Reaching a record 8 million tourists this year, the Major of Prague announced starting to limit the number of touring cars into the city. The Old City (Prague 1) is beautiful, yet a bit overwhelmed by tourists and real estate prices are sky-high. No wonder the average ‘Czech Joe’ lives in Prague 17 till 22. So I went to Prague again this summer, in the search for hidden gems, off the beaten track places undiscovered by tourists and the best insider tips from locals, including lots of free stuff!
Established in the mid-10th century on a hill next to the Vltava River, Vyšehrad is a lovely park area that is still mostly visited by locals. Besides a tranquil atmosphere, Vyšehrad offers stunning city views, pick-nick lawns, a restaurant, a playground and several interesting sights such as the neo-Gothic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, national cemetery Slavín and some of the original Baroque statues from the Charles Bridge. There is even a small vineyard. I had never been here before, what a hidden gem! Free admission.
TV Tower vs. Petrin Tower
Prague has at least eight towers one can visit, still not many know about. Most interesting:
- Czech: Petřínská rozhledna
- 63.5 meters high, 299 steps to the peak
- Entrance fee 150 CZK
- Opening hours vary per month (from 10:00h till 18:00h, 20:00h or 22:00h)
- Czech: Žižkovská televizní věž
- 216 meters high, viewing platform at 93m with a 360° view
- Entrance fee 250 CZK
- Open daily 09:00h till 00:00h
If I had to choose between the two, I’d go for Petrin. Most value for money and close to the tower, which is located on Petrin Hill, there are also the Mirror Maze (90 CZK), the Petrin Funicular and Petrin Park with Seminary Garden (Seminářská zahrada) and Petřín Gardens (Petřínské sady). On the other hand, the TV tower includes statues of crawling babies by David Černý, which are fun to see, and multiple restaurants and a hotel.
Strahov Library & Monastery
OK Strahov Library is not a new discovery for me, yet still overlooked by many tourists. It is up the hill on the west side of the river, where not all tourists take the effort to go to. So I would like to mention it here once more. Entrance fee is 120 CZK. Photo license 50 CZK. Lunch break 12-13h.
Be aware: the Czech Republic is part of Central Europe, not Eastern Europe; Vienna is more east!
Part of the Wallenstein Palace, which is nowadays the seat of the Senate of the Czech Republic, yet this 17th century Baroque garden close to Prague Castle is often skipped by mistake. Wallenstein Gardens (Valdštejnská zahrada) is the most beautiful garden of Prague, according to locals. The 30-metres high Sala Terrena decorated with fresco paintings immediately is an eye catcher upon entering the garden. Underneath an orchestra gets ready to play. Further into the garden, the owl cave and a symmetrical garden with several bronze statues including Hercules made by Dutch sculptor Adrian de Vries. What a nice place! Free admission.
Bohnice Pet Cemetery
This may sound odd, but there is something interesting about visiting cemeteries, especially abroad. They say something about the culture. And I love pets. Currently I do not have any pets myself but my whole work life is dedicated to their wellbeing. I understand how devastating it can be when you lose a pet. How beautiful that in Prague there is a special pet cemetery that you can visit? An odd yet unique and touching place.
The Spanish Synagogue in Prague must be one of the most beautiful synagogues in Europe. It was built in 1868, inspired by the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Especially the room with the orchestra is absolutely gorgeous! Unfortunately it is closed until the end of 2020.
Prague’s Little Venice
Did you know that Prague has its own Little Venice? I didn’t! I guess Google knew earlier than me that I was going to visit Colmar a.k.a. Little Venice in France soon LOL The Čertovka canal in Prague goes around the so-called Lesser Quarter (Malá Strana), starting and ending with the Vlatva River. It has two nicknames: the Devil’s Canal and Little Venice.
The medieval houses and mills along its course are probably built in the 12th century. Discover the picturesque canal during a very affordable Prague’s Little Venice Sightseeing Canal Cruise of 45 min including refreshment.
If you zoom out the map of Prague for a bit, you may notice a huge green area north of the city. Prague has a lot of nice parks, not just in the north. Parks are great to escape from the huzz and the buzz of the Old Town. Join the locals, enjoy a pick-nick with a view! Summer night sunsets, running, walking, sunbathe, whatever you are up to. Free entrance, usually including some sort of beer garden (open Apr-Oct) and be aware: some parks also have a little nudist area.
- Stromovka is a popular place located in the Royal Game Reserve (Královské oboře, Prague 7) where locals enjoy movies, theatre, workshops, ping-pong, netball and volleyball, yoga classes (2x p/w), etc. Including some food trucks (or actually old sea containers).
- Letná Park (Prague 7) with great view and very nice Letna Beer Garden and Stalin.
