I’ve been planning some future river cruises for clients and one of the favorite cities to visit as an extension to a Danube river cruise is Prague, which is full of intriguing sights and local experiences, so I share some top highlights…
7 of the Best Things to do in Prague
Prague is the capital city of Czechia, also known as the Czech Republic. It is one of those up-and-coming European cities such as Budapest, Belgrade and Zagreb, recording growing visitor numbers each year.
People flock to Prague for a variety of reasons. Well preserved ancient castles, beautiful Gothic and Baroque cathedrals, cheap beer and a lively arts scene are just some of the highlights of the city. The River Vltava also winds its way through Prague, a beautiful centerpiece to a wonderful city. A common travel plan is to fly into Prague for a few days of exploration before transferring to Regensburg, Nuremberg or Vienna for a Danube River cruise to Budapest.
Prague is well worth adding to your itinerary when visiting this region, whether on a land tour or river cruise, and here are some of the highlights to include…
Explore the Old Town, or Staré Město, for a sense of the history and architecture that create the picturesque atmosphere pervading the city. The Old Town square, the traditional marketplace since medieval times and the heart of the city, is surrounded by brightly colored baroque, Gothic and Renaissance buildings. Here you will come to see why Prague is nicknamed ‘the City of a Hundred Spires’, with the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn’s twin steeples and the Old Town Hall punctuating the sky. Your visit to the square sets you up for the one of the most famous symbols of Prague…
The Old Town Hall’s oldest wing includes a stunning Gothic tower that houses the famous Astronomical Clock, known as the Orloj (moving figures), which dates from the 15th century. The clock itself is extraordinarily beautiful, but there is an extra special bonus.
Time your day to be in front of the clock at the top of the hour to see the Twelve Apostles – a few doors slide open, and statues of the apostles move across telling a morality story.
Visit Prague Castle
The 9th century Prague Castle complex is recognized by Guinness Book of Records as the largest in the world. It is easily the city’s most popular attraction, home to the country’s president and an array of gorgeous churches, palaces and other buildings. Entry to the castle grounds is free, although some of the buildings do require a small fee to enter. The best way to explore the large site is to take a guided tour of the complex. The changing of the guards is a true spectacle, and well worth timing your visit for.
Enjoy a beer in the world’s beer capital
Czech beer is famous around the world, and there is probably nowhere better in Europe to enjoy a refreshing drink. The Czech Republic actually consumes more beer per capita than any other country in the world! Prague is packed with bars and beer gardens, there are even several beer spas throughout the city. Czech beer tends to be relatively light, and some of the most popular brands you’ll have heard of include Staropramen and Pilsner Urquell. The city is known for its lively nightlife, but it is perfectly capable of a sophisticated evening too. There are hundreds of classy restaurants where you can pair your Czech beer with a good meal. What’s more, prices are much lower than you’ll find throughout much of Europe.
Stroll along Thurnovska Street
Much of Prague’s medieval history has been besieged by development, but there are still plenty of hidden gems to be found that will have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time. Thurnovska Street is a great example. Partly pedestrianized and crowned with three well-preserved medieval arches, it is one of the prettiest parts of the city. The narrow street leads to the castle steps, meaning a visit to this hidden slice of Prague can easily be combined with the city’s main attraction
Delve into Prague’s turbulent history
The Czech Republic was a satellite state of the Soviet Union from 1948 to 1989, and this fascinating and often dark history can be explored at numerous locations throughout Prague. The Museum of Communism tells this story in great detail, whilst the KGB Museum informs visitors about the role of the infamous Soviet secret police in the city. Fans of Cold War history can even descend into a real nuclear bunker, built to prepare citizens of Prague for a nuclear attack from the United States. The bunker has been filled with exhibits including gas masks, army uniforms, newspapers and more, which visitors can marvel at as they explore.
Wander along Charles Bridge
Completed in 1402, Charles Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in Europe and one of Prague’s most recognizable landmarks. Traffic is banned on the bridge; it is used by pedestrians only. This means visitors can mill across at their own pace, admiring the view over the river and of the 30 statues decorating the bridge – each represents a different saint.
Prague offers something for everyone as a vacation destination. The city is packed full of history and culture, the atmosphere is always buzzing, and prices are affordable. It can easily be combined with a river cruise along the mighty Danube, or on a land tour with other nearby destinations such as Vienna, Austria or Krakow, Poland.
Prague is an up-and-coming destination, and the city retains its authentic charm – it is highly deserving of a spot on your bucket list.