Medieval gate on a bridge in Prague
Europe | travel

Tips on what to do in Prague

I’m trying to remember exactly when Prague made it onto my bucket list. It’s one of those places that you hear about and see images of that captivate you immediately. Dubbed the “Paris of Eastern Europe” it had a lot of promise. After all the research, I knew what to do in Prague. Now I just needed to get there first.

Once I did, it was a different story altogether. While Prague turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, it is a stunning city worth visiting. At least once in your life 🙂

What to know about Prague

As many other European cities, Prague is an old city, going back over 1,000 years. It’s centered around river Vltava, it is also the historical capital of Bohemia. That alone creates a mystery and certain amount of romanticism of centuries gone by.

Then there is the architecture. A blend of Gothic and Renaissance buildings as well as baroque churches and bridges. All elaborate in detail, execution and design. There is nothing unremarkable about it. In fact, Prague is a photographer’s dream. I loved taking pictures all around me. The buildings, the brides, the churches. They were all amazing models.

aerial view of the many things to do in Prague

Tips on what to do in Prague

As a cultural, political and economic centre of central Europe, Prague has a lot to offer. Once the capital of the kingdom of Bohemia, this was also the main residence of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. During the Austro-Hungarian Empire days, it was also an important city to the Habsburgs who ruled it.

So if you are wondering what to do in Prague, the answer is lots!

From strolling along the medieval streets, visiting stunning churches, castles and museums to catching a puppet show, opera or an outdoor concert, there is something for everyone. When you get tired of all that, there is always time for a bite of hearty Czech cuisine or a pint or two of famous local brews.

things to do in Prague
vaulted ceilings at Prague castle

Old Town Prague

Prague’s Old Town Square and its Astronomical Clock are probably some of the most iconic images of the city. The Old Town Square dates back to the 10th century and has flourished over the years. It did suffered damage during World War II, but you wouldn’t know it today. The square if definitely on the list of what to do in Prague.

visit the medieval clock one of many things to do in Prague

It seems to be the gathering spot, with concerts, plays, musicians, merchants and various street performance throughout the year. The square is lined with bars and restaurants with wonderful patios that serve as a perfect spot to admire the architecture around.

Dating back to the 15th century, the clock, known as Orloj, is said to be one of the best preserved medieval mechanical clocks today. During its life, it has been damaged and repaired many times. Despite that, it still enlightens onlookers with a show as it marks each hour. Just look for the large groups of people looking up, phones and cameras in hand.

Charles Bridge

There is no shortage of ideas for what to do in Prague. The Charles Bridge is definitely an experience to put on that list. Built in 1342 by Emperor Charles IV, the iconic bridge is always packed with tourists, merchants selling their wares and those less fortunate seeking a handout.

I have seen so many pictures of this bridge before I ever came here. Many of them were taken during early morning, with fog or covered in snow. It almost looked unreal. Other than the crowds, it really looked the way I’ve seen it. It was quite spectacular and if I was a morning person, I would have tried to get there before the crowds. Unfortunately, I’m not, so I had to make do.

old town square in Prague at night
Prague old town square

Prague Castle

The magnificent Prague Castle dominates Vltava’s left bank. In 9th century, Prince Bořivoj founded a settlement here that would over the centuries, and many additions, become the castle we see today. This seat of Czech monarchs and rulers, it is a vast complex of buildings and courtyards with the most spectacular views.

According to Lonely Planet’s article, “according to the Guinness World Records, it’s the largest ancient castle in the world: 570m long, an average of 128m wide and covering a total area bigger than seven football fields.” Wow, how about that? It is definitely worth the climb.

St Vitus Cathedral

This is one of the most stunning buildings I have come across. I just couldn’t get enough of it. What took over 600 years to complete is truly spectacular. This is definitely on the list of what to do in Prague. Thank me later.

Emperor Charles IV was definitely a busy many. He laid the foundations for the cathedral in 1344.

Numerous architects have worked on the project until it was finally consecrated in 1929. And here I thought the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona took a long time! I guess, you can’t hurry a masterpiece. I’m pretty sure Charles would have approved.

Gothic cathedral in Prague

A scenic river cruise

If you’re into cruising, a day or evening cruise along the Vltava river might be just the thing for you. After all, what better way is there so see all the bridges, historical buildings and sights?

The cruises offer lunch or dinner options and allow you to escape the streets so that you can get lost in the surroundings from a different angle. On sunny and warm days this is definitely a great way to see the city.

river cruise in Prague

The Dancing House

The Dancing House shows that Prague’s architectural gems also include more modern additions. Inspired by the famous dancing duo of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, this intriguing building offers panoramic views of the city.

The building didn’t originally create awe and admiration upon its completion in 1996. As many such ambitious works, I’m thinking of the Crystal at Toronto’s ROM, time has changed people’s opinions of them.  Today, it is quite a popular destination and a very photogenic at that.

First impressions

I really wanted to love Prague. Going there was a dream come true. I was so excited to finally visit a place that was so high on my bucket list. While our experience wasn’t what we expected, many other people seem to love it here. There were few things that made this visit a damper.

