The Czech capital is one of the first options that should be considered every time you plan to visit Europe. It has characteristics for others to please all kinds of public. A city that dazzles with its beauty, its history and its atmosphere. Beautiful to visit both day and night enjoying the many activities it has to offer. However, in order to get the most out of it, here is a list of the 15 places to see that you cannot miss in Prague.
1. What to see in Prague: Old Town Square.
The Old Square is one of the main meeting points for both locals and tourists. It is the center where Czechs gather for celebrations, events or demonstrations, and is the starting point for many of the free walking tours. Full of history and beautiful buildings, you can say that the square is one of the main points to see when you are in the city of Prague.
In the square you can find one of the most important churches in the city, Nuestra Señora de Tyn with its impressive Gothic style. The church has two towers 80 meters high and the current construction dates from the 14th century, in the time of Carlos IV. In contrast to Tyn, in the northwest corner of the square, the Church of San Nicolás is located. With a baroque style from the 18th century and a large dome that stands out among the other buildings, it is another place to visit while in the square. Also, if you want, you can go up to the dome.
In another corner of the square you have the Prague City Hall. A set of heterogeneous structures where what stands out the most, in addition to the astronomical clock, is its 70-meter-high tower where you can go up and get some very nice views of the center. Also in the interior you can visit the chapel on the first level, the plenary hall, and even go down to the basement where there are remains of the prison that was there.
Prague Astronomical Clock.
However, what is most striking in the square is the astronomical clock. This beautiful medieval clock found in the tower of the town hall has its origin in 1410. And it not only gives the Czech time. It also displays the seasons calendar, the zodiac calendar and, unique in the world, is also capable of measuring Babylonian time. Also do not miss the show of the small figures to the beat of the bells every time the clock strikes 12 o’clock. A parade of the twelve apostles plus four additional statuettes, the Turk, Avarice, Vanity and Death. Without a doubt, it is a must see in Prague.
There is a replica of the Astronomical clock in the city of Hongdae, Korea. I have not had the opportunity to visit it, so if anyone has, you can leave me your impressions in the comments.
The square is really very pretty and with a lot of movement. It is full of restaurants, cafes, and shops to buy souvenirs. In addition, if you are at Christmas or Easter, you will be able to enjoy a very picturesque market.
2. What to see in Prague: Experience the medieval times walking through Staré Město.
Staré Město means Old Town in Czech. This neighborhood was one of the first settlements in the area where the first testimonies date back to the 9th century. The Old town is located east of the Vltava river and is mostly concentrated around the old square. Both day and night, the streets surrounding the square, and on the way to the Charles Bridge, are full of life. The neighborhood is full of businesses, restaurants, bars, cafes and obviously tourists strolling through the cobbled streets.
Walking through this neighborhood, enjoying its atmosphere, admiring the buildings, entertaining yourself with business, or sitting down for a beer is something magical in this city. It has that I do not know what in the environment that falls in love and conquers anyone.
In Staré Město not only you can enjoy the Old Town Square but also you can see other Prague attractions such as the Powder Tower, the Clementinum or the Charles Bridge. Certainly, getting lost in the old city at any time of the day is a free activity that will make you enjoy a lot.
3. What to see in Prague: Powder Tower in Prague.
The 65-meter tower is an ancient gateway to the old city and the only surviving one of the 13 that were built in the past. Formerly it was unified to the city walls and they called it the new tower. Its construction began in 1475 making it one of the oldest monuments in the old city. However, in 1541, a fire devastated the tower and had to be rebuilt.
The name Powder Tower refers to its old usage. During the 18th century the tower storage the gunpowder and from that moment it was called that way.
Today you can visit it, and after climbing 200 steps, you can get to the top for some nice views of the old city. In addition, inside you can enjoy an exhibition about the city of Prague and a sample of different statues representing ancient Bohemian monarchs.
The tower is located in Náměstí Republiky 5 very close to Wenceslas Square and you can enter for free with the Prague Card (you can buy the card here)
4. What to see in Prague: Clementinum Library.
The Clementinum library owes its name to the first chapel of San Clemente on which the complex originated.
