Prague (or Praha) is the capital of Czech Republic (Czechia) conveniently located in the center of Europe. Prague is a popular tourist destination due to its rich history, great architecture and magnificent views offered by hilly landscape. Historical center of Prague recognized by UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites.
We recently traveled to Prague to meet with our extended family that lives in Eastern Europe and of course spent quite some time exploring the city.
We offer you few walks that we planned for ourselves to see the city in a relaxed pace but efficient enough to cover as much as possible in a limited time span (2 days).
Practicalities: Please note, Czechia is not in Euro zone and have its own currency – Czech koruna. In most places they accept international debit/credit cards but if you’re about to visit Christmas market, flea markets or buy street food then better have some cash with you. You can exchange your money at the airport and at multiple places in the city, as well as take some cash in local currency from ATMs.
Book your flights and accommodation in Prague:
Walk 1 – Old Prague
Great views of Prague city wouldn’t be possible if not for the hills surrounding the city. Some of the main attractions are also located on hills, hence exploring it on foot might require you to walk up and down the hill. We decided to make it easier and planned this walk starting from hilltop located and furthermost point of interest – Strahov monastery (Strahovský klášter).
Practicalities: An easy way to get you uphill almost to the monastery is by tram. Routes 22 and 23 go through most of the city centre (a bit to the South from Old Town and then across the Vltava river through Mala Strana district). It’s convenient and inexpensive, you can by ticket right in the tram paying by credit card and it costs around 1 euro per adult (if you choose 30 minutes travel duration). Leave the tram at Pohořelec station and you are a 5 minute walk away from the monastery.
Strahov monastery offers you a number of things to see and explore. You can go to the library or picture gallery, both need an entrance fee paid (see details of opening hours and prices on their website).
Attached to the monastery is Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary On Strahov (catholic church).
There is a restaurant and a monastery beer garden right next to the monastery. Also behind the monastery there is a viewing point offering a magnificent view of Prague.
Our next point of interest in this walk is Prague Castle (or Pražský hrad).
It’s an iconic landmark visible from many places in the city, thanks to its huge size and location on top of the hill overlooking the Vltava river and Old Town. There are many things to see and visit there, starting from simply admiring St. Vitus Cathedral from outside to buying tickets allowing you to visit multiple palaces and galleries located in this vast complex. It’s the largest old castle in the world, if you trust the Guinness World Records.
Among other worth mentioning details about the castle is that it is an actual office of the President of the Czech Republic (luckily not all the buildings in the complex), but be aware of high security measures on entry and potential disruptions due to official status of the castle. Simply entering castle area with bulky backpack might delay you significantly as even smaller bags are searched on entry.
We advise to check opening hours and availability of the castle’s points of interest on the official website before planning your trip.
Mala strana is Prague’s district between the Prague castle and Charle’s bridge (Karlův most) offering multiple attractions, from cafes, churches, pretty streets to unusual things like KGB museum.
Charles bridge (Karlův most) is 600 years old bridge across the Vltava river. It offers great views of Prague in either direction, features multiple statues and ends with Old Town Bridge Tower – a must see place while in Prague.
Be ready to share it with many other spectators, Prague is indeed a popular city.
The complete route for this walk:
Walk 2 – from Powder Tower to Wenceslas Square
Powder Tower and Municipal House
Powder tower, built in Gothic style, used to be the city gate and separates Old and New town. Right next to it stands a Municipal House, which is currently a concert venue. Both are especially beautiful at night lit up by the city lights.
When walking towards Old Town Square, don’t forget to walk into some of the many souvenir shops. Czechia is famous for it’s Bohemian Glass (or Bohemia Crystal); you can choose from practical items (like wine glasses or pitchers) to pieces of decor and art made of glass.
Old town square and Astronomical Clock
Old town square in Prague features St. Nicholas Church and Church of Our Lady, as well as Kinsky palace now hosting art gallery.
