By Briana Seftel
It’s time to czech Prague off your bucket list. Known as the “City of a Hundred Spires,” the capital of the Czech Republic is an architectural gem and one of the best preserved cities in Europe. The walkable city straddling the Vltava River is ideal for a weekend getaway or starting point to the rest of the beautiful Czech Republic. Here are the top 10 things to do in Prague, especially if it's your first time visiting.
1. Wander through Old Town Square
The likely starting point to your Prague sightseeing, Old Town Square has been the city’s main public square since the 10th century. Buzzing with activity all year long, the square really comes alive during the holiday season with the Christmas Market. While taking your time to wander the square, don't miss the Town Hall with the world famous astronomical clock, Tyn Cathedral, Church of St. Nicholas and countless pastel-hued houses.
2. Walk over Charles Bridge
Commissioned in the 14th century by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, Charles Bridge was, at one time, the only bridge connecting the Old Town with Prague Castle. Over 30 statues adorn both sides of the bridge, where locals and tourists happily stroll and artists set up shop. If you really want to visit the bridge without the crowds, get there at dawn!
3. Tour Prague Castle
Home to some of the country’s greatest treasures, Prague Castle is the city’s most popular attraction, and for good reason. A complex of churches and palaces encircled by mighty walls, the castle has been the seat of Czech monarchs for centuries and to this day, the Czech president works here. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world!
4. Visit the Prague Jewish Museum
Located in Prague’s vibrant Jewish quarter, the Jewish Museum is one of the oldest museums of its kind in the world. Home to about 40,000 objects and 100,000 books, the museum was established in 1906 as a way to preserve the history and culture of Czech Jews. Present day, the museum consists of four synagogues, a cemetery, ceremonial hall and gallery.
5. Stare in awe at two stunning libraries
Prague lays claim to not one, but two truly beautiful libraries: Strahov Monastic Library and Clementinum. The former is home to over 200,000 volumes, stunning ceiling frescoes and two secret passageways hidden by bookshelves and opened with fake books. The latter, part of the historical Clementinum complex, is a baroque masterpiece housing thousands of theological volumes dating back to 1600.
6. Pay your respects at Lennon Wall
Since the 1980s, visitors from all over the world flock to this colorful, graffitied wall dedicated to John Lennon. Throughout its history, the wall has undergone several incarnations, including being whitewashed by the Knights of Malta, who own the wall. Perhaps symbolic of the resilience of the Czech people, the wall continues to be adorned with Lennon's lyrics and images.
7. See the Astronomical Clock
Travelers from all over the world gather in front of the 15th century Astronomical Clock to watch the hourly show, just like they have for centuries. Every hour on the hour, a show depicting the procession of the Twelve Apostles takes place. The show ends with a real-life trumpeter, dressed in full medieval regalia, sounding his horn from the tower.
8. Unwind at Vrtba Garden
One of several high Baroque gardens in the city, Vrtba Garden is located on the slope of Petrin Hill and is the perfect place to take a breather. Adjacent to Vrtba Palace, the garden has remained virtually untouched since the 1700s, and is filled with unique features like elegant staircases, decorated banisters, terraces, statues, hedges and flower beds.
9. Climb to the top of Petrin Lookout Tower
Resembling a mini Eiffel Tower, Petrin Tower is a 200-ft steel tower at the top of Petrin Hill. After visiting the 1889 World Exposition in Paris, members of the Czech Tourist Club were inspired to create their own version. Climb the 299 steps to the top and take in the incredible views - on a clear day, you can see the Czech Republic's highest peak, Snezka.
Photo via Instagram user @paschspicee
10. Have a beer at Letna Beer Garden
No visit to Prague would be complete without a visit to the city’s best beer garden. Located at the eastern end of Letna Gardens, this is the perfect place to sip a cold pilsner and take in the amazing views over Prague. Purchase beer and light fare from the kiosk, then find a picnic table and settle in.
Looking for more ideas on traveling to the Czech Republic? Read our travel editor's recommended travel guide to Prague for more tips and ideas.