Many people around the world often dream of travelling to Europe to explore the rich history, cultures and peoples of so many countries so close together. The proximity of each country makes Europe an immensely popular option for many who want to maximise the amount of countries they can experience, and right at the heart of the continent is the beautiful country of the Czech Republic. The capital city, Prague, is a true gem of European architecture and history and is home to numerous amazing experiences that any traveller will want to have under their belt before their time is up in the Czech Republic. Here are the top ten things you need to add to your ‘must see’ list in Prague.
Old Town Square
Prague’s Old Town Square is much like many of the medieval squares of other European capitals – cafes and restaurants line the edges of the square, below colourful Georgian-styled buildings paired with gothic architecture of towers, churches and more. While it sounds like the mishmash of architecture would throw one off, nothing could be further from the truth and Prague’s Old Town Square is as picturesque as they come. Many choose to climb the famous clock tower for that famous picture of the square from above, featuring the spiked roof of the Church of Our Lady before Tyn as the quintessential ‘It’ photo that many think of when they think of Prague. While away the hours sipping locally brewed beer and trying local cuisine while people watching – this is the ideal place to do just that.
The oldest of its kind in Europe, this clock does more than just tell time, it’s a show in and of itself, at least on the hour it is. Built in the 1400s, the clock features several moving statues including the 12 Apostles which appear at the windows above the clock face as well as moving statues along the sides of the clock, including a statue of Death which beckons to a man who refuses to follow him. Even if you miss it on the hour, the clock face is still a gorgeous photo opportunity.
Visit The KGB Museum
If you’ve ever been remotely curious about the KGB and their background, history and what exactly their purpose was, this is the museum for you. Featuring interesting articles including the death mask of Vladimir Lenin as well as the ice axe used to kill Leon Trotsky, the museum is a unique example of the deep rooted belief in the Soviet Union, communism and its way of life. Propaganda posters are prominent throughout the museum, giving visitors a firsthand look at just what kinds of things donned the streets in Soviet occupied Prague.
Explore The GeoPark With A Local
This unique region only an hours drive from Prague is one of the highlights of many visits to the city. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Bohemian Paradise UNESCO GeoPark is a wonder of geology and history. Formed over millions of years, this beautiful region is now home to amazing hiking trails and a fantastic opportunity to get out of the city and get up close and personal with some of the history and natural wonders of the Czech Republic. Heading out to this region is best done with a local who knows the area and can really provide you with excellent, knowledgeable information about the area as well as provide other services such as translation or answering questions. Withlocals is an excellent app where such a tour can be booked, and if you like the look of this tour, you can check out all their other tours in Prague.
Get Lost In The Back Streets Of Prague’s Old Town
One of the most fun experiences in a city like Prague is simply exploring the back streets of neighbourhoods such as the Old Town. Once away from the main squares and cosmopolitan streets, you will stumble across traditional Czech pubs that offer local cuisine, beers and more for far less cost than in the more tourist heavy areas. The Old Town in particular is one of the best places to do this as with all the intertwining back streets and small alleyways, you never quite know what you’ll run into, so it’s great for those who just want to wander aimlessly, letting the day guide them how it will.
Visit The Jewish Ghetto and Cemetery
Josefov, the old Jewish Ghetto and now part of the Jewish Quarter of Prague is an interesting look back at the history of the Jewish people in the Czech Republic and specifically Prague in itself. The area took its name Josefov from the Holy Roman Emperor, Josef II who gave the Jewish people equal rights around 1850. Prior to this it was known as the Jewish Ghetto, a place where the Jewish people had been forced to live for many centuries in sometimes squalid and inhumane conditions.
The area is home to some of the most beautiful but tragic examples of the history of the Jewish people, including one of the biggest museums of Jewish artefacts in Europe. After many of the Jews were deported to concentration camps during the Holocaust, their belongings fell into the hands of the Jewish Quarter, and from there it developed the museum to showcase the life of the Jews of Prague.
The cemetery is, likewise, one of the most impressive examples of Jewish cemeteries in Europe and is located in the Jewish Quarter and is well worth a visit.
Go To A Puppet Show
The Czech Republic is known for its puppet shows as well as its puppets, dating back to medieval times when puppetry was a favourite entertainment of nobility including the King. Thus started a long tradition of a love of puppets and today there are many puppet masters, puppet makers and puppet shows that can be enjoyed throughout the city. For the best in puppet theatre though, check out the National Marionette Theatre.
Visit Prague Castle
Prague Castle has long been one of the most visited sites in Prague and it’s easy to see what brings visitors from around the world to explore this beautiful building and its equally beautiful grounds. Formerly the main residence of Czech rulers, it’s now the home of the President of the Czech Republic and visitors can enter the grounds for free. The grounds themselves are well worth a visit, but within the castle grounds visitors will find the impressive St Vitus Cathedral, home to the tomb of St John of Nepomuk as well as the Wenceslas Chapel.
Take A River Cruise
What better way to see the sights of the city than a river cruise? A cruise on the Vltava River in Prague is a delight for anyone who loves to sit back, relax and watch the world go by while receiving information from a qualified guide about the important landmarks and points of interest along the riverbank. For those who like a bit of history with their cruises, the Vltava River was the site of the murder of St John of Nepomuk, where King Wenceslas had him drowned for refusing to divulge the Queen’s confessions. Many of the cruises available up and down the Vltava River include a meal, so it’s a truly wonderful way to spend a couple of hours away from the busy streets of the city.
Go On A Food Tour
Food tours are some of the best ways to get under the skin of a place as many cultures and experiences originate – or at least include – food in some shape or form. Food tours with a local can be a fantastic way to experience the local cuisine of Prague in a locale that’s primarily frequented by those who call the city their home. Local experiences, especially when it comes to food, are hugely popular, so consider getting a local guide to take you on a food tour to try things like pork knuckle, goulash and a pint of Staropramen.
So there you have ten amazing things you need to see to believe in Prague. With such a collection of great experiences and things to see or do, it’s no wonder it continues to be such a tourist hot spot for so many who come to Europe year after year.