We visited beautiful Prague at the very beginning of October 2021 as a present to ourselves for our 4th wedding anniversary.
After many recommendations, we went to Prague to see for ourselves if all the wonderful things we had been told were true. If it was for real one of the most impressive cities in Europe, as many say, or if once there it would have let us down.
Let’s buckle up, though, and dive into this new adventure called “Prague in 3 marvellous days” without further ado.
We arrived in Prague the night before (we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel in Nové Město that cost us 30.50€/ 35.26$), so our first day began with a decent breakfast at our hotel and a hop-on-hop-off bus tour that brought us to the discovery of the city’s layout and major landmarks.
We took the bus at Na Příkopě 16 around 11 am and it took a little over one hour to complete the loop. The ticket cost 600 CZK / 23.67€ / 27.26$ p.p. and included a boat tour. You can find information about this hop-on-hop-off tour by clicking here.
If you’re not interested in taking also the boat tour, have a look at this tour that includes only the hop-on-hop-off bus experience for 445.7 CZK / 18€ / 20$ p.p.
After the bus tour, we visited Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) in the heart of the New Town (Nové Město), the area laid out in 1348 by Charles IV.
1. Wenceslas Square
Wenceslas Square is a 750m/ 2461ft-long and 60m/197ft-wide boulevard originally laid out as the Prague horse market 650 years ago. Ever since it has been a parade ground for all kinds of organisations and political parties. From anti-communist uprisings to celebrations of national sporting achievements.
At the top of Wenceslas Square is the monumental National Museum, and just off to the left is the Prague State Opera.
In front of the National Museum, a statue of St. Wenceslas on his horse cuts a striking figure. This is King Wenceslas (Svatý Václav) himself, murdered a thousand years ago by his brother, and the patron saint of the Czech Republic.
On the ground near St. Wenceslas, two plaques commemorate those killed during the communist era. They dedicated one to Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in protest at the Soviet invasion.
Later, we had lunch in a fantastic Lebanese restaurant called “Jaffa” in Na Příkopě 12. The food was amazingly delicious, especially the hummus, and both the waiter and the owner were super nice and friendly. The stunning garden patio on the inside was just the icing on the cake. We enjoyed this place, so if you like Middle Eastern food and happen to be nearby, don’t miss it!
After lunch, we walked to the Powder Gate Tower (Prašná brána), one of the most significant monuments of Late Gothic Prague.
2. Powder Gate Tower
Completed in 1475, this monumental entrance by which the coronation processions of Czech kings entered the Old Town (called the “Royal Route to Prague Castle”) formerly served as a gunpowder store.
It can trace its origins back to the 11th century, when the original gate tower was one of 13 entrances to Prague’s Old Town. Work on the present structure began during the reign of King Vladislav II in 1475 and was modelled on the Old Town Bridge Tower, built a century earlier and standing at the base of Charles Bridge.
Originally known as the New Tower, they changed its name to the Powder Tower in the 18th century to reflect its new function.
Today, the Powder Tower houses an exhibition entitled “Prague Towers” and photos by Ladislav Sitensky.
You can climb the 186 steps inside the tower to reach the viewing platform at 44m/114ft, for views over the Old Town.
Entrance fee: 90 CZK/ 3.54€ / 4.09$ p.p
Then we went to Old Town Square for a sneak peek, as we intended to take the boat trip from Štefánikův most at 3 pm and we were running a bit late.
After this beautiful little cruise on the Vlatava River, where we could have a first glimpse of the world-famous Charles Bridge and many other beautiful buildings for the first time, we went back to the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) to have a proper look at it.
3. Old Town Square
The Old Town Square, the oldest most significant square of historical Prague, was founded in the 10th century when it served as a marketplace at the crossroads of European trade routes and has been witness to many historical events, such as coronations, executions, and important speeches.
Besides the Old Town Hall (Staroměstská radnice) with its famous Astronomical Clock and the Church of Our Lady before Týn (Kostel Matky Boží před Týnem), in this square, you can also admire the Baroque Church of St Nicholas, the Rococo Kinský Palace, the Gothic House at the Stone Bell (Dům U Kamenného zvonu), and the memorial to Jan Hus (Pomník mistra Jana Husa), a Czech church reformer executed in 1415, whose teachings had a profound influence on the history of the Czech nation.
