Prague's becoming one of the most popular destinations in Europe. With its breathtaking views and its centuries-old architecture, you will love walking through the cobblestone roads, cross many decorated bridges and visit its many restaurants, pubs and cafés. We loved exploring this enchanting city with such long history and rich culture that represents all of Eastern Europe. As you may know, Prague was modelled after the city of Paris.
1-Cross the Charles Bridge
There's a good chance you will begin your adventure in Prague by taking a stroll across the beautiful pedestrian-only cobblestone bridge spanning over the Vltava River. Join the busiest part of Prague with a mob of tourists flocking every inch of the bridge along with artists, street vendors and entertainers. Until 1841, it was the only connection between the Old Town and Prague Castle. There are 30 statues on display (all replicas) to view and admire. Stand in front of the bronze statue John of Nepomuk and make sure to touch the falling priest on the plaque. This ensures good luck upon your return to Prague. In addition, don't forget to make a wish while touching the hard-to-find golden cross.
2-Drink plenty, plenty of beer
Pilsner, lager, budvar are a few of the words related to beer. And beer has been a fundamental part of Czech tradition for over one thousand years. The brewing of beers began in monasteries and has developed into a major part of Czech culture today. Recognized as the largest beer consuming population in the world, each Czech drinks an average of 140 litres of beer a year! That is far more in consumption than the second-placed Germans, at 100 litres. Adults of all ages, men and women, enjoy their drink of beer. Many beer festivals are held every year (the largest one held in May) where you can sample a variety of brew including over 70 domestic beers. For the true beer lovers, you can stay overnight at a brewery with a built-in hotel, visit a beer spa or simply head over to any store, pub or restaurant to enjoy the cheapest beverage in Prague. (Yes, beer can be cheaper than water!)
3-Take a stroll at the Old Town Square
This is truly one of the most beautiful city squares in the world with ancient buildings and towering churches surrounding you. When we arrived here, the atmosphere was incredible as people gathered all around for the hockey world championships. The game was shown on 2 big screen TVs. If you must know Czechs love their beloved hockey! It was lots of fun and there's so much to do here. There are kiosks and restaurants to sit and relax all over the square. We also recommend to climb to the top of the Old Town Hall Tower and get a beautiful view from the city's historic center. The Astronomical Clock is a thing of beauty and it will have you mesmerized. Also, the Church of Our Lady before Týn is worth visiting but the entrance is a bit hard to find.
This is probably our favourite part of the city and it's quite entertaining. The Astronomical Clock is located at the Old Town Square and it's hard to miss. When the crowds gather, they can sometimes be quite large enough to block the passage.
At the top of every hour, the crowds flock to watch the small figures on each side of the clock as they begin to animate. Two windows open up to reveal the twelve apostles greeting the city.
On the sides of the clock you will see Death (a skeleton ringing a bell), a Turk shaking his head, Greed (a miser with a purse full of money), and Vanity looking in a mirror. The whole performance ends with the crowing of a golden rooster and the ringing of the huge bell from atop of the tower.
Here are some interesting tidbits to learn more about this fascinating tower:
-It's considered the oldest astronomical clock still operating and dates back to 1410.
-The clock consists of an astronomical and a calendar dial.
-It's also known as the Orloj.
-This very impressive mechanism strikes at every hour putting on a show for the crowds below. The apostles put on a fascinating show by nodding for the crowd below as they bless the city.
-Funny enough the clock cannot tell time thanks to the legend of master Hanus. (blinded by officials out of fear he should build another clock for another European city).
-Many astronomical events can be seen like the movement of the sun, phases of the moon, the equinoxes, the seasons, the days and the zodiac on the clock.
Beware of pickpockets!! Looking up for too long can leave you a victim, therefore be careful.
Visit the Church of Our Lady in Front of Tyn
An impressive church in the heart of Prague with incredible architecture inside as much as outside. It's presence is hard to miss! This gothic-style church towers above everything else in its vicinity, at 80 meters high. Its twin towers light brightly at night making this 14th century structure that much more impressive. You must follow the passage from the square as the entrance to this landmark is not easily accessible.
4-Relax and admire the Wallenstein Palace Gardens
There's absolutely nothing like this historical palace surrounded by majestic gardens. This peaceful open area is the perfect place to take a pleasant walk and admire. From the large pond where you can feed the ducks or watch the wandering peacocks to the large marvelous statues of mythological figures like Hercules, the Wallenstein gardens will surely captivate all visitors. It's open to the public and you can check for scheduled concerts hosted here.
5-Climb the Petrin Lookout Tower
The tower was designed as a miniature version of the Eiffel Tower. It also offers one of the best panoramas in Prague. Take the funicular that starts in Mala Strana (Lesser Town) at Ujezd tram stop and takes you to the top of Petrin Hill. Take a stroll through the Rose Gardens and admire the spectacular view of Prague. Take the lift to the top of the tower or climb up its 299 stairs.
Have fun in the Mirror Maze
You can find the Mirror Maze next to the Petrin Lookout Tower with its hall of distorting mirrors. It's actually quite fun!
