We wrote our Prague travel blog post using insider info from other experienced travelers as well as our own experiences. Get the help you want here to discover and plan what to do in Prague and what not to miss on a first visit.
Rarely do we meet a fellow traveler who hasn’t loved Prague. Visiting Prague for the first time, we felt it was just about perfect, except for one thing: we couldn’t get enough of it! Given that, we decided to actively solicit advice and recommendations from other travelers for this Prague blog post. The intention is to give you the insights and information you need for the best possible experience in Prague. There is a lot of material in this post, so let’s jump in!
Quick Links for First Timers to Plan and Book Prague Accommodations and Prague Tours
Where to stay in Prague? We strongly recommend first time visitors to Prague stay in one of several central neighborhoods: Old Town (Stare Mesto), New Town (Nove Mesto), Mala Strana, Holesovice, or Hradcany. This will ensure you don’t spend valuable time commuting into the City Center where most of the attractions, pickups and transport hubs are located. This is also where you will find some of the best hotels in Prague.
As Prague first timers, we were captivated by historic Prague’s beauty and the compact, walkable nature of its central districts. Spanning both sides of the picturesque Vltava River (called the Moldau in German), Prague’s pre-medieval Old Town (Staré Mesto) lies on its east bank with New Town (Nové Mesto) to its south, jutting the river back upon itself in the shape of a question mark. Across the river, the medieval Malá Strana and Hradcany Palace districts are still easily accessed on foot via the Charles Bridge.
Eighteen bridges span the Vltava in the “City of Seven Hills.” Founded as early as the ninth century as a Czech duchy, it later became the capital of Bohemia and later still, an imperial capital of the Holy Roman Empire.
Under Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, Prague was the third largest city in Europe behind Constantinople and Rome in the 14th century. New Town (Nové Mesto) was designed adjacent to Old Town by Charles, who also laid the foundation stone for his famous namesake bridge in 1357.
Following Charles IV’s death, his son Wenceslaus IV (not to be confused with the legendary Good King Wenceslas I of the tenth century) reigned during a fractious period, continuing the Luxembourg dynasty in a dual role as King of Bohemia and Germany, but ultimately succumbing to a heart attack which left the country in political upheaval. This led to the Hussite Wars which attempted religious reform in the name of Jan Hus, a Protestant theologian martyred in 1415. Tensions between Catholics and Protestants would continue for two hundred years. Caught in the crosshairs during this era were Prague’s Jews, 3000 of whom were massacred in 1389.
During the House of Habsburg era (not to be confused with the Habsburg Monarchy which emerged later), Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II lived in Prague Castle, turning the city into a cultural capital where the arts and sciences flourished. Famed astronomer Johannes Kepler, mentored by Imperial Court Astronomer Tycho Brahe, became the Imperial Mathematician and developed a new form of astronomy he called “celestial physics.”
First Time Visitors Will Notice the Prague Atmosphere
If Prague first timers have already visited northerly cities in Western Europe such as Paris, Brussels, or Munich, Prague will be delightfully different. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but the best description we can make is that Prague tips the atmospheric scale away from the German toward the Slav.
Czechia and Austria are the geographic center of Europe, but Prague feels more eastern than Vienna, even though it is not. This, no doubt, has much to do with the Soviet influence when Czechoslovakia was a satellite state of the USSR, but Prague’s “it” goes back even further with a thousand years of Slavic legacy.
In the early 6th century, Slavic tribes entered Bohemia through the Moravian Gate valley, which is a natural depression between the Carpathian and Sudete mountain ranges. More Slavs came from the south in the 7th century. The settlement was briefly controlled by Moravia until their strength was compromised by Hungarian Magyar incursions. By 973, the Diocese of Prague was established by political agreement, with Bohemia consolidated and then deemed a state of the Holy Roman Empire in 1002.
For two hundred years that followed the Hussite Wars and prior to the Thirty Years War, Prague established itself as a preeminent merchant city. These were its golden years, although religious based tensions would build. The Thirty Years War took a big toll on this progress, and by the Battle of Prague in 1648, Prague’s population had been reduced by two-thirds back to about 20,000.
A series of other calamities, including a devastating fire and a plague outbreak, further reduced the city’s population to about 13,000 by 1714. More destruction occurred during invasion and occupation by Frederick the Great until the mid-eighteenth century, and then Prague began to battle back. By 1771, the city population had grown to 80,000. By 1784, the four separate municipalities merged, with the incorporation of the Jewish Quarter occurring in 1850.
Other revolutions in Europe largely passed Prague by in the 19th century. The makeup of Prague’s population changed as German majorities were replaced by Czech speakers. By the time Kafka was writing The Trial in 1914, his fellow German speakers had been reduced to less than 7% of the population. In the aftermath of WWI, a new country, Czechoslovakia, was born, with Prague as its capital.
Prague Trip Preparation: Prague Background Reading and Viewing
“Prague is a unique blend of freedom and hesitancy.” – Kenneth Jackson
The best things to do in Prague are enhanced by an understanding of Czech culture. The modern Czech mindset begins to make sense when you remember that since beginning of WWI, Czech citizens have been alternately liberated, self-democratized, relinquished to appease a tyrant, conquered, relinquished to another tyrant, oppressed and persecuted, re-liberated and self-determined. This is a lot for a populace to endure in the space of 100 years!
The result has been a legacy of resignation and lack of trust, even with one’s close neighbors, combined with a hopeful, yet dark and rueful sense of humor. Where else can one find a language which has words for
- philosophizing oneself into the madhouse (umudrovat se),
- forgetting something through talking too much (zakecat se),
- a smug vainglorious person (jed’z”ita – always masculine),
- one who finds it difficult to take a hint (nedovtipa),
- unnecessary self-censorship (pd’z”edposrd’z”nd’z” – vulgar expression, literally pre-shittedness),
- along with knedlikovd’z” (rather partial to dumplings)?
This appealing sense of hilarity tinged with desperation is poignant and compelling.
The Trial: A New Translation Based on the Restored Text (The Schocken Kafka Library) Franz Kafka was one of the most influential literary voices of the 20th century, expressing themes of existentialism, oppressive bureaucracies, psychological conflict and alienation. This version of The Trial – a classic nightmare of totalitarianism and bureaucratic excess – is a new, energetic translation done by a team of collaborators determined to create an authentically poetic text. Kafka originally wanted this book destroyed along with the rest of his writings upon his death, and although it was published thereafter, The Trial was banned by the Nazis and remained unpopular after WWII during the Communist era due to its “Jewish theme.” Mysterious, bleak, and macabre, The Trial documents how essential the elements of a fair justice system are to civilized society, and how tenuous the average citizen’s grasp is on personal freedoms.
Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War Madeleine Albright’s memoir is an acclaimed account of a childhood interrupted and mutated by the influence of war in her native Prague. Born in 1937, she was taken along with the rest of her family to Britain the following year; they returned for a short time in 1948 only to flee the communists again. In 1949, her diplomat father, Josef Korbel, was granted asylum for himself and his family in the United States. Interestingly, he went on to teach future Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice at the University of Denver. The Korbels raised Madeleine and their other children as Catholic, but she converted to Episcopalian upon her marriage. One month before she was to become Secretary of State, her family’s secret Jewish origins were revealed. In Prague Winter, she weaves the complex emotions evoked in exploring her personal history with that of Czechoslovakia’s from 1937-1948.
