Prague is a beautiful city. Visiting in winter with its impressive architecture and blanket of snow makes it look like something straight out of a fairy-tale. A freezing cold fairy-tale maybe, but a fairy-tale nonetheless.
Visiting in late December, the bitter cold hit me, chilling me to my bones – it was unlike any kind of cold I’d experienced before.
We stayed in a beautiful apartment on Truhlářská, just outside the Old Town walls. It was the perfect base for exploring, but also meant we could hurry back to warm up, as I was permanently freezing cold to the point that it hurt.
Three days in Prague was the perfect amount of time discover the beauty of the Czech capital; and from what I saw, I knew that I’d like to visit in summer too. I can imagine a whole different vibe comes over the city, with the crowds of outdoor cafés, and the long summer evenings…
I really enjoyed my time in this pretty city – these were my top 10 things to do in Prague.
Visit the Christmas markets
Prague is famed for its Christmas markets, and we came to Prague specifically for Christmas. The majority of stalls are found in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.
Whilst the markets may not be huge, you can spend a lot of time sampling the food, and looking at the intricately designed Christmas decorations.
The atmosphere is amazing – especially when we went in late December. With a backdrop of the Old Town Square, and a gigantic Christmas tree, you’ll find yourself swept up in the moment.
Whilst you can only see the Christmas markets at certain times of the year, if you time it right, it’s one of the best things to do in Prague.
Sample the local food
Czech food – like much of Central and Eastern Europe – does hearty, stodgy cuisine well. My personal favourite was the Czech cheese pies sold at the Christmas markets – they were SO tasty.
Other dishes you have to try are trdelnik – a circular pastry spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, also known as ‘Chimney Cake’ in Hungary.
If you’re visiting in the winter like me, then you should definitely try the traditional dish of soup served in a hollow loaf of bread – available at most restaurants. Oh, and don’t get me started on the delicious liquid cups of chocolate you can buy at Choco Story!
… This leads me on nicely to my next point. Absinthe is a thing in Prague, and everywhere – from bars, to supermarkets to souvenir shops sells the stuff.
And you’re paying Czech prices too, which means a bottle of absinthe is cheap. Whether you buy some for pre-drinking (because trust me, you’re going to need it with the winter weather!), or taking home as a souvenir; I think a bottle of absinthe is something everyone should invest in.
Walk across Charles Bridge
Prague has a total of seventeen bridges, with the oldest and most famous being Charles Bridge (Karlův most).
Connecting the Old Town with the Lesser Town (Malá Strana) over the Vltava River, it’s completely pedestrianised, and you could easily spend ages walking across it.
Not only do impressive statues line the edges of the bridge, but you’ll find street performers entertaining on the cobblestoned streets, and artists selling their wares.
It may be packed in the day, but come night the crowds have emptied, and you can capture the picture-perfect moment of Prague’s beautiful Old Town.
Climb up to Prague Castle
Most people cross over Charles Bridge to reach the castle. Alternatively if you’re dying from the cold like I was, you may decide to catch the metro instead – Malostranská is the closest stop.
Entrance to the grounds of Prague Castle is free, but if you want to go inside, there are several different tickets for different attractions.
We didn’t pay to go in – the views of the city were enough for us (the castle is situated on a hill, so the view is pretty spectacular).
It’s definitely a must-see, and one of the top things to do in Prague – especially if it’s your first time in the city.
Take a trip to the Torture Museum
OK, OK, it may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but I found it pretty interesting! The Torture Museum is located just inside the Old Town walls, and you’ll need to climb down to the basement to reach it.
Here you’ll get to see lots of instruments that were used to torture people throughout time, along with some, let’s just say interesting explanations.
And hey, if you’re visiting Prague in winter like I did, then it’s a great way to warm up and spend an hour indoors!
Read the astronomical clock
Found on the side of the Old Town City Hall in Old Town square, this beautiful clock certainly draws in the crowds.
As to whether you can actually tell the time – well, good luck with it! But it’s truly beautiful, and something worth seeing.
In fact, its central location in Old Town Square means you’ll probably work past it several times a day – and this square is so beautiful, you’ll definitely want to spend time here.
The name Church of Lady before Týn may not ring any bells; but I guarantee you’ll recognise it – it’s the gothic Church with towering spires that features on pretty much every postcard of Prague!
Look down on the rooftops
Rather than simply gazing at the astronomical clock, go into the City Hall and climb the bell tower to the top. Tickets cost no more than 250 CZK (£8.50 each), and you’ll get the most beautiful views of Prague, as you stand high above the red rooftops.
From the Old Town to Wenceslas Square, Charles Bridge and the Jewish Quarter, there’s lots to see here. You may have to queue to climb up, but it’s certainly worth the wait as it’s one of the top things to do in Prague.
Seek out the Dancing House
This is the one thing I didn’t get to do when I was in the Czech capital, but I’ve heard it’s one of the top things to do in Prague.
The Dancing House is right by the Vltava River, and is also nicknamed as ‘Fred and Ginger’ because the buildings look they are leaning into each other and dancing.
If you want to reach the Dancing House, turn right before you get to Charles Bridge and walk down the main road. You can let me know if it’s worth the visit!
Let’s be realistic here – I’m hardly going to conduct a list of the top ten things to do in Prague, and not suggest shopping!
Sure, you shouldn’t spend your whole time inside the shops (unless you want to, of course!), but there’s no harm in a little looking.
I started off at Palladium Shopping Centre, as it was right outside my apartment, with high street brands. You’ve also got all of the souvenir shops in the Old Town, in addition the Christmas market stalls.
Wenceslas Square also has a range of international fashion brands to shop in; but if you’re after more of a shopping fix, then do what I did and catch the metro out to – Pancrác. Literally, you walk out of the metro station and you’re right inside the shopping centre. Perfect!
Prague may be full of tourists, but I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it was. The snow on the ground and the chill in the air made it extra atmospheric, but if I were to go again, then I’d definitely like to visit in summer. Prague is such a pretty city, it’s a shame to have to hide inside all the time!