Three Things You Must Do in Prague!
Prague is, without a doubt, the most strikingly beautiful city I have ever visited. Granted, I'm still young and (hopefully) have a great deal of travel ahead of me. But of all the cities in all the countries I've explored (from Japan to Costa Rica to Germany), I was most stunned upon my arrival in Prague.
The pictures in this hub are all mine, as are the recommendations. I spent a short time in Prague, so the "top three" assume that you, too, will only have a few days. If you've got more time, you can move on to the last section for some other great ideas of things to do around the Golden City.
1. A Lot of Walking
Basically, Prague's overall architecture is its greatest feature. Because Prague was not as affected by the destruction of World War II as much of the rest of Europe, its varied types of architecture are in excellent condition. From one block to the next, a visitor will encounter everything from Art Nouveau and Cubist to Baroque and Renaissance to Gothic and ultra-modern architecture.
The place to start is Old Town Square, in the heart of Old Town (where many of the most popular hotels are). This is where Prague's infamous Astronomical Clock resides and is the most popular tourist space in the city. Most of Prague has beautifully narrow and winding streets, so the wide-open Old Town Square acts as a sort of break from those claustrophobia-inducing cobblestoned lanes.
Another place that absolutely must be experienced on-foot is the Charles Bridge, especially at sunset. This bridge is one of the many that crosses the Vltava River. During the day, it is filled with street musicians, artists with their pieces for sale, jewelers with hand-crafted jewelry, and other freelance craftsmen. At sunset, Charles Bridge is filled with people watching the sun fall behind the hill that carries Prague Castle. It's a great place for a romantic moment or -- if you're alone or with a platonic partner -- just an astounding one.
2. Visit Prague Castle
This is the obvious attraction in Prague, as you can see Prague Castle from anywhere along the Vltava River, which runs right through the middle of the city.
Prague Castle sits tall atop a hill across the river from Old Town, within walking distance of most of the city. It houses the vast St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George's basilica, many impressive palaces and towers, and is surrounded by several gardens.
For those of you not yet exhausted by walking to explore Old Town, you absolutely must approach the castle through the Royal Gardens. Admission costs just a few Euros, but with ivy-covered walls, ornate trellises, exquisite columns and other embellishments, and more beautiful plants than I ever knew existed, it will be well worth it. (But a warning: The garden is several storeys tall, and the climb is not for anyone even slightly physically handicapped. But, there are plenty of places to stop and rest on the way.)
Obviously, if you think you have the option, you should try to place this visit on the day with the best weather. From the top of the hill, the views of Prague are breathtaking.
After you're satisfied with having visited the castle, walk back down through Hradčany, which is the district surrounding Prague Castle. Beyond the obvious Prague Castle paraphernalia, there are plenty of interesting shops with tempting little knick-knacks. And, it's a beautiful descent as the long-distance view slowly dissolves into views of only the surrounding architecture.
This little book (with plenty of maps) acted as our walking tour guide while we were in Prague.
3. More Walking
Prague's charm lies in the experience of exploring it, so don't be afraid to explore! When you come to an intersection, choose which way to go by which street looks more exciting. There are plenty of tiny stores (especially antique and hand-made craft shops), cute restaurants, and hip bars to explore on each and every street of Old Town.
Then there's another section of Prague called New Town, which is home to Wenceslas Square. While it's more of a broad street than a verifiable square, it affords gorgeous views of the National Museum at night. There are also plenty of shopping opportunities there (but much fewer individual craft stores). And one end of the street goes right up to the border of Old Town, so it's not too far away from the rest of my recommendations either.
For Further Exploration...
If you've got more time, check these places out!
- The Franz Kafka Museum and/or Kafka's gravesite in the New Jewish Cemetery are potential visitation points for huge fans of the Czech writer.
- The Communism Museum, which is pretty small, has an interesting chronological walk-through of communism and its toll on the Czech Republic and its people.
- The Lesser Quarter is one of the areas in Prague I haven't mentioned, and it has a flavor all its own but is not particularly worth a visit unless you have a bunch of time to spend in Prague. The same goes for the Jewish Quarter.
- The Dancing House, aka the Drunk House, is an architecturally crazy office building near the center of the city. Designed by architects Milunić and Gehry, photographs don't quite do it justice, and it's close enough to plenty of other interesting sites that making a quick stop at the Dancing House is well worth the several minutes it will take.
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Did you enjoy this article? Have you been to Prague and have a special attraction that you loved? Leave a comment and let everyone know! As I said, I didn't get to spend an inordinate amount of time there so I'm sure there are some little gems I missed.