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Fun and Cheap Things To Do in Prague

I love exploring Prague when I am not in class and I especially love finding things to do that don’t cost a ton of money. While it is still a working list, I’ve complied some of my favorite, inexpensive things to do in Prague.

-Visit the Národní Muzeum (National Museum)

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The National Museum is very easy to get to by tram or metro. If you take the tram, it is only a couple minutes walk from the stop Václavské náměstí. The metro is even more direct, as the museum has its own stop (Muzeum). Tickets to the National Museum are not too expensive, as they offer a student discount. A student ticket costs 150 CZK (~$6)

The museum is a giant, grand building. There are multiple floors with various exhibits in the old, historic section and even more to see in the new museum building. The two buildings are connected via an underground tunnel and I highly recommend walking through it. As my Art & Architecture professor put it: “The tunnel is an exhibit in itself”. Some of my favorite exhibits is the Hall of Minerals, Ancient history, and Czech composers.

-Visit the Autumn and Christmas Markets (and snack on a Trdelník)

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In downtown Prague, you will see various stalls and carts loaded with trinkets and food. While the Christmas markets are super popular in late November and December, I also enjoyed walking through downtown when they had Autumn markets decorated with colorful leaves. One of the most common treats sold at the markets is called a Trdelník (Chimney Cake). It is dough that is rolled and baked until golden. I love getting mine filled with ice cream, but you can also purchase nutella or jam filled chimney cakes. My roommates and I crave them every so often, so I know I will definitely miss them once I go back home. A Trdelník typcially costs anywhere from 100-180 CZK (~$4-$7) depending on the fillings you choose.

-Stroll through Letná Park

I love walking through all of the different parks in Prague. It is absolutely free and you can get amazing views of the city without all the tourists. One of my favorites is Letná Park. It’s situated near the Vltava River and offers amazing views of Old Town. The park has lots of tree lined pathways and benches to relax and enjoy the view. It even has a restaurant near one of the entrances.

-Watch a show or opera at Národní divadlo (National Theatre)

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One of the excursions during my Czech Intensive course was to visit Národní divadlo and watch a Czech opera. It was a fun experience and very easy to get to since the threatre has its own tram stop (Národní divadlo). Operas run 3 hours long, so it is time-consuming, but the theatre is beautiful and it’s a fun excuse to dress up in fancy clothes. Many people take attending a performance at the National Theatre seriously, as lots of people were dressed as if they were attending a wedding. However, as long as you do not wear jeans and a t-shirt, you can wear whatever feels comfortable. The opera I watched was called Rusalka. It reminded me of a dark version of the Little Mermaid. Fortunately, the opera had English subtitles. The ticket prices vary based on your seat selection. Standing room tickets are cheapest (although 3 hours is a long time to stand). Regardless, there are various seating options and watching a Czech performance is a unique cultural experience that you might want to try at least once.

-Walk around Vyšehrad

My apartment is located near Vyšehrad, so I might be biased, but it is one of my favorite spots in Prague. You can tour some of the buildings for a small fee, but the tours are only conducted in Czech, so I haven’t gone on one. Walking around the complex is free and I love going around sunset because the views are great. Vyšehrad has a neo-Gothic church that is a neat photo op, there are at least two cafes you can stop at, and lots of green space.

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Cows, Clouds, and Canopies

My alarm went off at 5:45am. To spare you the details, I had only been asleep for three hours and I wasn’t feeling at my best…due to my activities the night before.

I lurched out of bed and threw the last few things I needed into my backpack, forgetting several things in the process. The bus left at 6:30. An Uber ride later, my two friends and I were standing in a long line in the terminal, breathing sighs of relief that we had just barely made it. That relief was quickly squashed when Izzy boarded the bus first. The driver took one look at her ticket and wagged his finger at her. “That bus has already left,” he told us.

I can laugh about it now, because it’s been four days, but at the time we were completely crestfallen. The lack of sleep and dehydration did not help.

