Prague 1, that’s where it all started, the Old Town of Prague! Also known as Staré Mesto, the Old Town has its roots dating back to the 9th century when it was merely a marketplace. Over time, the Kings of Bohemia granted the building of a town hall, complete with a moat and fortifications. Trade picked up and people settled in the town, making it a lively city, a beacon in Central Europe. Today, the Old Town comprises of the Jewish Quarter (Josefov), the Old Town Square and Hall, and other buildings up to the Charles Bridge. The red-tile roofs and Gothic buildings with spires make the Old Town seem straight out of a fairytale! Here is a guide to explore the treasures of this ancient half of the city the top things things you ought to do in Old Town Prague.
Top 10 Things to do in Old Town Prague
#1 Thing To Do In Old Town Prague
Watch the hour go past at the Astronomical Clock
The hands of the golden astronomical clock, with its bright blue and yellow detailing, will hypnotize you with its ticking. You will be instantly transported back to 1410 when the clock was installed on the south wall of the Old Town Hall. Today, it is one of the oldest running astronomical clocks in the world and showcases quite a display every hour. Travel Tip: The best time to watch the clock tick is at 9 AM when there are relatively fewer tourists, or choose to go at night to see the working. And stand back as you cannot clearly watch the Walk of the Apostles otherwise.
Travel Tip : The best time to watch the clock tick is at 9 AM when there are relatively fewer tourists, or choose to go at night to see the working. And stand back as you cannot clearly watch the Walk of the Apostles otherwise.
#2 Thing To Do In Old Town Prague
Explore the buildings of the Old Town Hall
If you expect a grand monumental building then you are in for a surprise! The Old Town Hall in Prague is emblematic of the evolution of the Kingdom of Bohemia, unlike other administrative offices worldwide it didn’t start as a grand architectural venture. It began in 1338 with a large house, to which neighboring estates were added and were connected to create an impressive office.
Travel Tip : It’s the interiors of the Old Town Hall that are impressive and have spectacular artwork. The best way to explore is on a tour that will take you through the Municipal Hall, Old Council Hall, Brožík Assembly Hall, and the George Hall.
#3 Thing To Do In Old Town Prague
Learn Jewish history at Prague Jewish Museum
There is no better place in Prague to understand the life and culture of the Jewish community from the region of Bohemia and Moravia, than the Prague Jewish Museum. It is an incredible repository of Jewish Heritage and Judaica (Jewish Ceremonial Art) and has a vast collection of over 40,000 artifacts and 100,000 books and documents.
Travel Tip : The museum is in fact spread over multiple synagogues and sites, and a tour is the best way to view all of them including Klausen Synagogue, Pinkas Synagogue, Spanish Synagogue, Maisel Synagogue, Old New Synagogue, Old Jewish Cemetery, Ceremonial Hall, and Robert Guttmann Gallery.
#4 Thing To Do In Old Town Prague
Be amazed at the luxurious Municipal House
“Hail to you Prague! Brave the time and malice as you have resisted all the storms throughout the ages.” That’s the sign inscribed on the ledge above the legendary mosaic ‘Apotheosis of Prague’ on the entrance of the Municipal House. One look at the Municipal House and you will feel the Czech pride envelope you in its ornate grandeur. The Art-Nouveau building encapsulates the vision of the Czech Republic and its coming of independence and was built to celebrate the people and heritage of the country.
Travel Tip : You can take a tour of the Municipal House or even better enjoy a meal at The Cafe, Winebar or the French and Pilsen Restaurants.
#5 Thing To Do In Old Town Prague
Marvel at the Church of Our Lady before Týn
The Church of Our Lady before Týn is easily the most recognizable building in Old Town Prague. Its two towers, known as Adam and Eve, rise 80m high and are topped with spires that make for a striking image! The Gothic church was constructed in the 14th century but has gone several renovations and its interior has a vast collection of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art.
Travel Tip : Attend a mass here on Sunday at 9:30 AM and watch the pipe organ in action, and follow up with a guided tour at 10:00 AM, to get a complete experience of the church.
#6 Thing To Do In Old Town Prague
Stroll the Old Town at night
The Old Town hasn’t changed much over the centuries, its landmarks like the Old Town Hall, Church of Our Lady before Týn, Powder Tower, Stone Bell House, Old Town Bridge Tower and the innumerable houses have been around since 14th century. During the day you can see their facades, but at night they don a bewitching garb, and you notice their striking silhouettes against the dark sky. Without the tourist throngs, the area is peaceful and in its element.
Travel Tip : Go on a night guided tour of the area where you can learn intriguing stories of landmarks like St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica, Lesser Town and Golden Lane.
#7 Thing To Do In Old Town Prague
Walk through the Powder Tower
Walk on the steps on the ancient Bohemian Kings as they took the road from Kutna Hora to the Prague Castle on their coronation day! Step through the monumental Powder Tower that heralded their welcome to Prague. The dark Gothic tower was completed in 1475 and stands 65m high, with the viewing gallery at 44m which you can access through a steep staircase of 186 stone steps!
