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…
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.
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.
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.
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.