For travellers on a time-limit, Prague is the perfect city. Fortunately all the highlights line-up along an almost perfectly straight line through the city, all within a comfortable 3 mile or so wander along a gorgeous route. A city with a fantastic public transport system as well as a fantastic sense of tourism, it’s everything you’d want from a city.
Taking my trip for example, I landed in Prague airport at 9am, and had a bus to catch on the opposite side of the city at 10pm. In that time, I was able to visit all the below highlights with more than enough time to relax and soak in the city.
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The route mapped out above can be taken in either direction, and on a non-stop walk takes less than an hour. Therefore its more than easy enough to be able to visit all the highlighted attractions with plenty of time to soak them in. If time really is of the essence, I’d recommend starting from the West of the city. This is the closest point from the airport.
1 – Strahov Monetary
The furthermost-Western highlight to find in the city of Prague is the Strahov Monastery, and possibly the best place to start your city-wide journey. Not only is it a landmark for the city of Prague, but also considered one of the most important in all of the Czech Republic. From here you’re gifted with a spectacular view of the entire city from where the higher peaks of the monastery.
Founded in 1140, the grounds of the monastery include the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Classical Philosophy Hall and the Strahov Gallery. The latter holds one of the best selection of Gothic and Baroque art throughout Central Europe.
The monastery holds the record of being the oldest monastery in the region of Bohemia. It was specifically constructed to be alongside the road leading to the castle, being the first point where guards would be posted. This is where the monastery gets its name, from the Czech word “strahovat“,translated as to stand guard.
Although the grounds of the monastery themselves are a marvellous site to behold, the true treasure is found within its walls. Within is the significant Strahov Library, which holds spectacular examples of medieval manuscripts, maps and antique globes as well as many thousands of religious as well as philosophical texts. The oldest of which is a Book of Gospels which dates back to the 9th century printed onto parchment.
Address – Strahovské nádvoří 1/132, 118 00 Praha 1-Strahov, Czechia
Telephone number – +420 233 107 704
Open – 9am – 5pm (closed 12pm – 1pm)
Closed 24th/25th December and Easter Sundays
Entrance Fees – Strahov Library: Adults – 120 CZK, Family (2 adults and 3 children) – 200 CZK, Photo Permission – 50 CZK, Video Permission – 100 CZK
– Strahov Library and Gallery: Adults – 200 CZK, Family (2 adults and 3 children) – 300 CZK, Photo Permission – 80 CZK, Video Permission – 150 CZK
This UNESCO World Heritage site is arguably one of the biggest and best highlights Prague has to offer. Visible from anywhere up to the river Vltava, this castle built as early as 880 holds the record as the largest castle complex worldwide.
Founded during the Premyslid Dynasty under Prince Bořivoj, the castle complex itself holds a number of palaces and buildings of various designs representative of the periods of time which this mighty castle complex has survived through. These range from Roman designs to the more noticeable Gothic themes which pulsate through the city.
Address – Hradčany, 119 08 Prague 1, Czechia
Telephone number – +420 224 373 368
Open – Summer: 5am – 12am (areas that require tickets: 9am – 6pm)
Entrance Fees – Long Tour: Adults – 350 CZK, Family – 500 CZK
– Short Tour: Adults – 250 CZK, Family – 300 CZK
For more information, check out their website here!
3 – Alchemist Museum
This is an incredibly quirky attraction which reaches back to the birth of human endeavours into the unrelenting superstition and mysticism of science. This early period of discovery sought to answer to nature’s secrets and the mystery of the universe. Despite being designated an UNESCO World Heritage site, little is talked about this attraction. The Alchemist Museum is often left out of most “must-do” lists.
This well hidden museum is found in the courtyard of a hotel, with old fashioned wooden doors on either side. You’re met with the site of one of the oldest surviving buildings on the original street Haštalská number 1. Behind one of squeaky wooden doors, you enter a room designed as an old fashioned dungeon with the matching bubbling cauldron soundtrack. Inside are displays of old alchemist artefacts as well as the ticket office for the real attraction.
The real attraction is found at the top of a spiral tower which holds the reconstructed alchemist laboratories which have remained on display since their discovery. It belonged to Edward Kelley, one of the most revered alchemists of his time. Inside you’ll find the preserved remains of his laboratory, workshops, study and life. Inside you’ll learn how this magnificent mind pondered the mysteries of creating an Eternal Youth Elixer, making the Philosophers Stone a reality and being a host for none other than William Shakespeare.
Being a smaller museum, it comes with a more personal touch. Upon entering you’re offered to be guided (free of charge and totally worth it).
Address – Jánský vršek 8, 118 00 Malá Strana, Czechia
This is listed on every must-do list for Prague as a quirky interlude from the other medieval themed sites. Despite its incredibly small size, it holds quite a reputation. This unassuming little building became the first place to display soviet era artefacts of the KGB. Some of the unique pieces found within include Lenin’s death mask, Beria’s radio and KGB laboratory equipment. The main attraction to the KGB museum is the photo exposition on how the once soviet gripped capital of the Czech Republic looked.
Due to the very personal nature of the tiny museum, visits can only be done as a part of a private tour group with designated times. The price of admission is also quite high, especially considering the entire museum consists of a single room.
Address – Vlašská 591/13, 118 00 Malá Strana, Czechia
Telephone number – +420 257 224 508
Open -10am – 5pm (closed Mondays)
Entrance Fees – 14-18 EUR for a tour
For more information, check out their website here!
