Last updated on September 14, 2023
Lauded as one of the top cultural centers of Europe, and a city almost unparalleled for architecture and beauty, I have always wanted to see Prague for myself. I have long held a romantic nostalgia for Prague thanks to Hollywood using the city’s medieval streets as the backdrop for intrigue and romance.
As an American, much of the city’s architecture is older than my entire country.Prague—or Praha to the locals—suffered far less damage and destruction than most European cities during World War II, making it a showcase of the best preserved European architecture from the past centuries.
And the downtown city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a designation of cultural significance for the world. So it was a shoe-in that I would head to the Czech Republic on my round the world trip. I had already planned to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia, so Prague would require just a short train ride.
Arriving in Prague
As my travels moved into Eastern Europe, other travelers warned me that the city doesn’t live up to the hype. It’s not the first time travelers have said this—sometimes others claim a town has lost its authenticity: it’s too busy, too slow, or just too something that they don’t like.
But each person is unique, so I decided I would continue on toward Prague, I would find all the interesting things to do, dive into the food scene, and wander the maze of streets.
I would discover for myself if Prague was, in fact, the destination of a lifetime and a must on any round the world itinerary, or an overrated touristy city glamorized by Hollywood.
My train from Slovenia arrived in the late evening, which was not an ideal introduction to Prague. I prefer to enter a new city late during daylight—this is one of the ways I stay safe as a solo female traveler, plus, darkness is just not ideal for locating transportation and then plodding through the streets of a strange city with my 45 pound backpack strapped to my back since the hostel is almost never precisely where I think it should be.
When you exit the main train station, there is little information available about getting around. Although I cautiously used a taxi (again, nighttime and all, but there are some taxi con-artists to be aware of), it’s a short walk downhill into Old Town, or it’s easy to take the metro, too.
If you have a smartphone (I didn’t on our first visit!), load the maps onto your phone and use that to walk. Like most transport hubs, I faced a few predatory cabbies stalking me as I searched for the official taxi stand, but they left me alone once I found a low-key driver, handed over the address, and dumped my bags into the trunk.
My hostel was a bit outside of Old Town, so the private transport was pricier than I anticipated, but still worth it. Since Uber is in Prague now, I wouldn’t hesitate to summon one as soon as my train arrived and avoid the entire mess. (It is a great option from the airport, too).
Pick out accommodation on Booking.com.
This is the only booking platform I use because it rewards you for loyalty, and I regularly score free breakfasts and 15% off my hotel.
Best Places to Visit in Prague’s Old Town
What a gorgeous city. I mean, it’s huge—the city itself is massive, but the bulk of tourism centers on Old Town. Staré Město is small and easily navigated as a tourist.
It’s a section of Prague filled with delightfully narrow cobbled paths. Lanes wind through towering buildings, each one ornately decorated with spired Gothic and baroque architecture.
One fellow traveler recommended that I always remember to look up. What good advice!
Old Towns buildings all have some sort of ornate decoration along the top edges. Eroding carvings of a beautiful woman emerge from a stone wall of one building, while a wandering minstrel is juxtaposed on the very next. (There is even a seven-foot tall statue of Sigmund Freud hanging from one building!)
The city is a fascinating hodgepodge of architectural styles: art nouveau, neoclassical, cubist, renaissance, gothic, baroque. And although I can’t readily identify the differences between each one, the varied styles make for a never-ending parade of impressive buildings.
The beauty of the buildings is a feast for the eyes for even the least art-inclined. History has carved itself into every corner of Prague. Life and humanity spanning hundreds of years is visible in the worn stone steps that lead to Prague’s castles and churches.
Even busy touristy areas shine above the chaos. The Charles Bridge teemed with tourists just as expected, but the bridge still oozed charm. This current crush of tourists is simply the latest incarnation of this bridge’s journey through history. It’s the latest incarnation of a bridge, stones, and carvings that existed before me and will continue after me as well.
So when I passed the busking musicians and artists offering cheesy caricatures of young preening couples engaging in some incredibly showy PDA—I simply smiled and continued my stroll.