Opposite to it is 600 years old Town Hall with its famous astronomical clock – one of the oldest in the world. It’s still operating and has moving figures that attract many people to watch the show every hour.
Havel’s market (Havelské tržiště) is an old town market place dating to the middle of the 13th century. Now it offers fruits and vegetables as well as art and craft and souvenirs for tourists. Nearby streets are also full of souvenir shops, as well as shops selling art and decor items made of Bohemian glass and garnets.
Franz Kafka – Otočná hlava. Metallic statue made of many metallic slabs that rotate independently. The picture doesn’t let you feel that weird excitement when you watch the creepy looking pieces of the statue coming together to form a proper head of the famous author. Even our kids spent 10 minutes there watching it hypnotized by the transformation.
Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) is a huge square with shops and cafes around. At one end of the square is a building of the National Museum. At the time we visited it hosted nicely set Christmas market with all the traditional things: food, drinks and entertainment.
The complete route for this walk:
Other things to do and see in Prague
They claim the most beautiful library in the world located in Prague. If you are interested – Klementinum is the name you’re looking for. It’s a huge building complex of which the baroque library is one small part. If you were planning to visit, it’s highly advisable to book in advance. It only allows guided tours of about 20 people at a time. See the details on their website.
A building you won’t miss – National Theatre (Národní divadlo). It’s an acting venue for opera, drama and concerts. The building itself is a piece of art with its golden roof seen from far away across the river.
If you take a walk from National Theatre along the river, not far away is Dancing House – relatively new building completed in 1996 by Dutch ING bank.
Another place to go to to see the Prague from above is Petrin Hill. You can take the funicular from Újezd station. Tickets can be bought on the spot or you can use the same tickets if you came there by public transport since the funicular is a part of Prague transport network. It has up to 3 weeks of maintenance window in a year, so better check upfront here if you rely on it taking you up to the hill.
We visited Prague in winter and didn’t have much time to explore everything but would definitely visit Letna park, if not for the mentioned above limitations. The park is a great place to have a rest among the greenery, have a Czech beer in a beer garden with magnificent view over the Old Town, The Vltava River and at least several visible bridges.
Hanging statue of Sigmund Freud.
Rather unusual but quite in line with the other pieces of art made by David Černý. You won’t notice it walking on the street unless you know its exact location and deliberately look up to the hanging statue.
Have a ride on a retro car
If you are tired or just want to experience Prague from a vintage car like below – Prague has this on offer too. There is a number of retro car tours available, varied in route, duration and price to match your schedule.
Admire Prague at night
Prague is especially beautiful at night. Take a walk in the old town and see all the familiar buildings and streets in the new light.
Christmas in Prague
This was so far one of the best destinations for Christmas market we’ve had. There are several major Christmas markets in Prague, usually open all of the December and first week of January. The usual locations for the biggest ones are at Old Town square, Wenceslas square, Republic square and even Prague Castle.
Traditionally, at Christmas market you can try some local food and drinks.
Prague ham (Pražská šunka) is one of the most popular street food. It is sold by weight and price stated for grams – be aware, the large piece can be pricey.
Another traditional food (now more for the sweet tooth) – Trdelník – dough grilled over an open fire or charcoals. It is later covered with sugar and can be stuffed with the filling of your choice. Really helps you adding some energy to the kids and adults alike, being fresh, warm and delicious.
Traditionally, at Christmas markets they offer mulled and spiced wines, beers and grogs. In Prague they also have Medovina (Mead) – a honey based alcoholic drink with different flavors (original, almond, cherry) – make sure you try one.
Perfect weekend in Prague
Our trip to Prague was a complete success. We had a great time catching up with our extended family and did it in a picturesque setting of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
Prague combines great architecture of the old Europe with outstanding natural landscapes around as well as developed infrastructure – everything you need to enjoy your trip. We’d definitely go back again and hope you will one day too!