Prague is a city that effortlessly blends centuries-old charm with a vibrant modern energy. It’s a place where Gothic spires reach for the sky, history whispers from every corner, and each turn reveals a new surprise. As one of the top European city break destinations, it’s been a travel hotspot for years, and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see what all the fuss is about!
For months on end, my gym sessions turned into virtual tours of Prague, all thanks to the numerous Prague travel guides by locals I watched on YouTube. It reached the point where I felt like I got to know the city pretty well, despite never actually setting foot there. Recently, a new direct flight connection opened up the opportunity I’d been waiting for. I was finally able to swap the treadmill for cobblestone streets, and spend a few days discovering the best things to do in Prague beyond the screen.
And now, I can’t wait to share these top things to do in Prague with you, as well as where to stay and the best restaurants to visit in Prague for a chance to explore Prague like a local yourself!
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How to get around Prague
When it comes to navigating Prague, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from. If you want to soak in the city’s charm, walking is a fantastic way to do it. Prague’s historic centre is perfectly walkable – you’ll find many attractions close to one another, and you’ll love the picturesque streets.
For those looking to cover more ground, trams are an essential part of Prague’s transport system. They run frequently, connecting key parts of the city, and offer another scenic way to get around. The metro, with its three main lines, is another efficient option, especially if you’re travelling longer distances. Fellow underground enthusiasts might want to consider making a pit stop at Náměstí Míru, the deepest station of the Prague Metro.
The ticketing system in Prague is pretty straightforward as well. Whether you’re hopping on a tram or a bus, catching the metro, taking a public transport ferry, or even the funicular up Petřín Hill, the same public transport ticket covers it all. You can grab a short-term one or go for a 24-hour or 72-hour pass, depending on your plans. Just remember to validate it at the yellow machines when you start your journey, and you’re all good to go.
Where to stay in Prague
Hermitage Hotel Prague
You heard it here first, folks… Hermitage Hotel Prague* is officially one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in. I got a free room upgrade as part of Booking.com’s Genius loyalty programme, and the room was absolutely massive – the size of an actual studio flat with 2 separate bathrooms! Mac got lost trying to navigate it on the first day, which tells you all you need to know about the size.
3 nights there only cost us €283.32, which certainly made me do a double-take. We also ended up paying an extra 2,550 CZK (around €106, or €53 per person) for 3 days of breakfast. Don’t know about you, but I LOVE a good hotel breakfast buffet, and this was no exception. From a selection of warm dishes to different kinds of pastries, as well as a station where you could make your own pancakes, it truly had it all.
You know how some people choose to live in hotels instead of renting flats? This was the first place I felt I could do it in… if I could afford to foot the bill, that is! The only real disadvantage was the lack of a SPA, as I love to splurge on a good massage every now and then, but you can always go elsewhere for your treatment. Next time I visit Prague, Hermitage Hotel will definitely be the first place I look for accommodation!
What to do in Prague
If you’ve ever checked any guides for information on the top things to do in Prague, they all likely included places like the Charles Bridge, Lennon Wall, Astronomical Clock, or the Dancing House. I understand the sentiment, as there are some places you simply MUST see when visiting certain locations (go to Rome and skip the Colosseum, I dare you), but I wouldn’t fixate on them too much.
When we were in Prague, you couldn’t walk across the Charles Bridge without bumping into people every few seconds. So, next time I would go in the morning to avoid the crowds and the frustration. As for the Lennon Wall or the Dancing House, I frankly find them both hugely overrated. If you’re in the area, pop in to see them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t go out of my way for either of them.
The Astronomical Clock was admittedly the best Prague attraction out of this bunch. I have a newfound appreciation for it after watching a video about how complicated the mechanism is. The procession of the Twelve Apostles when the clock strikes the hour is fun to watch too. But, is it wildly different from what you can see in other cities like Poznań or Kraków? Not really.
That said, here are some other top things to do in Prague once you’ve ticked these off your list:
If you’re looking for a place to catch the best views of Prague, then Petřín Hill is the spot for you. It’s a bit of a climb, but the views from the top are well worth the effort. You’ll find yourself surrounded by lush greenery, blooming gardens, and the iconic Petřín Lookout Tower, often referred to as Prague’s own ‘little Eiffel Tower’. The admission fee for the tower is 220 CZK (around €9.15 or £7.80), with an additional fee of 150 CZK (around €6.20 or £5.30) for lift access.
