Prague is an exciting, vibrant and fun place for backpackers – the city is full of history, culture and you will be able to have a fantastic time even if you’re traveling on a low budget. I’ve visited Prague a few year ago with my family and can’t wait to explore the city again very soon! This is the perfect place to go on an extensive sightseeing tour, to relax in some of Pague’s best cafés as well as to enjoy the fun nightlife. If you’re on a bigger Europe trips, check out my articles about backpacking Budapest, London and Barcelona!
- 1 Backpacking Prague – Sightseeing Highlights
- 1.1 Prague Castle
- 1.2 Cruise the Vltava River in style
- 1.3 Charles Bridge during sunrise
- 1.4 What NOT to do in Prague
- 1.5 The Dancing House
- 1.6 The Café at Dancing House
- 1.7 The shelter in hotel Jalta
- 1.8 Kafka Museum
- 1.9 The Museum of Communisk
- 1.10 WWII Tour
- 1.11 St. Vitus Cathedral
- 1.12 Prague Christmas Markets
- 1.13 St. Wenceslas monument
- 1.14 The Astronomical Clock
- 1.15 Climbing Prague’s Towers
- 1.16 Holesovice & Letna neighbourhoods
- 1.17 A Food Tour in Prague
- 1.18 Street Art
- 1.19 Wallenstein Palace
- 1.20 Old Town Square
- 1.21 John Lennon Wall
- 1.22 The Petrin Lookout Tower
Backpacking Prague – Sightseeing Highlights
I asked some fellow travel bloggers for their sightseeing highlights and recommendations in Prague! Here’s what they say!
Dating back to 880, Prague Castle has been growing in size, beauty, and fame. It’s the largest castle in the world with almost 70,000 square meters, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. A visit to the castle is a must for anyone traveling to Prague, and if you visit it twice is even better as the castle has so many churches, buildings and gardens to explore, and its beauty changes between spring-summer and winter when it’s covered in snow. Inside the castle you must visit St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, the busy and charming Golden Lane and Daliborka Tower. You’ll need at least 3 hours to explore the castle, maybe even more if you book a guided tour. There are so much history, stunning architecture and arts to admire in Prague Castle that one can spend the day there. So plan your visit wisely to enjoy the castle and other local and cool things to do in Prague. Check the official website for opening hours and ticket prices.
– Natalie from Love and Road
Cruise the Vltava River in style
One of my favorite memories from my recent family Eastern European Christmas Market trip was cruising along the Vltava River at night. Prague Castle never looked more stunning lit up on top of the hill! The Jazzboat runs cruises daily, however I highly recommend an evening cruise. The set meals were fantastic, we were presented with mulled wine upon embarking. To top it all off the band really helped us get into the holiday spirit!
Be sure to make reservations in advance, especially if you have a large party to accommodate. Also the boat takes off promptly at 8:30PM, be sure to arrive 15 minutes early to ensure you are not left behind! One of the best features of this program is that it runs all year long, so don’t let the cold winter months deter you from taking part in this floating Jazz club!
– Jeanne from Pure Wander
Charles Bridge during sunrise
One of the most visited attractions in Prague is of course the Charles Bridge. Spanning across the Vltava River, the often photographed bridge joins Mala Strana with The Old Town. It is pedestrianised and can get really crowded, although when you walk across it, it is easy to see why. From the bridge, you can see Prague castle in the distance as the swans float on by on the river below.
The bridge is 621 metres long and about 10 metres wide. As you walk across you will notice that it is decorated by a continuous line of statues. In fact there are a total of 30 statues on the bridge. Most of them are baroque style and were originally erected in 1700. Although these days they are mostly replicas due to damage caused over the years.
Our top tip is to visit the bridge just before sunrise and wait. It is so much quieter and you get to watch the skies turn from black to pink. And with only a handful of people, it makes for the perfect photo opportunity. The sheer beauty of the bridge matched with the colourful skies really makes it a moment to remember. We even purposely picked our accommodation so that it was close to the bridge just so we could there early enough for sunrise.
