What to do in Prague, Czech Republic

by Caitlin
Towers behind veil of fog with silhouettes of statues in forefront
Prague is beautiful. Figuring out what to do in Prague is simple – there’s the Charles Bridge, The Astronomical Clock, Old Town, The Jewish Quarter. Prague largely avoided conflict during WWII and as a result of that most original architecture still exists today.

It is a tourist hotspot – a must-see destination. It has bars and restaurants galore and they’ve finally told people they can’t smoke inside anymore – so you can breathe!

I called Prague home for just under a year. And I want to be really honest here and tell you that I was miserable during that time.

While I lived in Prague I worked as an English teacher.  My time living there was difficult. My salary was low, my street was loud, the winter was cold, the food was expensive.

I am nothing if not honest so it is important to me that you know where I am coming from in my experience with Prague. I can – and will – gladly guide you on what to do in Prague during your short trip. But I really want to encourage you to keep it short. However, there are loads of other places to go in The Czech Republic that you might find even more wonderful than Prague (I definitely did!).

More Destinations in The Czech Republic

How to Get to Prague

Prague has great connections to many nearby major cities.

By train you’ll end up at Praha Hlavni Nadrzi which is located in central Prague. Form there you can hop on the metro which connects directly within the stations or you can walk a few hundred meters to many tram lines on the road out front.

By bus you’ll end up at Florenc station. The best way out of there is by metro, which is just outside the main entrance to the station.

By plane you’ll end up at Vaclav Havel airport, if you arrive in day time take the number 100 bus, just outside the arrivals exit, to Zlicin where you can switch to the metro into the city.
birds eye view of intersection in Prague covered with snow

How to Get Around Prague

Prague has quite a solid public transport system which includes the metro, tram system, and buses.

Possibly the best thing about the system is how affordable it is. And yes – you do need to buy a ticket. I know it may seem like you can get away with riding for free – you can’t. You will get caught and you will pay a fine and you will not get away with playing the “I’m a tourist, I didn’t know” card.

Luckily for you, the city has been improving ticket buying accessibility. You can always buy tickets in metro stations. And you can buy them at most tram stops. Check this map for a map of sale points. If you can’t find any around – check in a nearby tabac. But please, don’t get on any transport until you have your ticket. And when you do get on – make sure you validate.

On buses, the validation is at the front. On trams there are yellow boxes positioned throughout the cars. In the metro you need to validate at the entrance of the station – there are no validators on the trains.

Ticket Costs

Adult prices:
  • 30 minutes -> 24 CZK ($1.10)
  • 90 minutes -> 32 CZK ($1.47)
  • 24 hours -> 110 CZK ($5.04)
  • 72 hours -> 310 CZK ($14.20)

All children under 10 ride for free but any child between 6-10 must have proof of age.Children 10-15 ride at 50% of adult prices and must have tickets.

Every ticket you buy is for all three transport options. Your time starts when you punch the ticket – not when you buy it. And you can take as many rides as needed within that time.

Czech Travel Tips

Looking for more general Czech travel tips?

Check out this post for info on things like tipping, toilets, and thanks.

What to do in Prague

If you don’t know about the basics of Prague – Old Town Square, The Astronomical Clock, The Lennon Wall, The Charles Bridge, The Castle – you need to go find a more basic blog than mine. I’m assuming you already know about the obvious bits of what to do in Prague and are looking for something more.

The following are ten things to do in Prague that are still pretty main stream but not that main stream. If you want even more off the beaten path – I’ve got a post on totally non-touristy Prague for you to check out.

Jewish Prague

The first record of Jews in Prague was in 965. The community is one of the oldest in Central Europe and has never stopped existing despite immense efforts to the contrary.

I highly recommend exploring the Jewish quarter – and I highly  recommend exploring it with a guide (unless you’re well versed in Czech Jews already). When my parents came to visit me in Prague we went on a private tour with Context Travel. It was really, really good. I understand the cost of such private tour may be prohibitive to some – so here are some other options.
The spots you have to see – tour or not – and learn about include:

  • Old Jewish Cemetery
  • Spanish synagogue
  • Old-new synagogue
  • Prague jewish museum
  • Pinkas synagogue

All of the above are in the same area, a short walking distance from one another, in Old Town.

The Jerusalem synagogue, which is the picture of the pink synagogue above – is not in the same area as the rest of the Jewish sites in Prague. It’s in New Town and is a super short walk from the train station. I’ll be honest – I never actually went inside. It is possible to do so though and you can find more info here.

Saunas on the Vltava

benches around edge of small, wooden sauna room
I definitely would not have ever gone to a sauna had it not been for two women who couch-surfed at my place and had the idea.

There are a number of spots along the Vltava – the one I went to was in a ship docked to the banks. There’s a set fee to enter – and you’re expected to strip down. It’s borderline acceptable to keep your bottoms on – but you’re best to just get fully in the nude.

You may or may not be able to rent a towel – so if you have the option to bring one with you, do.

Generally, there’ll be in an indoor and an outdoor section. You might have some different swimming options. Lázně na Lodi (where I went) has a small outdoor hot tub. My couch surfers also jumped into the Vltava – I’d gone on too many runs by its side seeing what floats along – so I opted to skip that one.

Vyšehrad

Vyšehrad on the hill above the Vltava in Prague
CC via Wikimedia - Stanislav Jelen
Show me a tourist hotspot and I’ll show you a spot just as cool with a fraction of the tourists.

Vyšehrad – admittedly – is not nearly as extensive as The Prague Castle – but it does actually translate to “upper castle”. And – regardless of its name – I believe it comes a very close second to the main attraction in town. And if you hate tourists and crowds just as much as me – this is one of the best alternative things to do in Prague.