6-Walk through Malá Strana - Visit the Memorial to the Victims of Communism
Nothing represents the charm of Prague as much as the beautiful narrow streets in Malá Strana. Also known as the Lesser Quarter, this area is found right below Prague Castle and was once home to many noblemen. Now those homes and palaces have transformed into shops, restaurants and hotels.
At the bottom of Petrin Hill, you must visit the Memorial to the Victims of Communism. This sad yet formidable design reminds everyone of the hardships felt by political prisoners and how it touched the lives of those during the communist regime. Seven decaying statues are descending a flight of stairs, from a full man to a man torn apart. A bronze strip that runs along the center of the memorial counts the number of people affected.
This Gothic Cathedral is a thing of beauty. It took over six hundred years to complete the construction of the largest and most important church in Prague. Decorated with stained glass windows and beautiful frescoes, you shall be amazed at the intricate details across the tall walls, like the art of Christ's crucifixion. St.Vitus is quite remarkable as it holds the remains of saints (like the tomb of John of Nepomuk), kings and emperors below and houses the Bohemian Crown Jewels (replicas can be seen at Prague Castle).
8-Visit Prague Castle
It's hard to miss the largest medieval castle complex in the world that lies on top of a hill overlooking the city and the Vltava river. It actually feels more like a small town than a castle, since it's the office and residence to the President of the Czech Republic. It also includes stunning gardens, many historic buildings, beautiful alleyways and the Old Royal Palace. The entire tour can easily take an entire day to complete. From atop, the views are breathtaking but the trek to the top does take some time to reach. There's over one thousand years of history as emperors, kings and princes have lived here. And there are plenty of exhibits and museums to explore and learn from. Take a guided tour if you're interested and to find out more about the castle in greater detail.
Be advised to visit during the early opening hours as it gets extremely crowded and can ruin the experience.
Once in Prague Castle, one thing you must do is visit this old street that brings you back to the 1500's. There's nothing like putting yourself in the shoes of the artisans that lived here during the Middle Ages. The tiny multi-coloured houses are open to walk inside and observe. You will end the tour with a visit to Daliborka Tower (named after the legend of its first inmate, Dalibor of Kozojedy) as this fortified prison would hold upscale captives. You can check out the basement of the tower comprising of a dungeon and torture chamber with cool displays. It's a very popular attraction and recommended to visit during its opening hours.
9-Take a stroll in the Žižkov District
This district has one of the most livid nightlife in Europe. There's a large selection of pubs and bars to choose from. It's a trendy area with many cafés, restaurants and vintage shops as well. Žižkov is definitely a traveler's escape from the tourist attractions zone. Check out the Žižkov TV Tower with the crawling babies. Head to the top of this unique structure to get some of the most beautiful views of the city from the restaurant or cocktail lounge.
10-View all of David Cerny's art around the city
David Cerny is a world-renown Czech sculptor who is considered by many as a controversial figure, but he has become a pillar of the modern art culture in Prague. His bizarre public sculptures spread throughout the city can be difficult to spot at times. They can be found clinging on walls or hanging in the air. Then again, there are some not so hard to find art like giant crawling babies on Kampa Island. From the Embryo that lights up at night to the Pissing Fountain shaped in the form of the Czech Republic, this rebellious artist is not afraid to shock critics or his enthusiasts. Below you will find a map with some of his most famous work found around the city.
11-Explore Kampa Island
This was definitely one of our favorite places to visit if you want to distance yourself from the bustle of the Charles Bridge, found nearby in Lesser Town. It is said the island evokes a taste of Venice as you walk through the area filled with many small cafés and boutiques right beside the river. Enjoy a historic walk through the old well-kept houses and the enchanting park which includes three giant crawling babies with barcodes embedded in their faces.
12-Sign the Lennon Wall
Help keep this wall unclean by bringing a colored pen to write your inspirational peace message. It's a fun mural filled with graffiti as it represents the oppression felt by the Czech people during the communist era.
13-Josefov (Jewish Quarter in Old Town)
Josefov, also known as the Jewish Quarter or the Jewish ghetto, is the smallest area of Old Town and contains some of the most well-preserved Jewish historical monuments in Europe. You can take a walking tour of the quarter, which is home to popular artists such as Franz Kafka. For a small admission fee, take the tour of the Jewish cemetery, museum, synagogues and exhibits. They allow you to explore the centuries-old history that brought these people together to one place.
Sadly enough, the museum is so well-preserved because a collection of material, objects and artifacts were brought to Prague from destroyed Jewish communities throughout Bohemia by the Nazis, with the intention of establishing a museum of an extinct race.
14-Take a walk in Wenceslas Square
A visit to Prague cannot be completed without visiting the historic square. Located in the center of Prague, Wenceslas Square features some of the most beautiful architecture in the city and large crowds gather here from all around. Originally used as a horse market, it is now largely dominated by the National Museum and the towering Statue of St. Wenceslas. Many historic events took place here, like the most recent Velvet Revolution of 1989 that led to the end of the Communist era.
