Prague Travel Guide: Step into the Fairy Tale
Discover the city of a hundred spires
Prague boasts a beautiful, historic skyline that wouldn’t look out of place among the pages of a fairy tale.
Indeed, the beautiful Vlatava River was the inspiration for Smetana’s Moldau symphony in the 19th century. It flows slowly through the centre of the city and is lined with the most spectacular architecture.
The capital of the Czech Republic boasts one of Europe’s best-preserved historic city centres and it’s no wonder it is also one of the most visited.
Prague is the perfect destination if you are looking for a romantic city break with your loved one but ideal for all the family too.
Prague at a glance
Prague is a city begging to be explored, it is the perfect place to just wander around and take it all in.
Nicknamed the ‘city of a hundred spires’, you’ll find architectural delights around every corner of the city’s medieval cobbled streets, from Gothic and Renaissance to Baroque and Art Nouveau.
If you are planning to visit this capital city then read on so you know what to expect and can make the most of every second that you are here.
Travel advice when visiting Prague
According to gov.uk, the majority of tourists visit the Czech Republic without any issues. However, petty theft can be a problem, especially in Prague. It’s important to take out insurance so that, if anything does happen while you are away, you are covered.
As you would in any major city, leave any valuables you don’t need in your accommodation and take advantage of the safe. Then ensure anything you do have on you is kept in a safe place and out of sight, as much as possible.
Central Prague is easily explored on foot, but there is also a metro, tram and bus network that will take you between neighbourhoods as well as to the outskirts of the city. Tickets are valid on all three types of transport and can also be used on the funicular if you wish to travel to the top of Petrin Hill.
The tram is best for shorter distances and the metro for longer ones. There are also taxis, should you need to use them – but make sure you order these over the phone rather than hailing them in the street.
Average accommodation costs
Prague is fairly cheap, especially compared to Europe’s other major cities. You can expect to pay Kč 1,227 a night for one person (about £42) and Kč 2,454 for two people (about £84).
Popular attractions in Prague
Prague is the ideal city for sightseeing. It’s easy to wander around the centre and take in many of the top attractions as you go. But, so you know what you are looking out for, here are three of the best.
1. Charles Bridge
Situated over the Vltava River, you’ll find one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and arguably one of the most recognised historic bridges in the whole of Europe. The Gothic stone bridge connects the Old Town to Malá Strana, or the Lesser Town, as it is also known. It was built in 1357 during the reign of Charles IV. Rumour has it, egg yolks were added to the mortar to strengthen it. You can climb the towers on either end for spectacular views and admire the 30 Baroque statues as you walk across the bridge.
2. Prague Castle
As a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest castle complex in the world, it’s no surprise that Prague Castle is the most visited tourist attraction in the city. It’s situated in the Hradcany neighbourhood and dates back to about 880, although it looks quite different to how it would have done then having undergone many repairs and reconstructions. Many of the city’s most popular attractions are situated within the castle walls including St. Vitus Cathedral and Golden Lane. You can join a guided tour or take an audio guide to discover the castle’s history as you explore it for yourself.
3. The Astronomical Clock
The oldest working astronomical clock in the world can be found in Prague’s Old Town Square, on the southern side of the Old Town Hall Tower. It dates back to 1410 and, as well as displaying the time, it also displays the date, astronomical cycles and the position of celestial bodies. Between 9am and 11pm, when the clock strikes the hour, you can see the Twelve Apostles procession. Other figures to watch out for include The Vain Man, The Miser, The Skeleton and The Rooster.
The best things to do in Prague
There is plenty to do in the capital city, whether you are here for a week or a weekend, you won’t struggle to fill you time. But, to help you start planning your itinerary, here are three of the best things to do in Prague.
Explore St Vitus Cathedral
You can’t miss this cathedral, it can be seen from almost anywhere in the city and is one of the top attractions situated within the castle complex. It is both the most important and largest church in the country. Take a moment to admire it from the outside before stepping inside to see the stunning stained glass windows and the Last Judgement mosaic. You can also see the tombs of Charles IV and St Wenceslas which can be found at the centre of the Cathedral in St Wenceslas Chapel. Here you’ll also find a door leading to the Crown Chamber and the Bohemian Coronation Jewels.
