Charles Bridge Prague

Sightseeing Tips and History

Charles Bridge Prague, is easily one of the city's top 10 sights. For some people it's the most memorable and center of the city's soul as it connects Old Town with Malá Strana.

charles bridge foggy weatherCharles Bridge in the fog of autumn

But for others the bridge can honestly be a bit of a hassle. It can get over crowded in the warmer months and it's easy to feel a bit overwhelmed when crossing.

So this page invites you to make your experience of Charles Bridge more smoother and interesting with a few tips. Of course, we've got a few historical notes too!

charles bridge from kampa14th century Charles Bridge Prague seen from Kampa Island.

But, honestly, anyone can just walk across the bridge... follow the tourists... see the statues and carry on.

But, we invite you to really experience Charles Bridge rather than copying what all the tourists do.

You can easily avoid the standard tourist snapshot by taking a little side step away from the crowds. The following simple sightseeing tips should tempt you away from the beaten path. Or, at least we hope. You just might get a different idea of Prague and Charles Bridge altogether.

Sightseeing Tips

Most people only will think about walking across Charles Bridge.

That's perfectly natural and everyone should do it at least once during their stay. But, you're really missing out if you don't see the bridge from other angles. We suggest crossing the bridge AND getting off the bridge to really experience this 14th century marvel. Or take a guided tour of Charles Bridge Prague.

charles bridge touching plaque

On the bridge

Walking across the bridge is a visual treat. But here are a few thoughts to keep in mind that might make your experience richer.

  • Early and Late. The bridge gets crowded - a lot. So, if you can visit a bit early or later in the day, it will be more enjoyable. Start your day here before 10 am or end your day with a visit in the evening. We can't stress this point enough!
  • Rub the plaque. About halfway down on the north side of the bridge is a statue of St. John of Nepomuk. Legend says that if you rub the plaque you will one day return to Prague.
  • 30 Statues. Obviously you want to see the statues, but look for the numerous hidden symbols and figures among them. These are not for glancing at quickly.
  • Lesser known spots. The main attractions will be obvious from the bridge but what about... Prague's metronome ticks above the river north of Charles Bridge. (The world's largest Stalin statue once stood there.) Or, catch a glimpse of the mill wheel turning on Certovka canal or the penguins lined up beside Kampa Museum of Art.
charles bridge and old townBoats of all sizes offer a unique perspective of the bridge.

Off the bridge...

It's amazing how few visitors actually get off the bridge to explore. Other than crossing it, the single best way to experience Charles Bridge is to take a river cruise.

  • Under the bridge and Kampa Island. On the Malá Strana side of the bridge you can get up close and personal with the blocks that support the bridge. Children can enjoy the nearby playground and feed the swans too. From here, don't miss Kampa Island. This overlooked island has grassy areas, a great view of Old Town, two original mill wheels, canal side dining and more.
  • Střelecký Ostrov (Shooter's Island). From Charles Bridge walk south along the river through Kampa Island all the way to the next bridge (Most Legii). Descend this bridge to the island. Turn back toward Charles Bridge and walk about 100 metres. At the northern end of the island you will find incredible views of Charles Bridge in Prague. It's amazing that people don't do this more often. It's really a treat!
  • Towers. If you can, by all means climb one of the towers that bookends Charles Bridge. It's one of our favorite things to suggest for fun, postcard-like photos and a bird's eye view. And, for a real treat, consider the hotel under the tower, Hotel Pod Věží.
  • Rent a pedal or row boat. These little boats are a fun, romantic and an affordable way to see Charles Bridge in Prague. Rent them by the hour (about 200 CZK) from Slovanský Island near the National Theatre or by the Old Town side of Charles Bridge Prague.
prague river and paddle boats

History of Charles Bridge Prague

Ok, now for a little history that isn't too boring. Promise!

Prague's famous bridge wasn't the first to span the Vltava River. After the destruction of the original Judith Bridge due to flooding, emperor Charles IV set out to have a new bridge built.

And, legend has it that the bridge's construction began precisely in 1357 on the 9th day of the 7th month at  5:31 am.

Charles IV chose this time so that when written, the date is all odd numbers: 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1.

The bridge was supervised by Peter Parler and constructed with sandstone. Another legend insists that egg was used in the original mortar - which is why the bridge has survived so long.

Long been considered a tale, this theory has recently been supported by tests finding organic materials in the bridges mortar.

The first statues were added to the bridge in the 17th century. The current statues are mostly replicas since the city has chosen to preserve the originals from weather elements.

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