This year I visited the Czech Republic’s capital city for the second time and fell in love all over again 😍 It’s full of striking architecture, breathtaking views and delicious restaurants but without the price tag of some other European cities – it’s no wonder it’s become an incredibly popular destination over the last ten years or so! With so much to pack into a city break read on for 14 things you absolutely can’t miss in Prague.
1. Charles Bridge
The best known landmark in Prague has to be the Charles Bridge. It stretches out across the Vlatva River and joins the Old Town to Malá Strana. Look out for the statues as you cross over and in particular look out for the queues for those that claim to be lucky if you rub them!
Completion of the Charles Bridge was in 1402 and the statues of saints that line it began to be added over 350 years later with more and more added over time. Both soot and time have blackened the sandstone structure and along with it the statues as well.
Unsurprisingly, this is one of the busiest spots in Prague so come early in the morning for a quieter experience and to avoid dodging other people on your way across.
Three spots to take a photo of the Bridge in all its glory are: Malá Strana waterfront, by the Bedřich Smetana statue and from the terrace beside the Old Town Bridge Tower.
Top Tip: the Charles Bridge is book ended by two towers which you can climb up to enjoy views across the Bridge as well as the surrounding areas. Check out 11 stunning viewpoints in Prague for more information and photos!
2. Old Town Square
The Old Town Square of Prague is the bustling focal point of Prague’s historic Old Town. There are lots of narrow streets and alleyways that lead to it but the way they open up onto the magnificent square is sure to take your breath away!
Make sure you look up and take your time to admire the stunning architecture and beautiful buildings that border the Square, from the baroque St Nicholas Church to the Gothic Old Town Hall.
The Square is filled with decorative street lamps, the sound of shoes hitting cobbles all around you and the smell of fresh Chimney Cakes cooking over open fires. At Christmas the Square is turned into a festive market which I would love to come back for at some point!
3. Astronomical Clock (and Clock Tower)
Every hour from 9am to 11pm a crowd gathers beneath the South Tower of the Old Town Hall. They’re here to catch the chimes of the Astronomical Clock and to watch the procession of the 12 disciples pass by the blue doors. The detail and design of the clock is beautiful so for the best chance of seeing it in all its splendour without heads blocking your view is early in the morning or failing that, don’t come on the hour and there will certainly be fewer!
It’s possible to be whisked up to the top of the Clock Tower for stunning views across the Old Town Square. There are 360 degrees of Prague to view so it’s not one to be missed! Your ticket (250CZK) also includes a peek into the historical halls that were the seat of the Old Town administration.
4. Dancing House
The Dancing House is a modern contrast to the typical Baroque and Gothic architecture of the centre of Prague so it really stands out! Come here to join in taking a classic shot kicking down the building or head up to the roof top where you’ll find a bar that you can enjoy a (very) reasonably priced drink with a view.
5. Prague Castle Area
High up on the hill and slopes of the Lesser Town is Prague Castle and the neighbourhood it sits within. This historic area is brimming with places to discover and stories to learn which you can do by buying one of the Prague Castle Circuit tickets. You can choose the one that best suits what you;re interested but I would recommend getting one that includes Golden Lane, St Vitus Cathedral and the Royal Palace.
St Vitus Cathedral stands out in any skyline of Prague and up close its size is even more impressive. The interior is filled with stain glass windows whilst the exterior is a Gothic design stretching up to 97m at the height of its tower. A separate ticket will allow you to climb the spiral stairs up to the dizzying top of the tower to look out across Prague – click here to learn more in my post 11 stunning viewpoints in Prague!
Discover gorgeous handcrafted souvenirs and learn what life would have been like in Medieval Prague with a stroll down Golden Lane. There are plenty of tiny doors to duck into and uncover stories of the people that would have lived here!
6. Powder Tower
As you walk down Celetná you’ll be greeted by the Gothic Powder Tower rising up above the street and surrounding buildings. This is one of the original entrances to the Old Town of Prague and you can probably tell from the detailed exterior that it wasn’t built as a defensive gate into the city! The Powder Tower was the entrance to the city of Czech kings on their coronation days.
The Powder Tower is another location you can climb to the top of and enjoy views across the city. There’s a great alternative perspective down Celetná with to the Týn Church and St Vitus Cathedral in the distance.
7. Teresa U Prince
One of the best recommendations I had for Prague was the terrace bar at Hotel U Prince. Enter through the entrance to the hotel and head up to the roof in the glass elevator. It’s 300CZK to sit on the terrace but it includes a drink of champagne and the feeling of this exclusive view!
