An old castle on a hill in the distance, a bridge steeped in folklore and legends, historic monuments, great food, and colourful buildings. Prague truly is a fairytale, and often considered to be one of the prettiest cities in Europe. One could easily spend a week exploring the cobblestone streets of this historic capital because there is so much to see and do. But don’t worry if you don’t have the time, 3 days is just enough to get a feel for the city, and fall in love with its magic.
Prague is easily accessible by plane, train, bus, and even cruise ship. It’s become a major travel hub in Europe with many countries offering direct flights, making it easy to get to for international travellers as well.
Praha Florenc is the name of the main bus station, and not too far away is the main train station. Both are about a 20-minute walk to old town, though with plenty of luggage it may be easier to take public transportation or a taxi.
From Prague’s international airport, travellers can take a private taxi, airport shuttle, or public bus. Taxis are the fastest, but most expensive option. The airport shuttle is takes about 30 minutes to the city centre, but must be booked in advance. The cheapest, option is to take the public busses. Two busses, 100 and 119, pick up and drop off at both terminal 1 and 2. Tickets can be purchased from the machines at the stop (exact change is not required) and need to be stamped upon boarding the bus. These busses take approximately 20 minutes to get to the city centre.
Getting around Prague is incredibly easy by foot or by public transportation.
For those who enjoy walking, Prague is beautiful to explore. The main sites aren’t necessarily all close together, however the views and routes are scenic and will allow you to explore some less busy parts of the city.
For those who prefer public transportation, the city and main attractions are made easily accessible by either metro or tram. Tickets can be purchased on an individual basis (there are multiple ticket options depending on the length or your ride) or as a day or multi day pass. Remember, tickets always need to be validated by being stamped by the machine. If you get a multi-day pass, just stamp it the one time. Tickets are checked pretty regularly, so don’t get caught without one. The fines are pretty hefty.
Where to Stay
Prague has accommodation options for all kinds of budgets and travel styles. From luxury boutique hotels to homey hostels, and local Airbnb options, you’ll have no problem finding a place to stay.
In terms of neighbourhood, Prague is divided in several districts. Obviously, you want to be close to the main attractions you want to see, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to be right beside them- public transportation (or walking!) can get you there.
Old town is probably the most popular place to stay with plenty of big hostels, but it also tends to come with a price tag. That being said, it’s probably the most central location.
The Jewish quarter is also a central place to stay, though perhaps a little quieter than being directly in Old Town. However, this is one of the pricier neighbourhoods in the city and you can expect that to be reflected in hotel costs.
Another popular option is to stay on the other side of the river, by the castle.
However, after two visits, I think my favourite spot is Prague 5 district; a more residential area on the castle side of the river, close to the river and Petrin Gardens. It’s close enough to walk (or grab a tram) to the main attractions but not as noisy or busy, which is especially great at night.
The only area I wouldn’t necessarily recommend staying in is right by Wenceslas Square. This is the party district that has become incredibly popular with bachelor parties and, recently, some questionable nocturnal activities.
What to See
The Astronomical Clock
Watching the ‘show’ that Prague’s famous Astronomical clock puts on on the hour during the day is an absolute must. Hundreds of tourists will gather in front of the clock face to waiting for the little figures to shake their heads. If you go in knowing nothing about this clock, you will be disappointed. However, know that this is the oldest functioning clock of its kind in the world; it was built in 1410.
Added fun: after you have watched for yourself, come back at another time and stand under the crowd to watch the faces of the tourists. Some expressions are hilarious.
Old Town Hall Tower
For a stunning 360-degree panoramic view over Prague, head up the Tower at Old Town Hall (the same building that houses the Astronomical Clock). The views from above are stunning. It can be busy, so be prepared to wait your turn, but on the walk up (a ramp, not stairs) there are plenty of photos and facts about the history of Old Town Hall to keep you occupied and interested.
Visit the Churches and Cathedrals
Like most of Europe’s historic cities, Prague has some absolutely stunning churches. Be sure to visit Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, St. Nicholas’ Church (Old Town), St. Nicholas Church (castle side), and of course the stunning St. Vitus (in the castle). For a bit of a gruesome find, visit the Church of St. James where you can find the withered arm of a thief who, according to legend, tried to steal from the church but was caught by the statue of the Virgin Mary. The only way of freeing his arm from her grasp was to cut it off.
The Jewish quarter today is the most expensive neighbourhood in Prague, and full of history. Amazingly, much of the area survived during the war times. Hitler himself decided to preserve it as a “Museum of an extinct race” and many Jewish artifacts from around Europe were actually transported to this area of Prague.
Today, it is a residential neighbourhood with some museums and synagogues that can be visited. The most well-known probably being the Pinkas Synagogue which is a memorial to the holocaust victims, and the Old New Synagogue which, according to legend, houses the remains of the famous Prague Golem. A creature created of clay to help protect the Jewish people.
There are plenty of historical sites and stories about this area, so if you are interested in learning more, definitely consider taking a walking tour.
Prague’s castle complex is the largest ancient castle in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, so be sure to give yourself a couple of hours to explore. You can easily spend half a day exploring the complex including the gardens and stag moat, St. Vitus Cathedral, the Golden Lane, and watching the changing of the guard.
You can visit by the castle yourself, however having done both, the best way is to take a tour. There are tons of interesting things I didn’t find on my own, and of course plenty of good stories.
Fun fact: the amazing lighting around the castle at night was financed by the Rolling Stones.
