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15 things to do in Prague for first-timers
Prague has plenty of places to see and things to do. While it is more of a wallet-friendly city than others in Europe like London or Stockholm, it’s still smart to save money anywhere you can. One way to save money no matter where you’re traveling is to look for bundled sightseeing cards and decide whether these passes include the places you want to visit.
The Prague City Card gets you free entry to 50+ Prague sights including Prague Castle and the museums in the Jewish quarter. It also comes includes a sightseeing tour and a river cruise, as well as up to 50% off other tours and shows. I also love sightseeing cards because it means not needing to worry about having local currency when my travel rewards credit card isn’t accepted!
If visiting Prague for the first time is like love-at-first-sight, then having a 2, 3, or 4-day Prague City Card means not having to worry about who’s paying for the first date. 😉
1. Walk across the Charles Bridge.
The Charles Bridge is the most iconic place in all of Prague and for good reason, too. Walking under the arched bridge tower entry, you’ll feel as if you’re stepping back to medieval times. The cobblestone path and the Baroque saint statues guide you across the Vltava River in what feels like an absolute fairytale.
The best times to capture the essence of the bridge is as the sun is rising or late at night. Otherwise, the bridge fills with tourists and makes it all but impossible to take classic photos of the bridge from this vantage point.
2. Go to Old Town Square.
Gather in front of the Astronomical Clock Tower for the hourly show. The show is a bit underwhelming at best, but a must-see, so no worries if you can’t quite see everything. Listen to musicians play. Marvel at the architecture. Eat some roasted meat or a sweet, delicious trdelnik.
Touristy? Yes, surely. But, as a first-timer in Prague, it’s the heart of the old town and gushes with European Medieval charm. If you can, wake up early to have the square to yourself. You’re sure to love this alone time with the city.
ProTip: Can’t get enough of the historic feel in Old Town Square? Why not travel back in time and have dinner at a tavern in Medieval times with a fun and festive 3-hour performance experience that includes dinner with swordsmen, jugglers, music, and more.
3. Visit Prague castle.
After you’ve spent time in Old Town Square and on the Charles Bridge (hopefully in the early morning hours), make your way up the hill to Prague Castle. Take time to enjoy the sweeping views of the city and the river below.
Use your Prague City Card for free entry to Prague Castle including St. Vitus, the Royal Palace, Golden Lane, and St. George’s Basilica. Arrive when the castle opens to enjoy your visit with fewer people.
Wander through the complex and enjoy visiting the Old Royal Palace with its grand hall and artistically supported ceiling. Don’t miss St. George’s Basilica and its pretty muraled altar and apse. Stroll along Golden Lane and visit the tiny, brightly colored houses still decorated with items from past residents. And, of course, go inside the perfectly Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral! (More on St. Vitus below.)
You can also avoid Prague crowds by planning your visit in advance.
4. Admire St. Vitus Church.
The Roman Catholic Cathedral is within the walls of the Prague Castle complex and is a can’t miss! The Gothic Cathedral dates back to the mid-1300s, with earlier religious structures on the site dating back 300 years earlier.
Walk around the entire Cathedral. The Gothic spires, gargoyles, and flying buttresses are worth admiring Once inside, take note of the Cathedral’s stained glass windows. They’re long and colorful, filling the Cathedral with light. The Cathedral also holds the remains of past Kings and Emperors. If you visit on a Sunday, parishioners attend Mass and St. Vitus is closed until Mass is finished.
5. Eat Trdelnik and Horice rolls.
Two sweet treats you’ll not want to miss! Trdelnik is a tube-shaped bread roasted over an open flame and coated with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. The warm bread with its crunchy outside and doughy inside is sold on the street for cheap and is the perfect snack for strolling.
Horice rolls are tubes of joy, a.k.a. wafer-like tubes filled with fluffy cream and served with a bowl of hot melted chocolate. Simply dip the Horice roll in the chocolate and place gently in the mouth. If you visit Choco Cafe, you’ll want to just go for it and order one of their thick signature hot chocolates, too.
Looking for more authentic foodie fun? Take a food walk with a local or join a traditional dinner party.
6. Get a Thai Massage.
I bet you never expected to see this on a “things to do in Prague” list! But, there’s a chain of Thai Massage Spas that are quite affordable and relaxing, especially after walking all day. After being massaged by ex-prisoners in Thailand, I can verify the Thai massage I got was authentic and worked out all the kinks. If a Thai massage isn’t your thing, try a foot rub or shoulder rub instead!
7. Drink Beer.
Whether or not you typically enjoy a good beer, be sure to give one a try in Prague. It’s perfectly chilled and is as pure as the water from a mountain lake. There are places like the Prague Beer Museum (not really a museum, but bar) where you can try a beer flight. Be warned, though, because when it’s busy it’s quite a smokey place.
