Prague was an unexpected affair for me. I’d heard many things about it before and arrived ready to enjoy this European city for the first time. I did not expect to fall in love and feel the city as much as I did. To me, Prague is like a city that was born again, yet still keeps every memory within. It will captivate you from the very first minute, and it will for sure give everyone something to enjoy. Here is why you should visit Prague in 2023.
By Little Chilean
The Czech capital looks at first sight like an old-looking but charming small city. But the deeper you go into its streets and the more time you spend strolling around, the sooner you get to realize that what you see is only a facade. Prague holds centuries of history written by every historic event that has hit Europe, and it has left testimonies everywhere for you to see.
And even though its landmarks preserve beautiful architecture mainly of baroque and gothic style that speaks to its influences, and is simply spellbinding, it is the history beating throughout the whole city that will stay with you.
Once you visit Prague, mainly the Old Town square and its surroundings, you’ll realize in a second why its complete historic centre made it to the list of World Heritage Sites by Unesco in 1992. “Built between the 11th and 18th centuries, the Old Town, the Lesser Town and the New Town speak of the great architectural and cultural influence enjoyed by this city since the Middle Ages. The many magnificent monuments, such as Hradcany Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, Charles Bridge and numerous churches and palaces, were built mostly in the 14th century under the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV”, as stated in the Unesco website.
Prague is a place that seems to have stopped in time, or that somehow has come back to life after a decades-long sleep. It feels renewed, awake and completely welcoming and open to visitors, yet it is historic and sacred at the same time. The Czech city carries memories of many dark years, but instead of showing up as an old mausoleum, it proudly shows its past and memories throughout its streets.
As a key part of a country that endured world wars and dictatorships, Prague has lived through some dark years. Luckily, it managed to keep most of its structures untouched and, additionally, built new landmarks to honor those that suffered through these human catastrophes. Currently, it doesn’t feel like the city is weeping over what they had to live, but more like they’re proud of the new chances it got. Proudly showing what happened and how the actions of some inspired the rest to fight back and keep going. It’s simply inspiring.
To me, visiting Prague feels like the warmth after the rain, a moment that exhales appreciation, memory, and gratitude, and we should acknowledge that too.
Nevertheless, history is not all that you can find in Prague. Mesmerizing architecture is scattered around the city, drawing a landscape that is simply mesmerizing to see during winter and the holiday season. Topping up with museums, exhibits and galleries, delicately mixed with markets, restaurants, and stores to welcome any traveller.
In case it wasn’t obvious, I loved Prague. A short, but highly memorable, visit to this city, has left me already wanting more. Urging me to learn, discover, respect its history and enjoy its culture. So, doing what I do best when I love something, I’ve decided to put together my 10 things you must do when in Prague.
1. Visit a war history museum
As mentioned before, memorials and museums are all over Prague. Personally, I’d highly recommend The National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror. Located under the beautiful baroque-style orthodox cathedral of St. Cyril and Methodius, this museum was established in 1995 as a new underground space next to the crypt. Its location invites you to take a walk down memory lane, as it doubled as a hidden place to the seven Czechoslovakian paratroopers that fought against German Nazi forces in 1942, under the mission known as “Anthropoid”.
2. Take a chill half-day walk through Prague Castle
This one is not just for history or monarchy buffs. The 70,000 sq meters –see why I suggest a half-day?– establishment was built in the 9th century, and according to the Guinness Book of Records, it’s the largest ancient castle in the world. It is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic, and throughout its history, it was a seat of power for the kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia.
This huge attraction is way more than just a castle. From the moment you walk past the gates, you will find gorgeous parks, viewing points to relax and enjoy nature, as well as beautiful architecture –yes, it’s more like a village than a castle. Inside the castle’s walls, you’ll get to delight your eyes with colorful streets like Golden Lane or Zlatá ulička, and the breathtaking gothic-style church that it’s simply fascinating to stare at (even if you’re a full-on atheist).
As a tip, you have to get a ticket at the entrance or online to go inside many of its attractions, but you can walk freely around most of its outdoor spaces.
3. Enjoy a potato soup on bread
Yes, potato soup is an international wonder during winter, and it’s not necessarily born in what is now Czechia, but Bramboračka is. This Czech Potato Soup is actually served inside a potato roll which, to me, is the exciting part, even though I’m a huge fan of soup, so I definitely enjoyed its contents, too.
This hearty soup is a hard favorite in the Czech Republic. Although carrot, celeriac, onion, parsnip and dried mushrooms feature in the soup, potato is the main ingredient. It also contains dried marjoram and, sometimes, caraway seeds. Warning, it can be very filling.
You can find it in pretty much every restaurant offering local cuisine, and it’s not at all expensive.
4. Go to the Museum of Illusions
Illusion Art Museum Prague (IAM Prague) is the Czech Republic’s first museum dedicated to illusion and trick art. If you’ve ever been to some sort of illusion museum somewhere else, you’ll know that its exhibits include a mix of education and entertainment, filled with many displays that are interactive, photogenic, and full-on fun to look at.
I loved that we could easily enjoy this as a kid and also as an adult. To me, it was like a grown-up’s playground where you get to entertain your curiosity to another level. 3D and perspective illusions are perfectly mixed with history and art, with every display referencing someone throughout Czech history. So, after this visit, you will leave the museum packing a bunch of new knowledge and fun.
Its perspective displays will have you trying to figure out their sense or meaning, which is sometimes hard to understand, and that’s the fun part. Interestingly enough, it all becomes much easier and clearer when you use your phone. The staff from the museum will explain this anyway, but it does make you wonder how can it be that your eye and your camera lens are seeing something completely different. It’s fascinating.
