Prague has seen plenty over its centuries, while many European capitals were rebuilt after WWII, Prague was relatively unharmed. Prague history is still very much alive in the narrow cobblestone streets of the old town and the curious characters of its districts. It is an incredible city, one brimming with world-famous attractions that have inspired writers and artists for centuries. The Czech capital is a hub of Central European culture, with beauty on and around every corner and when you look out over the red tiled roofs from Prague castle, Prague truly looks like a fairytale kingdom.
How to get to Prague City Center
Arriving to Prague International Airport
Václav Havel Airport Prague is directly connected to Prague Main Railway Station (Praha hlavní nádraží) by Airport Express leaving from Terminal 1. Airport Express bus tickets can be purchased in the Visitor Centre at Arrival Hall or directly from the driver. Passengers travelling to the airport can purchase their bus tickets from the driver, in the Information Centre of the Prague Public Transit Company or at the Czech Railways counter. From Prague Train Station you can take the tram or take Uber/Taxi to Prague city center.
Arriving by Train
Prague has one main station, Prague Hlavni Nadrazi – Hlavni Nadrazi which means main station in Czech, and often abbreviated to Praha hl.n. Prague train station is right in the city centre, just 15 minutes walk from Prague’s historic old town and 20 minutes walk from Charles Bridge. It’s a through station, not a terminus – trains head north for Berlin, south for Munich, Vienna & Budapest.
To get to the old town you can either take the tram or order an Uber which is more preferable than taking the Taxi from the Taxi stand at the Train Station- to avoid being scammed for higher price.
Where to Stay and Get Around
Although Prague is relatively small for a capital city, and many of the sites are walkable, your visit to Prague will be shaped by the area you stay in. The followings are the area where traveller usually stay:
Malá Strana: The historic castle district and ‘little quarter,’ Malá Strana is great for travelers who want to be in the center of historic Prague, and also enjoy a laid-back and tranquil atmosphere. This is a great place to stay for a romantic holiday or quiet city break. However if you have mobility issues this area is not recommended as Nerudova Street sits on a hill.
Old Town Prague: Stay in Prague’s Old Town if you want to be in the center of the action and in the liveliest and most touristic part of Prague. If this is your first visit, the Old Town has by far the most attractions and is the most popular place to stay in Prague. However beware that in general it is also the most crowded and expensive. The plus side is, old town is easy to explore on foot and it is also only around 1km away from the main train station.
New Town Prague: The word ‘New’ doesn’t really mean new in this case. This 14th century Prague neighborhood surrounds the Old Town. It is easily walkable, mostly flat, and well served by trams and the metro. Prague New Town has plenty to see, along with a vast selection of cafes, bars, restaurants, and shopping.
Vinohrady: Quiet and central, Vinohrady has beautiful buildings and tree-lined streets. Filled with restaurants, pubs, and cafés, Prague’s international community loves this neighborhood. So do young, middle-class families looking to put down roots.
The best way to get around Prague is on foot or by public transportation. Exploring this city on foot is a treat for the eyes, plus many of the most noteworthy attractions are within walking distance of one another. What’s more, several of the city’s top guided tours are walking tours. There is an extensive public transportation system that includes bus, tram and subway lines.
Numerous and compact, the historic districts of Prague are best explored by walking. There is a lot to see, so your legs will probably grow tired. When this happens, hop on public transit to whisk you back to your hotel or off to the next neighborhood.
There are three, color-coded underground metro lines, which operate from around 5 a.m. to midnight. Metro Line A (green) offers access to the most tourist attractions, so it may be convenient to select a hotel near one of the stations on this line. Ticket and transfer fares can be confusing, so make sure to buy the correct ticket. A basic ticket costs 32 korun (about $1.40) and allows 90 minutes of unlimited travel throughout the network of buses, trams and subways. Short-term, 30-minute tickets, which cost 24 korun (or about $1) are available as well as 24-hour passes (110 korun or about $4.90) and three-day passes for 310 korun (about $13.75). When purchasing tickets from machines, make sure you have coins (most don’t accept notes).
Tickets must also be stamped (or validated) at the machines on board for trams and buses or at the station (most are near escalators or stairs) for metro rides. Since there are no turnstiles or barriers to entering the train, it can be easy to make the mistake of not validating your ticket. But you’ll want to be sure to stamp your ticket before getting on the metro, or else you might find yourself subject to a fine. If you’re carrying large bags, you’ll want to factor in an additional 16 korun (about $0.70) for luggage transport.
