In July earlier this year, I found myself staying in a big 12 bed apartment with 11 of my friends, in the centre of possibly the prettiest city I’ve seen so far: Prague. This is a city with a lot to offer, and I like to think that in our five days there, we got a good feel for the best things to do when sightseeing. So, in no particular order, here are my favourite attractions in Prague:
If you are going to Prague, then I’d guess you’ve probably already heard of this one. The Castle (or rather, St Vitus’ Cathedral which found within the castle grounds) is a dominant feature on the city skyline, and while there is a bit of a climb up a hill to get to its grounds, the views from the top are absolutely worth the effort. and, fun fact: Prague Castle is listed as the largest castle in the world, with an area of 70,000m squared!
Inside, you’ll find a huge range of buildings with an amazing history: rooms where the royal family lived, where there were important historical events, fires, riots…. even the so-called ‘window of defenestration’ which I found particularly hilarious.
My top tips: if possible, investigate getting a queue jump ticket or turning up as early as possible, because the queue can stretch all the way across the square outside the castle and takes quite a long time to go down. Also, note that you can enter the castle grounds for free, but in order to enter any of the buildings including the cathedral you will need to buy one of various different options for tickets inside, allowing you into different parts of the castle. Good news: they do a significant student discount!
The Jewish Museums
If you enjoy learning about history and other cultures, then the Jewish quarter of Prague forms an important part of the city’s historical background and a ticket to this museum allows you to wander round several spectacular Synagogues in the area, many of which have been made into museums with information boards and artefacts. This includes the Pinkas synagogue, the interior walls of which hold the names of 80,000 Czech and Moravian Jews who were victims of Nazi persecution. This in particular, coupled with the crowded cemeteries where graves are crammed together because the Jewish population were restricted to one area so heavily over centuries of victimisation, makes for a more solemn experience but it is one I would definitely recommend.
Another famous one, Charles Bridge is easy to incorporate into your sightseeing schedule as you can use it to cross from the Old Town to the New Town or vice versa. It is really beautiful, with huge towers at each end and beautiful statues along the length of the bridge.
Top tip: if you want to take photos of it without the flood of tourists, you’ll need to get up very early and take pictures of it just after sunrise, before the crowds arrive!
Get yourself some Czech ‘trdelnik’
One of the traditional foods in Prague is this waffle-type cone coated in sugar/cinnamon and filled with a wealth of sweet choices, from ice cream to nutella to apple sauce and raisins. you might find they’re a little overpriced at some places in the centre, but wherever you go, it’s absolutely worth the cost!
Top tip: You’ll also want to check out some more Czech traditions like fried cheese (delicious!) and an amazing soup which comes in a bowl made of bread. I thought I’d struggle for vegetarian food in Prague, but it was actually quite easy even if I did once eat two sides of potatoes and spinach as my main course!
The Communist Museum
Absolutely a must-see for anyone remotely interested in culture or history, the communist museum does what it says on the tin: it is a very detailed and fascinating museum dedicated to the Communist era in the Czech Republic, and how it came to pass eventually.
Sadly, the day I went was so hot and I was so exhausted that I don’t feel I quite got to appreciate it in full, but I’d definitely go back!
Bonus: all the exhibits are in multiple European languages, so if you’re like me and insist on doing everything the hard way and you know another language, it’s a great way to practice!
Ever since the 1980s, this once-ordinary wall has been filled with quotes inspired by John Lennon and snippets of Beatles songs, positive messages, and drawings – all in an explosion of colour and feeling. It has been involved in a clash between students and the communist authorities in 1988, and when some authorities tried to wipe it down, it was again filled with flowers and messages on the second day. The original portrait of Lennon has been long lost under layers of graffiti, but the wall is still a symbol of peace and love for many.
This fort is the site another striking feature on the Prague skyline, and it is certainly visiting if you get chance. Here you will see the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul, the neo-Gothic cathedral first founded in the 11th century with a very impressive appearance.
There is also a large cemetery, and some ancient ruins of the fort which local legend claims to be the site of the first settlement in Prague.
The site looks over the river and contains some more gorgeous views of the city from a different angle.
This has been described as the ‘younger sister of the Eiffel tower’ and granted, they do have a similar appearance although there are only(!) 299 steps in Prague’s version. However, the tower itself is already at the top of a hill (top tip: if you don’t fancy the winding path up the hill, or you’re travelling with those who aren’t able to walk up such a steep hill, try taking the funicular railway up the hill) and so the views are again quite spectacular!
This is also a good rest stop, with some beautiful gardens nearby (we stopped for ice cream and a sit down), a café below the tower, and a nearby Mirror Maze if you want to continue the adventures!
The Astronomical Clock
Of course – I couldn’t write a post about things to do in Prague without mentioning this famous landmark!
As you can see, the Astronomical Clock was very sadly under construction when I went – but it’s still definitely worth a visit! It is quite impressive just to look at, but even better if you can catch it when it chimes on the hour.
Top tip: turn up early and get a space nearer the front before everyone also stops to watch it. And try to avoid eating in the square around it – you’ll find the prices match the clock’s name!
Hopefully this has given you an idea of just some of the things Prague has to offer, though this is by no means an extensive list; I haven’t even mentioned the beautiful monastery, the paddle boats on the lake, or Prague’s night life! It’s a really beautiful city, and just wandering around it is a joy in itself. Bonus advice: If you go, keep an eye out for the bizarre sculptures by David Cerny which are scattered around the city, such as one of an enormous crawling baby with a weird footprint for a face. Bizarre yet intriguing!
Did you find this useful? Are there other places in prague you would recommend? Leave me a comment below, and stayed tuned for more travel blogs soon.