– Lizzie & Dave from Wanderlust and Life
What NOT to do in Prague
Prague is one of the most wonderful places to visit in the Czech Republic and there’s many things to do there, that can keep a visitor entertained for days. Sure enough though, one of the things not to do in Prague is paying money for attractions that involve the use of animals. More than anything else, these are scams that attracts the most inexperienced travelers. Aside from the horse carriages which can be found all over the city and which sadly exploit horses that are forced to run around either in the terrible cold or in the heat of the summer for the sake of entertaining tourists; another so-called attraction involves the use of doves, which are spray painted of various different colors. These are mostly seen around Charles Bridge. Unaware tourists are invited to pose for pictures with them (and to pay for it). I doubt that if they knew the suffering the poor birds go through, they’d pose as gladly.
– Claudia from My Adventures Across The World
The Dancing House
The Dancing house in Prague is quite a peculiar attraction. The shape and architecture of the house reminds of a house that is dancing, hence the name. In Czech language it’s called Tančící dům, and it was finished already in 1996.
So, it’s not really a new building, but still with a very creative architecture. The one who designed it was the Yugoslavian born czech Vlado Milunic in partnership with the Canadian Frank Gehry. The real name of the building is actually Fred and Ginger, after the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
The idea behind the design is to portray a dancing couple. You can walk here easily from the old town. The Dancing House can be found at Jiráskovo nám. 1981/6, and the best view of the house can be seen from the other side of the street.
– Alex from Swedish Nomad
The Café at Dancing House
When in Prague, make sure to visit the dancing house. It’s an amazing piece of architecture and it’ll surely capture your attention. The house is supposed to resemble a pair of dancers. And not only that it has a café on the top with some epic views!
I’m always in the lookout for vantage points in the city, and the Dancing house fits the bill perfectly. It offers rare views of the Vltava river and Prague castle and you can see Prague’s skyline from here. You can spend about an hour here soaking in the views, with a cup of hot chocolate! I would suggest going here in the night while it’s all LIT UP! FYI – Buying a drink here is cheaper than the entry fee.
– Raksha from The Roving Heart
The shelter in hotel Jalta
One of my favourite alternative places to visit in Prague is the nuclear fallout shelter located in the basement of Hotel Jalta, a luxury hotel on Wenceslas Square. The hotel used to be one of the few that welcomed foreigners during Communist times, and the three-storey shelter in the basement was built to accommodate 160 people in case of a nuclear attack. The shelter was also connected to a tunnel network to allow people to escape out of the city in case of attack.
Luckily, the shelter was never used. At the end of the Communist period, Hotel Jalta was bought by an investor with a passion for history who refurbished the property turning into a luxury hotel, but decided to preserve the shelter below. You can join guided tours of the shelter, but I didn’t seem to be able to get a proper schedule – the best thing to do is just pop in and ask. In any case, it’s definitely one of the coolest places in Prague!
– Margherita from The Crowded Planet
Tucked into an out-of-the-way corner not far from the Charles Bridge is the Franz Kafka museum – and true to form for the eccentric personality, strolling through the museum is like strolling through one of his stories: captivating, disconcerting, and thoroughly interesting.
Diving into Kafka’s life and family in addition to several of his works (including discussions of The Trial, The Castle, The Penal Colony, and The Judgement in detail), the museum is almost like a walk-through haunted house with no jump scenes: it’s dark, there’s music playing, it’s interactive, and it leads you intentionally from place to place.
As a fan of Kafka’s work for years, it is easily one of the most interesting small museums I have been to – if only because it is so unlike typical museums.
If you have read and enjoyed any of Kafka’s work, the Kafka Museum is a must-see while in Prague!
– Kate from OurEscapeClause
The Museum of Communisk
It can be easy to forget that the Czech Republic – these days full of tourists, cafes and cheap beer – used to be a dark and oppressive place. Prague was ruled by communists from 1948 until 1989 and, by most accounts, it was a terrible period in the history of the city. To tell the story of this time, there’s the Museum of Communism in the centre of Prague.
