The Best Things to Do in Prague According to a (Sort of) Local
Originally posted 26/9/2014, updated 13/5/2018
“Going local” seems to be the fashionable way to travel these days, but what does it really mean? From what I can gather, you do the things that locals do, eat where they eat and generally try not to look like tourist. I’m not one to follow trends, so when a friendly American pub crawl captain gave us his “local” opinion on the best things to do in Prague, it felt like the perfect balance between being a tourist and getting the inside, local knowledge (he’d lived in Prague for a few months).
It was around 8 am and we had just arrived on the night train from Budapest. We couldn’t check into our guesthouse until lunchtime, so we went for a walk to do some Prague sightseeing. The pub crawl guy (I can’t remember his name) was apparently walking home after a big night with two British backpacking ladies, and while I’m not sure if I entirely believed his story, his tips for what to see in Prague seemed genuine. In a hung-over state, he circled some things on our map, told us about his pub crawl tour, finished his coffee and went on his way, leaving us to fend for ourselves
Here are some places he suggested we visit, and some others we bumped into along the way:
Whether you’re going local or not, you’ll probably end up at Prague Castle – which is more like a church surrounded by some other non-castle like buildings. We didn’t pay to go inside (that’d be such a tourist move – or we were just cheap) but we got to see inside the church and had a good walk around the area.
The mini Eiffel Tower
That’s how our friend described it anyway, but I’m pretty sure the real Eiffel Tower has a lift (update: it does!). After a fairly gruelling climb we were presented with one of the best views of Prague from above. The tower sits at the top of a hill which can be reached by a short funicular ride – there is also a church and a “mirror maze” up there. We purchased a ticket for the maze and the tower (it was pretty cheap); you’d have to be an idiot to get lost in the maze though, but the crazy reflections from the mirrors made for a fun few minutes.
The weird robot babies
The pub crawl guy told us about the “Baby Tower” (I’m pretty sure that’s not its official name though), which is basically a huge tower with giant babies climbing up the side. Unfortunately we didn’t make it, as we saw some other giant robot babies down by the Vltava River. Three creepy robot babies were enough for 1 trip — definitely an interesting thing to see in Prague though!
The bridges of Prague
Prague has some pretty cool bridges, with the Charles Bridge being by far the most popular. It’s a pedestrian bridge, meaning annoying cars are replaced with bands, beggars, touts and plenty of tourists). If you’re sick of bumping into people and getting in the way of their photos (photos steal your soul you know), then head to the next bridge down the river, it’s quieter (apart from the cars) and the views from it are just as good.
The Old Town Square
This is one of the better old squares I’ve seen in Europe – the churches are huge, the towers are tall and the whole area feels like a trip back in time (at least I think they had African tribal drumming in ancient Prague). It gets pretty crowded, but our “local” guide told us it was one of the best things to do in Prague, so you can’t really miss it!
The winding streets of Prague
Prague is the kind of city where you can just wander the streets aimlessly for hours – there’s always something to see. The old streets are about as atmospheric as they come in Europe, and head a few minutes from the popular ones and you’ll have them all to yourself. We walked around a lot in our three days in Prague, the best streets being the ones just across the Charles Bridge, the streets of the Jewish Quarter and the ones close (but not too close) to the main square.
The John Lennon Wall
Once a wall for young people to write their grievances towards the communist regime, it now seems like the Lennon Wall has become a bit of a graffiti free for all. The original words of hope, peace and protest have been covered, but it’s the ever changing face of this otherwise ordinary wall that makes it so interesting.
Things to Do in Prague at night
Walking around Prague at night is a must – seeing the buildings of the main square lit up is an amazing site, and there are also some great bars. Prague is famous for absinth, although we didn’t try any there (we bought a bottle with us to Vienna, where we drunk it all with some people I’d met in Indonesia a few months before). The pub crawl guy told us a bar to check out, called U Sudu. As you walk in it looks tiny, but as you head down through a series of tunnel things (he described it as “The hobbit bar”), it becomes a bit of labyrinth. There were lots of little rooms/bars and it felt like you were in an underground lair in a fantasy movie. Speaking of movies, we also saw Interstellar on our last night in Prague. Go and see it if you haven’t already (which I’m guessing you have as it’s now 2018)!
Sightseeing on Prague using our “local” tips was a lot of fun. There was a lot of other stuff he told us to do as well, but we ran out of time. I guess the first rule of not looking like a tourist is to not rush around and try and see everything, so it worked out well!
FURTHER READING: Planning a trip to Prague? The Wikitravel page is a great resource
Have you been to Prague? Let me know your local tips!