The fairytale city of Prague is absolutely bursting to the brim with history and charm, it’s no wonder it falls to the top of many people’s wishlists of cities to visit in Europe.
Think cobblestone streets, orange-topped roofs and stunning spires. Whether you’re looking for castles, parks or just a great place for a beer, the Czech Republic’s capital city is sure to have something for you.
We visited Prague during the wintertime (it was bloody freezing) and spent 3 wonderful days exploring the city. As always, we like to cram in as much as humanely possible on our trips and so here’s what we got up to!
What to do
There are so many things to see and do across the city that it can feel a little overwhelming at first. To try and help with this, I’ll split Prague up into sections and walk you through some recommendations for each one. First up we have:
The Astronomical Clock
The most hyped attraction in the entirety of the Czech Republic just had to make it on this list.
While probably slightly underwhelming considering the sheer popularity of it, the clock tower (and its slightly disturbing, though questionable, backstory) is surely worth a look if you’re visiting the city.
A local legend is that the original clockmaker Hanuš was blinded so that he would be unable to reproduce his genius engineering elsewhere. In a fit of revenge, he climbed up and destroyed the clock’s mechanisms, thus leaving it non-functional for the next 100 years.
It wasn’t until 1552 when Taborský and Klokotská were able to repair it that Prague regained the regular chiming sequence and marvel of the clock, which now remains unaltered and functional 600 years later.
Old Town Hall Tower
Towering 70m above the square and offering unbeatable panoramic views of the city is the tower of the old town hall.
Dating from the 14th century, you’re entrance fee of 250CZK also gets you access to the chapel, historical halls and the underground areas but, for me, the highlight really is the scenery. Braving the steep spiral staircase (elevator is available!) you eventually reach the viewing platform offering 360 views across the entirety of Staré Mesto and beyond.
Prague is lovingly nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires” and it’s clear to see why. As far as the eye can see you’re met with a medieval cityscape that looks much the same as it would’ve hundreds of years ago. Although it must be said that the nickname wildly undervalues the reality, it’s actually estimated that Prague has closer to the range of 500-1,000 spires!
Church of Our Lady before Týn
Dominating one side of the Old Town Square sits the renowned Gothic architecture of the Church of Our Lady before Týn.
It’s easy to spot the striking black spires jutting out from above orange-coloured roofs from many vantage points across the city and while it’s wonderful to admire from a distance, it’s certainly worth popping inside to get a better look at the Baroque interior that fills its halls.
Museum of Alchemy
I discovered the Museum of Alchemy (Speculum Alchemiae) through my most beloved travel website for weird and wonderful destinations, Atlas Obscura.
After flooding in 2002, this hidden alchemy laboratory was re-discovered beneath one of the oldest houses in Prague. Thought to be from the 16th century, here alchemists would prepare secret elixirs for King Rudolph II.
Embark on a journey to explore just a small section of an underground tunnel network that runs underneath Prague and learn about the history of alchemists in the city. You can even purchase elixirs made from the traditional recipes from the museum shop!
Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments
Yes, I really am recommending you visit a torture museum – a little unexpected right?
Admittedly we only visited this place as we had some time to kill before needing to catch an uber back to the airport and so had a quick google of ‘Things to do in Prague’ in case we’d missed anything. It was dark and cold and we pretty much wanted something to do indoors to stay warm, so the obvious choice was clearly a torture museum!
This place sits right by Charles Bridge and is host to over 80 of the most famous machines used in the Middle Ages. It’s definitely an interesting way to spend an hour or two and you’ll certainly learn a lot about Europe’s more gruesome past.
Central Gallery of Modern Art
This recommendation really depends on what you’re into, but the Central Gallery just by the Church of Our Lady before Týn houses permanent exhibitions from arguably three of the most impactful modern artists: Salvador Dalí, Alphonse Mucha and Andy Warhol.