The museum is, rather ironically, above a casino and a McDonalds, and on a street full of shops of Western companies. The position is fitting for how Communism is viewed in the Czech Republic these days – something irrelevant. But inside there are a lot of displays that show how things once were.
The museum is not enormous but there is a large range of displays with things to see and read. The level of information is excellent and you certainly feel like you get a full understanding of the issues. There are exhibits of posters and memorabilia from the time. There are also replicas of how schools, shops, and apartments would have looked during this period.
While modern Prague has moved on, the Museum of Communism is an important and fascinating place to learn more about an important part of history that had a large effect on much of the population who still live here.
– Michael from Time Travel Turtle
Visitors to Prague often concentrate on the baroque and medieval aspects of its history, but Prague played a pivotal role in WWII, as well. We recommend Prague first timers take one of the WWII historical tours to acquaint yourself with the context: annexation of Bohemia as appeasement to Hitler, occupation and persecution of the population by Hitler’s appointee – Reinhard Heydrich, the “Butcher of Prague,” and Operation Anthropoid, the assassination plot which turned the tide, but ended tragically. As Heydrich was slated to be reassigned to Calais, his presence in France most likely would have influenced German intelligence and decision-making regarding the Allied D-Day invasion. We certainly owe the Czechs our thanks for ensuring that didn’t happen.
– Betsy from Passing Thru
St. Vitus Cathedral
St Vitus Cathedral is the largest and most important in Prague. The cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Prague and it is a superb example of Gothic architecture. It’s located within Prague Castle and you’ll find the Tombs of Bohemian Kings and Holy Roman Emperors within it. The coronation of Czech Kings and Queens also took place here. St. Vitus was a Christian saint from Sicily, he died as a martyr during the persecutions of Christians by the Romans in 3O3. He is buried within the cathedral.
The foundation stone was laid on 21st of November, 1344 although construction was halted in 1419 because of the Hussite Wars. It wasn’t until the latter part of the 19th century that the cathedral was completed. It was consecrated in 1929.
Today it is a dominant feature of the Prague skyline towering above the castle. It is magnificently maintained with the chapel of St. Wenceslas, the most important Czech saint, at its centre. Decoration within this chapel dates back to the 14th century.
Whether you enter the cathedral or simply view it from afar this magnificent building is well worth your time in Prague.
– Sarah from A Social Nomad
Prague Christmas Markets
Prague is one of those cities that is beautiful at any time of year. But it really comes into its own in late November and throughout December when its Christmas Markets are open.
The Old Town Square is one of the highlights of the city, but it becomes a little bit more magical again when the markets set up. It’s an incredible setting, with the Old Town Hall on one side of the Square, the fairytale spires of the Our Lady Before Týn Church on the other, and the Baroque St Nicholas church in another corner.
The smells of the Market are wonderful – sausages, roast ham, glühwein, and trdelnik, a delicious sugar-coated cake cooked on a spit. There are also plenty of bars where you can sample some of the famous Czech beers, which are among the best on the world.
Prague also has other Christmas markets. The other main one in the centre is on Wenceslas Square, but the setting isn’t anything like as good as Old Town Square. We recommend the smaller Market up on Castle Hill (Hradcany), in the square outside St George’s Basilica.
– Faye & Dave from Delve into Europe
St. Wenceslas monument
Dominating the far end of Wenceslas Square, in front of the Czech National Museum is St Wenceslas monument. Unveiled in 1912 St Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia sits on a pedestal of polished granite, in full armour upon his horse, surrounded by four patron saints. The black knight watching over Wenceslas Square has seen several historical events, celebrations, demonstrations and other public gatherings. This is now a popular meeting place and many walking tours start and end here. The good King Wenceslas sitting on his black horse was my saving grace when I got lost in Prague. The monument takes pride of place as the focal point of Wenceslas Square and is one of Prague’s main attractions along with St Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and the beautiful Astronomical Clock.
