Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. As a city that’s rich in history, food, and architecture, Prague attracts over 6.4 million people every year. From museums to historical attractions to churches and theaters, there’s a seemingly never-ending number of things to see and do in this amazing city. For a first time visitor, the options can seem a little overwhelming. With that in mind, we’ve tried to narrow it down to the absolute must see activities and attractions. Here are a few fun things to do during a visit to Prague.
Try Czech Cuisine
One thing you definitely can’t miss during your trip to Prague is the food. Czech cuisine is a mixture of several central European styles, along with some Asian and Mediterranean influences. Appetizers typically come in the form of soups, with the potato soup being a particular favorite. One thing you must eat in Prague is the pickled cheese, which became our favorite Czech pub grub. Main courses are usually meat-based. It’s a dream come true if you love roast pork and dumplings. Czech cuisine also has a number of delicious treats for dessert to choose from. Be sure to try the Palačinky, thin pancakes that are rolled up and filled with fruits or jams. Czech meals are truly incredible overall and unlike anything you’ll try at home.
Visit Prague’s Old Town Square
Prague’s Old Town Square was founded in the 12th century and looks very much the same now as it did then. It’s been the site of many incidents of historical significance, making it a must-see for history lovers. It’s also a great place to check out Prague’s Gothic and Renaissance-influenced architecture. On top of this, the old square is almost always populated with musicians and other street performers. There’s always some entertainment happening, and it’s also the best way to reach many of Prague’s other attractions. The best views of the square can be found at the top of the bell tower, which can be reached for a small fee by climbing the stairs or taking the elevator. Also don’t miss the Prague Astronomical Clock, or Prague Orioj, which dates back to 1410. Every hour on the hour from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. the miniature figurines on the Astronomical Clock put on a show. There are 4 figures depicting things that were hated by the clock maker, death, greed, vanity and usury. The skeletal representing death rings a bell and the 12 Apostles emerge overhead. A rooster crows and then the Turk figurine, shakes his head in incredulity. The miserly figure covets his bag of gold while a vain figure admires his image in the mirror.
Another old landmark that has stood the test of time, Charles Bridge was originally built in the 14th century. It connects the Old Town with the Lesser Town, and is the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll. There are no cars going across this bridge. Instead, it’s simply a great place to go for a walk and admire the beauty of the city. Like the Old Town Square, it’s also usually filled with various kinds of artists and performers. There are several statues that adorn the bridge, but touching one is reputed to bring luck. It is the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, which is the 8th on the right as you travel from the Old Town Square toward Prague Caste. Rubbing the image of the falling priest is supposed to bring luck and ensure a return visit to Prague.
The World War II in Prague Tour
Prague has a very long history of wars and invasions, making it one of the best places to visit for those who love history. The World War II in Prague Tour is among the best ways to experience the darkest days of that history. During this two-hour long guided tour, you’ll see the Nazi propaganda that took hold of the Old Town and explore the underground tunnels that aided Prague’s resistance movement. You’ll also view documentary footage that hasn’t been seen anywhere else.
As the traditional home of Czech royalty and the home of its current president, Prague Castle is the most popular tourist attraction in the city. It contains over 700 rooms, making it the single largest castle in Europe. It’s also one of the city’s proudest accomplishments when it comes to architecture. Entry to the castle is free to the public, but it’s recommended that you take the two hour Prague Castle guided tour. This is the best way to experience this incredible landmark.
St. Vitus Cathedral
As a part of Prague Castle, the St. Vitus Cathedral is a truly massive building that’s visible from any part of the city. It’s the largest, most important church in Prague, and a true work of art in its own right. It is the resting place of many Bohemian kings and Roman Emperors and also houses the Czech crown jewels. On top of all this, it is also a prime example of Gothic architecture, influencing the design of many famous churches that came after it.
Municipal House Hall
The Municipal House Hall is a great place to catch some entertainment while you’re in the great city. It was built on the former site of the Czech Royal palace and is one of Europe’s finest Art Nouveau buildings. It’s well known for hosting classical concerts, and seeing a show here is unlike any other concert venue you’ll ever see. Along with the entertainment, the building itself is a beautiful work of art. You’ll see frescoes, stained glass windows, and other forms of artwork everywhere you look. Make sure you check to out the Municipal House Hall’s events calendar to help plan your visit.