Visit Prague Zoo
Animal lovers won’t want to miss Prague Zoo, which is regularly voted one of the best in the world. The zoo opened to the public back in 1931 and is now home to more than 650 species and 5,000 animals – a number of which are endangered. The zoo was opened to “advance the study of zoology, protect wildlife and educate the public” and to this day nature conservation is at the heart of what it does. Visit and you’ll come face to face with elephants, gorillas, tortoises, penguins, polar bears, tigers, hippos and giraffes – to name just a few.
See a Puppet Show
Puppetry has long been a tradition in Prague – it is included on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage. As well as puppet makers, the city has a puppet museum and a number of puppet shows. National Marionette Theatre is the most famous puppet theatre in Prague. Here you can see world-famous operas with a cast of puppets including Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute. This isn’t just for children, it is something the whole family will enjoy. You’ll find both wooden puppets and finger puppets that can be picked up as souvenirs in many shops across the city.
Excursions from Prague
While you are in the country’s capital city it is worth planning in a few day trips so you can explore more of the Czech Republic.
Just over an hour from Prague you’ll find one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions – the Sedlec Ossuary or the Bone Church, as it’s also known. Step inside and you’ll see it is decorated with between 40,000 and 70,000 human skeletons. The most impressive part is the bone chandelier, which is formed from all the bones in the human body.
Just north of Prague you’ll find Terezin, a World War II concentration camp within Theresienstadt fortress. Buses take less than an hour and leave from Prague’s main bus station. Once you arrive, take a guided tour of the camp including the ghetto museum where you can watch films and see artefacts to learn more about the Jewish prisoners.
You might not associate Prague with skiing but just a couple of hours away you’ll find one of the best ski resorts in the country. Coach transfers are available for a full day of skiing or snowboarding on five and a half miles of downhill runs with varying levels of difficulty.
Food and drink in Prague
Prague is known for its meat, with pork being the most traditional and the national dish, often served with cabbage and dumplings. Pork knuckle is a popular way to eat this and you’ll find it on plenty of menus in the capital. This can vary depending where you try it.
Goulash, a slow-cooked meat and vegetable stew, is another dish you’ll want to try in Prague. The rich and warming meal can be found served in a bread bowl.
Mlejnice, which can be found just off the Old Town Square, serves both these classic dishes.
One of the most popular side dishes in the city is dumplings. They tend to be served alongside main meals that consist of meat and gravy.
If you are in Prague on a Saturday then you may like to visit the farmer’s market which can be found beneath Vyšehrad. Here you can enjoy riverside views while sampling local sausages, freshly baked bread and seasonal vegetables.
If you eat a plant-based diet then Prague is one of the best cities to visit. There are more than 50 vegan restaurants as well as vegan dishes on most menus.
Do you have a sweet tooth? If so, you’ll want to try trdelník, or chimney cakes, which is a rolled dough that is baked and sprinkled with sugar.
The Czech Republic is also known for brewing the best beer, not only in Europe but perhaps even the world. The most famous is Pilsner Urquell but not far behind it is Staropramen which is brewed in Prague.
At Pivovarky Klub you can wash down a traditional dish from a menu of 240 bottled beers as well as six on tap – a large number of which are Czech or brewed in-house.
After a busy day of sightseeing and a delicious dinner you may be wondering where you can continue your night.
Firstly, there are a number of cosy cellar bars that can be found beneath the city streets. Beer is, of course, popular in Prague and you’ll find Beer Halls as well as traditional Czech pubs. Don’t miss U Medvidku Beer Hall, which dates back to 1466 and brews its own beer.
It is also a great place for live music, especially rock and roll. This has grown a lot from the underground scene that developed when the music was banned during the communist regime. The MeatFactory is one of the best places to head for.
If you would like to dance the rest of the night away then why not make your way to one of the city’s clubs? One of the most exciting and unique is Cross Club. Here you’ll also be able to see live music and DJs against the futuristic, ever-changing décor.