Anthropoid (2016) with Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan is a thrilling film depiction of the true story behind the assassination of Hitler’s henchman Reinhard Heydrich. Dubbed the Butcher of Prague for his cruelty – he referred to Czechs as “vermin,” Heydrich had been the principal architect of the Final Solution to exterminate Jews and other undesirables. Operation Anthropoid was conceived in England by the exiled Czech government in tandem with British intelligence operatives. Carried out by a small team of assassins who were dropped by parachute to meet up with the decimated Czech resistance, the plan was marred by internal dissension among the remaining resistance leaders and logistical difficulties. After the shooting, the group was betrayed by an internal informer, and ultimately martyred during a valiant stand in the crypt of St. Cyril and Methodius Church. Retaliation for the assassination attempt included mass executions in Prague and the complete liquidation of the town of Lidice. A deeply moving drama of sacrifice and heroism with an important subtext regarding the futility of political appeasement.
“Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity.” – Vaclav Havel, Amnesty International’s “From Prisoner to President” Tribute
Turning inward to grapple the dissonance between desire and reality, many Czech artists and thinkers relied upon humor and a sense of irony to communicate the comparative inanity of daily living under totalitarianism with hopeful ideals.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being is the cinematic version of the classic novel written by Milan Kundera in 1984. Filmed in 1988, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliet Binoche and Lena Olin, and set in the “Prague Spring” of 1968, the story is a bittersweet philosophical allegory which encompasses the tension between limits and freedom within the context of human relationships. Even though the backdrop of Cold War politics and Soviet oppression is integral to the narrative, the book was described by a reviewer at The Guardian as being “firmly rooted in its time, but undated” twenty years after it was published. Mixing history, romance, philosophy and politics with a strong sexual (yet not pornographic) component, the book evokes existential questions related to identity, meaning, fate, and control. Roger Ebert, in a review at the time of its release, was impressed with the “haunting quality” of the film: “Most films move so quickly and are so dependent on plot that they are about events, not lives. ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ carries the feeling of deep nostalgia, of a time no longer present, when these people did these things and hoped for happiness, and were caught up in events beyond their control.”
To the Castle and Back Playwright Vaclav Havel was the first democratically elected president of Czechoslovakia, and later, the Czech Republic, after the fall of communism out of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. He was a legendary and influential dissident who wrote with optimism and courage. For participating in the Prague Spring and other subversive activities, Havel was imprisoned several times and kept under surveillance for more than twenty years. Many of his presidential positions were controversial within the country, but he was instrumental in expanding NATO influence in the former Soviet bloc and accelerating the demise of the Warsaw Pact. Havel’s first presidential address began, “I assume you did not propose me for this office so that I, too, would lie to you.” He would go on to be awarded numerous international peace, literary and philosophy prizes. This book is a candid combination of diary, commentary and self-reflection. More than one reviewer has mentioned how insightful To the Castle and Back can be in terms of illuminating the non-western European mind.
Prague First Timers will be Blown Away
Part of the universal appeal to first timers and repeat visitors alike is Prague architecture, mentioned in every Prague visitors guide we consulted. Because it was relatively unscathed in WWII, Prague will thrill lovers of all architectural periods from medieval times to the 20th century. Prague’s historic center has been designated a UNESCO heritage site since the early 1990s. The Prague architecture is a storied history written in its churches, towers, cathedrals, houses, synagogues and monuments rendered in Baroque, Gothic, Romanesque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Cubist styles.
“The miracle in my life is to awaken every morning. . . in Prague.” – Alan Levy
Prague has been called the “City of 100 Spires,” the “Golden City,” and the “heart of Europe.” Author Alan Levy, who moved to Prague in the late 60s, covered the Prague Spring and Soviet Invasion, and was later expelled, returned in 1990 after the “Velvet Revolution,” calling the city “the Left Bank of the 1990s.”
But Prague is far more than a very pretty face. Unlike Vienna, whose glittery wedding cake qualities can take on a sanitized or Disney-fied aspect, Prague holds its secrets closer. It’s the woman who is mysteriously beautiful without artifice, or the new acquaintance who challenges you to think harder about your purpose and beliefs, becoming a lifelong friend in the process.
“I visited Prague back in my first year of university and it was my first time in the Eastern Europe we would fall head over heels in love with. It was a new world, a harsher and more gritty Europe than I had ever experienced before… and I instantly adored its bohemian and less predictable nature. . . Prague was an awakening of sorts, a mixture of enlightenment and bemusement. Of a new and more fluid way of traveling, of connections and discoveries, experiences and chance encounters. It laid the foundations for the years of wanderlust that have followed and our love of history-saturated cities in which to lose ourselves once again. It was a freedom unlike what I had never felt before when traveling and in a place which seemed so edgy and dark, and that attracted me even more, not to mention the continuing inspiration it gave me for my creative work.” – Nic Hilditch-Short in Capturing the Gritty Atmosphere of PRAGUE & the drug of TRAVEL
Ten years after our friend Nic’s trip, Prague remains enigmatic and moody. While many Prague first timers visit during the summer months, we suggest you consider the other three seasons. We visited in January, when the crowds of tourists were a distant memory. Things to do in Prague in winter take on a moody ambience: the city was reverentially muffled by snowfall, its ghosts shrouded in the milky half-light. Prague was charming and picturesque, but there was also a compelling overlay of residual energy, not quite frightening, but somewhat foreboding. We were captivated by this mystique.
In short, Prague is picture postcard perfect to the casual observer, but infinitely complex when you peel away its layers. If you enjoy being challenged introspectively when you travel, one thing is for certain: Prague is likely to become one of your favorite cities, as it is ours!
Prague Guidebooks and Prague Tours to Help You Plan and Acclimate Quickly
While we’re not fond of toting heavy books around ourselves, we have found them useful for planning purposes and we do realize many people prefer the look and feel of a print resource. There can be something imminently satisfying in highlighting, dog-earing, and flipping through the pages of a guide, to be sure. Other folks like being able to download an electronic version of a guidebook to bring along on their reader or tablet. Prague first timers will likely be doing a variety of research, so for those of you who like consulting or carrying comprehensive guidebooks, here are our thoughts on some of the most popular titles.
Rick Steves Prague & The Czech Republic – Rick’s unique blend of candor and humor interprets how to make the most of your time and money. Note that the Kindle version of his Prague guide omits the sidebar information in the print edition which is integral to the narrative. Filled with good advice for the novice or intermediate traveler who desires a more independent experience without leading you too far astray from a typical comfort zone. Probably best suited for those who are not on ultra-strict budgets.
Rick Steves Pocket Prague – Kindle edition has audio and video. Purse/pocket sized with practical time and money saving tips, solid recommendations for hotels and self-guided activities.
