Essential Prague: Prague for First Timers

Prague Dancing House
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Very few European cities retain their original charm after WWII abolished much of the history in Europe. The medieval old town in Prague remains in tact, as well as one of few Jewish Quarters that also remains in tact. In fact, Hitler decided to keep Josefov as a display of how ‘ugly’ this Czechoslovakian city and architecture was. Ironically enough, it’s now one of central Europe’s most popular cities for the architecture alone. But there’s more to experience in Prague beyond the medieval architecture, a castle, and old cobble stoned alleyways (but these are still essentials).

Prague for first timers is a mesmerizing experience but the beauty of it all may make you forget to see and do some absolute musts, of which you only find out about once you have left. So here’s a look at Prague for first timers, from must-see’s to must-do’s and everything in between…

vltava river prague

Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, and Old Town Square

Start your first day in Prague with the cities’ top sights – but be sure to begin early and visit in this precise order. Charles bridge is particularly stunning in the morning before the tourists flood here around 9-10am and the bridge remains crowded for the entirety of the day. It’s a great idea to come here first thing in the morning before the crowds and experience the bridge all to yourself. After you are returning from the Prague Castle later in the day you will be able to experience the bridge again – this time sharing it with tourists from around the globe. You can take the 22 tram up to the castle if you’re not up for the walk, but I strongly recommend you hit the ground walking and walk the distance. Once there, be sure to take the time to stroll the grounds leisurely and visit Golden Lane whilst you are there.

From the Prague Castle, walk back through the Castle district and across Charles Bridge and continue to the Old Town Square. Once there, be sure to marvel at the astronomical clock for a while (everyone else is – you can’t miss it), as well as wander the alleyways around the square, sourcing gifts and trinkets from boutiques as you go.

josefov prague


Now that you’ve got the main attractions out of the way, it’s time to dig a little deeper into Prague and see it from a different viewpoint. One of my favourite areas in Prague is in fact the Jewish Quarter, also known as Josefov. It is geographically located between the Old Town and the Vlatva River and it’s history dates back to the 13th Century. My favourite thing to do here is just to wander aimlessly on foot, discovering countless antique stores along the way. If you’re interested in the history of Nazi Germany and in particular the treatment of Jews, a single ticket to the Jewish Museum will get you admitted into all the buildings here. The only one you will need another ticket for is the Old-New Synagogue which I highly recommend you pat a visit. 

which way?

Wenceslas Square

While it is more or less a boulevard filled with shops and eateries, Wenceslas Square is certainly worth a visit if you’re interested in seeing ‘New Prague’ or just simply hitting the shops. It is a more vibrant and lifely part of the city where you will mix with the locals.

  Prague Dancing House

Dancing House & Vltava River

The Fred & Ginger House or ‘Dancing House’ is an architectural masterpiece located along the Vltava River. Be sure to take a stroll along the river to get here, it’s a great escape from the tourists and hustle and bustle of both old and new Prague. For another way to view the city, consider a boat ride along the Vltava – especially nice at sunset. 


Beer Gardens & Just drinking Beer

One of the greatest Czech pastimes is to drink beer… and lots of it. The Letna Beer Garden is the cities’ most popular and certainly the best, especially in summer. There are a lot of good dance clubs in Prague you can visit, Sasazu being my personal favourite (a little classier than the others). Just be sure NOT to visit Karlovy Lazne. I don’t need to say it twice and I barely need to give a reason….. Just. Don’t. Go. There.

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    April 22, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Im curious as to why you recommend not going to Karlovy Lazne? Im heading to Prague for the first time in August and a friend told me it was a good night out?

    January 11, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Hello everyone, if you’re looking for a guide who knows a lot about Prague’s architecture, let Rob know. You can check his trip advisor reviews here

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    January 2, 2016 at 9:18 am

    […] time on your hands and are looking to make a weeklong escape, I’d highly suggest combining Prague and Budapest, two of my all time favourite cities in central Europe. Prague is a delight year round […]

    Julius medalla
    May 12, 2015 at 1:35 am

    I will be visiting Prague for the first time, and only for a night or two. This will be a great help for me, since have no luxury of time. Thanks

    March 22, 2014 at 8:09 am

    I’m planning to pay a visit to Prague when I go to London this summer. How many days would you suggest for me to explore and soak in Prague charm? Thanks in advance and lots of love from Malaysia!

    March 19, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    This is great advice, thank you! I’m thinking of going to Prague in the autumn and will certainly be using this post for places to visit.

    Samantha Angell
    March 17, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I loved Prague when I visited last fall (besides the graffiti that was everywhere!) and amazingly hit almost every single one of your points here. The only recommendation I would add relates to your beer drinking- make sure to take a mid afternoon break for a beer on an outdoor patio, its such great people watching!