Best Things To Do in Prague
Prague boasts some of the most picturesque architectural landmarks in Europe. Here you'll find the sprawling Prague Castle, the bustling Charles Bridge, the famous Astronomical Clock in the Old Town, and the quirky, art nouveau Dancing House. Prague is also famous for its abundance of tasty beers, pubs and beer halls. When you're not sipping on a Pilsner, make time for cultural events; operas and symphonies attract large crowds and can be very affordable.
Updated May 22, 2019
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Old Town Square is a popular spot in Prague, with travelers flocking here in droves for its beautiful architecture, colorful history and vibrant atmosphere. The square hasn't changed much since it was established in the 12th century when it functioned as the city's original marketplace.
The square is home to some of the most historic attractions in the city, including the Old Town Hall, one of the best places to get a bird's-eye view of the city and the Prague Astronomical Clock, a beautiful timepiece dating back to the 1400s. Other architectural highlights found within the square include the Church of St. Nicholas and the Church of Our Lady before Týn, instantly recognizable for its two Gothic spires. Meanwhile, the newest additions to the square include a monument erected in 1915 for the religious reformer Jan Hus. There are also several restaurants here that spill out onto the square during the warmer months as locals and travelers alike enjoy a coffee or a beer on the patios. And if you're visiting during the holiday season, expect the square to be filled with Christmas market shoppers.
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The Charles Bridge connects Old Town (Staré Mesto) and Lesser Town (Malá Strana). Visitors come here to soak up the atmosphere, buy souvenirs and to take in the 30 saint statues that line the bridge. Dating back to 1357, the statues were crafted between 1683 to 1928 to honor numerous saints.
Recent travelers said a visit to the bridge is a must-do, especially if it's your first time in Prague. But reviewers do warn that you'll likely encounter claustrophobic swarms of tourists and street vendors and you should keep a close watch on your valuables. Some suggest visiting at dawn or dusk to avoid the crowds; the congestion is at its worst in the afternoons, according to travelers.
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Holding the record for the largest coherent castle complex in the world, Prague Castle serves double duty as the office of the Czech president and a popular tourist destination. The complex where it stands is also home to several other attractions.
Prague Castle has stood in this spot for more than a thousand years and covers a lot of area. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the grounds feature a variety of architectural styles, including everything from 10th-century Romanesque buildings to Gothic structures from the 14th century. Throughout its history, the castle and the area around it have gone through extensive restorations and renovations.
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For a breath of fresh air and a chance to exercise your legs, head to Petrín Hill, one of the largest green spaces in the city. Attractions here include the Rose Garden, or rosarium, at the top of the hill, Nebozízek Garden, the Mirror Maze (a labyrinth), and the Seminary Garden, which boasts more than 2,100 fruit trees. The area has been in use since at least since the 12th century, serving as an execution site, vineyards and farming lands through the centuries.
Over the years, the land was divided into various gardens. One of the more famous attractions in the park is the Petrín Observation Tower, which was built in 1891 and resembles a small Eiffel Tower. Head up its 299 steps to the top for amazing views overlooking the entire city, and on clear days, most of Bohemia. Recent travelers say it's best to visit on clear days if you're only interested in the views and recommend taking the funicular up, then walking back down.
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While the site of St. Vitus Cathedral dates back to about A.D. 925, the church that stands today is actually the third in honor of Saint Vitus (the patron saint of dancers, actors, comedians and epileptics). Consecrated in 1929, the cathedral features neo-Gothic stylings alongside Renaissance and baroque details.
One of the highlights is the tomb of St. John of Nepomuk, famours for its intricate silverwork. Also, don't miss the art nouveau stained-glass window work completed by the famous Czech painter Alphonse Mucha.
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Tourists and locals alike enjoy perusing the Náplavka Farmers Market in Prague. Whether you’re looking for an excellent snack or a keepsake from your visit to Prague, you’ll be sure to find it at a stand in this sprawling marketplace. Alternatively, just stroll along the Vltava River and take in the sights and smells of the bustling vendors.
