Most tourists that visit Prague are often only here for a couple of days. They are either on a stag or hen do, a romantic long weekend away or on part of a group tour that stops in the city for 1 or 2 days before venturing off to neighboring cities in Poland, Austria, Germany or Slovakia.
Prague is a relatively small city and most visitors often stick to its historical center. A stroll around the Old Town and Josefov, a walk across the Charles bridge to Mala Strana and Prague Castle pretty much covers the highlights and essential “MUST SEES” of the city, and is do-able in the couple of days they are here. Not many venture off the beaten track to some of the cities hidden treasures, of which, Prague is full of. So here are some of Prague’s alternative attractions..
Voted the world’s 2nd most ugliest building, the Žižkov Tower rises over Prague 3 district and can be seen from most of the city centers tall buildings including the Old Town’s Clock Tower. This “unique” Zizkov Tower was constructed over a period of seven years between 1985 and 1992 pre the Velvet Revolution. Architecturally brutal and high-tech, with a height of 216 metres (709 feet), the Zizkov TV Tower dominates Prague’s skyline.
Currently, most tourist maps and guides of Prague’s attractions don’t include the tower – an indication of the pride, or lack of, that the locals hold for this out-of-place and imposing edifice. I am able to see this monstrosity from my living room window, and I must admit it is rather an eye sore. So your probably wondering why I have included it on my list…?
Prague has many spots that allow stunning panoramic views of the city, including Prague Castle, the Clock Tower in the Old Town Square as well as the Petřín Lookout Tower, a small replica of the Eiffel Tower that looks over the entire city. Normally, these vantage points are chock-a-block with tourists, understandably so, as these sorts of opportunities give you spectacular vistas and photo opportunities, and also an instant appreciation for the “lay of the land”, Not so in Žižkov. A series of observation pods allow a 360 degree view of Prague. Binoculars are available, and you can move about freely between the capsule like enclosures.
If you’re an art fanatic you’ll also want to take a trip to the tower. Prague artist David Cerny designed the “crawling baby” sculptures as a temporary installation but they have now become a permanent feature on the tower. From a distance they purely look like black blobs hanging off the building, but on closer inspection (standing underneath) you can see they are fiberglass babies crawling up the side of the tower.
TIP ALERT: For a perfect evening head up the tower just before sunset for a great view across the city, and dine in the towers restaurant, 66 meters above ground for some fine dining and a beautiful night-time vista. For reservations click here
Sticking with the art theme, perched on the edge of the Josefov Quarter is this suitably bizarre and cerebral statue of Franz Kafka, depicted sitting on a headless man’s shoulders. Track down the statue in Dušní Street, where the author used to live, and pay your own tribute.
TIP ALERT: You can visit the statue whilst you explore the Josefov Jewish Quarter. Its free of charge to see the statue (it’s literally on the street), but if you want to see the various sites in the Jewish Quarter you might want to purchase the combined ticket from the Jewish Museum that lets you into most sights. Adult/Child 480/320Kč
Church of Saint Thomas
Situated in Mala Strana this beautiful church has some of the best examples of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture and frescoes in the whole of Prague. Filled with gold statues and beautiful carvings, this is one of the most beautiful churches I have had the pleasure of being part of. Situated next to the Augustine Hotel, the church is also part of a monastery, of which part of the hotel now owns and has built into. It’s worth a visit if you are in the area. It’s a stone throw away from Charles Bridge and St Nicholas Church. Entrance is free.
TIP ALERT: If you’re visiting during the weekend be mindful that there will be several masses held, especially on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings. Please respect that people will be attending mass and will not want flashing cameras going off during the service.
If you have a day spare or are visiting the city with your family Prague Zoo is a great alternative to wandering around the streets all day. Situated just outside the city center it is easily reachable by public transport or a taxi. From March to October it is also reachable by steamboat. The trip takes 75 minutes and is an exciting way to start your visit. Highlights include Elephant Valley home to around 12 Elephants, an Indonesian Jungle with orangutans, various monkeys, tropical birds and Komodo Dragons! There are also Polar Bears, Big Cats Habitat, Lemur Island, a large pavilion of Gorillas including a big Silver back and an African Savannah, filled with Giraffes, Zebra, Meerkats, Lions and other African animals.
There is plenty of things to do and see for the entire family as well as various shows and talks about some of the animals. There is even a petting farm for the young ones.
TIP ALERT: Entrance for a family of four is 600Kč. Adult/Child 200/150Kč.
Prague Zoo is open daily all year round.
|Time period||Opening hours|
|April, May, September, October||9 a.m. – 6 p.m.|
|June, July, August||9 a.m. – 7 p.m.|
|March||9 a.m. – 5 p.m.|
|November, December, January, February||9 a.m. – 4 p.m.|
Riegrovy Sady Beer Garden
OK so it’s not an actual attraction but it’s definitely a “go visit” place, especially during the summer. The Czech Republic is one of the world’s biggest producers of beer so its only right that while your here you indulge in a “local delicacy”…! On any given day with nice weather, Riegrovy Sady’s Beer Garden is packed with thirsty drinkers of all shapes and sizes; Czech, tourist, and expat alike. With a large projector screen, 3 different kinds of beer on tap, cocktails, wine, grilled food, and enough space for over 1000 visitors, it’s hard to not be happy here.
TIP ALERT: Centrally located within the charming neighborhood of Vinohrady, Riegrovy Sady’s Beer Garden can be reached by any transport that connects to Náměstí Míru or Jiřího z Poděbrad, which are both a short walk away. Bus 135 stops at Na Smetance, which is very close to the main entrance of the park, and tram 11 stops at Italská, which is also close. Riegrovy Sady’s Beer Garden is opened from April to October.