Even though it is considered a preeminently Christmas holidays destination, Prague manages to prove that it is ideal for all seasons. The attractions of Prague are many and reflect its history, as well as the area’s medieval beauty. Colorful buildings, picturesque neighborhoods, cobbled streets, castles, towers and many more will keep the visitor’s interest unabated. From the famous Charles Bridge to the Astronomical Clock and from Mala Strana to the Petrin Hill, the city will offer you many images and pleasant memories. Explore the fortress of Vysehrad, dance in front of the Dancing House and get lost in the charm of St. Vitus Cathedral. Finally, try the exquisite Czech cuisine and hit it off with dozens of beers.
We are all out of words when it comes to “the Avenue of Statues”. Charles Bridge is the quaintest and, at the same time, the most tourist-attracting pathway to get from the Old Town to the Prague Castle, with the 30 baroque statues of past rulers and saints watching your every step. The fact alone that you get to walk on a bridge that was constructed in 1357 fills you with awe and makes you feel like you have stepped into a fairytale, like knights of an older time. Today, it is full of painters’ stands, musicians and various street artists and it attracts thousands of tourists through night and day. Unfortunately, the fact that it is always packed, does not allow you to really enjoy it and photograph it undisturbed. Although, if you would like to enjoy it with less people around, follow our tip. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the view of the illuminated castle from the bridge and the reflections on the river create a scene that is really hard to describe.
Suggested visit time: 40 minutes-1 hour
The know-it-all says: the number 135797531, which is engraved on the bridge’s tower, stands for the day that the construction of the bridge started (the year 1357, July 9th, 5:31 in the morning) and was chosen by the royal astrologists and arithmologists as the best possible moment for the construction to begin? Also, did you notice that it is read the same both ways?!
Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock
The Old Town Hall and the Astronomical Clock co-exist in the same building and are definitely two of the most important DoDo in Prague. Every day, lots of people gather under the Astronomical Clock to watch the hour change, which lasts for less than a minute and has as a basic characteristic the Apostles’ “dance”. There is another ceremony for the hour change that you can watch from the top of the Old Town Hall. This time, the scenery changes, it is transferred higher and the protagonist is a trumpeter, dressed in his period attire! This ceremony has its own character, but it is not recommend for acrophobics and claustrophobics, as it is quite high and the space is really narrow. You can just as well watch the spectacle from the St. Nickolas Church, located in the old square. There are lots of shops (mostly tourist) in the surrounding area, where you can drink a Czech beer and taste some delicious viands.
Suggested visit time: 1.5-2 hours
Open: Old Town Hall: Tuesday-Sunday 09.00-22.00 & Monday 11.00-22.00.
Astronomical Clock: Always; hourly ceremonies until 21.00.
Cost: Old Town Hall: 5€, Astronomical Clock: Free
The know-it-all says: it is the oldest functioning astronomical clock in the world!
Old Town Square (Stare Mesto)
Prague’s unquestionable winner in the DoDo list is the Old Town Square! The medieval buildings that surround it, like the old Municipal House, the Church of our Lady before Týn, the Astronomical Clock and several others create a fairytale-like scenery! The atmosphere gets even more magical when you hear the horses’ stomping, while they go through the paved streets, taking tourists for a ride. Even during the Middle Ages, the square was a trade center, with numerous merchants coming from every place in Europe. Nowadays, it hosts lots of events, like the Flower Celebration, the Easter and Christmas markets and so on. In the surrounding area there are dozens of restaurants, beer bars, pubs, souvenir shops and all kinds of little stores. Make sure you treat yourself to a sweet pastry (traditional Hungarian) that you can find in stands, around and inside the market. At night, street musicians add their own personal note and, in combination with the night lights, the square unveils its most romantic side.
Suggested visit time: 2-3 hours
The know-it-all says: the statue standing in the square is of Jan Hus, Czech Republic’s martyr and national hero, whose quote “Truth prevails” is considered a national motto!