Previous visitors say that a majority of the stalls focus on food, so it’s best to skip breakfast and arrive hungry; however, there are a handful of vendors that sell handmade gifts. What’s more, recent travelers appreciate the market’s position along the Vltava River, close to other attractions like the National Theatre and the Dancing House.
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The National Theatre is the place to come if you want to see opera, theater or ballet in Prague.
Prices vary greatly depending on the company and show. You can score cheap opera tickets for 230 koruna (about $10) or ballet and musical theater tickets for as much as 1,100 koruna (about $48), a bargain for what you'd expect to pay at similar venues in the U.S. If you want to save even more, consider attending an afternoon performance. Most performances have English subtitles, so you'll be able to follow along.
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Unsurprisingly, the Wallenstein Garden sits outside the Wallenstein Palace, home of the Senate of the Czech Republic, in Prague’s Malá Strana. Both the geometrically designed garden and the adjacent palace were built between 1623 and 1629. Given the era of the garden’s construction, its Baroque style and immense sala (a type of pavilion) are even more impressive. While the Wallenstein Garden earns its spot on any itinerary, regardless of when you visit, travelers who stroll through the garden during the summer may be treated to a concert or theatrical performance.
Past visitors were particularly appreciative of the Wallenstein Garden’s roaming white peacocks, which certainly add a whimsical feel to the area. Travelers also enjoyed the garden’s water features, ranging from fountains to koi ponds. Additionally, access to the Wallenstein Garden is free, making it a cost-effective place to spend a sunny afternoon.
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Located in Lesser Town (Malá Strana), the St. Nicholas Church (not to be confused with the Church of St. Nicholas in Old Town Square) is well visited for its stunning baroque architecture, intricate frescoes and classical sculptures.
Although the site of the church dates back to the 13th century, the construction of the church that stands today wasn't completed until the 1760s. Here, visitors will find one of the largest frescos in Europe as well as an organ system with more than 4,000 pipes that was once played my Mozart. Along with being an active parish, the church hosts more than 200 concerts per year.
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Josefov, Prague's historic Jewish Quarter, is home to several significant sites, including a number of important synagogues like the Spanish Synagogue and the Old New Synagogue, Europe's oldest active synagogue. The Old Jewish Cemetery is a sight to behold. The oldest surviving cemetery of its kind, there are 12,000 visible graves and countless more underneath. With space at a premium, it became necessary for graves to be placed on top of each other, as many as 12 layers deep.
Recent travelers said the neighborhood offers a hands-on history of Jewish life in the Czech Republic, although some complained about admission fees to individual synagogues or museums. Some spring for a personal or an audio guide (which can be purchased online), but you can save some money and just explore on your own (ideally equipped with a detailed guidebook).
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The Infant Jesus of Prague statue was carved in an unknown location around 1340 and found its way to Prague more than 100 years later. While the origin of the Infant Jesus statue remains unconfirmed (legend has it that the figure originally belonged to Saint Teresa of Ávila), the statue certainly plays a significant role in Prague and the Roman Catholic Church. Many notable figures attributed miracles to the Infant Jesus of Prague over time, bolstering its status as a holy symbol. These miraculous claims were compounded by the church and statue’s continued security, despite the multiple wars and periods of unrest in the city. As the statue’s profile grew, copies of the Infant Jesus of Prague were (and continue to be) sent to churches around the world.
Regardless of their religious orientation, previous travelers praise the church for its beautiful decor. Visitors also tend to appreciate the small museum upstairs, which houses a variety of the Infant Jesus of Prague’s robes. Keep in mind that the ornate interior of the church is tiny, so don’t allot a significant amount of time for the Church of Our Lady Victorious ( Infant Jesus of Prague) unless you intend to attend mass.
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Located in the Old Town Square, the Prague Astronomical Clock has been around since the 15th century, though it has required repairs many times over its history.
