The city of Prague is an absolute gem among Eastern European cities. Fairy-tale settings and a distinct culture characterize the tales of travelers who spent their time exploring it. If you are planning to visit the city yourself, here are 21 things that you just can’t miss.
1. Prague Castle
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this building is the largest ancient castle on the planet. The castle itself is unmissable as it towers over the city and offers spectacular views for anyone who is willing to make their way to its top. It was founded back in 880 and is now a World UNESCO Heritage site. Visitors can expect to see an array of architectural styles from Romanesque to Gothic. Wander to the St. Vitus Cathedral for the lookout tower and then over to the Castle Picture Gallery and Royal Garden. If you visit at the right time, you may be able to catch the Presidential Guard changeover as well.
2. Charles Bridge
The construction of this infamous bridge started back in the 14th century, connecting Lesser Town to Old Town. This Gothic, stone structure is a landmark in the city as it’s one of the most beautiful displays of ancient architecture. It’s towers and Baroque statues are some of the notable features to look out for if you are interested in what gives it it’s powerful beauty. Aside from the architecture, the bridge is modernly used as a place for artists, musicians and street performers to gather and try to appeal to people passing by.
3. Old Town
It’s the historic center of Prague and a place with a whole lot going on. Just a stroll around this area will yield a ton of significant architecture and places of interest such as: the Astronomical Clock, the Gothic style Tyn Church, the Storch Building which is covered in interesting murals, the Jan Hus Monument and the Estate Theater which is an example of Neoclassical building style and the place where Mozart’s Don Giovanni was first performed. Let us arrange a backstage tour for you of the theater, prior to attending a performance! This part of the town is also jam-packed with historically significant churches like St. James and other intriguing buildings like The Old Town Hall.
4. Josefov – Jewish Quarter
Formerly a Jewish Ghetto, this historic area now makes an interesting visit. One of the best things to see here is the array of historic and well preserved synagogues that dot the area. Try visiting the Old New Synagogue, the oldest active synagogue in Europe, or the Spanish Synagogue, a structure displaying the Moorish building style. While in the area, don’t forget to wander around the Old Jewish Cemetery and Kafka’s House as well as the Jewish Museum.
5. New Town
Built in the 14th century as an extension to the Old Town, the main thing to see here is the Wenceslas Square. Over the many centuries demonstrations of civil discontent have taken place. At the top of the square you will see the imposing building of the National Museum and the Monument to St Wenceslas, the patron of the Czech lands, by sculptor Josef Myslbek.
Next you may want to walk the coronation route of Czech kings, the Royal Way, now a bustling pedestrian street lined with buildings from many different architectural periods.
6. Little Quarter
The perfect area for independent exploration is Malá Strana or Little Quarter, which is best known for the Wallenstein Palace and Church of St. Nicholas. Also, it is here in the Malá Strana that you will find many charming restaurants and unique shops full of Bohemian glass and the marionettes that are so famous in Prague.
7. Infant of Prague
It’s a little quirky but a must-see in Prague. Essentially, it’s a tiny statue of Jesus from the 16th century that is made from wood and wax. It can be visited where it stands at the Discalced Carmelite Church of Our Lady Victorious in Malá Strana. While it may be small, the statue is famous as one of the world’s most significant religious images.
8. Strahov Monastery
Founded in 1143 by Bishops and Dukes of Prague, this historically significant monastery stands atop a mountain and is worth a visit for its beauty.
Exeter can arrange a VIP visit to the Monastery. Here, you will be invited into the two main halls of the library (the Philosophical Hall and the Theological Hall). These two halls are always viewed by the public through the narrow doorways at the end of each room, but you will be allowed to enter the rooms to walk alone among the ancient books and artifacts.
9. Prague Dancing House
Also known as Fred and Ginger, this house is the brain child of Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunic. It was designed and completed in the early 1990’s to spruce up a vacant riverside plot. Due to its strange and non-traditional architectural style, the house was the subject of much controversy but now is a well known staple of the city.
10. The Loreto
A 17th century religious ensemble of buildings and courtyards, including a baptistery, church and treasury. It is here in the treasury that you can see the diamond-encrusted monstrances that demonstrate so vividly the wealth of the Lobkowicz family that commissioned the complex.