- Stalin (in Letna Park) attracts a young audience interested in live music, open air cinema, documentaries, sports, activities, skateboarding, etc.Open from May till September, active Wednesdays till Sundays. There used to be a huge Stalin statue. Tram station Chotkovy sady.
- Petřín is a huge hill with a mini Eiffel tower on top (see below) and a lovely garden.
- Kinsy Garden (Kinského Zahrada) next to Petřín yet hidden behind a wall.
- Wild Sarka (Divoká Šárka) is a bit of a rocky park with two pools, ping-pong, beach volleyball, trampolines for kids and Divci Skok beer garden.
- Kampa Park on Kampa Island (Prague 1), closest to Old Town, summer music festivals.
- Vitkov Hill offers a different perspective on Prague, privacy spots and the National Memorial.
- Riegrovy Sady in Prague 2 with great view of the Prague Castle and the Old Town at sunset.
- Parukářka, Střelecký ostrov, Havlíčkovy sady, Kaizlovy sady, Centrální Park, Malešický…
In my earlier article Pretty Prague – my favorite addresses I already mentioned several good places to shop. My new shop discoveries:
- CCC shoe store multiple braches (for example in Palladium), I love my new shoes, so Cute, Comfy & Cheap!
- Pylones multiple branches throughout Old Town, lots of colorful, fun stuff and cute gifts
- Farmers market Jiřák at Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad, open Wed & Fri 8-18h and Sat 8-14h
Street art in Prague
Prague is not a city very well known for its street art as it is forbidden, moreover in communist time. The most famous piece of street art is the John Lennon Wall, which most tourists know about by now. One particular graffiti artist is really good. Zizkov and Holesovice are good areas to explore for street art. Zizkov highline is where I recently saw some nice street art (bird) and this new wooden stairs to the boardwalk. That’s the great thing about street art: everlasting changing!
Some interesting pieces of Prague street art for you to have a look at:
- Hrabal Wall close to Palmovka metro station
- Franz Kafka mural at the corner of Husitska and Prokopova
- Passage way under the Wilsonova street near Florenc metro station
- Pasta Oner murals on the DOX center of Contemporary Art
David Černý is a Czech artist who definitely puts his stamp on the city with many of his fun, creative, sometimes controversial statues, often politically or historically related. These are all examples of David’s fantastic work, which are definitely wonderful hidden gems of Prague!
- Head of Franz Kafka ‘Metalmorphosis’ 11m high statue consisting of 42 rotating silver panels
- Trifot robot kind of statue with a head consisting of different filming cameras
- Bronze Babies in Kampa Park, see also Pretty Prague – my favorite addresses
- Hanging Sigmund Freud also known as ‘Man Hanging Out’ on a beam connected to a building
- Brownnosing Permanent Installation at FUTURA Gallery Prague (Smichov, Prague 5) climb up the ladder and stick your nose in the big white sculpture’s arse to see a funny video (free)
- Piss Sculpture in front of Kafka Museum, two male statues peeing face to face
- Svaty Vaclav St. Wenceslas on upside down horse in Lucerna Passage
Some of Davids’ statues have been removed and are therefore no longer available (so stop searching):
- FUCK HIM a huge purple hand in the Vltava river (Moldau)
- In Utero Sculpture (before birth) I guess the woman gave birth to the babies?
- Golden Man ‘A nation to itself forever’ pouring water from top of Prague Theatre
It wasn’t him!
Two pretty well-known statues in Prague could have been but were NOT created by David Černý:
- The Statue of Franz Kafka, also known as Kafka Monument, created by Czech artist Jaroslav Róna. This statue consists of a mini Kafka riding a big suit at the Jewish Quarter of Old Town.
- Umbrella Man and Umbrella Woman hanging on wires over the streets in New Town (just behind Petite France). They are actually part of a bigger exposition called Slight Uncertainty by Czech artist Michal Trpák. Some of them hung in France and the UK. The Looking for Happiness mushrooms in front of the Mosaic House are also his work. Michal Trpák made several other beautiful pieces of art.
A girl has got to eat. The food itself does not need to be too much hip and happening, but I love visiting new places where the food is great. In my earlier article Pretty Prague – my favorite addresses I already mentioned several great restaurants in Prague. These are my new food discoveries in Prague.
The Manifesto Food Market has two locations:
- Manifesto Florenc at Na Florenci (next to metro station Florenc)
- Manifesto Smíchov at Náměstí 14. října 82/16 (open since July 1, 2019)
What a lovely food market this Manifesto is! A great place to visit with a bunch of friends on a nice summer day. I visited Manifesto Florenc with its 27 containers and 3 bars. The perfect place if you do not want to go through the hassle of reserving a table or having to pick one type of food for a group. Japanese Yakitori skewers, Vietnamese Pho, Czech pancakes with duck and cabbage, American burgers, Korean poke bowls, Chili mayo fries… pick whatever you like! Early birds: reserve a table in a transparent igloo!
