Princess castles, pork knuckle and cheap pints: Czech out what to do in Prague
The city of a hundred spires is an enchanting mix of cobbled streets, heartwarming food and inexpensive beer, making it the ideal destination for a weekend getaway. A city that’s culture is as popular as it’s beer, Prague proudly celebrates its rich history and obsession with controversial art. Fills your days living out royal fantasies in Prague castle, sink your teeth into traditional Czech cuisines or visit the most beautiful clock in the world (and no, we’re not talking about Big Ben!) Here are the top things to do in Prague.
1. Cross the Charles Bridge
Did you even go to Prague if you didn’t walk across Charles Bridge? The spectacular views from the bridge regularly grace the front of postcards making for a killer Insta pic and logistically it’s pretty handy too. Cross over from Old Town to delve into the enchanting world of Prague Castle, then retreat back for a hot choc and trdelnik.
2. Live Happily Ever After in Prague Castle
We’d happily send you straight to the castle dungeons if you fail to visit this iconic monument. Residing over the city, it’s grandeur is hard to miss. Take a stroll up to the castle walls to capture a panoramic shot of the terracotta-roofed houses or venture inside to check out its grand designs.
3. Wander around St. Vitus Cathedral
If you’re looking for something truly lavish and spectacular, you couldn’t do better than St. Vitus Cathedral, situated in the Prague Castle complex. The gothic architecture with its dramatic turrets makes it a spellbinding prospect. Speaking from personal experience, the majesty of the interior will most likely make you feel like a borrower – ‘Grand’ does not even begin to cover it.
4. Ponder the view at Saint Wenceslas Vineyard
It’s the view you go for, not the wine. These grounds are great for those seeking a slice of countryside within the city. Ogle at some breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the endless terracotta roofs whilst you take a gander through this unspoiled bit of greenery. If you’re after a view for your Insta, head to Villa Richter which boasts a terrace that overlooks the city. And if you really can’t tear yourself away, head to Piano Terra to fill your boots with some delicious, homemade Czech cuisine.
5. Head to top of the Old Town Hall Tower
With the astronomical clock attracting enormous crowds, why not feel like a king and climb to the top of the tower to greet your adoring fans? The view down to the square is truly special at Christmas time with the markets in full swing and the Christmas tree twinkling away.
6. Czech Out the Astronomical Clock Tower
At some point in Prague you’ll probably wonder why crowds have gathered around Old Town Square, staring at a clock. Ah, but it’s not just any clock – it’s a record breaking clock for being the oldest of it’s kind. It’s also particularly special because on the hour, every hour, the clock exhibits a little performance.
7. Gorge on some Goulash
If there is one thing that Czech cuisine offers it’s a hearty meal. Forget little aperitifs and miniscule plates of gastronomy; in Prague you’ll never go hungry and what’s more, it doesn’t break the bank. Head to any eatery and they will have Goulash on the menu. The best thing to compare this to is a stew; warming and filling. It’s basically a thick soup, stuffed with stead potatoes, mashed veggies and tender beef.
8. Dare you to try Pork Knuckle
Vegan and vegetarians, I urge you to look away now. A Czech delicacy that’s not to everyone’s taste, pork knuckle is essentially a huge slap of meat. Not the most aesthically appealing dish, it often comes out of restaurants with a great deal of theatre. Carve out a chunk at your table and pair with vegetables and of course, a Czech staple, potatoes.
9. Stuff your face with Trdelnik
Polish off your sumptuous meal with a cheap and cheerful Trdelnik. They’re the equivalent of waffles in Brussels – moreish and EVERYWHERE. You can find them on virtually every corner in Prague. If you can’t find one, follow the sweet smell aroma that lingers in every nook and cranny that’ll lead you to a friendly street vendor. Watching them being made is almost (almost) as exciting as eating the golden delights. The pastry is curled around a piping hot metal bar and placed on a grill until it is cooked.
At these stalls, you might also be tempted by a Palacinky, a treat very similar to a crepe, but not quite as extravagant. They are traditionally filled with jam or nuts but if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, you can get these stuffed with cheese, spinach or a selection of meats.
10. Jog around Josefov
Josefov is the Jewish quarter between Old Town and the Vltava River and is known by locals as the Jewish ghetto. It’s compact, quaint and differs in style to the rest of the city. Within Josefov is the writer, Franz Kafka’s birthplace and six beautiful Synagogues. The most popular of the synagogues is the Spanish Synagogue, which is architecturally stunning and its interior is dripping in gold.
11. Tackle the 299 Steps up Petrin Hill
You can’t say that Prague doesn’t spoil you with epic views. At the top of Petrin Hill sits an observation tower, Prague’s own version of the Eiffel Tower. There are two ways to get there; walk up the hill or catch the elevator to the top. If you have the chance to walk up, do it. It is famously only 299 steps to the top, which isn’t a great deal. You could conquer the hill within half an hour and considering you’ve had a hefty goulash lunch, you’ll be full of energy.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling lazy you can get the funicular railway (which costs under £1) straight to the top. Once you’ve made it to the top, climb up the Observation Tower and gaze over the Czech capital.
12. Pose by the Lennon Wall
Inject some colour into your Instagram feed and pose next to the John Lennon Wall. Not just reserved for Beatles fans, the history behind this wall is pretty impressive. Graffiti became a way in which people expressed themselves against the oppressive Communist regime in the 20th century and some wrote Beatles’ lyrics to embody their fight for freedom. The beauty of this wall is not just in its striking appearance; it is forever changing with people creating new designs over the old ones.
