Prague has always been popular with international travelers, consistently ranking as one of the top ten most visited European cities, but appeal has only strengthened since the pandemic restrictions have eased and travel has resumed.
Prague is of course Czechia’s or the Czech Republic’s capital and largest city. It’s also often regarded as the cultural capital of Central Europe. The city has long been inspirational for famous artists and writers, with travelers lured in by its impressive architecture, world-class museums, countless historic sites, and growing food scene.
Despite its popularity, Prague is surprisingly not as touristy as would be expected, sporting a fresh young vibe with many recent renovations such as with the National Museum and State Opera, as well as a bunch of new projects being unveiled since we were all forced into lockdown.
There are a number of recently opened hotels and trendy new restaurants, cafes, and bars in places like the historic ice-storage vaults of Náplavka.
So with Prague’s hotels at capacity for most the summer and looking to remain close to that well into the fall, let’s look at what visitors are most eager to see. You’ll find that the Prague’s metro and tram network make getting around the city a breeze and a city visitor pass will get you unlimited use of this public transport and free entry into many of the attractions I will highlight.
Walking Tour of Prague
There is no better way to fully immerse yourself in a city than by walking through it. In fact, many of Prague’s most notable attractions which I will discuss in greater detail below can be experienced with a free walking tour like those offered by GuruWalk.
With so much to explore in Prague, it can be extremely helpful getting an introduction to the city with a local guide on a walking tour who will ensure you don’t miss out on seeing places like Prague Castle, the iconic 14th-century Charles Bridge, Jewish Quarter, and Old Town.
A building is just a building and a monument just a monument without the knowledge of its history and significance. A local Prague walking guide can offer you this insight to really make attractions come to life.
Best part is joining a free walking tour of Prague is as easy as joining the GuruWalk tour community and booking a tour that aligns with your interests. All this is of course free, and you are simply encouraged to pay your ultra-knowledge walking guide whatever you can afford or believe is fair based on your experience.
This type of pay-what-you-please walking tour ensures local guides go above and beyond to make your experience the best it can be, making it a no-brainer way to start your Prague journey.
Choose from many different themed tours, each taking you through different neighborhoods of Prague and introducing you to unique activities and attractions such as the city’s famous Astronomical Clock and the Lennon Wall.
Said to be the world’s largest ancient castle, Prague castle proudly sits perched atop a hill overlooking the city, knowing full well it’s the most popular attraction in town. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Prague Castle is what the Tower of London is to England, holding the Bohemian Crown Jewels which only get displayed to the public every so often.
The castle dates back to the 9th century, having been home to Bohemian kings, Holy Roman emperors, and is now the official residence of Czechia’s president. You definitely don’t need to be a king or president to visit today though, with there being a number of different tours to choose from based on what your interests may be.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as the castle and its grounds are quite large, with a number of cathedrals, palaces, halls, towers, and gardens to explore. There is free entry to the grounds and gardens, but you will need to purchase various tickets to enter many of the buildings.
Highlights not to be missed include St Vitus Cathedral with its gargoyles and beautiful stained glass windows, Matthias Gate where you can catch the changing of the guard, and various special exhibitions like those often found in the Imperial Riding Stables.
One of the most beautiful spots in Prague, a stroll across the pedestrian-only Charles Bridge is a must. Crossing the Vltava River, this medieval stone arch bridge dates back to the 14th century.
The bridge spans over 500 meters, with dozens of Baroque statues to observe which portray various saints and famous faces like Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV who ordered the bridge’s construction. There’s also a tower you can climb for an impressive aerial view on either side.
Being basically at the epicenter of Prague’s top attractions, you won’t have to go out of your way to experience it. However, my recommendation is to go there early in the morning or after sunset if you wish to avoid crowds and have more room to enjoy the incredible views.
You’ll be able to see the Prague Castle lit up at night, and the bridge of often buzzing with local artists, musicians, and street vendors.
Prague’s Josefov or Jewish Quarter is a fascinating place to explore. Dating back to the 13th century, the Jewish Quarter can be found in Old Town. It’s here where Prague’s Jewish community was forced to live for centuries. It acts as a symbol of historic Bohemian anti-Semitism that saw tragic massacres occur such as the 14th century East Sunday Massacre.
The Jewish community of Prague would later be terrorized by Nazi Germany, being deported to concentration camps, with plans by Hitler to turn the Jewish Quarter into a so-called “Museum of an Extinct Race”.
