Prague, the city of 100 spires, full of stunning architecture, inspiration to Mozart, and home to a bewitching trance put on all travelers who explore it. It’s true, have you ever heard someone say they didn’t love Prague? Prague is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. It has a wealth of history, picturesque views, and endless options for things to do and see. With the winding Vltava River running through it, Prague is home to castles, fortresses, and immense grandeur.
Prague’s architecture is a fusion of classic styles like Romanesque (Tyn Church), Baroque (St. Nicholas Church), and Gothic (St. Vitus Cathedral). Gothic, my favorite, is prevalent across the city with its towers that reach for the sky and the iconic city spires. If you love beautiful buildings, awesome architecture, and incredible interiors, then Prague is the city for you!
Getting To & Around Prague
You can get to Prague by air, train, or bus/car. International flights fly into Prague Airport (Vaclav Havel Airport). There are a few ways you can get from the airport to the city center, which include buses and airport transfers only, as there are no trains or metros to the airport. The cheapest and best way to get into the city is by taking the Airport Express bus. The Airport Express bus runs every 30 minutes during the day and takes about 35 minutes to get to Prague’s main train station in the city center.
You may also be coming in by train, bus, or coach. Prague has three main train stations that all offer access to the metro. The main coach terminal, Praha Florenc Bus Station services all buses and coaches and is a 20 to 30-minute walk into the city center.
Prague is a very walkable city, with many main sights in the Old Town and the surrounding area. But there is also an easy and cheap public transport system that includes buses, trams, and a metro. The metro has three lines and covers a great deal. If you’re looking for a scenic ride, consider taking Tram 22 that takes you throughout the city and past some lovely sights.
Tips for Prague
1. Orient Yourself
The best and easiest way to orient yourself in a new city is to take a free walking tour. Prague has a few great ones. You’ll learn the layout of the city, its history and even hidden gems you won’t read about in guide books. I recommend Sandeman’s New Europe for several tour options (free and paid) in Prague).
2. Validate Tickets
Like in many other European cities, it’s important that you validate your transport tickets in Prague. On the metro, be sure to validate at the orange machines, and while on buses, validate as soon as you get on.
3. When to Visit Top Sights
There are a ton of things to do and see in Prague. Some of the top sights like the Astronomical Clock and Charles Bridge can really swell with tourists during the day, so if you really want to experience these, I suggest you go first thing in the morning or later in the evening for a better experience and more magical atmosphere.
4. Grab a Prague Card
If you’re heading to Prague and only have a few days but want to see the best that Prague has to offer, I suggest purchasing the Prague Card. It’s a great way to save money, as it offers free transportation, a guidebook, and free entry into over 50 attractions, and discounted entry to 30 more!
5. Day Trips
Prague is an amazing city and you could stay busy for days just within the city, but it’s also a great place to take day trips further afield. Thanks to its convenient and affordable train service, you can easily get to a few worthy nearby destinations like Cesky Krumlov, Kutna Hora, and the Terezin Concentration Camp.
Things to do in Prague
1. Old Town Square
Prague’s Old Town Square is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. Dating back to the 12th century, the square is surrounded by colorful Baroque, Gothic and Romanesque buildings. Here you’ll find many must-see places in Prague including; St. Nicholas Church, Jan Hus statue, Tyn Church, the Old Town Hall, and the famous Astronomical Clock. The Tower offers one of many great views over Prague’s rooftops.
The Astronomical Clock is one of the biggest attractions in Prague and one of the oldest and most stunning clocks ever built. Located on the Old Town Hall tower, the Astronomical Clock runs through its show every hour on the hour from 9 am to 9 pm. Installed in 1410, the clock contains three main parts; the astronomical dial that represents the sun and the moon in the sky, the famous Walk of the Apostles where the 12 Apostle figures come out and do their rotation, and lastly, the calendar dial with medallions that represent the months of the year. Crowds start to accumulate just before the hour right out front of the Old Town Hall and wait for this must-see European treat!
2. Strahov Monastery
Founded in 1143, the Strahov Monastery is one of the oldest Premonstratensian monasteries. Located behind Petrin Hill, the Strahov Monastery is home to some of Prague’s breathtaking sights. Here you’ll find the Basilica of Our Lady – decorated with frescos and a marble altar, the Cabinet of Curiosities, which hosts strange and rare artifacts, and two impressive halls containing over 200,000 books.
The Theological Hall was named for all the editions of the Bible found within. Completed in 1679, it has 18,000 books lining its shelves, above are beautiful frescos and carved wood cartouches with inscriptions for the type of book found below them. The Philosophical Hall dates back to 1794 and is elegantly finished in walnut wood. Here you’ll be entranced by more stunning frescos, spiral staircases, and books covering everything from philosophy to history.