Lonely Planet Prague & the Czech Republic (Travel Guide) – Available in Kindle format or paperback. Highlights: objective reviews for every budget, insider tips to avoid crowds and save money. Prague-centric despite the title. Caveat: long the gold standard for budget and moderate travelers, but ever since changes in ownership occurred over the course of several years prior, LP has taken an editorial turn. These changes are most notable online, but many of us in the travel space are observing spotty quality and insufficient information in the newer versions of the printed guides as well. We’ve not personally reviewed the LP guide to Prague with these issues in mind, but note disappointing observations of LP on the whole from a variety of travelers in social media.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Prague – We like this guide because it is available not only in paperback, but also in a much more convenient flexibound version which enables it to lie flat. Other features: cutaway 3-D drawings, museum floor plans, self-guided walking tours, photo and illustration heavy, water resistant pullout map. We’re pretty impressed with the job DK does in other genres, so if we were to purchase a guidebook, this one and Krysti’s (next) would probably be the ones.
Newly updated for 2017, this book is written by an American who has lived in Prague for more than 20 years. Her interests are food, architecture and writing, so the recommendations include great restaurants and unique shopping experiences, as well as sightseeing highlights using a “Prague not to miss” approach. With Prague insider information on transport and practicalities, this “non-touristy” approach will appeal to those who would like an authentic and fulfilling experience from a worldly expat who is enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable. The author is available for tours and concierge assistance; she gets very high marks from those who have engaged her services.
Sandeman’s Free Tour Quite possibly one of the best deals we’ve ever encountered, your free walking tour is hosted by a native English-speaking, entertaining guide on a tips-only basis. Replete with historical fact and story-telling, a comprehensive introduction to Prague in a short period of time. Reserve online before you arrive for this popular tour, which you will want to take first thing or very early in your stay to zero in on the cool things to do in Prague for the remainder of your time.
Prague from the water, illuminated in its glory on a leisurely cruise along the Vltava. Deluxe buffet with cold and hot entrees and desserts, a welcome drink, and live musical entertainment are included. Additional alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for purchase.
Best of Prague By Foot, Bus and 1 Hour River Cruise Total 3.5 hours – A good option to get your bearings on land and water with a guided city bus tour and river cruise. A more comprehensive tour totaling 6 hours includes hotel pick-up, guided air-conditioned bus tour, extensive walking tour, lunch and drink, 1-hour boat cruise, coffee and cake break. Note: lots of walking on this one.
Seeing the city from a boat is a memorable experience and an activity for all kinds of travellers, from families with small kids to solo travellers. A cruise through the Vltava river is a great way to see the main waterside attractions of the historical centre of Prague without having to wander its very busy streets. Plus you can enjoy some drinks or a meal on top of the deck while listening to the audio with relevant information. It is a perfect way to relax and experience the ‘city of a thousand spires’ from a different perspective. There are daytime or evening cruises, some may have meals included and the duration may also vary from 1 to 4 hours. You will certainly find a cruise that suits your needs and budget. – Thassia from Family off Duty
The Top Five Prague Attractions For First Timers
Old Town Square (Astronomical Clock, Statues and Churches)
The center of life in Prague’s Old Town is its Square dating back to the 12th century. Located between Wenceslas Square and the Charles Bridge, this will likely be your first stop, as it tops the list in every Prague visitor guide.
The square was the traditional trading crossroads for merchants and farmers who had both temporary and permanent shops. Around the square you will note fine Gothic and Romanesque multi-story homes. Political events ranging from coronations to executions, protests, decapitations, the Prague Uprising in 1945, Prague Spring demonstrations in 1968 and the subsequent repression by the Soviets all occurred here. In 1979, the square was made a pedestrian-only zone. For a complete description of buildings, monuments and points of interest on the Square, click here.
My favorite place I visited in all of Prague is the Old Town Square, which has several of most popular Prague tourist attractions, including the Jan Hus statue and the Astronomical Clock. The best view of the Old Town Square and Prague is from above! You can climb (actually, take the elevator) the tower in Old Town Square for these breathtaking views. Go early in the morning for small crowds. It’s a 100% must do and make sure to bring your camera! – Jason Li, Mint Habits
Probably the most recognized icon of Prague, the Charles Bridge is a pedestrian-only bridge linking Old Town with the Mala Strana and Hradcany districts. This is another item for your “best things to do in Prague” list. Many photography buffs like to catch the bridge at sunrise or dusk when imagery is particularly compelling.
The Charles Bridge in Prague is a gothic bridge built in the early 15th century. The magnificent stone bridge spans the Vltava river and connects the lesser town with the old town. Most noteworthy are the 30 baroque styled sculptures which dot the bridge, replicas of the originals erected in 1700 which are now exhibited at the National Museum. There are 3 watch towers for the bridge; the one on the old town side is a wonderful example of Gothic-style architecture. The bridge through its history has witnessed historical events, stood through damage caused by floods and wars, and now stands as testimony to the intriguing history of the city of Prague. Today the pedestrian bridge is an open-air art center with fine artists, caricaturists, musicians and souvenir shops. – Rashmi & Chalukya, Go Beyond Bounds
Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world, a UNESCO World Heritage site dating from the 9th century. Now the official residence of the President of Czechia, it has been the home of Bohemian Kings, rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Bohemian Crown Jewels. Worthy of note: Bohemian legend provides that any usurper who wears the crown, even for just a moment, will die within a year. Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi Reich Protector of Bohemia, did so, and was assassinated 11 months later. After the communist coup in 1948, the castle held administrative offices for the Czechoslovak government.
Close to 2 million people visit the Castle every year (Check out our link below to skip the tour lines), and as you might imagine, there are numerous options for visitors in terms of guided tours, access and interests. The castle complex is comprised of churches, palaces, halls, gardens, museums, art galleries, towers, separate residences and interior streets, and a monastery, built in all manner of architectural styles.
Skip the Line: Prague Castle Tickets – Sometimes buying admission tickets to Prague Castle may cost you hours of queuing. Avoid the stress of lining up by collecting your admission tickets for Prague Castle from a representative on the castle complex.
Prague Castle 2.5-Hour Tour Including Admission Ticket – Begin at the Charles Bridge, take the tram up to the castle complex, tour Vladisav Hall, the Basilica of St. George, St. Vitus Cathedral and Golden Lane.
3-Hour Prague Castle in Detail – Pick-up service with live guide, admission to Castle Circuit “B” which includes Old Royal Palace interiors, the Basilica of St. George, St. Vitus Cathedral, Golden Lane, and the house connected with the life of Franz Kafka.
Half-Day Guided Tour of Prague Castle – Hotel pick-up, entrance fees, professional guide, bottled water, modern bus transport with wifi and USB charger included. See the Old Royal Castle, St. George’s Basilica, St. Vitus Cathedral, the fairytale-like Golden Lane, Daliborka Tower and House No. 22, where the author Franz Kafka lived. Duration: 3.5 hours.