Statues on buildings
Prague boats
architecture in Prague
painted house in Prague

  • Rudeness: One of the things I didn’t like was the passive rudeness from everyone. There were many times when shopkeepers, servers, cab drivers and others were either rude to us or just didn’t give a crap. Most places I’ve ever been to, as a tourist you are always attended by the locals. Either they hope you buy something, or they want to make sure you don’t steal anything. Either way, they take your money when offered. In Prague, it seems they couldn’t care less if you wanted to buy something, money in hand.
  • Taken for a ride: The other big thing that bothers us was the feeling that we were always getting scammed. Cab ride is supposed to be this, but then when we arrive is something different. Cab driver doesn’t speak English and that is that. Same went for restaurants that magically charged extra fees when the bill arrived. Nothing was ever the cost it was supposed to be and nobody really cared about that.
  • Annoying tourists: I guess this one is not Prague’s fault, but it does have an impact on the experience. There were so many annoying tourists everywhere. It was almost as if every annoying, petty and clueless person in the world decided to visit at the same time as us.

Final thoughts on what to do in Prague

While I am glad I had a chance to visit Prague, it’s not a place that I am going to go back to for a long time. It is a beautiful city with long history and spectacular architecture. You will not be at a loss about what to do in Prague. For me, however, it was an opportunity to check another item off the bucket list.

Have you been to Prague? Did you love it? Let me know!

collage of things to do in Prague
snapshots of buildings you can see in Prague

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    18 Apr 2018

    I have been to Prague years ago and I think it’s a really nice city. So beautiful and lots to do like you mentioned. Perfect destination for a budget friendly city trip 🙂

      18 Apr 2018

      I agree. Although its popularity will probably drive the prices up. Still fairly affordable when we went. 👍🏼

    18 Apr 2018

    I love the dancing house!

      18 Apr 2018

      It’s quite spectacular 😍

    a mindful traveler
    19 Apr 2018

    Pinned this for later as Prague is a high priority on the bucket list Kasia. Can’t wait to see this amazing city…hopefully next year! Would you recommend winter in Prague though? Dec/Jan maybe the only time we would be able to get away! X

      19 Apr 2018

      You probably will find less tourists in Dec/Jan and from what I’ve seen, Prague is beautiful with the snow. If that is the only tile you can go then go for it! I would love to see the pics 😀

        a mindful traveler
        19 Apr 2018

        Cool thanks for the advice. I guess I would be worried about getting snowed in at that time though! 😐

          19 Apr 2018

          I chances of getting snowed in are probably low. Prague is supposed to have a nice Christmas market so worth checking out in December. January would be more quiet I think

            a mindful traveler
            19 Apr 2018

            Thanks lovely 😊

    19 Apr 2018

    I’m sorry to hear you encountered so much rudeness and scammers. I’ve never been but it looks like a very picturesque city!

      19 Apr 2018

      It was an experience for sure. I did love the architecture and I am so happy that I went. I hope you get to go soon! 🤞🏻

    Dippy Dotty Girl
    19 Apr 2018

    I feel bad that you experienced rudeness in the city. That is certainly enough to spoil any trip. But is the architecture not mindbogglingly beautiful? All those spires. Sigh. Maybe you could revisit it in winter and experience a more laidback vibe. Though that said – even on new year’s eve we had enough people for company. I found the crowds particularly annoying on Charles Bridge, but then it could not be helped. So I climbed one of the the towers that guard Charles Bridge and had a nice view.

      19 Apr 2018

      Yes the architecture was spectacular! At this point I’m resigned to the experience which means I’m not in a hurry to go back. I’m open to returning just not very soon. It must have been even more enchanting with the snow 😍

        Dippy Dotty Girl
        19 Apr 2018

        Oh wait, we had no snow. Just frost 🙂 There was a flurry on new year’s eve night which was delightful but otherwise just cold.
        I know what you mean by giving it some time. Go on then, we will make sure Prague does not go running off somewhere. xx

          20 Apr 2018

          Good point!

    19 Apr 2018

    Hi Kasia, Nice article again and I completely agree with the rudeness and annoying tourists. I really have a hate/love relationship with Prague. 17 Years ago, I’ve studied for a while in the Eastern Bohemian city Pardubice and I returned so many times to Czech Republic to meet my friends in Prague and Pardubice. I saw it developing: Wenceslas square is now really ‘clean”, before 15 years: lot of sausage stands (Cesky Klobasa mmmm), street prostitutes… . Just old school capital stuff. What came in the place: more and more tourist. Rudeness and indeed annoying tourists… and a lot of them love Prague so much…. because of cheap (and tasty!) beer. When I arrive in Florenc (Main busstation) or Praha hl. n. (Prague Central Station) I simply escape from this artificial tourist business in the centre (I must admit: the architecture is awesome). It’s easy to complain about this things, but I can recommend something: a nice walk around Stare Bohnice, a walk along the green belt of Prague. This is for me Prague. Real Prague. That clock, the bridge… to be honest: the same as the ramblas, eifeltower… just have a look and escape:). And I have the same feeling with Riga: just a copy. Been in Riga for a month 16 years ago and returned few years ago: not recognizable… fucked up with stag parties etc. A real pity evolution and a bad side effect of cheapy ryanairflights. Regards Stef

      20 Apr 2018

      Thank you so much! I think you hit the nail on the head. The affordability is a major draw especially for the rowdy crowds. I think during a first time visit it’s hard not to see the major sites. Maybe if I was to go back I would do what you suggested and avoid all the annoying people at major tourist sites. Hopefully customer service in Prague will also improve 🙂 I have not been to Riga but that’s good to know about it. It’s easier to be prepared for it. Hope things are well on your end.

    3 May 2018

    Wonderful post Kasia…I have been to Prague just loved it….:)

      3 May 2018

      It is a beautiful city 😊

        3 May 2018

        Stunning…the architect caught my eye right away. 🙂

    Dimitrios Karvelis
    18 May 2018

    Useful Post !

      26 May 2018

      You are welcome!