Prague is quite rightly one of the most popular tourist cities in Europe, attracting over 5 million tourists annually. While Prague enjoys the benefits of receiving so many visitors, there can be negative effects, particularly as many of the tourists tend to all visit the same attractions.
Many locals in Prague have had enough and when we ourselves visited Prague, we could see why. Our attempt to cross the Charles Bridge ended very quickly when the sheer number of people on the bridge irritated us so much, we turned back. We also walked past Prague Castle, one of the city’s other main attractions and was equally put off.
Thankfully, Prague is a big city and there’s tonnes of great “off the beaten path” things to see and do that don’t involve being amidst a crowd of people. In this article, we highly a few of the options on offer, each one a great way to experience an alternative side to Prague.
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6 off the beaten path things to see & do in Prague
The following “off the beaten path” things to see & do in Prague were researched by ourselves. We went to Prague and checked them out for you and they come with our recommendation.
Drink cheap beer with local students at Celetná Student Club
The area immediately surrounding the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) is perhaps the last place you expect to be able to get a super-cheap beer and to escape other tourists. Think again though, as within a 1 minute walk from the square, you’ll find Celetná Student Club.
While the bar is on property belonging to Charles University and is primarily for the use of students, members of the public are welcome. If you’re lucky, you’ll arrive on a night when there’s free live music. Most of the time, the atmosphere is chilled and fairly quiet.
To get in, look for a set of very large wooden doors (just give them a push if they’re closed) and head to the left and down the steps. Looks out for the red circular signs.
Please note: The bar is closed in the Summer months while the University is closed and occasionally closes earlier than advertised without notice.
Visit Prague’s other castle complex for free
Prague Castle is the city’s tourist highlight, attracting over 1.8 million visitors annually. It’s a large and impressive complex and quite rightly a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If though, like us, you’re somewhat averse to large crowds, you can happily avoid Prague Castle, safe in the knowledge that there’s another castle in the city centre that’s just as interesting and receives only a fraction of the tourists.
Vyšehrad is a 10th century fort situated on the east bank of the Vltava River, around 3km south of the more well known castle. Inside the complex, you’ll find a number of points of interest, including the Neo-gothic Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, a gallery housed inside a former guard tower, a system of underground corridors and an open air theatre.
It’s free to walk around the complex and to visit the park, cemetery and Basilica. Some of the buildings have a small charge for entry, but it’s no where near the cost of visiting the other castle.
Grab a coffee & a light meal at a cafe run by homeless people
Jídelna Kuchařek bez domova (Home-cooked dining room) is a small vegan cafe that is run by homeless people. The staff get paid with the hope that their roles will lift them out of poverty. The money you spend goes into funding the project. Prices are absolutely on the low side, so go with a thirst and appetite and spend generously. Inside, the decor is modern and funky. Look out for the resident dog!
There’s not a consistent menu and staff may not speak English, so perhaps make sure you have a translation app install on your phone before you visit. We got by just fine, but if you do have trouble, at least you can fall back of coffee and cake.
Hope aboard retired trams at the Museum of Public Transport
If like us, you’re into trams, you’ll absolutely love the Museum of Public Transport. Housed inside a former tram depot, the museum has a very large collection of beautifully maintained trams and buses, all of which previously ran on the streets of Prague. It’s shame you can’t hop aboard most of the exhibits, but you can stand in the doorways and peer in.
Opening hours are unfortunately limited to weekends and public holidays (check the website for details). Tickets are cheap, but if you’re still looking to save some crowns, there are occasionally days when access is completely free to all.
See the Charles Bridge from Střelecký Island
The medieval Charles Bridge (Karlův most) is one of Prague’s most popular tourist attractions. Regretfully, with that popularity comes enormous crowds. Locals say that the best time to see the bridge unhindered is at dawn when most people are still in bed. If though, you’re not all that fussed about being on the bridge itself and you just want to see it, there is a way and it doesn’t involve waking up at an unsociable hour.
Střelecký Island sits in the middle of the Vltava River, just south of the Charles Bridge and is intersected by the Legion Bridge (Most Legií). The island is mostly a leafy, green park on which you’ll find a playground, plenty of places to sit, a music stage and a number of kiosks serving drinks and snacks. While some tourists do visit the island, it’s mostly enjoyed by locals.
It the northern tip of the island, there’s a great and unimpeded view of the Charles Bridge. It’s a great spot for a selfie.
Take the funicular to Petřín Gardens
While not entirely devoid of tourists, Petřín Gardens is so enormous that you’ll likely struggle to find even locals as you wander about and explore everything this fabulous park has to offer.
Since the park is located clinging to the sides of a steep hill, we recommend you take the funicular railway from the Újezd base station right to the top Petřín station and then work you way back down again on foot. The funicular is just another part of the city’s transport network, so you can travel on existing tickets or you can buy a single ticket from the ticket office on arrival.
At the top of the hill, there’s an observation tower that’s well worth climbing for unbeatable views of the city. There’s also an observatory, a mirror maze and St Lawrence Church. The park itself offers a number of different themed gardens as well as lots of green open space and tranquil woodland. Dotted throughout the park are a number of cafes, kiosks and independently-owned shops selling arts and crafts. The further up the hill you are, the quieter it gets, so if you’re really looking to escape the hustle and bustle, this is a good spot.
The park is open 24 hours a day and is free to enter. Some of the attractions charge a modest access fee.
Plan & Book your visit to Prague
In this section, we’ll go through how you can plan and book your visit to Prague.
Flights to Prague
Skyscanner* is a great place to start your search for the best prices on flights to Prague. They compare fares from multiple airlines and travel agents all at once.Find cheap flights to Prague*
Hotels in Prague
To read reviews and to compare prices on the best hotels in Prague, we recommend Tripadvisor*.
Home rentals in Prague
We always encourage our readers to live like a local during their travels. Airbnb makes doing this super easy, providing access to thousands of fabulous homes and wealth of local knowledge.Find places to stay in Prague*