Prague Castle Night Tour -Every first time visitor would like to visit Prague Castle. During the day the castle complex is crowded with people so how about doing a night tour? In summer in particular, it is still light during the whole tour. There are many different companies that run night tours of the castle. We started our tour from near Old Town Square, and heard about some of the history of Prague as we made our way through the Jewish Quarter and over the river. Don’t worry, there’s a tram to the Castle, so no climbing that hill! We saw the Strahov Monastery, and had a break long enough to taste the beer the monks brew, before heading into the castle complex. All the time our guide was telling us great stories and pointing out places of interest we could come back to later. The highlights of the castle complex include the spectacular St Vitus cathedral and strolling down Golden Lane. This popular street contains pint-sized houses and once was home to Franz Kafka. It is so popular that entry to the street during the day now requires payment. The best part of all, was that while we were doing this, there were absolutely no crowds! – Josie Wanders
Residence of the first Bohemian King and those thereafter until 1120, the Vysehrad complex was partially destroyed during the Hussite conflict in 1420. In the 17th and 18th centuries, a citadel and casements were constructed, with narrow underground corridors are open to the public today. Mysterious legends of princesses, treasure and an encounter between a priest and the devil add to this historical site’s cachet.
As stunningly beautiful as Prague’s Old Town is, leaving the cobblestone lanes and seeking out vantage points offers breathtaking landscape and city views – and one of the most spectacular viewpoints is from Vysehrad Castle. The castle, which stands just south of Prague’s city center on the right bank of the Vltava River, was built on a slight hill in the 10th century. The complex includes a church (Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul), a cemetery (where many of Prague’s most famous residents are buried) and the 11th century Rotunda of St. Martin. To the north and south of the castle are expansive viewing platforms that overlook the river. However, for the best view up the river to the Prague Castle, find the small, grassy alcove along the western wall (south of the church, north of the viewing platform) and look to your right. Tip: It is free to enter the Vysehrad Castle complex. Take your time wandering the grounds and consider staying in the area and exploring the neighborhood. – Sarah and Kris Moran, Jet Setting Fools
A former medieval horse market, Wenceslas Square (more boulevard than square) is the central hub of New Town’s business and cultural community. Anchored by the Czech National Museum on one end, Wenceslas Square has been the site of political demonstrations, national celebrations, skirmishes with authority, and proclamations. The square is vibrant, with bars, restaurants, hotels and shopping.
The Next Top Five Things to See in Prague
Architects Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry’s Dancing House, designed and built in the 1990s, is a controversial and award-winning addition to Prague’s waterfront, next door to the family property of dissident and later, Czech President, Vaclav Havel. Milunic discussed uses for the site during the communist era with his neighbor, Havel, who secured funding from the predecessor of ING Bank after the Velvet Revolution. Today, the building is a hotel.
The famous Dancing House Hotel of Prague, also known as Fred and Ginger, is a modern de-constructivist style building resembling an unusual dancing shape overlooking the Vltava river. Visitors can visit the top observation bar and restaurant with an outdoors deck with gorgeous views of the scenes below on the Vltava and surrounding city views. Drop by late in the afternoon for those magnificent sunset views while having a nice cocktail or even dinner in the adjoining restaurant. It’s definitely a fantastic place to visit for the golden hour, sunset and fabulous views of Prague city. For more fabulous views of picture perfect locations, check out this post on 15 stunning views of Prague. – Noel Morata, Travel Photo Discovery
A reconstructed medieval gate which was built in the 15th century as the entrance to the city, the Powder Tower was later damaged in the Battle of Prague in 1757. One of the original 13 city gates into Old Town, the Tower’s statuary was replaced in the 19th century. This was the starting point of the so-called Royal Route for coronation ceremonies. Connected via bridge to the adjoining Municipal House.
Josefov (Jewish) Quarter, The Old Jewish Cemetery and Synagogues
From Rachel Heller: Every visitor to Prague should visit the former Jewish quarter of the city. The Jewish Museum comprises six synagogues, a graveyard and a ceremonial hall, each addressing a different aspect of Jewish life in Czechia. You can buy one ticket to visit them all, and they’re all quite near each other. I loved the Spanish Synagogue, an 1868 beauty of “Moorish” style, where you can learn about the Jews in Czechia from the 1700s until today. If you don’t know much about Judaism, make sure to explore the Klausen Synagogue, where the most important traditions, holidays and rituals are explained.
You should certainly take a walk through the Old Jewish Cemetery, where Jews were buried for three centuries. With so little space, the community had to cover graves with dirt and add new ones on top, replacing the older gravestones on top as well. This gradually raised the level of the cemetery well above the level of the surrounding streets. The gravestones lean and crowd each other, crammed together in very little space. Finish your tour with a look inside the charming Old-New Synagogue, the oldest of the six, which dates from the 13th century. This is the only synagogue of the six still in use today. – Rachel Heller
Explore the Jewish heritage of Prague’s Jewish Quarter on a 2.5-hour walking tour, including entrance tickets to the synagogues and Jewish cemetery. Get an in-depth view of the Jewish community in the Czech Republic, hearing personal stories and more.
A large green oasis of calm in the center of Prague, Petrin Hill is a popular recreational area close to Prague Castle for residents and visitors alike.
For an incredible view over Prague, take a ride on the Funicular Railway up to Petrin Hill, whose summit sits at 1043 ft / 318 m. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can always walk to the summit, which will take about 30 minutes. (TIP: The closest tram stop to the Funicular Railway, is Ujezd located in Malá Strana (Lesser Town). Sitting atop the summit is an Observation Tower which provides spectacular 360-degree views over Prague. This tower resembles the Eiffel Tower in Paris, though it is only a fifth of the size of the original. Climb its 299 stairs to the top or take the elevator for an additional cost. You can also simply admire the tower and the other attractions atop Petrin Hill from ground level to save money…or if you have a fear of heights! Other Petrin Hill attractions include a beautiful rose garden, observatory, hall of mirrors, and church, along with a few cafes. For more locations with incredible views of Prague: 6 Spots for Stellar Views of Prague – Toccara and Sam, Forget Someday
What if you could find an almost-hidden pocket of peace amid the bustle of Prague? A place none of the other masses of tourists had ever heard about? A place where you could stop and think, sit on a bench, smell the flowers and process all the beautiful but crowded wonders of Prague you’ve been enjoying? Such a place does exist, right up there on Petrín hill. It’s called “Kvetnice,” which roughly translated means “Blossomarium;” and it was specifically designed to be flowering and beautiful at almost any season. Located next to the more famous Rose Garden, it’s just down the path to the left as you come from the funicular. Look for the often overlooked entrance in the wall on the left. Then pass through a pretty wrought-iron gate. Sit awhile, walk the paths, feel safely enclosed by the hornbeam hedges, and drink in the peace. Busy, beautiful Prague will be waiting for you when you’re done. – Donna Meyer, Nomadwomen’s 8 Insiders’ Tips for Traveling to Prague
“Once a divisive site in Prague (the government in the 1980s were not fans!) the wall is now a celebrated piece of Prague culture. The wall was initially a site where disenchanted youth under communism posted their messages of frustration. After John Lennon’s death these were complemented with lyrics from the Beatles songs. It is a site that continues to change with each new installation – with new colors bringing a new lease of life. Take the time to search out the wall; it’s located in the cobbled street at the base of the castle known as Grand Priory Square in Mala Strana – which can be tricky to find without Google Maps – but it is so worth it when you do!” – Vicki Garside, Make Time to See the World
Lennon Wall – Velkoprevorské námestí, 100 00 Praha 1, opposite the French Embassy.
