This enchanting European capital is a wonderful travel destination in any season. If you want to catch the last autumn colors, are looking for a Christmas market atmosphere or if you just want to plan a nice city break next year, then a visit to Prague is always a good idea. Just get your camera ready and clothes to suit the season and be sure you will have a great time around.
Prague, one of the golden cities of the imperial age, is dominated by its majestic castle, where history blends with myths and legends, as well as by the Vltava river, which gives the city its distinctive character and its many bridges.
Either if you are interested in culture, history, tasting delicious Czech beers or if you just want to spend a relaxing time just strolling through a new place, Prague will not let you down and you might be fascinated by how many unexpected interesting things you will find here.
How to get there:
Having the advantage of being in the heart of Europe, Prague is easily accessible by all major means of transportation. The airport is quite busy and travellers have many regular or low cost airlines to choose from. Getting to the city center from the airport by public transport can be a bit more complicated as you will need to take a bus and then the metro, but until 11 pm they have good connections. If you want a hassle free transfer you can also use the shuttle buses. The cost varies from 60CZ for the public one to the 140 CZ for the pre-booked one (approx £ 5). Check the airport site for latest information, prices and timetables.
Also Prague has very good train or bus connections with the majority of the close European cities like Vienna, Munich, Bratislava, etc. Driving here is also a good option, as the road infrastructure is quite good.
Where to stay:
The best way to visit Prague is on foot. That is why we recommend staying in an acceptable walking distance to the centre and main attractions. Depending on the season hotels can be pricey, but lately there are also good options on Airbnb. If nothing is available within the budget, then look for a location close to a metro station, because the metro is cheap and works very well. We stayed in a hotel in Wenceslas Square and we didn’t have a problem to walk the 12 minutes to the Old Town Square.
Where to eat:
As all major European capitals, Prague offers a wide range of restaurants or meal providers. We wanted to try a little bit of everything. We ate traditional food in a local student pub near Wenceslas Square, which had a cheap, not fancy, but very tasty food. We also tried more fancy restaurants in the old centre, where we suggest finding a menu deal, because otherwise they can be quite pricey. We found the best value for money at restaurants located on the streets a bit outside the touristy old centre. Food and local beers were tasty in all the places we have been, but the size of the portions and the price was very different depending on location.
Our Top 10 recommendations when visiting Prague:
Perhaps the most iconic architectural mark of Prague, this historical bridge was until the 19th century the only crossing point over Vltava River, connecting Prague Castle to the Old Town. Although initially called “The stone bridge”, it owes its name to the king that started the construction, King Charles the IVth. The bridge has 3 towers, 16 arches, is 621 m long (2,037 ft) and along the way there are about 30 statues displayed. It also offers really nice views of the river banks and during the day it is full of local artists and crafts men, so it is also a place you can look for some authentic souvenirs.
Dominating the skyline from Charles Bridge, the castle complex has a very rich history, dating back to the 9th century, and it also hosts now the official residence of the President of Czech Republic. Prague castle was also considered to be the largest ancient castle in the world (according to Guinness Book of Records). So you should expect to spend one full day in the area because there are plenty to see in the palace complex. The route to the castle from Charles Bridge is a lovely walk through old narrow historical streets with many charming facades, stairs or other attractions.
In the complex you would be able to visit:
– palace structures: The Old Royal palace (a must see, due to its rich history); the New Palace, Lobkowicz Palace;
– churches: St Vitus Cathedral (another must see presented in our next recommendation); St George Basilica
– The Golden lane (again a must see presented below);
– lots of other smaller museums; halls, towers and gardens.
So if you have more time around, you can be sure you will not run out of places to see here. Complete information about the palace complex can be found here https://www.hrad.cz/en/prague-castle-for-visitors.
St. Vitus Cathedral and its 96.5 m (317 ft) high tower
Located in the Prague castle complex, the impressive St. Vitus Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. Build in a splendid Gothic architecture, the cathedral houses the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors, as well as the Bohemian Crown Jewels.
We also highly recommend going up to the tower, because the view over the entire complex, Vltava River and the Old City is gorgeous.
The Golden Lane
This 16th century street in the Prague Castle complex, has also been named as “The street of Alchemists”. The street consists of very small connected houses, charming and brightly colored, that are now transformed into museums or souvenirs shops.
Two of the famous inhabitants of the street were the writers Franz Kafka and Jaroslav Seifert, a Nobel Prize winner. You can also visit here the Museum of medieval amours, the room of the alchemist and a replica of a medieval workshop.