Each artist holds some connection to Czech history and you can opt to see just one, a couple or all three of the exhibits.
We opted for just the Dalí exhibition and found a fascinating mixture of both his early work and later pieces. The gallery also boasts wonderful views out onto the town square which is a definite plus.
Map of the area:
Crossing over Charles Bridge from Old Town (or Staré Mesto, where you’ll find the Astronomical Clock and Old Town Square) will land you in the neighbourhood of Malá Strana or ‘Lesser Town’.
This was my absolute favourite neighbourhood of Prague. I remember as we crossed Charles Bridge one evening to explore the ‘other side’ of the city we were both awestruck by the romantic spires towering above quaint side streets filled with a joyful warm atmosphere and vendors selling mulled wines and chimney cake (the smells, my goodness!).
There are a few things you can see on this side of the bridge such as the castle and John Lennon wall which are detailed below, but honestly make sure you have time to just have a stroll around and soak up the ambience.
John Lennon wall
Admittedly, quite an unusual attraction if we consider that this Beatles icon never actually stepped foot in Prague, but the Lennon Wall stands for so much more than just a monument to the singer and activist.
The John Lennon wall represents a non-violent rebellion of the Czech youth against the Communist regime, in particular the police who were tasked with cleaning the wall. Before the 90’s his songs were actually banned by authorities as they spoke of freedom that didn’t exist within a Communist community.
After his murder, a picture of John Lennon was painted on the wall amongst the other graffiti as an act of defiance. No matter how often the police tried to whitewash over it, more and more images and messages of peace would appear on the wall, all of which you can see today.
Certovka Boat Trip
The Devil’s Canal or ‘Certovka’ is a small channel on the western side of the Vtalva river which is sometimes lovingly referred to as Little Venice in English.
Now I’ve also visited Venice and I must admit, this tiny portion of Prague really does hold a lot of similarity to the popular Italian destination, even down to the houses right on the water. So much so that some big Hollywood productions with scenes in ‘Venice’ are actually shot here due to it being way cheaper and quieter.
We opted for a boat trip tour of Certovka, which not only took us around the channel but also to see other famous sites on the Vtalva (such as Charles Bridge). Our tour guide was so informative, in fact, a lot of the fun information I’ve included in this blog was learned from him, so shout out to our tour guide!
Another icon, Charles Bridge spans the Vltava river and connects the Old Town (Staré Mesto) with the Lesser Town (Malá Strana).
Construction began back in 1357 and, after taking around half a century to complete, the bridge then formed the only way to cross the river (at least, without getting your feet wet) until the 1800’s!
Dotted along the bridge are 30 Baroque statues which began to be placed during the 17th century. We actually learned from our tour guide on the ‘Devil’s Canal Boat Trip’ (see above) that these statues are actually all regularly replacedcopies and the originals can be seen in the Lapidarium.
Map of the area:
Famed for being the largest coherent castle complex in the world, Prague Castle offers plenty to see for a day out overlooking the city.
There are a few different ticket options and I’d recommend going for the ‘all-in’ option at 250 CZK which includes sights such as the Old Royal Palace, St. George‘s Basilica, Golden Lane and St. Vitus Cathedral (some of which are pictured below).
You can reach the Castle from the city centre by taking the tram line 22 or 23 to Pražský hard.
St. Vitus Cathedral remains the jewel on the crown of the Prague castle complex as its gothic spires stand out amongst the red roofs of the royal palaces surrounding it.
Golden Lane was so called after being the home of the goldsmiths are servents of the castle. A small cobble-stoned street filled with what are now a range of craft shops and small-scale museum displays, this little area was probably my highlight of the entire complex.
The interior of St. George’s Basilica was a surprising treat as you’re met with Romanesque style architecture are painted ceilings.
If you’re looking for one of the best viewpoints over Prague, look no further. Letna Park features an iconic view over the city, featuring one of the most panoramic views over its bridges from the beautiful Art Noveau pavilion.