Formerly, in the 11th century, the Clementinum was a small seat of the University of Carlos. However, after several successions of occupants, first the Dominicans and then the Jesuits, the old university expanded to become the largest architectural complex in Prague after the Castle. Much of this growth is due to the Jesuits, who after 200 years, annexed several adjacent territories to build many of the buildings you see today. Finally, at the end of the 18th century, the Clementinum was transformed into the current National Library.
Today you can enter the Library and enjoy its incredible baroque interior. During the visits it passes through different sectors. The Chapel of Mirrors, a hall covered in mirrors where the original organ where Mozart played is located. The baroque library is the artistic jewel of the complex with its baroque style, full of books, globes and frescoes on the ceilings. A whole environment that transports us to another era and makes us feel more intellectual. Finally, the 70-meter-high astronomical tower where you can climb and get 360 views of the city. Even see Prague Castle from afar.
To enter the Clementinum you need to pay a guided tour of 220CZK for adults, 140CZK for minors and students. With the Prague Card you get a 25% discount.
5. What to see in Prague: Charles Bridge in Prague.
If there is a must see in Prague, it is the Charles Bridge. It is one of the best-known images of the capital of the Czech Republic and one of the most visited places in the city. The bridge crosses the Vltava river connecting the Old Town Staré Město with the Malá Strana neighborhood, and is on the way to Prague Castle.
It was King Carlos IV who commissioned Petr Parler to build the new bridge that would replace the old wooden “Judith”, destroyed by the various wars and floods.
Legend has it that to favor the fate of the bridge, astrologers and numerologists recommended laying the cornerstone at 5:31 on July 9, 1357. At the same time, they indicate a capicua number of odd sequence 135797531 that is engraved on the tower of The old city.
The 16-arch bridge, 515 meters long, is slightly wider than its predecessor, measuring about 10 meters. In addition, the bridge has entrance and exit towers at both ends that are just as beautiful as the bridge itself. The name of the tower on the Staré Město is “The Old Town Tower”. On the other, on the Malá Strana side, there is not only one tower but two, the Malá Strana towers.
The tower of the Old City.
Don’t let the simplicity of its name fool us, the Gothic-style tower, 43 meters high and seven centuries old, is one of the most beautiful in Prague.
It was commissioned by King Carlos IV and built by the same architect who made the bridge. Among the details of its architecture you can find that it is decorated by the coats of arms of the countries that belonged to the Czech Kingdom. In addition, you can see five sculptures of important personalities of the country. As if it were a football team, on the left, King Carlos IV himself, in the center, San Vito, and on the right, the former King Wenceslas IV. Above are two more, the patrons of the Czech Republic, Saint Adalberto and Saint Segismundo.
The tower can be visited and climbed to the top to have a nice view of the Charles Bridge next to the Prague Castle. The entrance fee is 100 CZK for adults but with the Prague card you get a 50% discount.
The towers of Malá Strana.
The towers located on the Malá strana side are uneven in size and that is because they were built at different times. The smallest, 29 meters high and three stories high, is the oldest, from the 12th century. Called Judith Tower, it is the only reminiscence of the old bridge. It was originally romantic in style but in 1591, when it was attached to the other tower, a Renaissance-style roof was added.
The tallest tower is the Malá Strana tower. It is 45 meters high and was built in 1464 with a late Gothic style. Currently you can visit and go up to its gallery at 26 meters high. Inside, in addition to having good panoramic views of the bridge, you can also enjoy an exhibition of the history of the Charles Bridge.
The sculptures of the bridge.
Of the 30 sculptures found on the bridge, none is the original, all are replicas since the authentic ones were transferred to the National Museum.
The first statue installed in 1683 was that of San Juan Nepomuceno, Patron Saint of Bohemia. Legend has it that he was sentenced to death by Wenceslas IV throwing him off the bridge in 1393 but years later he was converted into a Martyr. Supposedly the cross between pillars six and seven is the place where he was thrown into the water.
You will see that in the Nepomuk statue there is a figure of a dog that shines golden. This is due to the legend that if you touch the puppy (symbol of fidelity) you will return to the city of Prague.
From the statue of San Juan Nepomuceno the other statues began to be placed representing various saints and patrons.
