We had a chance to spend just over a week in Prague, Czechia in the spring of 2023. My wife was participating in a workshop and, while I had a lot of work I needed to do while I was there (I was supposed to be on vacation), I did have a chance to explore a bit of Prague. I used walking around Prague as my exercise most days. In the process, I realized that the different things I wanted to see (e.g., museums, art, other interesting things) were spread all over the city, and ended up spending a fair amount of time trying to figure out both where things are in the city and the best order in which to see them. To help others in the future, I put together my list of interesting things to do/see in Prague and a couple of guides on getting around to them and what they are all about.
I’m not a tour guide. I’m not getting paid for this. Feel free to contact me if the guides are no longer up-to-date and I’ll remove them. But don’t contact me if you disagree with me. I’m an introverted, middle-aged college professor. If you don’t like my guides, make your own.
And I’m not making any promises that these guides will work for more than a year or two as cities are living entities that change. But it would have been nice to have these recommendations and guides when I was headed to Prague.
First, here’s my rank-ordered list of things to do and see in Prague – from my favorite to my least favorite:
- Prague Castle (includes St. Vitus Cathedral, Basilica of St. James, Old Royal Palace, Golden Lane; West River)
- Museum of Communism (East River, North)
- Proudy (Piss sculpture; West River)
- Deer Moat (West River)
- Waldstein Garden (Dripstone Wall/Grotto; West River)
- Speculum Alchemiae (East River, North)
- Crawling Babies on Kampa Island (West River)
- The Clementinum Astronomical Tower and Baroque Library (East River, North)
- King Wenceslas on Upside Down Horse (Palace Lucerna; East River, North)
- Old Town Square (Church of St. Nicholas, Old Town Hall, House at the Minute, Storch House, House at the Stone Bell, Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, East River, North)
- Charles Bridge (crosses the river)
- Kafka Monument (East River, North)
- Franz Kafka Rotating Head (East River, North)
- Zizkov Tower (and Crawling Babies; East River, South)
- Museum of Sex Machines (East River, North)
- Strahov Monastery (only if you pay for the guided tour; West River)
- Letna Park (West River – really North River)
- Metronome (West River – really North River)
- Quo Vadis (West River)
- R2-D2 Ventilation Shaft (and Minion Ventilation Shaft; East River, South)
- Grotta (East River, South)
- Idiom book sculpture at the Municipal Library (East River, North)
- Prague Astronomical Clock (East River, North)
- Jan Hus Monument (East River, North)
- Hanging Man (Sigmund Freud hanging over street; East River, North)
- Olsany Cemetery (East River, South)
- Wenceslas Square (East River, North)
- Rudolfinum (East River, North)
- Vinarna Certovka (super narrow walkway; West River)
- Museum of Miniatures (if you have 10 minutes and cash to burn; West River)
- Lennon Wall (don’t bother, and I’m a huge fan of John Lennon and The Beatles; West River)
(And one thing I wanted to do but was closed when I was there – the paternoster at the New City Hall.)
As for guides, I’ve got two things to help you. First, while there are specific districts in Prague (see here), they didn’t really help when it came to organizing where I wanted to go on a daily basis. Since the city is really divided by the Vltava River, I split the city into three primary regions: West River, East River North (a.k.a. Old Town), and East River South.
Based on these three regions, I came up with several shorter tours that you could do with corresponding maps (in Google Maps) and with guide information that may prove helpful (though, verify it all as I used ChatGPT to generate the information). If the tours prove shorter than you’d like, you could combine them into longer tours.
Tour 1 – Prague Castle and Environs
I’d suggest making a day out of visiting Prague Castle, the Deer Moat, and the Royal Gardens. Entering Prague Castle is free, but entering the specific buildings requires a ticket and the audio tour is a separate charge (cash only as well). There is enough to see around the castle that you could spend a full day seeing it all. Here’s a map from Charles Bridge:
Do note that you can click on the map, open it in Google Maps, and customize it. Also, note that the map takes you to the entrance of the Royal Gardens, but the gardens are enormous (there is actually a northern part (very big) and a southern part that you can visit as you enter the Prague Castle complex. The Royal Gardens and the Deer Moat are both free and not very busy. The map also takes you to the western entrance of the Deer Moat. If you follow the Deer Moat all the way, it will take you all the way to the east of the Prague Castle complex. So, my suggested route would be: enter the Prague Castle complex from the east, see the Southern Gardens, get your tickets and enjoy the Prague Castle tour, go to the Royal Gardens and explore for a while but don’t follow them all the way to the east as they exit onto a busy street, then head back to the same entrance of the Royal Gardens and work your way around to the western entrance of the Deer Moat. Follow the Deer Moat all the way through (west to east) then exit at the eastern end (there is a path that exits, but it requires a bit of up and down walking on a walkway (not for those afraid of heights). It will exit close to where you entered the castle complex on the eastern side.
And here is a free downloadable information guide generated by ChatGPT that will provide some mostly accurate background information.
