If you only have time to see one major attraction in Prague, make it Prague Castle! Even after spending over a year in the city, I’m still mesmerized by this beautiful place. Here’s my personal guide for what to do and see at Prague Castle, the best tours and ticket options, and insider tips from a local!
1. Meander Through Quaint Nový Svět
Behind Prague Castle is the tiny street/area of Nový Svět, which is often totally free of tourists, not to mention that it is beautiful and movie-set picturesque.
In fact, if you’re looking for a more tranquil way to visit Prague Castle (compared to walking up Nerudova Street), you can visit Prague Castle from the back via Nový Svět.
To try this route out, take Tram #22 one stop past Pražský Hrad stop to Brusnice, and enjoy a bucolic, crowd-free walk through the quaint, village-like area of Nový Svět on your way to Prague Castle. It’s super cute!
When you get off in Brusnice, cross the street and keep walking in the same direction as the tram was going, to a park.
In the park, veer to the left on the path until you get to a staircase (which has nice views), and then go down to the Nový Svět area, which you can wander through on your way to the castle!
2. Visit St. Vitus Cathedral, the Mucha Panel & St. Wenceslas Chapel
To be honest, Prague Castle itself is a bit of a let down from the outside – St. Vitus Cathedral, the imposing Gothic church in the middle of the castle complex, is the real draw (and it’s what you can see in the Prague skyline), as well as the interiors of the castle complex.
From the main gate of the Castle (near the Starbucks), wander into the complex to St. Vitus Cathedral, which is free to enter the first section of the church.
If you want to see the rest of the church, including the spectacular St. Wenceslas Chapel (so. many. gems.) and Mucha’s stained glass panel, you’ll need to pay for a ticket (250 to 350 CKZ, depending on the ticket you choose).
During the summer and at Christmas, line-ups to buy tickets can get a bit out of control. At those times, it’s worth considering a Skip-the-Line ticket for Prague Castle and St. Vitus, which includes a small group guided tour.
Note, Prague Castle and the Cathedral are free with the Prague Card, so don’t buy both the Prague Card and the Skip-the-Line ticket!
3. Climb St. Vitus’ Southern Tower
For an extra 150 CKZ and some major calorie burning, climb the Southern Tower of St. Vitus for spectacular views over the city.
Be forewarned: there’s no elevator, and the steps up are steep and narrow. If you have the Prague Card, the ticket is 40% off.
4. Catch the Changing of the Guards
If you time your visit for the top of the hour, you’ll catch the changing of the guards ceremony, which makes a nice photo opp. The ‘main’ event is at noon each day in the first courtyard – that’s when you’ll see the most fanfare and pizzazz.
Even if you can’t make it for noon, you can still catch a smaller-scale (albeit less impressive) version at the top of the hour (from 7am…I can’t remember the last one at night, but I *think* it’s 9pm in summer. If someone knows, please comment!).
5. Explore Golden Lane
Golden Lane is a tiny street tucked just beyond St. Vitus Cathedral within the Castle Complex.
There’s some debate about where the name came from, with the stories going it was named after either the alchemists or goldsmiths who worked on the street. Many of the buildings have some history, including No. 22, where Kafka lived for a year.
Golden Lane is included with the Prague Card, and the Skip-the-Line ticket for Prague Castle and St. Vitus
Prague Card Discounts
The Prague Card includes the Prague Castle Tour B (Cathedral, Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane, and Daliborka) for free, as well as a 40% discount if you want to climb the tower.
6. Rub A Statue’s – ahem – Unit
Prague has a lot of bizarre statues, but this might be the winner!
At some point, someone spread the idea that it’s good luck to rub the teenaged boy statue’s privates, and people have been doing just that ever since, giving the statue a distinctively glowing member.
We’ve asked around, and no one has told us the same rumour, or knows how it got started. We’ve heard anything from good luck, good sex, or – if you’re a single lady – ensuring you’re married within the year.
If you want to see the statue…or just get some cheeky photos…it’s within Prague Castle grounds on Jirska street, in the courtyard of the toy museum! Don’t forget to hashtag your photos with the ever popular #goldenpenis !!!
7. Get Lost in the Castle Gardens
Prague Castle has lovely, terraced gardens that can take you all the way from the Castle down to the Kafka Museum in Malá Strana, making a great stroll when the weather is warm. The gardens are open April to October.
8. Catch a Concert at the Castle
One of Prague’s nicknames is the City of Music, and there are plenty of opportunities to catch one or multiple shows in the city.
No matter when you visit, you can catch a classical music concert at Lobkowicz Palace, 16th-century building within the Prague Castle complex (More info about the daily concert at Prague Castle).
If you’re really lucky, you’ll arrive in Prague when there’s a public (FREE) concert happening at the castle, including occasional concerts given by the Czech Philharmonic.
Check the Culture at the Castle website to see if there’s anything going on while you’re in Prague!
9. Visit the Stunning Strahov Libraries
Strahovský Klášter is most notable for its beautiful Theological Hall and Philosophical Hall, both of which are a great and slightly off-the-beaten-path thing to do in Prague.
Nearby is a monastic brewery (Klášterní Pivovar Strahov), where you can get blueberry beer (and normal beer, too!).
10. Wander Petřín’s Orchards
Nestled between Petřín Hill/Park and Prague Castle, just in front of Strahovský klášter, are the Petrin Orchards, which offer a gorgeous view of Prague (the view is nice in summer, but it’s extra special when Prague is covered in snow)!
Whereas the view from Letná is really all about Prague’s bridges or Old Town, the view from here is panoramic, and you can pretty much see all the landmarks from high above in one shot.
The closest tram stop is Pohořelec, but you can also get there by walking from Prague Castle or taking the funicular (included in a public transit ticket, or Prague Card) to the top of Petřín Hill, and then following the signs toward Strahovský klášter.
This route – Petřín Funicular (from Újezd tram stop) to Strahovský Klášter & Petřín Orchard – continues on to Prague Castle, and is another great alternative to walking up Nerudova Street.
Once you’re at the top of the funicular, follow the signs to the ‘Strahovský klášter,’ walking down a somewhat steep hill (important to know when choosing footwear) to the ridge below Strahov Monastery, and then continuing on to the Castle.
Best Tours & Tickets for Prague Castle
As the lines at the ticket booth can get quite crazy, I definitely recommend purchasing your tickets ahead of time!
If you’re staying in Prague for a few days and plan to see all the city highlights, your best option is to purchase a Prague Card. It includes admission to pretty much all of the main tourist attractions. It includes the Prague Castle Tour B (Cathedral, Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane, and Daliborka) and also gives a 40% discount if you want to climb the tower.
If you’re not purchasing a Prague Card, I recommend this Skip the Line Prague Castle Tour. It will get you in t Prague Castle using the shorter security line, and includes St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica and the Golden Lane. And you’ll get a guided tour from a local tour guide.