Earlier this year I went to Prague for my first time. I did a solo backpacking trip that included Barcelona, Rome/The Vatican, Prague, and London. I think my biggest regret from that entire trip is that I didn’t plan spend more time in Prague. I didn’t realize that there were so many things to do in Prague with so many attractions! And it is cheap!
I was only there for 2 and a half days, but I really powered through and saw as many points of interest and sights as possible. I believe I saw the best things to do in Prague, but there is still so much more I researched (most mentioned below) that I’ll be heading back soon to see.
Prague is a dream city for a budget traveler. For example, I stayed in a $12 hostel the first night and a luxury 5-star hotel the second night for about $150. Places with similar amenities in most other cities might mean $40 for the hostel and definitely closer to $400 for a comparable hotel. You also might hear people say that the beer is cheaper than water. I thought it was a joke until I ordered my first meal and the beer was about 35 CZK…that’s about $1.50 in American money!
In terms of my Things to Do in Prague list, the first few are the obvious ones. So if you have been hopping around websites looking for the perfect Prague itinerary and think this is just a clone list, keep on reading. I found some other interesting things in Prague.
Prague Castle – Duh
It’s kind of stupid, but the main reason I ended up choosing Prague for this particular trip was because if I was going to Europe I wanted to see a real castle. In terms of square footage, Prague Castle is the 3rd largest castle in the world, and only the 2nd largest in Europe. Given the giant size of this castle, you could probably spend an entire day exploring if you wanted to.
Prague Castle aka Pražský hrad is over 1,000 years old, so you history buffs will certainly enjoy this. I didn’t do the audio tour and was fine. There are so many plaques and signs explaining the history and significance of everything that you really don’t need it. If you don’t feel like reading, it’s only 450 CZK (about $20) for the entire day.
Here is something idiotic I’ll admit from my visit. I was really excited about the “The Story of Prague Castle” self guided tour. It was fascinating, but I found it strange that they started it in modern time and had you walk through it going back in time over 1,000 years into the castle’s history. Then I finally exited out the entrance. I had walked through the tour backwards like a moron.
I can’t go on an on here about just the castle, so I promise to follow up with a full post of what to see and do at the Prague Castle.
The next three things to do in Prague are all technically part of the Castle being inside the castle walls, but deserve their own write up.
St. Vitus Cathedral
What’s a European trip without stopping at yet another historical Roman Catholic cathedral? I had literally just been to The Vatican the day before, but still found St. Vitus to be a breathtaking building inside and out. To me, this is what I imagine when I think of Gothic architecture. It’s almost as though the architects anticipated Instagram 100’s of years earlier when designing the grand arches, fierce gargoyles, and awe inspiring stained-glass windows.
You can see this immense building peeking out from all around the city, but any history buff or culture seeker should make their way inside. The castle looks like it is completely ancient, but it was actually only completed in 1929. Given, they had been building it for about 600 years before it was finally finished.
Insider tip – it isn’t advertised anywhere that I could find, but you can climb the Cathedral bell tower. It takes 287 steps to get up this 100 meter high tower, but the 360 degree view of the city is totally worth it.
Golden Lane aka Alchemists’ Alley!
Seriously, make sure you stop in every tiny doorway of this miniature town. I hadn’t heard about Golden Lane before visiting Prague, but saw a sign pointing to it when I was exploring the castle grounds. As an avid wanderer I followed the sign just to see what it was. Golden Lane was one of my favorite things to see in Prague!
When I first got to Prague the best descriptor I had for the city was fairy tale-like. Then I got to Golden Lane and saw a place that came right out of a great book. Maybe it seemed that way since Franz Kafka spent a considerable amount of his time here in “house No. 22.”
Golden Lane was originally a place to house soldiers who defended the wall that it is connected to. In time these houses were opened up to people willing to live in these quaint little apartments. They keep up the facade of each of these apartments so you can walk into each and see what it looked like to live and work in one of these as an inhabitant like a seamstress, goldsmith, author, or fortune teller.
If you see stairs, take them! Above Golden Lane there is a long hall on the wall where soldiers would stand lookout. Now there are weapons and armor on display from beginning to end. At one end you can even shoot a crossbow! Head downstairs and you’ll find yourself in a dungeon full of actual torture devices used centuries ago.
