Can you picture a fairy-tale city filled with magnificent sights? A place where clocks can dance, puppets come alive, and hundreds of spires touch the sky? Can you imagine the wonderful feeling of strolling through colourful streets and gazing upon the same river that inspired Franz Kafka? Then come along and find out what to see in Prague.
The Czech capital is a true European treasure whose city center was considered World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and it’s one of our favourite places on Earth.
WHAT TO SEE IN PRAGUE
OLD TOWN MARKET SQUARE
Although it was a challenge to decide which one of the many amazing sights we would pick as the first entry on our list of what to see in Prague, we think there’s no better welcome card to the city than its outstanding Old Town Square. Widely acclaimed as one of the most charming in the world, this square is surrounded by beautiful buildings built in gothic and baroque style and is home to some of the most iconic attractions in the Czech capital, such as the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, the Old Town Hall, the Church of St. Nicholas, the Kinsky Palace or the Jan Hus Memorial Statue.
Tips: You’ll have to climb the Old Town Hall tower – the 360º view is just magnificent! Also, set this square and its surroundings as your “base”, as most of the attractions in Prague are within walking distance.
How to get there: Metro Line A or Tram 17 or 18 – Stop: Staromestska
Built in 1410, the Prague Astronomical Clock is the oldest operating timepiece of its kind and definitely one of the most beautiful clocks in the world. Besides its visual appeal, the clock’s most popular feature is the mini-show that takes place every hour, in which the wooden figures of the 12 apostles come out of the clock, accompanied by other animated figures that represent vanity, lust, greed and finally death (appropriately represented by a skeleton). It’s a magnificent instrument and one of the most famous landmarks in all of Czech Republic.
Tips: If you want to watch the show properly, then make sure you stand in front of the clock well in advance. We made the mistake of getting there with only 10 minutes to go and had to push our way into the crowd to see it.
How to get there: It’s in the Old Town Square, so the same information applies.
After visiting the Old Town, we recommend moving on to Mala Strana – and there’s no better way of doing so than by crossing Charles Bridge! Connecting these two beloved areas of Prague, this magnificent stone bridge stands as a living symbol of the city. Along its length of over 600 meters, you will find 30 different baroque statues of important figures in Czech history and two imposing gothic towers (that you should climb btw) on each of its ends. Regarded by many as one of the most fascinating bridges in the Europe, no itinerary of Prague is complete without this gem.
Tips: If you’ve done your research on Prague, then we’re sure you’ve read this already – the crowds can get REALLY crazy on Charles Bridge. Therefore, try to wake up early and get there before everyone else does!
How to get there: Just walk from the Old Town!
Another place that should definitely feature on your itinerary of what to see in Prague is its outstanding castle complex, officially nominated the largest castle area in the world by Guinness World Records. Watching gloriously over the “City of a Hundred Spires”, this fortification houses some of the most beautiful and historical buildings in the country, such as the Old Royal or the Rosenberg Palaces. Should you choose to, you can always walk the tiny and colourful Golden Lane and check the actual house where Kafka once lived, or, for a more ghoulish experience, enter the former dungeon of the Daliborka Tower where you’ll find some replicas of torture devices once used on prisoners (classy stuff).
Tips: You can watch the official Changing of the Guard while visiting the castle as it takes place every day at 12h00 at the Main Gate. We didn’t know about this but happened to be in the right place at the right time – always a fun experience.
How to get there: Tram 22 – Stop: Pražský hrad; or Metro Line A – Stop: Malostranská
ST. VITUS CATHEDRAL
Just like the Astronomical Clock and the Old Town Square, we also thought it made perfect sense to create a single entry for the St. Vitus Cathedral, even though it is technically part of the Prague Castle. In fact, it’s the complex’s most striking feature, dominating the city’s skyline as you can see the Cathedral’s towers from pretty much anywhere in the city. It’s one of the most striking monuments in Prague and the Castle’s highlight.
Tips: Do yourself a favour and climb the Cathedral’s Great South Tower. The views from atop are breath-taking and absolutely worth the effort of climbing its almost 300 steps.
How to get there: Same as the Castle!
This central area of Prague stands as a living-symbol of the city’s strong Jewish heritage, forming one of the biggest and most significant group of monuments related to this religion. Once the only area in Prague where Jews were allowed to live, the quarter resisted multiple destruction attempts, with Hitler himself wanting to preserve the area in order to build a “Museum of an Extinct Race”. Despite all the adversities it had to endure, Josefov, much like the Jewish People, survived and prospered, and remains a touristic hotspot in the Czech capital.
Tips: Although not located in the Jewish Quarter, we also recommend checking the Jerusalem Synagogue, in our opinion the most beautiful in Prague.
How to get there: You can walk there from the Old Town Square, as it will take you just 5 minutes (we weren’t kidding when we told you to use that area as your base).
Despite all the other places in Josefov, the real highlight of the Jewish District is the amazing Jewish Cemetery. Serving the city for two centuries (15th to 17th), it became the biggest of its kind in Europe, and still stands as the second oldest in the continent. What strikes the most in this cemetery is how it seems to be cramped with tombstones, something that is explained by the lack of available space when the site was still in operation. It’s one of the most visited sights in Prague and even if it carries a heavy atmosphere it should by no means be skipped.
Tips: Please remember that even though it’s a touristic attraction, this is still the final resting place for 20.000 people, so you may want to leave your selfie stick at the hotel.
How to get there: Same as above!