Don’t worry if you’re not up for the climb – there’s a funicular railway that can whisk you to the top of Petřín Hill. A one-way ticket costs 24 CZK (around €1 or £0.85), and it’s also covered by the standard Prague public transport pass if you have one.
And if you happen to visit on 1st May, like we did, you might want to take part in a charming local tradition. Look for the statue of the famous Czech romantic poet Karel Hynek Mácha, best known for his poem “Máj” (May). Join the couples who gather there and share a kiss under the blossoming trees. It’s said to bring good luck in love, making your visit to Petřín Hill all the more special!
As our hotel was only a 10-minute walk away from Vyšehrad, it’d be rude not to visit. Vyšehrad is a historic fortress residing on top of a hill overlooking the Vltava River. It’s buzzing with legends that date back to the 10th century, making it one of the oldest parts of Prague.
One such local legend claims that Vyšehrad was the very first settlement that eventually grew into the vibrant city of Prague we know today. While there’s no concrete evidence to back this up, it adds an extra layer of intrigue to this place. It also used to be the original seat of Czech royalty, long before Prague Castle claimed that title.
The entrance to Vyšehrad is free – you just have to pay if you want to get inside the neo-Gothic Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul. Take your time to wander around the fort, explore the old walls, and take in the panoramic views of the city. And while you’re there, don’t miss the Vyšehrad Cemetery, the final resting place of many famous Czechs.
Did you know that Prague was once a thriving centre for alchemical studies? Yes, that’s right! Emperor Rudolf II had a deep obsession with the occult and brought alchemists from all around the world to help him with his life’s mission to find the Philosopher’s Stone. Under his rule, these early scientists were attempting to turn ordinary metals into gold and discover the elixir of eternal youth in underground laboratories around the city.
One place where you can still feel this alchemical past is Speculum Alchemiae – the Museum of Alchemy, located inside one of the oldest houses in Prague. For 200 CZK (around €8.30 or £7.15), you can go on a guided tour of a preserved alchemical laboratory, complete with the equipment and secret underground tunnels.
It was discovered by chance during the clean-up after the great flood of 2002. Most of the laboratory is a recreation of what it must’ve looked like back in the day, but you can still find some original elements. These include a mummified crocodile hanging from the ceiling and an original bottle of 16th-century potion!
And, if you’d like to get your hands on some brews, you can buy the Elixir of Youth, Love, Memory, or drinkable gold inside the museum shop. They’re recreated by Benedictine monks (well, minus the opium from the original recipes for obvious reasons). While we now know no amount of potion can make you young forever, they work like herbal extracts to help with different kinds of ailments, only with catchy names.
If you’re up for a bit of mystery and intrigue, make sure to add Speculum Alchemiae to your Prague itinerary!
Nestled among the bustling streets of New Town, you’ll find the Lucerna Passage. Built in the early 20th century by none other than Vaclav Havel’s grandfather, this complex houses a mix of independent shops, cafés, a music bar, and the oldest cinema in Prague.
What really catches the eye, however, is the quirky sculpture by artist David Černý. It’s a reference to the statue of St. Wenceslas in Wenceslas Square, but with a twist – St. Wenceslas is riding an upside-down dead horse.
If you’re in the area, I’d recommend stopping by to marvel at the stunning Art Nouveau interiors. And, if you’d rather avoid touristy souvenir shops, there’s also a small newsagent’s where you can buy some beautiful Prague postcards!
Vinárna Čertovka – the narrowest street of Prague
Tucked away between two buildings on U Lužického semináře street, you’ll find a charming alleyway that’s so narrow it actually has its own traffic light system to manage the flow of pedestrians!
You could easily miss it if you’re not actively looking, but trust me, it’s worth stopping by. There’s something quite fun about waiting for a green light to walk down a footpath. I didn’t realise the lights would change so quickly, though, so I ended up looking like I was jaywalking on purpose in some of my photos.
