An Introduction to Prague
Frolicking through this fairytale city… A magical city dating back over a thousand years, Prague is quite literally the heart of central Europe. Medieval streets, Baroque churches, and stunning views draw millions of tourists each year, and for good reason.
Walking along the historic stone roads of Prague feels like stepping into a fairytale of Hans Christian Anderson proportions. Its mix of renaissance and modern, classic and contemporary makes it a fascinating glimpse of cultural exuberance.
Prague is home to some of the most impressive feats of architecture on the grandest scale, but somehow still preserves its quaint charm. Nestled up against the Vlatava River, Prague offers picturesque scenes everywhere you look. With beer kegs that never end, an abundance of cultural events, and meals that make you feel all warm inside, Prague has the distinct ability to make you feel right at home in a city that’s almost too good to be true.
With so many magical moments to experience, and so much Pilsner to consume, Prague is the quintessential wonderland and it’s easy to get swept away. So, we’ve put together a list of everything you need to know about this IRL fairytale.
Prague is rich with preserved moments in history and breathtaking architecture. A visit wouldn’t be complete without stopping by these famous landmarks.
This awe-inspiring castle has been home for many Czech rulers throughout history and today houses the president. Made up of multiple sections: St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, Daliborka Tower, Powder Tower, and Rosenberg Palace, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. Perched just above the city, the castle’s architecture holds nothing back. Gothic spires, arches, and gargoyles earn the castle its dominating reputation as central Europe’s most magnificent medieval castle.
Lesser-known fact: The Prague Castle is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located in the Old Town Hall Tower right in the center of Old Town Square, this iconic astronomical clock dates back to the early 1400s. Displaying moon phases and equinoxes, the clock is also a marvel of artistic delight. With various symbols representing greed, vanity, and death, the clock is almost as foreboding as it is beautiful. It’s exactly what you’d hope to find in a city with fairytale tendencies. While waiting around to watch the clock mark the turn of the hour is widely considered anticlimactic, the clock itself is definitely worth your time.
Lesser-known fact: Rumor has it that the clock’s designer was blinded with a hot poker by Old Town leaders who feared he’d share the design with other cities. It was all for naught, however, because an exact replica stands today in South Korea.
Walking across Charles Bridge is a Prague non-negotiable. Charles Bridge spans the width of the Vlatava River and took 50 years to build. Its famed cobblestones hold nearly 700 years of stories and magic. Well-worn travelers continue to insist on a visit to Charles Bridge, despite the crowds of tourists. Get up early to walk across the bridge at dawn, and you will be rewarded with breathtaking views as the sun rises over the picturesque landscape.
Lesser-known fact: People claim to see ghosts walking across the bridge. The ghosts are believed to be the spirits whose heads ended up on spikes during a more barbaric period of Prague’s history.
Known as the Jewish quarter, this district’s sad history begins in the 13th century when Jews were forced to relocate to this one area in Prague. Located between Old Town and the Vlatava River, the Jewish Quarter is home to Europe’s oldest active synagogue, the Old New Synagogue. The Jewish Cemetery houses over 12,000 graves, some of which are placed on top of others. It is the oldest surviving cemetery of its kind and a somber reminder of the community’s hardships and resilience.
Prague doesn’t necessarily have the culinary reputation of Paris or San Sebastian, but it definitely has its moments. Warm and hearty dishes that feel like comfort food, pastries, and of course, goulash. And if none of those do the trick, there’s always beer.
Lesser-known fact: The home of the Pilsner, Prague leads the world in the amount of beer drinking per capita.
Made of thin slices of braised beef and a sauce of parsnips and carrots, this famous dish is usually served with dumplings. However, everyone in Prague uses their own recipe, so having one does not mean having them all.
These grilled sausages are the height of the Czech culinary experience. Expertly grilled and placed in a roll of bread with mustard, it’s the perfect dish to enjoy while walking through food stalls and grabbing a Pilsner at a beer garden.