Besides, on the square’s pavement are memorial stones marking the execution of 27 leaders of the Czech anti-Habsburg resistance in 1621, and the Prague meridian (Pražský poledník).
The square area is just over 9000 m2/ 96875 ft2. Because of its importance, they declared the Old Town Square a national cultural monument in 1962.
The absolute highlight of Old Town Square is the famous Prague Astronomical Clock. It is a medieval astronomical clock mounted on the Old Town Hall and shows the current position of selected celestial objects. The lower part is a calendar dial and shows the current day on a beautiful dial. The clockmaker Hanus installed it in 1410. They say the people in charge of the town council blinded him after the completion so that he wouldn’t be able to create such a remarkable clock elsewhere.
On the hour, the 12 apostles parade past the clock’s windows whilst allegories of vanity, greed, extravagance and death move in front of hundreds of intrigued spectators. You can view this spectacle from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
The tower of the Old Town Hall is open to the public and its observation deck offers amazing views of Old Town Square.
Entrance fee: 250 CZK/ 9.84€/ 11.34$ p.p.
From there, we headed to Charles Bridge (Karlův most), Prague’s oldest bridge.
4. Charles Bridge
Charles Bridge, a stone Gothic bridge that connects the Old Town and Lesser Town (Malá Strana), was built at the behest of the Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV in the 14th century to replace the previous one named “Judith’s Bridge” in 1342, when a flood destroyed it.
It is made of sandstone blocks, 516m/1693ft long, 9.5m/31ft wide (it was one of the mightiest bridge constructions of its time), it rests on 16 vaults of different spans reaching from 17 to 23 m (from 56 to 75 ft).
Unlike its predecessor, Charles Bridge has survived many floods, most recently in August 2002 when the country experienced the worst flood in the past 500 years.
There is a tower standing on each end of the bridge. You can climb both the Old Town Bridge Tower (Staroměstská věž) on the Old Town end and the Lesser Town Bridge Tower (Malostranská věž) on the Malá Strana end for stunning views of Prague and the bridge from above.
They placed 30 Baroque statues along either side of Charles Bridge in the 17th century. Now many of them are copies, and you can see the originals in the Lapidarium of the National Museum. The most popular statue is probably the one of St. John of Nepomuk, a Czech martyr saint who was executed during the reign of Wenceslas IV by being thrown into the Vltava from the bridge. They have polished the plaque on the statue to a shine by countless people having touched it over the centuries. They say touching the statue brings good luck and ensures your return to Prague.
Charles Bridge is also popular with Czech artists, musicians and souvenir vendors whose stands line both sides of the bridge year-round.
The bridge is now a pedestrian zone (although both tram and car traffic were allowed there in the past) and is almost constantly filled with people.
Old Town Bridge Tower entrance fee: 150CZK/ 5.9€/ 6.82$ p.p.
Lesser Town Bridge Tower entrance fee: 150CZK/ 5.9€/ 6.82$ p.p.
From there, we intended to visit the Jewish neighbourhood (Josefov) and its monuments, but when we got there, we realized everything was closed since it was Saturday, the rest day of the week for Jewish people. So, we decided to have a walk alongside the Vltava river instead and leave Josefov for the following day.
Strolling along the river, we could admire the stunning neo-Renaissance National Theatre (Národní divadlo), many marvellous buildings, and, finally, the so-called Dancing house, inspired by the dance skills of the famous film couple, Fred Astaire, symbolized by the stone, and his partner Ginger Rogers, symbolized by the glass tower.
On our way to the Dancing house, we found a nice place on the river bank where we came back to have dinner after a while. It was a lovely place alongside the river with tables and benches where you can sit, have something to drink, eat, and listen to some good live music. We had a delicious pizza there, lavender and raspberry lemonades.
Despite the name, lemonade in the Czech Republic is not always a soft drink made of lemon. It comes in many flavours such as elderflower, kiwi, pineapple, lavender, etc. and comprises club soda and syrup of various flavours.
After that, we headed back to the Old Town Square and on the way, we found an interesting place called “Fat Cat” in Karlova 44 where we had a little beer degustation.