– Lyn & Steve from A Hole In My Shoes
The Astronomical Clock
The Astronomical Clock in Prague is one of Prague’s most beautiful and must-see attractions. It has long been a part of the architecture of Prague and, at one point in time, was considered to be one of the wonders of the world. Despite no longer holding this prestigious status, it’s still a wonder to the hundreds of tourists and locals that stop and admire it every day – particularly on the hour mark when the “Procession of the Twelve Apostles” happens.
There are many legends about the clock. According to one legend, Prague’s city counsellors were so proud of the clock, and so worried that its creator Master Hanuš would make a similar clock for another city, that they had him captured and blinded.
The legend may or may not be true, but one thing’s for certain: with its intricate dials and beautiful carvings of the apostles, this is one of the most beautiful clocks in the world.
You can find the clock on the southern side of the Old Town Hall Tower, and the Procession of the Twelve Apostles takes place on the hour every hour between 9 am and 11 pm.
– James from This Travel Guide
Climbing Prague’s Towers
Prague, as the city of a hundred spires, is best viewed from above. And there’s no shortage of places you can have a beautiful birds eye view from. Let’s look at Prague’s towers:
Old Town Tower: If you have to choose only one tower, pick this one. It offers views of the Old Town Square like no other place. After the recent renovation, the tower has reopened again and is already facing tourist crowds.
New Town Tower: An alternative to the Old Town Tower, this tower lies slightly off the beaten path. The views are nevertheless still impressive. You’ll have a perfect view primarily of the Charles Square located right under.
Powder Tower: Sometimes a little forgotten, yet lying in the very city center, the Powder tower offers beautiful views of the whole Old Town, with the Prague Castle peeking through in the back. The view of the Municipal House roof is also quite amazing.
Old Town Bridge Tower: If you’d like to see the ant-like people scattered on the impressive Charles Bridge, this is the place to go. The view of the bridge and the Prague Castle is magnificent.
These are the main ones. Pick at least one and go see Prague from above. I can guarantee you’ll be mesmerized!
– Veronika from Travel Geekery
Holesovice & Letna neighbourhoods
Once you’re tired with the Old Town or want to escape the crowds of the castle districts head to Praha 7 – area of Letna and Holesovice neighbourhoods. Only a short tram or metro ride away and you’re in a different world. For few years now this part of Prague has been known as the cool, hip place that locals enjoy to hang around at. You will find around numerous independent galleries and DOX – Centre for Contemporary Art, small boutiques, cozy cafes or bistros and a really great small cinema – Bio Oko. If you’re after beautiful architecture don’t worry, you will find it too, especially in Letna – rows or colorful tenant houses line up every street. Praha 7 is also known for its green spaces with Stromovka and Letna park – in the second one you can get a drink with one of the most beautiful views of Prague! These days when I visit Prague I don’t really go to the main touristic sights. Instead I head to Prague 7 to daydream about living in such a cool place.
– Kamila from My Wanderlust
A Food Tour in Prague
Food tours are a great way to try local cuisine wherever you are, and a food tour in Prague is no different. I took an evening food tour with Eating Prague in the Hradcany area of Prague, close to the castle. We tried traditional Czech food like sauerkraut soup and goulash with dumplings, but we also sampled foods I didn’t expect, like a selection of cheeses and cured meats and a cheesecake dessert. There were also plenty of Czech drinks to try including wine, beer, cider and Becherovka (a Czech spirit), so we had a wide range of food and drink too. I was surprised by the variety of food we tasted, and by the end of the tour I was so stuffed I could hardly move! I also loved learning more about the history of the city and the neighbourhood around the castle, as our guide shared stories and facts as we walked around between food stops. This food tour in Prague helped me realise that there is much more to Czech cuisine than meat and dumplings and would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Prague.
– Claire from Tales of a Backpacker
All over Prague in the main squares, along the river front and busy pedestrian streets, you will come across some wonderful street art and gorgeous sculpture. Most of these works of art are made by national artists of the Czech republic and promoted by the local tourism board and local neighborhoods or art institutions for the public and visits to enjoy while visiting this beautiful city. Check out my Prague public art post here to see some of the stunning displays around the city and you just may want to do a similar DIY tour of the city and its public art displays.