For Active Prague First Timers
Panoramic & Prague Castle E-Bike Tour – For ages 14 and up, two and a half hours of easy and fun cycling along the river, through Letna Park, side streets and stunning viewpoints. Four hour tour with over 30 stops.
Canoe the Sazava River – Canadian style canoeing for 4-5 hours through the Sazava Gorge, lunch and beer included. Full duration: 8 hours.
Beer Bike Tour – A rolling beer bike with canopy accommodates up to 16 people, includes 30 liters of beer and English-speaking guide. 1.5 hours.
Bohemian Karst Hiking Outing – Canyons, cliffs and caves, spectacular views in a vast natural landscape favored by film makers, parts only recently discovered in the 1950s.
Tandem Skydiving Adventure – Jump from 14,000 feet in a 60-second free fall, tandem experience. Photos and videos provided on a flash drive.
Unique Things to Do in Prague for Culture and History Buffs
Go on a David Cerny Self-Guided Tour
Artist David Cerny is Prague’s version of the cheeky, irreverent, yet oh so talented relative who can’t be suppressed at special events and get-togethers. Bridging the amusement spectrum from hilarious to somewhat offensive – depending upon who you are, Cerny’s sculptures are surprising and provocative. Here is an older guide to the locations of some of the Cerny scultures and their locations.
A newer install is a kinetic sculpture of nude woman entitled “In Untero.” This is located at a triangle adjacent to the James Dean restaurant where Dlouha and Masna streets converge. Similar in nature, a kinetic “Kafka” head is constructed of 42 separate layers of stainless steel located outside the Quadrio Shopping Center.
Download this map of Prague for a self-guided tour of some of the other David Cerny installations in Prague.
Our favorite street in Prague, Novy Svet (“New World”) street is located in the Palace District. Home nowadays to artists and writers, the street was rebuilt after an 18th century fire. See our detailed post for photos and location.
Strahov Monastery and Library
The renowned Strahov Monastery Library dates from the 9th century, and is the home of over 200,000 books and prints. Lovingly restored after the Velvet Revolution, the complex is open daily, except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Easter Sunday from 9am-5pm (closed for one hour lunch at 12). Strahovské nádvorí 1/132, 118 00 Praha 1
WWII Prague Tours
In 1938, Hitler was granted the resource-rich Czech Sudetenland in what seems a shockingly callous appeasement. By extension the following year, he invaded Prague, and Czechs became citizens of the Third Reich. Life in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, as it was called, became a nightmare of proving one’s heritage, executions, informers and betrayals, pro-Nazi educational curricula in schools, retaliations, and propaganda. In 1942, after the assassination of Heydrich, the populace was cowed by increased liquidations and forced loyalty pledges. By 1945, faced with destruction of their city, Czechs mounted the Prague Uprising in anticipation of advancing Soviet troops.
Explore resistance hideout tunnels in Old Town, learn about the Old Jewish District and see monuments, compare archived photos with present day locations. Two hour walking tour.
A tour designed to cover the turbulence of the Nazi occupation and subsequent communist era. Visit key locations which relate to significant events in WWI, under Soviet domination including Prague Spring, and the Velvet Revolution of the 1980s. Two and one half hour walking tour.
Learn about the student uprising at the beginning of the war, the significance of Operation Anthropoid, and the Prague Uprising in 1945. Visit key locations, including the crypt of the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius where the Anthropoid paratroopers were martyred. Three hours.
Established by an enthusiastic private collector, the museum contains unusual exhibits, including Lenin’s death mask, Beria’s radio, and Trotsky’s weapon. Vlašská 591/13, 118 00 Malá Strana. Open daily except Mondays from 10am-5pm.
The irony of a museum devoted to communism being located in a commercial building housing a trendy restaurant and other businesses won’t be lost on you. The museum provides an experientially-based, multimedia overview of life under the communist regime. V Celnici 1031/4, 110 00 Nové Mesto. Open daily 9am-8pm. Phone: +420 224 212 966
Located at the base of Petrin Hill on Ujezd Street in Mala Strana is this abstract series of statues dedicated to the victims of the Communist era between the 40s and the 90s. The original memorial has seven male statues out of which two were damaged due to a bomb in 2003 and which appear to be disintegrating and decaying before our very eyes. The memorial is controversial to women’s activists, among others, as all of the figures are male. The intent of the memorial is to symbolize how political prisoners under Communism were affected. During the evening, the memorial is lit up providing an even more profound look. – Gabriela, Prague City Break, iamfoodietraveler
As if the Nazi years weren’t dark enough, after WWII Czechoslovakia was a Soviet satellite. There was always the looming threat of nuclear attack if things went south on either side of the Cold War. Before the Velvet Revolution achieved the communist collapse in 1989, the powers that be built safe spaces in the capital city. One such bunker is located in the Zizkov area, recently rediscovered and now part of a longer guided tour. Taking the tour will give those whose knowledge is incomplete about this era the necessary context to understand the implications of the Red Terror years which took the lives of thousands. As well, you will see the aspects of fear and heroism that comprised the years following the Prague Spring up until the Velvet Revolution. Tour includes the Gestapo Museum, the Communist headquarters and more.
If you want to explore alternative sights in Prague, escaping the crowds in the old city, head to Wenceslas square – the sight I’m going to recommend is located just under your feet! Hotel Jalta is one of Prague’s most famous hotels, built during Socialist times and including a nuclear fallout shelter built right underneath it. The shelter has three levels and it was said to be able to accommodate up to 160 people for a period of up to four weeks. You can’t visit the whole shelter, only a few rooms that have been turned into a ‘Cold War Museum’ of sorts. The shelter can be accessed during daily tours run by hotel staff, illustrating life during Socialist times as well as giving info on the shelter and how it was built. Tours cost 150 CZK and run several times daily in high season. – Margherita Ragg, The Crowded Planet
Off the Path, Local/Insider, and Alternative Experiences in Prague
Go with an Alternative Guide Any of the Prague Walking Tours
We were looking for a different kind of tour, outside the tourist box. And we found it! The Alternative Tour Prague starts at the entrance of the touristic center of the city, and then makes its way to the local Prague outside the city center. The team of Alternative Tour Prague shares with you their underground insider knowledge about the local art scene. Beside historical facts you will learn in 3.5 hours how the communist past still affects the daily life, and how artists are finding creative ways to protest, awake, trying to make a difference. The tour ends at a really bohemian bar where you can have a beer with the tour guide, and the other tour guests. Good to know: We recommend to join the tour at the beginning of your stay. Why? The guides will be happy to share with you exceptional local tips – highly valuable! – – Matt Kiefer, Hostelgeeks
Learn how the Velvet Revolution spawned underground art and music away from the usual tourist areas out of the student protests in the 1960s and the police riot in 2005. Experience the formerly illegal punk scene, the free Tekno community and other musical movements. Guided by young artists who are inside the cultural scene.