Without a doubt, the Charles Bridge is a must see in Prague. Not only for its architectural beauty and long history, but also for the bohemian atmosphere full of artists, musicians and painters that make us feel like we are walking in the 14th century. I recommended you walk along the bridge, at different times, to appreciate it with different daylight. And definitely crossing it at night, illuminated by its lanterns, is something that you cannot miss, with the added bonus that you will avoid other tourists a bit.
6. What to see in Prague: The huge Prague Castle.
In Malá Strana neighborhood the most important thing to see is the Prague Castle. However, The Castle is not a conventional one. This is a small walled city where there are several important buildings and monuments connected by picturesque streets. Therefore, if you want to see everything in detail, then you will have to dedicate at least one whole morning to it.
The castle has its origin in the 9th century when Prince Bořivoja sent to build it. From that moment the complex grew and became the residence of the Bohemian kings. Today, and since 1918, it has also become the seat of the Presidency of the Czech Republic.
St. Vitus Cathedral.
St. Vitus Cathedral is the most important Czech church and is the Cathedral of Prague. This impressive Gothic-style cathedral dates from the first half of the 14th century. Petr Parler, author of the Charles Bridge, also participated in its construction and design.
He witnessed great events such as the coronations of the Bohemian kings, the burials of Charles IV of Luxembourg, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and of Wenceslas I, King of the Romans and Bohemia.
The cathedral is huge and full of details. One of the most striking things to see is the large stained glass windows full of images and colors throughout the entire Cathedral.
Next to the Cathedral of Saint Vitus is the Royal Palace of Prague. A building from the year 1134, initially built in a romantic style to which other Gothic and Renaissance flats were later added.
The highlight is its large Vladislao Hall, 63 meters long and 16 meters wide, where the Gothic-style nave has its five-star beams. In this room presenciated jousting for knights, banquets and coronations. Nowadays, the elections for the President of the Czech Republic are held in this room.
The Golden Alley is a small street where there are a series of picturesque colored houses where the goldsmiths of the palace used to live.
The houses are form the 16th and 17th centuries, highlighting number 22 where the famous writer Franz Kafka lived between 1916 and 1917. Currently the houses are representations of how people lived before and others are cafes or souvenir shops.
Really this short street does not have much more to offer and it is not the highlight of Prague Castle. It is not the most essential.
Basilica and Monastery of Saint George.
The Basilica of Saint George was founded in 920 and expanded with the Benedictine Nuns’ Monastery in 973. However, a great fire that occurred in 1142 almost destroyed it all and had to be rebuilt.
The interior is quite austere, without much luxury or detail, characteristic of romanticism. The highlight is the chapel of Saint Ludmila and the collection of Bohemian art from the 19th century, in the Monastery of Saint George.
The Dalibor, or Daliborka tower, was built in 1483 and functioned as an old prison. When visiting it, you can see some of the different jail rooms and even some torture tools.
The name comes from the first prisoner in the tower, a young knight. Legend has it that the young Dalibor sheltered a group of rebel servants and was therefore sentenced to death. While in prison he learned to play the violin and played very nice melodies that everyone from the top of the tower could hear. His sentence was delayed for fear of the people’s revolt as he became a kind of Czech Robin Hood. However, some time later, the violin stopped playing.
Entering the castle and touring its internal streets is free (except for the golden alley), but to enter the different buildings and monuments you have to buy the ticket. There are different combinations depending on what you want to see (Circuit A, B or C) and if you hire an audio guide. Tickets are valid for two days, that is, they count for the day of the first admission and the next. It is best to buy in advance to avoid the lines when entering.
7. What to see in Prague: Malá Strana neighborhood.
Malá Strana, “small town”, is the first neighborhood that you found crossing the Charles Bridge from the old town and on our way to Prague Castle.
It is a very beautiful and colorful neighborhood with a very bohemian atmosphere. Along the main streets, Mostecká, Nedurova and Karmelitska, full of restaurants, cafes and businesses, you can see the marked Baroque style. Some even call it “the pearl of the baroque”.
During the day, it is a very lively and busy area, since there are many points of interest in its surroundings.
The churches of the Malá Strana neighborhood.
In the main square, Malostranské náměstí, is the impressive Baroque Church of Saint Nicholas. The exterior stands out for its large green dome and its bell tower. Inside you can enjoy the pulpit decorated by numerous sculptures and in the Baroque style, the organ that Mozart played, and the frescoes in the dome. If you want, you can pay to go up to the belfry viewpoint.
