Steeped in history and rich in culture, it’s hard to believe that 30 years ago the Czech capital was still something of a mystery to European travellers. Now one of the most in-demand city-break destinations on the continent, millions of tourists travel to the city to gaze at Prague’s gothic architecture and explore iconic Czech landmarks. Camera at the ready, here are Prague’s seven most selfie-worthy hotspots…
The largest ancient castle in the world – formally the offices of the Czech kings, holy Roman emperors and presidents of the Czech Republic – Prague Castle could easily be mistaken for a town. Overlooking Old Town Prague, the castle spans 570 metres long and 128 metres wide; the main feature being St Vitus cathedral – a 14th century gothic structure adorned by weird and wonderful looking gargoyles.
The most visited tourist attraction in Prague; be sure to have your camera to hand for the changing of the guards – which takes place every hour on the hour, from 5am to 11pm. Another hotspot is The Bell Tower; where tourists can climb to the highest point of the castle to take in the panoramic views.
Tickets are required for a select few areas but visitors can stroll the grounds and part of the cathedral free of charge.
Top tip: Stop by Golden Lane before you leave the castle grounds – the most expensive and colourful row of shops in Prague; once home of the palace guards and the throne room for the reigning Kings of Bohemia.
Admire fairytale views from this 14th century gothic bridge; linking the two sides of Prague. One of the cities most recognised attractions, Charles Bridge acts as the main pedestrian route to Prague Castle which towers above – so prepare for some shoulder rubbing at peak times. Bustling with sketch artists, musicians and souvenir stalls; take a moment to soak up the atmosphere and marvel at the elegant riverside buildings and Vltava River which flows beneath.
Top tip: Look out for the 75 statues which sit along the bridge. Although most are replacers following floods which damaged the originals; the oldest statue, regarded as the most interesting, is that of John of Nepomuk. An old Czech tradition is to touch a statue and make a wish.
Step into a square of breath-taking pastel-painted buildings: home to some of Prague’s best restaurants, bars, shops, galleries and museums.
An unmissable attraction, Old Town Square is one of the liveliest areas of the city. Join tourists and Czechs alike as they dine al fresco and wander the outdoor market stalls.
Dating back to the 11th century, the market square features fascinating Romanesque and gothic structures; the most notable being the Church of our Lady at Týn and the Astronomical Clock Tower.
Top tip: Planning a Christmas break to Prague? Between December and January, Old Town Square is transformed into a winter wonderland – one of Europe’s most visited Christmas destinations. Soak up the festive atmosphere and watch as the twinkling lights bring the historic buildings to life.
Old Town Hall and its enchanting clock have been dominating Old Town Square for centuries. The surreal Astronomical Clock – complete with dancing medieval allegorical figures – is one of the most elaborate and oldest clocks ever built; first installed in 1410 then rebuilt in 1490. Every day, from 9am to 9pm, the clock performs on the hour and vast crowds gather at the foot of the clock tower to watch the free show. A cock crows and the tower bells start to ring as the traditional procession of the Twelve Apostles begins.
Top tip: Trek to the top of the tower’s 70m high Gothic Corner House to see the best views of Old Town Square from the viewing-gallery. It’s certainly a view you’ll want to capture on camera.
It’s near impossible to walk by Tančící dům – Dancing House – without giving it a double-take. Situated by the Vltava riverside, this unique structure – a modern 19th century building surrounded by historic architecture – is famed for its curvy architecture. The top floor is home to Ginger and Fred restaurant – aptly named after the legendary dancing duo – and is regarded as one of the leading fine dining venues in the city, overlooking Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.
Top tip: If you take a tour of Prague by boat, you’ll be able to capture a clear shot of Dancing House from across the river.
More of a boulevard than a square, visitors come to Wenceslas Square for entertainment, nightlife and shopping. Originally a horse market, some 650 years ago, the square can hold up to 400,000 people and is today used for parades and celebrations. At the very top of the famous Square is the monumental National Museum and picture-perfect Prague State Opera House. A statue of St Wenceslas mounted on a horse sits outside the museum – the most photographed attraction within the square.
Top tip: The hidden treasure of Wenceslas Square is Triton Restaurant – an intimate stalactite cave serving traditional Czech cuisine. Be sure to book in advance to reserve a candle-lit table for a romantic evening.
Situated between Old Town Square and the Vltava River, the Jewish Quarter – known as Josefov – is home to some of the most intriguing buildings in Prague. Its torrid history dates from the 13th century, when Jewish people were ordered to leave their homes and settle in this designated area – banned from living anywhere else in Prague. During the late 18th century, a number of buildings were flattened but fortunately, most of the significant historical buildings were saved from destruction, and today remain a testimony to the history of the Jews in Prague. You won’t want to miss seeing the six synagogues, the Jewish Ceremonial Hall or the Old Jewish Cemetery – the most remarkable of its kind in Europe.
Top tip: Take a guided walking tour to uncover the unique history of the Jewish Quarter.
Flights to Prague
- Jessica Fogarty