Modern Czech society consists of communities and groups beyond the mainstream. This tour focuses on issues pertaining to LGBT, non-consumerist, non-traditional religious , arts and the environment. Visit venues frequented by artists and activists while learning background and context.
For an authentic slice of local life, head to Naplavka when the weather is nice. A riverfront area that starts beneath Palackeho most (bridge) and runs to the railway bridge (Zeleznicní most), this part of Prague bursts to life on sunny days from late Spring to early Autumn. Grab a Pilsner for a fraction of what you’ll pay in Old Town, find a piece of sidewalk to sit, and enjoy the live music and buzz of Prague in the summer! If you’re hungry, hit up one of the barges serving simple grilled food. While you can walk along the Naplavka riverfront any time of year, it’s a definite ‘don’t miss’ in the summers! – Geoff and Katie Matthews, Wandertooth.
From Rand Shoaf, of Well Traveled Mile: For locals and tourists alike, Prague farmers markets are a popular destination for enjoying local foods, drinks, and arts. You’ll find everything from seasonal fruits and veggies, freshly baked breads and cakes, local cheeses and meats, to local artists showing off their creations. In total the 11 markets are open 6 days a week in various locations around the city and they run throughout the year with only a short pause in January and February.
Its relaxed setting along the Vltava River makes the Náplavka Farmer’s Market among the most popular farmer’s markets in Prague. Open from 8 am to 2 pm the perfect place to spend a Saturday morning—whether you are looking for fresh coffee and baked goods, or an afternoon beer along the riverbanks. – Rand Shoaf, Well Traveled Mile
Prague is known as the city of 100 spires and you should see the city from above to realize how accurate this saying is. The best place to admire Prague’s skyline is from Letna – one of the biggest parks in the city, located just above Vltava river, not too far from Hradcany castle. If you go close to Hanavský Pavilion you will get the most breathtaking view of Prague: red rooftops of the Old Town and Mala Strana, both parts of the city connected by numerous bridges, including the famous Charles Bridge. I’m impressed every single time when I’m there, this view just can’t get boring! While you’re in Letna walk around; the park is really interesting! Did you know that the world’s largest monument of Stalin was located there, until 1962 when it was destroyed? Now you can find the metronome in this very place. A little bit further you can find an open air beer garden where you can get Czech’s favourite drink with another amazing view of Prague in the background. From here you can continue to Holesovice which is the coolest area of the city, with so many cafes, small shops and hipster spots to check out! – Kami Napora, Kami & the Rest of the World
You probably already know that Prague is one of the best cities to visit for beer in the world. If you’re looking to try some of Prague’s best beers, there’s no better time to visit the city than during the annual Czech Beer Festival (locally called the Ceský Pivní festival). It’s the biggest beer event in the Czech Republic, spanning 17 days in late May. There are over 45 breweries pouring their best beers, which amounts to something like 120 different beers for you to try – both Czech and international. There’s also plenty of food options, and lots of places to sit and hang out. One ticket gets you in to all 17 days of the festival, so you can return as many times as you like to listen to live music performances, try more beer, or just hang out. If you’re already in Prague during these dates, you should definitely check it out. If you like traveling for events, this is one to put on your list. – Laura Lynch, Savored Sips
Riegrovy Sady Park in Vinohrady Neighborhood
Discover Vinohrady Prague (new town) with a stroll to Riegrovy Sady. Vinohrady is known for being one of the best residential areas with trendy cafes and excellent dining venues. Being close to the old town, with so many interesting places, it’s worth adding it to your city explorations. If you want a break from the crowded touristy places of the city, take the metro to Namesti Miru (3 stops from Old Town) or jump on the bus 135 to Riegrovy Sady. This English-style public park is one of the most popular destinations among the locals. Especially on sunny days and on Sundays it tends to be busy with shady paths, recreational areas, playgrounds for kids, as well as a beer garden and a café. The highlight is “the hill”, a large sloping green area which offers the perfect place for relaxing, picnicking, watching people and enjoying the fantastic views – and awesome sunsets – of the old town and Prague Castle with Lesser Town. Vinohrady with the Riegrovy Sady is definitely a less-known but must-see place when visiting Prague. – Michela Fantinel, Rocky Travel
Legendary Prague Christmas Markets
If you are visiting Prague at the end of November and into early January don’t forget to visit the Prague Christmas markets. You’ll more than likely stumble on a few of them on your way to a few Prague attractions as the city has several Christmas markets scattered throughout. One of my favorites is in Old Town. For the best view, head up to Old Town Hall Tower to get a panorama of Old Town Prague and the gorgeous Christmas market all lit up below. This is also a great place to do some holiday shopping and pick up some unique gifts from abroad for your friends and family. Make sure to bring your appetite and try some of the local specialities. During December the weather is chilly but you can easily warm up with a cup of mulled wine and a Trdelník smeared with Nutella. – Hannah and Adam Lukaszewicz, Getting Stamped
Architecture: Zizkov TV Tower
TV Towers are taken very seriously in the Czech Republic: we have traveled to many cities in the country and most of them have an imposing television tower. But for sure Prague has one of the most unusual TV towers in the country and it’s worthy to visit it. The Zizkov TV Tower is 216 meters high, and because it is located a bit far from the old town and city center it gives a unique point of view from the entire city. But the observation deck, the restaurant and the hotel in the tower aren’t the main attraction. Most of the tourists that venture to the Zizkov neighborhood want to see David Czerny’s giant babies crawling up and down the tower. It’s so cool and so weird, a super futuristic tower built in the 80’s with a freakish art installation that makes it one of the most well-known Prague monuments. A visit to the tower is listed as one of the unique things to do in Prague, but not all the travelers go there. So if you need a break from the crowded and busy streets of Prague Old town, go for a coffee or a beer at the Zizkov TV Tower. – Natalie Deduck, Love and Road
Prague Architecture: Communist Era Panelák Housing
Once you’ve visited the beautiful yet typical Prague sights, take Metro C to the Opatov station for a very different view of the city. It’s like stepping back in time! Once you leave the metro station you’ll see one of Prague’s “paneláks” – a typical housing development built in the communist era and frequently found in the city’s outskirts. Originally built to further the dream of a classless society, paneláks still provide housing for as many as 1/3 of the Czech Republic’s population. Today, many of the buildings have been updated inside and out and are much more colorful than the dull grey of the past. Bonus: the green-space between the buildings is a great place to take a stroll, people-watch, and maybe even get to know a Prague local! – Cate Brubaker, International Desserts Blog
Mysterious alleys, hidden secrets, ancient legends, medieval streets. Guide tells stories of headless horsemen, skeleton in the clock, elves in the castle, and unsolved murders.
