Prague: The charming heart of the Czech Republic

Photos and travel tips to inspire a visit to the City of a Hundred Spires

Prague offers classic European charm, with lower prices and fewer crowds than top-billed capital cities. Compact and comfortable, Prague is perfect to visit for a short city break, during a week in the Czech Republic, or on a longer trip including nearby cities like Budapest, Vienna, Warsaw, Berlin or Munich.

The temperate climate of Prague makes it a year-round travel destination. Peak travel season is May to October. There will be crowds at the top attractions and packing the narrow lanes leading to them, but it’s manageable.

The city is home to a number of cultural events, including Christmas markets, beer and wine festivals, and musical performances showcasing its beloved classical music, as well as jazz and other styles.

Visit Prague: Old Town Square Tower
Old Town Square from Old Town Hall Tower

Old Town never gets old

Old Town, or Staré Mesto, is one of everyone’s favorite places in Prague. Yes, it’s touristy. But for good reason. It’s the city’s oldest and most significant square. And one of Prague’s top sights, along with the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. The square is happening day and night, with musicians, food stalls and cafes spilling into the streets. It’s gorgeous and great people-watching

Climb (or ride) to the top of the Old Town Hall Tower behind the Astronomical Clock for sweeping city views and a bird’s eye look at the iconic square and its Church of Our Lady before Týn Gothic cathedral.

Wandering historic lanes and discovering hidden cellar restaurants and bars was the highlight of my visit to Prague.

Vltava River, Lesser Town and Prague Castle
Vltava River, Lesser Town and Prague Castle

Vltava River at the heart of Prague

The Vltava River snakes through the heart of the city, with Prague’s iconic Charles Bridge at its center, connecting the Old and Lesser Towns.

Riverside cafes gardens are the perfect place to recharge during sight-seeing. Tour boats are a popular way to take in the city’s sights.

Charles Bridge can be a zoo, but it’s hard to beat the river, city and castle views. Head through the tower gates at either end to brave the masses of selfie snappers and stroll past saintly statues and eager vendors. The early evening light in spring is pure magic.

The Royal Route through Lesser Town to Prague Castle
The Royal Route through Lesser Town to Prague Castle

The Baroque Lesser Town, known as Malá Strana, occupies the foothills of Prague Castle. It’s packed with shops, cafes and pubs, and offers prime city views as you climb the Royal Route to the castle.

Malá Strana (and the Hradčany area above) offer quieter scenic stays than Old Town. You’ll be handsomely rewarded for your investment, as the tour crowds fade and you’re left to meander the cobbled hills until your heart’s content.

St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle
St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle

Like other European capitals, Prague has no shortage of picturesque churches.

The Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral is billed as the “biggest, most important, most beautiful” and the “spiritual symbol of the Czech nation.” It’s steeped in history and the final resting place of saints, kings, princes and archbishops. The South Tower offers postcard perfect views of Prague, sprawled out at your feet.

Visit Prague: Old Town skyline
Sweeping views of Lesser and Old Towns

The happy accident of stumbling upon the restored St. Wenceslas vineyard produced the perfect pit stop and panoramic cityscape photos.

According to local lore, it’s Bohemia’s oldest vineyard and was once tended by “Good King Wenceslas” – the Christian Czech ruler, martyr and patron saint.

Visit Prague: New town dancing house
New Town facades, including the non-dancing side of the Dancing House

Prague’s New Town, or Nové Město, bustles with modern shops, restaurants and hotels. Venture downriver from the adjacent Old Town for riverside beer gardens, boat rentals and the famous Dancing House building.

If you position yourself well, it’s possible to stay in New Town, while still having easy access to the main historic attractions.

Hungry? Hidden gem Dutá Hlava (FKA Klub Architektů) offers a taste of old and new Prague in an intimate cellar setting.

Smetana Hotel’s President Havel Suite
Smetana Hotel’s President Havel Suite

If you’re looking to splurge on special accommodation, live like royalty at Smetana Hotel (FKA Pachtuv Palace). Originally built in the 17th Century the noble Pachta family’s palace, it has hosted musical masterminds including Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner.

The location is incredibly scenic and convenient – it’s right on the river in Old Town, just down from the Charles Bridge and with castle views. Like the entire facility, the rooms are unique and historic, but with modern amenities. Rooms are around $300 per night, with suites in the $400-800 range.

Start planning your trip to Prague.

Prague’s center at your doorstep from Smetana Hotel
Prague’s center at your doorstep from Smetana Hotel
Prague offers classic European charm, with lower prices and fewer crowds than top-billed capital cities. #WanderingRoseTravels

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