Old Town Square
The Old Town Square is the main historical square of the lower town and connects through its adjacent narrow streets Wenceslas Square with Charles Bridge. The most famous structure of the square is the Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn, dating back to the 14th century, guarded by a majestic tower of 80 m high (262 ft). Other notable buildings are the Old Town City Hall Tower (presented in our next recommendation); St Nicholas Church and the Czech National Gallery. The square also houses many restaurants and cafes.
If you’re travelling around Christmas or Easter, you will also find a Christmas or Easter market organized in the square, which is considered one of the best in Europe.
The Old Town Hall tower and the Astronomical Clock
Another famous architectural landmark or Prague is the Old Town Hall building structure with the Astronomical Clock. The structure dates back to the mid 14th century, when some of the rich villas in the center of the old town were connected and the high tower was built (1364). The building structure holds more interesting halls, corridors, including a chapel, but the best thing is the view from the top of the tower, also a perfect spot for taking panoramic images.
The Astronomical Clock is an ingenious technical creation for its time (early 15th century) and still fascinates many of its viewers. Majestically displayed on the tower, the clock consists of three parts: a calendar dial, an astronomical dial and an artistic part with moving figures.
Franz Kafka Museum
If you are interested in discovering more about Franz Kafka, then we recommend visiting the museum dedicated to him, which holds some of his personal items, such as diaries, letters, different drafts or book editions. There is also an interesting statue in the courtyard of the museum. The museum is located in the Lesser Town, also called Little Quarter, which represents the lower area between the Vltava River and the castle hill.
The Love locks bridge and the Lennon wall
Also in Lesser Town you can visit two more recent tourist attractions: the Love locks bridge, following the Parisian model of the love padlocks bridge, and represents a place where lovers add a lock to the bridge as a symbol or their love.
The Lennon wall is also a symbol of free spirit and idealism, that started in the ’80s, when students used to write their protests on the wall, but lately it is covered with graffiti more connected with John Lennon’s ideal of love and peace.
Petrin Hill & Observation Tower
On a clear sunny day, you might also want to spend some time walking around Petrin Hill. Rising 130 m (426 ft) above the Vltava River, the hill is a very green area in the center or the city. You can take the funicular to the top or just have a short walk. If you chose to walk, on the way there are some small cute cafes where you can have a cold or hot drink and enjoy the view. Once you reach the top you can visit the Petrin Observation tower, built in 1891 after the Eiffel tower model. The steel structure is 63.5 m (208 ft) tall and the top observation deck offers 365 degrees views of the surroundings. Getting to the observation deck is simple, as the tower is served by en elevator. Still on Petrin Hill there can also be seen the ruins of the Hunger Wall (a mid 14th century fortification wall that own its name due to the fact that its construction provided work for the hungry people, after the big famine of 1351), a rose garden, a mirror maze (small and overrated in our opinion), the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence and St Michael Church.
The Dancing Building and the rotating head of Franz Kafka
If you want to see more recent architectural or artistic works in Prague you can visit the Dancing Building, a controversial design that brings a modern vision into the middle of Baroque and classical architecture. Located on a place with historical importance (the previous building was bombed during the Second World War), the design consists of two parts: one static and one dynamic, and symbolizes the transition of the country from the communist period to the modern parliamentary democracy.
Also not to miss is the rotating head of Franz Kafka, a statue that is 11 m (36 ft) tall and is formed by 42 layers or stainless steel with a mirroring effect, created by artist David Cerny. The statue can be seen just outside the Quadrio shopping center.
Other useful information
- Prague Jazz nightlife – Jazz is a popular music style in Prague, with some very good jazz pubs or clubs. If you’re interested check the local gigs lists to see where you can go for a live jazz music evening
- Local alcohol – in Prague you will see plenty of Absintheries, including a dedicated museum, because absinthe is very popular in Bohemian culture and it is also banned in many European countries and US, making it even more interesting for tourists. But we would not recommend drinking Absinthe, unless you like it or you’re really curious, because it is a very strong spirit that can have harmful or at least unpleasant effects. If you want to try other local alcohol than beers, we would recommend trying Becherovka, a herbal digestive made based on a secret recipe, having ginger and cinnamon flavor
- Local souvenirs & Bohemian crystal – one of the main local souvenirs tourists buy when in Prague is the Bohemian crystal. As in most of the very touristy places, if you want to buy a souvenir and pay a more reasonable price for it try going to a less popular/central area, where you can find much better deals than in the center. The differences in prices can be huge. If you are looking for glasses, check also local drinks that come with Bohemian crystal glass as a package or gift, you might find yourself a good deal like that
- Day tour or weekend in Cesky Krumlov – 3 hours from Prague there is a hidden gem of Czech Republic: the charming medieval town of Cesky Krumlov. If you have more time in the area we recommend a one day trip or even a weekend there. We liked it that much that we wrote another post only about it that you can read here.