One of the best things about traveling in my opinion is to immerse yourself in the place you are visiting and take in all the culture and history, enjoying the process of stepping into something new. This is best done by taking your time to admire everything around and, more generally, by slowing down. But sometimes, you also want to take in as much as you can and truly make the most of your trip, which can sometimes be shorter than you would like it to be.
That is basically what happened when I went to Prague. I only had a weekend to visit this gorgeous city and discover its history and culture. This didn’t make much time for wandering around aimlessly or for getting lost in tiny streets, but I think I really could make the most of my short visit to discover the city and what it has to offer.
When I planned my stay, I selected the things I wanted to see the most and created a list, grouping together the places that were close to each other. Each day I then chose what I wanted to do and see according to the list.
The Old Town Square:
This is probably THE must-see of Prague, and one of the most gorgeous squares I have seen. It is usually flooded with tourists during the day, so it is best to go there in the morning to really admire everything. The church of Our Lady before Týn, with its characteristic Gothic architecture that overlooks the whole square, is the dominant feature of the Old Town of Prague and it appears in every picture.
However, the most famous feature of the square is probably the Astronomical clock of the Old Town Hall. It is a clock that displays astronomical information like the position of the moon, constellations and planets. There are a lot of astronomical clocks in the world, but the one in Prague is the oldest clock still operating. It is definitely a must-see, especially at each hour, when, by an incredible feat of engineering, all the figures start moving, in a little show that attracts countless tourists.
The Old Town Hall is also worth visiting, especially if you climb on top of its tower. From there you have an astonishing view over the Old town Square and the surrounding red roofs of Prague’s buildings. It is not free to go up there but I would recommend it to anyone!
The official residence of the President of the Czech Republic is also one of the largest ancient castles in the world. Many different buildings make this castle complex particularly interesting and worth visiting. Its history, which started in 880 is very rich, as it was not only the house for kings or princes, but also of the Prague bishop and, later on, of the world-famous Habsburg royal family. It became an imperial residence in the 14th century and was fortified many different times, its style was changed from Gothic to Renaissance, new buildings started to pop-up, and it ultimately became the centre of the empire.
The visit of the castle grounds and gardens can take up to a whole day or even more, according to how much you want to see. I personally only visited a few things as I knew I didn’t have much time. The gardens were definitely a highlight on that incredibly sunny autumn day, and I was lucky enough that they were all still open, as part of them is closed during the winter.
The St Vitus cathedral (in the picture above) is also a must-see, as one of the most imposing buildings of the complex. That’s were the coronation of kings and queens also took place. Along with the Old Royal Palace, the original residence building, they are in my opinion the most important things to see there, mainly for their historical relevance.
I also want to mention the Golden Lane, which was one of the things that I was most excited about but which proved to be somewhat of a disappointment. This area was inhabited by defenders and servants of the castle, and takes its name from the goldsmiths that used to live there. I was really curious to see its small houses, painted with bright colours, that contrast a lot with the surroundings, but it was so crowded that it was almost impossible to really enjoy the atmosphere.
This district of Prague is easily reachable by crossing the Vlatva river through the world-famous Charles’ Bridge, lined with impressive Baroque statues. On the bridge, you can admire both sides of the city, the wonderful architecture of the bridge and the countless street artists. As for the Old Town Square, it is nicer to go there in the morning to avoid the tourists!
You will end up in a street with a lot of tourists’ shops that has an incredible cinnamon smell, especially in the evenings. There, I strongly suggest you to buy a delicious Trdelník, a Czech pastry made with rolled dough, coated with sugar, cinnamon and walnuts, that you can fill with pretty much whatever you want. So yummy!
After a delicious snack you can climb up to see the beautiful St Nicholas Church and its impressive Baroque architecture. They often host classical music concerts there, and the interior is just wonderful to see.
One of my favourite things in Malá Strana was however the Strahov Monastery and its wonderful library. The Theological and Philosophical Halls are absolutely stunning and give you all the “Beauty and the Beast” vibes you could ask for. The rest of the library is also filled with super interesting peculiarities that I really loved as well. Side note: you are not allowed to take pictures unless you buy a specific “pass” (that is not really expensive anyway).
Finally, the final stop in this district is the Petřín Hill. It is one of Prague’s largest green spaces and offers a wonderful view over the city. You can admire the rose gardens then climb up the Tower and admire the whole city, while resting from the hundreds of steps you just had to climb. In my opinion the view that the Old Town Hall tower offers is much better as you can see more details, but I guess it also depends on how the weather is, because it was quite overcast when I went up the Petřín Tower!
Another thing I would also recommend is a tour of the Jewish ghetto, which was super interesting, and that concludes a short but intense weekend in Prague! I know there are a lot of other things for me to see there, and I really want to go back to see everything that I’ve missed and enjoy the city a bit more. Prague is for sure a wonderful destination and it is said to be very romantic – I can understand why!
Have you ever been to Prague? Is it a place you want to visit?