This is the perfect place for all your needs with numerous shops, restaurants, food stands, cafes, bars and a concert hall. Many street performers keep everyone entertained and there's always something to do here either during the day or experience the booming nightlife.
15-Eat a hot dog
If you're looking for fast food in Prague, there's nothing better and more accessible than a street vendor hot dog! You can find them practically on every corner. They're strategically positioned on street corners, in front of a park or bus stops. This is the quickest meal you can find with your choice of ketchup and mustard and they're wrapped in a bread roll making it less messy than your traditional hot dog.
16-Paint a brick for charity
This was actually alot of fun and for a good cause in helping the mentally handicapped. For a small donation of 150 CZK, why not add your own art to the large pile of bricks stacked in the middle of Na Příkopě street, in front of the Museum of Communism. You can put on an apron, grab a brush and paint on the brick anything you like. It can be something artistic, inspirational or something simple as drawing your country's flag.
17-Enjoy a beer and the view from the Letná Beer Garden
Why not find your way up to one of the largest and most beautiful parks in Prague? We loved this enormous park with its many paths for walking and biking. It's very accessible from any direction and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Escape the tourist traps and head over to the east end of the hill to admire one of the most spectacular views of the city looking over the river. At the same time, reward yourself with a beer or some food at the small kiosks in the park. They're relatively cheap. Don't worry, many benches are available and you should preferably go in the daytime.
18-Walk down Nerudova street
As much as Prague Castle can be a day activity in itself, the same can be said for the walk leading up to the castle. Nerudova Street is filled with restaurants, souvenir shops and house signs. You can find out more information about the house signs here. This walking street is a bit steep, but it helps make the walk to the castle a bit more interesting and fun. Don't forget to snack on a Trdelnik along the way at Creperie U Kajetana!
19-Tour the Klementinum
This is a centuries-old complex with lots of history. Known as one of the largest Jesuit colleges which housed some of the most brilliant astronomers and scientists in the world, the Klementinum has influenced Czech culture for the past one thousand years.
Be prepared to walk up the narrow staircase and wooden steps to view the Observatory. Attend a concert venue at the Mirror Chapel or take a guided tour around the National Library . Unfortunately, the stunning room with its beautifully decorated ceilings can be viewed from outside the doors only. We found it a bit disappointing that photography was not allowed, but it's still worthwhile.
20-Stroll by the Dancing House
This funky-looking building with its new-baroque styled architecture created much controversy during its construction when compared to the rest of historic Prague. The building's curves give the appearance of a man and woman dancing. It's named after two famous dancers, also known as "Fred and Ginger". Wait the lineups and once inside, grab a coffee or eat at the restaurant. There's a brilliant view from atop the observation deck.
Head to one of the many puppet shops spread out across the city and browse around these fantastic creations. You will find a large selection of puppets and marionettes with their distinct styles, colours and costumes. The majority of the puppets are carefully handcrafted and made out of wood. You must know that many Czech artisans take pride in the quality of their work. You can virtually find anything from famous characters to scary or creepy looking dolls. It definitely makes a visit to one of these stores a unique experience.
22-See the infant Jesus of Prague
For true believers, there's nothing like visiting the Carmelite Church of Our Lady Victorious in Malá Strana. Millions of admirers and believers from all over the world come to see the Child of Prague statue. It's also known as il Bambino di Praga, but some people feel deceived by the size of the tiny statue. Although, the small wax statue of the baby Jesus is small in size but it's said to possess great miraculous powers. The statue is dressed with a large selection of gowns throughout the year, which are displayed in the museum at the back of the church.
23-Walk down Nový Svět
Take a walk off the beaten path and discover the true spirit of Old Prague. Situated near Prague Castle, this quiet and charming picturesque area allows you to escape the busy city and wander these beautiful cobblestone streets filled with tiny colourful houses. This walk is a magical escape as you traverse through the back alleys of the New World. We absolutely loved this experience!
24-Walk around Vysehrad Castle
Placed on a hilltop is the large Vysehrad fort complex dating back to the 10th century. It's a beautiful place to take a stroll and explore, as the complex contains the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul, the Rotunda of St. Martin (Prague's oldest surviving building), a cemetery filled with Czech celebrities and many immense sculptures. It's definitely not as hectic as some other touristic parts of Prague and maybe the most peaceful. You get some fascinating panoramic views of the city as well. You should make sure to reserve some time to take the entire tour.
25-Strahov Monastery & Library
Head to the quiet Strahov Monastery which also brews it's own medal-winning beer at their Brewery. The two library rooms are magnificent to see. However, you cannot enter the actual rooms themselves as they're only accessible with a tour guide. The ceiling frescoes are stunning and the library has a collection of over 200,000 books stored in the Theological and Philosophical Halls. Take many pictures from outside the velvet rope.
Prague should not be rushed. Take the time and enjoy every corner of this beautiful city. Follow our guide and you will understand why Prague is so charming and popular with tourists.