What to do in Prague by your own? The top attractions, routes, photos. Where to stay for the night and to go in Prague with children, what to visit in the surroundings – in a detailed overview of good Time for Trip.
An increasing number of people today dream of traveling. While most people habitually go on organized group trips, the number of those who travel independently is constantly growing.
Naturally, this requires preparation – in particular, you will have to buy tickets, book hotel rooms, plan activities. The latter is especially important!
So when it comes to what to visit in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, planning an approximate itinerary is crucial. In any case, this is what any experienced traveler does.
Again, much depends on the duration of the trip. After all, some people claim that it’s impossible to do in Prague all the obligatory things even in 3-4 days. But we disagree and believe that you can see the main highlights and get the right impression in that time.
Will you be able to feel the aura of this city and immerse yourself in the charm of its historic buildings? It all depends on the intensity of your routes: it’s one thing to stroll, and quite another to rush.
It’s also important to decide whether you want to splurge on a guided tour. A good, non-standard guide can tell you about the history and immerse you in the atmosphere of this truly extraordinary city in just a few hours.
Interesting Places in Prague
The starting day of your stay should be devoted entirely to visiting Prague Castle. This sort of a visit is undoubtedly the first thing tourists should do in Prague.
You just need to clarify one aspect: how much time are you willing to completely immerse yourself in its exploration?
Although the complex opens at 6 a.m., St. Vitus Cathedral and other historic buildings open at 9. The exhibits begin to work at 10!
Visiting the towers and walls, the Old Royal Palace, and Queen Anne’s Summer Palace, St. Vitus Cathedral, the picture gallery, and the charming Golden Lane will definitely take a lot of your energy.
If you wish, you can purchase an audio guide. Many are willing to listen to a human guide’s narration. Even in 2023, 100-150 euros for a comprehensive story about the history and all the attractions of such a place is not too expensive. Especially if you split the cost among a group of up to 4-6 people.
If you choose a more expensive hotel, you can walk to the Castle in 15-20 minutes. Otherwise, we recommend using the well-developed here public transport or taking the Prague Metro.
Old Town (Staré Město)
Try dedicating some time to exploring the old part of the city independently. In particular, visit the heart of Prague, the Old Town Square with the Town Hall, where the famous Prague Astronomical Clock is located.
Next to the tower with the chimes, it is usually impossible to push through the crowds of tourists trying to figure out what all those circles mean. And, of course, they are not inclined to move to allow you to solve this puzzle also.
On the square, you’ll find the very Gothic and uniquely Czech Týn Church (make sure to go inside) and the Kinsky Palace, which is part of the National Gallery. The latter is a beautiful example of Rococo architecture and is especially impressive from the outside.
The famous “Stone Bell House” (Dům U Kamenného zvonu) is the oldest building on the Old Town Square. It dates back to the 13th century, and this is all that remains of the old royal palace where the future King Charles IV’s mother lived, the king who transformed Prague into a wonderfully beautiful city.
We also recommend taking a look at the Old Town Square from above, from the top of the local town hall tower.
Also, you can learn Prague’s secrets and interesting stories with a local guide. Prague will reveal itself to you from a completely different, cozy, and charming perspective.
From the Old Town Square, it’s easy to walk to:
Clementinum and Powder Tower
The first one is the largest complex of historical buildings in the city, if we exclude Prague Castle. In the past, it was the college of the Jesuits, a state within a state.
Today, 50-minute guided tours are offered at Clementinum, which include a visit to the 68-meter-high Astronomical Tower, where you can also get a great view of the entire old town.
Then, if you think it’s not time yet to go to the Vltava River and study the sculptures on Charles Bridge, then head in the opposite direction first, towards the Powder Tower. Its dome will beckon you all the time as you explore the old neighborhoods on this side of the river.
The Powder Tower dates back to the second half of the 15th century, and you can also climb to the top.
Smoked by centuries
with statues of saints on the balustrade and fairy-tale-like Gothic towers at the edges is one of Prague’s main attractions. It’s simply impossible not to see it, the main pedestrian thoroughfare that connects the banks of the Vltava River.
One side of Charles Bridge is adorned with the Old Town Bridge Tower, construction of which began in the mid-14th century. It’s obvious that for a standard fee of around 200 Czech crowns per person, anyone can climb to its viewing platform.
In reviews, however, it is advised to look at Prague from the other side of Charles Bridge, from the Lesser Town Bridge Tower. The reason is simple – the view from its top is excellent.
For those planning to visit Prague in November or in the winter, it’s better to dress warmly for such an event. It can get quite cold up there!
Left Bank of the Vltava River
In this part of Prague, we recommend seeing:
Lesser Town Square with the Church of St. Nicholas. It’s right on the natural route from the Vltava River to Prague Castle.
Prague Loreto, a complex of religious buildings and a pilgrimage center that has developed around a Catholic church. It’s an interesting and very original example of Baroque architecture.
Schwarzenberg Palace on Hradčany Square. You may have heard of it and its sgraffito-style Venetian technique façade.
Seeing this masterpiece of decorative art is a must thing being in Prague, especially since there are hardly any similar examples in Venice itself.
Nearby is the imposing, though less elegant, Salm Palace, another National Gallery site. The exhibition is dedicated to 19th-century art and modern trends in painting.
Sternberg Palace is next door but doesn’t visually make as strong an impression.
Matthias Gate invites you to enter the Castle once again. But during high-seasons months the queue for entry in the afternoon will suggest that it’s not worth it…
Where to Stay
Not as expensive as its location and name might suggest is the Prague hotel The King Charles, which is located right next to Prague Castle in a 17th-century building.