On a hill beside the castle is the Petrin Gardens; a large outdoor park area filled with beautiful flowers and offering gorgeous views of the city. In spring the park is filled with cherry blossoms making it one of the prettiest times to visit. There are several gardens on the hill and a large observation tower that looks like a mini Eiffel Tower. Also in the area is a Monastery, famous for its blueberry beer. Petrin Gardens can be accessed by a funicular (tickets can be bought on site) or by walking about 30 minutes uphill.
The Senate Gardens
The Senate Gardens are a bit of a secret find. Tucked away from the main areas, those that find it either know about it in advance, or manage to be lucky enough to stumble upon it. The gardens are beautiful and relaxing, and also the home to a few peacocks who are happy to pose for photos. The gardens aren’t always open, so if it’s on your list, don’t leave it until the last day.
Perhaps the most iconic landmark of Prague is the famous Charles Bridge. Covered in statues and filled with local artists and musicians, it’s the busiest bridge in the city and almost always filled with people. However, a walk across this scenic bridge, at least once, is a must. If you believe in legends, be sure to stop at the statue of a man with a halo of stars above his head: Saint John of Nepomuk. Below the statue you will see a plaque of him falling off the bridge: rub that figure for good luck and a promise to return to Prague. Don’t get confused with the woman or the dog though; the woman means nothing, and the dog is said to either bring bad luck or, according to some, pregnancy.
Note: If you want great photos of the bridge without the crowds, come first thing in the morning at sunrise.
The John Lennon Wall used to be just a normal wall, but since 1980s has been filled with Beatle’s lyrics and Lennon inspired quotes and graffiti. The colourful façade is always changing and represents the ideas of love and global peace.
A modern attraction in ancient Prague, but a favourite for many. These two buildings are referred to as the Dancing House, or Fred and Ginger. There is a restaurant offering 360 degree views, but even if you don’t go to eat it makes for a fun photo stop.
One of the original city gates to Prague, the Powder Tower today stands in the heart of the city separating Old Town from New Town. It was once the start of the Royal Route to Prague castle, as well as a storage place for (you guessed it!) gun powder. Today you can climb to the 44m observation deck for a view of the city.
Keep an Eye out for Prague’s Statues
Charles bridge isn’t the only spot in the city with interesting statues, in fact the city is full of them. From zombie-like men in the Petrin gardens, to bright yellow penguins along the waterfront, to massive babies with squished in faces climbing the TV tower and decorating a park, you never know what you’ll find. Keep track of what you discover, because many of them come with a story.
Hang out with the Swans
Need a break from the crowds? Head down to the riverbank on the castle side of the city, between Charles Bridge and Manesuv Most. Closer to the Charles Bridge is a small area by the shore where dozens of beautiful white swans gather. It’s a great place to take a little break with a beautiful view of Prague and some of its feathered residents.
Wander the Old Streets
Prague is absolutely a fairytale city, and the best way to experience that is to just put down the map and follow your feet. From colourful houses to cute cafes, artsy shops and hidden gardens, Prague is full of surprises and it’s worth wandering from the common path.
Food and Drink
Think Czech food is all meat and potatoes? Think again! Prague has all types of cuisines available at various restaurants throughout the city, from Italian to Vietnamese, Indian to Mexican, and even a diner-style American spot.
That being said, you have to try to traditional Czech food (and beer!) and one of the best places to do so is Kolkovna Olympia restaurant. Traditional fare such as schnitzel, sausages, goulash are all delicious and reasonably priced here.
Café culture is also popular here, and Prague has some beautiful historic ones including The Savoy, Cafe Louvre, and the Grand Café Orient. However, these cafes can be quite busy as they are popular with tourists and locals alike, so you might want to make reservations, especially on weekends or during busy season.
If you have a sweet tooth you can’t leave Prague without trying Trdelnik; a classic Prague pastry that is grilled over open flames and topped with sugar and nuts. You can even get them filled with fruit and topped with whipped cream, or filled with ice cream. They make the perfect pick-me-up during a busy day.
If you are looking for a fun night out, you can definitely party in Prague. Whether your idea of a good night out is a glass of wine at a nice bar, or dancing the night away at a club, Prague has plenty of options.
If you are staying at a hostel chances are you will see flyers or advertising for pub crawls around the city. This is a great way to meet some new people and have a fun night out.
As mentioned earlier, Wenceslas square is definitely a party place, but most popular with tourists looking for some crazy nightlife rather than with locals. It can also be pretty shady, and many locals suggest staying away from the area (especially if you are a solo woman) after 10pm- something to keep in mind.
I don’t recommend the five story club, Karlovy Lazne, by Charles bridge. It is a tourist trap. The only kind of fun thing here is the ice bar, but it’s cheaper to go during the day and you are only allowed in for 30 minutes (though our visit was more like 20).
If night clubs and pub crawls really aren’t your think consider taking a beer tasting tour, grabbing a cocktail at Hemmingway Bar, or heading to one of the historic cafes listed above.
For something low key, try the small but cozy try to find Duende, a small spot in Old Town with a really chill and laid back vibe.
If You Have More Time
As I mentioned before, you can easily spend days in Prague. If you have more than three I recommend taking a look at some of the museums. Prague has some really interesting ones including the Museum of Communism, the Kafka Museum, the KGB Museum, and the Public Transport Museum.
Another option is to get out of Prague on a day trip to see some of the nearby towns, castle, and countryside. During my first visit I spent a day exploring the UNESCO world heritage town, Kutna Hora, famous for the nearby Sedlec Ossuary; the bone church. It’s absolutely worth a visit.
For more day trip ideas be sure to check this roundup.
*I was a guest at Adam and Eva Prague during my stay, and Tourism Prague supplied me with a ticket to the Old Town Hall Tower. All opinions, however, are my own.