The Czech List - 4 Things to Do in Prague and Beyond
With its maze of cobbled streets and quirky charm, it’s easy to see why Prague’s popularity has soared in recent years. To help you make the most of your time in the Czech capital, we’ve highlighted four of the best things to do in Prague. Consider adding these sites to your itinerary.
1. The Old Town Square
Located in the heart of the city, Prague’s Old Town Square is famous for its carefully preserved architecture. Despite the Czech Republic’s rather tumultuous history, the square has remained much the same since around the 10th century. It houses several ancient structures, including the Church of Our Lady Before Týn, a Gothic church featuring 80-foot spires. There’s also a medieval astronomical clock, the oldest of its kind in the world, and the Church of St Nicholas.
No matter what time of year you visit Prague, there’s always something happening in the Old Town Square. It plays host to the country’s biggest Christmas market throughout December and January, and on New Year’s Eve people gather there to enjoy the fireworks. If you’re travelling during spring or summer, make the most of the fine weather by grabbing a bite to eat at one of the square’s alfresco cafés.
2. Charles Bridge
Crossing the Vltava River, Charles Bridge is much more than just a landmark. Since being commissioned by King Charles IV in the 1300s, it has become a symbol of the Czech Republic’s proud history. Having weathered several bloody battles, disastrous floods and numerous renovations, Charles Bridge is only open to foot traffic these days. Offering panoramic views of Prague, it’s the perfect place to take in the sights of the city.
The bridge is also lined with statues, one of which is said to have magical properties. There are 30 figures on the bridge, but the statue depicting St John of Nepomuk (the saint of Bohemia) gets the most attention. Touching it is supposed to bring you good luck and make your wishes come true. This myth is so famous that the crowds surrounding the statue can get a bit overwhelming at times. We recommend visiting Charles Bridge early in the morning or late in the evening, when there’s usually less people around.
3. Prague Castle
Dominating the skyline, Prague Castle is located in the Hradcany district. It’s the city’s most iconic attraction, enchanting over a million visitors annually. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the castle dates back to medieval times, although it still serves as the official residence of the Czech Republic’s president. When visiting the castle, be sure to set aside at least a few hours. The sheer size of the structure (it covers an area of around 70,000m2) means it can take a while to explore properly.
These are just some of the sites you can marvel at within the castle:
Our Medieval Bohemian Christmas Tour includes a tour of this magnificent castle.
4. Sedlec Ossuary
For travellers who wish to venture outside of Prague, the Sedlec Ossuary is a fascinating destination. Located in a small Catholic church in Sedlec, a suburb of the town Kutná Hora, it is estimated to house the bones of 40,000-70,000 people. The skeletons aren’t just stored inside the church – they have actually been used to decorate it, with bones covering nearly every inch of the walls and ceiling. Apart from the spectacle of seeing human bones arranged so artistically, the Sedlec Ossuary’s history is just as captivating.
Are you wondering where all those bones came from? There’s a logical (if slightly gruesome) explanation. Around the 14th century, the Black Plague swept across Europe, killing millions of people. To make room for all the new bodies, several older graves were dug up. The skeletons were stored inside the church, until a man named František Rint came along in the 18th century and arranged them into the macabre decorations that can still be seen today. The Sedlec Ossuary is just a short distance outside of Prague, and is easy to reach by train, bus or car. If you’re easily spooked, keep in mind that it’s not for the fainthearted.
These are just some of the best destinations the Czech Republic has to offer. We could go on forever about all the different sights to see and things to do in Prague, but we’d rather let you find out how great this destination is for yourself. To begin planning your itinerary, read more information about the Czech Republic here.