Watch the Changing of the Guard
Honestly, I missed this since I was in such a hurry to see as much of Prague as I could in my two days. If you’re visiting Prague Castle already, you might as well hang around and watch the changing of the guard ceremony. This happens daily at 12:00 noon in the first courtyard. Or, if you can’t make it there any day by noon you can just watch the video above and regret your decisions.
Walk Across the Charles Bridge
Before you walk across the bridge, look at it from down the Vltava River. It really is a beautiful sight and it has been there since the 1300’s!
There are two different Charles Bridges in Prague. There is the Charles Bridge during the daytime and the Charles Bridge at night.
During the day the Charles Bridge is loaded with tourists. It could be their biggest tourist attraction, but I’m not saying that in a complaining way. The street performers, artists, and little kiosks here are amazing. It’s what I feel like Disney World is trying to do in different parts of their park. I found myself stopping so many times just to listen to amazing musicians play unique music, watch a super talented artist draw, or even catching a puppet show.
It is a really charming walk with some great views of the city and also lots of beautiful statues lining the bridge. There are 30 baroque-style statues feauturing different saints on each side of the bridge from around 1700. Most of them have been replace with replicas, but they are still worth the look. Also there is a legend that your wish will come true by touching the statue of St. John of Nepomuk. If you’re having trouble finding it, it’s the one that is really shiny in two spots because everyone is rubbing it.
Now, there is also the Charles Bridge at night. I left the bars in Old Town and walked across the bridge to get back to my hotel. I stopped a little ways in to really take in the serene views of light reflecting off the water, boats floating by, and the castle lit up in the distance.
Then I noticed the other people on the bridge. Most of them were saddled up on the edges near statues. In front of all of these statues of saints, there were couples making out. Because I’m a weirdo and I thought it was funny, I counted. There were 12 couples making out on the bridge. So I guess if you hit it off with someone in Prague, take them to the bridge for a nice makeout session.
Here is a couple I creepily got a photo of for proof:
Take a Break in Old Town Square
This is another super touristy place just full of people from around the world wandering in and out, but I really enjoyed taking a breather here. I landed in Old Town Square on accident when following a treasure map on Yelp to find a lunch nearby, but changed my plans when I saw the street meat. God I love some good street meat. I was drawn in by the old Prague ham spinning over wood fires.
I feel like I remember paying barely anything for a giant plate of delicious ham, but I wish I paid attention to what I was charged now. There are a lot of reports online about the vendors putting heavy pieces of ham on your plate and charging you by the weight of it. I feel like I paid before they even cut mine, so I may have been in the clear but it is something you should watch out for.
The one thing that I really did love about Old Town Square, besides the tasty ham, was the energy of the area. Most of the square is still the same historical buildings and sculptures from a far away past. If you can just tune out all of the selfie stick wielding tourists for a minute, this is one of those areas that you can sit back and picture a place from long ago. It’s almost like you can step back into time here.
Why I’m Coming Back Here – I want to go back for the Prague Christmas markets, especially the one in Old Town Square. If any of you have been there, please tell me how great it is in the comments 🙂
Mmm street meat…
Spend a Minute at the Astronomical Clock
Seriously, only spend a minute or two there. It is really underwhelming and anticlimactic, but it is something you should see if you are near Old Town Square near a new hour. Every hour, on the hour, the clock “performs” for all of the onlookers.
Basically, it is a giant cuckoo clock. The clock itself has a really cool design that I don’t fully understand to be perfectly honest. During the “performance” the death skeleton rings it’s bell while teh 12 Apostles pass by in the windows above the clock. All of these characters are statutes/puppets fyi.
I do want to point out that I do realize the significance of this clock’s history. I find it simply incredible that the clock was actually built in the 1400’s and still runs to this day. There was even near-scare where it was almost destroyed in WWII from a Nazi fire, but the locals banded together to save it.
Insider tip – watch your bag and pockets. This is 60 seconds where everyone is looking up waiting for something exciting, which is a perfect time for a pickpocket to take advantage of the crowd.
Eat Like a King
Prague is the perfect city for a budget traveler and any traveler that likes huge portions. I’m not talking about giant portions of junk meals like Cheesecake Factory, I’m talking about legitimate feasts at affordable prices. No offense to you Cheesecake Factory lovers out there.