We absolutely loved this spot and stayed for a few hours because the drinks were a good price for such an incredible location! In a lot of other cities you’d be paying well over £10 for a cocktail but here they were around £6!
8. Hemingway Bar
There’s a reason that Prague is so popular with students, hen dos & stag dos and that’s the cost of the alcohol. A beer in Prague is likely to set you back less than the price of a Coke! Whilst there are plenty of watering holes to choose between the Hemingway Bar was our favourite (if you’re looking for a classier evening’s drink)! The price may have been similar to home (around £8-£9 a cocktail) but the atmosphere and the secrecy of the bar made it for us. You will likely have to wait outside (they don’t let people queue inside) and there’s a looot of rules but it just adds to the allure. Plus our barman was very friendly, great with drinks suggestions as well as telling us about Prague!
My first cocktail was so extra that it came in a glass in the shape of an oyster with a giant sour hard candy starfish sitting on top of a massive ice cube…😮
9. Lennon Wall
The only place in Prague where graffitti is legal, the Lennon Wall (or John Lennon Wall) is one of those ‘hipster’ spots to visit in the city and all along the wall there are people trying to get an ‘edgy’ photo. The artwork here came into creation on the wall (located in a square opposite the French Embassy) after Lennon’s assassination in 1980. The wall has acted as a protest against the communist rule that the Czech Republic was under since Western Music wasn’t allowed by the authorities during this time.
10. St Nicholas Church
Find the striking Baroque St Nicholas Church in Malá Strana. It’s ornately decorated inside and you can also climb up to the top of the 20m wide Dome! In the communist era, the church tower was used as a look out for the State Security.
11. Czech Food
Whilst Trdelník, better known as Chimney Cake, did not originate in the Czech Republic (it was originally created in Hungary) it is certainly well associated with its capital city. Walking through the narrow cobbled streets of the Old Town you will more than likely be tempted into tasting one by the smell that wafts through the air of dough baking and cinnamon sprinkled on top. There are many Trdelník stalls to choose between with plenty of unusual flavours. I’ve had a few before and kept it simple with a traditional Chimney Cake covered in sugar as well as trying a charcoal version covered in melted white chocolate…
We devoured a selection of Czech tapas (enjoyed with a glass of excellent Czech wine) at Food Lab which included gingerbread dumplings and the best homemade tortellini I have ever eaten stuffed to the brim with fillings in a delicious miso sauce with pumpkin purée 😍
For traditional Czech meals (think hearty goulash, thick stodgy dumplings and plenty of sausages…) that won’t break the bank then try Lokál Dlouhááá and wash it down with a pint of Pilsner Urquell.
12. Malá Strana
On the western bank of the Vlatva river, beneath Prague Castle is the area known as Malá Strana or the Lesser Town. This is a historic area of the city which originates back to the 13th century when it was founded by King Ottokar II (of Bohemia). This is a rather charming place to wander the streets and we found it to be more peaceful than the Old Town.
As you make your way up to Prague Castle don’t be afraid to take a few extra turns and get yourself a little bit lost. Follow along winding cobble stoned streets whilst gazing up at the gorgeous baroque facades that look down on you or stroll through manicured gardens and past ornate fountains.
It’s in Malá Strana that you’ll find the classic waterfront shot of swans swimming on the river and the skyline of the Old Town and the Charles Bridge in the background.
13. Jewish Quarter
In the 13th century, Prague’s Jewish population were commanded to leave their homes and move to this area which became the city’s Jewish ghetto. Whilst the size of the area didn’t change the number of Jews living there and the area became crowded. The Jewish novelist Franz Kafka was born in this area!
Within this small area there are 6 different synagogues as well as the Jewish museum which contains Jewish artifacts from all across Europe and the Jewish cemetery. Much like the Castle Quarter, there are a number of different ticket options depending on which sites you want to visit. Find information on tickets here.
14. Kafka & Freud Statues
One of the most famous children of Prague is the novelist Franz Kafka. Artist David Černý created this massive statue which consists of 42 layers that are able to rotate and disfigure the head of Kafka in a way that is completely disconcerting but hard to take your eyes away from!
Another statue to search for is the Man Hanging Out statue which you can easily miss if you’re aren’t looking up to spot it. The statue depicts psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud hanging onto a pole protruding from the top of a building with one hand. He appears to be contemplating whether he should let go or not. The statue has been mistaken for reality on a number of occasions resulting in phone calls to the police service!
What are you going to do in Prague?!
For some more posts on Prague check out…