This clock doesn't display the time of day. Rather, it's meant to be used to determine the phases of the moon and the equinoxes. The clock uses depictions of symbols, such as a money bag representing greed, a figure looking at himself in a mirror to represent vanity and a skeleton to depict death. Each hour the clock shows a visualization of time unlike anything else in the world.
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The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art aims to inspire reflection on social topics and issues through its assortment of exhibitions. The eclectic nature of the Dox Centre means that travelers can expect to experience everything from design to sculpture to performance to film. Keep in mind that the unique design of the DOX Centre aims to confuse visitors (to the dismay of some recent guests), so you never know whether you’ll stumble upon a zeppelin or an exhibition of tension.
Previous visitors’ reactions to the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art were generally positive, especially if you can get over the museum’s confusing design. They warn not to get your hopes too high about a specific exhibition, though, as the museum frequently cycles its offerings. Recent travelers insist you peruse the DOX Centre’s design and book store, where you may find the perfect souvenir to bring home.
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Inspired by Granada’s Alhambra, the Spanish Synagogue holds the distinction of being the most recently built synagogue in Prague’s Jewish Quarter. While the Spanish Synagogue may be new by Prague’s standards, the opulent place of worship actually completed construction in 1868, on the site of a 12th-century synagogue. The Spanish Synagogue operates as part of the Jewish Museum in Prague, so two permanent exhibitions, which focus on the history of Jews in Bohemian lands and showcase silver artifacts, are also on display.
The Moorish-style of the synagogue, as well as its beautiful interior, stuns recent visitors. They recommend visiting for an evening concert (the composer of the Czech national anthem once served as organist here for a near-ethereal experience thanks to the building’s excellent acoustics and elaborate design.
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Overlooking Prague’s Old Town from across the Vltava River, Letná Park provides an excellent opportunity to relax. In addition to taking in the spectacular views, travelers can explore the park’s landmarks: the Hanavský Pavilion, the first cast-iron structure and the home of a luxury restaurant; the Letná Carousel, the oldest surviving floored carousel in Europe; and the Prague Metronome, a 75-foot-long metronome designed to replace the largest statue of Stalin in the world.
Letná Park is also home to a popular beer garden, where recent travelers recommend you stop for a meal of sausage and Pilsner. In addition to the excellent food, past visitors were most impressed by Letná Park’s panoramic viewpoints of the city. Strolling through the park and enjoying its views is free and the park is open at all hours, but be sure to pack a snack or be prepared to spend some koruna on food if you choose to visit during a mealtime. And because the park is conveniently located near the city center, several tram stops are adjacent.
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Once the site of a World War II-standoff, this monument sits in an underground crypt of the Church of Sts Cyril and Methodius. The location was a secret hideout, where the Czech Orthodox Church allowed seven Czechoslovak parachutists to hide after they were involved in the assassination of the Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich in 1942. They hid in the church's crypt for three weeks until they were betrayed, and the Germans besieged the church. Three paratroopers were killed in the fight, while the other four took their own lives in a desperate act to avoid surrender. You can still see bullet marks and shrapnel marks on the walls.
During a visit, you'll see an exhibit and a video that details the Nazi persecution of the Czechs. You'll learn about the history of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939 and the arrival of Reinhard Heydrich as a representative of the Reich Protector in September 1941, as well as the subsequent reign of bloody terror. Past travelers said this museum is small, but very powerful and definitely worth visiting.
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Founded in 1908, the National Technical Museum evolved over the last century to include 14 exhibits that cover everything from architecture to astronomy to the measurement of time. Spend some time daydreaming about riding in the motorcycles, trains and airplanes found in the transportation hall, then take a deep dive into the Czech sugar production industry in the museum’s Sugar and Chocolate exposition.
Recent visitors say that the museum particularly appeals to car and plane enthusiasts, but there’s undoubtedly something for everyone. While visitors exercise the opportunity to lose themselves in the array of additional exhibits, many travelers say that the National Technical Museum’s collection of household appliances stands out. Due to the assortment of displays, tourists describe the museum as an excellent place to go on cold and rainy days.
