Prague lay before him like a mysterious stranger in an old hat. An exotic woman waiting for him in poor light. Like an inviting gypsy with a brand-new iPod.
― Victor Gischler, Vampire a Go-Go
Although a few hundred things come to mind, it’s hard to put your finger on that one thing that makes Prague such an excellent city. It might be the endless sunsets over the Vltava river, the aristocratic apartment blocks or the fact that beer is cheaper than water, Prague will take a piece of you, never to be returned.
A little under a year ago I was still sceptic about this city. I hadn’t visited yet, that’s why. I thought such a highly touristic place wouldn’t be able to win me over. Of course it did.
Sure, the crowds on the old town square met my negative expectations, but when I found out there are more things to do in Prague than to avoid Segways, I knew cupid had struck again. Little by little I began to explore Prague beyond its touristic façade, and before I knew it, I was hooked. That’s what happens, whether you’re an innocent first-timer or an experienced Prague nut, the city will lure you in eventually.
Over Christmas break I found myself in Prague once more, now to perfect my list of ways to hide from mass tourism. That’s how I came up with this list of my favorite things to do in Prague, starting out with the area I’ve always told you to stay clear of.
Prague-1 is the central area of the city and includes a high number of tourist attractions, scattered over Old Town and – on the opposite side of the river – Mala Strana. It’s small enough to see a lot of the major highlights within a short period of time, yet big enough to hide some awesome, less touristic, gems.
*Prague might be split up in districts, locals mainly refer to the neighborhood names. Learning their names or memorizing metro and tram stops is the smart thing to do for an easy navigation through Prague.
Things to do in Prague
1. Take a tour through Klementinum, the second largest building in Prague, and the Harry Potteresque library it holds. Admittedly, this is possibly one of the places you will meet many tourists, but as tour groups aren’t that large, you will do just fine. The tower has an amazing view over the city and is one of my favorite vantage points in Prague. Great value for your money.
Metro stop: Starometska
2. Went to the old town square anyway and regretting your decision? Hide from the crowds in the Cathedral Café, just around the corner from all the craziness. Bask in their spacious garden while sipping on a great espresso and soon it will feel like your tiny mistake never happened.
Address: Tynska 11
3. Admire the endless sunsets this city has to offer, preferably from one of the many vantage points or bridges. Don’t immediately pick the Charles Bridge now as there is plenty of room on all the other – less tourist infected – bridges throughout the city.
4. Sunday’s are spent at Café Savoy, only the best place to have breakfast in Prague. Savoy is a little on the expensive side, looking from a backpackers budget, but their French toast is definitely to be called priceless! Add friendly staff and way too much good stuff on the menu, and just pray your hotel is downhill afterwards. Reservations are advised.
tram stop: Újezd
5. Literally a hidden gem is Vojanovy Sady, a city park in Mala Strana that used to be a private orchard. Many tourists simply don’t notice it when passing by and therefore miss it. When inside you’ll see people walk in, look around and leave like there is nothing to be seen. Not you, because you know where it is now :).
Address: (entrance) U Lužického semináře – Metro: Malostranská
6. A slightly touristic but colorful splash in your day is the graffiti on the Lennon wall. Once a pain in the ass for the communist regime, now an international symbol of peace and hope.
Address: Velkopřevorské náměstí
Golden hour in Letna Park.
7. From the Lennon wall it’s only a few steps until Kampa Park, a lovely park for locals walking their dogs and hotspot for lovers of quirky things. Watching tourists trying to climb the giant baby statues is entertaining at the least.
8. Walk up Petrin Hill for stunning view over historic Prague and beyond. You do have to share it with other people, however the park is big enough for visitors to scatter and as long as you don’t climb the tacky Eiffel tower, there’s nothing to worry about.
tram stop: Újezd
9. Located just behind highly touristic Prague castle, the Strahov monastery is a place where you can breathe and admire your surroundings without bumping into other people too much. A perfect way to spend your afternoon when you’re into local history, old libraries and stunning painted ceilings.
10. A tip I got from Czech Prague Out was to watch the sunrise or sunset over the Charles bridge. Now, I’m not a particular fan of the Charles bridge and its surrounding area, but admittedly it is quite doable when you decide to go there very early in the morning. I, who vowed to never cross it, walked over it twice.
11. Technically located in Prague-7, but when so close to the border of the historic center, there’s no way you should leave Letna Park out of your itinerary! This park doesn’t just have a great view over Prague and its bridges, there’s plenty of room to walk around in, admire Prague castle from a distance and soak up every ray of sun you can find.
Tram: Čechův most
12. Eat tapas at El Centro, only the best Spanish restaurant in Prague. On hot summer days their garden is the one to go to. Order a liter of sangria and you’re solid for an entire afternoon.
Address: Maltézské námesti
13. Can’t decide on where to eat? Clare, from Bohemian Bites, will educate you on where to stuff you face in touristic Prague.
How to get to Prague
Within Europe, many low-cost airlines fly to and from Prague. It is also one of the cheaper destinations to fly to from cities all over the world.
Traveling Europe already? You can easily get to Prague from anywhere within Central and West Europe. I traveled from Wroclaw, Poland to Prague in 6 hours and from The Hague, The Netherlands in 16 by bus. Europe’s excellent train network will easily get you there as well.
Can’t get enough of Prague? There will be a follow up to this post soon, featuring all the fun things you can do beyond Prague’s historic center. In the meantime, let me know what you think of this post by leaving a comment below!
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