When I was in Munich, I decided to take a coach to Prague. It was only about a 5 hour journey and cheaper than the train or flying. Coaches drop you off at the Prague main train station – Praha Hlavni Nadrazi. It was easy to find my hotel which was near Wencesles Square. Although the public transport is good, I like that from the Old Town Square, you can walk to just about every sight there is to see in Prague, including Prague Castle. And if you get tired of walking, the Prague metro and trams will get you to your destination in no time. Here are some of my favourite places in Prague.
Prague Old Town Square
The Old Town Square has beautiful historical buildings all round it and is located between Wenceslas Square and Charles Bridge. Highlights here include the Gothic Church of Our Lady of Tyn with it’s 80m high towers and the Prague Orloj (Town Hall Clock or Prague Astronomical Clock) . There are a number of nice cafes and restaurants located around the square, a good place to watch the world go by. Buskers perform there every day and on some nights there is also a fire thrower performing.
The Church of Our Lady of Tyn was built between the mid 14th century and and early 16th century, is one of the most impressive Gothic religious buildings in Europe. The entry into the church is not that obvious as it is located behind some buildings and to really get a good view of the towers, you will need to see it from a distance or from a tower. Entry into the church is free of charge. Check the opening hours as they only open a few hours each day.
The Prague Orloj is located at the Old Town Hall building. Wait outside for the clock to chime every hour and watch the procession of the Apostles. You can also climb to the top of the clock tower. Entrance is via the Old Town Hall which is also where the Prague Tourist Information Center is. It costs 100 CZK and there is a lift so you don’t have to climb the steps and you will get a great view from the top especially of the Church of Our Lady of Tyn.
Charles Bridge and Towers
Prague has many bridges but the most famous is Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) which connects the Old Town with the Lesser Town. The bridge is well known for it’s statues but also it’s gangs of pickpockets. First let’s talk about the statues. There are in fact 32 magnificent statues of Saints, martyrs and Charles IV himself at the end of the bridge on the Old Town side. By 9am you will see hoardes of tourists walking along Charles Bridge, posing with the statues and having caricatures of themselves drawn. I love this bridge for the very entertaining buskers and the views from the towers. On a sunny day the entire bridge will be lined with musicians, touristy stalls and artists. On bitter cold windy winter days, all these stalls and artists will be replaced by a row of pitiful beggars (always with their dogs), kneeling along the bridge, fore heads touching the ground and arms outstretched.
Although I wasn’t pick-pocketed along Charles Bridge, a friend of mine told me that her camera was stolen and she didn’t even know it. Someone bumped into her in the crowd and in that moment of confusion, they had cut off the strap of her camera without her knowledge. So make sure you are paying attention and hold on tight to your camera and bags !
Wencesles Square isn’t really a square but a long sloping boulevard at the top of which sits the statue of King Wenceslas. And behind that is the Prague National Museum which is beautifully lit up at night. Wencesles Square is a place where mass political demonstrations are held and has been the focus of political protest in Prague.
What I found interesting here were the collection of buildings of different architectural designs from neo Renaissance to Art Nouveau. Watch out for the food stall vendors here. Prices are very high and they might give you back less change than you are expecting.
Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral
Prague Castle sits atop a hill and you will see this sprawling complex if you are standing anywhere along the Vlatas River near Charles Bridge. You can walk through the Lesser Town and up a hill to get there but there is also a tram that takes you there. If you are fit with no heart conditions, I would suggest walking as the road is lined with interesting shops and cafes. After you cross Charles Bridge, keep walking straight till you reach St Nicholas’ Church at Malostranske namesti. Cut across diagonally to the right and keep walking up the hill to you reach the castle. If you want to see everything, you will need at least half a day. On some days there are also afternoon concerts held at Lobkowicz Palace and you can buy tickets there.