Introducing guest blogger Anastasija from Parenthood 4 Ever
If you haven’t been to Eastern Europe yet and have no experience in Old Town cities, Prague will blow your mind. Prague remains the most popular destination for tourists visiting the Czech Republic. It is estimated at about 7.9 million tourists, including 6.7 million foreign visitors.
And it does make sense. This country is located in the middle of Europe and is surrounded by one of the most popular countries in the world: Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia. That said, Prague is one of the main transition points, from here you can get a flight to anywhere else in Europe.
But while Prague is so attractive to a tourist eye, what is the difference among all these countries that have Old Town too? Let’s find out.
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of local parents
The main reason is that Prague wasn’t rebuilt like most European capital cities during the 18th or 19th centuries when it was only a provincial town in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. So, Prague’s architecture up to date is just overwhelming. It contains Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque details.
It’s worth mentioning that nowadays according to Czech law it is prohibited to rebuild, renovate or renew any buildings that are considered to be an architectural treasure. “So clever!”, I thought, because the government preserves the capital’s originality, beauty and uniqueness. Until I have met one woman who happened to do my hair. She was the one who bought an apartment whose house was a historical sight. Unfortunately, for many locals it is a quite bureaucratic process applying for any changes in their own house, including breaking the wall, changing the floor or adding any construction pieces inside their home.
Well, back to Prague and its sights. In this article, I will try to list and describe the main and most beautiful worth visiting places in this gorgeous city. I happened to live in this city for a year. I visited all the sights while being pregnant and we did a lot more with our newborn. This city, of course, will remain into my heart forever, as this is the place I gave birth to my child and, also, got married.
Best things to do in Prague
Sounds perhaps odd and quite trivial, but as it was described before, Prague is beautiful everywhere. It is not only Old Town we are talking about as you will probably notice visiting such capitals as Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn. There you are able to admire Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture exclusively in the city center, while entire Prague is a historical sight itself.
That is why I found it quite practical (and super cheap!) to take a tram ride across the city and understand the overall picture.
Alternatively, you can always use a Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus.
Prague city center
There is plenty to do in Prague.
Old Town (Staroměstské náměstí) is the main attraction. Even if you are in Prague for a day or two, Old Town is a must-to visit. It is situated between Charles Bridge (Karlův most) and Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí).
You can enjoy little narrow streets and wander around. You will definitely love the architecture, thousands of local shops and cafes.
There are nice kiosks where you can get traditional Trdelnik – a kind of spit cake. It is made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix. You put vanilla ice-cream and eat it hot. It is absolutely delicious morsel, I must tell.
Apart from art and craft shops, medieval-like streets, cafes and restaurants, the main attraction is waiting for you at the main square of Old Town – Astronomical Clock. In Czech it is also called Prague Orloj. It is a medieval astronomical clock mounted on the Old Town Hall.
The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still in operation. It has special mechanisms and dials to display astronomical information, such as the relative positions of the sun, moon, zodiacal constellations, and sometimes major planets.
Every hour crowds are gathering beneath the clock and enjoy watching the show when the entire mechanism comes into a move.
At the square you can find lots of performers you can take photos with. Usually you can find covered with gold or silver paint artists joking with you and making you laugh.
Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí)
This square is the very center. It leads you to the shopping area, restaurants and cafes. It also the place you better change your currency if necessary. Rates are usually very good here.
During holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, Wenceslas square will open its special markets, where you can see arts and crafts from different parts of the country and enjoy local food and traditions.
And on our right, you can find a very unique restaurant Vytopna Railway Restaurant, that is famous for delivering drinks by miniature trains. There is always the queue to this restaurant, so please make sure you have got a reservation, especially when travelling with little ones. It is magical when people are able to convert their passion into something bigger. The owner of this restaurant used to build trains, in fact, all his life was about trains, so once he decided to open a restaurant with a railway design. It took him years to finish it up.
Charles Bridge (Karlův most)
This is the other side of the Old Town. This bridge is only for pedestrians, and it always looks extremely busy. Crowds never disappear from there. It opens an incredibly stunning view of the Vltava River, which is the largest river crossing Czech Republic. You will find it again visiting Czech Krumlov
Walking along you will find various statues and a big crucifix and calvary which is one of the most historically interesting sculptures on the bridge. There are 30 statues forming two rows, one on each side. At the beginning of the bridge you will find a tower that you can climb for just 90-100 CZK per person and enjoy one gorgeous view on Vltava River. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it as it was my last week before my baby appeared in this world. I did well enough climbing 15 stairs going up the hill from our house to reach the tram stop on a daily basis, and I was quite proud and happy about that.