The Museum of Alchemists and Magicians
The Museum traces the history of occult practices back to 16th century Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II who developed an interest and patronage of occult arts. During his reign Prague claimed its notorious title of the unofficial capital of the dark arts with notable sorcerers like Edward Kelley. The ground floor of the two-story museum displays replica artifacts and pictures while the second floor is converted into an alchemist lab with potions and scrolls for effect. However, as one moves past the bells and whistles and the flashy presentations, rightly associated with said occult practitioners and magicians, there is little to sate the enthusiasm and curiosity with which one enters this museum. There is a bit of occult, a bit of history, a bit of culture but not much in total to really justify it being called a museum. However it is great for teenage kids and adults fascinated with the Harry Potter universe looking for a bit of magic in their lives. – Risabh Shah, Gypsycouple
Museum of Alchemists and Musicians, Jánský vrsek 8, 118 00 Malá Strana. Open: Daily 10am-8pm. Tel.: +420 257 224 508
Memorable Eating and Drinking in Prague
One of the most beautiful cafes in Prague, Kavarna Obecni Dum (Cafe Municipal House) is a stunning 1920s art nouveau period interior. Enjoy a sweet treat with coffee and revel in the atmosphere, which contains original tile work, decorative painting, period statuary, and reconstructed lighting. Convenient to the Powder Tower.
Kavarna Obecni Dum, Municipal House, Námestí Republiky 1090/5, 110 00 Praha 1-Staré Mesto. Open Daily 7:30am-11pm. Tel.: +420 222 002 763
Prague is the quintessential European city in terms of history and architecture. However, anyone visiting the Czech capital and wondering what to eat in Prague should be intrigued by the plethora of delicious cuisine options available, particularly in the historic Old Town. During our visit to Prague, we stumbled across a very English sounding café called Good Food Coffee and Bakery on Karlova. However, we soon realized that we were going to enjoy a traditional, authentic experience by sampling one of the Czech Republic’s iconic desserts – Trdelník. Trdelník is a chimney shaped dough, grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix before being used as an ice cream cone with a number of delicious fillings. The argument over where Trdelník originated is a topic for another day and anyone visiting Prague should simply enjoy the taste rather than worrying about the controversial history. Whether you have a sweet or savory tooth, Good Food Coffee and Bakery has a wide variety of options to satisfy everyone’s taste buds and trust us when we say, you won’t leave disappointed! Heather and I both have a sweet tooth, so it was no surprise that we opted for the Chimney Cream with whipped cream and strawberry. It literally melts in your mouth and is the epitome of decadent deliciousness. – Chris Boothman, A Brit and a Southerner
Good Food Coffee and Bakery: Karlova 160/8, 110 00 Staré Mesto. Open daily 10am-11pm. Tel.: +420 731 785 653
Black Angel’s Bar is wonderfully located just by the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square. The bar is located in the basement of the U Prince hotel and is renowned for their high quality bar staff who can take you through the menu and ensure that you try the best cocktails they have to offer. It is designed in 1930s prohibition style and in keeping with the theme there is strictly no photography allowed. Black Angel’s Bar is always very popular so make sure to make a reservation. After you have had your fill of cocktails head up to the Terasa U Prince for one of the best views over Prague (the drinks aren’t bad either). From the rooftop you will be able to see into old town square and have an excellent view of St Vitus Cathedral. In winter you can sit under the electric heaters and watch the snow fall, and in summer there are umbrellas to protect you from the sun so you can enjoy the view out of the heat. – Amy van Stekelenburg, The Nomads Project
Black Angel’s Bar (U Prince Hotel): Staromestské nám. 29, 110 00 Staré Mesto. Open daily 5pm-3am. Tel.: +420 224 213 807
For the best selection of local and international places to eat, we recommend heading to Dlouha Street. Just a stroll from Prague’s main square and still within the pretty old town, Dlouha Street and the surrounding area is a trendy district of the city. It’s popular with Prague’s young and hip locals who like to hang out to eat awesome food and wash it down with a fresh pilsner. Our highlights are Lokal, Nase Maso, Sisters [see below], and Bahn Mi Ba. These cover a variety of cuisines like open sandwiches, beef tartare, Vietnamese baguettes and the best Czech comfort food. Check out this post for more details on all our favourites. – Darren and Shelley, Finding Beyond
Lokal – hip and industrial vibe, focus is on local ingredients and great pilsner. Dlouhá 33, 110 00 Staré Mesto. Open daily 11am-1am, Sat until midnight. Phone: +420 222 316 265
Nase Maso – A butcher for take-home or eat-in, specializing in Czech bred and smoked meats. Price Fixe menu available Mon- Wed. Dlouhá 39, 110 00 Staré Mesto. Open M-Sat 8:30am-10pm, closed Sunday. Phone: +420 222 311 378
Banh Mi Ba – Self-described as Vietnamese traditional gastronomy bageteria with a Berlin cosmopolitan spirit. Rybná 26, 110 00 Staré Mesto. Open daily 11am-10pm, Sun until 9pm.Phone: +420 734 487 324
Prague is one of the ultimate foodie destinations. There are many restaurants that you should check out while visiting including Ceska Hospudka Na Radnici for Svickova and Cafe Savoy for Kremrole. However my #1 favorite place to eat in Prague is Sisters. It’s a tiny little shop but it is dedicated to the famous Czech open-faced sandwich, the Chlebícky. The adorable little shop is run by two sisters and the restaurant is notable for being a pioneer in the farm to table movement now taking place in Prague. The sandwiches feature top of the line, seasonal ingredients. I really recommend the herring and radish Chlebícky but there are several delicious sandwiches to choose from. The food is all reasonably priced and the sandwiches are all little gorgeous pieces of art. – Kaila Yu
Ceska Hospudka Na Radnici – “Honest” Czech cuisine and foreign entrees in an old Bohemian art nouveau atmosphere. Sokolovská 14/324, 190 00 Praha 9-Vysorany, Czechia. Open 7 days, 11am-1am. Phone: +420 725 708 050
Cafe Savoy – Belle Epoch grandeur, Viennese style service, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Vítezná 124/5, 150 00 Malá Strana, Czechia. Open M-F 8am-10:30pm, Sat-Sun 9am-10:30pm. Phone: +420 257 311 562
Sisters – Dlouhá 727/39, 110 00 Staré Mesto, Czechia. Open M-F 8am-7pm, Sat 8am-6pm. Phone: +420 775 991 975
Right in the city center and near the most touristy points such as Charles Bridge and Old Town Square, the Choco Cafe is a must if you love chocolate as much as I do. A cozy and beautifully designed place dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, offering chocolate to eat or drink. With delicious pastries, traditional Czech desserts and 50 flavors of hot chocolate, they have enough variety. You can drink chocolate in a very pleasant way: it’s almost a dessert. They take chocolate very seriously! Hot chocolate is their specialty and you can choose your favorite country, intensity and toppings, from whipped cream to berries or chiles! If you love chocolate you can’t miss this amazing place. – Gloria Apara, Nomadic Chica
Choco Cafe: Betlémské nám. 8/1004, Prague 1. Open daily 10am-8pm. Tel .: 277 000 444
The day I arrived in Prague, I was on the lookout for good vegetarian food and that is when I came across Etnosvet which was around 5 minutes from my hostel. I went on a Saturday which meant that only their weekend degustation menu was available. It was around 22 Euros and I hesitated initially since it was expensive for Prague standards. But I finally gave in and it was definitely an excellent choice. It was 16 courses of delicious vegetarian food and it was so nice to start Prague on a happy stomach. If you are in the I P Pavlova metro station area, then it is just 1 minute away. Don’t miss it if you are a vegetarian/ vegan in Prague. It is definitely one of the best vegetarian restaurants I have come across in Europe. – Soumya Nambiar, Travel, Books and Food
Etnosvet: Legerova 1832/40, 120 00 Nové Mesto. Open M-F 10am-4pm, 5pm-11pm. Sat 12-4pm, 5pm-11:30pm. Sun 12-4pm, 5pm-11pm. Tel.: +420 226 203 880
Cafe Neustadt is right around the corner of the 5 Star Hostel Mosaic House, hidden next to the new town hall behind a small square with some art in it. They offer a wide range of cafés, and juices. The cakes are also really yummy, so make sure you bring some lust for something sweet with you. Occasionally there are some live music events like piano concerts and so on. Check their Facebook page at Facebook.com/cafeneustadt to check events for your travel dates. The hallway to the bathrooms is filled with pianos; you can play them as well. Good to know: Water is free here, the staff very helpful and kind! – Matt Kiefer, Hostelgeeks
Medieval taverns featuring a multi-course meal, drinks and live entertainment such as belly dancers, snake and sword handlers, fortune tellers and fire juggling are most popular with tourists. Before you are influenced by those who cite this as one of the things not to do in Prague and pooh-pooh this idea, we must tell you that we decided to leave our elite self-images in the hotel for one night and attend one. We had so much fun! See our earlier post on the Top 3 Prague Medieval Tavern Experiences. They’re kitschy and not really that authentic, but it’s a great way to blow off steam with a few cocktails. Many people say this is one of the most fun things to do in Prague. You’ll be well fed and entertained in an underground dungeon-like atmosphere with bawdy wenches, swaggering knaves and semi-exotic musicians.
