Prague for First-Timers: 9 Things to Do
Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic, and it’s one of the most popular destinations for tourists exploring Europe. This “city of a hundred spires” sits on the picturesque Vltava River, and much of its appeal lies in the medieval architecture – the sight of beautiful bridges, cathedrals, castles and buildings will live with you for many years to come. But when you consider all the things to do in Prague, on top of its sheer architectural beauty, it’s a fairly obvious choice to include it on your next Eurail trip.
Things to do in Prague
1. Walk Charles Bridge
Charles Bridge is famous throughout the world: walking along it is also one of the most iconic things to do in Prague. Although it’s overrun with tourists during the busy summer months, it’s still worth a look both close-up and from a distance. The Gothic stone bridge connects the Lesser Town to the Old Town. It’s easy to combine a visit to the bridge with a trip to the castle on the other side.
Insider tip: The bridge is quieter and more scenic at dusk and dawn, and somewhat surreal at night. So plan a trip there slightly earlier or later to beat the crowds.
2. Explore the Prague Castle
Prague Castle occupies an impressive 70,000 square meters and is more than 570 meters long, making it the biggest ancient castle in the world. This also makes it one of the city’s most popular attractions. But when you consider the views, the Royal Garden, and the spectacular St. Vitus Cathedral are located nearby as well, it’s worth braving the tourists for a morning’s exploration.
Insider tip: You can wander parts of the gardens, the cathedral, and grounds for free. But if you wish to explore everything that Prague Castle has to offer consider purchasing a combination ticket online ahead of time on the Prague Castle website.
3. Soak up the Old Town
The true charm of Prague lies in the magical allure of the Old Town. There is no better way to explore this than on foot. Set out early and start at the Old Town Square. Iconic attractions such as the Astronomical Clock and Church of Our Lady before Týn are just a few steps away.
Insider tip: Getting around and learning about Prague can be a complex process without a guide. Consider taking one of the many free walking tours to acquaint yourself with the city’s obvious and more obscure attractions.
4. Visit the equestrian statue of Jan Žižka
Many visitors focus solely on Prague’s Old Town and the area around Charles Bridge, and forget that Prague is in fact a very large city. A walk up the hill to the large statue of Jan Žižka offers a whole new perspective on the city below. It will expose you to an interesting new neighborhood. And the gargantuan horse statute is an impressive site in itself.
Insider tip: There is a somewhat unknown grave of an Unknown Soldier and a large granite-covered tomb on the hill just below the monument, which is fascinating to visit.
5. Visit Europe’s oldest active synagogue
Prague’s historic Jewish ghetto offers a fascinating window back in time. There are several interesting synagogues in the area, including the Old New Synagogue that is Europe’s oldest synagogue still in active use. Other notable sights in the area include the Old Jewish Cemetery, Kafka’s house, and the Spanish Synagogue. Many walking tours through the area will point these out to you.
Insider tip: If you intend visiting most of the monuments and attractions in the area, then purchase a combination ticket on the Jewish Museum website.
6. Drink beer
Beer reigns supreme in Prague. While the Czech Republic initially earned its stellar beer reputation with the likes of Pilsner Urquell and Staropramen, these days it’s the craft beers that are receiving all the attention. Most of Prague’s traditional bars and pubs serve up dozens of microbrews worth savoring. But there’s a rising tide of quirky bars that are beating them to it.
Insider tip: BeerGeek, Illegal Beer, and Pivovarský Klub are leading the way in terms of diversity and atmosphere. Pay a visit to them all.
7. Cruise the Vltava River
There are several cruise companies that offer trips along the Vltava River. These offer a fascinating perspective of the city from the comfort of a boat. Often, they also include lunch, dinner, tea, and even live musical performances.
Insider tip: While there are some cruises that last several hours, if you’re on a budget the shorter one-hour cruises offer amazing views and better value.
8. Get out of town on two wheels
If you feel the need to leave the bustling city of Prague behind you for a few hours, then rent a bicycle and head out for a day of relaxing cycling along the Vltava River. There are easy routes through the Czech countryside all the way to Karlstejn, where you can have lunch and tour the Karlstejn Castle before heading back.
Insider tip: The ride out to Karlstejn is approximately 18 miles. If your legs can’t handle the return journey, you can easily catch a train back into town.
9. Climb the Old Town Hall tower
Climbing the few hundred steps up the tower above the Old Town Hall may take your breath away in more than one way – it offers stunning panoramic views over the city below. It’s the perfect location from which to reflect on your time in the city, or plan your day ahead.
Insider tip: Queues can grow long as the day progresses, so get there nice and early.
Prague is the type of city that has so much to offer. Whether you choose to pack in as many attractions as possible, party the night away, or simply soak up the atmosphere on the magical streets, you’ll leave inspired and yearning to return. Prague is easy to reach from European capitals near and far. This makes a Eurail Global Pass the ultimate tool to get you there.