Along Karmelitská street you can find The Church of Our Lady of Victory but better known as Church of the baby Jesus. It is named after the small wax sculpture representing the Child Jesus. This image of the little boy is highly revered by the faithful, which made the church an important pilgrimage center, attracting thousands of religious year after year.
Like the Manneken pee in Brussels, this small statuette has an entire dressing room and a private museum.
Continuing through the Malá Strana neighborhood you reach Mount Petřín. A 140 meter high hill surrounded by a large park. In addition to being able to stroll outdoors and rest from the bustle of the city, you can also enjoy other attractions. On the hill is the Petřín Tower, an observation tower that has a similar resemblance to the Eiffel Tower in Paris but is less than 63 meters high (although the height of the hill must also be added). You can go up to the top, upon payment of the entrance, and see the city of Prague completely.
Also in the park is the Mirror Labyrinth, an activity recommended for children. After paying the entrance (free with the Prague Card) and making a small line, you enter a kind of castle full of mirrors of different sizes that distort the images.
8. What to see in Prague: John Lennon Wall.
In the same neighborhood of Malá Strana there is a curious wall that became an icon of the city, and one of the places to see in Prague, the John Lennon wall. This colorful wall that is full of graffiti, full of peace phrases and lyrics of Beatles songs has a very curious birth.
After the death of John Lennon in 1980, the image of the singer was painted on this Mala Strana wall together with messages demanding freedom. At a time when the Czech Republic was dominated by Communism, these “subversive” acts were not tolerated by the regime, and were therefore repressed. All types of images and / or messages on the wall were constantly erased. But no matter how much effort was made to remove the graffiti, they always reappeared. Over time, the wall became a symbol of the peaceful struggle and freedom of expression of Czech youth.
In 1998, the poor condition of the wall made it have to be rehabilitated. However, after the reconstruction work, graffiti, graffiti and messages reappeared.
The wall is located at Velkopřevorské nám. 485/4, 118 00 Malá Strana
9. What to see in Prague: The narrowest street in the world.
Another attraction to see in Prague, and original to this city, is the so-called narrowest street in the world. Vinarna Certovska Street, a kind of staircase 10 meters long and only 70 cm wide, is so narrow that two people of normal build do not pass at the same time. To avoid that pedestrians stock in the middle of the street, there are traffic lights at both ends of the road.
Although it is thought that this narrow alley has a recent origin or is a construction error, the truth is that it is several centuries old and was created with a particular reason. Its function was to divert the water that came from Mount Kyetnice, very close, and take it outside the city.
Today it is a very curious and fun attraction. You will always meet a tourist like me, taking photos and trying to cross to the other side.
10. What to see in Prague: Wenceslas Square.
Wenceslas Square doesn’t really look like a traditional square like the one we are used to seeing in Europe. It is actually a 750 meter long avenue, with a boulevard in the middle, decorated by pretty flower gardens.
This great avenue is the center of the most modern area of Prague, and has been the protagonist of a very important event in the history of the Czech Republic. In 1989, a large demonstration against brutal police repression took place in this plaza. This event was the beginning of the velvet revolution and subsequent fall of communism.
Along the square you can find all kinds of businesses, large clothing stores, money exchange offices, supermarkets, as well as many hotels, restaurants, cafes and other places of entertainment.
The highlight of the square, in addition to its dynamic atmosphere, is the Prague National Museum which is located at the southern end of the boulevard. On the other hand, in the Lucerne passage, you will be able to take some photos of the particular equestrian sculpture of Saint Wenceslas riding his horse inside out.
It is very possible that on your visit to Prague you pass at least once through Wenceslas Square, since it is very close to the Hlavní Nádraží train station, and also many of the hotels are located in the area.
11. What to see in Prague: Dancing House of Frank Gehry.
The Dancing House is a building with a very particular shape that emulates two people dancing. In fact, many people call this building as “Ginger and Fred”, by dancers Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.
The building was constructed by the Czech architect Vlado Milunic with the participation of the famous architect Frank Gehry. It was completed in 1996 and is currently occupied by offices. It is not possible to visited the interior although, you can go up to its bar on the terrace.