More fab food & drinks
- Bistro Spejle offers lots of different tapas for you to try, you pay per stick, make reservation
- Etnosvet is anupscale vegetarian place that offers delicious dishes, healthy and tasty
- San Carlo Dittrichova is a good Italian restaurant in New Town, try the Divola pizza hmmm
- For more posh Italian dishes go to Aromi
- Café Cloe is a cute girly place for breakfast, brunch, cake, tea, coffee, lemonade, etc.
- Wine lovers alert: sip yours at Wine Bar Vinotéka U Mouřenínaor Le Bouquet vinoteka
- In the mood for ice cream but fed up with vanilla? Go to Puro Gelato at Na Hrobci 410/1 and try one of their unique flavors like lavender, carrot, brownie or basil for example.
Best river view
The River Café mentioned in my earlier article Pretty Prague – my favorite addresses is still absolutely one of the best places to sit down for drinks on a sunny spring or summer day. Although it is on a very central location, not many people seem to know about it, I guess because it is only there in summer season and low by the river. I love going here with my local Czech friends. Refreshing drinks, live music, Czech sausage from the smokehouse… No problem to enjoy that awesome river view until closing hours (22:00h that is). See map for location.
Prague Food Tour
A fabulous way of learning about the local food habits is by taking a foodie tour with a local of course! Enjoy this 4-hour guided walking tour consisting of 7 delicious food stops, spiced up by history and culture. It will be a gastronomic and cultural blend the traditional and undiscovered. All you need to do is make sure you are hungry before starting this tour and go with the flow!
MUSICAL / ENTERTAINMENT DISCOVERIES
No, I am not talking about the latest hottest bands in town. I am talking about clubs, bars and other fun ways to go out and enjoy music in the always vibrant Prague.
Klub Vzorkovna (Dog’s Bar)
Like trying new things, go to a bit experimental place? Klub Vzorkovna, also known as ‘Dog’s Bar’, is not an average bar or club. Lots of international students, beer and cocktails from jam jars, live bands in one room, house music in the other, underground spaces and bunkers… Gotta try! You may notice some friendly dogs walking around, that is why the nickname of this club is Dog’s Bar.
Cross Club (or Krossklub) is an underground club with industrial type of art décor. Different music styles, from punk to metal to electronic. Except great drinks you can also eat here, including late night hot snacks. Be aware that some nights there seems to be a bit strange vibe and crowd. Therefore I would recommend not to go alone here and not get too drunk. Free entrance. It is a bit out of the center, as a consequence it would probably be best to take an Uber ride home.
- Anonymous Bar cool, different bar to hang out in the Old Town (see above video)
- Lucerna Music Bar 80s & 90s, every Fri & Sat at 22:00h, 100 CZK
- Stalin see ‘Prague Parks’ section above
Nightlife Tour with local
Are you in the mood to enjoy Prague’s nightlife but traveling solo and/or would like to join a group? Interested to see the hidden gems of Prague’s nightlife? Then take a Prague Nightlife Tour with my friends of Mijn Praag Tours (360 Tours Prague) and have a great time! Partyyyy
When your bestie likes a completely different kind of music than you… so annoying! Try Silent Disco! At Silent Disco, the audience has headphones on and the music is sent to the wireless headphones. In this way, parties can be held at unique locations without causing noise and several music styles can be offered at the same time. Silent Disco is not unique for Prague, but a great way to have a great night! For example on August 15, 2019 at Piazzetta Národního Divadla.
Have you ever been to an opera? My grandmother was very much into it. Opera lovers around the world know that these tickets usually come with a big price tag, especially in places like Vienna. In Prague however, you can still see opera and other performances for as cheap as 9 euro at the National Theatre. Yeah, that beautiful building with the golden roof next to Vltava River. A true bargain! Check the agenda and book tickets here.
O2 Arena concert
With its size and the big names coming every month, the 02 Arena is not particularly a hidden gem for locals, but for foreigners it definitely can be! Ticketmaster is slowly but surely becoming some sort of Ebay, where prices fluctuate based on demand and supply. Ticket prices can rise up to thousands each, especially in the US, so annoying! Luckily, tickets for Prague’s 02 Arena are not sold via Ticketmaster.
