Let me start by saying that Prague is not one of my favorite cities, but it’s still worthy of a City Guide. I liked Prague, but I don’t have a burning desire to return (maybe in a few years). There are so many other cities I’d love to see or return to. But, Prague was one of my earlier trips, and it jumpstarted about 2 months of non-stop traveling, so I will give it the credit it deserves.
If Prague is on your itinerary, make sure it’s a short one. I was in Prague for 3 days and covered pretty much everything there is to see. It’s a perfect weekend trip for students on their semester abroad, or a quick little stop on your tour through Eastern Europe.
- Charles River Bridge. The Charles Rive runs through the center of Prague, and several bridges span across it. The most famous, of course, is the Charles River Bridge. It’s pedestrian-only, so you can wander along, stop at all the statues on the edge, and take in the views.
- Castle Complex. If you have ever thought to yourself: “I wish all of the major tourist sights were all in one spot,” then Prague is the place for you. Prague is home to the largest castle complex in the world, and the entire complex took nearly a thousand years to build. There are several palaces, cathedrals, and cute little streets to explore. It’s quite a hike up to the top, but you can see all of Prague below you before you head out to explore the complex.
- Old Town Square. This is the cutest area of Prague. All the buildings are painted in pastels or bright colors, and look like they haven’t been touched since they were built. Grab some mulled wine and take your time wandering around the old city center.
- Astronomical Clock. On the list of things to do in Prague, many will tell you to visit the Astronomical Clock Tower in the old square. Every hour it puts on a ‘show,’ but skip it. It’s pretty much just a few small figurines of the twelve apostles that pop out, spin around, and then pop back inside. It’s not worth stopping and waiting for, and you end up stuck in a crowd. Admire the clock some other time, and then keep going.
- Monastery Library. The monastery is part of the castle complex, and we had seen this on Pinterest and were dying to go. Unfortunately, you can’t actually go inside. You stand at the entryway behind a barricade and do your best to peek inside without tumbling over. It’s worth seeing, and there’s a few other fancy rooms inside the building.
- John Lennon Wall. Probably the most-instagrammed part of Prague, this wall is constantly being changed and re-painted by visitors every day. It started as a tribute to Lennon after his death, and soon became a place for young people to come and express themselves while still under Soviet rule, at a time when music like The Beatles’ was banned. After the Czech Republic regained its independence, the wall became a tourist attraction.
- Top of Astronomical Clock Tower. This is the best spot in the city center for 360-degree views of Prague. But if you don’t like heights (like me), be aware that once you get up to the top, the viewing platform outside is very, very narrow and the wall that keeps you from tumbling off was barely up to my waist. Snap a few pics, then retreat inside and take in the views from behind the glass.
- Charles River Bridge at night. The bridge (and the castle complex!) light up at night and make Prague look like a whole different city.
- Trams. Prague has a subway system, but if you want to get a better view, hop on one of the trams that traverse the whole city. The trams look like they’ve been there since before World War II (I’m pretty sure most of them are that old!) but they are a great way to get around the city.
- Walking tours. We took a free walking tour (you tip your guide) and it’s perfect if you want to see things that might not be super obvious to the average tourist. Sometimes they can be a bit of a drag and you spend too much time at certain places, but they are the easiest way to see a city from a local’s eyes.
Isn’t this the most important part? Czech food isn’t exactly known for being healthy or having a huge variety, but it sure is filling. Think potatoes, goulash, meat, more potatoes, and then a side of potatoes. But remember, Prague is cold (probably the coldest place I visited, and it was the middle of March), so a big, hot bowl of soup and potatoes is exactly what you want.
When your sweet tooth kicks in, you have to seek out a trdelník. There were a bunch of articles earlier this year that randomly popped up, referring to the trdelník as a ‘doughnut cone,’ and some bakery was filling them with ice cream. But you don’t have to seek out one bakery- these things are sold on every street out of little stalls. You can get a plain one or one with Nutella smeared around the inside (yummmmm). I had one every day we were in Prague.
When potatoes and cinnamon-sugar pastries aren’t enough, Prague is famous for one more thing- beer. The whole “beer is cheaper than water” thing is true (although everything in Prague is cheap). Grab a (huge) pint and hide from the cold and rain for a little while.
Prague is also known for being a party haven, but I skipped that scene in favor of sight seeing. Whether you want to club-hop or go touring, Prague will suit all your needs.