Medieval Dinner with Unlimited Drinks – Spend an evening in the heart of Prague enjoying a 5-course medieval dinner with unlimited drinks. You’ll be entertained by a special medieval performance, in a show that includes swordsmen, jugglers, and belly dancers, all accompanied by music.
The Cross Club is one of the best clubs and bars in all of Prague. The Cross Club is a unique venue that I have never been able to find anywhere else in the world. There are three levels at the Cross Club and it is easy to get lost in this labyrinth. They always have different events and bands every night. Every room has a bit of a different theme going on. There is also a great garden with quirky and fun art installations. The great part about Cross Club is that it serves food too – perfect for drinking nights! This bar has great memories for me and should be on the top of anyone’s nightlife list in Prague. Drinks and food are incredibly affordable and there is usually no cover to get in! – Natasha and Cameron, The World Pursuit Travel Website
The Cross Club: Plynární 1096/23, 170 00 Holesovice. Open Fri-Sat 2pm-8am, Sun 2pm-4am, M-Th 2pm-5am. Phone: +420 736 535 053
Best Day Trips from Prague
The notorious Nazi detainment center also known as Theresienstadt was set up in a former military citadel. Not technically an extermination facility, such as Mauthausen, Terezin nonetheless processed more than 150,000 prisoners, including 15,000 children in a ghetto and concentration camp in appalling and terrifying conditions.
Terezin Monument Half-Day Trip from Prague – Five hour trip includes hotel pickup, bus transport with air-con and USB charger, bottled water, entrance fees. Lunch and gratuities are extra.
Terezin Concentration Camp Day Trip from Prague – Six hour tour via public transportation from Central Prague includes monuments, memorials and museum at the Concentration Camp, the Ghetto Museum and the Magdeburg Barracks. Lots of walking on this tour.
Tour of Terezin Day Trip from Prague – Five hour tour includes hotel pickup on request, admission to Big and Small Fortress, guide, optional English film “History of Terezin,” and a visit to the National Jewish Cemetery.
Kutna Hora and the Sedlec Ossuary (“Bone Church“)
A popular destination in Central Bohemia, Kutna Hora attracts visitors to learn how important this city was to the country’s economy and its role in the Hussite Wars. The Sedlec Ossuary is a macabre gallery of human bones arranged in designs and three-dimensional displays. See our complete post: Kutna Hora: Beauty and Bones.
Seven hours includes train transport from Prague, entrance to Sedlec Ossuary and St. Barbara’s Cathedral. Stop for lunch in authentic Bohemian restaurant and walk through the city to see other significant attractions.
Hotel pickup and transport via air-conditioned bus with wifi, admission to St. Barbara’s Cathedral and the Sedlec Ossuary, guided walk of the historic town center.
Routinely voted one of the prettiest small towns in Europe, Cesky Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage site with the largest chateau in the Czech Republic, which has Baroque gardens and a unique revolving auditorium.
Cesky Krumlov Full Day Trip from Prague with Lunch – Includes pickup and dropoff from your hotel, air-conditioned bus transportation with guide, three-course lunch, admission. Note the castle is closed November – March.
Finding Prague Accommodations
Lots of first time travelers will be concerned with how to find the best Prague accommodations, but fail to realize what seems like the slightest detail can ruin an experience, or at least cause annoyances that could have been avoided. We recommend you start with two factors: location and budget. As we mentioned earlier, consider staying in one of the central neighborhoods. You can easily walk to attractions and pick-up points, and transfer easily to the main train station or airport on the way in or out.
Hotels in Old Town Prague will be less expensive along the fringe of the neighborhood, yet still within an easy walk. We stayed at the Clarion Hotel Old Town, which had a very generous breakfast and free wifi. From the looks of it, the Clarion was popular with business travelers and families alike. Even though it is billed as a 4-star property, we would describe it as a 3 due to aging and facilities. The staff was lovely and at less than $100 a night, well within our budget.
The big mistake we see first timers make in just about every new location: they overpay for hotels that have amenities they never use. The reality for many people is they may not need as much out of a hotel stay as they think they do. Prague has so much to keep your days busy that it may just be that you arrive back at your hotel in time to prepare for sleep. Be realistic! There’s no sense paying for ambience or extras if you’re not able to take advantage of them.
Prague Transportation Details
If you’re arriving by train, the main train station in Prague is called Hlavni Nadrazi, located at Wilsonova 8, 110 00 Praha 2 (the Vinohrady neighborhood but just across Wilsonova from New Town). Try not to change money here; there are better rates elsewhere. The cab driver we hailed to our hotel took payment in Euros. Tram stops are in front of the building and the Metro station is across the street.
What to Pack for Prague
Prague’s climate is seasonal, so you will want to check the weather predictions for your stay. Be prepared for rain throughout the year, and remember comfortable footwear for walking on cobblestones. For boat trips, you’ll want a cover up or jacket and sunglasses. In winter, a good coat to break freezing winds, comfortable boots with warm tights or socks, hat, scarf and gloves will see you through. Don’t forget adapters and chargers for electronics.
You made it through the longest post we’ve ever published! Thank you so much for staying with us! We hope you found the information in this Prague travel blog post for first time visitors helpful and inspiring. We’d love to hear how your Prague visit goes, and if you have a recommendation or update for us to include, let us know in the comments!