Prague isn’t usually the first city mentioned when planning a trip to Europe. But maybe it should be. Typically, you have to get past the big names (London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam) before Prague is even considered as a destination. It doesn’t have the overt allure of Paris, the buzz of London, or the cool factor that Amsterdam does. But it does have allure, buzz, and is definitely a very cool city. Some even say it’s the most beautiful and most romantic city in Europe. My vote’s still out, but it’s up there! If you can spend even a day wandering through the historic maze that is the capital of the Czech Republic, don't miss it.
Where Is Prague?
Tourist Traps and Overrated Sights
While it may not be the first Euro-trip destination, Prague is still very popular with tourists. In fact, like any of the other cities I mentioned, Prague too has its list of sights swarming with tourists almost 24/7. Some are worth it, others are not. Time Out has a great list of the typical things to do in Prague (see the Prague Castle, watch the Astronomical Clock, drink beer, etc), and In Your Pocket´s channel on Youtube has a good overview of the main sights.
- 20 great things to do in Prague - Time Out Prague
Read about 20 great things to do in Prague - Time Out Prague
But my Prague experience was amazing, not because I went to Prague Castle or saw the Astronomical Clock, but because I went beyond the typical list of top sights. Walk around the castle, and go look at the clock (but really, waiting for the hour change is not very impressive), but then get off the beaten path!
1. A Walking Tour of Prague (at Night)
Prague is perhaps most beautiful at night. I did the free walking tour during the day, but it couldn't compare to the magic of strolling across one of the bridges at dusk, watching the colors reflected on the water as the sky turned pink and red and magenta. No wonder people say it's the most romantic city. So, go without a map, stroll the cobblestone streets, and discover Prague at night.
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2. The Vysehrad
Ok, so you want to see Prague Castle. Go see it. Walk around it. But I don't recommend buying the expensive ticket to enter. Instead save your money, take a tram, and head to the Vysehrad. The what?! The Vysehrad "the Castle on the Heights" is basically a park, complete with ruins, a beautiful cemetery and church, which is slightly south of the center. Not only is it a tranquil place to recharge to escape from the hoards of tourists, but it has some of the best views of the city. And it's free!
3. The Love Lock Bridge
The tradition goes that you carve the name of you and your love into the lock, lock it onto the bridge, and throw the key into the water, declaring your undying love. It's arguable where this trend began, but love locks have been around in Europe for a long, long time. They say the locks in Prague are fairly new, but the number is impressive. The bridge on Velkoprevorske Namesti is unnamed, but if you ask around, it's not too hard to find.
4. The Letenské Sady and the Metronome
The Letendské Sady is another park in Prague, but I mention it for a couple of reasons. First of all, it has an interesting monument, the Metronome, in the place where a giant monument to Stalin used to stand. It represents the memory of the legacy of Stalin and of Soviet control. Other than the views of the city from the Metronome, Letendské Sady also has a nice beer garden on the north end of the park. Mmm Czech beer.
5. The John Lennon Wall
I love the graffiti here, especially because it shows life and vitality against the backdrop of a historic, old city. Its themes revolve around peace and anti-war, at first a symbol of resistance against the communist government, still continuing to change. Near the lock bridge, and again a little hard to find, the John Lennon Wall is a hidden treasure in Prague. Also, the part of the city in which the wall is located is filled with narrow, medieval streets just waiting to be explored.
And So Much More!
I know this list isn't comprehensive—but it shouldn't be! The city should be explored (by foot, by tram, by metro, by bike...) and you shouldn't follow any travel sight list religiously. No Lonely Planet will have everything. Just be open to discovering Prague for yourself. Maybe you can even give me some new hidden treasures! Happy travels!