While I did my homework on what to do in Prague, I came across the quote that “Prague is the Paris of the 90’s . It got me curious, considering it does have a mini version of the Eiffel Tower too, I delved a bit deeper. Really the comparison was to the Paris of the 1920s that was bursting with artists, inspiration, writers and much art and beauty. Well, they got that right.
Prague has a very obvious fairy tale, old world quality about it. It has something for every kind of traveler too. I have listed the top things to do in Prague that I would recommend that you do not leave without doing.
1. Charles bridge in the morning
You will inevitably walk on a crowded Charles Bridge several times to get to one place or another if you are in Mala Strana or old town. I however, strongly recommend a visit in the morning. The bridge is empty, you have it to yourself or are sharing it with fitness and photography enthusiasts, and there are very few so it’s a total win for you there. There is no other time that you will not be jostled on the steps I am posing on.
2. John Lennon wall
It stands as a symbol of peace and love, but the history behind it is interesting. It began with a tribute to the singer post his death, and the young people of the city covered it with more graffiti and messages, as the czech regime at the time had banned lot of pop music and entertainment. The wall that is owned by the Knights of Malta was whitewashed several times, but was always found repainted with graffiti and Lennon tributes, that they gave up.
This is a visually striking wall, and makes for superb instagram pictures, which in today’s times translates to a lot of crowd. I cannot reiterate this enough – but go early to beat the crowds 🙂
3. Kafka in Prague
Whether you have read Kafka or not, you may have used the term “kafkaesque” to simply denote something dark, illogical, nightmarish or uncomfortable imagery. A visit to the museum is recommended simply because you understand the struggles of a man with a tough childhood, who was perhaps unlucky in love, bogged down by the tussle of going to work and simply wanting to pursue his passion.
The museum tour is a self guided one, but easily one of the most engaging, interesting museums I have ever been to. They played with light, the placement, An Audio Visual element, narrow paths – the works. It took you into his world, and his mind. Whether you read Kafka or not this is a museum visit that will remain with you.
4. Prague’s own Eiffel…oops Petrin Tower
Built as a look out tower and a transmission tower, Petrin looks very similar to the Eiffel Tower. 299 steps will take you to the top and the height it is said is similar to that of the Eiffel Tower In Paris.
You can take the Funicular up to Petrin Hill. Find a good spot, you can see all of Prague as you go up to the foot. You land in a garden, which is landscaped beautifully. You can climb the observation tower. There are two decks. I climbed up to just one, because the height did me in. However, if you are one, who is not afraid of heights, you can climb on. And if you did, do share pictures with me. 🙂
5. The World’s most Beautiful Library
I would recommend planning a visit to the Strahov Monsatery along with Petrin tower. A short scenis walk will take you to the monastery. There are a couple of cafes where you can sit back and enjoy a meal in the outdoors or simply have a drink while you soak a different angle of Prague.
Why you must visit? To see two of the world’s most beautiful libraries. That is not an exaggeration, but the Strahov Monastery library has made it to a few lists. Unfortunately you cannot enter the halls, but you can see both the majestic libraries. Artistic frescoes, and 1000’s of manuscripts that go back to the 12th Century.
6. World war 2 tour
Like Most of Europe, even Prague has a World War history. It was taken over by the Nazis, with the government having fled to France and Britain. There are a few tours that take you through the history of the capture, the cruelty of the Nazi regime and the underground movement.
It is a 2 hour walking tour and takes you to through the streets of old Prague and even the Underground cellars, under the astronomical clock that served as a hospital during the war, and a hideout for the rebels.
Whether you are a history buff or not, this is a very informative tour and you surely come out knowing a little bit more than you did earlier.
7. Sculptures around the City
In addition to being a beautiful city, Prague has sculptures that are world famous. They are memorable and disturbing.
In the old town, only difficult to miss because there is always a crowd looking up is a statue of the hanging man, Freud debating whether to hold on to the rod or let go. This is designed by David Cerny and a representation of the psychoanalysts constant struggles
The Kafka monument, is a representation of a Mini Kafka on the shoulders of a headless suit. This is located in the Jewish Quarter where he spent most of his life.
The memorial to the victims of communism is a representation of the seven stages of living in a totalitarian state. It really represents the degeneration of man in the society and is a sad sight, especially because it hits the reality of how the generation truly believed that their life was going to change for the better and that promise simply degenerated.
We could’nt make it to see Cerny’s Babies on the Zizkov Tower, but caught three of them guarding the Kampa museum. We saw a Manolo Blahnik exhibition there, you may want to check what is up while you are there.
8. Views For Days
Prague has many parks, and open spaces where you can make your own little picnic. Walking is most fun, a lot of these places are a climb up but totally worth it for the view.
Letna Park has a beer garden, and if you time it right, you can get a lovely table at the edge and have a view of the city.
Vyserhad is a lovely park as well, it has a church but more importantly it has a huge park and various spots where you can set up a picnic, play with your dog or simply drink in the view.
The Prague Castle is also something that you are most likely to do whilst you are there. My favorite part about it was the View, which you see below. The castle has a lot to offer, especially the St.Vitus cathedral which is synonymous with the skyline. I also enjoyed a military exhibit they had, since over the years it also served as a base especially during the war.
I have only covered my favorite things to do in Prague, the city of course is a culinary delight and has a plethora of options for every kind of traveler. Since, it has a rich history even in the post modern era it really is a delightful combination of modern and classic. One can choose the kind of experience they want. I firmly believe after each travel you take a bit of the city back with you for eternity and we have surely taken a large part of Prague back with us.
I would love to hear what you liked about the city, so we can compare notes. 🙂