Don’t Miss Top Attractions, places to go and things to do
You’ve got a long weekend or a few days in Prague and you’ve not had a great deal of time to go through the recommended guide books. Prague has hundreds of tourist attractions catering to a wide range of tastes and interests. This page gives you a “Don’t Miss” list of the top ten Prague tourist attractions and other things to do to make sure you have a memorable time. If you’ve got longer here then it’s the same list but, take your time.
Old Town Square – The Old Town Hall
The town got royal permission to build its own town hall and this was completed in 1338. Most people will not go inside and much of the internal areas have no public access anyway so people confine themselves to the view from outside. Of course the most striking attraction is the tower which you can get to either by walking up the ramps or by lift. The most popular aspect is the Astronomical Clock and Calendarium which on the hour during the day causes the windows to open so you can see the procession of the apostles. Both the clock and calendarium have had damage and maintenance issues over the years an at one point after restoration it was the first time in more than 400 years that both had been working at the same time.
Originally a wooden structure it got washed away during a bad flood and was replaced by a stronger stone structure which became known as the Judith Bridge. After more flood damage it was basically this structure that was strengthened, repaired and formed into what you see today. It was decorated and renamed in the honour of King Charles IV. It has 30 statues of saints (15 on each side) each with it’s own history and unbelievably it still had a tram line running across it up until 1976.
Mala Strana – Church of St Nicholas
The Church of St Nicholas is the most famous Baroque church in Prague. Twelve houses, including the important Rotunda of St Wenceslas, an old school and two adjacent cemeteries were closed and demolished to make space for the building. Construction began when the Jesuits chose the initial plans by Giovanni Domenico Orsi in 1673 and lasted approximately one hundred years. There are different elements to the church including it’s art, architecture, musical venue and site of a Czech security observation point.
Church of Our Lady Victorious
Who made the little 19 inch wooden wax covered doll is not known but we do know that The Infant Jesus of Prague originally came from Spain and was given as a wedding present to Duchess Maria Manrique de Lara in 1556 on her marriage in Bohemia. On her death the statuette passed to her daughter Polyxena. After her first husbands death she married into the powerful Lobkowicz family and in 1628 she decided to give the precious statue to the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites attached to the church of Our Lady of Victory.
Prague Castle – Old Royal Palace
The Royal Palace was one of the original buildings in the castle complex and adjoined to the All Saints Chapel (now the All Saints Church). The Vladislav Hall was added later. If you here talk of “defenstration” it was from windows in this hall that the two governors were thrown. The wide staircase is named the “riders staircase” as knights would arrive in the hall on horseback. The view from the hall overlooks the adjacent gardens.
Prague Castle – Golden Lane
Home to the “little people” i.e. servants, smiths and soldiers and one Franz Kafka once in a while. You’ll have to be little to get under the doors without banging your head as well. Its a neat little cobble stoned street with houses on one side mostly built into the wall. Quaint windows, antique furnishings and earth colours make it an interesting place to visit.
Prague Picture Gallery
This is a permanent exhibition showing more than 100 paintings from the collection of Rudolph II and new collections from the 17th Century to the present. The exhibition is located in the former stables of the second courtyard adjacent to the Pacassi Gate.
The Petrin Watchtower
The Petrin Lookout Tower (rozhledna) is a 63.5 metre high steel framework tower in Prague. It’s often referred to as the “little Eiffel Tower” even though the design and size is completely different (it looks similar). Set in the grounds of the Petrin Park it looks great all year round but best in the spring and summer.
Municipal House (Obecni Dum)
The Municipal House was originally built to be an administrative and cultural centre. Located just inside the Old Town it was built on the area once occupied by the former Royal Court before it moved to Prague Castle. Formerly an army barracks it was demolished as part of the Czech National Revival celebrations at the turn of the 20th Century. Commissioned by the city, building began in 1906 and the Municipal House opened in 1912 and for many years stood as both a functioning building and national landmark.
Other Prague things to do and see
- Walking tour of Prague Castle (“Circuit “B”” ticket is the most popular). Number one in the top ten Prague tourist attractions list. Or try my own Prague Castle walking suggestion.
- Funicular. Go to the Ujezd tram stop (10 minute walk from Mala Strana) and you’ll see signs for “Lanove Drahy”. You’ll need an adult single ticket for a one-way ride. Popular tourist attraction in that you use it to get up to the Petrin Tower.
- Petrin Tower (Little Eiffel Tower). Sixty metres above the park, it is at number four in the top ten Prague tourist attractions but, the one with the best view of Prague. (100Kc entry).
- Walk over Charles Bridge and touch the St John Nepomuk statue plate. This is number two on the top ten Prague tourist attractions list. If you are staying in the old town you’ll cross it before you get to the castle.
- Have lunch at the Sarah Bernhardt restaurant at the Pariz Hotel or the Plzenska Czech restaurant (if you like Art Nouveau decor). Details of both are on the Restaurants page.
- Number seven in the top ten Prague tourist attractions, taking a guided tour of the Jewish Quarter including the Old Jewish Cemetery. The Jewish Quarter is covered on two of my Prague Walking Tours.
- Join a bike tour (usually May to October). More a way of getting between tourist attractions but, certainly a “don’t miss” for bikers and it will give you a different aspect on the city.
- Have at least one scenic night-time dinner especially on the river, overlooking the river or the city rooftops.
- Take a stroll around the Imperial Gardens (Summer Only) at the rear of the Castle.
- Visit a jazz club (my favourite is Agharta). My Jazz Club and Nightlife pages will help you find a good place.
- Take a walk around the Strahov Monastery complex with it’s famous cloisters and library. It also has a mini brewery and two good restaurants. Number eight in the top ten Prague tourist attractions.
- Visit a beerhall (U Medvidku and U Vejvodu are my favourites). Actually U Medvidku is already a Prague tourist attraction. U Vejvodu is a mix of tourists and Czechs. Great atmosphere in both.
- Walk up to the viewing area at top of the Old Town Hall (you can take the lift as well). Number three in the top ten Prague tourist attractions. Great rooftop and panoramic views of the Old Town Square. Definitely a place for a wide angle lens camera.
- Have dinner at the “La Rotonde” restaurant at the Radisson Blu Hotel and then see out the evening at the Alcron bar in the same hotel especially if you like light jazz with great food.
- Wander around the St Nicholas Church in Mala Strana which is number five in the top ten Prague tourist attractions. You pay to enter but, you can take flash photography. If you like “chamber music” then this is the best venue in Prague.
- Climb up the Charles Bridge gate towers (95Kc entry).
- Take tour of the Municipal House (Obecni Dum). Again this is a must if you have any interest in Art Nouveau.
- Have a coffee in the Grand Cafe Orient (Cubism Museum building in Celetna) Cubism style.
See an opera performance at the Statni Opera. The seventh most photographed tourist attraction (not as many people go inside).
- Have lunch at the rooftop restaurant of the U Prince restaurant on the Old Town Square. Possibly the best picture you’ll take in Prague will come from here.
- Take a guided tour of the Loreta. Number six in the top ten Prague tourist attractions.
- Get a late night drink at the Savoy Cafe in Ujezd.
- Walk through Stromovka Park to the Zoo and the Troja Chateau. Then get the boat back (May to October).
- See a photography/art exhibition or classical concert at the Rudolfinum.
- Visit the Czech Modern Art Gallery in Veletrzni (adjacent to the Park Hotel).