Shopping in Prague
As with most capital cities, Prague is a great place for shopping, whether you are looking for a bit of retail therapy or just want to pick up a souvenir for loved ones back home.
There are a number of shopping centres with well-known brands including the Palladium in Republic Square and Myslbek on Na Prikope which connects Republic Square to Wenceslas Square. The street it sits on isn’t only one of the best shopping streets in Prague it has also been ranked within the world’s top 20 high streets. Once you have browsed the shopping centre, wander along the street and you’ll find a number of boutiques.
You’ll also find a number of shops tucked away across the Old Town selling treasures just waiting to be discovered.
Havelsky Market dates back to 1232 and is the only preserved market place in the Old Town and the current market is situated on Havelská Street. Here you can pick up fruit and vegetables as well as arts and crafts plus various souvenirs.
Prague culture and art
There is plenty of culture and art to soak up as you wander around this historic city but you’ll also find a large number of museums and galleries that you can step into and discover so much more.
The National Museum is the largest museum in the country. This museum is spread across the city with the main building in Wenceslas Square. The items housed here will enable you to learn more about the Czech Republic’s past.
Art lovers won’t want to miss Museum Kampa, a modern art museum located in Sova’s Mill or The National Gallery where you can see the largest collection of art in the country. The work dates right back to medieval times and can be found across the city including at Schwarzenberg Palace, Sternberg Palace and Kinsky Palace.
The city has a Jewish Quarter, which was created during the 13th century when Jews were unable to live in any part of the city. You’ll find it between the river and the Old Town. Here you can visit four historical synagogues that form the Jewish Museum.
You may also like to visit the Museum of Communism to discover what life was like during the Communist-era.
While you are wandering between the museums and art galleries you’ll see art dotted across the city such as sculptures by David Černy. This includes the giant crawling baby statues in Kampa Park.
Outdoor adventure in Prague
Situated on the bank of the Vltava River you’ll find the greenest part of the city, Petrin Hill. You can either walk or take the funicular up to the top if you don’t fancy this. From up here, as well as taking in wonderful views across the city you can see a miniature version of Paris’ Eiffel Tower. Take the 299 steps to the top and, on a clear day, you’ll be able to see the country’s highest peak, Snezka.
If you fancy sightseeing in a slightly more adventurous way, then you can take a paddle board out on the river and enjoy views of Prague Castle and Charles Bridge from the water.
There are plenty of famous attractions in Prague that you won’t want to miss. However, you may also like to step away from the crowded touristy parts of the city and discover another side that is equally as intriguing but lesser-known.
Sigmund Freud Statue
It’d be easy to miss this statue, unless you look up. The seven foot tall statue of Sigmund Freud is situated in the Old Town where he hangs by one hand from a beam over the street below. It is known as ‘Man Hanging Out’ and reflects the psychoanalysts’ phobias. It’s useful to know about this in advance as it has resulted in several calls to the police.
The Dancing House
You may have heard this building referred to as ‘Fred and Ginger,’ this is due to the fact that it was inspired by the dancing couple. The glass tower is Ginger Rogers and the concrete one is Fred Astaire. It is one of the city’s more modern buildings, with work starting on it in 1992. Admire it from the outside or head up to the top to eat at the restaurant or take in 360° views from the observation deck.
The John Lennon Wall
This colourful shrine to The Beatles can be found in Mala Strana. The wall has been decorated with John Lennon and Beatles-themed graffiti since the 1980s. The ever-changing artwork includes song lyrics and iconic images of Lennon. You can visit the wall just to see it or you may like to add your own mark to the layers of graffiti to show your love for the world-famous band.
Best times to travel to Prague
The best time to visit Prague is from mid-April to May and September to mid-October because it is slightly quieter and you can explore without the crowds. The hottest month is July when the average temperature is 18°C. Prague is very cold between November and February. The coldest month is January when temperatures reach lows of -1°C. However, it is worth visiting for the Christmas markets, which start at the end of November and continue until the beginning of January. You are likely to see the city covered in a blanket of snow but the benefit of visiting at this time is that you can warm up with a glass of mulled wine.
Now you know what to expect from Prague you can start planning your trip to ensure you make the most of every second in this enchanting city.
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