After Budapest last year, Steffen and I made yet another trip to one of the famous Eastern Europe capitals last week. I have been wanting to see glorious Prague for ages — ever since I heard about St. Vitus Dome in my first semester of art history.
For a lover of Gothic architecture and medieval cities like me — Prague is just the place to be!
But since we are both students right now we wanted to keep the budget low to not spend all our hard-earned summer-job money right away. And yes, we did manage to indulge in a luxurious travel life style without busting our budget — here’s how:
Getting there: Luxury and low budget!
After searching online for a while we found a way to cheaply get to Prague and back, which was more affordable and luxurious than we could have dreamed of: The Expressbus offered by Deutsche Bahn train company goes straight from Nuremberg, Bavaria, to Prague in less than four hours — for only 19 €!
Combined with bargain train ticket to Nuremberg, which we snatched through booking early, we got to Prague and back for less than 100 €! Further upside: Traveling by bus is way more eco-friendly than flying!
And just a quick word on the “bus” in this case, which maybe doesn’t sound as comfortable at first: But, believe me — it was pure luxury! Super comfy adjustable leather seats, a proper table in front of us and endless space for your legs!
Lodging: Luxury and low budget!
Through recommendations online I discovered Czech Inn Hostel to be the best hostel in Prague. To keep the expenses a little lower we booked most of our days during the week. Moreover, September prices are also lower than peak season prices. In the end we paid 150 € each for four nights in a dashing private room including four breakfasts.
Why it was luxury: Czech Inn Hostel reviews appeared to be an understatement. It is a design hostel which marvelously combines the best aspects of a hostel with the luxury of staying in a hotel.
The private rooms have an ensuite bathroom and are equipped with everything from water boiler and safe, to blow drier and TV. And the “hostely” side of Czech Inn: A fancy common room/bar area; social activities like quiz nights, pub crawls and free walking tours; a helpful staff and — the best breakfast ever served at a hostel!
Sightseeing & Transportation: Low budget!
Depending on what you want to see in Prague, you really don’t have to spend a lot of money: Visiting the beautiful Old Town Square, walking across the famous Charles Bridge, strolling along the Vltava river to enjoy the view of Prague Castle, taking pictures in front of Frank Gehry’s Dancing House — all for free!
And if your feet hurt: An extended tour on the tram line 22 costs less than a Euro and you pass by all the major sights, viewpoints and boulevards.
In addition, we took part in the Free Bohemian Walking Tour, which was offered by our hostel. The tour was tip-based, but our multilingual Iranian-Swedish-now-living-in-Prague-guide explained the city, its history and myths so enthralling that she could also have asked for a lot of money. She even took us to a super cheap authentic Czech restaurant to have lunch at afterwards — and provided me with tons of nerdy middle-ages-insider-spots!
Eating out: Luxury and low budget!
Usually I don’t eat at restaurants a lot while traveling, but prefer supermarkets and street food instead. In Prague though, eating out is really affordable. The drinks are super cheap (maybe one of the reasons Prague has a drinking capital reputation) and you can get a whole dinner for two for less than 10 €.
Unfortunately, the Czech cuisine centers around meat and dumplings. Of course, I’m fine with dumplings for a while, but without vegetarian gravy and vegetables (mostly you would just get a small serving of coleslaw on the side) they are rather dry and boring. Steffen, the meat lover, on the other hand was pretty much in heaven.
What is however famous in Czech (foodie) culture are the coffee houses, although only few of the original ones survived the Starbucks-invasion. We went to the legendary Café Louvre where Franz Kafka used to enjoy his coffee in the fabulous Art Nouveau interior in the early 20th century.
Naturally you pay a little more in a coffee house like Café Louvre, but you get a lot for your money: Fantastic coffee, delicious cake that substitutes a whole meal — and the feeling that you are surrounded by halls of literary and artistic inspiration. A great experience and still an absolutely affordable luxury! After all, who need’s meat when there’s cake like this?
If you fancy a cheap city trip getaway, but don’t want to abdicate from traveling a little luxuriously and treating yourself with fascinating culture, jaw-droppingly beautiful architecture and great cake — Prague is your place!