And this tiny street isn’t just a quirky attraction; it also leads to a cosy riverside restaurant, offering a tasty reward at the end of your journey. We didn’t stop there, as we had somewhere else to be, but it might be worth checking out!
Also, here’s a little tip: right next to Prague’s narrowest alley, you’ll find the Franz Kafka Museum with a statue of two pissing men out front. If you enter through the gate and go behind the museum, you’ll find a great lookout spot where you can take photos with Charles Bridge in the background!
Free walking tour of Prague
For the longest time, free walking tours weren’t something I ever considered during my travels. It all changed during our trip to Sarajevo, after we went on the most incredible free walking tour covering the siege of Sarajevo and the post-war period.
On our trip to Prague, we went to see if anyone offered any alternative walking tours and came across the Ghosts, Legends & Mysteries Tour. I absolutely love a good mystery and true crime, so I was immediately drawn to this format. Turns out, our guide Jan was an absolute legend himself. He knew just how to set the mood with a cloak and a candle, and he was a brilliant storyteller too.
If you’d like to get off the beaten path and explore some parts of Prague you won’t find in regular travel guides, I’d highly recommend it.
Next up, there’s an iconic landmark that’s hard to miss – the majestic Prague Castle. Dominating the city’s skyline from its perch on Castle Hill, it’s a symbol of Prague’s rich history, serving as a royal palace for centuries before eventually becoming a presidential residence. It also holds the Guinness World Record for the largest ancient castle in the world, with the entire complex more than seven times the size of a football pitch!
And let’s not forget the castle’s role in one of the most dramatic events in Czech history – the Defenestration of Prague. There were 3 (!) separate incidents, but the most famous is the 1618 one when Protestant noblemen threw the Catholic regents out of the castle windows, sparking the Thirty Years’ War. They sure don’t play around over there!
If you want to explore the castle interiors, adult ticket prices start at 200 CZK (around €8.30 or £7.15). You can either visit the permanent exhibitions or choose a circuit ticket that gives you access to all the main sights: the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, St. Vitus Cathedral, and the Golden Lane.
Or, if you’re looking to save money, you can visit the castle grounds for free. I’d recommend timing it so you can attend the changing of the guard ceremony that takes place daily at noon in the first courtyard of Prague Castle. Just make sure to get there early for the best views, as it can get extremely crowded.
Prague can become a bit much, especially in the summer months when the city is overrun with tourists. So, if you need a serene oasis to step away from the crowds, I’ve got just the place for you.
The Wallenstein Garden is part of the 17th-century Wallenstein Palace complex, which now serves as the seat of the Senate. The beautifully manicured lawns, colourful flower beds, and ornate statues create a scene straight out of a fairytale. What adds exotic charm to this place is the fact that there are several peacocks roaming the area – you’ll likely hear their calls long before you spot them!
The complex is open to the public between April and October. In the summer months, it also becomes the venue for concerts and theatrical performances, which you can attend for free on selected days at 5 pm. I found the current programme on the Senate’s website, but unfortunately, it’s only in Czech.
Old New Synagogue
The final place on our journey through Prague is the Old New Synagogue, or Staronová Synagoga. Built in the 13th century, it’s actually the oldest active synagogue in Europe. Legend has it that the attic hides the body of the Golem, a mythical creature created from clay by Rabbi Loew in the 16th century and brought to life to protect Prague’s Jewish community. Unfortunately, as the attic is not open to the public, I cannot confirm or deny this 😉
The entrance fee to the synagogue is 220 CZK (around €9.15 or £7.80). I personally found this rather steep, as I’m not generally a fan of paying to enter religious sites unless it’s a small donation for maintenance purposes. This was also my first time ever visiting a synagogue – when I stepped inside, I was struck by the simplicity of the space, as it’s much smaller and less ornate than what I’m used to with Catholic churches.
Now, we initially wanted to visit the Spanish Synagogue, often called the most beautiful synagogue in Europe. Unfortunately, you can only visit it by purchasing a combined ticket to other sites in the Jewish Quarter or attending a classical concert. I believe they started at around 550 CZK (~€23 or £19.80), which we could not justify at the time.