The first meal I got in Prague was about $20-$25 USD and it came with an appetizer, 2 beers, 1/2 roasted duck, potato dumplings, bread dumplings, and this insanely good sauerkraut. That could have honestly fed 2-3 people but my hungry ass took it all down for lunch. My other meals in Prague were a lot like this one, and they were delicious. If you go to Prague and you don’t eat the dumplings, you failed your trip.
Drink Like a Fish
If you’re a beer drinker, then Prague is a city you’re going to love. I’m a pretty casual drinker myself, but I ended up drinking a lot more beer than I anticipated. I wasn’t getting myself hammered everyday, but with the beer being so cheap and high quality I ended up getting it at every meal. The free hanging pretzels at bar and restaurant tables made it a little more enticing too. I’d even pick up the occasional street walking beer from street vendors while wandering around.
Some of the best beers in the world come out of the Czech Republic. If you’ve ever had a Pilsner before, you can thank the Czechs. This type of beer was created in Pilsen, which isn’t too far from Prague.
Czechs drink more beer per capita than any other country in the world. It’s not a sloppy drunk city though. Most of the people I saw were casually drinking at meals or hanging out in their bars. This may be one of the reasons I felt that Prague locals were some of the nicest and most welcoming people I’ve ever met.
For the ultimate beer lovers, there is an annual 17-day beer festival held every May in Prague.
Visit the Lennon Wall at least twice
Luckily my hotel was right around the corner from the Lennon wall so I was able to see it a few times while I was in Prague. The wall is a dynamic piece of art that has a different look at all hours of every day.
The wall was originally nicknamed the “Crying Wall” through the 1960’s where people would write/paint song lyrics and protest text on it. The name and symbolism changed in 1980 when John Lennon was murdered. A giant painting of his face was added soon after and people started writing Beatles quotes and pacifist art on the wall. The wall owner, The Knights of Malta, battled with graffiti artists for years. In 2014 they gave up after whitewashing the wall didn’t stop people from covering the wall almost immediately with new art.
There is lots of inspiring beautiful art and messages on the wall. It’s like a free outdoor museum for street art that is always changing.
Visit the Jewish Ghetto (Josefov)
Most of Prague’s buildings and statues are clearly Roman Catholic. This small part of Prague is the only area where Jews were allowed to live since the 13th century. Jews were expelled from other countries and sought refuge in Prague, but forced to live in this cramped area.
You really can’t get a clear vision of how packed the Jewish Ghetto was until you visit the old cemetery. According to Jewish tradition, remains cannot be moved. They had to improvise since they were stuck on such a small plot of land, so started burying their dead above older graves. Over the years this stacked up and you can see from the abundance of gravestones an idea of how many people were buried here.
Most of the ghetto has been demolished and built over, but there are still a few standing historical locations.
- 6 synagogues including the oldest preserved synagogue in Europe, the 750+ year old “Old New Synagogue”
- Old Jewish Cemetery
- Old Jewish Town Hall
Relax on a Vlatava River Cruise
This is a unique way to see Prague from another perspective. There is also something just so relaxing about hanging out on a boat floating along a peaceful river like this.
Most of the boats are docked near the Charles Bridge. The tours typically range from 1-3 hours. If you hop on a 2 or 3 hour cruise, you’re likely to be fed as well. There are a few good night time options that offer a buffet or multiple course meal.
Breakfast/Brunch at Cafe Savoy
Hopefully you are reading this with time to still plan out your trip so you can get a reservation for this place that is considered the best brunch in Prague. I saw it listed on a few websites as the top brunch, but several locals confirmed this for me as well. They are apparently booked pretty far in advance here. Luckily I stumbled in and got a reservation since I was eating alone and willing to wait a half hour.
Cafe Savoy in a beautiful space with elegant interiors. The ceiling is a work of art itself, a Neo-Resnaissance structure from 1893. The food is delicious and budget friendly. I “spoiled myself” and got the most expensive thing on the breakfast menu which was still under $20 USD. If you want a huge breakfast that covers the entire table opt for the French breakfast. This feast comes with Prague ham, grilled pork sausage, hard-boiled egg, vegetable tart, potatoes, French toast with seasonal fruit and maple syrup, croissant, our breads, farmers’ butter, hand-squeezed orange juice, and café-au-lait. Hands down, one of the best french toasts I’ve ever had in my life.
That should be enough fuel for a day of backpacking in Prague! Or you could be a normal person and split it with someone else.
