The kind of sightseeing Prague can offer is stunning. It has its own style, layered in cobbles and spiked with hundreds of spires.
But, Prague can also be a little overwhelming.
So, how do you approach all the sights? There's so much to see and do that it can make your head hurt.
No worries! I have a few ideas to help you make the most of your visit. Travel is always easier with a friendly local, right?
While working in a hotel, I would sometimes get great questions from guests like...
Where would you go, if you were visiting Prague?
What would you do in Prague?
So, instead of me answering this question for you right now - ask everyone you meet. The more you ask locals, the more diverse the answers will be.
Ask anyone from your taxi driver to your waiter, "Where would you go?"
If they hesitate, don't let them back out with standard sightseeing junk. Especially if they speak English or your language.
If the person, is reluctant to say something, give them a little prod with "prosím" (please in Czech). That's pronounced 'pro-seem' and will certainly break the ice :-)
Maybe they have a favorite restaurant in their home neighborhood, or a coffee shop they love. Their answers will likely suggest something you never would find on your own.
Prague's historical center is incredibly compact. Lots of little streets and passageways packed together, often with lots of tourists.
So, from street level you miss the real sense of how the city put together. A map might help but it lacks real perspective.
Do yourself a favor. Visit a tower and get above the crowds and rooftops. I really can't stress this tip enough!
Many towers throughout the city are accessible. And all will give you a fantastic perspective, each one different.
My favorite in Old Town is the Old Town Hall Tower right on the square. It's the busiest, so get there early. It has a fabulous wrap around view, and an elevator!
Other recommended towers include...
Prague has an excellent public transport system, so let's put it to good use.
For example, if you've just visited the castle you can hop on the number 22 tram at any of these stops and take it across the city for a fulfilling ride of sights.
Tram stops to catch the 22:
Trams follow the same route in both directions, so you can take the 22 to the castle also. In this case, catch the 22 at Namesti Miru or I.P. Pavlova.
For more local appeal, take the tram to its end stop. At the final stop, the driver will take a break and then you can get right back on in a few minutes. The key to this experience is that you'll get out of the central tourist zone for more of real life in Prague.
Also, you can hop-on and hop-off the tram at will. On the same ticket. Just stay within your time limit (The 90 minute ticket is recommended.)
Other popular routes include the 9, 17 and 18. The 9 and 18 cross the city similarly to the 22, and the 17 follows the riverfront for awhile on the Old Town side.
Buried here at number 4, is one of my favorite sightseeing Prague tips. Congrats if you made it this far!
It's completely normal to plan your days with major sights in mind. A general plan would go... "Let's go to Prague Castle and then walk to Charles Bridge." It's a simple plan that happens thousands of times a day.
But, it's also a generic plan.
Remember, Prague is a very compact city. This means you can pack your time with other smaller sights -- between the main attractions. So, what about your in-between time? What will you see between the castle and the bridge?
For me, this is where the real excitement comes in!
Just from the castle to the bridge, you could easily add these places to your timeline.
So, give your in-between time some good thought.
You can also apply this logic to the time you spend traveling within the city.
Sometimes, I like to get off the tram a couple stops early so I can add something to my day. Why go directly to the main attraction when there are delicious appetizers along the way?
On the surface this tip might sound boring. Gardens? Parks?
But, some of Prague's green spaces are absolutely unique.
I'm talking about unusual places to see, hidden spots, beer gardens and more. So, go ahead and brush this tip off. But, you'll be missing out on a world of Instagram worthy hot spots.
As a bonus, you can add a garden or park to your standard sightseeing Prague day. You won't even have to leave the main tourist areas.
Of course, if you venture out of the city center you'll be treated to Obora Hvězda park and the Botanical Gardens near Troja Chateau. That's just for starters!
Find your favorite green space from these 10 parks in Prague.
You are ready to explore the city. But by 2 pm you're exhausted.
I used to see guests coming back to our hotel at this time, totally wiped out. Of course, you can come back to your hotel, but sometimes that's an added hour of travel/planning time. That adds up.
So, find an awesome cafe, sit down and recharge.
I don't mention this tip lightly. It's not just about sitting down and relaxing. It's also a nudge to experience Prague's cafe culture. There are hundreds of wonderful, local places to try.
