The kind of sightseeing Prague can offer is stunning. It has its own style, layered in cobbles and spiked with hundreds of spires.
But, traveling to Prague can be a little overwhelming.
So, how do you approach all the sights? There's so much to see and do that it might make your head hurt considering all the attractions.
But, we have a few ideas that might help you to make the most of your visit to Prague. Travel is always easier with a friendly local, right?
So, that's where we come in...
1. Ask a local.
When we worked in our respective hotels yeas ago, we would speak to guests about various ideas regarding sightseeing in Prague, etc. And, every once in awhile we would get this question... "Where would you go that most people don't?
A great question with potentially lots of answers. So, we suggest doing the same. Ask a local, anyone from your taxi driver to your apartment rental manager, "Where would you go aside from the typical places?"
They might suggest a sight, bar or restaurant you never thought to discover. Whatever it is, it's probably not on your top ten Prague list.
If the person, is reluctant to say something, give them a little prod with "prosím" (please in Czech). That's pronounced 'pro-seem' and will certainly break the ice :-)
2. Elevate yourself.
As you might know, Prague's historical center is incredibly compact. It's got all kinds of little streets and passageways that aren't noticeable on a map. And from street level your viewpoint of the landscape is limited. So, we recommend visiting one of Prague's towers for wonderful views above the crowds.
We really can't stress this tip enough! We like to say, this is sightseeing Prague style. There are numerous towers and lookouts that will offer you a beautiful perspective of exactly how layered our city really is.
You'll get a look at the red rooftops, narrow streets and spires upon spires that make up the skyline.So, please, do yourself a favor and get above the crowds.
Almost any tower in Old Town and Lesser Town have lookouts. Our favorite in Old Town is the Old Town Hall Tower right on the square. It's the busiest, but it has an elevator and an incredible panoramic view. In Lesser Town, both the clock tower at St. Vitus' Cathedral (at the castle) and the tower on Petřín are superb.
3. Ride the tram.
Prague has an excellent metro transport system, so let's put it to good use. Hop on the number 22 tram and get a seat as you criss cross the city. It's cheap, comfortable and best of all, it's flexible. You can hop-on and hop-off at will.
In some ways this is better than a standard tour of Prague. Sightseeing tours are fun, but they are limited to the main bits. A tram ride is a glimpse of local life that you don't get from a tour.
We suggest the tram 22 because it offers plenty of easily identifiable scenes like, Brevnov Abbey, Strahov Monastery, Prague Castle, Malá Strana and the National Theatre. Take a map of Prague with you and follow along.
4. Put down the guide book.
We're probably like you, we love a good, info-packed Prague City Guide. But, too often we see visitors with their heads down, seemingly consumed by their guide books.
So it's our subtle suggestion to let your senses guide you a bit. Prague is an open exhibition for the senses which will create the lasting memories you're after - not the little facts in your travel guide.
5. Prague, gardens and parks.
It would be a shame if you visited without taking a peek at some of the beautiful gardens and parks in Prague. We have a lovely variety of green spaces, some well-manicured and some large and wild.
Each garden and park offers an added bonus to standard sightseeing Prague isn't just the architecture and history, its these quiet places with benches, peacocks, statues and more. And, these spots are really accessible. You don't even have to leave the main tourist areas if you don't want. We have our favorites and so will you.
Petřín is the largest green space in the city center and it's perfect for a picnic, exercise or just smelling the roses. For pretty gardens try Vrtbovska Garden and Wallenstein Gardens in Malá Strana. You won't want to leave.
And, for something a little wild and void of tourists check out Prague Castle's Stag Moat. Of course, if you venture out of the historic centre you'll be treated to the likes of Hvězda park, the Botanical Gardens near Troja Chateau and Letna with its beer garden and prime views of the city. That's just for starters!
6. Sit and take a break.
A common experience while sightseeing in Prague, is to try and do too much at once. Thus you tire yourself out and get cranky. You can't enjoy much this way.
Save yourself some trouble and find a bench or a cafe and sit down and have a rest. It's worth it. Recharge, catch up with your guidebook and wrestle with your map while your feet get a break. We like to have a seat along the banks of the Vltava River. In particular, there are wonderful views from the benches near Rudolfínum on the edge of Old Town.
7. Plan your time.
You might think this idea is trite, but we suggest it based on experience. We've seen too many tourists arrive without a clue of how to manage their time and sightseeing together.
Our suggestion is this, decide which sights you want to explore and then allocate a chunk of time to each one. You don't have to be really restrictive. But, for example, if you give yourself a half-day to see Prague Castle then you can explore Lesser Town (area below the castle) with the second half of your day. We like using half-day chunks to make things simpler when sightseeing Prague.
Using your time wisely also goes for the Prague metro system. Get a few tickets at a time or even a full day pass. You don't want to be frustrated trying to find tickets when you're on the street somewhere. They just aren't sold at every store.
8. Get out of the center.
It's understandable that Old Town and the castle get most of the attention when it comes to sightseeing in Prague. But, in our opinion, you don't get a real feeling for the city unless you venture out of these "safe" tourist areas. These Prague sites are almost in isolation compared to the rest of the city.
So if you want a fuller experience, get out of the main city center. We don't mean you have to take a train to a village - just take a tram or the metro outside the stuff everyone talks about. Go to places like Vyšehrad Castle, Stromovka Park, Břevnov Abbey, etc.
Don't worry, these places aren't far or hard to find. And, traveling outside the main sights will lift the veil on Prague tourism. You'll get to see some local life, not the standard environments that downtown stores and info centres expect you to see. After all, the life in the main tourist areas can be less indicative of real Czech culture.
9. See Prague at night.
You don't have to be a night owl to enjoy nighttime sightseeing in Prague. Just after dinner, plan to take a little stroll or tram ride to see the city in lights, because there is a MUST SEE sight - Prague Castle from the Old Town side of Vltava River.
As the sky gets dark, the lights on the castle are remarkable, romantic, one-of-kind, fantastic... you name it! They light up the night sky with reverence and Charles Bridge is magical too. What's great is that this scene replays itself every night almost regardless of the weather.
To get a full picture of this unique Prague event, head to the National Theatre (tram stop Národní Divadlo). Then walk to the bridge nearby. Enough said.
By the way, the city is safe at night. We even travel Prague pulling the kids along with us to dinner. (Of course, the later the night the more adult Prague gets.)
10. Get up early.
Yeah, we know. This is not the suggestion you probably wanted to read. But it's absolutely helpful if you want to get a head start on sightseeing Prague. Just an hour in the morning can make a huge difference.
What's funny is that you don't have to get up at 6 am to beat the rush. But if you get to the sights from 8 or even 9, you will have much more access to see, do and photo what you want.
Charles Bridge, for example, is much calmer at 9 am as opposed to 10. And, Prague Castle is ideal to see from the earliest opening hour. Take the 22 tram to Pražsky Hrad, and buy tickets early to beat the mad rush. This will certainly give you a better perspective of the cathedral and other parts of the castle.
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