A trip to Europe can never be complete without the visit to this Bohemian jewel – Prague. Prague, the capital of the landlocked Czech Republic has played many major roles in history and currently is one of the upcoming hotspots in Europe. With its many historical buildings and churches, the Charles Bridge over the Vltava River and the Prague Castle it is definitely a place lost in time.
How to get to Prague?
Prague can be reached from the rest of the Europe and the world by air or rail or road. Prague’s airport, Václav Havel Airport is situated about 10 kms west of the city centre. The airport is well connected to the city centre by metro/bus and taxis. Praha Hlavní Nádraží is the main train station in Prague and has regular train services to other cities in Czech Republic and Europe.
How to get around Prague?
For sightseeing, Prague has a well-connected network of buses, trams and metro. Besides, the city can be explored by foot. Remember to carry a good pair of walking shoes as most of the streets are made up of cobblestones.
When to Visit?
May, June and September are the ideal months to visit Prague. July and August can be hot and busy. I personally prefer March when Prague is not very cold and less crowded.
What to see?
Whether one is visiting Prague for a day or a week, Prague has lots to offer. Here are some of the must see attractions not to be missed in Prague.
Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world. One can spend at least 2 to 3 days visiting the various palaces in the Prague Castle listening to the audio guides. Visit the St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, The Story of Prague Castle exhibition, St. George’s Basilica, Crown Jewels, Toy Museum, Golden Lane, Daliborka Tower, Powder Tower, Rosenberg Palace in the Prague castle.
Cross the Old Town Bridge Tower to reach the Charles Bridge. Walk past the various statues of saints on either sides of the bridge, most notable being the statues of St John Nepomuk and St Luitgard. The plaque on the statue of John of Nepomuk has been polished to a shine by numerous people touching it over the centuries. Touching the falling priest on the plaque is supposed to bring good luck and ensure your return to Prague.
St Vitus Cathedral
The magnificent St Vitus Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Prague. The cathedral built in the Gothic style has very large and beautiful stained glass windows. The cathedral also contains many tombs of the Bohemian Kings and John of Nepomuk. Another notable feature is the St Wenceslas Chapel which contains the tomb of St Wenceslas with its beautiful paintings and precious stones.
Old Town Square
Old Town Square is one of the most prominent squares in Prague. This square is home to the famous Astronomical Clock, Old Town Hall Tower, Tyn Church, St Nicholas Church and other attractions. One can visit the Kinsky Palace in this square which is now an art museum. One can spend time by relaxing in one of the cafes in the squares and listen to the music performed by many artists in the square. During December, there is a larger Christmas market put up in this square.
Astronomical Clock at the Old Town Square
The astronomical clock was first installed in 1410. It is the 3rd oldest astronomical clock in the world. The clock mechanism has three main components: the astronomical dial, representing Sun & Moon positions in the sky and ‘The Walk of Apostles’ – a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles & other moving sculptures on the sides.
St Nicholas Church, New Town
Church of St Nicholas is one of the most attractive churches in Prague with beautiful frescoes, paintings and architecture. The dome fresco, pulpit, statue of the church fathers, the baroque organs are some of the notable features of this church.
Josefov or Jewish Town
The Jewish Museum in the Old Jewish Ghetto consists of the following buildings – The Maisel Synagogue, The Old Jewish Cemetery, The Klausen Synagogue, The Ceremonial Hall, The Old-New Synagogue, The Spanish Synagogue and the Robert Guttmann Gallery. Spanish Synagogue is a beautiful synagogue built in the pseudo-Moorish style with bright green, red & golden interiors. The rich stucco decorations on the walls and vaults are similar to the ones at Alhambra, Spain and hence the name. Robert Guttmann Gallery houses a large collection of silver artifacts from various Bohemian & Moravian Synagogues and private Jewish households.
A tough & long climb on the steep stairs of the Prague Castle leads us to the Hradcanske Square. This square is the home to the 17th century Archiepiscopal Palace, 16th century Renaissance Martinic palace, Capitulars residence, Toscan palace, St. Benedict church, the 16th century Renaissance Schwarzenberg palace, the three-winged classicist Salmovsky palace among other noble houses. One can also view the Change of Guard ceremony in front of the Prague Castle at the Hradcanske Square.
Church of Our Lady before Týn
This is another beautiful Gothic church with beautiful baroque interiors. Concerts are conducted frequently in this church too.
Wenceslas Square (Horse Market) in the New Town (Nove Mesto) is one of the main squares in Prague. At the far end of the square is the bronze equestrian statue of St Wenceslas and the ‘National Museum’. There are many large stores and pubs on either sides of the square. There are many Thai massage outlets on this stretch unlike other European cities.
Municipal House is one of Prague’s most prominent buildings and a top concert venue. It is renowned for its beautiful interiors, Mosaic by Karel Spillar beneath the dome, the glass dome among others.
St Nicholas Church, Old Town
This is another beautiful baroque style church situated in the Old Town.
It is one of the 13 entrances to the Old Town dating back to the 11th century. The gate was used to store gun powder in the 17th century and hence the name.
Take the funicular railway up the Petrin Hill. Do not miss the view from the Observation tower.
What to shop in Prague?
Prague like most other cities, is home to large retail and designer stores. I have put together some souvenirs specific to Czech Republic that can be bought during a visit to Prague. This can be found in the Souvenirs from Czech Republic page.
Day Trips from Prague
- Beautiful castle at Cesky Krumlov
- St.Barbara’s Cathedral at Kutna Hora
- Terezin Concentration Camp
- City of Dresden
- City of Vienna
- Spa Town of Karlovy Vary
Recommendations by a vegan & a teetotaler
Roast Pork with Dumplings, Palačinky (Czech Pancakes), Trdelnik, Bechrovka, Slivovice, Budwar