Travel Tip : You can go up to the tower at 10 AM to get a bright view of the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle in the west, ideal for photography. If you go there later in the afternoon, the sun shines too bright!
#8 Thing To Do In Old Town Prague
Admire the art work at Kinsky Palace
The pretty pink and white stucco work makes the Kinsky Palace stand apart from the other buildings in the Old Town Square. Built in the Rococo style, it was completed in 1765 and was passed through both the hands of the Golz and Kinsky families. The house was used in several capacities, even as a school where Franz Kafka studied, but today is used as an art museum by the National Gallery of Prague.
Travel Tip : In 2019, the temporary exhibitions at the Kinsky Palace include Czech Artists in Bretagne, French Impressionism, and Vaclav Hollar and the Art of Drawing.
#9 Thing To Do In Old Town Prague
Stop and photograph The House at the Minute
You might want to spend just more than a minute at this ‘House at the Minute’! The unique house has nothing to do with the unit of time but the word comes from ‘minutious’ related to the era when tobacco was sold from the building! The House is known for its stunning sgraffito in black and white which describes Biblical, mythological and renaissance legends. It is said that Franz Kafka lived with his family here from 1889 to 1896.
Travel Tip : You can search for this place on maps as Dům U Minuty, you can view it on a guided walking tour of Old Town and learn more about it.
#10 Thing To Do In Old Town Prague
Get spooked on a ghost tour of the Old Town
As you turn a corner and follow your guide into a narrow cobblestone street in Old Town Prague you feel a brush of cold air, was it just the wind or a ghost? You will never know! The local tell legends of the Old Town being haunted by people of the yore, peasants, knights, kings and more, everyone has played a part in the history of Prague. Combine the striking architecture of the town with amazing storytelling and you have yourself a night to remember!
Travel Tip : The Executioner’s Tour is an excellent tour that relies on storytelling without resorting to cheap scares and pranks.
Best Ways to explore Old Town Prague
Take a Guided Walking Tour
Prague is ideal for exploring on foot, especially the areas of Old Town and Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge which connects them. A walking tour of these areas led by an expert guide will help you unearth the specialty of each building and neighborhood and find out the stories behind them. You can also combine a bus tour of the city that includes a walking tour of the Old Town, giving you the best value in terms of time and money. These guided walking tours offer a valuable local perspective of the guide, plus saves time in creating an itinerary and planning the transport.
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Go on a Self Guided Walking Tour
What is travel, but a means to get lost in a culture and a place? Start walking along the cobblestone streets of Prague’s Old Town, and you will find yourself stepping back in time, imagining the Bohemian Kingdom. Self-guided tours are amazing because they are free and you have the freedom to set your own itinerary. But, you may walk past the building where Franz Kafka stayed or go clueless about how to read the astronomical clock! On a guided tour you would get the benefit of a local guide, but you can also buy a good guide book to be more informed and explore better.
Set out at night, away from the crowds
Every kingdom worth its salt has stories of intrigue, scandal, and bloodshed. Prague has been the scene of fascinating events, and its buildings tell tales of killings and coups, and some of them are even haunted! Go on a walking tour of the Prague Castle and Old Town at night, led by an expert local guide who will narrate the stories of the Bohemian Kingdom. The cool nights is calm, with very few tourists out and about, and if you are a braveheart then venture on the Executioners tour of Old Town which will take you to haunted buildings, the Alchemist’s Lair and the streets of the processions of ghosts!
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Tips For Visiting Old Town Prague
- There are many restaurants right opposite the Astronomical Clock but they are expensive and charge mostly for the real estate. It’s advisable to visit the clock in time for the hour, but eat at some other great restaurants in the Old Town. Our best picks are Bellevue, V Zatisi, and Field Restaurant.
- Viola Art in Josefov, and Souvenir Prague, Karlova Local Artists and Blue Prague in Staré Město are great places in Old Town Prague to buy souvenirs. Garnet jewellery, Bohemian glass, Marionettes (wooden puppets), and Becherovka liquer are some of the typical Czech things to take back home.
- The Old Town Square is a hub for local events and festivals; it is especially lively during Christmas and Easter. The Square is occupied by markets with stalls selling everything from festive foods to decorations. These events are family-oriented and you will find workshops and events specifically designed towards children.
- Sladkovský Hall, Grégr Hall and Smetana Hall at the Municipal House host concerts throughout by the Prague Classical Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra, and Prague Music Chamber Orchestra. The ticket prices start at 27 EUR and you can book them on the website here.
- The Czech love their beer and it has the highest per capita consumption of beer in the world! If you want to taste some of the best Pilsner beers, head to these bars and pubs in Old Town Prague – Cash Only Bar, Pivovar U Dobrenskych, McCarthy's Irish Pub, and Cafe 80’s.
Old Town Prague Map
Prague Old Town spans a total area of 1.29 KM and if you're one to like walking you can explore all of it by foot. Signing up for a walking tour is an even better way to see this part of the city as local guides take you through lanes and alleys you may not know of. Below is a Prague Old Town Map for your reference.
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