However, Letna Park is so much more than just a viewpoint. At around 1 mile in length, it’s worth taking some extra time to explore sights such as the former Stalin monument, vast greenery and huge beer garden before settling at the Art Noveau to catch the sunset.
Map of the area:
legendary architects Frank Gehry and V. Milunic were commissioned by the Dutch bank ‘Nationale-Nederlanden’ to create an iconic building in Prague. With an unlimited budget and artistic freedom they certainly didn’t disappoint when creating the famous ‘Dancing House’.
Sadly, the house doesn’t actually dance (how cool would that be), but it does make for some pretty cool photos.
While not actually square-shaped, this area of Prague holds a lot of significance for the Czech people and acts as a central place for all important events of the nation across its history; such as the fall of communism in 1989 and the declaration of the First Czechoslovak Republic in 1918.
Mainly a shopping area for tourists, there’s also a number of great bars and restaurants along the strip. In fact, the best chimney cake we ate in the entirety of our trip was from a tiny little vendor at the top of the square – but more on that later!
Franz Kafka head
An outdoor sculpture by artist David Cerny depicting famous writer Franz Kafta is certainly worth a visit.
The 42 layer sculpture is constantly rotating in a number of different mesmerising patterns and weighs a whopping 39 tonnes!
Annoyingly, I only have video proof of the monument so you’re really going to have to take my word for it (also… google is great if you’re looking for images).
Map of the area:
Where to stay
MOOo DowntownI can only really give you one recommendation in this section as this is where we stayed during our trip, but this place really was fantastic.
One of two ‘MOOo’ hotels in Prague (the other being in the castle district), MOOo Downtown is a series of luxurious and spacious apartments set right in the heart of Prague – they even gave us a bottle of Prosecco on arrival!
What to eat
If you’re looking to try very reasonably priced authentic Czech food in a friendly and atmospheric venue then this is the place for you. There are a few different ‘Lokals’ dotted around Prague, we visited ‘Lokál Dlouhááá‘ which gave off a real beer hall vibe and most definitely didn’t feel like a tourist trap.
Make sure you try the beer if you stop by here as it’s made very locally and gives you the option to chose your “beer foam”, a concept pretty unique to Czech drinking culture.
Vegans and vegetarians, you might want to skip this one…
Part butcher and part informal restaurant, Naše maso is a wonderful concept where you walk up to the counter, choose all the meat you’d like and they’ll cook it up for you and bring it to your table. No frills, just simple and delicious food.
This place was incredible, so much so that we ate here twice during our three-day trip!
Restaurant U Modre kachnicky
We wanted to be a little fancy for one evening and so booked in to try ‘Restaurant U Modre kachnicky‘, a charming restaurant with cosy interiors set in Malá Strana.
We both opted for the degustation menu which consisted of 7 perfectly prepared courses – we felt like kings for the evening!
Chimney Cake or ‘Trdelník’ is a dough-based funnel cake that can be found in various eastern European countries. Quite often coated simply with sugar and cinnamon, there are also a range of fun and adventurous fillings and toppings you can try.
I have two ‘recommendations’ for this depending on what you’re after: the more instagrammable option, or, in my opinion, the genuinely tastier option.
Good Food – A very popular spot for Trdelník which I think is primarily due to their aesthetics. The cakes from here really do look visually stunning and while they’re definitely not bad, we both agreed we’d had better during our trip.
Random vendor in Wenceslas Square – As mentioned previously, our first taste of chimney cake was while we were visiting Wenceslas square. We opted to share one coated in sugar and cinnamon and it was honestly so fresh, warm and delicious. I really can’t give you much more information other than it was at the top of the square, not on the side where the statue is!
Thus concludes my guide for a brilliant, jam-packed three days in Prague. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along and please do let me know if you have any recommendations I’ve missed in the comments!
The Chaos Diaries
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