Watch a Live Puppet Show
Prague has a tradition of puppet theater going back to the 1600’s. You’ll quickly notice this when you step into any gift shop as most of them have puppets prominently on display.
Sure, you can probably find a good puppeteer on The Charles Bridge, but if you want to see the most elaborate puppet show of your life, head to the National Marionette Theater. You can go see Don Giovanni performed entirely by puppets.
I’m just waiting for Team America to get a run there.
Make Your Own Marionette
Now that you’ve gotten yourself all worked up about going to a puppet show, you can also become a puppeteer with a marionette you make yourself! There are different classes all around town where you can build a marionette, but for the sake of a short visit I recommend checking out this class that you can book with my Airbnb coupon code. Petr will walk you through building your own marionette and teach you the basics of puppeteering in his 4 hour class.
Write Your Name in Pee
Please read this and don’t just go peeing on walls. There is a funny statue located on Cihelná Street where there are two bronze male figures facing each other. They will periodically lift their bronze penises and make um…”artistic urine” come out on the map of Czechia below them. It may look like random urination, but they are actually spelling out Czech literary quotes. You can have them write your own message by texting +420 724 370 770.
These statues are officially called “Piss” and were created by David Černý who has some other amazing irreverent art placed around Prague.
See More David Černý Artwork
If the peeing statues are your kind of art, then you should 100% put David Černý’s other scultptures on your itinerary map of things to do in Prague. Černý has become an established Czech artist since the early 1990’s as a controversial sculptor with strong political messages. Here are a few of the can’t miss art installations by David Černý around Prague:
- Man Hanging Out – The man is meant to be Sigmund Frued contemplating his fate
- Intersection of Husova and Skořepka street near Old Town Square
- Saint Wenceslas – This statue mocks the famous Saint Wenceslas statue which is just around the corner. His version has a Czech saint, Vaclav Klaus, riding an upside down dead horse
- Lucerna Palace atrium, Štěpánská 61, Prague 1
- Babies – This one is eerie. Černý installed ten giant babies (with slot machine faces) onto the Žižkov Television Tower.
- Žižkov Television Tower, Mahlerovy sady 1, Prague 3
- Brownnosing – This is interactive art! Climb up a ladder to stick your head into the bum of a huge naked statue. There is a super creepy video playing inside of two former Czech politicians spoon feeding each other with “We are the Champions” playing in the background
- Futura Gallery, Holečkova 49, Prague 5
- Pink Tank – This is 20km south of Prague but still worth mentioning. Černý was arrested in 1991 after painting the Soviet Tank Monument pink with a middle finger to the history it represented
Interesting Museums in Prague
There are approximately 280 museums in Prague. So if you lived in Prague you could go to a new museum every day for 3/4 of the year. Rather than list every single one of them out and instead of the typical contemporary or modern art museums, here are a few interesting ones you’ll only find in Prague.
The KGB Museum
This is more of an almost obsessive collection of one man than a full fledged museum. The KGB Museum in Prague an impressive collection of KGB photos and items from the Soviet Union period. There are Soviet uniforms, weapons, and spy equipment. Two of the most prominent items are a Vladamir Lenin death mask and the weapon that was used to assassinate Leon Trotsky. Rumor has it that some of the materials on display are still officially classified. Stop here for a lesson in a strange part of world history, stay for the Instagram worthy photos of you holding Soviet guns.
Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague
Words cannot begin to describe how upset I was to find out this museum exists only after I was leaving Prague. If only there was a list of things to do in Prague that had it readily available to me! You’re welcome fellow travel nerds. It’s obviously a tourist trap, but there is a serious history of dark magic and alchemy in Prague dating back to the 16th century under Rudolf II. Everyone on Tripadvisor hates on this place, but some of us like these kitschy “museums” that are there to entertain.
Sex Machines Museum
I’ve been to the World Erotic Art Museum in Miami and I’ve been to Erotic Museum in Barcelona, but this is the sex museum that made me blush a bit. The museum website describes itself as “an exposition of mechanical erotic appliances, the purpose of which is to bring pleasure and allow extraordinary and unusual positions during intercourse.” It is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to sex machines (cue joke for calling myself that). There are over three floors of sexual contraptions to peek at. You’ll get an all important lesson on subject such as Ancient Roman dildo history. I’m not kidding. Be prepared to see some things that look a lot more like torture devices than something that is meant to bring pleasure to its user.