Prague Castle Tours and Tips
If you are coming to the city then you’ll certainly be spending some of your time exploring Prague Castle. At more than 77,000 square metres it’s the largest working castle complex in the world as well as being one of the oldest. There are several types of Prague Castle tours ranging from self-guiding, audioguide options, using guides like me and licenced castle guides. If you’ve read about the Prague Castle Attractions then this post is all about options for exploring them. Lets take a look at the choice.
The castle complex is open from 6am to 10pm the whole year round. For the Historic Buildings there are two defined seasons. The summer season is April 1st to October 31st where buildings open from 9am to 5pm. The winter season is November 1st to March 31st where buildings open from 9am to 4pm (and the South Garden is closed).
Self-Guide Prague Castle Tours
The courtyards and the gardens are free to enter so when we talk about “paying”, it’s to go into buildings. It’s popular for people to buy tickets to explore various parts of the Castle so here’s the current price list for the Historic Buildings;
To explore the majority of the fixed historic buildings in any Prague Castle tours you should be looking at either Circuit A or Circuit B. The difference is that Circuit A is really just the contents of Circuit B with the addition of the “Story of Prague Castle” exhibition and entry to the Rosenberg Palace. Circuit B just concentrates on the main historic buildings of ST Vitus, the Old Royal Palace, ST George Basilica, Golden Lane and Daliborka Tower. Circuit C is only for the “Treasures of ST Vitus exhibition” and note this is NOT in ST Vitus but in the Treasury Building in the 2nd courtyard. There are family and senior discounts (passport required to prove age). For Self-Guiders here I’ve put a Recommended Route for Exploring Prague Castle. Recommended Organised Tours are further down this page. Note that entry to the High Tower is a separate ticket.
You’ll see people walking around using what looks like an old telephone handset. This is the audio guide which walks you around 96 points throughout the castle but you should combine this with a Circuit A or B ticket. Also be careful of the time. The Audioguide costs CZK350 for 3 hours so if you go over 3 hours you’ll pay double when you return it. My advice is to pay the CZK450 cost for the whole day as realistically for a proper exploration of the castle it will be between 3 and 4 hours including breaks.
Licenced Castle Guides
As well as the specialist in depth knowledge of a Castle guide they also have the advantage of skipping queues. This is important on their short tour. People use me to get an overview of the castle but one of the Licenced guide Prague Castle tours you should consider is the basic 1 hour option. You can do this at the Prague Castle ticket office any day or simply email the castle on email@example.com in advance (you cannot reserve places for a Sunday tour). Tell them the language that you want and the day you want to tour. They’ll respond with time options. You confirm what you want and pay when you get here. The 1 hour tour concentrates on the ST Vitus Cathedral and the Old Royal Palace and it’s listed as CZK100 for a foreign language tour but you’ll need to buy the Circuit B ticket as well as this. You then visit ST Vitus and the Old Royal Palace as part of Circuit B but using their guide. The rest of Circuit B (Golden Lane, Daliborka, ST George Basilica) you do on your own. They also do customised tours for different duration but again you deal with the castle to arrange that.
Recommended Prague Castle Tours
Recommended Small Group (max 10) 3 Hour Prague Castle Tour with Admission
I’ve done this tour. I thought it was well paced and well controlled. A small delay entering the Old Royal Palace but extra time added to compensate. There were 8 in the group on this day but even at the max 10 there would still be plenty of opportunity to ask questions. I think it covered the subject well, not too date-driven and plenty of entertaining stories.
Check the Small Group Recommended 3 Hour Castle Tour
Guided Group With Ticket – Castle 2.5 Hour Tour with Admission
This would be the same tour above but with a larger group and slightly less time. The group size looks like 20-25 which is ok to hold together in the courtyards but more difficult in the buildings. Cheaper but I’d go for the Small Group Tour above.
Check the Regular Group 2.5 Hour Castle Tour with Admission
Castle Skip the Line Entry with 15 minute intro
This is Self-Guide. You simply meet your tour rep at the predetermined location usually inside the castle so allow 15 minutes to get through security. They give you your circuit B ticket valid for that day and the next plus a 15 minute intro to get you oriented inside the Castle so you know where to go, then it’s up to you.
Check the Skip the Line with Castle Tour Intro-only
Castle Skip the Line Entry with Intro and minibus from Old Town
Exactly the same as above but you get transported up the hill by minibus to the Castle main entry. Same format as above i.e. meet a guide, get your circuit B ticket plus a 15 minute orientation and you then self-guide.
Check the Skip the Line with Castle Tour Intro-only and Minibus Transfer
1) The South Gardens offer some of the best scenic views over the city and most Prague Castle tours take advantage of it but these gardens are only open in the summer season April to October 1000-1800.
2) There may be other exhibitions in progress which are not listed in the regular admission list. Take some time to look at the admission rules as if you buy one type of ticket you may get free entry to one or more of the temporary exhibitions.
3) Complex opening time is until 10pm. It’s great to walk around the Castle courtyards after dark when it’s just you, the police, soldiers, guard dogs……..
How Long Should You Allow
It’s a common question. Factors include the level of detail of your exploration, queues and if the exploration includes the gardens. You could easily spend two hours just looking at ST Vitus Cathedral on it’s own and yet just to walk around it takes less than 10 minutes. Likewise at the Old Royal Palace. So if you are doing the free stuff i.e. gardens and external views then allow an hour. If you intend entering buildings as well then as a rough guide for a quick look around, taking pictures and not too bothered about detail then allow two hours. For a more leisurely exploration, absorbing detail and/or following an audio-guide then allow four hours plus a break. Add 30 minutes to that if you climb the High Tower.
Be aware that since 2016 that you may need to pass through entry “airport style” security which requires a scan for metallic objects and a bag search. Note that the Prague Castle is the Official residence of the Czech President so it can be closed in part or the whole complex can be closed for State visits. Any closures planned are listed on the Prague Castle website.