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Because I studied abroad in Prague, every few weeks I'll get an email from a friend who is visiting the city and wondering if I have any recommendations of things to do while in Prague....
.... and yes, duh, of course I do!
Prague is the best city on earth. Truly. I've backpacked through two continents, and Prague is still my favorite city ever.
However, the spots travelers typically go in Prague are very touristy, and don't do the city justice.
If you stick to the classic Old Town Square -> Charles Bridge -> Prague Castle -> Wenceslas Square route, you're basically visiting Disneyland. All of those attractions are beautiful... but infested with tourists.
That being said.... go to those sites. They're still captivating. Do see the Astronomical Clock and The Charles Bridge... but do get it all out of the way in one morning. Then, go see the rest of the city.
Without further ado, here are...
My favorite things to do and see in Prague:
I don't understand why Vyšehrad isn't the most popular attraction in Prague. Vyšehrad is a park located about 1.5 miles south of Old Town Square. It contains some historic buildings and churches, and is enclosed by an ancient fortification system.
The area played a crucial part in Prague's history, and is one oldest parts of the city. Vyšehrad was settled in the mid-10th century, and was even the seat of the first king of Bohemia. The area is endlessly charming. I suggest walking around the entire fortification wall, stopping in the church and cemetery, and even visiting some of the museums. However, whatever you do, you cannot miss my favorite view of Prague from this part of the park. Once you see it you'll understand why I'm confused that Vyšehrad isn't the most popular part of Prague.
Getting there: Take the tram to "Výtoň" and walk up "Vratislavova" street to the front entrance of the park. While you're there, have a beer at the Hospůdka Na Hradbách beer garden (another great view of the city). There is also a Czech restaurant, U Kroka, on Vratislavova street. If you're trying to have an authentic Czech meal once in Prague, U Kroka is good choice.
2. Queen Anne's Summer Palace
Ferdinand I (Holy Roman Emperor from 1558, king of Bohemia and Hungary from 1526) commissioned a beautiful summer palace for his wife, Anna Jagiellon. The palace is an example of Renaissance architecture. The palace was later used by Rudolf II, who created an observatory on the first floor. Czech astronomers Tycho de Brahe and Johanes Kepler spent time in this observatory.
Getting there: The palace is a short (and beautiful) walk from Prague Castle. Ride the tram to the "Královský letohrádek" stop, see the summer palace, and then walk through the gardens to Prague Castle.
3. The Clementinum Library
I wouldn't consider this a hidden gem, as many publications have hailed The Clementinum library as the "most beautiful library in the world," or "straight out of Beauty and the Beast."
As it turns out, they're all correct, and it would be a shame to fly to Prague and miss this library. It is very close to Prague Castle, and can be visited in the same trip.
Ps: Don't expect to be able to walk into the library. There is a rope at the door and you can only look in.
4. The "Deer Gutter" Moat
This is one of my favorite, less-visited spots near Prague Castle. Surrounding the castle is a deep moat (not filled with water) that is basically a giant park. I affectionately call it the "Deer Gutter" because the kings of yesteryear would have stags dropped into the moat so they could practice hunting (don't think about it too much).
Walking through the gutter is peaceful and beautiful. Great spot for reading books or having a picnic lunch.
Getting there: The moat has a unique entrance, and can be accessed by scaffolding (yes, scaffolding) on the side of the hill by Chotkova Street. The scaffolding starts around here. Take the tram to "Malostranská" and walk.
5. The National Gallery
Art fans, this one is for you. There is a massive (and I mean MASSIVE) modern art museum just north of the city. The National Gallery may not look like much from the outside (it was built in the aptly-described 'Functionalism' style), but it includes works by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Auguste Renoir, and Vincent van Gogh, among others.
However, the star of the show is Alfons Mucha's Slav Epic. This series of paintings are located on the first floor and are completely worth the trip to the museum on their own.
Getting there: Take the tram to the "Exhibition Palace" stop
6. Troja Chateau
I think this one speaks for itself. This candy-colored palace is stunning and absolutely worth the trip north of the city. Take the 112 or the 236 bus to the "Zoo" stop.
7. The Prague Zoo
And, while you're in the neighborhood, you might as well check out the Prague Zoo, which is right next to the Troja Chateau. Yes, it's pretty much just your typical zoo.... but it has a chairlift system that goes above the park for an aerial view of the animals.
7. A hockey game
Does the name Jaromír Jágr mean anything to you? No? Then maybe that's just a Pittsburgh thing.
Either way, the Czech Republic has hockey in their blood, and I recommend getting into the action at a HC Sparta Praha, HC Slavia Praha, or HC Kobra Praha game while in Prague.
See if anyone is playing a home game while you're in town. You can book tickets online.
The cheering sections can be pretty insane... we saw an actual drum line.
8. The Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace
This palace reminds of old, dusty books filled with secrets.
Most tourists walk right by the Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace without even knowing it's there. Located just next to the Charles Bridge, it's easy to find the time to explore this gem. The rooms are delightful examples of various types of Czech architecture, including High Baroque, Rococo and Second Rococo. There are also temporary contemporary art exhibitions throughout the building.
9. Kutná Hora
Kutná Hora is a city an hour east of Prague, but if you're into human bones and walking through claustrophobic silver mines ..... look no further.
This town is decidedly creepy AF, but the trip was probably one of my most memorable days of my entire study abroad experience. If you're going, don't miss:
- České muzeum stříbra Kutná Hora (Bohemian Museum of Silver) (GO ON THE MINE TOUR!)
- Sedlec Ossuary (bone church)
- St. Barbara's Church (pretty)
10. Pivovar Klášter
This brewery is an hour north of Prague, but a total must-visit for anyone beer-obsessed. Located on the site of an old Cistercian monastery, beer has been brewed here since 1570. Tours are very cool and end with a beer tasting. Also, there is apparently treasure hidden in the depths of the brewery... but you'll have to go looking for that yourself.
If you don't know who David Černý is... at least google him before you arrive in the CZR. He is basically Prague's Banksy. If you're ever walking around and think, "Wow, that's a strange sculpture," odds are, it's a piece of Černý artwork.
Why does this matter? The Meetfactory is Černý's "contemporary art centre." There are consistently events and concerts held there... and they are generally all very cool. Follow their schedule online and see what is happening when you're in town.
GREAT WEBSITES ON PRAGUE:
Have you ever been to Prague? Leave your favorite spots in the comments below!
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