It’s on the other (east) bank of the river, as the castle – and is down to the south of the city. So, already it’s in an area where tourists don’t really trod. And I love that!

It’s about a hundred years younger than the castle – but much, much cheaper. Considering, ya know, you don’t actually have to pay to enter. Though you can get a guided tour. I’ve not done one – so take it or leave it – I’ve not got advice on that one.

Markets

First thing’s first – I am not talking about the markets in or around Old Town square – those are tourist traps and you shouldn’t even bother with them.

However, there are so many good, local markets which happen weekly all around the city.

One of the most popular markets is at Jiřího z Poděbrad (known to expats simply as JZP). The JZP market is open year-round except for January and operates on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

During my time in Prague I lived in Andel and always enjoyed puttering around the market there. It’s located just outside the subway station and runs from April through November. It operates just once a week on Fridays.

Eat & Drink

Czech dumplings with gravy on a white plate
Czech food is truly nothing to write home about. Nor is the beer (lots will disagree on that point but I stand by it). However, Prague is still a major, capital city – so it has loads of options.

There are some good Czech restaurants – like the ones that offer a half or full duck or chicken or whatever. But there are also some great international spots.

Plus, there are some cool drinking establishments – even if the beer they serve does little else but make you feel bloated.

I have a list in my notes of my favorite spots – and I will turn it into a blog post soon – if you’re super eager to see what’s on that, leave me a note in the comments to keep the pressure on!

Museum of Communism

communist era shop front in museum
CC via Wikimedia - Chemical Engineer
For some reason a friend who came to visit had this museum on her short list of to-dos in Prague. So, obviously, I was game.

It was kitschy, and definitely a bit dusty. But I am quite partial to tourist attractions that are outdated and obviously past their prime. I love imagining what once was – which is exactly what is meant to be happening when you visit the museum of communism.

While you might think a bit of dust equals a decently affordable entry cost, this museum is it a bit pricier than perhaps is worth it (I’m honest if nothing else – so if you’re loaded or splurging, or whatever, just go for it – get in there). An adult, full price ticket is 380 CZK which is about $17.50

Strange Public Art

faceless baby in Prague - David Cerny
These weird muddy, faceless things are just one of David Černý’s many creations around the city. Alongside him there are other artists who have filled the street with weir, wonderful, and thought proving creations. Here are some to seek out:

  • Babies on Žižkov tower by Černý. You can see these from anywhere you can see the tower but I enjoy the view from across town in Letná Park.
  • Upside-down horse by Černý. This weird dead creature (not real) is located in Lucerna Palace.
  • A penguins parade by The Cracking Art Group. These guys look ready for a swim in The Vltava as they line up outside of Museum Kampa.
  • Disappearing men – Memorial to the victims of Communism by Olbram Zoubek. You can find what is left of these men at the base of Petřín hill, looking out at Mělnická and the Vltava.
  • A dude hanging out over the street (this is in fact Freud and I’m sure he’d have something to say about me calling him a dude) by Černý. You can find him – if you’re looking – on Husova in Old Town.
  • Kafka’s rotating head by Černý. You’ll find this installment in a nondescript commercial square on Charvátova.

Honestly, Prague is so full of weird street art (I’m not talking about the Lennon wall – that is wholly tourists) – and you could keep going with it all. I recommend looking up and tracking down all of Černy’s work. He has lots of permanent installations but some that are temporary too. In fact, I remember when they took the babies off the TV tower to clean and there were rumors they were not going to put them back up – the did, so all is well.

Charles Bridge at Sunrise

O.K. I know I started by saying that I would not point you towards any of the hot tourist spots. But here’s a truth about tourists spots – they’re popular cause they’re gorgeous. And it sucks for locals – or people living like locals that they never get to see them in their bare, naked beauty.

But, sunrise does bring the opportunity. I am a forever-sleep-inner. I do not like waking up early, much less getting out of bed and going outside. But, for The Charles Bridge (and Old Town square for that matter) bare of selfie sticks, it is worth it.

Explore the Outskirts

view from top of hill. road extending down with trees and grass on both sides
I want you to work on traveling slowly. I want you to take a moment and think if the answer to ‘see the outskirts’ should be: ‘nah – gotta go to the next hot spot on my list’ or if it should be : ‘yeah, it’d be cool to see some more of what life is like here.’

I want you to remember these are places where people live, love, work, breathe, and die. These are peoples homes. They are more than a box to check.

So, go climb that mountain, go have the picnic in a park no one’s ever heard of. Chill. And go visit spots like this one – Praha Hlubočepy.

Prague Zoo

When I started this blog I thought my niche would be ethical animal encounters. I ended up spreading farther than that but not caring less about it. I thought, that if that was my focus I could never mention a zoo. But, I’ve realized the reality is that ethics, an zoos for that matter, are a lot more nuanced than just a simple right or wrong.

We can debate whether or not they should be necessary. But, at this point, with all the damage humans have done to this planet and its species, many zoos do invaluable work in trying to restore vulnerable and endangered species.

Prague zoo is one of the good ones.

The animals have massive expanses of land. And yeah, they’re still enclosed and some of them live in climates that are not natural to them. But the zoo spends money on research – which is so necessary today.

I think, if you are open to zoos, you should give this one a try. And if you do – try taking a short river cruise up from Rašín Embankment or from Čech Bridge. It takes just over an hour and costs 420 CZK (about $19) as an adult return ticket with entry to the zoo.

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Ten of the best things to do in Prague for people who are looking not to do just what the basic guide book says!
Find out what to do in Prague on your next trip to the Czech Republic

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