Prague is undoubtedly one the most beautiful cities in the world, and one of my favourite places that I visited in eastern Europe. Its charm drew me instantly and I fell in love to every edge and turns of the city. I went to 7 countries in eastern Europe in 14 days, and in average spent 2 days in every cities. However, I spared three days in Prague and it was probably the best decisions I had ever made. Though I left Prague feeling unsatisfied, it left a lingering good memories and impression in my heart.
I arrived at Prague on the third day on my Eastern-Europe-trip (I spent the first two days in Warsaw), and me and my friend planned to spend new year in this beautiful city. It was on the night of December 30th 2018 when we arrived at Prague, and left the City for Bratislava on January 2nd 2019. I can tell you now that Prague in Winter is really a wonderland. On this blog I will share what I visited on my first day on Prague (make sure check out the 2nd day!) and how to get around in Prague.
How to Get Around Prague
Me and my friend arrived at Prague from Warsaw, Poland using IC train 112 where I bought the ticket in Warsaw. We got off at Praha Hlavni Nadrazi, the largest railway station in Prague. To get around Prague, we used tram, buses, metro, and walk. To explore nearby places, such as in Old Town Square, or in Hradcany, walking and tram may be the best solution. But, if you want to transfer between area, you may want to consider using metro.
Public Transportation in Prague
I will primarily share how to use public transportation to explore Prague since it’s probably the easiest and cheapest way to go. There are 3 (three) main public transports in Prague, they are Metro, Buses, and Tram.
Prague Metro has three main line (A,B, and C) and you can see the Map here. Prague Metro has 61 stations. They operate daily from 5 am till midnight with interval 2-3 minutes during peak hours and 4-9 minutes during off-peak hours or after 7 pm (source: czech transport)
Prague Trams gives you access where the buses do not operate. It operates during the day and night with the interval from 2 to 20 minutes depends on the location and the hours.
Prague Bus number 100 to 291 operate during the day, and there is also night bus that operates after midnight when metro and trams stop operate. The intervals are from two to twenty minutes depend on location and hours.
Public transportation ticket are sold in various time and works for all metro, trams, and buses. Tickets are sold in public transport information center, newsagents, ticket machine at tram and bus stops, as well as metro stations. It can also be purchased inside trams with contactless card (source:www.dpp.cz). You can see the ticket price on table below (as per September 2020)
|Duration||Adults (15-60 years)|
|30 minutes||24 CZK|
|90 minutes||32 CZK|
|24 hours||110 CZK|
|72 hours||310 CZK|
Once you have purchased a ticket, it must be validated at the time of travel by punching the ticket in one of the orange or yellow machines located at the entrance to the metro, and inside trams and buses.
Places in Prague on Day-1
1. Prague Castle
This castle is probably one of the highlights when going to Prague. Prague castle in this context is the whole complex. Trailing its vast complex would require good 6 to 8 hours if you want to really breathe the castle. However, me and my friend selectively stopped on few places only. You can see the map of the complex here.
To understand how vast the complex is, one must know that this magnificent Castle was built in the 9th century on the area of almost 70,000 sqMeter and it is the largest coherent Castle in the world. It is a UNESCO heritage site and the complex is home to Royal Palace, Churches (St. George Basilica, St. Vitus Cathedral), Powder room, Halls, towers, gardens, and other buildings.
The complex itself opens from 6 am to 10 pm, but the buildings inside have different opening time. For example, the historical buildings open from 9 am to 5 pm, and Prague Castle Gardens open from 10am to 6pm.
The entry to the castle costs vary, depends on which building you want to enter. For example, if you want to take Circuit A it will include St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, exhibition “The Story of Prague Castle”, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower, Rosenberg Palace. Circuit B include St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower, and Circuit C include Exhibition “The Treasure of St. Vitus Cathedral”, and Prague Castle Picture Gallery.
To me, the best of the walks is within the baroque buildings and churches. As a fan of baroque architecture, I spent hours just to admire its interior. That being said, the best of the Prague Castle is on its each individual buildings inside the castle. You may want to search in advance of which building you want to enter in order to save time while you are there.
2. Cathedral St Vitus
Inside the Prague castle is this majestic Cathedral of St. Vitus. Both inside and outside of this cathedral is hard to miss. The vivid and bold structure and its peaky towers make the other buildings in the complex looks dull in comparison. Cathedral St Vitus is the largest and the most important Cathedral in Prague since it is a burial of several patron Saints, noblemen, and archbishops.
