Prague doesn’t have a lot of major attractions that draw international travelers. You won’t find a lot of name recognition as with other European capitals teeming with UNESCO World Heritage Sites and modern architectural delights like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, or The Acropolis. Yet it’s consistently a top-rated city to visit in Europe and one of my personal favorites. In fact, Prague’s appeal is the opposite – that it’s decidedly less touristy.
What feels like a more neighborhoodsy Paris, Prague is all about a vibe. While I rarely advocate for travelling without a plan to maximize your time, it is absolutely the kind of place you can explore without planning your whole day around a specific point of interest. Old Town is a feast for the senses, a twisting maze of alleys, squares and numbered districts ripe for discovery.
So instead of burying yourself in a guide, put the phone and the books down and take in the men blowing bubbles in whimsy, the street musicians hoping to hit it big and the sensuous foreign fruits you can’t help but to want to try. Use these recommendations as a base, but to really take in the city, you simply have to get lost in the right direction. Stumble around in search of your favorite café, brewery or street market. They’re plentiful and wonderful.
Pack your walking shoes because Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle complex in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Occupying over 18 acres, the behemoth area is a smattering of stately buildings and three courtyards in virtually every architectural style of the last millennium. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, ascend the steps for the most breathtaking panorama of the city. Depending on your interests, there are stables, art galleries, churches, and gardens to explore. It is also the current office of the President of the Czech Republic.
John Lennon Wall
The John Lennon Wall was a place for young Czechs to practice freedom of speech during the communist era. Adorned with Beatles quotes and political graffiti, it was a way to peacefully protest, which became an even more poignant tribute after Lennon’s death. The police would constantly whitewash over it, yet new messages for peace and revolution would continue to appear. They eventually gave up and to this day it’s still an ever-evolving art wall. The only place where graffiti is legal in Prague, it’s constantly being repainted so each time you visit, there will be new quotes and designs. If you’re feeling inspired, you can offer the locals a few bucks to borrow some spray paint and contribute your own thoughts to the piece — at least temporarily.
Prague Astronomical Clock
The center of Old Town, the Astronomical Clock is the oldest of its kind in the world that’s still operational. A living symbol of medieval ingenuity and design, the clock displays the time, date, position of celestial bodies, astronomical cycles, and Christian holidays. On the hour, every hour, the clock chimes and the twelve Apostle figurines appear, representing heavy life lessons like death and vanity. There are many legends and lore surrounding the clock mostly as to why a skeleton is mounted next to it. Whatever you believe, make sure you climb the twisting staircase inside the clock to see the inner workings of the mechanisms and explore underground town hall.
One of the most photographed spots in Prague, the Charles Bridge is a Gothic stone bridge over the Vltava River. The sides are flanked by observation towers and 30 Baroque statues line the pedestrian walkway. It’s a popular spot for street vendors and musicians to sell their wares and for young artists to be inspired. See it from land and the water on a river cruise.
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