If you’re interested in Jewish history, or have never been to a synagogue before, it might be worth a visit. Otherwise, Prague has so much to offer I’m sure you’ll find more budget-friendly options 😉
Where to eat in Prague
If you’re looking for a place to eat on a budget in Prague Old Town, it doesn’t get better than Havelská Koruna, a spot that’s popular with locals and tourists alike.
The moment you arrive on Havelská Street, you’ll likely be able to spot the restaurant by the ridiculously long queue outside. Don’t let it discourage you, though – Havelská Koruna is not your typical touristy eatery. It’s a place that takes you back in time, with its charming retro interior and a menu filled with traditional Czech dishes.
And, don’t worry if you’re not familiar with Czech cuisine – as you wait to enter, there are screens outside displaying the different menu items along with photos and English translations. This way, everyone can decide what to have before they go inside, ensuring that the queue moves along surprisingly smoothly.
When you enter, you receive a slip that acts as your bill, so you cannot lose it. You then grab a tray, go up to the different counters, and tell them what you’d like to have. They mark your order on the slip, which you then present to the cashier upon leaving the restaurant.
If you’re wondering what to eat in Prague to get a real taste of Czech cuisine, I’d recommend you try svíčková na smetaně (beef sirloin with cream sauce, bread dumplings, and a dollop of cranberry sauce) and smažený sýr (fried Gouda or Hermelín cheese) with tartare sauce!
Havelská Koruna is a cheap place to eat in Prague, so you can get several dishes to share. A main course with a side of salad, a half-portion of ducati buns with vanilla cream for dessert (yes, what you can see below is just half of a regular portion!), and a beer only cost 291.50 CZK (around €12 or £10.40)!
Kočičí kavárna na Smíchově – Cat café
If you’re a cat lover, there’s a cosy spot that’s sure to warm your heart – Kočičí kavárna na Smíchově, or the Cat Café in Smíchov. We stumbled upon it by total accident as we were walking back to our hotel on the first evening. Even though it was a bit late for coffee, we just couldn’t resist an opportunity to meet the café’s adorable feline residents.
You can enjoy a hot or cold beverage, or a delicious pastry while watching the resident cats lounge, play, or even join you at your table. There are paintings on the wall introducing the felines, each with its own personality and charm, as well as lots of cat-themed trinkets that you can buy. Whether you’re a dedicated cat person or just curious about this unique café concept, it’s a purr-fect way to spend an afternoon in Prague!
Cukrárna Myšák – Myšák Pastry Shop
For those with a sweet tooth, a visit to Prague wouldn’t be complete without stopping by Cukrárna Myšák, or Myšák Pastry Shop. This iconic pastry shop has been operating on Vodičkova Street since 1911, and soon became the go-to place for well-known Czech personalities from the world of sport, culture, and politics. They even made an 80th birthday cake for the first president of Czechoslovakia!
Unfortunately, the building that initially housed it collapsed back in 2006. It has since been renovated to pay tribute to the original design, with its stunning interior transporting you back to the elegance of early 20th-century Prague. The display cases at Myšák Pastry Shop are another feast for the eyes, filled with meticulously crafted pastries that are as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to taste.
The confectioners brought back some of the original recipes, so it’s the perfect place to try some traditional Czech desserts, including their specialty – the Myšák Caramel Sundae. I tried a pastry called rakvička se šlehačkou, which apparently translates to “coffin with whipped cream” due to its distinct shape. Now, don’t be put off by the morbid name! It’s a delightful treat that’s to die for – pun intended 😉
And if you’re looking to take your dessert experience to the next level, Myšák Pastry Shop also offers liqueurs in the flavours of traditional Czech desserts like větrník and věneček. This place is a piece of Prague’s culinary heritage that everyone visiting the city should get a taste of!
Choo-choo! All aboard for a dining experience like no other at Výtopna. I’m so grateful to my friend Katy for telling me about this place, as it ended up being the most fun restaurant I’ve ever been to! Výtopna is designed to resemble a vintage railway station, complete with miniature trains, signals, and an intricate network of tracks that wind their way through the restaurant.