– Noel from Travel Photo Discovery
Malá Strana district of Prague has a beautiful palace from the 17th century – Valdštejnský palác or Wallenstein Palace. Built by the Duke of Mecklenburg, this Baroque mansion is now home to the Czech Senate. The palace premises have beautiful gardens and one can admire the peahens roaming about the greens. Don’t forget to check out the grotto in the Italian garden which has an eerie and bizarre feel about it. The complex also comprises a herbarium and a beautiful pond with an island at its centre. The statues on this island represent characters from several folk fables.
The Wallenstein Palace opens at 10 in the morning for visitors each day and closes at 6 in the evening in the summers. Traveling in the winter months? You will only have until 4 pm to explore the place. If you are lucky, you will get to attend a free music concert during your tour. The sprawling courtyards are perfect for an afternoon of music.
– Oindrila from Oindrila Goes Footloose
Old Town Square
Staroměstské náměstí or known as Old Town Square is the most significant square in Prague. It plays a major role in the history of Prague.
You can find the Old Town Hall and its famous astronomical clock here. Along with various monuments and structures such as St. Nicholas Church, Tyn Cathedral, Kinsky Palace, Stone Bell house and the monument of Jon Hus. Jon Hus was a religious reformer who was burned at the stake for his beliefs.
It was also in Old Town Square where 27 Protestant leaders were beheaded after the Battle of White Mountain in 1621. The execution is publicly done by the Habsburgs – an influential royal house in Europe. The 27 crosses in front of the Old Town Hall were also built in their honour.
Aside from the historical significance of Old Town Square, the Gothic architecture is a sight to behold. Something that takes Prague apart from the rest of Europe.
– Christine from The Travelling Pinoys
John Lennon Wall
You cannot go to Prague and not see the iconic John Lennon Wall. This artistic masterpiece is located under the Charles Bridge on the west side, opposite the city center. People began to paint on this concrete wall when John Lennon from the Beatles died in 1980, as a memorial and tribute to him. The wall has evolved over the years, from images of John Lennon to the Beatles albums covers to peace signs and flowers.
In 1988 locals began to use the wall as a place to air their grievances towards the government. Officials began to paint over the images in retaliation, and the original John Lennon portrait has since been painted over.
The wall is ever evolving, however if you come back next year it may look totally different. In 2018 the wall had some very graphic words aimed at the United States President, Donald Trump. As you can see, people still air their grievances on this art piece.
Local artists do their best to keep a single portrait of John Lennon on the wall at all times in memory of what the wall originally stood for. Peace and Love.
– Gina from Jetset and Forget
The Petrin Lookout Tower
Atop Prague’s skyline of red roofs and spires is an observation tower above a hill, reachable by roughly half an hour on a hike up, so be sure that it’s not raining or snowing on your way up. You can of course reach it through a funicular particularly going up the hill at the Újezd tram stop. I prefer the walk uphill because of the greenery and the different views one can have on different elevations. The Petrin Lookout tower is a 60 metre high steel framework that closely looks like the Eiffel tower albeit smaller. Its being situated on a hill gives it a higher altitude than the Eiffel though. The observation platforms are accessible via 299 stairs and a lift. Up there looking down, one can see the historic Hunger wall, a medieval defense wall built sometime in 1360 and Prague’s beautiful, picturesque landscape.
The entrance hall comprising the entire base of the tower serves as a ticket center, and an information area. There’s also a small café and some souvenir shops. On the lowest level still is a small museum of Jára Cimrman, a Czech fictional character presented as one of the greatest Czech of the 19th and early 20th century. Entrance fee costs CZK 150, yes, please bring Koruna with you. If you’re up for some exercise and a scenic reward, the Petrin tower is a must when you visit Prague.
– Gizelle from Our City Travels
I hope you enjoyed reading more about backpacking Prague!
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