Or just opt, instead, for anywhere you’d like to have a bite or settle in for a few drinks. We stumbled upon Lokal, a local beer hall with delicious food and…yes, of course…beer.
8. Explore the Jewish Quarter.
Once the only place Prague’s Jewish residents could be buried, the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague is believed to be the final resting place of more than 100,000 people despite having just 10,000 headstones. When space ran out, more Earth was added to make room for more people. The cemetery now serves as a peaceful, yet poignant, reminder of the catastrophic history Jewish residents throughout Central and Eastern Europe suffered.
The Prague City Card includes free entry to the Old Jewish Cemetery, as well as several other noteworthy sights in Prague’s Jewish Quarter, like the Spanish Synagogue and the Old-New Synagogue.
9. Stroll the streets to admire the architecture.
Prague’s Baroque architecture and pretty pastel-colored buildings steal the show. Make time during your visit to stroll through Prague’s streets with your gaze upwards and your camera out. The ornate details on the buildings range from delicate spirals to sensational sculptures of winged angels.
Look for buildings with sgraffito, walls covered with tinted layers of plaster giving the appearance of painted scenes covering the building’s facade. It’s during walks like this where you’ll truly grasp Prague’s fairytale charm.
Local guides are also happy to share their city and make sure you see Prague’s prettiest places and learn about its history.
10. Visit Kampa Island and the John Lennon Wall.
As you make your way across the Charles Bridge, head down the staircases on the left or right to Kampa Island. Walk through the cobblestoned streets along the canals. There are vendors and shops selling snacks, sausages, and beer. Or choose to sit along the water at one of the cafes.
Find your way to the island’s small park and the nearby John Lennon Wall. The painted wall is a living piece of art with Beatles lyrics and tributes to John Lennon being regularly added and modified.
11. Climb the Astronomical Clock Tower and the Charles Bridge Tower.
Aside from waking early, your best vantage points to see Prague and take photos is from up above. Prague’s surrounding hills have parks, Castles, forts, and ramparts to view the city from a bird’s perspective.
Climbing the Astronomical Clock Tower in the old town and the Charles Bridge Tower at the foot of the bridge give overhead views of Old Town Square, the Vltava River, and Prague’s many-spired, orange rooftops.
While the Clock Tower was busy, we had the views from the Bridge Tower all to ourselves. Shhh…It’s as if no one knows about this vantage point.
ProTip: The Charles Bridge Museum is also at the foot of the bridge and is included with your Prague City Card. You’ll see how this glamorous Gothic bridge was built and learn its history. It is, after all, Prague’s oldest bridge.
Traveling to Prague soon?
Once you arrive, book your Prague airport transfer with Welcome Pickups. I’ve used them for my own airport transfers in Europe and have always had a great experience. Make sure your trip starts off right!
I had an incredible stay at the Alcron Hotel, formerly a Radisson Blu property. Aside from the hotel’s Art Deco charm, it was in comfortable walking distance to Old Town Square.
12. Look for Prague’s Quirky Statues.
Whether you’re on the Charles Bridge, wandering near Old Town Square, or in the historic Jewish Quarter, Prague has interesting and unusual statues and sculptures. Some are on display like the Franz Kafka statue above but others may require a closer examination of your surroundings like with the “Man Hanging Out” statue. 😉
13. Hideaway and listen to some Jazz.
Live music in Prague is a must. If you prefer a classical concert, you’re sure to find the composer of your choosing. AghaRTA Jazz Club, close to Old Town Square, has musicians playing jazz, blues, funk, and swing music each night of the week in a 14th-century cave-like cellar. Sit back with a very tall glass of beer (or 2) and enjoy the music.
14. Have dinner under the stars.
Be out in Prague as much as you’re able, even if it means eating dinner on a rooftop in February with heat lamps and blankets. Prague Castle shimmers in the distance and the city takes a notable breath as the darkness settles. Check out Hotel U Prince rated one of the top 15 rooftop views in the world. You’ll overlook Old Town Square and have a private viewing of the Astronomical Clock hourly show.
Or maybe you prefer to see the city all lit up from the water! Prague dinner cruises sail along the Vltava River providing you the opportunity to see Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge illuminated under the night sky.
15. Savor the romance of Prague.
There’s an undeniable romance to Prague. The city will welcome you with friendly and inviting open arms. It’ll steal even your well-prepared heart and keep you longing for more. The architecture, the sights, the river, the Castle on the hill…all of it blends together creating just the right amount of intrigue and magnetism to delight and, eventually, lure you back.
What are your top things to do in Prague?
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