Today, newer Art Nouveau apartment buildings have replaced much of what once stood in the Quarter after planned demolition took place around the turn of the 20th century to revitalize the ghetto.
However, there are a number of historic buildings that have survived including a number of synagogues, the largest being the Klausen Synagogue and oldest the Old-New Synagogue. The synagogues, along with the Old Jewish Town Hall and historic Jewish Cemetery with thousands of tombstones, collectively make up what is known as Prague’s Jewish Museum.
Petrín Hill and Lookout Tower
For an exceptional view over Prague, tackle the 30-minute hike up Petrín Hill. Once atop the hill, you can then climb the nearly 300 steps of the Petrín Lookout Tower to get an even better view. The tower which resembles a miniature Eiffel Tower was originally built in the late 19th century for the Prague Exhibition but then moved to the hill roughly a hundred years ago.
A double-helix staircase winds its way up the tower, allowing visitors to get up and down more quickly. Alternatively, there is a lift if you have mobility problems or simply wish to rest your legs.
You also don’t even need to climb the hill itself, as there is a funicular railway that will take you to the top which is also part of the public transport network and included in any unlimited city transport pass you may purchase.
Apart from offering the tower with arguably one of the best observation points in Prague, Petrín Hill also offers a cafe, Mirror Maze, gardens, nearby cathedral and church, and gorgeous blooming cherry trees during the spring.
Animal lovers will want to be sure to check out one of the world’s top rated zoos. Prague Zoo has been welcoming visitors for over 90 years, and now covers nearly 60 hectares and features over 5,000 animals from around 650 different species.
Around 10 kilometers of trails make their way around the countless animal exhibits. You’ll see everything from penguins to polar bears. Meet giraffes, tigers, gorillas, Komodo dragons, elephants, hippos, giraffes, Galapagos tortoises, and around 500 endangered species that include the rare Przewalski’s horse from Mongolia.
The zoo even features a number of animals form my home back in Australia, where you’ll find Tasmanian devils in the Darwin Crater exhibit. The zoo has even been generous enough to donate nearly $200,000 to an Australian breeding facility for endangered Mountain Pygmy-possums in the central tablelands of NSW.
Kids will love the zoo’s Bororo Reserve adventure playground modeled after an Amazonian-village. Here, you’ll also find an animal demonstration amphitheater and cafe.
Strahov Monastery and Library
Prague is home to one of the world’s best preserved historical libraries which can be found in the city’s second oldest monastery. The Strahov Monastery and Library features two impressive halls that include Baroque Theological Hall and Philosophical Hall, the former of which dates to the 17th century.
The secret to actually gaining access to the library rooms is to prebook the special tour that takes you through the interior of the library. A standard entrance ticket simply allows you to get a glimpse of the rooms from afar and you will also have to pay extra for photo permission.
Note that the special tours limit the number of visitors in an effort to preserve the priceless books, ceilings, and artifacts, so a bit of prior planning is needed to secure a spot. Other notable things in the library include the giant centuries-old globes and secret staircase. You may also wish to add on a tour of the Strahov Gallery to your visit as well.
Vyšehrad is a historic fort dating back to the 10th century which sits in the center of Prague atop a hill overlong the Vltava River. The fortification was constructed roughly a hundred years after Prague Castle and features a number of worthwhile attractions including the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul as well as the Vyšehrad Cemetery where many famous Czech composers, writers, and artists were laid to rest.
You’ll also not want to miss seeing the Rotunda of St. Martin, one of Prague’s oldest surviving structures, as well as maybe taking a tour of the Casements where a number of original statues form the Charles Bridge are held.
Enjoy exceptional views of the city all year round and during the summer months there is a lovely beer garden as well as open air concerts and other performances held at the outdoor theater.
This is just a small sampling of what Prague has to offer. Longer stays will allow you to get off the beaten path to discover more hidden gems or take in even more popular attractions like Wallenstein Palace Gardens, Letná Gardens, and Prokopské and Dalejské Valleys Nature Reserve in southwestern Prague.
You then of course have countless museums at your disposal including the Národní (National) Museum, National Gallery, Beer Museum, and Speculum Alchemiae Museum. The “City of a Hundred Spires” is of course also home to many incredible churches, cathedrals, and synagogues.
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