Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic, is a must-see for its historical sites, baroque buildings and Gothic-style churches. Its charming vibe, especially in the well-preserved Old Town, levels to that of Paris. How’s that?
Don’t get intimidated, though — Prague might seem fancy, but it doesn’t mean you can’t go here if you’re on a budget. To help you explore the City of a Hundred Spires without breaking the bank, here’s a list of some of the most interesting things you can do here for free!
1. Visit churches with unique architectural styles
Need help in deciding about which place to visit first in Prague? Take a peek into one of the city’s churches and prepare to be in awe of their architectural designs! There’s St. Vitus Cathedral for an instance, a Gothic-style Catholic church completed in 1929. It has beautiful stained glass windows and gargoyles, as well as a chapel housing relics of saints with walls decorated with gold. Another must-see is the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, located at the Old Town Square. Its altar has paintings dating back from 1649 and a pipe organ which is known to be the oldest of its kind in Prague.
2. See a wall named after a famous singer
John Lennon never set foot in Prague, but there’s a wall in the city filled with graffiti inspired by him and his band The Beatles. Lennon, widely known as a pacifist, was murdered in 1980. Since then, he has served as an inspiration to much Czech youth especially during the communist era. They painted Lennon’s image on the wall, along with other political graffiti and song lyrics. It has been repainted by authorities several times, but they never succeeded to keep it blank for long. Up until today, candles and flowers are left on site to commemorate the renowned musician.
3. Visit a castle
Get ready to be in awe of majestic castles you thought you could only see in movies! Vyšehrad, nestled on a hill along Vltava River, dates back to the mid-10th century. Here, you will find structures with Romanesque, Gothic, Neo-Gothic and Baroque styles. Within the castle there’s a church called Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul and a cemetery where many notable Czech figures are laid.
4. Appreciate art — from medieval to contemporary
Prague is a paradise for art enthusiasts. The National Gallery, which has the largest collection of Czech art spread out through six different venues, offers free entrance to visitors five times a year. Specific dates are usually announced on their website. For a dose of medieval art, visit the former Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia, the oldest surviving Gothic building in Prague. It was founded in 1213 but was only opened as a gallery in 2000. Meanwhile, for contemporary art, come to Veletržní Palace, which contains exhibitions from the 20th and 21st century. Famous Czech artists and newbie artists alike have their masterpieces displayed here.
5. See Czech musical instruments
On the first Thursday of every month, guests can enter the Czech Museum of Music for free. It is located at the Church of Santa Maria Magdalena, a 17th century Baroque-style structure. Around 700,000 items are stored in the museum and those which are displayed have written explanations of how they are used. You will also hear the original sounds made by selected instruments, making the usual museum experience a more exciting one. Whether you’re a musician yourself or you’re simply looking for a unique place to visit, you should not miss this item on the list!
6. Take a stroll at Prague's most famous bridge
With its quaint streets and old buildings, Prague is an ideal city for travellers who love strolling. One of the places you may visit by foot is the Charles Bridge, constructed in the 14th century and now known as a place where various artists gather to display their talents. See street performers, listen to local musicians or check out paintings and other handcrafted items available for purchase. Charles Bridge could get crowded starting from sunset until the night. If you wish for a more quiet walk, get up early in the morning and watch the sunrise here instead.
7. Get a good view of the city’s skyline
Soak up the good views awaiting you at the Petrin Hill! To reach the summit, go on a 30-minute hike, passing gardens and wooded paths. Along the way, you can stop by the statue of a Czech romantic poet named Karel Hynek Mácha. It is a famous meeting place for lovers during the 1st of May every year, which is dubbed as the “Day of Love” in the Czech Republic. It could get a little challenging, but once you’ve reached the top, you will be rewarded with the incredible scenery of the city skyline. Lounge on one of the benches in the gardens and don’t forget to pack some snacks and drinks for a fun picnic!
8. Enjoy outdoor activities at a nature reserve
Take a nature trip at Divoká Šárka Park and experience various outdoor activities for free! Nestled at the northwestern suburb of Prague, the nature reserve has a huge gorge and is dotted with towering trees, rock formations and beautiful waterfalls. If you like hiking or jogging, just follow the trails, and you might just encounter a wildlife creature along the way. You can also go paddling for free at the Džbán lake. Another reason to come here: the park is not touristy, making it a great hideaway!
9. Explore open-air markets
If you want a glimpse of Prague’s best local products, explore one of the city’s open-air markets. There’s the Holešovice Market for an instance, which is mostly known for food products, clothes, and electronics. It is known as the largest of its kind in Prague, where thousands of tourists visit every year. Pankrác Market is relatively smaller but boasts of a charming and friendly vibe. Here, you could check out second-hand shops, seasonal produce, cheap clothes, home appliances and baked goods. Meanwhile, if you’re coming during the Christmas season, make sure to check out the Christmas Market at the Old Town Square.