SAINTS CYRIL AND METHODIUS CATHEDRAL
Next on our list, we chose an attraction of religious, historical and architectural significance. The St Cyril and St Methodius Cathedral is the main Orthodox Church in the territories of Czech Republic and Slovakia, and therefore an important institution to all its followers within these two countries. Built in Baroque style, its visual look is as beautiful as it is imposing, and undoubtedly a place worth checking both on the inside and outside. However, the true reason why this church comes up as a popular touristic attraction in Prague is related to a World War II story. During Nazi occupation, a group of paratroopers successfully managed to assassinate the infamous Nazi Official Reinhard Heydrich, who was acting as the Reich Protector in Czech lands. After completing the coup, the men hid in the crypt of this cathedral, but after being betrayed by other members of the resistance who gave away their location, they were surrounded by the German army and ended up committing suicide to avoid capture. Despite the story’s sad ending their heroic act was not forgotten, and nowadays you can visit the actual crypt these men used as hiding-place and watch the permanent exhibition held there about this chapter in Czech history.
Tips: Both the church and the crypt are closed on Mondays all year round, so you better think of a different day to visit it.
How to get there: Metro Line B – Stop: Karlovo namesti; or Tram 17 or 21 – Stop: Jiraskovo namesti
Despite looking more like a boulevard, St Wenceslas Square is considered the ludic and commercial centre of Prague. Surrounded by multiple department stores, hotels, bars, restaurants and banks, the square is overlooked by the impressive building of the National Museum which stands on its top. It’s a place bustling with the constant movement of locals and tourists alike, and one of the busiest areas in the city, making it a perfect place to do some people-watching while admiring the pleasant architecture around you.
Tips: After reaching the National Museum, don’t forget to turn on your left and check the Prague State Opera.
How to get there: Metro Line A or B – Stop: Mustek; or Tram 3, 9, 14 and 24 – Stop: Vaclavske namesti
We won’t lie, Prague is indeed a beautiful city and one of the most fascinating places we’ve ever been but sometimes it gets waaaay too crowded, especially during the summer or at weekends all year-round. So when you find yourself suffocating amidst the crowds that pile up in the Old Town’s narrow streets, know that there is a place you can go to enjoy a greener and calmer side to the Czech capital. Located on a hill overlooking the Vltava, Vysehrad is a perfect sightseeing area as you’ll be able to enjoy great views of the river while you walk through the remains of the fortified walls of the castle that once stood there. Besides its lovely gardens and wildlife, in Vysehrad you can also visit the magnificent Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, an imposing neo-gothic cathedral whose spires can be seen from afar.
Tips: If Vysehrad leaves you craving for more nature and peace, consider visiting Letná Park – the most popular public park in the city.
How to get there: Metro Line C – Stop: Vysehrad; or Trams 3, 7, 17 or 16 – Stop: Výton
Widely regarded as one of the most romantic places in Prague, the next place on our list is the small but ever-lovely Kampa Island. This area is known for its calm nature when compared to the rest of the city centre and has a remarkably picturesque look. It’s the perfect place for a calm stroll and the ideal getaway spot once Prague crowds start getting into you.
Tips: Don’t miss the chance to check the bizarre baby statues. Don’t know what that is? Well you’ll find out once you see them.
How to get there: Just walk there after you cross Charles Bridge to Malá Strana.
It’s hard to believe that in a city where you’ll find a traditional architectural masterpiece everywhere you look, you can also run into a building that dances – but in Prague that is indeed possible! That’s right folks, nicknamed “Fred & Ginger”, in honour of Hollywood’s favourite dancing couple, the Dancing House is a surreal building unlike any other you’ll ever see. Finished in 1996, the strong contrast between the building’s style and its surroundings brought up some controversy back then, but as it happens with every great construction, the Dancing House eventually gained a place in every local heart and is now a must on most visitors’ lists of what to see in Prague.
Tips: From the Dancing House, take the sidewalk along the Vltava until you reach the National Theatre. It’s just a little over 500m but this is truly one of the most beautiful and picturesque walks we’ve ever taken on our travels. The river on your left, colourful buildings on your right, the sight of the castle from afar and finally the imposing theatre. You won’t regret it!
How to get there: Metro Line B – Stop: Karlovo Namesti; or Tram 17 – Stop: Jiraskovo namesti
For the last entry on our list, we leave you a very special place. You see, there was a time when the Czech Republic was called Czechoslovakia and was ruled by a totalitarian regime. If you grew up in a country once ruled by a dictatorship such as ourselves, then you know this meant people couldn’t freely express their ideas, opinions or political positions, and it was common for locals to find innovative ways of doing so. For Praguers in specific, their most iconic instrument of political emancipation was the Lennon Wall. Suddenly, people started contesting the regime by painting rebellious messages on this Malá Strana wall, while at the same time promoting the ideals of peace and love for which the legendary John Lennon was so famous for, thus lending his name to this landmark. The rest – as they say – is History, as the regime fell and democracy was installed, but Lennon Wall still remains as a symbol of freedom and self-determination of the Czech people.
Tips: It takes some time to really appreciate this place. If you just pass-by, look at the graffiti and leave then you won’t probably feel much.
How to get there: Tram 12, 20, 22 or 23 – Stop: Malostranske namesti or Hellichova
OTHER PLACES YOU MIGHT WANT TO VISIT:
- Municipal House
- Petrin Hill
- Strahov Monastery
Visiting Prague is really like stepping into a fairy-tale and if you manage to check all of these places out then you’re guaranteed a happy ending! But what is your opinion about the Czech capital? Did you enjoy it as much as we did? Are there any other places worth visiting? Let us know on the comments below!