What is the best time to visit Prague?
As a person who spent university time in Prague and nowadays is partly working and living there, I hear this question all the time. There are no stupid questions, but I feel so pointless been asked about it, that ironically I could answer “5 o’clock in the morning”…
Recently I realized that actually it’s true! 🙂
Prague is beautiful.
Outstanding architecture and concentrated urban layout gives possiblity to explore the city on foot, always admiring something on every step you take. But is also very crowded, just full of tourists. And this can be really annoying…
Sounds crazy, but if you want to enjoy Charles Bridge alone and feel the full spirit of this fairy tale city, wake up early, go at 5 a.m. for a walk and you will know what I mean 😉
Fortunately there are still few less extreme methods to explore Prague in the Slow Travels way. Let me introduce them to you.
I know the city pretty well from the perspective of a tourist, who was studying, living and working there. It gives me a big advantage to speak about Prague to other visitors like you. That’s why I want to add to your classic “Top things to see in Prague” (like Charles Bridge, Charles Street, Old Town Square, Astronomical Clock, Josefov Jewish District, Hradcany with the Prague Castle, Golden Lane, St. Vitus Cathedral, National Theater, National Avenue, Dancing House, John Lennon Wall, Peace Square, National Museum, Republic Square, Powder Tower and others) some unique things to do, which will make your stay really unforgettable.
How to skip the crowds, leave the tourists behind and organise your Slow Weekend in Prague? Here are my 5 tips:
- Enjoy best views – in Prague you have many great viewpoints. One of the most popular is the Astronomical Clock Tower at Old Twon Hall. Yeah, the view is outstanding, because you are in the heart of the city, but it has two big disadvantages. You have to pay for the entrance and then you have to wait in the queue, even over an hour or two! If you go to Prague for 2-3 days, you simply don’t have this time. So jump to the red metro line, go to Vysehrad metro station and walk 10 min to Vysehrad Castle, located on the right bank of the Vltava River. You save time and money, you leave crowds behind and enjoy best views of Prague.
- Learn history through Czech humor – go to Wenceslas Square (Museum metro station, red line) and meet Statue of Saint Wenceslas, the first Czech saint and the patron saint of the Czech Republic (currently very atheistic state). Then walk few steps down the street and turn left to Lucerna Palace gallery near the square. You will find there a parody of this statue created by David Cerny (famous contemporary Czech sculptor, whose works can be seen in many locations in Prague). You will be surprised and you will laugh. I’m curious about your interpretation of it. I will keep mine for myself, not to spoil your experience.
- Eat breakfast at Café Jen – this place is my obligatory stop during every visit in Prague (located in Vrsovice; from the center go there by 22 tram to Ruska tram stop). In my opinion they serve the best breakfast in the whole city! It was founded by two Czech girls, so if you want to see how young, post-communist generation deals nowadays in Czech Republic, this will be a great opportunity. To know more about their outstanding coffee and cakes, read my dedicated to Café Jen post.
- Go to run along the Vltava river and later drink a beer on Naplavka – Naplavka is Vltava’s riverbank dedicated only for pedestrians. Few years ago it was truly hipster hangout place. Nowadays is much more commercial, with floating bars and barges, food festivals and others. But I still like this place, especially for a nice running route. It starts just after the National Theater and stretches far to the south. You will quickly leave the bars behind you, but you can run along the river much further, over 5 km, so you have 10 km on go and back way. After the training obligatory drink cold beer on Naplavka! And if you don’t like to run… just skip the first part and drink a beer anyway. Or even few… We are in Prague – the beer capital of the World! 😀
- Visit “Free republic of Zizkov” without the plan – most famous Prague’s districts as Old Town, New Town, Mala Strana or Hradcany are beautiful, unique and full of tourists attractions, but on the other hand very overcrowded. If you want to skip the corwds and still enjoy “Genius loci” of the city, only what you have to do is take green metro line, stop on Jiriho z Podebrad and explore Zizkov. Attention! Is the “last moment” to do it! I remember Zizkov 7 years ago… it was wild land 😉 Now the district starts to be more and more on fashion, with cozy bars and vegetarian restaurants. Go there without the plan and let yourself get lost. Try to discover nice bars by yourself by looking at the yards. Somewhere between the beautiful, old tenements you’ll find the statue of Jaroslav Hasek, most famous Czech writer, who is best known for his novel “The Good Soldier Svejk”. The figure of a famous Svejk decorates half of taverns in Prague. But this is a topic for a completely separate story… 😉
And coming back to the question from the beginning – every moment is good for visiting Prague, but all depends on what you are looking for. My favourite seasons are spring and autumn:
- During spring all wakes up to life and people are crazy to start street-life after months of low temperatures outside. During that time city center is definitely less crowded with tourists.
- Autumn is charming as well – beautiful scenery with colorful leaves and stone streets shimmering from the rain (yes it can rain a lot) create unique, unforgettable atmosphere of this city.
- In the summer you have much bigger chances for great weather, but also big crowds – you will cross with groups of tourists not only from Europe but United States and Asia as well. On the other hand you will be able to do Vltava cruise and enjoy beer in the garden.
- Winter means Christmas atmosphere with Christmas markets on every corner and warm wine drinking on the street. Yummy!
Prague has much more to offer but I wanted my suggestions to be clear and specific. You can choose one of five of my recommendations or try to follow all. Anyway, I’m sure you will fell in love in this magic city ❤
All places mentioned in this post are marked on the map below (orange – classic must see places, purple – my recommendations). Remember, you don’t have to see them all! Sometimes less means more. Enjoy your stay!