From there, we tried some hot wine in the Old Town Square and, after that, we went back to our hotel and called it a day.
The second day began with some breakfast at our hotel and a long stroll to Prague Castle, the largest castle in the world. To reach the Castle on foot, you have three options: the car road, the free old castle stairs, or the stairs passing through Fürstenberg Garden.
We went with the third option, as with this one you can use the bathroom, and paid 50 CZK/ 1.97€/ 2.3$ p.p.
Just a slight note: you will find a lot of bathrooms all over the city, but they are not free. You need to pay even for the ones at the station or malls. I don’t know if it’s something normal where you live but it sounded a bit weird to me.
5. Prague Castle
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) is the largest coherent ancient castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70000 m²/753500 ft². A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it comprises a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles.
Since its foundation in the last quarter of the 9th century at the hands of Prince Borivoj, it has been developing uninterruptedly throughout the past eleven centuries. Originally, it used to be the residence of princes and kings of Bohemia, since 1918 it is the seat of the president.
Since 1962, they registered Prague Castle, with its archaeological findings, as the National Cultural Monument No. 1 in the Czech Republic.
The most prominent and striking building in the complex is the Gothic St Vitus Cathedral, whose first stone was laid by Emperor Charles IV in 1344. Inside the cathedral, you’ll find great treasures, such as the tomb of St Vitus, the sepulchre of St John of Nepomuk, the Mausoleum and the Royal Oratory, St Wenceslaus’ Chapel and the crown jewels of the Kings of Bohemia.
If you have time and do not suffer from claustrophobia, be sure to climb the Great South Tower, which has a height of 96 m/315 ft, and beautiful views will reward your effort.
Visitors can enter the castle complex for free, walk around the courtyards, and admire the historic buildings from the outside.
Admission fee: 250 CZK/ 9.86€/ 11.37$ p.p. for the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane, and St. Vitus Cathedral + 150 CZK/ 5.92€/ 6.82$ p.p. for the Great South Tower of the Cathedral with a View Gallery.
In my honest opinion, the Cathedral is spectacular and worth alone the ticket price, but the rest of the so-called castle was not like I expected. I was honestly a bit disappointed. Maybe because I was expecting some like what we had seen in Scotland back in 2019 (have a look here or here if you are into castles), and what we found in Prague was more a palace than a castle. Anyway, it was very pleasant and you can enjoy pretty stunning views of the city from there.
After visiting the Castle, we had a delicious Mexican lunch at Alebrijes, Cocina Mexicana in Všehrdova 436/17 in the Malá Strana neighbourhood. It was extremely good; I recommend it if you are into traditional Mexican food.
Later, we headed to Petřín Gardens (Petřínské sady) to see Petřín Lookout Tower (Petřínská rozhledna), built as part of the Jubilee Exhibition in 1891 as a loose copy inspired by the Eiffel Tower (at a ratio of 1:5).
6. Petřín Lookout Tower
Atop the 318-meter(1043-foot)-high Petrin Hill stands Petřín Lookout Tower, one of the most prominent landmarks of Prague. It is 59 m/194 ft high and rises 378 m/1240 ft above sea level. 299 steps lead to its peak, which is at the same altitude as the real Eiffel Tower. The view from its top overlooks not only the entire city, but on a clear day, you can see nearly all of Bohemia. A lift is available for persons with limited mobility.
Certain similarity to the Eiffel Tower in Paris is undeniable. However, there are also significant differences. The cross-section is octagonal, and not square, as in the Eiffel Tower. The Petřín Lookout Tower does not stand on four columns of lattice steel, as the Parisian tower does. The entrance hall of the Prague tower takes up the entire space below the tower’s legs.
Admission fee: 150 CZK/ 5.92€/ 6.82$ p.p.
To reach the Petrin Lookout Tower, you can walk through Petřín Gardens, as we did, but it can get demanding as the climb is quite steep, and I will not recommend it if you have reduced mobility or travel with a stroller. If so, take the Petrin Funicular, departing from Ujezd street in Lesser Town (Malá Strana), near the Ujezd tram stop. You can purchase a single ticket at the base, top and halfway points for 60 CZK.
Later, we headed to Strahov Monastery (Strahovské nádvoří).