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The Troja Château stands apart from Prague’s laundry list of historic monuments for its baroque style, extravagant frescos and picturesque chateau grounds. The Bohemian castle began construction in 1679, while painters and sculptors contributed to the Troja Château’s decorative element until its ultimate completion a few decades later. The castle traded hands until 1922 when the owner decided to donate the estate to the state. Subsequently, Troja Château finished reconstruction and began serving as the Gallery of the City Gallery Prague in 1989.
These days, visitors marvel at the Troja Château’s stunning trompe l'oeil ceiling, plus the assortment of additional art that lines the palace’s walls. If you’re lucky enough to visit during warm weather, previous travelers suggest taking in the Troja Château’s architecture from the surrounding gardens and vineyards. Recent tourists recommend pairing a visit to the palace with the Prague Zoo, as the two attractions are adjacent.
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Housed in one of the oldest buildings in Prague, the Speculum Alchemiae Museum transports its visitors back to a time when alchemy seemed significantly more plausible. Tours (the only way to view the museum) lead visitors underground to the building’s secret labs, where alchemists once tried to concoct elixirs for love, memory and eternal youth. Emperor Rudolf II allegedly built the labs during the 16th century and recent construction work of the building led to their rediscovery in 2002.
Previous visitors were impressed with the museum’s tours, which last around 30 minutes, and they said that the guides spoke excellent English and answered all of their questions. The building’s Hogwarts-esque design particularly enchanted fans of the “Harry Potter” series. Be sure to bring a camera and to take as many photos as possible during your 30 minutes in the museum.
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A popular attraction for families, the Prague Zoo offers more than 6 miles of walking trails and exhibits like the Africa House, the Indonesian Jungle and the Valley of the Elephants. Kids can also enjoy a play area called Bororo Reserve and other smaller playgrounds, plus an observation tower, pony rides, a scenic chairlift and more. Other exhibits include the Pavilion of Penguins, Lemur Valley and Bird World, among many others. You can also book a guided tour or sign up to be a "Keeper for a Day," a thrill for serious animal lovers.
Recent visitors praised the zoo, citing its easy access, cleanliness and animal environments.
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Owned by the Lobkowicz noble family, this is the only privately-owned part of Prague Castle. The 16th-century palace holds treasures, such as works by masters like Canaletto, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Cranach and Velázquez, as well as a display of family and royal portraits. Equally impressive is the collection of musical instruments and original scores and manuscripts by Beethoven and Mozart, including Beethoven's 4th and 5th symphonies and Mozart's re-orchestration of Handel's "Messiah."
The included 30-minute audio tour, narrated by palace owners Alexandra and William Lobkowicz, offers visitors an overview of the history of the Czech lands through the centuries. In addition, there are daily midday classical concerts (for an additional fee). Recent visitors said the museum is fascinating, with great views and they highly recommend taking in a concert.
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The National Museum, which anchors Wenceslas Square, finished construction in central Prague in 1891. Since its completion, the impressive building has undergone two military attacks, one in 1945 and the other in 1968. As a result of the attacks, plus a standard century of wear and tear, the museum began a much-needed reconstruction effort in July 2011 that lasted until February 2019. A handful of exhibits are now open in the museum, which have titles including “Nature” and “Miracles of Evolution.”
Recent visitors appreciated the impressive building, but many of them expressed disappointment regarding the size and quality of the exhibits. Subsequently, a handful of travelers recommend limiting your visit to taking in the building’s exterior from the square. If you do decide to explore the National Museum’s interior, prepare to wait around two hours for admission.
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Located about 20 miles southwest of downtown Prague, Karlštejn Castle is an excellent daytrip destination for travelers hoping to get out of the city. Originally constructed in 1348 with Gothic architecture, Karlštejn Castle was reconstructed in the 16th century to sport the Renaissance style of the time, before being remodeled again with neo-Gothic architecture in the 19th century. Many original features of the castle have been preserved, while its continuous reconstruction makes the amalgamation of styles especially interesting for architecture enthusiasts. Regardless of your interest in buildings, the Karlštejn Castle offers a variety of interesting features for travelers to take in.