Prague Love Locks
Find Prague’s romantic side by taking a stroll along with pedestrian bridge in the Malá Strana district. Here you will find a collection of padlocks left by lovers as a demonstration of their undying love and devotion. The phenomenon of affixing love locks to iron gates is popular around the world.
Unfortunately the saying “love hurts” also applies here. The weight of the locks causes damage to the bridge over time, and therefore workers occasionally have to come along and remove them. This however does not have much of a deterrent effect on couples who are determined to leave a small monument to their love. So if you decide to stop by your local hardware store and leave a small souvenir behind during your trip to Prague, who could blame you?
Just on the other side of the bridge of the love lock bridge is the mural known as the “Lennon Wall.” If you’re a fan of The Beatles, then this might be reason enough to give Prague a visit. The mural came into existence in 1988 when students would use it to express their complaints about the communist regime. No matter how often the wall was painted over, new writings would appear the very next day. Currently the graffiti includes lyrics and paintings of the famed Beatles, whose music inspired the students to protest their oppression. Today the theme of peace and love, which as the Beatles taught us, is all you need, prevails.
Enjoy Some Czech Beer
It will become quickly apparent as soon as you arrive in Prague that they love their beer here. In fact, Czechs are known to drink more beer per capita than any other country in the world. There are endless places to get your grog, including microbreweries, farmer’s markets, and pubs. in Prague, you can take your love of beer even one stop further, you can take a bath in it. Prague has become known for their beer spas where you, or you and a few friends, can soak in your suds. Apparently, this activity is a good source of carbohydrates and will leave your skin soft and supple. Cheers to that!
Prague’s architecture boasts many beautiful examples of dominate styles that has spanned hundred of years. From the iconic gothic spires of the 12th century, to ornate baroque designs or stark utilitarian buildings characteristic of the communist builders. Prague is virtual eye candy for those who enjoy strolling through a city that embraces its past while looking forward with bold modern designs. In addition to its architecture, Prague is also very well-known for its unusual art and sculptures that adorn public places. Since it has emerged from its communist past, Prague seems to take great joy in not taking itself too seriously.
Prague’s Funky Sculptures
There are many interesting sculptures in Prague, such as the above 2003 Franz Karka statue by Jaroslav Rónabut. However, the most famous and most controversial pieces are those by David Cerny. His works include giant faceless babies, a man riding an upside down horse, 2 naked men urinating on a map of the Czech Republic, along with notable work consisting of a ladder leading to a gaping anus which invites the viewer to stick their head inside. Now that’s a vacation photo everyone can enjoy. There is a free tour leading to 9 Cerny sculptures for those who are tempted.
Saturday Farmer’s Market
The Saturday Farmer’s Market (Naplavka) is more of a party. Set along the banks of the Vltava river, the weekend comes alive with farmers selling fresh produce and cheese. Along with those goodies, you can also purchase a good beer or wine along with some fantastic food from the vendor stalls.
Discover Prague’s Cafe Culture
When the weather warms up the people of Prague shake off their heavy jackets and take to the streets. It’s a great place to people watch and you’ll find many people doing just that at a local cafe. People are so taken with spending as much time outside as possible, that we found that almost all restaurants that had outdoor seating also had a big supply of cozy warm blankets. A warm customer is a happy, staying customer. For people who love history and cafes, Context Travel offers a Prague Cafe Tour where you can get an in depth understanding of the importance of the cafe culture in Prague as well as a look into some of the city’s best Art Nouveau cafes.
This is the place to go if you’re looking for something to do outdoors while in Prague. Prague Zoo is among the most renowned zoos in the world, and is the second most popular tourist attraction in the city after Prague Castle. Among its most popular attractions are the Elephant Valley, which features a massive herd of Asian elephants. Or you can go to the Giant Salamander House if you want to see some of the world’s largest amphibians. Who could pass up a chance to visit Lemur Island, the Penguin Pavilion or the House of Hippos? There are a ton of things to see at the zoo in general, and a person can easily spend an entire day exploring what it has to offer.
