prague is now europe’s fifth most visited city as of earlier this year, surpassed by only london, paris, istanbul, and rome. so chances are, if you haven’t already been, you might be planning on going to prague soon, especially since summer’s coming up. i get a few emails and comments about what to do in prague, and man, that’s a hard question to answer in an email, let alone a comment!
so! consider this post my e-mail to you about my favorite things and places to visit in the city. this is by no means an exhaustive guide (hah) but rather just my favorite places that i’ve been to loads of times and like to take my friends and family to when they come to town. hope you enjoy!
strana (czech for “little quarter”) and the massive prague castle complex, located on the western side of the vltava river. the actual interior of the prague castle isn’t so life-changing to see, but don’t miss the incredible st. vitus cathedral – the building you’re actually looking at when you see the castle from a distance. come back down and see if you can find the (john) lennon wall! it’s surprisingly difficult to find… the only times i actually end up there are if i’m not trying!
if you’ve still got some time or energy: petřín
hill or letná
park, both on the west side of the river– both afford fantastic views.
i love approaching malá
strana via charles bridge from old town or vice versa… it is one of the best prague moments that you will always remember! my favorite opportunities for buying souvenirs also lie in malá
strana: blue is my favorite souvenir and gift shop, featuring loads of unique handmade czech items… and i’m actually going to come out and say i have been known to do some shopping on charles bridge as well. you can find some interesting prints, photographs, and jewelry there. more ideas of some unique czech gifts to buy here!
hungry or thirsty in malá
strana? i would point you towards malý buddha, a zen tea house and asian restaurant on castle hill. if you’re at the foot of the hill, cafe savoy is fantastic for a brunch, lunch, or coffee stop – a fantastic old world central european experience. my fav trdelník stand (always with the same surly woman serving them up) is located here in malostranské náměstí, and is
ten crowns cheaper than buying it in old town square.
edit: sadly, the malostranské náměstí stand has gone through a change of ownership, has bumped up the price to the now standard 60kc and is not quite as good as it used to be. when i find the next best one, will certainly report it here.
concentrate on old town including old town square and josefov (old jewish quarter). prague’s jewish sights, namely, the complex of synagogues located near each other turned into a museum of jewish life in prague, is probably my favorite “pay to enter” sight – definitely worth it and is staffed by the sweetest elderly people you’ll find in the city (unless you end up having lunch with someone’s babička or something). be mindful that all jewish sights are closed on saturday. nearby kafka snob food cafe makes a nice break after all of that touring! good drinks options and some light lunch fare.
– all do not disappoint with the food and beer (oh, and do try the beer). many love the more famous pilsner urquell, but if you can find budvar, give it a go. at pivovarsky dum, you’ll also find some really unique beer options including cherry (!!), nettle, coffee, and more. i try to take all of my peeps here. if visiting any of these on a weekend, you really must book ahead for dinner unless you want to take your chances with a long wait. if you don’t know what to order, i’ve listed some of my favorite czech and slovak foods here.
so, you’ve explored the heck out of old town, josefov, and new town, eh? you’re telling me you want more? (geez!) here are some other places to round out your visit depending on your interest.
– discover the holešovice quarter! dox (modern) art center in
is a good museum to visit. (also, their cafe serves ice cold club mates! or you could hold out for my favorite, kavárna liberál nearby) there’s often a program at the pražská tržnice
complex, which as well as holding large events also houses some secret and delicious hole-in-the-wall asian eateries.
– visit a saturday farmer’s market, like naplavka, on the vltava riverside stretching south of the jiráskův bridge.
– the gorgeous botanical garden in troja, which you can get to by bus from
holešovice. the prague zoo is also in troja if that’s your jam.
– my favorite cafe for views over prague is t-anker, in kotva department store near náměstí republiky that seems not to have really been discovered by tourists yet. nothing better on a warm sunny prague day!
– see some live music in the evening! check out what’s happening at lucerna, meet factory, roxy, chapeau rouge, vagon, or the epic punk/alt joint, klub007 strahov for starters. when in doubt, legendary lucerna’s 80’s/90’s video night on friday and saturday nights is probably something you won’t soon forget..
– prague is well-known for theater and the arts! check out the programs at the národní divadlo, rudolfinium, or the obecní dům to see what’s on during your visit. if you haven’t got plans and want to see a show, there are always some kind of classical concert (often at the obecní dům or one of the great cathedrals of prague like sv. mikuláš) happening, featuring works by mozart, dvorak, vivaldi, or similar. you can book tickets for those in old town at many places when you arrive.
– i visited a beatles blacklight show my second ever visit to prague (near wenceslas square) and really enjoyed it, for something completely different.
>> if you are wondering where to stay, anywhere in prague district one or two will be suitable. i’d recommend old town (especially beautiful josefov) or new town if you want to be right in the beating heart of prague city center and malá
strana if you are looking for a more peace and quiet while still not sacrificing location.
>> don’t be like most tourists who walk up to the yellow ticket machines in the metro or near a tram stop and have no idea what to do! just push the button that says 24kc, as this is a single ticket, and you can use it to transfer on all forms of public transport within 30 minutes of validation. then, insert your coins. (if you have only bills or card, you’ll have to go to one of the kiosks in all major metro stations) the 110kc ticket is good for twenty-four hours and is a great deal if you have a lot places to visit all over town, but the city center is quite walkable, so you shouldn’t necessarily need one. (photo via)
>> when taking public transport, do give your seat up to the elderly, pregnant women, mothers, etc. – czechs have a very strong custom of doing this and to not at least offer your seat is considered rude.
>> on the famously looooong escalators, stand on the right and walk on the left to avoid the ire of praguers.
what’s your favorite thing to do in prague? what would you like to do on your next visit?
ps, prepare for your trip by reading some czech literature– i’ve got three good recommendations for you.