Prague is a fantastic city! Visiting it had been a dream of mine for many years. And do you know why? Just because one day I saw pictures of its red roofs 🙂 And it was enough for me 🙂 I spent a week sightseeing Prague, and I did not manage to see everything I had in my list. Still, it is not that difficult to define the most important tourist attractions of the city, so here is the list of my top 10 things to do in Prague. Well, technically, it is more than ten, but who cares? 🙂
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1. Petrin Hill and Stefanik Observatory
I will start my list with Petrin Hill. Before I came to Prague the only thing I knew about the hill was that there is a tower with a panoramic deck. Naturally, I couldn’t miss it as it offers incredible views over Prague.
But I definitely didn’t expect what I saw there. When I exited the funicular (the train that takes passengers from the bottom of the hill to its top), I saw hundreds of fragrant roses. There are rose gardens on top of Petrin Hill! I was truly surprised to see them, and I love rose gardens. If you go a bit farther to the other end of the observatory you will see a small peony garden below. There are other gardens on the hill, but these ones were the most beautiful.
And to make things even better from some parts of the hill you can get the view of Prague for free. And there is an ancient wall running up (or down?) the hill.
I think you should not miss a visit to Stefanik Observatory. They have a small museum with meteorites and some machines, but the main attraction is an opportunity to see the sky through a telescope. When I was there, it was cloudy, but we still were allowed to look at the sun. It was incredible!
And then there is Petrin Tower itself. Yes, you shouldn’t miss it! Being a tower on the top of the hill, it offers 360 degree view over Prague. Good thing there is an elevator (the ticket is a bit pricier if you select this option) so you don’t have climb all those stairs: after all, the lookout is at 55 meters height.
I am sure Vysehrad is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Prague, but there were not many visitors when I was there. Probably, the main reason is that it is a bit far from the historical center of the city, and, as far as I know there is not much else to see in the area except the castle itself.
Still, I went there: I took tram 18 from Karlovy Lazne stop at Charles Bridge (tram 17 goes there as well). And I did not regret my journey.
Vysehrad was presumably built in the 10th century and did not serve for long as a royal residence. It was abandoned in favour of Prague Castle and gradually fell into decay.
Now Vysehrad offers the most spectacular 360 degrees views of Prague for free. Its walls are free to wander and there are many benches to sit and admire Prague.
There are some parts of the castle that require tickets to enter, and they are the underground casemates and a Gothic cellar: more info is here. Personally, I did not visit these places.
An interesting fact: the Rotunda of St Martin, the oldest one in Prague, is in Vysehrad.
3. Cathedral of St Peter and Paul
The Cathedral of St Peter and Paul is in Vysehrad, but I decided to mention it separately. And I have a good reason: this place is stunning!
Have you seen the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood in St Petersburg? This one is similar in the sense that every inch of its walls is covered in images and inscriptions. The cathedral is a truly spectacular site and, though it is not free to enter, these 50 Czech Crowns were the best spent ones in Prague.
When I was there, organ music played in the background, which definitely augmented the experience. I don’t have words to describe how beautiful it is, just go and see it.
Some historical facts: the cathedral was built in the 11th century in the Romanesque style, and over the years it was rebuilt in the Gothic, baroque and neo-Gothic styles. Now the spires of the cathedral are a true landmark of Prague.
And there is a cemetery next to the cathedral with amazing sculpture work. Some of the famous Czechs were buried there: Alphonse Mucha, Karel Čapek, Jan Neruda, etc.
4. Letna Park
I am not going to claim that I walked the whole park, but the part I saw was pretty ordinary: you can see parks like this one in every city. And yet, I included it into my top 10 things to do in Prague. The reason is that there is something that makes it special: it is on the top of the hill and offers spectacular views over Prague.
Have you ever seen those fantastic pictures with rows of bridges over the Vltava River? I bet many of them were taken from Letna Park. And when you go there, make sure the weather is nice 🙂
You won’t miss the huge metronome of Prague in Letna Park. It was erected on the ruins of a colossal statue of Stalin in 1991.
5. Vojanovy and Wallenstein Gardens
Vojanovy Sady and Wallenstein Gardens are two famous green areas between Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.
Vojanovy Sady is a perfect place to visit on a hot day as its trees offer the desired shade. And – this is the main reason I went there – there are peacocks, many-many peacocks, happily posing for pictures 🙂 Frankly, other than that, it is just an ordinary park.
On the contrary, it is clear that Wallenstein Gardens were designed by experts as its parts are zoned. For example, in one corner of the gardens there is a pond with fish and statues of Greek heroes. And around this pond you can see peacocks, not so many as in Vojanovy Sady, but still. And there is a gorgeous white peacock there!
