bill from our trip to Greece and didn’t have the money from my husband’s GI bill that we normally get each month since he had to take a month off of classes, we decided to just take a day trip to the nearby Czech Republic and its famous city of Prague.
Prague has an interesting history and unique culture. I looked around to see what activities others recommended that were cheap and fun for a day in Prague and this post from Just a Pack was the best post I found. However, in the end I decided that since time was short, a walking tour outlining the highlights of the city would probably give us the most bang for our buck. We booked our free tour with Sandeman’s since we had enjoyed their tour so much on our trip to Amsterdam.
So, we looked up the exchange rate, packed up our favorite double stroller and the baby wrap just in case, threw some diapers and bottles in a backpack, grabbed our passports and left our house around 8AM on a Saturday.
The drive started out okay. The weather was good, hardly any traffic, and we kept the kids entertained with some audio books (Who Was Abraham Lincoln? & Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, Book 1). The trouble started at the Czech border. We stopped at the border to try to get some Czech Koruna from an ATM since they don’t use Euro. Alas, there was no ATM. What they did have was about 5 booths selling vignettes for your car.
“Uh, hey, Josh, do we need a vignette?”
“No, why would we need that?”
“I don’t know, I thought I heard somebody say once that you need one.”
“We should be fine.”
“What if we’re not?”
Long story short, we got a vignette. For €16. We didn’t need it (you only need one if you are driving on certain types of toll roads. Here’s more info). This bothered me because 1. I wasted money, 2. I wasted money due to my own ignorance and lack of research and 3. My husband was right, dangit!
Since there was no ATM at the border crossing, we searched in our GPS for an ATM and found one that was about 10km from our location. However, it was not 10km down the highway, it was 10km off the highway in some little rinky-dink, run-down town. And it did not have an English option. So I took a wild guess, mashed some buttons and miraculously ended up with the Czech Koruna I was looking for. Just so you know, there are plenty of ATMs in Prague, you really don’t need to worry about pulling out money right at the border. You’re welcome.
The rest of the drive was not bad and we were able to pretty easily find parking once we got to Prague’s city center by searching for a garage in our GPS. By this time it was about 11:30am so we started to walk around the city to look for lunch. Our tour was not scheduled until 2:00pm, so we figured we had plenty of time.
We walked across a bridge toward the Prague Castle and found a little place to eat
lunch. One nice thing about Prague is that there were restaurants on almost every street and they all seemed pretty affordable. We picked a place that was advertising traditional Czech cuisine.
Oh, lunch. Have you ever eaten out with 3 kids under 7? Hang on, let me be a little more specific. Have you ever eaten out with a 6-year-old boy whom you are pretty sure has ADHD but refuse to get it checked out because you’re not really sure you believe in ADHD and even if ADHD is a real thing what if he doesn’t actually have it and you’re just a sucky parent and don’t want to face that fact? Furthermore, have you ever eaten out with a soon-to-be 3-year-old boy who needs a nap and whose favorite new thing is screaming at the top of his lungs at random intervals not because he’s in pain or somebody is kidnapping him or something serious but just for the pure joy of hearing his own squeaky little voice? Furthermore, have you ever eaten out with a 5-month-old little girl who is not happy unless you are holding her oh and not just holding her nicely in your lap while you comfortably sit down noooo you must be holding her while you stand up because for some ungodly reason she can tell the difference in altitude or something and it’s a freaking tragedy if you hold her in the exact same position you were when you were standing up but decide to sit down? Well, I have. All at the same time.
So, yeah, the food was great. We spent the equivalent of about $50 for our family, which isn’t bad considering the amount of beer my husband had to drink to maintain his sanity.
The tour was supposed to start in front of the tourist information center. We followed signs, located the tourist information center by about 1pm, and then decided to just walk around a little and grab our souvenirs before the tour started.
We found a little souvenir shop and I took my 6-year-old in with me to find a collector’s spoon for me and a little pin for the collection he has started. Josh and the stroller-bound children stayed outside since the stroller was too big to fit in the shop. Spoons were near the outside door to the shop and then we had to go further in to pay and find a little pin. The further in the store we went the more penis merchandise there was. Like seriously. Penis mugs, penis key-chains, penis magnets, penis straws, ball caps that said “I love Prague” with a picture of a penis on it. One penis, two penis, red penis blue penis. This one has a little star. Say, what a lot of penises there are! I paid for our non-penis merchandise and then tried to get out without my son touching anything. Traveler’s tip – leave your kids outside when you go in a souvenir shop in Prague.
It was almost 2pm, so back we went to the tourist information center to meet our tour group. Except nobody was there. We walked around the block and couldn’t find anybody. I went inside the information center but there was a huge line and I knew I wouldn’t get to the front of the line until after 2pm. I frantically looked up and down the street but finally had to face the fact that this must not have been the right link up location and I should have (once again) done better research before going on this trip.
I pretty much had a melt down because now I would have no clue what I was looking at and I can’t read Czech and there are no signs in English, but my husband kept his cool and pointed out that we could still walk around and see the sights without a tour guide. So that’s what we did. We walked up to the castle where we saw some awesome panoramic views of the city of Prague and got some gelato for the kids, we walked around a few cathedrals, and then we decided to cross the famous Charles Bridge.
The bridge is awesome. Lined with historic statues, street performers, artists and merchants it gives you a taste of culture all in one convenient and scenic location. Once we made it across the bridge I saw signs for the tourist information center again. Huh, that’s weird. And then I realized that there are two tourist information centers. We had been on the wrong side of the river the whole time! Ugh! It was pretty obvious that we had been on the wrong side because this side was packed wall-to-wall with tourists whereas the other side had plenty of space for us to move around the streets.
I figured the crowds of tourists probably were heading to the famous sights so we literally just followed the largest groups of people which landed us right in the old town square where we were able to see the astronomical clock and the Church of our Lady Before Týn.
At this point it was about 4pm and the kids (and parents) were hot and tired and ready to go. We found our way back to the parking garage, paid for the parking, and made our way home. We stopped for dinner on the road to use up the rest of our Czech Koruna and continued on what was actually a relatively stress-free, low-traffic drive home.
Yep. So between the lunch, dinner and ice cream, souvenirs and parking we spent less than $100. Even the tour (had we actually found it in time) would have been free besides a tip for the guide. Next time I’ll make sure to get a travel guide from the library so I know what I’m looking at when we sightsee and have a map of the city so I can tell where my tour starts. I guess it wasn’t really that terrible and horrible, just a little unorganized. If you learn from my mistakes, I think you can have a really great time in this beautiful city for not a lot of money.
What are your travel tips for a day in Prague? Let me know in the comments below!