Many past visitors recommend taking a guided tour of the castle’s interior (the only way to enter the castle) to be sure to see everything noteworthy, as well as understand the castle’s historical context. Recent travelers also suggest taking the S7 train from downtown Prague (the ride is about 40 minutes) to get to the castle, but they warn that the 1.5-mile walk between the station and the castle is not for everyone, though you can take a taxi from the station.
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Golden Lane sits adjacent to the Prague Castle and consists of an assortment of small, brightly painted houses. These houses used to host historical figures, like Franz Kafka, from their construction near the end of the 16th century until World War II. Now, an assortment of shops and museums occupy the houses of Golden Lane. While many might assume the lane was named for alchemists (Prague has a history of alchemy), the street actually derives its name from the goldsmiths who once lived there.
Past visitors particularly enjoyed Golden Lane’s historical exhibits, which include an armory, a chemist house and a torture chamber. Admission to the Golden Lane comes included in the Circuit A and Circuit B tickets, to the delight of recent visitors, which cost 350 koruna (about $15) and 250 koruna (about $11), respectively. The Golden Lane is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and more information is available on the Prague Castle’s website.
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After the killing of John Lennon in 1980, an activist painted an image of the Beatles’ lead singer on the wall opposite the French Embassy. This small act of deviance (Communist Czechoslovakia banned Western images and symbols) blossomed into a colorful collage of protest text, images and lyrics. The city’s secret police continuously whitewashed the wall, which young Czechs subsequently covered with more graffiti. Even after Communist Czechoslovakia fell and the country divided in two, the John Lennon Wall continued to evolve, most recently sporting fresh coats of paint in 2014 and 2019.
Today, the John Lennon Wall attracts travelers from around the world. Beatles fans will appreciate the riffs on the band’s popular lyrics, while it does not take a music enthusiast to enjoy the wall’s bright colors. Recent visitors suggest swinging by the wall after walking across the nearby Charles Bridge. Don’t plan on spending more than a few minutes at the wall, though, as visitors also say that the John Lennon Wall only warrants a quick visit. Travelers hoping to make the trek via public transit can take bus No. 192, while a variety of tram lines also stop within walking distance of the wall.
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Wenceslas Square, which is one of Prague’s two main squares (the other being the Old Town Square), offers a more modern slice of the historic city. Cafes, casinos and clubs are all located nearby, while the National Museum is the area’s most visually stunning spot. Despite the exceedingly modern storefronts nearby, the square firmly established itself in Prague’s history due to its role as a gathering place during the Velvet Revolution, in addition to other cultural moments. Wenceslas Square also houses the Statue of Saint Wenceslas, a patron saint of Prague whose statue overlooked many important moments in the history of the Czech Republic.
Recent visitors suggest perusing the square for its small army of stores and food stalls, especially if you find yourself with time to kill after visiting one of the nearby museums. As a public space, the square is free and accessible 24/7, while the nearby businesses all operate on their own hours. Both Prague’s trams and subways offer an assortment of stops near Wenceslas Square, and it also sits only slightly more than a half-mile southeast of Old Town Square.
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Awash with art nouveau style, the Municipal House has been one of Prague’s most prolific public building for more than 100 years. Before heading inside, be sure to check out the building’s exterior, which is adorned with a colorful glass mosaic and sculptures representing cultural symbols of Prague. Artisans also covered the Municipal House’s interior with more mosaics, stucco and metal work, murals and paintings. Once you’ve taken in the Municipal House’s art, be sure to check out the building’s restaurants, shops and event spaces.
Previous travelers say that the Municipal House is a must-visit for architecture and art enthusiasts alike. They recommend stopping by the Smetana Hall for a concert, or at least to take in the stylish room. Then, check out the American Bar (the oldest bar in Prague) in the building’s basement for cocktails, liquor and sparkling wine.
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