7. Strahov Monastery
Founded in 1140 by Prince Vladislav II, Strahov Monastery is a large impressive building at the back of Petrin Hill and Prague Castle and established for the Premonstratensians, followers of the teachings of St. Augustine.
Unfortunately, we could only visit the Basilica of Assumption of Our Lady from behind a gate and could not visit the over-800-years-old library, the most important feature of the Monastery, which comprises one of the oldest monastic collections in the country. They reserved the entrance to the latter for private tours only.
After that, we went to Loreto (Loreta), a Marian pilgrimage site with the Baroque Church of the Nativity and a replica of the Holy House of Loreto, Italy, surrounded by cloisters and chapels.
Loreto shrine was consecrated in 1631 and, as time passed, they built a church surrounding the Holy House: The Church of the Nativity (Kostel Narození Páně), which was consecrated a little over 100 years later, in 1737. As a result, the shrine is in the middle of the courtyard complex between the church and the cloisters, surrounded by six chapels: The Chapel of Saint Anne, with a side altar of Saint Laurence; The Chapel of Saint Francis Seraphina’sister with a magnificent painting of the Stigmata of Saint Francis; The Chapel of the Holy Family (also called the Chapel of Saint Joseph); The Chapel of the Holy Rood, The Chapel of Saint Anthony of Padua and the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows.
They adorn the interior of the Holy House with 17th-century frescoes and reliefs depicting the life of the Virgin Mary, and an ornate silver altar with a wooden effigy of Our Lady of Loreto.
The tower of the Church of the Nativity is a 27-bell carillon that plays the Loretan Marian song “A Thousand Times We Greet Thee” every hour from 9 am to 6 pm daily.
The Treasury comprises a rare collection of liturgical objects from the 16th to 18th centuries, the most famous of which is the 90cm/35in-tall “Prague Sun”, a monstrance made of solid silver and gold and encrusted with 6222 diamonds.
After completion, the Capuchins, an order connected with the Brotherhood of St. Francis of Assisi, maintained Loreto.
Admission fee: 180 CZK/ 7.1€/ 8.2$ p.p.
After Loreto, we took a stroll through the Malá Strana neighbourhood. Then we headed to Josefov, the Jewish neighbourhood, and visited the wonderful Spanish Synagogue (Španělská synagoga).
9. The Spanish Synagogue
Built in 1868 for the local Reform congregation on the site of the 12th-century Altschul, the oldest synagogue in the Prague ghetto of Terezin, the Spanish Synagogue, is the most recent in Prague Jewish Town.
They called the Spanish Synagogue for its impressive Moorish interior design, influenced by the famous Alhambra, and is known as the most beautiful synagogue in Europe.
The Synagogue hosts a permanent exhibition narrating the history of the Jews in the Bohemian lands from the reforms of Joseph II in the 1780s to the period after the Second World War.
Admission fee: 500CZK / 19.69€ / 22.77$ p.p. (“Prague Jewish Town” ticket which includes the Old Jewish Cemetery, the Old-New Synagogue, the Spanish Synagogue, the Maisel Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue, the Klausen Synagogue, the Ceremonial Hall and the temporary exhibitions in the Robert Guttmann Gallery) or 350 CZK / 13.77€ / 15.94$ p.p. (“Jewish Museum in Prague” ticket which includes all the above less the Old-New Synagogue).
After the Spanish Synagogue, it was too late to continue visiting the other monuments included in our “Prague Jewish Town” tickets, so we left the other synagogues for the following day and head to the Old Town Square. There we sat in one of the many restaurants all around the square and stalled there while drinking some nice Czech lemonades before dinner.
For dinner, we went to an over-500-year-old traditional restaurant and brewery called “U Fleků”. There we had one of the most delicious dark beers we have ever had, and some traditional food.
After that, we sat at the lovely Černá Madona in Celetná 34/569, a cubist restaurant and bar where we had some ginger tea before going back to our hotel and to bed.
On day 3, we left our hotel just after breakfast towards Josefov to complete the tour of Prague Jewish Town.
10. The Old-New Synagogue
The Old-New Synagogue is the oldest site of Prague’s Jewish Town and the oldest extant synagogue in Europe. It has been the main synagogue of the Prague Jewish community for over 700 years.
