10 OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN PRAGUE

Whether you have a few hours or a few weeks in Prague, the city will leave an impression on you.  It’s old, in an “I’m walking through a fairytale” like way.  And its central geography, bridging eastern and western Europe, has created a melting pot of culture, cuisine, and politics.  The city is relatively compact and very walkable, but for slightly longer excursions, the Prague tram system is quick, efficient, and cheap. Prague is known as the beer drinking capital of the world, and with a pint only costing around 20 CZK (~$1), you can indulge without a big hit to the pocketbook.  Just make sure to stock up on Czech crowns (the Czech Republic does not use the euro), as many restaurants and pubs do not take credit cards.  So what are the 10 best things to do in Prague?

1. CHARLES BRIDGE

The Charles Bridge from the southern embankment.
The Charles Bridge from the southern embankment.

Its construction started in 1357 and took almost 50 years to build.  Today the bridge is a hit with tourists, painters, and hawkers of all sorts.  For an excellent view, you can climb the stairs of the Old Town Bridge Tower for around 100 Czech crowns (less than $5).  If you’re not a fan of crowds, you’ll want to visit early or simply enjoy the bridge from further down river.  The embankment walkway, just south of the bridge, provides beautiful photo opportunities, along with the Prague Metronome on the bluffs above the city in the Letná neighborhood.

2. PRAGUE CASTLE

St. Vitus Cathedral with the Prague Castle fortifications.
St. Vitus Cathedral

The castle’s fortifications were first built in the 9th century by the Bohemians and have been the seat of rulers ever since.  Within the castle grounds, you’ll find the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, and a wonderful art collection in the Lobkowicz Palace.  The Royal gardens, just north of the castle, are a great place for a lazy afternoon stroll.  Since the castle is the #1 attraction in Prague it can be extremely busy during the middle of the day.  Consider visiting in the evening when the castle grounds are beautifully lit.

3. BEER GARDEN

The Letna Beer Gardens.
The beer tastes good in any weather.

It’s said the Czech Republic consumes more beer per capita than any country in the world (and based on what I saw during college, that’s an impressive title).  Why not get a taste at one of the cities many beer gardens.  The Letná Beer Garden on the hill above the Vltava river is a must-do.  There are plenty of picnic tables and the views of the city are just as impressive as the beer!

4. BEER HALLS

Sticking with the beer theme, Prague beer halls are not just somewhere to grab a drink, but a great place to observe everyday Prague.  Check out one of the most popular spots, Lokal, which has a few locations scattered around the city.  This is where I first discovered the unfiltered, unpasteurized “tank beer”.  If you’re into beer and you have never tried tank beer, add it to your bucket list.  It’s the freshest pint you’ll ever have–and it has to be.  Without pasteurization, the beer is susceptible to bacteria and will go bad in just a couple of days.  Fortunately, this is never a problem due to the high demand.  It’s buttery, complex flavor is surprising for a Pilsner, and will have you craving a glass as soon as you get home.

5. TASTE OF PRAGUE

Pre-dinner wine tasting at Vinograf.
Pre-dinner wine tasting at Vinograf.

I’ll start by saying, I’m not usually a fan of tours.  I like to explore on my own, wandering and experiencing the city naturally, not on an overcrowded coach bus with way too many selfie sticks.  However, Taste of Prague was an amazing experience and a breath of fresh air.  This husband and wife team focuses on small-group, foodie walking tours of the city.  Our guide, Jan, clearly loves his city and possess that rare gift that makes you feel like you’ve known each other for years!  You’ll talk Prague history, traditional Czech cuisine, beer, wine, culture, and much more.  The personal touch they provide cannot be understated, and the professionalism and customer service was top notch as well.  Not to be missed!

6. HEMINGWAY BAR

Indulging in a glass of absinthe at the Hemingway bar.
Traditional absinthe at the Hemingway bar.

A favorite among locals and tourists alike, this cocktail bar has an intimate speakeasy vibe, dim lighting, and plenty of leather upholstery.  Known for cocktails inspired by Hemingway, you’ll find lots of rum and absinthe on the menu.  This is a great place to finish your night without the clubby vibe.  Due to its popularity, be prepared to wait, or better yet, make a reservation ahead of time.

7. CESTR RESTAURANT

Cestr is a high-end steakhouse restaurant that focuses on modern Czech cuisine.  The dishes are served family style, and the food is absolutely delicious.  The menu is meat-focused and provides an excellent rundown of the many cuts and qualities of Czech beef.  Sides and starters range from traditional Czech dishes to stews and potatoes.  The wine list is extensive, and of course, there’s tank beer.  (At the time of publishing, the building Cestr occupies is going through a rehabilitation, so check availability ahead of time.)

8. NAPLAVKA FARMERS MARKET

Morning cappuccini at the farmers market.
Morning cappuccini at the Naplavka Farmers Market.

A worthwhile stop in any city, farmers markets are a great way to sample local delicacies on the cheap.  The Naplavka Farmers Market in Prague is gorgeous, located on the embankment along the Vltava river in the southern part of the city.  It’s a great place for coffee, a quick stroll, or picking up a picnic lunch.  Usually busy, but not overcrowded, the atmosphere and people are fantastic.  The market’s hours vary by the season, so be sure to check the schedule online before visiting.

9. CAFE LOUNGE

Lunch at the Cafe Lounge.
Lunch at the Cafe Lounge.

Speaking of coffee, my hunt for the best cup of coffee in Prague brought me to the Cafe Lounge in the Mala Strava neighborhood.  They serve up a nice variety of caffeinated beverages in a small but inviting space.  This is definitely a must-do for coffee lovers, but the options don’t stop there.  I made repeated trips, not only for the coffee but for their excellent breakfast and lunch menus.  Like much of Prague, you will be shocked by the affordability of high-quality food and drinks.  Cafe Lounge serves high-end gourmet food, but should only cost you about $5-10 a person for breakfast and coffee.

10. NOVY SVET

The charming street of Novy Svet.
The charming cobblestone streets of Novy Svet.

Tucked in behind Strahov Monastery and the Cernin Palace is the quaint neighborhood of Novy Svet.  Removed from the high traffic areas, this neighborhood sees very few tourists and has the feel of a small Czech village.  Stop in at Kavárna Novy Svet, a cozy and inviting cafe with a small outdoor seating area.  They make a killer cappuccino and have delicious soups and grilled sandwiches.  Worth a stop for lunch as you take the road less traveled to the Prague Castle.

HONORABLE MENTION

  • Pasta Fresca: Italian fare set in a stone cellar, good value and nice wine selections
  • Vyšehrad Fortress: the lesser known castle of Prague provides great views of the city from the south and is far less crowded
  • Strahov Monastery: beautiful library, great views of the city, and has a brewery on site.

What are some of your favorite places in Prague?  Leave a comment below!  Happy wandering and safe travels.

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