Our second attempt went much better, and I didn’t forget anything this time! At 2:30 that afternoon we were finally on our way to Monteverde, Costa Rica. You may have heard of it – the Cloud Forest Reserve is likely the country’s most popular and most advertised ecotourism destination. It’s higher in elevation and therefore colder than San José, and while walking through the Monteverde Biological Preserve you feel enveloped in clouds – hence the name. The area is home to dense rainforest, beautiful rolling hills, and farmland. I had booked an Airbnb a few days prior. It was located a bit outside of Santa Elena proper (the small town near the reserve) and unlike in more urban areas here, Ubers were not available. Thanks to our bus fiasco that morning, we were arriving much later than anticipated and I was worried about finding transportation from the bus station.

We ended up calling a few phone numbers for taxis that we found online, and finally struck gold. Little did we know that the man who answered the phone, Jorge, would become our best friend for the weekend (though we were initially nervous getting in his car late at night). It was drizzling as he took us up a steep, pothole-riddled road and eventually turned off into a dark gravel driveway. This was the entrance to Finca El Paraíso (or Paradise Farm). A woman who we would later know as Yolanda waved him down towards a cabin at the bottom. Jorge paused when the path turned to grass and became even steeper, but then barreled down and stopped with a jerk at the front door. Orlando, our Airbnb host, met us there.

“If I had seen you coming down, I would have told you to stop at the top,” he told Jorge. After we all introduced ourselves and brought our luggage in, we realized that that it was going to be a huge task getting that van back up the muddy hill. We ended up all piling into the back row as he revved it – apparently it just needed more weight and more traction in the back. That’s a strategy I might need in the future.

After calling him several different times to drive us to and from the town and the farm where we stayed, my friend Taylor saved Jorge’s WhatsApp number and he became essentially our on-call Uber. He still took care of us even after the hill incident, and even after Taylor left her phone in the backseat and made him drive all the way back. Shout out to you, Jorge.

The Airbnb was on a sustainable farm, hosted by a family that consisted of an elderly grandmother, her daughter and her husband, and their two children, Orlando and Carolina, who were both in their early 20s. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were all available to purchase for $6 a meal, and they were prepared by Orlando’s mother, Yolanda. She poured her heart into that food. It was delicious. Every meal also came with great conversation with the family. The son and daughter spoke English, but we practiced our Spanish as much as possible.

We also paid to take their farm tour and cheesemaking class. I milked one of their cows, Matilda (who is three months pregnant!!) and got to bottle feed a calf. If you know me, you know that I am just a bit in love with cows – so this was a dream come true. Orlando walked us over to their pasture area and told us all about how they had once used pesticides that negatively affected his father’s health, and how Orlando had pioneered the switch to organic farming. He learned everything via YouTube and Netflix. Now, he said, the animals and the family were healthier and they were able to repopulate their land with native trees and vegetation.

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Roberto, their farm cat, looking out at the view.

Hanging out on the farm was the highlight of the weekend, but my second-favorite adventure began Saturday morning. While Izzy and some of our other friends who were staying at a hostel went bungee jumping (!!), the two other girls and I decided to go slightly safer and zipline instead. There are several ziplining canopy tours in the Monteverde area, but we chose the “original” one – which also happened to be the cheapest. Four guides took a group of us into the rainforest canopy, and we zoomed along cables VERY high over the forest floor. The view was incredible, and I felt secure even though at times I was literally dangling from one caribiner.

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I’ll skip over the rest of our stay, but it all went better than planned or expected. While some of my other weekends have left me feeling disappointed that I wasn’t able to fit in more activities, I felt fulfilled by every moment in Monteverde. After ziplining, we had lunch and then hiked in the cloud forest. Sunday, we did the farm tour, then shopped a bit in Santa Elena and that night went on a night tour to see wildlife. Early Monday morning we left the Airbnb early this time and hopped on the bus back to San José.

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Sunset our last night at Finca El Paraíso