In the words of IAM Prague’s website, its “exhibits bring to life historical techniques of creating illusions in art into the 21st century’s selfie and social media age, with a touch of local flair, and encourages guests to touch and interact with all of its exhibits.”
It’s conveniently located in the heart of Prague, between Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Check out more information and tickets in iamprague.eu
5. Touch the sky from the Clock Tower
The Prague Astronomical Clock or Pražský Orloj in Czech, is a medieval astronomical clock attached to the Old Town Hall, right in Old Town Square. It was first installed in 1410, making it the oldest clock still in operation.
If you’re there exactly when the hour changes, you’ll get to see "The Walk of the Apostles", a show of moving figures and other sculptures striking the time. If that is not curious enough, you’d want to know that there is a legend around it that says that the city will suffer if this clock is neglected or its good operation is placed in jeopardy.
But that’s not all. The building itself has an observatory deck that gives you a beautiful 360 view of Old Town Square and its surrounding. It’s breathtaking! Beware of the many stairs to get up there, or be patient enough to wait for the lift.
6. Feel the holiday season in Old Town Square
Now, I’m sure the city is just as magical during other seasons, but right now I’m only speaking through experience (until I go back in a few months). So, because I was in Prague during December, I fell in love with the winter wonderland vibe and the Christmas market of Old Town Square.
During the festive season, you’ll get to immerse yourself in a warm atmosphere fragrant with mulled wine and gingerbread in brightly decorated wooden huts. The market is right in the square, surrounded by the clock, The Church of Our Lady before Týn, and a massive Christmas tree. It’s stocked with local handmade crafts and traditional Christmas treats like the delicious trdelník, a sweet pastry made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix – talk about a foodgasm!
7. Walk the Charles Bridge
I’m not sure how common it is to love bridges, but I find them quite fascinating.It’s the architecture on one side, but also how they became such an important connection between two sides of the same city, and what this step symbolizes.
Construction of Charles Bridge finished in the early 15th century and used to be the only means of crossing the river Vltava until 1841. Back in the day, Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city's Old Town and adjacent areas. This land connection made Prague indispensable as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.
The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, originally erected around 1700, but now all have been replaced by replicas. They depict various saints and patron saints venerated at that time like St. Luthgard, the Holy Crucifix and Calvary, and John of Nepomuk.
And well, beyond all of that, crossing Charles Bridge will simply give you mesmerizing views. It feels like a pathway to something big and unexpected, and its views of the city and the Vtava river are enough of a reason to walk the walk.
8. Stay at Mosaic House Design Hotel
Now, you can’t take the time to dive into a new city without a good night's sleep in a conveniently located space. How about making that stay as sustainable as it gets? Sure! We got you!
While in Prague, check out Mosaic House Design Hotel, the most sustainable hotel in the Czech Republic according to their website. “Enjoy all the comforts of home in a cosy atmosphere at Mosaic House. From Standard rooms to the Penthouse suites with Prague Castle view from private terraces, we are sure to have the right accommodation to make your visit with us memorable/unforgettable”.
And if you’re not convinced, you’d want to know that this hotel also offers a cozy café, perfect for digital nomads. You can also access a co-working space and a spa.
Mosaic House is situated in the city centre, but aside enough from the hustle and bustle of the city. It will place you within walking distance of the most important sights, famous shopping areas, museums, and Lesser and Old Town.
Find them in Odborů 278/4 | 120 00 | Praga 2. Czech Republic.
9. Drink a cold Czech Pilsen!
Did you know that Czechia has the highest per capita consumption of beer in the world? According to the Global Beer Consumption by Country in 2019 index, the Czech top the list with an average of 140 litres of beer per year.
Well, they do know it. So, when in Prague… make sure you make some time to refresh and recharge with a Pilsner in the country where it actually originated. But, hey! You have to do so with the proper amount of foam in your glass –or so I came to learn during my visit. That’s right, get ready for a full foam stache, which means you’re drinking it properly.
Czechs understand the art of being patient, or at least when it comes to drinking a beer the proper way. They understand that waiting for the foam gives you a better-tasting beer. According to the Pilsner Urquell website, “a thick head of dense, wet foam seals in the freshness, protects our delicate flavors from oxygen and creates the perfect balance in our beer.”
10. Immerse yourself in Franz Kafka’s world
Whether you got to read Metamorphosis at school (I did!) or are a raving fan of Kafka’s writing, this museum will definitely be an interesting stop. The Franz Kafka Museum is an exhibition located in the centre of Prague that takes us into the world of Franz Kafka.
The writer born in Prague in 1883 is one of the greatest figures of 20th-century world literature, and this museum will convince you of it. The collection dedicated to the author hosts a number of first-edition books, letters, diaries, drawings and manuscripts created by Kafka, as well as photographs never before displayed in Prague. All are showcased in 3D installations, audiovisual pieces and a soundtrack. Simply fascinating.
The entrance is around 10 euros.
10 things you must do while in Prague
Visit a war history museum
Touch the sky from the Clock Tower
Feel the holiday season in Old Town Square
Take a chill half-day walk through Prague Castle.
Go to the Museum of Illusions
Enjoy a potato-soup on bread
Stay at Mosaic Budapest
Walk the Charles Bridge
Drink a cold Czech Pilsen!
Immerse yourself in Franz Kafka’s world
Bonus: Visit The John Lennon Wall
Located just a few minute's-walk from Charles Bridge, this space was first decorated after the assassination of Lennon in 1980. Ever since, it has been painted and repainted with several messages supporting global ideals such as love, peace and climate change.