10. Visit a Jewish quarter
Josefov, Prague’s Jewish quarter, is located in the Old Town. It is not a typical destination for most tourists, but with its history dating back from the 10th century, this area is surely worth a visit. Josefov is the birthplace of Franz Kafka, German-language writer of novels and short stories. It is also where the Old Jewish Cemetery and the synagogue is located. While some of the sites require entrance fees, you can walk on its streets freely.
11. Bring kids to a playground
Coming to Prague with the family? There are many playgrounds in Prague that can provide thrill to the young ones. There’s one inside the Franciscan Monastery with sandbox and swings, as well as benches where you can eat ice cream and go people watching. Right next to it is the Church of Virgin Mary of the Snows. Another good option is Čertovka, which you can easily access if you’re also visiting the Charles Bridge. Kids can freely run and play at the recreational area. Fences have been constructed around the playground for the safety of visitors.
12. Catch free concerts and performances
If you’re coming in spring or summer, the Wallenstein Gardens is the best place to catch free live entertainment like concerts and theatrical performances. Created in the early 17th century, it is an original Baroque-style garden with bronze sculptures, a sala pavilion and an artificial grotto cave. The Sala Terrena is where the performances usually take place. Its fountains and statues representing Greece mythology are mostly copies of famous Dutch artist Adrian de Vries’ works.
13. Spot a quirky building amidst the historic city
Amidst a sea of old and historic structures in Prague, you will find a contemporary building called the Dancing House. Also known as the Fred and Ginger Building, it had been controversial for a time because it deviates from the Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings surrounding it. The building depicts a man and woman dancing together. If you’re passing by Jirasek Square and Rasin Quay alongside the river Vltava, it’s impossible not to see this architectural gem! You may take a photo from the outside and go to the top floor to enjoy the views for free.
14. Take a relaxing stroll on the riverbank
Dubbed as a hipster hangout, Naplavka is a quiet riverbank by day but a lively hangout place at night. The stretch of pavement along the banks serve as a cycling and running trail, especially during the colder months. There are quaint cafes nearby, as well as vendor tents selling Prague beer. Visitors may enjoy live music, which line-up varies every night, adding to the riverbanks’ hipster vibe. If you wish to Naplavka just like a local, bring a bottle of beer or wine and then sit along the edge of the riverbank. Soaking up Vltava River’s views with a drink after a long day? Why not!
15. See Prague’s famous astronomical clock
Aside from telling time, the astronomical clock at the Old Town City Hall in Prague is a famous attraction because of its hourly show. Featuring an intricate design, the upper dial contains the phases of the moon, the equinoxes, the seasons and the days. Meanwhile, the lower dial has the zodiac signs and the Twelve Apostles which were added in the 19th century. The hourly show is called the “Procession of the Twelve Apostles.” With the crowds gathering at the Old Town City Hall every hour, it’s impossible to miss this for yourself!
16. Find a good picnic spot
You can never go wrong by bringing a picnic mat and a few snacks to Letná Park! Located on a high plateau, the park boasts beautiful views of the city center. It was once the location of the renowned Stalin’s Monument which is the largest monument dedicated to the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. When it was removed, the structure was replaced by a 73 metres tall metronome, a device which produces ticks or beats per minute. Today, it is a popular hangout spot for young people as well as families.
17. Enjoy a walk along a royal garden
Travel back in time and feel like a true royalty as you stroll along the famed Royal Garden! Sprawled at the grounds of Prague Castle, it is considered as the most historical among all the other six gardens here. Its design is mostly from the Renaissance era, with touches of Italian-inspired architecture. There’s a minimal entrance fee if you would want to enter the castle itself but the castle gardens and the free events conducted here can already suffice for a fun visit.
18. Get free drink refills
Save a few koruna, the official currency of the Czech Republic, when you go to Bohemia Bagel! Order a cup of coffee or tea, whichever you prefer, and get free refills. With its vintage designs and cozy ambience, it would be a perfect place to grab breakfast, lunch or snacks. Choose from one of the three branches of Bohemia Bagel located at the city center, namely the Lesser Town, Old Town and Holešovice. Pro tip: check out the bulletin boards in the restaurant and you might just find out community announcements for other free activities in Prague!
19. Watch screenings of independent films and documentaries
If you happen to be a film buff visiting Prague, take advantage of the free screenings conducted at the American Center on Vlašská street, in Malá Strana. A part of the efforts of the United States Embassy in Prague, the film showing ranges from independent movies and documentaries. It also welcomes locals and tourists alike. If you’re lucky, you might even chance upon an art exhibit or a concert during your visit.
20. Attend craft workshops and lectures
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Crafters of any kind are welcome to attend workshops and lectures in one of Prague’s most popular art galleries. Muddum, located across Letna Park, spearheads regular events where you can meet fellow craft enthusiasts and learn about different crafting techniques. Their events are usually child-friendly, so don’t forget to bring your kids if you’re travelling with the family! For the latest schedules, check out Muddum’s website before your visit.
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