As an Australian, European cities all hold a certain wonder to me. Every building and street seem to hold a weighty history like it knows more than you do. You never know what each turn may bring you, you never know what piece of antiquity you may stumble upon around the next corner. The city that holds the most of this magic, to me, is Prague in the Czech Republic. Prague is truly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. On my first visit, I was entranced. On my second visit, I fell in love. Who knows what will happen on my next visit – I may just end up staying there! Both times I have visited, I stayed for about 4 days – and for a small city, you will be surprised at how quickly the time fills up. I have collated a list of must-sees for anyone looking to visit Prague – I hope you discover the magic yourself soon!
The Charles Bridge
This bridge is arguably the biggest attraction in Prague. No matter what time of year you go, it will be teeming with people at almost every hour of the day. The reason is clear – it has phenomenal views of the river that separates the city and boasts spectacular views from either side. To one side, up on the hill, sits Prague Castle, and to the other sits the entrance to the historic Old Town. The best time to visit Charles Bridge is definitely at sunrise or sunset. The view of the city and the reflection of the light on the water is truly awe-inspiring. If you can force yourself to get up early enough after a night of Czech beer, I would recommend going at sunrise – you will have most of the bridge to yourself before the rest of the city wakes up. It’s worth the bleary eyes, trust me.
The Old Town Square
The historic Old Town centre of Prague is one of the most well-preserved in all of Europe and is definitely a must to visit. Whenever I am solo travelling in a city for the first time, I always take a walking tour. Usually, you can get a basic walking tour of the city for free (you just have to tip the guide – around $10 would usually suffice). These are usually super informative, give you a lay of the land and give you a taste of what to see more. The guides have most likely lived in the city or some time and know some local knowledge, so you get great recommendations for places to eat or drink. Also, these tours are a great way to meet other travellers. These tours usually start right in the centre of the Old Town Square. Here, you will find the Old Town Tower; the Astronomical Clock and a view of the Church of Our Lady before Týn. One of the insider tips would be to climb the Old Town Tower. This is relatively inexpensive, and in my opinion, has one of the best views of Prague. You can either climb the ramp, which really isn’t strenuous and gives great peeks of the city below as you go, or there is also an elevator that takes you straight to the top.
Within the Old Town Square is the Astronomical Clock, the oldest functional astronomical clock in the world. This is a highly ornate and detailed series of clocks which display a variety of information (other than time), such as the position of the sun, moon and zodiac constellations. The clock chimes on the hour every hour, but to be honest this is a bit of a letdown – the beauty of the clock lies in what it tells you, and not in what it does.
For first time Prague goers, Prague Castle is a must. It is beautifully lit at night, which you can view from the Charles Bridge. Then, make your way up the stairs and as you do, take in the view of the city below – all the orange roofs and the winding river below make for an extraordinary sight. Once at the castle, I would again recommend taking a tour – even just a guided audio one. They are inexpensive and really worth it – the castle is gorgeous, but it is also spread out and has many different elements that won’t make sense to the untrained eye. Try to time you tour so you finish around 4pm – that’s when Golden Lane opens for free. This cute little lane boasts gorgeous, tiny house and artisanal shops where you can buy great souvenirs to remember your time in Prague.
Vyšehrad Castle and the Dancing House
If you have been to Prague before and have seen Prague Castle, or if you have a little more time on your hands, I would highly recommend visiting Vyšehrad Castle. You can take a beautiful stroll down the Vltava River to get there, it’s about 3km but it’s a beautiful walk at any time of year. Along the way, you will come across the ‘Dancing House’ which is an outstanding piece of architecture and well worth a photo. The ‘Dancing House’ is used an office building, but if you want to be extra fancy, you can make your way to the top where you will find a fantastic view of the city and a lovely bar and restaurant to match.
Once you have arrived at Vyšehrad, you will see a much calmer and quieter version of Prague Castle. This is a great place to take your time, explore the gardens, visit the church and take in the views of the river in a much more tranquil environment, away from the hustle and bustle of the touristic centre.
There is plenty more to do and see in Prague – it is a city with a rich history and a very interesting culture. So, enjoy the sights, grab a traditional Czech beer and perhaps a bite of Goulash and take in the beauty of Prague and all it has to offer.