13. Knock the hairs of your chest with shots of Absinthe
Absinthe to us mere mortals is one of those mystical liquors that will inevitably blow your head off just one reason it’s illegal in many countries. Besides it being a shocking shade of green, it has an alcohol percentage of 82.3 %. Apparently, us Brits can’t be trusted with such a hefty percentage. Fortunately, there are whole bars in Prague dedicated to the stuff and you can spot their trademark green lights from a mile off.
14. Chug a lot of cheap beer
If you like beer, Prague is your Emerald City. It’s cheap. Like, really cheap. Home of the great Pilsner Urquell, you can literally pick up a beer anywhere, including Burger King. The city is stuffed with hundreds of beer gardens, which serve anything from lager to the finest craft beer. Head to Klasterni Pivovr at Strahov Monastery for one of the largest selections in the city. Here, lager is just the tip of the iceberg and if you fancy yourself a Craft Beer connoisseur, you’re definitely in the right place
15. Visit Vytopna Railway Restaurant
Proving Prague isn’t just cheap pints and pretty views, they also do a quirky bar rather well. The interior of the bar is like an adult playroom, with mini train lines zipping across in every direction. When you order your beer, it won’t be brought to you by a waiter, it’s far more exciting than that! It arrives to your table on a mini steam train! Can you comprehend anything cuter? Enjoy your ice-cold pint or a bowl of delicious grub whilst the little trains weave in between the tables, choo-chooing merrily to their destinations. Don’t tell me you never had a Gulliver’s Travels fantasy?
16. Bohemian Dinner Tour
If you really get your kicks from going off the beaten track, the Bohemian Dinner Tour is a hidden gem that offers a completely authentic Czech experience. Run by a friendly and generous family (you can hook up with them here) they will cook you a traditional Czech meal at their house. You will be treated to a four-course meal which is based on seasonal, local produce and can be easily adapted to suit any dietary requirements. The experience also includes a tailor-made tour of the city, so you can discover all the spots Prague residents try to keep a secret.
17. Get weird with Prague’s provocative art
Prague is a city keen on expressing themselves and they definitely don’t shy away from provocative art. Kampa Park houses several sculptures of giant babies; some might find them grotesque and others will choose to clamber on them. You might also be interested in looking for the statue of the two men peeing onto a map of the Czech Republic. Take from that what you will.
The giant, erotic statue of a pregnant woman called ‘In Utero Statue’ is also a must-see and it’s interactive. At six metres high, her womb is hollow, and is the perfect size to facilitate a full, fetal experience. Don’t be shy, hop on in! As well as this, you will probably stumble across the mesmerizing sculpture of Frank Kafka’s head outside the Quadrio shopping centre. It is a whopping 11 metres high and is constructed of hundreds and hundreds of mirrors that rotate – mirror selfie anyone?
18. Take in Prague’s History at The Communist Museum
Although Prague today is a wonderfully open and accepting city, it’s important to remember its oppressive, communist past to see how far the country has progressed. Both educational and emotional, The Communist Museum is a great place to learn about the Communist era that threw a shadow over the city from 1948 to 1989. If you’re not really a museum person, do not worry. All the information is really accessible and is aided by genuine artifacts and personal accounts, all of which make it horrifying real. Videos also make it easier to understand this snapshot of Prague’s bleak history.
Expect to be in there for about an hour and to come out with a lot to think about. Prague is a beautiful, peaceful city. It’s sometimes difficult to remember its tragic past.
19. Visit the Gallery Spectrum
If you find yourself a fan of the daring art located across the city, the Czech National Gallery should make its way onto your agenda. The museum boasts an impressive collection of controversial art. For instance, there is one piece called ‘The Dicktators’, which showcases the heads of various dictators like Stalin and Hitler on… well…. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
20. Take a pit stop in one of Prague’s parks
Ever fancy a bit of green on a city break? The Vrtba Garden opposite St Nicholas’ Church is a masterpiece in garden sculpting and all things symmetrical. Enjoy the perfectly trimmed hedges whilst you listen to the warbles of the peacocks that reside there. It costs about £2.50 and if that puts you off, it might be interesting to know that it’s regarded as one of the most beautiful Baroque gardens in central Europe. How fancy is that?
Kampa Park or Island Park is a secret getaway. It nestles on an island (unsurprisingly), isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city and is where you can find the giant baby sculptures mentioned earlier. Come summer, Letna Park is one of the best outdoor beer drinking spots with a huge beer garden and live sports show on big screens.
21. Venture out on a day trip
Prague is surrounded by other destinations that are equally as enchanting. Cesky Krumlov is like stepping into a fairytale. Imagine a town made of gingerbread and you’ve got Cesky Krumlov. As well as beautiful architecture, it is punctuated by a winding river which makes it even more dreamy and serene. An added bonus is that not many tourists venture this far, so you can soak this little town in at your own pace – without the selfie sticks getting in the way.
If you want to get out of the city for some green, there’s no better place than Bohemian Switzerland. The name itself suggests a green wilderness and you won’t be disappointed! Think dramatic cliff faces, rolling hills and cosy little villages where you can find a well-deserved bowl of hot goulash after a hike Getting there isn’t the easiest thing in the world; consider hiring a car. The jaw dropping scenery makes it worth the effort!
Fancy strolling around fairytale castles or trying pork knuckle? Book your Prague hostel here.
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