Traveling to my familial heritage spots is something I’ve been trying to do as an adult. The final big spot I hadn’t gone to was Prague in Czechia. My family is very Bohemian (Prague was once the capital of the nation of Bohemia), which was part of the land that now comprises Czechia.
Discussed primarily online for its stunning architecture and cheap beer, The Golden City is a marvel to behold. Visiting Prague is not all beer gardens and parties though. To truly appreciate this marvelous city, you need to get to know it intimately. Then you will truly get a sense for the City of a Hundred Spires — Prague, the city of many nicknames.
Here are 12 amazing things to do in Prague that you don’t want to miss!
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CHECK OUT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM
There are several museums and historical places in Prague’s city center, also known as Old Town Square, but that’s not where you’ll find the National Museum. You will find the Národní Muzeum several blocks away from the city center, surrounded by stunning grounds. Not only is it the largest museum in the Czech Republic, it’s also made up of several different institutions: the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Library of the National Museum, the Historical Museum, the Náprstek Museum of Asian African and American Cultures and the Czech Museum of Music.
The museum was established in 1818 with the creation of the Society of the Patriotic Museum in Bohemia, per the museum’s website. Should you decide to visit all of the buildings that are part of the museum’s institutional family, you will get a taste of much of Prague since they’re scattered around the city.
STAY IN STYLE AT THE FOUR SEASONS
Anytime you stay at a Four Seasons, you’re in for decadence renowned the world over. The Four Seasons Prague is no exception. From the stunning chandeliers throughout the building (undoubtedly a nod to the long history of Bohemian glass making) to the unparalleled aesthetic, Prague’s Four Seasons location simply can’t be beaten. Not only can you easily walk to a variety of prime touristy spots from here, but you can take in the sights starting at breakfast on the terrace at CottoCrudo.
As someone who has been eating Kolaches (fruit or cream cheese-filled Bohemian pastries) my whole life, I highly recommend grabbing at least one when you stay. They are, unsurprisingly, divine.
I cannot imagine visiting Prague and having a more comfortable place to come home to after a long day. The guest rooms are an absolute marvel. Soft pastel tones whisk you away to a fairytale dreamland, a fitting design for the city that has inspired so many fairytale dreams. My husband and I wished we could take the feathery soft bed with us for the rest of our five-week European backpacking adventure. Alas, we had to say goodbye to the bed when we departed.
Though a little tricky to find in the historic building, the innovative pool is a must-visit when you stay here. Not only is the pool a relaxing way to end a day, there are multiple spa settings around it that can be utilized to relax tired muscles without setting aside time to get a proper massage. Every pool should have leg jets that push away the strain of walking 12 miles over cobblestones.
Stay Here: The Four Season Prague
TAKE IN GORGEOUS VIEWS OF THE CITY
When people ask me what my favorite part of living in Europe for a month and a half was, across six different countries, I say “Prague” without hesitation. Why? Because I have yet to meet a city the world over with more character than Praha — just ask The Dancing House.
Soaring spires greet you the moment you set eyes on the city. I doubt the views of Prague could ever get old, particularly of the stunning Vltava River. One of the most iconic scenes of the city is the Charles Bridge, which spans the river for pedestrian use. Construction on the Charles began in the late 1300s and ended in the early 1400s. Statues line the length of the bridge (30 in total), depicting different saints who came a few centuries later in the late 1600s and early 1700s.
Pro tip: If you want photos of the statues without throngs of tourists, or you just want a stress-free walk across the bridge, go early in the morning. By 10 am it is like salmon swimming upstream.
As you explore the United Kingdom, don’t forget Ireland. As a tourist destination, it has been renowned for decades, for its idyllic countryside, rugged coastline and rural traditions, for Irish music, literature, language and Irish culture, from legends & leprechauns to ancient monuments & castles.
GO ON A TOUR OR TWO
I am a huge proponent of guided tours, especially when visiting cities I’ve never seen before. By far the best tour we took in Praha was of Old Town Hall. We got to go into the tunnels beneath the city (Prague used to be on a lower level, so you can see the remains of homes beneath the streets) and learn about how those tunnels kept folks safe during WWII.
Views of Prague from the top of the clock tower at Old Town Hall are the best you’ll find. You’re in the heart of Old Town Square and can see probably most, if not all, of Prague from this vantage point. Do be mindful if you suffer from Vertigo as I do, the ramp that goes around like a spiral staircase is dizzying. Take your time or book an elevator ticket ahead of time.
We truly thought this was one of the best tours in Prague.
SPEND TIME IN OLD TOWN SQUARE
Other than the deeply out-of-place Starbucks (that we admittedly went to for those 1 pm jet lag jitters), Old Town Square is where a lot of iconic Prague can be found. From the Astronomical Clock, the only working medieval clock of its kind in the world, to a handful of museums and tons of Czech beer gardens, you’ll be glad to spend time here.
Per the city’s website, Old Town Square is the most significant square in Prague’s history. Dating back to the 12th century, here is where you’ll find spots like St. Nicholas Church, the Rococo Kinský Palace, as well as the monument to Jan Hus who led the Czech reform movement (part of the Hussite Wars).