Three days in Prague is enough to eat all the things and see a whole lot, too. I recommend budgeting time into your days to simply relax, shop, and wander in Old Town, as it was a real highlight.
Planning Your 3-Day Prague Itinerary
Above covers the five real highlights you should slot into your trip no matter the length, but if you have three days in town, here is an itinerary that takes in all the highlights while leaving plenty of time to explore your own interests, too.
Take a free walking tour of the city (there are many). Most end near Prague Castle, so buy a ticket and explore. Be sure to visit the castle and St. Vitus Cathedral, too. Once done, wander the picturesque streets of Mala Strana, the “lesser quarter” and find lunch, coffee, etc.
Then continue your meandering through Mala Strana, finding the Lennon Wall (tourists can add to it!).
As late afternoon hits, wander into Petřín Park for sunset—hike to the top through the shady paths, or take the funicular. Enjoy the sweeping views of sunset before taking the funicular down to the bottom. Dine in Kampa, it’s not a far walk from the base of the park and there are many options.
Head to Old Town and plan to spend hours here. Wander past the Astronomical Clock (seriously impressive), and perhaps have your morning coffee and croissant in the busy town square.
The Mucha Museum was my favorite, but there are others in town, too. Visit one of the museums that strikes your fancy.
After the museum, head to the Jewish quarter nearby and continue your wanders, museum visits, and history lessons. Buy lunch and make a picnic of it at Letna Park nearby (just across the river) and enjoy gorgeous views.
Then either head back to change, or go straight to your meeting spot for a beer and tapas tour that offers local insight from your guide alongside the chance to sip the best drinks in the city.
This will start your evening off, and you can head to additional beer spots (recommendations below), or home for the night.
Venture a bit further in the city today. Head south to Vyšehrad Castle, then walk along the river back to town. If food is your thing, consider scheduling a food neighborhood tour for the afternoon, which will take you to hidden spots and provides a lot more backstory and tasty eats.
Otherwise, visit any of the other museums you find interesting (there’s everything from a KGB museum to a Kafka one on offer).
And if you need some shopping time, head back to the antique places in Mala Strana, or the souvenir shops in Old Town.
Prague Travel Basics
Where to Eat in Prague
Lehka Hlava offers fantastic vegetarian fare near the Charles Bridge; Maitrea is a sister restaurant with a large menu and convenient for Old Town wanders. Country Life offers a veggie buffet and it’s one of the best values for budget food in the city, even if you’re not vegetarian.
Vegetarian food is tricky at general restaurants and markets, but the Czech sweets are phenomenal and I collected several memorable favorites.
Where to Drink
For a large beer selection and a hip vibe, head to Lokál Dlouhááá (it has local Czech food too, but the beer menu stands out). The Prague Beer Museum (multiple locations) also has an enormous selection of beers on tap. For wine lovers, Vinograf can be pricier than some places but is a good bet.
Where to Stay
There are a lot of options on neighborhoods, each one with a different vibe and convenience factor. The city center/Old Town is Prague 1, while Letna (Prague 7) is adjacent and walkable.
Both of these have mid-range prices to astronomical. If you are on a tight budget, most of the affordable guesthouses, Airbnbs, and hostels are in the other neighborhoods. Consider that Vinohrady (Prague 2) has a good vibe while Žižkov (Prague 3) is funky and fun. I consistently find good guesthouses and hostels through Booking.com.
Best Things to Do in Prague:
1. Enjoy the Mucha Museum
I discovered Alfons Mucha back in 2009 and I thought the works were simply stunning. This museum is well laid out and a great stop if you like his art—I enjoyed it more than I expected.
2. Visit The Charles Bridge
The Charles Bridge is a historic bridge that spans the Vltava River and connects the Old Town to Malá Strana. Artists and kitschy knickknacks converge on this bridge with an unbelievably gorgeous backdrop of the river and castles all set off with the tinkling music of roving buskers. It’s charming and a must for any visit.
3. Explore Prague Castle
Prague Castle is a historic castle located in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic. It is the largest castle complex in the world, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle is home to a number of museums, galleries, and historical exhibits, and it offers beautiful views of the city.