Like the Svíčková, Czech goulash is a thick, hearty beef stock with vegetables and served with dumplings. Traditional Hungarian goulash has more of a soupy texture, but goulash aficionados still prefer the Czech experience. As for comfort food, there’s nothing quite like it.
These open-faced sandwiches can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even during celebrations. The baguettes are topped with a variety of deli options: egg, salami, cucumber, ham…pick one, or pick all. There are no rules when it comes to the chlebíčy.
These sweet pastries are the Czech answer to French crepes. Topped with various sweets like ice cream, nuts, fruit, and sweet cheese, these pancakes can be found in cafés as well as food carts throughout Old Town Square. Savory options are available too, usually filled with spinach, meat, and cheese.
Although not necessarily rocking the culinary boat, Prague’s restaurants have everything you need for a quality gastronomic experience: hearty meals, cozy ambiance, and an inviting atmosphere.
For traditional Czech food at its finest, U Parlamentu should be your first stop. Meat that is fall-off-the-bone tender, savory sauces that warm the senses, and generous portions of potatoes and dumplings that soak it all up. No matter what you pick from the menu, you cannot go wrong. This restaurant is so popular, you’d better make a reservation or be prepared to wait a while. But trust us…it’ll be worth it.
This butcher shop/restaurant serves up some of the finest meat in Prague. Famous for their juicy dry-aged burgers made of Czech piebald beef, you’ll insist on making a 2nd or 3rd stop before your trip is over. The menu changes often, but the quality doesn’t.
Lesser-known fact: The roasted bone marrow isn’t on the menu but is usually available. Served with toasted bread and parsley salad…this is what you’ll remember long after your time in Prague has ended.
This traditional kitchen, located in the basement of a building in Old Town offers the small village ambiance of any classic fairytale. With a menu filled with unending meat dishes, you can find everything from rib-eye, pork, roasted duck, chicken, and sausage. The bread dumplings soaked in gravy make these dishes a perfect Czech meal. There may be no better location in the world than a cozy old tavern for a pint of Pilsner.
Prague is a magical city full of glorious sites and breathtaking views. But there are a few unexpected surprises as well. Don’t let these hidden gems pass you by.
Located right in the city center, Karlovy Láznê is central Europe’s largest nightclub. Complete with five stories, bars, and dance floors enhanced with fog machines, this is the club to beat all clubs. Each of the five floors has its own theme, so there is something for every musical and dance interest. If you’re an old soul who’s not that into nightclubs, stick to the 3rd floor where the DJ will be mixing oldies all night long.
John Lennon Wall
A portrait of John Lennon, painted on the wall facing the French Embassy by an activist after Lennon’s death in 1980, bloomed from a mere portrait into a public work of art. Graffitied to the point of no return, the wall now stands as a tribute to the free-spirited all over the world. Although officials have tried in the past to whitewash the wall, locals and tourists alike have always returned, covering it with vibrant images, texts, and colors. It’s a sight to behold. Go ahead and add your own touch; drawing on the wall is now encouraged.
Sigmund Freud Sculpture
Prague found an unusual way to honor the famous psycho-analyst Sigmund Freud; they built a seven-foot-tall sculpture and hung it out over a building in the Old Town. Attached to a metal beam, the sculpted man has nothing but cobblestones beneath his stone feet. We’re sure there’s a very Freudian explanation for the sculpture’s location, but you’d have to ask a local about that.
Lesser-known fact: The sculpture is so life-like that it’s been the cause of many false calls to the emergency; passersby often mistake it for a real man in peril.
The Heart of Central Europe
This classic Czech city is a world unto itself. Prague has both the grandeur of a rich medieval city and the charm of a quaint country village. How it accomplishes this remains a marvelous mystery. Everything about the city radiates a fairytale aesthetic, where life is beautiful, and dreams actually do come true. Standing on the cobblestone streets in the city center, it’s possible to believe that you are in the most magical place on earth. No wonder many refer to Prague as Disneyland for adults.