Did you know? As the only means of crossing the river Vltava (Moldau) until 1841, Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town and adjacent areas.
Just before entering the Charles Bridge you will find small kiosks and tables offering boat rides and other tours. There are a huge variety of boats departing every hour offering food service, 45-minute ride along the city and audio guide.
We took this trip with my younger sister when she visited me in August. The only thing we were not pleased with was quite loud speakers that unstoppably broadcasted information about Prague in six languages so that we couldn’t hear each other at all.
Kafka statue and shopping
Prague is famous for shopping. You can find a lot of shopping centers around Prague city. One nice area I would recommend for a walk is called Quadrio Shopping Center at Spálená 2121/22, Nové Město. The area itself is nice to walk around, you will find a nice garden near there too.
At one of the entrance, there is a unique statue of Franz Kafka, that is worth to see and even film, because you will see every section rotating horizontally. I have never seen anything like that!
Free activities in Prague
If you have got a bit more time in Prague, it is useful to take a look at local activities. Usually, these activities are free and meant to attract more locals and foreigners to enjoy Czech culture, traditions and cuisine.
One of such activities we have visited was an Indonesian Day of one of the Museum in the heart of the Old Town. Apart from the Asian cuisine, we were involved in the performance of Indonesian dancers and singing accompanied by their traditional music instruments.
Museums in Prague
Prague is filled with museums! You are able to find everything, starting from art galleries to specialty, art, history and military museums. Personally, I put accent to the following:
- Gallery of Steel Figures,
- Speculum Alchemiae Museum,
- Museum of Senses,
- Aviation Museum,
- Czech Beer Museum,
- Kingdom of Railways, etc.
We have visited Wax museum of legends by Grevin. It is very entertaining and interactive museum with some funny and crazy surprises along the way. There is a hall dedicated exclusively to Czech celebrities and scientists, which I found important to promote. Also, we had lots of fun creating our own wax figure.
Beer pubs in Prague
Try beer, drink beer and visit beer pubs in Prague is a must! Why?
Czech Republic is famous for its beer. It has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. The largest Czech beer breweries are:
- Pilsner Urquell (Plzeňský prazdroj – the world’s first pilsner, Gambrinus, Velkopopovický Kozel, Radegast and Master brands),
- Staropramen (Staropramen, Ostravar, Braník and Velvet) and
- Budweiser Budvar.
It is the place where you can find lots of bars and beer museums to try variety of this beverage. This is exactly what we did – one of famous beer bar with live music right next to the Charles Bridge. Feels like Teo is very happy about it.
Prague Castle is another important sight to visit when in Prague. I would say Old Town and Prague castle will take the majority of your time to enjoy.
Interesting fact, that Prague castle has two entrances. One is the main and one is not widely known to public. We discovered it because we lived in a very near area easily reaching the back entrance if I may call it so. You will find less people entering it, an amazing extra area to wander in, being able to take stunning photos of the entire castle from the far and a Prague view. Plus, you won’t need to climb up to the castle, the tram will bring you on top. To visit this area you should take a tram 1 or 9 to the stop called Vozovna Stresovice.
Before getting inside the castle, you will find a little alley with an absolutely gorgeous park, stunning views, some museums and the possibility to spend 10 minutes with owls and eagles. That’s a ton of experience!
There is plenty to discover inside the Prague castle, and you should consider one whole day dedicated to it. There are quite several packages to decide from, although I would recommend to go with the basic Package B. It will cost you 250 CZK (125 CZK for seniors and students, 500 CZK for a family admission). You can get tickets inside the Prague castle hustle free. It will be also cheaper than booking it online.
With the B package you will be able to get into St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane, including Daliborka Tower.
Of course, the main attraction is St. George’s Basilica. It is the oldest surviving church building within Prague Castle, and it was founded in 920. It is absolutely gorgeous and rich inside, full of statues, sculptures, mosaic and gems. We have done plenty of photos there.