Is your favorite band’s concert back home already sold out or too expensive? Consider getting a ticket to the same show at the O2 Arena in Prague! For example, for the Backstreet Boys’ DNA Tour, good seats for their show in Houston, Texas are 600-1000 dollars each, whereas in Prague they were only 90 euro! Travel for music, a city trip and a concert are a perfect combo! Metro: Českomoravská (yellow line B), metro ticket costs only CZK 24. Just don’t forget to stamp your metro ticket before entering!
I know many visit Prague for their Bachelor or Bachelorette party. Great idea! Prague is a naughty place, alcohol is cheap. I guess most will end up at either Darling or Goldfingers. Oh well, you can make it as crazy as you want, just don’t do anything that will make your mom to get mad at me, okay? From mud/jelly/oil wrestling to striptease to beer bike…. Have fun!!
Delicious Beer Tour
The Czech Republic and beer are inseparably connected, there is a long history of beer brewing. During this 3-hour Delicious Beer Tour you will experience the Czech beer culture, drink like a local! Next to drinking beer, you will see some great parts of the city and hear interesting facts and stories, all around your favorite topic: beer!
Did you know that Czechs find the ‘Dancing House’ the ugliest ever? It is empty since 1995 due to heat issues.
Your feet hurt from all the walking? Or simply in the mood to try something else? Here are some fab ways to get around the city of Prague.
Late September 2018, a new electric scooter sharing system was implemented in Prague. They are called Lime S-Scooter or Electric scooter, but basically these are e-steps. A refreshing, fun way to get around the city!
How to use Lime
- Download the Lime app
- Set up the Lime app
- Enter your mobile phone number or login via Facebook
- Enter the verification coden (received via SMS)
- Agree with user terms (after reading carefully of course)
- Enter your email adress
- Allows access to your location
- Enter reference code
- View nearby scooters, e-bikes and pedal bikes on map
- Scan the QR code or enter number to unlock
- Lock up safely when finished
Important to know about Lime
- Caution: Lime scooter users are considered cyclists. Using the pavement is not allowed. Unlawful behavior can result in a fine of up to CZK 2000.
- Users pay 25 CZK for each rental, plus a fee of 2 CZK per minute.
- The speed of scooters is limited to 25 km/h.
- Use a helmet when riding a scooter (they are supposed to be provided).
- The scooters are recharged by so-called Lime Juicers once the battery runs low.
- Lime is spreading around the globe so the app is useful in many different cities, not just Prague!
- New regulations for the use of Lime scooters in Prague should be expected soon, including exclusion zones (pedestrian zones in Prague 1, on the Royal Route and in part of Prague 2). Let’s hope Lime can avoid a fate like Segways, which were banned for the most part in 2016.
Hidden Gem Bicycle Tour
Have you ever been on a guided bicycle tour? It is a fun and healthy way to see a lot of the city in a shorter period of time. I am a big fan of Mijn Praag Tours (360 Tours Prague), a fantastic company that offers 10 different tours by bicycle and foot in 3 different languages with a team of 16 enthusiastic, expertise guides. I recently did their Hidden Prague Bicycle Tour and it was so much fun! Read all about it in my earlier blog post Cycling my way along the Hidden Gems of Prague.
Have you ever heard of a scrooser? Me neither. I know they originally come from Berlin but you still rarely see them anywhere. These are a different type of e-scooter, more like a chopper with fat tires. You can do a fun 2 hours tour on them, along with a guide. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Rent a Paddle Boat
It may be considered a classic but to be honest: I got into a paddle boat for the first time only recently! Rent one and have fun on the Vltava River. See Prague from a whole different perspective! Really nice, especially not an early summer evening and see the sunset – super romantic!
BEYOND PRAGUE DISCOVERIES
By far the majority of people who have ever visited the Czech Republic, have never been outside the city. Want to see more of the Czech Republic and do something only a few tourists will do during their city trip to Prague? Go for a day trip out of Prague!
- Kutna Hora with church* full of skulls and bones
- Cesky Krumlov
- Terezin concentration camp learn more about WWII in CZ
- Bohemian Wine Tasting
- Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park
- Plzen home of Pilsner Urquell Brewery
- Summer 2019: under renovation, which may influence your experience while visiting this unique church
This summer I discovered a new place to stay in Prague, a stylish yet affordable apartment in a great spot in New Town. I have stayed in the area once before, but that apartment is no longer on rent.
This mobile friendly map includes most things mentioned in this article and is smartphone friendly. You can use it easily via Google Maps. Click on the top left icon to open the menu. You can (un)select categories/areas to customize the map to your needs. Via Google Drive you can copy it to your own folder of My Google Maps.
For more basic Prague information like first-timer sightseeing spots, must sees, how to get there and around, other tips on restaurants, bars, clubs, accommodation and shopping, best time to go, etc. see my earlier article Pretty Prague – My Favourite Addresses.
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