The numerous tram lines service practically the entire city. Unlike buses, you’ll never have to hail a tram, as they make every stop. You’ll most likely spend the majority of your time on either the No. 22 or 23: Deemed “the tourist trams,” these two service popular attractions like Prague Castle and the National Theatre. However they’re also notorious for attracting pickpockets, so always keep your valuables close when riding the tram. Trams operate between 4:30 a.m. and midnight (there are night routes, but they don’t run as frequently and service is limited). You can use the same tickets on the tram as you use on the metro.
Prague’s bus system covers the outskirts and will be of little help during your stay. However, the bus does come in handy for getting to and from the airport. From the airport, you can take bus No. 119 to Nádraží Veleslavín metro station and then take the Line A (green) into the city. The bus uses the same types of tickets as the metro and the tram.
If you need to get somewhere quickly, a taxi is your best bet, but ride with care. Drivers have been known to swindle unsuspecting tourists. Consult with your hotel concierge on appropriate fares for top points around the city. If you can, ask your hotel or the restaurant you’re dining at to call you a cab – they will connect you with a trustworthy company. If you must hail a cab from the street, make sure to agree upon a price before getting into the taxi and look for visual cues that it’s official: Cabs must have a yellow roof lamp that is permanently installed; “TAXI” must be printed in black letters on both sides. The driver’s name, license number and rates should be printed on both front doors. It’s also a good idea to write down the address of your destination before you head out to assist with the language barrier. AAA Taxi and City Taxi are two reputable companies in Prague. If you’d rather use your smartphone to connect with a reputable driver, you can use apps like Uber and Liftago.
What to do in Prague
Prague Old Town
Start your day in Prague by exploring the Old Town, which is among the oldest and by far, the most beautiful district in the Czech Capital of Prague. The core of the historical center is Old Town Square, which started as a marketplace in the 10th century and has been the site for many political and cultural events that have shaped the history of Prague. The ancient lanes of cobblestone form a mysterious maze in which even the most orientated is bound to get lost.
Don’t forget to check the Time at the Astronomical Clock. The tower is among the highest in the Old Town and houses one of Prague’s most identifiable icons, the Astronomical Clock. Dozens of tourists flock to the clock every hour on the hour to see the mechanical relic put on a small show. You can ascend to the top of the Old Town Hall tower, which houses the Astronomical clock, for around 250 Kč. There are elevators for those who have a hard time climbing stairs, and the views from atop are spectacular. You’ll get a really good look at Our Lady Before Tyn Church and the rest of Prague’s magnificent Old Town in all directions.
From the old town square continue walking to Charles Bridge. Charles Bridge is a medieval stone arch bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV and finished in the early 15th century. The bridge replaced the old Judith Bridge built 1158–1172 that had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. This new bridge was originally called Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or Prague Bridge (Pražský most), but has been referred to as “Charles Bridge” since 1870.
As the only means of crossing the river Vltava until 1841, Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town and adjacent areas. This land connection made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Charles bridge is 516 metres (1,693 ft) long and nearly 10 metres (33 ft) wide. It was built as a bow bridge with 16 arches shielded by ice guards and is protected by three bridge towers, two on the Lesser Quarter side (including the Mala Strana Bridge Tower) and one on the Old Town side, the Old Town Bridge Tower. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues, most of them Baroque-style, originally erected around 1700, but now all have been replaced by replicas.
Walking thru Charles bridge will take you to Kampa island. There is a cute bridge with many love lockets where you can take picture.
From Kampa island continue your walk to Malostranska Tram Station to catch the tram no.22 to Pohorelec which will take you to Prague Castle. Buy a one day ticket from the newspaper shop for the tram.
Strahov Monastery was founded in 1149 by the Bishop of Olomouc Jindrich Zdik and the Premonstratensian order founded by St. Norbert. The monastery survived fire in1258, plundering by Prague citizens in 1420, Hussite raids and a period of inactivity before being renewed by Jan Lohelius who embarked on ambition building projects. The monastery complex includes a church, dormitories, workshops, gardens and a refectory. In 1627 the remains of the founder of the Premonstratensian order, Saint Norbert, were brought from Magdeburg to be buried in the abbey church where they remain today. The monastery has a magnificent library adorned with intricate frescoes. The library holds more than 200,000 books including many valuable volumes. The fresco-covered Theological Hall (1671) holds the theology books of the Strahov library as well as several valuable 17th century astronomical globes. The two storey high Philosophical Hall (1782) has ceiling frescoes showing the history of mankind and holds books from the former Moravia Monastery. In the Strahov Church (Basilica of Our Lady) you can see the organ Mozart played when visiting the monastery in 1787 and also see the 16 meter high vaulted ceiling which is decorated with beautiful frescoes
Lorietta is a pilgrimage destination in Prague. It consists of a cloister, the church of the Lord’s Birth, the Santa Casa and a clock tower with a famous chime. Construction started in 1626 and the Holy Hut was blessed on 25 March 1631. The architect was the Italian Giovanni Orsi, and the project was financed by Katerina Benigna, a noble woman of the Lobkowicz family. Fifty years later the place of pilgrimage was surrounded by cloisters, to which an upper storey was added after 1740. The baroque facade was designed by the architects Christoph Dientzenhofer and Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, and added at the beginning of the 18th century
From Lorietta we made our way walking down to Prague Castle. Imagine if you start from the castle, you will have to walk upward all the way lol.
