5 Best Things To Do In Prague - How to Visit Like a Local
Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Let's explore five famous places no one can miss while visiting the capital of the Czech Republic.
Prague - A City Of Rich History In The Heart Of Europe
It's easy to take some things for granted. When living in Prague, we probably didn't appreciate its beauty enough. Of course, we knew that the city is wonderful and enjoyed our time there, but only now, when we live in Calgary (which cannot be more different), we realized, how lucky we were that we could've lived in one of the most beautiful European cities. We didn't have to look up the best things to do in Prague or the best places to visit, we just knew. And what was the best, we could anytime wander around cobblestone streets, architectural jewels, historical buildings, beautiful squares, refreshing parks, or walk back home after work around Vltava River.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR TIME IN PRAGUE
We have good news. The city's historical center, where you can find the majority of attractions, is compact and pedestrian-friendly, so it is easy to visit all must-see places in a couple of days. Try to spend in Prague at least two days, we consider it as a bare minimum. The public transport is one of the best in the world and Prague also has a great reputation when it comes to safety. No wonder that Prague started to gain its popularity in recent years among tourists and backpackers, and nowadays is on top of its game.
MUST-VISIT PLACES IN PRAGUE
It doesn't matter which time of year you visit Prague, all places we love the most, are stunning throughout the year.
THE OLD TOWN SQUARE & ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK
In the very center of Prague, you'll find The Old Town Square, repeatedly rated among the most beautiful and most famous squares in the world. It is conveniently located between Wenceslas Square and Charles Bridge, so there is no way you miss it on your walk around the city. It is a lively place and at times (especially during Christmas when markets are open) it can get unbearably crowded. In spite of the crowds, the square still keeps its medieval charm, and you won't have a problem to soak up the atmosphere.
The Old Town Square was founded in the 12th century, at the beginning served as a marketplace and since then has witnessed many historical events throughout the Czech history. Nowadays, it is literally the place where the heart of Prague beats. Among the most significant monuments on the Old Town Square are Old Town Hall, Church of Our Lady before Týn, Baroque Church of St. Nicholas, the Rococo Kinský Palace, the Gothic House at the Stone Bell, the monument of Jan Hus, and last but not least, Astronomical Clock.
The well-preserved Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Square is dated back to the 15th century, which makes it the oldest still working medieval astronomical clock in the world. Every hour on the hour, from 9-23, you'll find people gathered beneath the building waiting for the procession of Apostles, moving statues, who parade past the windows above the clock. Although everything happens in less than one minute, it is the must-see when in Prague.
Our Travel Tip: Try to visit The Old Town Square early in the morning when it's deserted, and the city is waking up. By no means, do not exchange money in the exchange office opposite Astronomical Clock - they rip off tourists.
The most iconic bridge in Prague, Charles Bridge is dated back to 15th century and since then is a significant pathway across Vltava River (until 1841 it was the only way how to cross the river without a boat). Nowadays, you can use other bridges to get to the other side of the river, but Charles Bridge still remains the most picturesque one on the way from Old Town area to Prague Castle. Charles Bridge is over 600 meters long, at each side of the bridge stand two gothic Towers, once an essential part of Old Towns fortification and the entire length of the bridge is lined with over 30 statues.
Charles Bridge is one of the busiest sights in Prague, and you can find yourself disgruntled by the crowds with selfie sticks in hands. There is only one advice. Visit Prague in winter when crowds usually thin out or get up early to capture a sunrise. At this time, you'll be surrounded only by equally crazy early-bird photographers and Asian parties who tirelessly come here to take their pre-wedding pictures.
PRAGUE CASTLE & SAINT VITUS CATHEDRAL
Being the largest ancient coherent castle in the world, no wonder Prague Castle attracts every year millions of visitors from all over the world. The castle complex is dated back to the 9th century and since then was an official seat of power for kings, emperors and nowadays presidents. Prague Castle dominates the Prague's skyline, so it is easy to find. The entrance fee to Prague Castle complex is free you must only but a ticket when you want to explore the significant buildings from inside such as St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, Golden Lane, St. Georges Basilica, etc., or when you want to visit exhibitions. To see all admissions, click here. The Prague Castle strengthened its security because of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, so be prepared to wait in a queue for some time, because all visitors must go through metal detectors.
If there is only one place you should explore more thoroughly in the Prague Castle complex, it is St. Vitus Cathedral. The outstanding gothic architecture is spectacular both from outside and inside, and you could easily spend whole day admiring so many details. When you enter the complex via the main gate, you must cross the courtyard, and then you emerge right in front of the cathedral. You can tell, that more than 1000 years ago, builders didn't plan how to make the cathedral photo-friendly as from this side it's just impossible to take a picture of the whole building. Fortunately, you can walk around, and it gets much better from the back.
To get to Vysehrad (upper castle), you can use public transport or walk south along the river about 25 - 30 minutes from the city center. A historic fort was built on the hill in the 10th century, and according to a legend, from this place, Libuse (daughter of mythical Czech ruler Krok) prophesied the glory of the future city of Prague.
In Vysehrad, you can see the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, visit Cemetery containing remains of famous people from Czech history or you can only enjoy the upriver views of the city and the relaxed atmosphere of the surrounding park. This place is popular among locals who come here to jog (we lived nearby so this place is soaked with our sweat), walk dogs or have a beer and gather with friends, so come here to get to know Czechs better and enjoy authentic vibes.
For better views, climb to Petrin Hill, one of the Prague's greenest urban areas, near Prague Castle. On the top of the hill is TV tower that is a loose miniature of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (at a ratio of 1:5). It's bit steep walk to get to the top, so to save time, you can use a funicular (a public transport pass is valid here) from Ujezd. You can climb up to the Lookout Tower, stroll around gardens, come nearer to Hunger Wall, visit Mirror Maze or Observatory.