What attracted me the most about this building is the Gothic style. The interconnecting dome line and the intricate details is mesmerizing. And, as the beauty mostly lay on its ceiling, be prepared of getting your head tilted most of the time. Make sure to check out the Chapel of St Wenceslas as well.
The value of Decoration of St Wenceslas is incalculable. Its lower parts of the walls are decorated with more than 1300 gems, made in Bohemia. The joints between them are covered with gold. In the middle of St Wenceslas Chapel is a beautifully decorated tomb of St Wenceslas connected with an altar. St Wenceslas holy relics of the saint can be found in a case on the tombstone.
Behind the door in the southwest corner there is the staircase leading to so called Coronation chamber. The chamber holds the Crown Jewels of the Czech Republic. St Wenceslas Chapel is not open to the public, nevertheless, visitors can see it through the entrance to the chapel. (source: www.prague.net). Saint Vitus Cathedral opening is at 9am to 5 pm on Monday till on Monday to Saturday, and 12pm to 5pm on Sunday. Last entrance is always at 16.40.
3. Strahov Library
This is probably the most awaited place on my list. It has been my goal to visit wonderful library around the globe, and Strahov library is one of them. Baroque Theological Hall is the famous part of the library, which was established from 1671-1679 and also the oldest part of the library. The other famous part of the library is Classicist Philosophical Hall. Strahov library has 200,000 books, old prints, first copies and manuscripts.
Strahov library opens from 9 am to 5 pm. The entrance fee is 150 CZK (Photo permission is additional 50 CZK) or the library only and 280 CZK for library and gallery (add 80 CZK for photo permission). Visitor is not allowed to enter the Theological Hall and Philosophical Hall. I took all the pic from the entrance door. But, from there the magnificent of the ceiling frescoes Siard Nosecký were undoubtedly amazing.
4. St Nicholas Church
St Nicholas Church is said to be the best example of Baroque decorations. The dome has diameter 20 meters, and the interior height on the top of the lantern is 49 m. What stood out once I enter the building was the ceiling design and the dominance of the pink and gold colour of the ornament. This church main hall can be viewed from the second floor, where all the columns and its ceiling looks more pronounced. The frescoes inside the 70 m high dome is by Frantisek Xaver Palko.(source:www.prague.eu)
The Church opens from 9 am to 5 pm and the entrance fee is 100 CZK. Make sure to also check Column of the holy trinity monument outside the church.
5. Wenceslas Square
After went around the Hrad Area, we went back to our apartment and took some rest before having dinner. It was New Year Night and we planned to watch the fireworks on the most beautiful parts of Prague. Our initial plan was to watch fireworks from Hrad. But, we also read that fireworks would be available around the Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square. So, after dinner, we strolled around Wenceslas Square to check if the rumour was true.
There was Christmas market (of what was left of it) in the square. We scored another Christmas market in Europe (that was our third Christmas market so far – the first would be in Warsaw, the second was inside Prague Castle). It was quite lively, though judging from the crowd, it would be unlikely to be the scene of fireworks display and countdown gathering. Therefore, we marched to the Old Town Square.
Despite not being the place for New Year Countdown, Wenceslas Square still was beautiful at night, thanks to the bold light from Narodni Museum and all the Christmas decoration along the main road
6. Old Town Square (Jan Hus Monument and Prague Astronomical Clock)
We walked from Wenceslas Square to Old Town Square. As we get closer to the square, it was getting more and more crowded, and the blaring sound of musical gathering and band got stronger. That was when we knew it has to be the place for New Year Countdown. There was also Christmas Market on the square. To say the area was lively is an understatement.
We only had a chance to glance at Prague Astronomical Clock, as the crowd pushed us away. Prague Astronomical Clock (or Prague Orloj) is a medieval astronomical Clock. The astronomical clock consists of different parts – such as a calendar and an astronomical desk or the mechanism of twelve apostles which sets them in motion (source: https://www.prague.eu/en/object/places/3129/astronomical-clock)
As we walked among the crowd around the square, we found a nice spot near the Jan Hus Monument where we got an unobstructed view of the band and the Christmas market. We stayed there for about three hours till the countdown begun. Undoubtedly, it was a memorable new year countdown I had been experienced so far.