Celebrate Spring in Prague
Spring is the perfect time to visit Prague. The weather is mild and everyone is ready to set winter aside and celebrate the season. One of Prague’s favorite ways to do this is to hold a series of parties – Prague’s Spring Festivals. There are festivals that you would expect, such as the Prague Beer Festival, and a few you wouldn’t, such as the Prague Cheesecake Festival. Best of all, during spring the crowds in Prague are less prominent than during they heavy tourist season is the summer months, which is all the more reason to celebrate.
If you’re an art lover, the Lobkowicz Palace is something you have to see. With over 700 years of history behind it, this museum features one of the largest collections of art in the Czech Republic. You’ll see paintings by some of Europe’s most famous artists, old ceramics, and even some collections of arms and armor. In addition to this, the museum also features some original hand-written manuscripts by famous composers such as Mozart and Beethoven.
Take a Prague Food Tour
If you really like to get to know a new place, on of our recommended activities is to take a food tour. The Prague Food Tour has all of the elements that we like best. We got to sample some of Prague’s Famous cuisine, like braised beef with dumplings, cured meats with spicy mustard and hořicke trubičky (a flaky rolled pastry filled with cream). During the tour we visited some of the main touristic sites in Prague and then went away with lots of recommendations of places to eat and things to do in Prague. Hint – take the tour early in your visit so you don’t miss out on the great recommendations.
Enjoy Prague Wine
Maybe everyone didn’t see this one coming, but Prague actually has some fantastic wines. There is actually now a Prague Wine Festival where aficionados can spend a few days sampling wines from in and around the region. There are also small wine shops where you can taste and buy local wines right from the cask. Not to be outdone by the beer guys, Prague also has a wine spa where you can soak away in a wine barrel like tub while sipping a bottle of wine of your choice (after getting a relaxing massage of course). Find more information in our Wine Drinkers Survival Guide to Prague.
Take a Day Trip From Prague to Melnik
Wine lovers will also enjoy a side trip to the town of Melnik. Here you can find beautiful vineyards overlooking the confluence of the Labe and Vltava rivers, approximately 35 km (22 miles) north of Prague. The area boasts bold bright buildings and a palace that whose history is as colorful as its architecture. It is everything you would expect when you mix wine, aristocracy and adultery. Melnik can be reached from Prague by train or bus.
The Bone Church
Another not to be missed day trip from Prague is the bone church (Sedlec Ossuary). Not for the faint of heart, this working church is actually adorned ornately in human bone. Over 40,000 people are said to have been laid, artfully, to rest here. The abbot of the Cistercian monastery reportedly visited the holy land and came back with a small amount of earth from the site. He sprinkled the dirt over the monastery’s cemetery and word quickly spread.The site became a popular burial ground with far more material than the monks could manage. The bones were thus used to fashion the churches interior as a way to continue to honor the dead while at the same time rending the church Prague’s most visited tourist attractions, with over 200,000 visitors per year.
The Prague Bone Church can be visited in the town of Kunta Hora by train or bus.
Prague at Night
Prague is beautiful by day, but even more spectacular at night. The palaces are bathed in light giving them an even more fairy tale like appearance. There is no lack of things to do, including enjoying a pub crawl or relaxing for a late dinner in one of Prague’s many bars or restaurants (including 34 Prague Restaurants with Michelin stars). The Prague National Theatre offers programming year round. There are also plenty of night clubs for those who are looking to dance til dawn. Pubs generally close around 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m., while bars and clubs can stay open until 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. (with some never closing at all). For those who are looking for a different kind of thrill, try a ghost and dungeon tour – that should keep you awake for those late night club hours.
As another enticement to consider on your trip to Prague, keep in mind that Budapest and Slovakia are is also pretty close and are easy to reach via train or discount airline. Here are a few related articles to tempt you to plan a longer stay in Eastern Europe.