The dancing house is located very close to Wenceslas Square, on the way to the Jiráskuv Bridge, making it very easy to get to. It is highly recommended to stop by at least once and spend a few minutes to see this fun building in Prague.
12. What to see in Prague: Statue in honor of Franz Kafka.
Since 2014, on the doorstep of the Quadrio shopping center, right at the Národní Třída metro station, there is a statue honoring the famous Prague writer Franz Kafka.
The statue is a huge head sliced by 42 movable plates of shiny stainless steel that represent the writer’s face. These plates move in a circle, which causes the face to deform and then rejoin but looking elsewhere.
Some interesting facts about the sculpture created by artist David Černý: it is 11 meters high, weighs 24 tons and the motor that makes the blocks turn needs 1 kilometer of cables.
13. What to see in Prague: Try Czech beer.
In case you didn’t know, the Czechs consume the most beer (Pivo in Czech) in the world. That is why being in Prague you can not miss trying the typical Czech beer.
Czech Republic is a country with a long beer tradition, standing out for its Pilsen-type production. The first Czech brewery is said to be from the year 993, at which time the Cloister of Brevnov Prague was created. Until then, the Czechs produced it by hand, in their own homes, and used it both for drinking and for preparing various meals.
Czechs love beer so much that in addition to celebrating National Beer Day on September 27, they also have the biggest festival during 17 days in May in Prague.
Being in Prague we will not miss the opportunity to give ourselves that taste of tasting Pilsen beer since the city is full of bars. You just have to choose one and order a Pivo. A word of advice, when toasting you must always say Na zdravi! and you look into the eyes of the other celebrants. Otherwise you would be rude and unlucky.
14. What to see in Prague: Enjoy a play at the Black Theater.
Although it is not something exclusive to Prague, the city has a wide range of Black theater spectacles. The advantage of this shows is you don’t need to speak the language since you only listen to the music.
The black theater is a play where the actors wear only black clothes and perform on a black background. This makes the viewer only see what the actors want to show.
Illuminated objects, phosphorescent articles and floating characters draw a lot of attention in the presentations, which make this art special.
There are many theaters that offer this type of show in the city. Some of them are Ta Fantastika, Teatro Blanik, Teatro Metro or Teatro Animato.
15. What to see in Prague: Boat trip on the Vltava.
Generally when there is a major river that runs through the city it is always nice to take a boat ride, and Prague is no exception.
Touring the city through the Vltava River and enjoy many of the main buildings and monuments of the city from is a good option to consider. Mainly if you do it at night, dining a typical Czech meal, while admiring the beauty of the illuminated city.
There is also the short and day option that is not to rule out. The one-hour walk is a good way to get to know Prague from the river, at a more affordable price.
Where to stay in Prague?
Prague is a large city but most of the attractions are located in or very close to the old town.
The city is divided into 10 districts, Prague 1, Prague 2, Prague 3, etc. although the inhabitants call them by Stare Mesto, Mala Strana, Vinohrady, etc.
Stare Mesto is the most central area of Prague and where the main tourist attractions are located. On it are the Charles Bridge, the Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, the Jewish Quarter and many other tourist attractions. Also, this area is full of restaurants, shopping malls, bars and clubs.
However, these benefits are accompanied by a higher accommodation price than in any other part of the city.
The Malá Strana neighborhood is another of the oldest and most beautiful areas of Prague. It is the area at the foot of the hill where the Prague Castle is located. The best way to get there from Stare Mesto is by crossing the Charles Bridge.
This area is very quiet and luxurious with ministries and embassies in addition to the Parliament of the Czech Republic. It is the most exclusive neighborhood in Prague, and many of its best restaurants are located here. It is for this reason that prices are also not the cheapest.
Unlike the Old City at night there is not much movement. It is an excellent option to stay in Prague if you are looking for tranquility.
The neighborhood Vinohrady just beyond the end of Wenceslas Square,its an excellent places where to stay in Prague.
The location is very close to the center and there are no tourist crowds like the Old City. Another advantage is the proximity to Hlavni Nadrazi (The main train station).
The accommodation I chose last time in Prague was DREAM Hostel Prague. A hostel with all the comforts and just 10 minutes walk from the Old Town square.
This area is well connected to the public transport and it has a wide gastronomic offer with a good number of chic cafes, trendy bars and shops. It is a very good option to stay in Prague.