Prague Castle is an ancient symbol of the Czech State, the most significant Czech monument and one of the most important cultural institutions in the Czech Republic. It was founded in around 880 by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty (Přemyslovci).
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 m². A UNESCO World Heritage site, it consists of a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, from the remains of Romanesque-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modifications of the 14th century. The famous Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik was responsible for extensive renovations in the time of the First Republic (1918-1938). Since the Velvet Revolution, Prague Castle has undergone significant and ongoing repairs and reconstructions.
Prague Castle also has a Changing of the Guard Process, similar like the one in Buckingham palace and Windsor Castle. The ceremonial Changing of the Guard including a fanfare and the flag ceremony happens daily at 12.00 noon in the first courtyard of the Castle. The sentries at the gates of the medival castle change on the hour from 07.00 to 20.00 in the summer season and from 07.00 to 18.00 in the winter season.
Inside the Castle you can visit Saint Vitus Cathedral, the most impressive Gothic style church. It is the largest and the most important church in Prague. Apart from religious services, coronations of Czech kings and queens also took place here. The cathedral is a place of burial of several patron saints, sovereigns, noblemen and archbishops.
Before exiting the Castle stop to see the view of Prague from the top. As you look down to see the red rooftop from above you will understand when I say that Prague feels like a fairytale kingdom.
St Nicholas Church
The Church of St Nicholas, is the most famous Baroque church in Prague. It stands along with the former Jesuit college in the centre of the Lesser Town Square. A medieval parish church consecrated by Prague Bishop Tobiáš in 1283 stood at the site until 1743; nearby was the Romanesque Rotunda of St Wenceslas. Today’s Church of St Nicholas is one of the most valuable Baroque buildings north of the Alps. Construction lasted approximately one hundred years, and three generations of great Baroque architects – father, son and son-in-law – worked on the church: Kryštof Dientzenhofer, Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer and Anselmo Lurago.
The Dancing House (Tancici dum) or Fred and Ginger is the nickname given to the Nationale-Nederlanden building in Prague, Czech Republic, at Rasinovo nabrezi (Rasin’s riverbank). It was designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunic in co-operation with the renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry on a vacant riverfront plot. The building was designed in 1992 and completed in 1996.
The very non-traditional design was controversial at the time because the house stands out among the Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings for which Prague is famous and in the opinion of some it does not accord well with these architectural styles. The then Czech president, Vaclav Havel, who lived for decades next to the site, had avidly supported this project, hoping that the building would become a center of cultural activity. Dancing House is located in the New Town area, less than 2km away from the Old Town Square. Inside there is a gallery and Restaurant at the top floor where you can see view of Prague from above.
The Petřín hill (formerly one of King Charles’ vineyards) offers beautiful views of Prague and several attractions for adults and children alike. The hill is easily recognizable by the TV tower that is a miniature of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. You can climb the tower for views and enjoy some other activities while up at Petřín.
To get to the top of the hill, you can either walk to get some exercise (it’s a bit of a steep hike along a wooded path), or take the funicular. If you walk, you can stop by the statue of Karel Hynek Mácha, the great Czech romantic poet and author of the love poem Máj (May). The statue is now a meeting place of lovers on May 1st, the unofficial “day of love” in the Czech Republic. If you choose to take the funicular, it starts on Újezd street (you can get there by tram 9, 12, 20 or 22 and get off at Újezd) and can be an exciting activity for your children. The funicular operates daily from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (April – October) or 9 a.m. to 10:20 p.m. (November – March) and runs every 10 to 15 minutes. You will need a public transportation ticket, which you can buy right there if needed. Get off at the very top (it’s the second stop – the first one is halfway up the hill).
People often visiting Prague as part of their Europe Trip covering Germany and Austria. To properly enjoy Prague leisurely, our recommendation is to stay for at least three full days in Prague. Spend 2 days exploring Prague and then 1 day take a day trip to to Cesky Krumlov, another fairytale city 2-3 hours away by Train/Bus. You can read our story here. I hope our article helps and you enjoy Prague as much as we do.