I’m sitting on my bedroom floor, surrounded by piles of clothes, shoes and bags, thinking what do I need to pack for my next Prague trip. I used to be good at packing, always making super efficient lists and making sure I don’t forget anything. That was when I was a scouts leader and about 14 years old! Since then I become quite slapdash with my packing, throwing in my suitcase whatever I fancied at the time, hoping that when I get to my destination, it will miraculously become an outfit. But in autumn last year, I booked a few days in Prague on my own, and since it was a last minute booking, I tried to save money on not booking a checked in luggage. I was pretty pleased with myself when the confirmation e-mail pinged to my inbox, at which point I realised that I’d need to pack all my stuff into a fairly small backpack!
So, I thought I would go back to basics, conger up my 14 years old myself and become the packing ninja again!
And here, rather than give you a general list of what to pack for your next trip to Prague, I wanted to highlight the things you might not know about Prague, which will be helpful when you pack for your next trip.
General Notes on Fashion Style
Prague is a very relaxed city fashion style-wise, and as such there are no hard rules. Within reason, anything goes! You’ll see that most Czech people prefer to dress casual or smart casual unless they are going to a particular function, like a dinner at a posh restaurant, theatre or a dance ball. If you happen to be on the underground or a tram before 8 am on a weekday, you’ll be probably be wondering why there are so many people who have the day off! Well, they are not having a day off, but unlike in other western countries, Czech people don’t always wear suits to work. The people who do are probably going by car…
And it’s worth noting, that there are no religious requirements regarding clothes.
Luggage & Bags
Your choice of luggage will, of course, depends on what type of trip your Prague visit is and for how long you are staying for. But what’s worth bearing in mind, is that Prague, unfortunately, doesn’t have much level access. For example, not every underground has a lift, and you’ll encounter stars, steps, cobbled stones pavements and uneven pavements everywhere. Combine that with one heavy suitcase and a tired tourist who is trying to get to her hotel, and you have the picture!
If I can, I opt for a carry on suitcase (small suitcase of about 56 x 40 x 25cm max) a backpack of a similar size, that I can easily take with me on the airplane. Not only that it’s easier to get around Prague with something like this, but it also makes me to be super organised with my packing and take just the stuff I need.
During the day I prefer to wear a large cross over body bag, that I can swing in front of me when I travel on public transport for security. Shoulder bags or purses are just not practical to walk around Prague all day. A stylish backpack is fine too, but be aware of it at all times and keep your valuables well hidden inside or somewhere on your person. Pickpocketing is still an issue in Prague, especially on public transport and in the main tourist areas.
I have also swapped a standard camera bag for a messenger bag with a shockproof and padded insert that protects my camera and lenses. This way I still have a sturdy camera bag, but because it doesn’t look like a camera bag it doesn’t invite anyone to steal it.
To charge all your electrical equipment, you’ll need a European electrical socket converter.
Toiletries & Medication
It’s probably practical to bring small quantities of toiletries with you and of course your medication. Saying, that you’ll be able to replenish everything in any supermarket and if you forget anything, I’m sure you’ll recognise your favourite brand, even if the description is in the Czech language.
Whether you are arriving in summer or winter, you’ll need a pair of comfortable shoes. Even if you are not planning to do a lot of walking, a pair of trainers or other cushioned shoes will come in very handy. Prague is full of cobblestones and pavements made out of small stone bricks, which is a very hard surface to walk on.
There are no religious or other reasons for wearing a particular type of clothing. If you are visiting churches, it’s best to have covering clothes and take off your hat when entering the church. You’ll probably feel more comfortable if you dress up a little for smarter restaurants. Some top establishments might require you to wear evening wear, so do check with the restaurant before you book your evening meal. Although there is no written dress code, most Czech people still dress up when they go to the theatre or opera, including suits, long dresses and high heels, but it’s becoming more common to dress casually. Twenty years ago you would get stern looks if you arrived at the theatre in jeans, but these days things are more relaxed.
Spring is usually mild with sunny spells as the days are getting longer. It’s very unusual for Prague to have snow in spring, but it can still happen until about Easter. It can also rain a lot, so an umbrella or a waterproof rain jacket is a must. If you are going in early spring I would still pack warm clothes, lots of layers and a warm hat, just in case.
Summer is usually hot, especially in Jully and August, so pack light layers and clothes made with natural materials like linen or cotton. Sun hat, sunglasses and suncream are essential and if you don’t cope well with the sun, I would suggest long trousers and long sleeves as a natural barrier against the sun.
Autumn is usually warm and unlike spring the ground is still warmed from summer, so even when it’s little cooler it’s still warm enough to walk around in a couple of layers.
Winter can be changeable. The snow can come any time from the middle or end of November and there could be still chances of snow at Easter. What I’m trying to say, is that when it’s cold it’s really cold!
But the good thing is that unlike say the UK where the cold in winter is damp and it gets into your bones, European cold is dry. This means that as long as you dress warm with proper warm coat, scarf, winter shoes, hat and gloves, you’ll be absolutely fine and might even be tempted to take off your hat when it’s sunny in the middle of the day.