If you do nothing else in Prague, make sure you visit the Klementinum. Located next to the Charles Bridge, the Klementinum is one of the largest building complexes in Europe. It was originally part of a Jesuit College and is home to more astounding interiors. The Mirror Chapel, constructed in 1724, is very unique with its amazing fresco ceilings. Mozart even played the organ there. There’s also the Astronomical Tower, with nearly 200 steps leading up to a fantastic 360-degree view over Prague. The Klementinum has one of the most striking libraries in the world. The Baroque Library has been unaltered since the 18th century. With its stunning fresco ceilings, beautiful old globes, and over 20,000 volumes, you’ll be left in utter awe.
4. Charles Bridge
Completed in 1402, the Charles Bridge is the perfect blend of medieval charm and Baroque beauty. It is flanked by two majestic and gothic grand towers that offer great views over the city. This pedestrian-only bridge is lined with Baroque statues, and during the day, jazz bands and people selling souvenirs set up all over it. Prague’s Charles Bridge is one of the city’s most visited sights, and during peak season, it can be quite the zoo of tourists. The best time to visit is at dawn when the photogenic bridge is free of people but full of atmosphere.
5. Hilltop Fortress Vyšehrad
Prague’s historic fort, Vyšehrad, is like something right out of a fairy tale. Steeped in many a myth and legend, Vyšehrad is thought to date back to the 10th century. Once the seat of the first Bohemian king, it is now in ruins, but it’s still a wonderful place to explore and even offers great views of Prague. Here you can wander the gardens, the cemetery, and St. Peter and Paul Church.
6. The Jewish Quarter
Prague’s Jewish Quarter has a deep history that dates back to the 12th century. You can explore the former Jewish ghetto, which includes many buildings under the blanket of the Jewish Museum. The museum itself has one of the largest collections of Jewish art in the world. A museum ticket will get you into the Old-New Synagogue, Ceremonial Hall, the Old Jewish Cemetery, and four other synagogues. The Old-New Synagogue was built in the 13th century and is one of the oldest and best-preserved synagogues in the world. This area is also where Franz Kafka was born. Check out Sandeman’s free walking tour of Prague to find out what happened here during WWII.
7. Prague Castle
The Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle complex in the world, and this is where you’ll find the Czech Republic’s largest church: St. Vitus Cathedral, a grandiose 14th-century gothic wonder and so much more! You’ll need at least a good portion of the day to explore all the buildings and streets that make up the Prague Castle, but if you’re pressed for time, be sure to visit Golden Lane, a quaint street full of colorful homes where marksmen and artisans lived in the 16th century. Each one set up like it was in its heyday, bringing you face to face with life in Prague for those people. And of course, St. Vitus Cathedral is a must with its haunting gargoyles, beautiful frescos, and stained glass, its nooks and crannies are full of life and wonder.
8. Petrin Lookout Tower
On Petrin Hill stands the Czech version of the Eiffel Tower: Petrin Tower. At just under 200 feet tall, Petrin Tower was built in 1891 for the Jubilee Exhibition. Here you can wander the lovely gardens and head up the tower’s nearly 300 steps to the top platform for awesome views over Prague. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to Snezka, which is the Czech Republic’s highest peak.
9. National Museum
Prague is home to an abundance of strange and unique museums. Some of which fall under the branch of the National Museum. Founded in 1818, the National Museum includes the following museums; the Czech Museum of Music, Ethnographical Museum – where you’ll find traditional Czech folk costumes, the New Building – which exhibits rare pieces that the main museum doesn’t have room to display, the Náprstek Museum – where you’ll find Asian, African and American art, and the main museum building. The main building stands center stage in Wenceslas Square. Beyond its exhibits, it is a grand building inside and out. The National Museum’s main building is currently closed for reconstruction work but will open again in 2018 when the museum celebrates 200 years.
Other museums to check out: Ghost and Legends Museum, Franz Kafka Museum, and the Museum of Alchemists.
10. Try a Trdelnik
One of the best things about visiting a new place is the food! And I have to admit I fell in love with Prague’s iconic dessert, the trdelnik. You can find various forms of this pastry across Eastern Europe but my favorite was in Prague. This Transylvanian/Hungarian pastry can be found all over the city and purchased for a few Koruna. The dough is rolled out, then wrapped around a pole, called a trdlo. It’s then sprinkled with sugar and spice and set to grill. They’re cheap, huge (like nearly the size of my forearm), and delicious.
Where to Stay in Prague
Budget – Sophie’s Hostel
Located in New Town, Sophie’s Hostel is only a five-minute walk from Wenceslas Square. The Hostel is in a great neighborhood full of cafes, restaurants, and shops. Rooms are simple and clean, yet comfortable and chic. Amenities include a shared kitchen, free Wi-Fi, and air-conditioning. There are also towels for hire and delicious breakfast can be purchased, cold or hot, for 150 – 200 CZK.
Rates from €10
Mid-Range – B&B Hotel Prague City
Looking for a great place with a little more privacy? Consider B&B Hotel Prague City. The hotel is within walking distance of Old Town and public transportation. Along with clean rooms and helpful staff, the hotel offers free Wi-Fi, 24-hour reception, air conditioning, and even free breakfast.
Rooms from €39