ENJOY THE ARCHITECTURAL MAGNIFICENCE OF PRAGUE CASTLE
Seeing Prague Castle perched up on a hill, first-time visitors might be surprised to learn that the building you see isn’t actually the castle. What you can primarily see from outside the palace walls is actually St. Vitus Cathedral, the largest temple in the city. The artistic beauty of this cathedral is something that cannot be surmised in a few words. It is the third church to be consecrated on the site. Per the castle’s website, construction of the cathedral began in 1419, but wasn’t finished and consecrated until 1929 because of interruptions caused by the Hussite Wars.
You will most likely want to spend half a day at least visiting Prague Castle in order to see everything. Compared to the cathedral, the Old Royal Palace is honestly not that impressive, though it’s still cool to see. You can also pop into the former residences of palace guards turned little shops on Golden Lane, see St. George’s Basilica, learn about the history of the castle and check out views from the Great South Tower. There are also other little historical areas to check out here as well.
Be sure to bring water if you visit in the summer. It is grueling here with very little shade and a lot of heat emanating from the cobblestone or brick walkways and buildings.
HEAD DOWN TO LESSER TOWN
Across the Charles Bridge from one part of Prague, you will come to Malá Strana or Lesser Town. Don’t let that name fool you though, this neighborhood is no less fascinating than any other in the Golden City. Plus you’ll find a lot of Bohemian glass shops which feature glass art you might not find anywhere else on Earth.
In Mala Strana, near the Charles Bridge, you’ll also find the John Lennon Wall. According to Prague Tourism, it became a kind of open-air gallery piece after Lennon was killed. Originally the artwork on the wall spoke of freedom and demanding governmental change, though now it is mostly dedicated to peace, love, and remembering Lennon.
PAY RESPECTS AT THE JEWISH CEMETERY
Several historical areas connected to Prague’s Jewish community are spread across the city and are open to visitors. The most significant, however, is the Old Jewish Cemetery near Old Town. Per the cemetery’s website, it is one of the oldest surviving Jewish burial grounds in the world. Beside the cemetery is Old-New Synagogue which is also a significant site for Prague Jewish Town, according to the cemetery.
Nearly 12,000 tombstones make up this cemetery which dates back to the 1400s. The last burial took place about 350 years later, and it is so small that you will see that some graves are layered so that bodies had to occupy the same space.
The cemetery notes that several important people are buried there, including scholar Rabbi Judah Loew Ben Bezalel AKA the Maharai in 1609, founder of the Pinkas Synagogue Aaron Meshulam Horowitz in 1545, as well as Renaissance scholar David Gans in 1613.
GO SHOPPING AT WENCESLAS SQUARE
Near the National Museum, you’ll find Wenceslas Square, which is also known as the shopping and commercial district in the city. On signs, you will see this area noted as Václavské náměstí. Prague GO states that the area was originally known as Horse Market before being renamed in honor of the biggest Czech patron saint Wenceslaus in 1848.
Prague GO also writes that here is where you’ll find seasonal markets like Christmas or Easter ones. They recommend a 5-floor shopping center for men and women known as Dum Mody which is located near the National Museum building at the top of the square.
GRAB A CHIMNEY CAKE
No matter where you go in Prague, you are bound to see Chimney Cakes (Trdelník) being sold, eaten, or both. These cylindrical cone-shaped cakes are made by spiraling sweet dough around miniature spits over an open fire. They’re doused in sugar and then filled (or not) with whatever you desire, from jams to gelatos.
There are quite a few cafes dedicated to chimney cakes, though you are likely to see them filled with tourists just trying to get videos or photos of the tasty treats. But don’t think you need to stand in line for half an hour just to get a bite, there are plenty of street vendors making the same delicious Trdelník for a fraction of the cost.
TIME OUT FOR THE ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK
An iconic symbol of the city of Prague is the weirdly wonderful Astronomical Clock. Every hour on the hour this medieval marvel comes to life. A procession of 12 apostle statues goes on parade through little open doors while a skeleton statue rings a bell to signify the end of life is nigh.
According to the city, the clock was placed on the Old Town Hall tower in 1410. You can see the area behind the clock where the apostles reside most of the time if you go on an Old Town Hall tour. Though you will also learn that the original apostle statues were destroyed when Adolf Hitler called for attacks on Old Town Hall near the end of WWII. Even so, the clock itself miraculously survived (as did Old Town Hall) though most of the city’s archives did not.
THINGS TO DO IN PRAGUE: LEARN MORE ABOUT MUCHA
To a regular person, the name Alphonse Mucha probably doesn’t mean much. But his art nouveau designs are known the world over. He was the art nouveau aesthetic and the Mucha Museum, the only one dedicated to his work on Earth, showcases his work in a stunning fashion. Czech-born Mucha based his art nouveau ladies on live models and the museum gives you the chance to see his work side by side with the models who inspired it. As someone who loves art nouveau and art deco aesthetics, this was a really special find.
It’s a small museum, you probably don’t need more than an hour here, though they do temporary shows on the other floors you can check out as well. Per the museum’s website, they’ve been in operation since 1998. The Mucha Museum is divided up into different sections including his Decorative Panels, Parisian Posters, Czech Posters, Drawings and Pastels, Photographs, Documents Décoratifs, Oil Paintings and his personal mementos.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRAVELS
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- CASTLES: 25 Amazing Castles In America You’ve Got To Visit
WHERE TO STAY IN PRAGUE
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