15 things to do for free in Prague
Popular with travellers due to fairytale-type castles, its compact size, and nightlife to suit the hedonist in you, Prague is today one of Europe’s biggest tourist destinations, and after just a few hours in the city you’ll figure out why. And even though it’s by far one of the best-value capitals in Europe, we’ve put together a list of things to do that won’t cost you a thing.
1. Observe the hourly show at the Astronomical Clock
Dating from the 15th century, this beautiful and intricate clock lies in the side of the Old Town Hall Tower and is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Every hour, on the hour you will see crowds gathering in front of the clock to watch the ‘Procession of the Twelve Apostles’. There are also 12 medallions below the clock, each of which represents the signs of the zodiac, which were added after the clock in the 19th century.
2. Visit Josefov
Josefov is Prague’s Jewish quarter. Located in the Old Town, it dates back to the 10th century. This small area is steeped in history dating back to the 10th century. It was the birthplace of Franz Kafka and is home to some of the city’s less-visited attractions such as the Old Jewish Cemetery and the synagogue. Walking it’s streets, you can also try to imagine what this area was like when it had approximately 18,000 inhabitants.
3. Explore all that Charles Bridge has on offer
Once the only means of crossing Prague’s River Vlatvain in the region, Charles bridge is just as important as a pedestrian connection to the Old Town, as well as a popular sightseeing attraction. This beautiful bridge is always full of people using it as a means of crossing the river as well as taking in the spectacular views that it boasts. All along the bridge you’ll find street artists, musicians, dancers and other entertainers. Get there early in the morning or late at night if you’re keen to see it without the crowds.
4. Take a trip to Kampa Island
Close by to Charles Bridge on the banks of the Vltava River you’ll find Kampa Island – a part of Prague that is often regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the city. A walk around the island is a great way to spend a few hours amongst its picturesque houses and beautiful park. Also, there’s one part of the island with a string of houses standing right by the river which earned the vicinity the nickname of ‘The Venice of Prague’.
5.See the views from Petrin Hill & Observation Tower
If the Petrin Observation Tower looks vaguely familiar it’s because it’s actually a small version of Paris’ Eiffel Tower! While the tower itself doesn’t exactly reach great heights at just 60m tall, it affords unforgettable views thanks to its location on top of Petrin Hill. It’s a 299-step climb up to the top, but you’ll be rewarded on a clear day with a view that extends to the highest peak in the Czech Republic.
Opening hours: Oct, Mar: Daily 10am – 8pm, Nov-Feb: Daily 10am – 6pm, Apr-Sep: Daily 10am – 10pm
6. Sample some live music
Prague is known for its beers and bars, and with that come a large selection of venues offering live music and entertainment to suit all tastes. If you’re into rock music then check out Lucerna Music Bar & Club for some local rock bands and themed nights. You can also catch the odd jazz night in there too. There’s also Futurum Music Bar which is a sister bar to Lucerna. Here you’ll find some entertainment every night from local bands to bands touring the city, as well as DJs. Another bar worth checking out for music is Bordo where there are all kinds of parties and bands covering everything from hip-hop to indie rock. This bar is also an alternative theatre and you’ll be guaranteed to find a lot of local bands playing here.
7. Admire different architecture
Prague is home to some wonderful and inspiring architecture all across the city from many different eras. If you want to see some Romanesque architecture check out St George’s Basilica in Prague Castle, for Baroque visit St. Nicholas’ Church in the Old Town Square, Gothic can be seen at the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn and the Old Town Hall, both in the Old Town Square, and for Art Nouveau just look around the city at the many buildings with distinctive features such as faces and flowers in buildings’ facades.
8. Visit the John Lennon Wall
The Lennon Wall, or John Lennon Wall, started off as just any old wall, but since the 1980s it has become a tribute to the famous band member. After Lennon’s murder in 1980, his image was painted on this wall opposite the French Embassy along with song lyrics and political graffiti. Despite numerous coats of white wash from the secret police in the early years, along with the property owners in recent years, the graffiti was always reposted and they have bowed down to the posting of it in recent years.
Location: Velkop?evorské nám?st
9. Explore the grounds of Prague Castle
Dating from 870 AD, Prague Castle is a popular tourist attraction that dominates the city skyline and was once the seat of the ancient Czech Kings. You can explore the castle gardens and much of the grounds for free, and you’ll often find lots of events and concerts taking place around the grounds. There’s also the ‘Changing of the Guards’ which you can see every hour on the hours from 6am – 11pm.
10. Take a free walking tour
Prague is a great place for a walking tour with its many romantic and winding streets along with stunning architecture. You’ll find a free walking tour running twice a day in the city with a starting point in the Old Town Square in front of the Tourism Office at 10.45am and 2pm. This 3 hour tour covers all of the popular sites along with some lesser known areas, all accompanied with inside knowledge. While the tours are free, the guides make their money from tips only so try to contribute a few Koruna.
11. Stroll through the Wallenstein Gardens
In the lower part of the Malá Strana District you’ll find the decorative and enjoyable Wallenstein Gardens. These beautifully preened and organised gardens are lined with fountains, trees and numerous bronze statues, and it’s free to enter. During the warmer months there are also many free concerts and performances taking place here so make sure to check out the schedule. Please note these gardens are only open from April 1st through October 31st.
12. Visit the Czech Museum of Music
In the captivating Baroque Church of Santa Maria Magdalena is the Czech Museum of Music which houses a unique collection of musical instruments. There’s free entry to this great attraction on the first Thursday of every month and it’s definitely worth checking out. Not only will you see instruments dating back to centuries past, you can also delve into the connection that man and music possess, along with hearing audio samples of all kinds
13. Visit the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn
In the Old Town Square, one of the most dominating features is the stunning Church of Our Lady Before Tyn. This Gothic style church is instantly recognisable with its two spires; however you will find a Baroque style largely dominating the interior. Also, rumour has it that this church was the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
14. See the new architecture of the ‘Dancing House’
Believe it or not, this is actually the name of a building because of how it looks, not because of what goes on inside. The Dancing House, or ‘Fred and Ginger’ as it was nicknamed, is the Nationale-Nederlanden building in Prague. It was designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Miluni? in co-operation with the renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry and gets its name because it resembles a pair of dancers (hence the Fred and Ginger reference). Its design was very controversial at the time as many believed it did not blend in with its historic surroundings. Today it is a very popular attraction along the cityscape.
15. Go to the pub!
Ok, ok… so this isn’t entirely free. But once you find the right pub, a pint of beer is substantially cheaper than it is in other European capitals. Let me put it like this – a pint of lager in Paris will set you back around €7, in Oslo up to €10, while in Dublin you’ll have to part with almost €6 of your hard-earned cash for a beer. In Prague though, find a pub where the locals drink and you’ll pay no more than €1.50 for a drink. How do you find these bars? Simple – ask the hostel staff.
Thanks to njtrout_2000, iursu, Mirka23 and zoonabar for additional images.
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