Did you know that Prague was once the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, and was an important city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city has played a major part in the Protestant Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War, it’s been bombed, occupied by the Nazis, become the capital of a newly formed, communist Czechoslovakia and finally the capital of an independent Czech Republic. That’s a lot of history to cover.
It’s also a beautiful city, right on the river Vlatva and with some stunning architecture which amazingly survived all those bombings. It’s the fourth most visited city in Europe for a reason – and makes for a perfect city break destination. Here are some of the best things to do in this amazing city.
1. Charles Bridge
Charles Bridge is one of the most iconic sites in Prague – it was built between the 1300s and 1500s, and named after King Charles IV. Until 1841 it was the only way to cross the river Vlatva in Prague, and it connects the old town to the castle. It’s also a lovely spot to take a boat trip from and admire the river!
2. Petrin Tower
This was one of my favourite parts of my visit. The centre of Prague itself is super busy, but just a short 30 minute walk from the castle is a park which is home to the Petrin Tower. The walk is steep up a hill, but the views are great. You can also climb the 299 steps of the Tower for wonderful views of Prague; on a clear day it is possible to see the highest peak in the Czech Republic about 150km away. The Tower is also surrounded by landscaped gardens and there is a nice cafe at the top – a great spot for lunch.
3. St Vitus Cathedral
The Cathedral sits in the Prague Castle complex, and is a great example of Gothic architecture. It reminded me a bit of Cologne Cathedral, though is not as big or quite as grand. As I like a good view, I definitely recommend climbing the spires and absorbing the lovely views out to the river and across the red roof tops of Prague.
4. Prague Castle Square
Prague Castle is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic and was also previously the seat of the kings of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperors. The castle complex includes churches, the cathedral, palaces, towers and gardens; and is the most visited tourist attraction in Prague. Well worth a few hours of your time.
5. Astronomical Clock
This had to go in my list purely for the hilarity of it. So the clock is amazing, and it is the oldest working clock in the world, having been installed in 1410. There is also a story about it being designed by a clock maker who was then blinded by the government to make sure he couldn’t replicate it anywhere else.
Every hour on the hour, the clock ‘show’ starts and the little figures on the clock twist and rotate, and the clock chimes. The crowds were huge, and the show itself was really not that impressive. But when in Prague and all that…
Other things to do in Prague
- Museum of Communism – I’ve been to a lot of museums in my time, and know a fair bit about the World Wars and Cold War, but I found this museum to be a fascinating look behind the Iron Curtain. It tells the story of the post–World War II Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, with a focus on Prague.
- Jewish Museum – This museum is more of a site of museums, and includes multiple synagogues and a cemetery. The museum documents the history, traditions and customs of the Jewish population in Bohemia and preserve valuable artefacts from the Prague synagogues that were destroyed during the liquidation of the Prague ghetto in Nazi times.
- Old town walk – Prague is full of lovely buildings – the old town square and surrounding areas are lovely for a stroll and to take in some pretty architecture. We particularly liked the Rudolfium.
- Street Art – Franz Kafka is a famous writer who was from Prague. There are multiple tributes around the city to him, including a giant silver face and a memorial.
- Bakeshop – I LOVE a good bit of cake, and this was the best I found in Prague. A perfect spot for sitting in the window and watching the world go by!