Upon entering, you receive a train ticket with your table number on it. As you settle into your seat, you’ll notice the trains chugging along the tracks, carrying drinks and food straight to the tables. It’s a sight that brings out the childlike wonder in everyone, as you wait to see if the trains will pull up at your station next or whoosh right past it.
The menu at Výtopna offers a wide variety of dishes, from different kinds of steak to burgers and salads. I was wondering whether the food was going to live up to the rest of the experience, but after trying the halloumi burger from their special menu, I can honestly say I shouldn’t have worried.
They also have their own shop – if you present your train ticket, you get 10% of your order value to spend on their merch. I also love how they refer to tips as “track maintenance fees”. If you’re looking to add a bit of fun to your meal, I honestly couldn’t recommend this place enough. Quick, someone had better tell Sheldon Cooper about it 😉
Einstein 2 Bistrot
In the Old Town Square of Prague, at Staroměstské Náměstí 17, you can find a little hidden gem – Einstein 2 Bistrot. It holds a special connection to none other than the brilliant physicist Albert Einstein, who lived in Prague for a brief but significant period.
From 1911 to 1912, Einstein served as a professor at the Charles University in Prague. He associated himself with a group of intellectuals, including Max Brod and Franz Kafka, and they would gather at this very address to play music and hold philosophical discussions. Imagine the exchange of ideas that must have taken place within these walls!
Though the bistro has transformed from its original state as a private home, it’s still worth popping in for a drink to say you’ve hung out at the same place as Einstein.
If there’s one thing to say about Prague restaurants, they’ve got unique dining concepts down to a tee. Once a bank and a former Masonic lodge, this 19th-century Art Nouveau building is now a restaurant specialising in Czech beef and pork. If you go downstairs to the toilet, you can even see an old bank vault to remind you of this place’s past.
You can also tell Czech people really like their slips, as Kantýna is yet another place where you receive one upon entering and take it with you to place an order. You can either go to the hot bar where you’ll get your food on the spot, or go up to the butcher’s counter out front where you can select your cold cut. If you choose the second option, you’ll get a table number written on a fake bone, and your food will be delivered to your table.
I have to admit I was initially drawn to this place because of its decor, and failed to check what type of food they serve there. As I’ve gone from being a total carnivore to rarely eating meat these days, it took some back and forth walking between the counters before I finally made up my mind.
Unsurprisingly, I ended up going for the burger – while it was really tasty, I felt the portion was tiny for the price. A burger with no chips and a beer cost me 287 CZK (around €11.80 or £10.20). For comparison purposes, the burger at Výtopna with a side of chips and a tasting set of 4 beers to share (which makes it 2 small beers each) cost 421.50 CZK (around €17.40 or £15). Still, I suppose you pay for the quality of meat, which I’m sure meat lovers will appreciate.
Červený Jelen (Red Stag)
Now, you didn’t think I’d write a Prague travel guide without mentioning at least one pub, did you? If you’re in Prague and looking to experience Czech beer culture, a visit to Červený Jelen, or the Red Stag Pub, is an absolute must. You might want to book a table first, though. Despite being Prague’s largest pub with 3 floors and 2 beer gardens, it’s still likely to be crowded in the evenings. And did I mention? It’s also home to the tallest beer tank tower in the world!
Now, let’s talk about beer, shall we? In the Czech Republic, beer is more than just a beverage; it’s a way of life. And at Červený Jelen, you’ll find the perfect opportunity to explore the main beer pours that define Czech beer culture.
- Hladinka: This is the classic Czech pour with a rich, creamy head.
- Šnyt: A smaller pour, perfect for sampling different brews without committing to a full glass.
- Mlíko: Almost all foam, with just a touch of beer at the bottom. It’s light, frothy, and a fun way to enjoy your brew.
- Čochtan: For the beer purists, bold and unfiltered, with just a thin layer of foam on top.
- Rezané: A unique blend of light and dark beer.
My personal favourite is rezané, but I’d recommend you try different pours to find your preference. Červený Jelen also offers a menu of hearty dishes that pair perfectly with your brew, which makes it a great place for group outings or parties too.
Which Prague attraction are you most excited to explore? Also, what’s the most unique restaurant you’ve ever dined in and why?