And you can add them to your day easily. There is always a cafe near your destination. No matter where you're going.
Best of all, cafes are totally fine if you stay and relax. And it's a prime opportunity to Ask a Local (see tip 1 above).
You're tired of the crowds and just want a quiet place near Charles Bridge, that's not called Starbucks.
No problem. Here are 3 non-touristy, friendly places to save you...
See how easy that is? And you can do this with most areas.
It gets a little tricky when you get to the castle. So you might want to plan a stop before going up the hill.
Plan your time. Period.
I know. Planning isn't fun and it can be hard when there are lots of unanswered questions.
But, I'm not adding this sightseeing tip just so I can fill out 10 places. It's from my experience with hundreds of visitors ;-)
Start simple. If you're sightseeing, decide what to explore and then allocate a chunk of time to each one. You don't have to be restrictive, it's just to give yourself some structure.
For example, give yourself a half-day to see Prague Castle.
Then come down from the castle and stay in Lesser Town (Malá Strana) for the second half of your day. I like using half-day chunks, but it's up to you.
Then, try to fill in some empty slots with ideas as suggested in tip #4 above.
The same goes for using public transport. Plan both ends of your travel in advance.
I like to recommend changing your route to/from your accommodation. Prague is simple to get around, so put it to your advantage. And, get a few tickets at once, because they aren't easy to find after you start, or a full day pass.
It's understandable that Old Town and the castle get most of the attention when it comes to sightseeing in Prague. But, in our opinion, you don't get a real feeling for the city unless you venture out of these "safe" tourist areas. These Prague sites are almost in isolation compared to the rest of the city.
So if you want a fuller sightseeing Prague experience, get out of the main city center. We don't mean you have to take a train to a village - just take a tram or the metro outside the stuff everyone talks about.
Don't worry, these places aren't far or hard to find. And, traveling outside the main sights will lift the veil on Prague tourism. You'll get to see some local life, not the standard environments that downtown stores and info centres expect you to see. After all, the life in the main tourist areas can be less indicative of real Czech culture.
You don't have to be a night owl to enjoy nighttime sightseeing in Prague. Just after dinner, plan to take a little stroll or tram ride to see the city in lights, because there is a MUST SEE sight - Prague Castle from the Old Town side of Vltava River.
As the sky gets dark, the lights on the castle are remarkable, romantic, one-of-kind, fantastic... you name it! They light up the night sky with reverence and Charles Bridge is magical too. What's great is that this scene replays itself every night almost regardless of the weather.
To get a full picture of this unique Prague event, head to the National Theatre (tram stop Národní Divadlo). Then walk to the bridge nearby. Enough said.
By the way, the city is safe at night. We even travel Prague pulling the kids along with us to dinner. (Of course, the later the night the more adult Prague gets.)
Yeah, I know. This is not the suggestion you probably wanted to read. But it's absolutely helpful if you want to get a head start on sightseeing Prague. Just an hour in the morning can make a huge difference.
What's funny is that you don't have to get up at 6 am to beat the rush. But if you get to the sights from 8 or even 9, you will have much more access to see, do and photo what you want.
Charles Bridge, for example, is much calmer at 9 am as opposed to 10. And, Prague Castle is ideal to see from the earliest opening hour. Take the 22 tram to Pražsky Hrad, and buy tickets early to beat the mad rush. This will certainly give you a better perspective of the cathedral and other parts of the castle.
All of these tips can be used for travel in general. This idea came from my own travels, so it's like a reminder to myself. Maybe you can appreciate its essence too.
I love a good info-packed city guide. The Rick Steves guide book or something from Lonely Planet... they'll all good! I also value the endless download possibilities we have, right to our little devices - in our pockets!
But, what good is a trip if I'm buried in my guide book, or consumed by my phone?
So my subtle suggestion is to myself and you... Put down your guide book, and your phone. Let your senses guide you.
Prague especially is an exhibition for the senses. Let its beauty guide by what you see, smell, touch and taste.
Sorry Mr. Guide Book. You can only get me so far. I got this!
Drop me a note in the Facebook comments below! Did these sightseeing Prague tips help or inspire you?