The castle is a must-see attraction for any visitor to Prague, and it is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the city. You just have to visit this, even on a tight budget. The views over the city and the river are worth the price alone.
4. Wander Old Town
Put away your map and just wander through the streets of Old Town. The Old Town is the historic center of Prague, and it is home to a number of cultural attractions, including the famous Astronomical Clock, the Charles Bridge, and the Jewish Quarter.
The Old Town is a great place to explore on foot, with narrow streets, colorful houses, and a lively atmosphere.
5. Get lost in the the Mala Strana neighborhood.
Located on the other side of the river from the Old Town, Malá Strana is a charming neighborhood with beautiful Baroque-style houses and a number of cultural attractions. The neighborhood is home to the Prague Castle, as well as the Petřín Hill, which offers beautiful views of the city.
6. Meander through Žižkov.
Žižkov is a lively and diverse neighborhood with a bohemian atmosphere. The neighborhood is home to a number of cultural attractions, including the Žižkov Television Tower, which offers beautiful views of the city.
7. Guzzle down a beer!
Czechs drink a whole lot of beer, and taking either a formal tour or a self-guided tour of pubs and brews is a highlight for any beer-lover. You can also visit a brewery. The Czech Republic is famous for its beer, and there are many breweries in Prague that offer tours and tastings.
Visiting a brewery is a fun and unique way to learn about the local culture and to try some of the city’s famous beers. You could also just get very, very lost and explore until you find a little nook and cranny pub. Sit down, have a Czech beer. Then, pull out the map and navigate back to the next item on your to-see list.
8. Visit the Petřín Hill
The Petřín Hill is a popular spot for tourists, and it offers beautiful views of the city. The hill is home to a number of cultural attractions, including the Petřín Lookout Tower, which offers panoramic views of the city.
9. Take a River Cruise
A river cruise is a great way to see the city from a different perspective, and it offers beautiful views of the city’s historic landmarks.
10. Go on a Food Tour
Prague has a diverse and delicious food scene, and a food tour is a great way to explore the city’s culinary offerings. These tours take you to some of the city’s best restaurants and food markets, and they provide an opportunity to try local specialties and learn about the city’s food culture.
Book a day tour to maximize your time.
Get Your Guide has a phenomenal range of tours in Prague, and they’re affordable too. Book your must-dos as a tour, and then slot in the rest as time permits.
11. Take an Off-Beat, Special-Interest Tour
- Graffiti tours: Prague has a vibrant street art scene, and a graffiti tour is a great way to explore the city’s art and culture. These tours take you to some of the city’s most interesting graffiti spots and provide insight into the local art scene.
- Coffee roasteries: Prague has a thriving coffee culture, and visiting a coffee roastery is a great way to learn about the city’s coffee history and to try some of its delicious brews.
- Ghost tours: Prague has a long and fascinating history, and a ghost tour is a unique way to explore the city’s darker side. These tours take you to some of the city’s most haunted places and provide insight into its spooky past.
- Bike tours: Prague is a small city, and a bike tour is a great way to see the city’s landmarks and hidden corners. Many bike tours offer guided rides through the city’s parks, neighborhoods, and along the river, with stops at notable landmarks and cultural attractions.
12. Visit a Contemporary Art Museum
Prague is home to a number of contemporary art museums, including the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art and the National Gallery’s Trade Fair Palace. These museums offer a modern contrast to the city’s historic landmarks and are a great way to see contemporary art from Czech and international artists.
Prague has one of the most charming skylines I have ever seen; it’s for this reason that so many guides like mine include recommendations to get higher views and visit during the sunset magic hour.
There is no chance that you won’t find beauty in Prague. Even though it’s a big city (and I don’t love big cities, as a rule), it’s fun, historic, and interesting. There is never a shortage of activities, which makes it an ideal spot to spend at least three days.
Although I don’t want to live in Prague, the city has earned a place on the itinerary for any trip. Whether you’re on a weekend break or an epic trio through Eastern Europe, Prague only enhanced my trip with its beauty and European charm.