The gigantic castle is one of the greatest attractions that the city has to offer. Prague Castle shows an obvious heterogeneity in its composition, due to the numerous expansions that have been added through the years, while it is a vivid indicator of Prague’s quaint character and culture. You can visit many of the castle’s attractions for free, while others require purchasing a ticket*. You also have the chance to admire the Change of the Guard at the central gate that takes place every hour, starting at 6 o’ clock in the morning. We found it more impressive than the one at the Buckingham Palace because the Guard passes through the crowd and exits the castle accompanied by several musical instruments. Access is a bit tiring (because of the ascending path) and it is achieved through the road of the Kings. Finally, the evening view of the lit up castle and the reflections it creates from the other side of the Vltava River, complete Prague’s dreamy portrai.
Suggested visit time: 2-3 hours
Open: Castle: Everyday 06.00-22.00. Sites that require purchasing a ticket: April-September 09.00-18.00 & October-March 09.00-16.00.
Cost: Free for lots a simple tour. *10-15€ for the Treasury, Bell Tower, Exhibition, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane and Powder Tower (depending on what you would like to see).
The know-it-all says: It is the largest castle in the world! (According to the Guinness Book of Records.)
If you would like to escape the bustle of the city center and spend a few pleasant hours, then the historically significant fortress of Vysehrad is the ideal choice. It is spread across the largest part of the hill, offering a wonderful view of the city. Inside it you will find lots of galleries and monuments, the most important of which is the Czech cemetery, with more than 650 people of historical significance. Feel the geniality and serenity inside the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul and the one of St. John the Baptist. Pass through the underground galleries and the gothic cellar. Take a walk inside the parks, take pictures of the “dressed” trees (Helen loved them) and have some coffee with the majestic view of the Vltava River at your feet. As far as access is concerned, you shouldn’t worry about the fact that it is far from the city center, as the metro station is just a few meters away. Although it is not so big with tourists, it is certainly worth visiting.
Suggested visit time: 2-3.5 hours
Open: Everyday, 09:30-17:00.
Cost: Fortress: Free, Various monuments: 1-4€ (depends).
The know-it-all says: Charles Bridge’s original statues are hosted in the underground tunnels!
Mala Strana is definitely Prague’s most scenic area. An area that seems to have remained intact through the wear of time, thus exuding a sense of another era! Despite the large tourist crowds, the area has managed to maintain its homogeneity and uniformity and this is a factor that makes it even more attractive and enchanting! In the so-called “Lesser Quarter”, you will find lots of shops selling souvenirs and clothes, restaurants, pubs, bistros, currency exchange agencies and many more. Furthermore, the exquisite medieval buildings, narrow pathways and the Čertovka channel compose a ethereal scenery that is hard to find in our day.
Notice: Do not make the mistake of passing quickly through this area just to get to the castle; you will miss so much of the city’s magic. Walk through the cobbled, upward alleys that lead to the city castle, as well as the Petrin Hill, and get to know its every nook cranny.
Suggested visit time: 2-3 hours
The know-it-all says: it is one of Europe’s first shopping centers that came to be as early as the 8th century!
The Dancing House has become known for its unique architecture, part of which are its multi-level windows, that follow its distinctive structure. Taking a look at the two avant-garde buildings, you will immediately understand that it is like a couple, swaying in the rhythm of a romantic song. And they are no one else than the two famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Don’t get fooled by its form, though, it is not a dance school or anything of this sort; the building houses offices and companies from all over the world. The free entrance gives the chance to the public to have access to the top floor’s watch platform, from where you can enjoy the view (for free), have a cappuccino and dine at the restaurant that it features. At night, the couple performs a different show, as they “dance” in the dark among spotlights, streetlights and the cars’ headlights. It would really be a shame to miss it.
Suggested visit time: 30 minutes-1 hour
Open: Everyday 10:00-23:00
The know-it-all says: at the top of the Fred building, a “glass dome” symbolizes the hat that the famed dancer wore!
Saint Vitus Cathedral
It is one of Europe’s most imposing Cathedrals and it is dedicated to the Italian protector of artists and actors, Saint Vitus. A true artwork of gothic style, located at the Prague Castle. Its exterior is very impressive, managing to draw the attention of anyone standing in front of it, while the interior is equally beautiful, being elaborate and teeming with statues, murals, heirlooms and huge stained glass windows, which were created by the renowned Czech painter Alfons Mucha. Treasures, holy remains and St. Wenceslas’ tomb are kept in the Cathedral. Avoid rush hours (the line is pretty long, especially after 12.00) and do climb up the bell tower. The ascent is not a piece of cake, as you have to climb 300 steps, but the view from the top is totally rewarding.