5- The Lennon Wall
Once an unassuming wall across the road from the French Embassy, the Lennon Wall is now decorated from one side to the other with John Lennon inspired artwork, and others relating to worldwide causes. This began following Lennon’s 1980 assassination where an unknown artist painted the very first portrait along with accompanying lyrics.
The freedom of expression which this wall provided came in a critical point in Czech history, as the country in the later years of the decade went through communist reforms. This naturally brought with it a significant amount of anger and resistance, to which the wall became a prime and fitting outlet. This expression was met with violence between oppressed students and local authorities along the nearby Charles Bridge.
From its inception, the wall has become a source of expression of oppression and freedom from throughout the world. The wall undergoes constant change and re-design which comes with the global affairs of the time. Even within the last year, the events of Hong Kong’s fight for democracy and global warming have been the instigator for graffiti that dominate the wall.
Address – Velkopřevorské náměstí, 100 00 Praha 1, Czechia
6 – Charles Bridge
The identifiable image when it comes to Prague. This is the site that the entire city gravitates around, the point at which the city is split in two between the Old Town and Lesser Town (Malá Strana) with an immaculate Gothic stone bridge.
Prague’s oldest bridge was constructed under the watchful eye of the Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV in 1357. Fortified towers (Lesser Town Bridge Towers and Old Town Bridge Tower) at either end of the bridge has cemented this attraction to be a world-renound image.
Being such a tourist hot-spot, you’ll also find the regular tourist-cash-grabbing vendors scattered across and around it. Artists and caricature painters who themselves are as much a part of the bridge as the statues along it. Those regularly appointed statues across the bridge are dedicated to a number of saints. A few attract the attention of eager tourists queuing for their photo op. The most popular are easily recognisable as generations of people have polished the metal into a bright shine from years of lucky touches.
The statue which receives the most attention is that of St John of Nepomuk. According to folklore, it is here that the future saint was thrown into the river following his fatal torturing. It was at this point that one of the bridge’s arches collapsed, and was unable to be repaired despite several attempts. One of the men working on the bridge decided to make a deal with the Devil. In return for successful completion of the bridge, he promised the soul of the first person to step upon it.
Address – Karlův most, 110 00 Praha 1, Czechia
7 – Torture Museum
Here’s another site not mentioned in the “must-do” lists. Perhaps as it isn’t specific to Prague, and similar attractions can be found in other cities. However the selection found within the exhibitions and its proximity to the tourist centre makes it worth while.
Here you’ll find 100 or so exhibits, historical artwork depicting the method of torture, as well as helpful wax figures depicting their use. With 3 full floors of attractions there’s plenty to observe and ponder over.
Address – Křižovnické nám. 194/1, 110 00 Staré Město, Czechia
Telephone number – +420 222 221 972
Open -10am – 10pm (closed Mondays)
Entrance Fees – ~8 EUR
For more information, check out their website here!
8 – Jewish Cemetery
Following the destruction of a once prominent Jewish Quarter during the 19th century, it left the area with very few surviving remnants of Jewish culture. The Old Jewish Cemetery is one of the few. This particular cemetery is one of the oldest surviving Jewish burial grounds worldwide and amongst National Geographic’s ten most fascinating cemeteries to visit.
One of these particularly dark times in history was the Nazi occupation. It resulted in an enormous amount of destruction of Jewish culture, however the cemetery was left untouched. Unfortunately it wasn’t for the morality, rather a much darker significance. It’s believed it was to be preserved as a “Museum of an Extinct Race”, a historical document of the Aryans extinction of the Jews.
With the first resident buried back in in 1439, the cemetery continued to expanded as the Jewish Quarter did so too. It expanded until more than 12,000 graves and up to 100,000 bodies were put to rest within. Space in the cemetery was in such high demand that bodies had to be layered atop each other, in some cases 10-12 coffins deep. Jewish customs forbid the removal of old graves so they’ll simply remain there as the development continues around them.
Address – Široká, 110 00 Josefov, Czechia
9 – Astronomical Clock
The end of your city long adventure brings you to one of the most popular and significant sites the city has to offer. Along with Charles Bridge, this is probably the most recognisable image when it comes to Prague. The immaculately designed 600+ year old astronomical clock is consistently surrounded by herds of eager individuals hoping to witness the changing of the hour. As the clock strikes the hour, this sets in motion the procession of the Twelve Apostles; miniature figurines which change with each strike of the bell.
The clock earns its astronomical namesake with features such as showing current positions of certain celestial objects, as well as a calendar dial on its lower regions. Be sure you get there early enough before each hour as an immense crowd tends to form around the entirety of the clock. Even harder to get a decent picture.
Directly next to the Astronomical clock you’ll find the old square with immaculate examples of architecture on either side. The Old Town Square is the centre of Prague’s historic district. Along with the nearby Astronomical clock, there’s also the Old Town Hall. This particular town hall is unique in the regard that its a number of interconnected medieval buildings rather than a single modern monstrosity.
Address – Staroměstské náměstí, 110 00 Praha 1- Staré Město
And there you go, you’ve managed to see every highlight the city of Prague has to offer in a single day! Congratulations, what a journey!
A Welsh university drop-out on a mission to travel the world for as little money as possible. My adventures have taken me through over 30 countries across Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the list keeps on growing! From classic backpacking to working and volunteering, I have found all sorts of ways to maintain a life on the road.