I have visited Prague castle three times. The best time to visit it is on one of the week days, you will still find lots of people around, but let me put it this way – you will be able to stop, to read information and take photos. However, when we came there again with my 12-days old little Teo and in-laws, including 86-years old grandmother, in late October, they were standing in a queue for 1.5hs just to enter basilica, while Teo and I enjoyed tea and warm atmosphere in the nearest cafeteria. So, plan the visiting date wisely.
Apart from Basilica, I personally loved the Golden Lane. You are able to enter small houses and see how people lived back in time, how they fought and what they wore.
Did you notice that Prague Castle has at least three different architecture types of buildings? This is because it never has been finished, and so every century there was added its own style that represented the period at the time.
Vyšehrad that means “upper castle” in Czech language is a historic fort located just over 3 km southeast of Prague Castle, on the right bank of the Vltava River. Behind it there is N.1 Hospital for the care of mother and child – the hospital I gave birth to my son.
Vyšehrad was built probably in the 10th century. Situated within the fort is the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, as well as the Vyšehrad Cemetery, containing the remains of many famous people from Czech history. This cemetery is worth to visit. I have never seen any monuments like that. Every space is lavishly decorated with statues and monuments.
Vyšehrad also has to be visited for its views. If you want to capture an amazing picture of Prague city’s red roofs, you should go either to Prague castle or Vyšehrad. It is free to enter and absolutely nice area for picnic and a day walk.
At the nearest metro station Vyšehrad, there is a Corinthia Hotel Prague, where I used to go with my friends for SPA sessions. Besides the fact that it is very nice place to stay, you can visit it on a daily basis for few hours and enjoy swimming pool with the city view and couple of nice saunas whether you are a guest or visitor of this hotel.
The Dancing House, or Fred and Ginger, is the nickname given to the Nationale-Nederlanden building on the Rašínovo nábřeží in Prague. It is located near the National Theatre, easy to reach to see this odd unique architecture sight and take some photos. It is located on the river bank on Jiráskovo nám. 1981/6, Nové Město.
Another site that isn’t located in Prague city but nearby making a wonderful day trip from Prague is;
Karlštejn Castle is a large Gothic castle founded in 1348 CE by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor-elect and King of Bohemia. The castle served as a place for safekeeping the Imperial Regalia as well as the Bohemian/Czech crown jewels, holy relics, and other royal treasures. Located about 30 kilometres (19 mi) southwest of Prague above the village of the same name.
It is one of the most famous and most frequently visited castles in the Czech Republic, but probably because it is so near. This castle is a perfect representation of the medieval times of Europe. On the way up you will be able to help blacksmith and feel the atmosphere.
The castle itself is not as big, and you won’t be able to enter alone: only with a tour guide. The guide will lead you from one room to another every time locking up the room you have just left. I believe it is for safety reasons, although you won’t be able to find anything luxury about this castle in first place.
The best way to reach the castle is by car. Otherwise, it is best to take a bus tour. You will need to climb up for half and hour before reaching the castle. It is not a difficult route. On the way you will enjoy souvenir shops, little houses and cafes.
However, if you are coming with a baby, it is better to take a carrier and/or buggy with you. The buggy will be useful when going up the hill. But it is impossible to use it inside the castle, as it is filled with narrow stairs and tunnels, so a baby carrier is the best item to assure you have with. Check our best selection for baby transportation here
Getting around in Prague with kids
It is extremely easy to move around the city and visit nearby touristic cities too, however, if you feel like taking a tour, it is more than possible too. You can find lots of tiny kiosks around Prague city offering you tours, they are all very safe. The difference in price won’t be that significant. All tours offer a pick-up service and audio guides in many different languages.
Please note that if you have got only a few days in Prague and need to take a trip with a particular language, you need to check the date tour in advance. Many tour companies arrange language tours on special days, for example, Spanish group will depart only on Tuesdays while Chinese one – every Friday, etc. There won’t be a problem with English groups though, they leave almost every day.
Enjoy your stay in Prague!
About the Blogger
Hi! We are Familia de Iturmendi – an expat family raising a child and constantly moving around the world. Since we became parents, we realized it is a Parenthood4orever, so we decided to motivate and support other young families and travellers with kids by sharing all our experience and crazy stories.
With thanks to Anastasija for her contribution to our guest series.
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