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10 Things Not to Miss in Prague

This magical and charming city of a hundred towers has everything you could wish of a European capital; whether you're after some culture, sightseeing, mystery and magic, or just some delicious and affordable beer, The Czech capital will not disappoint. If someone claimed not to enjoy Prague, I could only assume that they don't enjoy travelling at all. Here are 10 things you should certainly not miss if you want to get the most out of Prague.

1. Visit Old Town Square

Town Square in Prague
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Town Square in Prague

The most typical thing to do once you arrive in a city is to go to the main square, and in Prague let’s not make exception. Old Town Square, or Staroměstské náměstí is a great orientation point, and also rather impressive. Enclosed by beautiful buildings of different architectural styles from Gothic to Baroque, it has all you can ask of a main square of a gorgeous European capital.

What might catch your eye first of all in the towering Týnský chrám, on which work started in the 14th century. This stunning church is sure to evoke fairy-tale imagery, and don’t be surprised – it is said that it was the inspiration the infamous Walt Disney World Castle in Florida. Another must-see is the astronomical clock, or Pražský orloj in Czech. Don’t set your expectations too high though – it’s been voted the most disappointing sight in Prague. But regardless, this 15th-century clock is the third oldest of its kind in the world, and the oldest still functioning.

2. Walk across Charles Bridge... at night.

The Charles Bridge
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Charles Bridge

This is a must-do in Prague, and, to be sure, all visitors to Prague do do it. A lot. The  14th-century bridge is indeed a wonder, however it is often so over-crowded with tourists that it is impossible to walk across it in a civilized way. Visit it instead at night, as late as you can stay up (or as early as you can get up) and avoid the huge crowds – it’s much more magical at night, anyway.

Interestingly, King Charles IV, who had it built, had it finished on 9th July 1357, at 5:31. So, the exact time and date of it being finished is in the year 1357 on 9th day of the 7th month, at 5:31, or 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1.

3. Wander around the Lesser Town

Stairs to the Prague Castle in the Mala Strana
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Stairs to the Prague Castle in the Mala Strana

Once you cross the bridge from Old Town Square you’re still in the historical centre, but in the smaller part, or the ‘lesser side’ (Malá Strana in Czech). It would be a shame to follow the crowds directly up Nerudova Street to the castle, as Malá Strana has much more to offer. Instead, take a left off Charles Bridge towards the Kampa gardens, stroll past the John Lenon Wall if you’re a fan, and visit the petite, charming Maltezské náměstí. There are plenty of cozy restaurants, and even a few not-so-pricey cafés and wine bars. The whole place is filled with stunning buildings and churches, which you can admire all the way up to Prague Castle.

4. Try out the local cuisine

Traditional Czech beef goulash
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Traditional Czech beef goulash

OK, so Czech cuisine isn’t as widely loved as Italian, as refined as French, or as fashionably healthy as Japanese, but if you order the right thing, you can certainly get a delicious meal. Go to the affordably chic and historical Louvre, not far from the National Theatre, or if you don’t mind digging a little deeper into your pockets and treating yourself at least once, the Café Imperial (a short walk from Republic Square) and try some superb Czech food. In almost any Czech restaurant meat-lovers can order Svíčková, served with typically Czech dumplings, or the local take on Goulash – a favourite all over the country.

5. Try out the local beer

Prague pub
Photo taken by Carolyn Coles.  Prague pub

Czech beer is widely recognised as among the best, if not the very best, in the world. Don’t take any chances, and go straight to Lokál, a chain of no-nonsense local pubs in Prague with delicious Pilsner Urquell beer from tanks, to ensure its freshness. You can find one a short walk from Old Town Square on Dlouhá street, and another not far from Charles Bridge in Malá Strana. Pilsner beer is, of course, of Czech origin, coming from the city Plzeň (also the name of the beer in Czech). Also, it might be interesting to mention that Budweiser is by name also of Czech origin – it comes from České Budějovice, named Budweis in German. The Czech Budvar and American Budweiser companies have been in court over the trademark for over a hundred years. However, I have yet to meet even an American who denies that the Czech one is much better.

6. Visit beautiful Vyšehrad

Vyšehrad fort as seen over the Vltava River
Photo taken by Stanislav Jelen - wikimedia.org.  Vyšehrad fort as seen over the Vltava River

Vyšehrad is a 10th-century fort overlooking the River Vltava, hosting a stunning neo-Gothic church, the basilica of saint Peter and Paul, and a cemetery containing the remains of many famous Czechs including composers Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana, playwright Karel Čapek (who with his brother Josef invented and popularized the word robot) and brilliant Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha.

The grounds with their well-kept lawns are delightful especially in the summer for a walk and picnic, or perhaps a refreshment in the beer garden, and the fort offers stunning views of Prague. If you don‘t mind a half-hour walk, rather than taking the underground or metro, as the locals call it, walk back to the Old Town along the river, or across the New Town (Nové Město).  By the way, don‘t expect any skyscrapers here – it‘s was named New Town by king Charles IV in 1348.

Not suffering nearly as much from large crowds of tourists as Prague Castle, the Vyšehrad enjoys a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere all year round.

7. Enjoy some culture at the theatre

Prague cityscape at night
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Prague cityscape at night

Being in the heart of Europe, Prague has always been a hotspot for Classical music; Mozart, after enjoying a greatly successful trip to Prague, premiered the infamous opera Don Giovanni here later the same year, with great success. He loved the people of Prague, claiming that they truly understood him, when at the time in Vienna his operas weren‘t being as well-received. The opera now is widely performed and considered a materpiece. The ‘National Theatre‘ actually consists of a few buildings, so double-check which one you will be in. All main three are impressive, and prices are much more favourable to those in Western European capitals. If you go to the actual National Theatre building, drop by the classy Café Slavia afterwards for a refreshment – it’s right opposite.

8. Walk around the Jewish Quarter

The Synagogue of Prague
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Synagogue of Prague

This quarter of Prague is located just a stone’s throw from the Old Town Square. Whether you’re after synagogues - the Staronová synagogue is among the oldest in Europe - or luxurious clothes, this charming part of the city is a great to wander around.

9. Enjoy the nightlife at Letná

On one of the hills overlooking the Old Town are the large Letenské gardens, or Letenské sady, and a beer garden offering simply magical views of Prague. The place is bursting with life on warm summer evenings, and perhaps for once during your trip you will be mostly surrounded by locals.

10. Go on a free walking tour

Excursion in Prague
Photo taken by Jirka Matousek.  Excursion in Prague

Some companies offer free walking tours of Prague, leaving from Old Town Square near the astronomical clock. You’ll be shown the most noteworthy sights in the historical centre and learn a load of history as you go. They’re informative and entertaining, last a few hours with a café break, and rely solely on voluntary tips, so you can give as much as you feel it was worth.

Comments (1)

JChan   4 years ago  Edited
I would recommend you checking the Czech beer spa (unless you hate beer but then I'd say you should avoid Czech Republic :D ). But otherwise the article already contains all the main spots you should not miss :)