Guests have a chance to feel like influential figures and have a hearty breakfast before exploring the city. However, for a truly royal, hearty breakfast, you’ll need to pay a substantial amount.
We must also mention the much more budget-friendly Hotel Golden City Garni for travelers in a quieter neighborhood of Žižkov. There is a tram stop nearby, and it’s only a few stops to the city center. The hotel has its own parking, and guests are served hearty breakfasts included in the room price. Which is quite modest for Prague.
We particularly recommend the cozy guesthouse Pension Apartment Granit, located in Prague 8. It may not be in the city center, but it offers a lush environment and clean air. Plus, the views from the guesthouse’s terrace are outstanding!
Furthermore, there is free private parking, which is especially convenient for those traveling around the Czech Republic by car.
Relatively close (10 minutes by car or public transport) to the guesthouse, you’ll find the Botanical Garden and Prague Zoo, as well as the Troja Summer Palace. This charming Italian-style residence is open for tours – if you will visit Prague in the summer be sure to pay it a visit.
What to Do with Kids and…
On the third day of your stay, we recommend taking a break from the historical and architectural theme, especially if you’re traveling with young ones. Prague has plenty of child-friendly activities.
In particular, we recommend visiting Prague Zoo, which can be easily explored independently without guides.
The main zoo in the Czech Republic (and one of the largest in Europe) is located on the outskirts of the city, in the Troja area. You can get there from the city center by taking the metro (station: Nadrazi Holesovice) and then bus number 12.
In the summer, you can also take a boat from the city center to the zoo in just over an hour. However, keep in mind that the zoo has shorter opening hours during the winter months, closing at 4 pm.
You may be surprised that we haven’t said anything about Wenceslas Square yet, the largest square in the Czech capital (metro station: Mustek). It’s full of restaurants and cafes and is crowned by the impressive building of the National Museum, which has recently reopened after reconstruction.
You can definitely visit the museum in Prague if you have the time. However, if you don’t, Wenceslas Square offers plenty of options for dining and spending time.
In particular, you can have lunch or dinner at the numerous cafes and restaurants here. However, be aware that prices are not at the lower end – they can certainly surprise Russian tourists who expect Czech Republic to be much cheaper than Western Europe.
You can also get to know the charming old neighborhoods at a leisurely pace. Perhaps, even with an unusual guided tour – through the courtyards and nooks of Prague that tourists rarely see.
Independent travelers can expand their horizons by visiting the historic Jewish Quarter in Josefov, in the Old Town. It’s located to the north of the Old Town Square and also doesn’t often get the attention of rushing tourists.
Yet, the Jewish Quarter is one of the most interesting places in Prague, primarily because of its well-preserved condition.
In the late 19th century, this area underwent complete reconstruction and was filled with new houses. Today, it flaunts a well-kept charm and is one of those places where it’s just pleasant to take a leisurely stroll.
Despite the rebuilding, the Josefov district has several historic synagogues, a town hall, and a Jewish cemetery.
The nearby Agnes Monastery, founded in the 13th century, has survived to our time in almost perfect condition. It houses a considerable number of exhibits illustrating medieval religious art.
On the opposite bank of the Vltava River, you’ll find the lush Letná Gardens. From which open excellent panoramic views of the Czech capital.
What to Visit Near Prague
It’s time to relax after the busy days you’ve had. However, since time is limited, we suggest not wasting it and planning a countryside excursion. In the vicinity of Prague, you can see two major castles. And even visiting one of them will provide you with unique experiences.
For example, Karlstejn Castle was founded by the legendary King Charles IV and is undeniably one of the top five attractions in the Czech Republic. Seasoned architecture enthusiasts may express dissatisfaction with its relatively fresh appearance, as it’s expected to be more weathered, considering its age. However, regular, unassuming tourists will enjoy the visit, especially considering how easily accessible Karlstejn Castle is from Prague.
The best way to start is from the main train station of the Czech capital. The distance is approximately 40 km, and the castle is located in a small and cozy town.
The reviews about Konopiste Castle are even better. This ancient castle underwent a thorough reconstruction at the end of the 19th century and, therefore, tourists will be delighted with the quantity and condition of its interiors. After all, this was once the residence of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire!
To get there, head southeast, about 50 km from Prague. The train arrives at Benesov station, and the castle is just a 2 km walk from there.
Noticeably further from Prague is one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic, Hluboka nad Vltavou. A trip there will take an entire day and be quite exhausting.
The distance from the capital is about 150 km, and you can get there by car, bus, or train. A train journey involves a transfer at Ceske Budejovice.
Dresden and Cesky Krumlov
If you have a bit more time, we recommend taking a day trip, or even a couple of days, to Dresden (approximately 150 km by highway). Dresden is a stunning German city that almost no one chooses as the final destination of their trip.
But why not? Dresden offers many interesting attractions, starting with the Zwinger and the Picture Gallery, and ending with the precious collection of the Green Vault! Moreover, along the way, you’ll see amazing landscapes of the Czech Switzerland, and then its counterpart in Saxony.
You can get to Dresden from Prague by both train and bus. There are also regular organized tours with professional guides.
Regardless of the season, bus trips from Prague to Karlovy Vary remain incredibly popular. They offer an in-depth experience of the famous balneological resort.
It’s also quite natural to plan a self-guided trip from Prague to Cesky Krumlov, a town with a huge, well-preserved citadel and a unique aura only found in small Czech towns. And nothing more!