Built in the last third of the 13th century, they originally called it the “New or Great Shul“, but, after they established other synagogues in the late 16th century, it became known as the Old-New (Altneuschul).
Legend has it, however, that angels from the destroyed Temple of Jerusalem brought its foundation stones on condition of their return upon restoration of the Temple. According to another legend, the wings of angels transformed into doves protected the synagogue against fire in the ghetto, which is why it has remained miraculously intact to this day. Another legend has it that the attic of the synagogue is the home to the remains of the Golem, the artificial creature made of clay that was animated by Rabbi Loew to protect the Prague community.
From there, we moved to the Pinkas Synagogue.
11. Pinkas Synagogue
The Pinkas Synagogue is the second oldest preserved synagogue in Prague. Built in the late Gothic style in 1535, Aaron Meshulam Horowitz, a prominent member of the Prague Jewish Community, founded it and was probably named after his grandson, Rabbi Pinkas Horowitz.
In the 1950s, they turned this synagogue into a memorial to the nearly 80,000 Jewish victims of the Shoah from the Czech lands, as they hand-wrote their names on the walls of the synagogue. After the Soviet invasion of 1968, the memorial was closed to the public for over 20 years. They fully reconstructed and reopened it to the public in 1995 after the fall of the Communist regime.
On the first floor, the Children’s Drawings from the Terezín Ghetto exhibition focuses on the fate of Jewish children incarcerated in the Terezín ghetto during the Second World War.
Later, we visited Klausen Synagogue.
12. Klausen Synagogue
The Klausen Synagogue is the biggest in Prague Jewish Town.
“Klausen” was originally the name given to three smaller buildings from the 16th century that used to be on this site. These buildings included a yeshivah (Talmudic school) that was founded by the famous Rabbi Loew. After the ghetto fire of 1689, they erected the Klausen Synagogue on the site in 1694, in the early Baroque style. It was the Prague Jewish Community’s second main synagogue.
This Synagogue hosts a permanent exhibition about Jewish Customs and Traditions where the primary sources of Judaism, such as the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and the Talmud, are on display, along with an unfurled Torah scroll and its ornaments. The exhibition focuses on the synagogue, explaining its significance and describing its interior furnishings. It also deals with Jewish worship, the Sabbath, and other Jewish holidays and religious celebrations.
In the gallery are exhibits relating to the daily life of a Jewish family. This part of the show deals with the customs associated with birth, circumcision, bar mitzvah, marriage and divorce. It also provides a glimpse into a Jewish household and kitchen with its typical items.
Finally, we went to the Old Jewish Cemetery.
13. Old Jewish Cemetery
The Old Jewish Cemetery is among the oldest surviving Jewish burial grounds in the world and, along with the Old-New Synagogue, it is the most important site in the Prague Jewish Town. The National Geographic magazine lists it among the top ten cemeteries to visit around the world.
They found it in the first half of the 15th century. The earliest tombstone dates back to 1439; the last burial took place 348 years later. Although they expanded the cemetery several times over the centuries, it was still not big enough to meet the needs of the Jewish Town. As space was scarce, they buried bodies on top of each other, with graves layered up to 10 deep.
There are about 12,000 tombstones in the cemetery, many decorated with animal and plant motifs. Really impressing!
After that, we wanted to visit the Jerusalem or Jubilee Synagogue, the newest and largest synagogue of the Jewish community in Prague, in Jeruzalémská 1310/7 (outside the Jewish neighbourhood), but unfortunately, we found it closed. Thus, we headed right to Prague Main Station (Praha Hlavni Nadrazi) and took the Airport Express bus that, in around 40 minutes, brought us to Prague Airport. Tickets cost 100 CZK/ 3.94€/ 4.55$ p.p. and you can buy them at the terminal or directly from the bus driver.
From there, we flew back to Dublin and our adventure called “Prague in 3 marvellous days” definitely ended.
At this point, I think I owe you honest feedback about Prague.
As you could see for yourself from all the pictures in this article, Prague is wonderful. it is indisputable. Most of its beauty stands in the countless stunning buildings you can find in each and any street of its city centre. Is it the most impressive city I have ever been to? Probably not, but a visit is more than worth it!
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