Tour 2 – West River-North (a.k.a. Old Town)
For this tour, I’d suggest starting at the Old Town Square. While it’s pretty touristy, it’s definitely worth seeing and there is a lot around it. While there, check out the Jan Hus Monument, the Astronomical Clock, the Church of St. Nicholas, the Old Town Hall, the House at the Minute, the Storch House, the House at the Stone Bell, and the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn. Right next to it, assuming you’re into that sort of thing, is the Sex Machine Museum (mildly interesting IMO), which you could do before you move on. After the Sex Machine Museum, see if you can visit the Clementinum (buy tickets in advance; they sell out quickly). The library and views from the tower are 100% worth it. From there, you can skip the Rudolfinum (nice building, but not worth visiting unless you’re going to a show there) and, if it’s open, head to the New City Hall to ride the paternoster (it wasn’t open when I was there) then cross the street to the Municipal Library to see Idiom. From there, you have a bit of a walk across the river to Letna Park to see the Metronome, which replaced a massive monument to Stalin. Head back across the river to see a cool Monument to Franz Kafka, then to the Speculum Alchemiae, which is a relatively brief tour of an alchemist’s workshop underneath a building in Old Town (cash only). Next is the Museum of Communism (super informative and worth visiting). From there, head south to Wenceslas Square, which is more a street than a square and is pretty touristy, then on to see two David Czerny installations: one in Palace Lucerna of King Wenceslas riding an upside-down dead horse, and the other the moving head of Franz Kafka. Final stop – Sigmund Freud hanging from a metal pole over a street. This is a long walking tour (5 kilometers or so) and will cover most of the day if you visit everything along the way and take your time. Stop for lunch along the way – there are tons of restaurant options.
Again, you can click on the map above and customize it as you wish. Skip some things or add some things. Up to you. But this makes a nearly full circle and minimizes distances between things to see. Here’s another ChatGPT generated guide to provide additional information along the way.
Tour 3 – West River
In addition to Prague Castle on the west side of the Vltava River, there are some other cool things to see and do. Here’s the tour I’d recommend. First, get online and book a guided tour at the Strahov Monastery. The libraries there truly are amazing and a sight to behold. But, you don’t get to physically walk into them unless you paid for a guided tour. I didn’t and am a little sad about it. As for getting there, if you’re physically fit, hike up to the monastery through the Petřín Gardens. The views are pretty, it’s good exercise, and almost no one does it (so you can avoid crowds for a while). Otherwise, get an Uber or take public transit up to the Monastery (it’s at the top of a hill past Prague Castle). That’s where the map below starts. Take your time at the Monastery. If you get the full tour, you’ll be there for a while and look around a bit (you can look inside the church, too, which is pretty over-the-top opulent). Once you’re done, if you are super interested in bizarre art and have some cash to burn, you can swing by the Museum of Miniatures which is literally right next to the Strahov Monastery. I did this on the recommendation of a friend. Was it worth 15 minutes of my life and the $10 I spent on it? Not sure. From there, head toward the German Embassy. There is another David Czerny sculpture there, Quo Vadis, but it’s behind the embassy building. You can see it from a park just west of the embassy by looking through the metal bars on the east side of the park, which I marked on the map. Then head further downhill to the Waldstein Gardens (free) which are quite lovely. It consists of a pond, some hedgerows, various fountains and sculptures, the Dripstone Wall and aviary (a.k.a. the grotto), and what looks like an event stage. This would be a great place to sit and relax for a bit. Next, head to another David Czerny installation – Piss (or Golden Shower), a statue of two men pissing on Czechia. Right next to this is the narrowest walkway in Prague, which you can try to walk through but there was a solid 30-minute line when we walked past it, so we skipped it. Then head south to Kampa Island, which has a nice park. Three of David Czerny’s Crawling Babies (identical to those on the Zizkov Tower) are in the park, offering a nice close-up view and good photo ops. (Some may be wondering why the Lennon Wall isn’t on my tour. Um, because it’s lame. It’s a wall of graffiti. I get the historical significance, but, as a fan of John Lennon, I would have enjoyed some really cool, avant-guard John Lennon street art. What I saw instead was a 50 to 80-foot wall of graffiti. Totally not worth visiting, especially since there is graffiti all over Prague. Skip it. You aren’t missing anything. Seriously.) This is a fairly short walking tour of just 3 kilometers. Here’s a map:
And here’s another downloadable tour guide with information generated by ChatGPT.
Tour 4 – East River, South
Unless you really like walking, you may not want to walk this entire route. It’s pretty far. I did it the day before doing a big hike and regretted it a bit. But, if you’ve got the time and want to see some cool stuff that I don’t think is as commonly seen by those visiting Prague and want to see a different part of town, you should check it out. Maybe rent a scooter or use public transit to see some of this. A scooter would be a good way to go.
First up is a ventilation shaft from an old bunker that has been painted to look like R2-D2 from Star Wars in Folimanka Park and Sports Complex. It’s a little tricky to find, so you may have to walk around the park a bit, but it’s there. Another ventilation shaft around the corner from it has been painted to look like a Minion as well. Both are fun things to see. From there, head to Grébovka Park, where there is a beautiful grotto, conveniently just called “Grotta.” It seems like it might have housed statues at one point, but, being publicly accessible, it has, unfortunately, been abused. There was a fair amount of trash in spots, all the statues were gone, and it looked as though it had seen better days. This made me think carefully about what types of things can be public (stuff that cannot easily be defaced or destroyed) and what needs to be made private and charge admission. I’d pay a couple of bucks to see the Grotta in its full glory with cool statues. Alas, no luck there, but it’s still pretty cool. And it’s part of a large park where you can wander around for a bit, relax, and get away from the city. From the Grotta, head to Olsany Cemetery, which is a cemetery that was once outside the city and was used for plague victims. It is now massive and has lots of intriguing tombs and headstones. If you’re into cemeteries, it’s worth a brief visit. Close to the Olsany Cemetery is the Zizkov Tower, which lots of people consider an eyesore. I don’t. Sure, it’s different, but that doesn’t make something bad. Plus, you can visit it, pay to go to a viewing platform, or do what I did and take advantage of the height of the restaurant to have an enjoyable lunch overlooking Prague (note, it’s not a cheap restaurant, but the food is good). Here’s a map:
And here’s an information guide generated by ChatGPT. Again, I’m not going to vouch for the accuracy of the information.