11. Petrinska Rozhledna
Standing at 63.5 meters tall is the Petrinska Rozhledna tower. Built out of steel framework, the structure really resembles the Eiffel Tower of Paris. Built back in 1891, it was once used as a transmission and observation tower but is now considered a major tourist attraction. Visitors will need to walk up the hill for about 30 minutes before reaching the tower, and the observation platforms can only be reached after climbing a series of nearly 300 stairs. The strenuous climb however is certainly worth it for the stunning views over Prague.
12. Prague Christmas Markets
If you can make it to Prague during December, the Christmas markets are one of the top attractions. They exude the Christmas spirit with their decorations and light fixtures and make fantastic places to celebrate the holiday shopping spirit. There is a large mix of things for sale including art, crafts, food and drink. The atmosphere alone makes it worth spending a few hours.
13. Vitkov Hill
If you want a little exercise and some time spent out in nature, head up Vitkov Hill. Once you reach the top, take some time to appreciate the National Memorial and the beautifully landscaped gardens that surround it. The view of the Prague skyline is well worth the trip and if you want to spend a little time there, pack a picnic and enjoy.
14. Czech National Gallery
A visit to the Sternberg Palace to view the National Gallery’s collection of European art, including its important collection of Old Masters is a must for art lovers. Here you will see the great names from Rembrandt to El Goya.
Some of its most renowned exhibits include the Medieval Art of Bohemia, European Art of the Baroque styles, Classicism and Romanticism art from the 19th century and Art of Asia. There are usually a whole collection of rotating exhibitions as well as talks and seminars to discuss art in general. Give yourself a few hours to explore the various galleries.
15. Prague City Gallery
Divided up among several sites, the gallery showcases mostly modern Czech art. A great place to start is in the main building of the House of Golden Ring in the Old Town square which features Czech art from the 20th Century. Another place to wander is through the Troja Castle which features art from the 19th Century. The gallery is also responsible for gorgeous monuments, carvings and public fountains.
16. Astrological Clock National Technical Museum
No trip to Prague is complete without a visit to the famous Old Town Square, where you can see the Astrological Clock that has become the symbol of Prague. Be sure not to miss the fairy-tale-like Old Town Hall Tower (1364) that stands above Old Town Square- you can even go to the top of the tower for a splendid view over the district.
17. Pub Crawls
If you’ve had enough of sightseeing and exploring museums, take a rest into the evening with a pub crawl. Beer is extremely popular in the country as a whole, making it a special treat for beer enthusiasts making the visit. The beer culture here is strong and the Czechs prefer lagers, so be prepared to drink a lot of it. The two most popular beers in the country are Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen and Gambrinus. Beer drinking is best done in the beer halls or one of the bars like Zly Casy, Beergeek, Nota Bene, Sedmej Schod, or T-anker. You can take an official pub crawl by signing up for one at a tourist desk or make a list of intriguing bars and head out on your own.
18. Visit a Bohemian Glass Maker
We can arrange a special visit to the in-town gallery and workshop of the world-renowned Bohemian glass-artist Antonin Mrnka-Manto. Mr. Manto-Mrnka has created numerous public installations and customized items including Porcelain sets for the Four Seasons in Prague and Budapest. Enjoy Mr. Mrnka’s presentation and create your own piece of art to bring home.
19. Go Behind the Scenes of the Marionette Theater
Today you will have a wonderful opportunity to wake your inner artist and participate in a marionette workshop. Puppetry has a long tradition in the Czech Republic as you will learn from the manager of Prague’s National Marionette Theater. You will tour the theater, see how the stage is prepared and how the antique marionettes are handled during the performance. Performers from the evening show will give you a ten minute preview of what the audience experiences during a performance. Then, step backstage and try your hand on the marionettes from Don Giovanni.
Finally, you will have a chance to create your own marionette under the guidance of an experienced marionette artist. There is no better gift to bring home from your travels to Prague!
20. A Concert at the Municipal House
Enjoy a concert at the Municipal House. This magnificent building is an excellent example of the art nouveau architecture. It was built between 1905 and 1911 and features lavish decoration both inside and outside by famous Czech artists, including Alfons Mucha. It was here where the Czechoslovak Republic was proclaimed on 28 of October, 1918. Today, the Municipal House offers exhibitions but is also home to the Prague Symphony Orchestra. Its concert halls are some of Prague’s most impressive and significant concert halls, primarily due to their superior acoustics.
21. River Cruise
If you want to see the city from a different angle, taking a river cruise is a fantastic choice.