Suggested visit time: 1-1.5 hours
Open: Monday-Saturday 09.00-16.00 & Sunday 12.00-16.00
Cost: Free for the first zone & 10-15€ for combo ticket including the Treasury, Bell Tower, Exhibition, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane & Powder Tower (depending on what you would like to see).
The know-it-all says: the Cathedral hosts the largest church bell in Bohemia (Central Europe)!
The Petrin Hill is 320m tall and close to the city center. If you can take climbing, choose one of the wonderful routes* that lead to the top. Otherwise, the lift awaits to take you there tirelessly and on a minimal cost. On the hill, you will find the playful mirror labyrinth, the Church of Michael the Archangel, the observatory, the Hunger Wall, the Brevnov Monastery and lots of benches where you can sit and rest or have a picnic! At the top, you will find the Petrin Tower, which is 50m tall. Of course, in order to reach the top of the Tower, you will need quite some time and a few breaks to catch your breath. But once you get there, the view will relax and compensate you for all your trouble! (There is also the option of an elevator, with a small charge.).
Notice: Don’t go if the weather is bad (fog, rain, wind), because you won’t be able to see a thing, so your trouble will be in vain.
*a) crossing Charles Bridge and following certain pathways, b) through the Prague Castle and c) through the Strahov Monastery.
Suggested visit time: Petrin Hill+Activities: 2-3.5 hours.
Open: Petrin Hill: Always. Petrin Tower: Everyday, November-February 10.00-18.00, April-September 10.00-22.00 & October-March 10.00-20.00..
Cost: 4.5€ for adults & 2.00€ for children. The ticket for the elevator is charged an extra 2€.
The know-it-all says: it is one of the 45+ replicas of Paris’ Eiffel Tower and it is 5 times shorter than the original!
Municipal House & The Powder Tower
The Powder Tower is at the end of a delightful, cobblestone route starting from the Old Square and leading to the Municipal House. In the past it was used as a powder magazine, while nowadays it decorates the city center with its prominent appearance! Inside the tower you will see plenty of uniforms, knights’ armor suits, various swords and thrones, while at the top the panoramic view steals the show! The Municipal House, one of Europe’s most outstanding art nouveau buildings, is right next to the Tower and although it is full of spacious halls, it seems empty and cold, while the exterior holds all of its magic and grandeur. Aside from the tours of various function halls and the mayor’s office, you can also watch one of the performances that take place daily, during the afternoon. If you are a fan of Mozart, Vivaldi and other famous composers, do not miss Prague’s orchestra.
Suggested visit time: The Powder Tower: 1-1.5 hours & Municipal House: 1-2 hours
Open: The Powder Tower: Everyday, November-February 10.00-18.00, March-October 10.00-20.00 & April-September 10.00-22.00. Municipal House: Everyday 10.00-19.00.
Cost: The Powder Tower: 4€, Municipal House: 10.00€ including the tour, free without the tour.
The know-it-all says: the Powder Tower used to be part of the city’s walls, working as one of the 13 gates that led to the Old Town!
Wenceslas Square with its neo-European character is in absolute contradiction to the rest of Prague’s quainter nature, but it is still worth a visit. It starts at the statue of the mounted Saint Wenceslas, it is 750m long and can fit up to 400,000 (!) people! This street is to Prague what Champs-Élysées is to Paris or what Unter den Linden is to Berlin, i.e. a central, buzzing street with plenty of choices for food, shopping and entertainment. It is also worth mentioning that on the dividing strip there are cafés and stands that sell food, desserts, accessories and a lot of local products. Wander around it throughout the whole day, stay for a hot beverage or a snack and do not miss the chance to meet new people! During the Christmas holidays, it is transformed from a plain street to a gigantic, bright market, as it is decorated and bustling with life day and night.
Suggested visit time: 1.5-2 hours
The know-it-all says: St. Wencesla’s statue took more than 20 years to be completed!
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