Quick Travel Tips: Visiting Prague
Where to Stay in Prague
Here are some of the best neighborhoods for tourists in Prague:
- Old Town: The Old Town is the historic center of Prague, and it is home to a number of cultural attractions, including the famous Astronomical Clock, the Charles Bridge, and the Jewish Quarter. The Old Town is a great place to stay for tourists, as it is within walking distance of many of the city’s main attractions and has a lively atmosphere.
- Malá Strana (Lesser Town): Located on the other side of the river from the Old Town, Malá Strana is a charming neighborhood with beautiful Baroque-style houses and a number of cultural attractions. The neighborhood is home to the Prague Castle, as well as the Petřín Hill, which offers beautiful views of the city.
- New Town: The New Town is a modern neighborhood located to the east of the Old Town. It is home to a number of shopping and entertainment areas, as well as the popular Wenceslas Square. The New Town is a good choice for tourists who want to be close to the city’s main shopping and entertainment areas.
Overall, the best neighborhood for you to stay in will depend on your interests and what you want to see and do during your visit to Prague. Each neighborhood has its own unique character and attractions, and it is worth considering what will best suit your needs.
Best Prague Guidebook
Prague Travel Tips
- Pack light: Prague is a small city, and it is easy to get around on foot. Pack light to make it easier to walk around the city and visit its many cultural attractions.
- Use public transportation: Prague has a good public transportation system, including buses, trams, and the metro, and it is a convenient and affordable way to get around the city.
- Learn some basic Czech: Prague is a Czech-speaking city, and it is helpful to learn some basic phrases to communicate with locals. Many people in Prague are also fluent in English, so you can also use English to communicate with them.
- Stay safe: Prague is a generally safe city, but it is always a good idea to take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Avoid walking alone at night, and keep your valuables safe when out and about. And buy travel insurance like IMG Global—this can protect both you and your belongings should something happen.
- Stay aware of your surroundings: It is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas or at night. Avoid walking alone at night, and stay in well-lit and populated areas.
- Keep your valuables safe: It is a good idea to keep your valuables safe, especially in crowded areas or when using public transportation. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and consider using a money belt or keeping your valuables in a secure location.
- Use reputable tour operators and transportation companies: It is important to use reputable tour operators and transportation companies to ensure your safety. Research companies before booking, and be sure to read reviews and check for any safety concerns.
- Protect yourself from pickpockets: Pickpocketing is a common problem in tourist areas of most major European cities, not just Prague. It’s important to take precautions to protect yourself. Keep your belongings close to you and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas.
- Use common sense: As with any destination, it is important to use common sense and to be aware of your surroundings. If something doesn’t feel safe, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation.
What to Pack for Prague Travel
When packing for your trip to Prague, consider the following items:
- Comfortable and practical clothing: Prague has a temperate climate, with cool to mild temperatures year-round. Pack comfortable and practical clothing that you can layer, such as jeans, t-shirts, and a sweater or light jacket.
- Walking shoes: Prague is a small city, and you will do a lot of walking to explore its many cultural attractions. Be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes to make it easier to get around.
- Rain gear: Prague can be rainy at times, especially in the spring and fall, so it is a good idea to pack a rain jacket or umbrella.
- Personal items: Pack your personal items, such as toiletries, medication, and any other essentials you may need during your trip.
- Passport and travel documents: Don’t forget to bring your passport and any other travel documents you may need, such as visas or travel insurance documents.
- Cash and credit cards: Prague is a cash-based society, and it is a good idea to have some cash on hand for smaller purchases and tips. You should also bring a credit card for larger purchases and for emergency situations. Many locations across Europe also offer tap to pay—if your U.S. credit card doesn’t have the wifi symbol on it, consider loading your card into Apple Pay so you can easily tap to pay at restaurants, shops, and more.
Backpacking the region?
Essential Travel Planning Resources
🛏️ Find great accommodation.
Booking.com is essentially the only hotel booking site that I use. It has a wide and affordable selection of traditional hotels, but also hostels and vacation rentals, too. Use these pro tips to find the best travel accommodation.
📍Navigate more effectively.
Rome2Rio is super handy to assess the full range of transport options between two cities—shows everything from flights to trains, buses, minibuses, and more. If you’re booking a rental car, I’ve always found the best deals on RentalCars.com.