In the farther end of the gardens visitors can see a magnificent hall of Waldstein Palace with frescoes (the palace is the seat of the Czech senate and is not open to public). A passage with statues on both sides leads to that hall.
Next to the passage you will see a strange black wall: it was created to imitate caves with stalactites.
Both parks are free to visit.
6. Hergetova Cihelna/Naplavka
Hergetova Cihelna/Naplavka is definitely a place not to miss when sightseeing Prague. It is not far from the entrance to Vojanovy Sady and Kafka Museum.
The main reason I decided to put it into my top 10 things to do in Prague is because swans are as famous as the castles and Charles Bridge. And this is the place to get the best pictures of them with Charles Bridge and towers in the background.
Actually, Hergetova Cihelna is the name of the restaurant nearby and I used it as a landmark to find the place. Náplavka is the name of the observation deck, but, obviously, there are many places with the same name in Prague, so just search for Hergetova Cihelna.
7. Prague Castle
Prague Castle is a huge complex with 10 historical buildings and galleries open to visitors. The most famous one is St Vitus Cathedral whose towers dominate the skyline of Prague. It is the largest and the most important one in the country. The construction of the present-day cathedral started in the 14th century, but its origins are from the 10th century. It was damaged during wars and fires, and, because of the turbulent history of Prague and numerous additions, the construction finished only in the 20th century. I am fascinated by the amazing glasswork in the cathedral! You just have to see these long windows and rose windows!
Luckily, the cathedral can be seen for free, but not entirely. Everyone can enter the cathedral and see it from the entrance. Going further inside requires a ticket.
The Old Royal Palace is another amazing structure. I still remember vividly rough walls and ceilings with coats of arms. But the most beautiful parts are the huge Vladislav Hall with arched ceilings and the Diet Hall with a throne and red chairs.
St. George’s Basilica is the second church in Prague Castle complex. Its Romanesque interior is very modest: it is stone mostly, with some paintings and faded frescoes.
Daliborka Street or the Golden Lane is full of tiny houses representing the dwellings of people of many professions. On the upper floors there is an exhibition of armoury and weapons. And from here there is an exit to Dalibor Tower whose basement was used as a prison.
And do not miss the Royal Garden: it is not as impressive as some other gardens I saw in the Czech Republic (Kromeriz, for example), but still it is a nice place.
Lobkowicz Palace is a private property and belongs to the Lobkowicz family. It houses a huge collection of paintings, furniture, arms, etc. But I went there for the views 🙂 A terrace in the palace offers spectacular views of Prague, worth the entrance fee.
8. Old Town Square
Old Town Square is the heart of Prague. It is very central and is surrounded by magnificent buildings. One of them is the tower with the famous Astronomical clock. Unfortunately, it was under maintenance when I was in Prague, so I did not get to appreciate its intricacy.
Another notable building here is the Cathedral of Our Mother before Tyn. The towers of this magnificent church have become truly iconic.
And at the corner of the square you can see St Nicholas Cathedral with amazing ceilings.
There are dozens of colorful buildings just around the square. It is a picture-perfect place.
As it is the main square in Prague, during holidays festivities are organised here, so you can easily get to watch a concert or a performance.
There is a sculptural piece in the square with benches, so just get yourself a trdelnik and enjoy the view.
9. Charles Bridge and its towers
Charles Bridge is the place where every tourist comes. The bridge is almost 600 years old: its construction started in the second half of the 14th century and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. Its length is 621 meters and it is completely pedestrian. Naturally, it is always crowded 🙂
What makes it a spectacular sight is the statues of saints on its both sides. There is a legend that if one touches the statue of St John of Nepomuk (it’s easy to find it: it is the saint with 5 stars around his head) that person will definitely come back to Prague and will have lot of luck 🙂
The towers of Charles Bridge are impressive structures and offer magnificent views over Prague. I climbed the one close to Clementinum, and I regret that I did not visit the other one. Well, the second tower is lower and I am pretty sure that the views are not so good, but still I would have loved to climb it.
10. Walk Mala Strana
Mala Strana is a part of Prague. It is quite big, it covers the area from Prague castle to Strelecky Island along Petrin Hill.
Mala Strana is famous for its narrow streets with magnificent buildings usually called palaces. Just walk around slowly and enjoy the views.
Some notable places of Mala Strana: John Lennon’s wall, Church of Our Lady Victorious and the Infant Jesus of Prague, Vojanovy and Wallenstein Gardens I mentioned above, St. Nicholas Church, KGB Museum, Kampa Park and many other places.
Bonus! Eat as much local food as possible
Czech cuisine is yummy! Forget about pizza or burgers, get yourself a hearty portion of svickova or goulash (both are meat in sauce), share a pork knuckle with friends, wash it down with beer and finish your meal with honey cake or a trdelnik with ice cream. Trust me, you won’t regret it 🙂
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