Prague, the “golden city” and “city of a hundred spires”, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. But the Czech capital’s baroque splendour is not exactly a secret and has made it one of the most visited cities in Central Europe. Beat the crowds on your next trip to Prague and explore the city like a local with our guide to its hidden gems!
1. Get an overview from Vítkov Hill
Granted, Vítkov isn’t exactly hidden. In fact, you can see the huge equestrian statue of the Hussite warrior Jan Žižka from most of the Old Town. But it is a bit less known that the National Monument on the hill also houses a number of exhibitions on Czech and Czechoslovak history (including the chilling mausoleum of the first Communist president Klement Gottwald). What’s more, the building’s roof offers some of the most breathtaking views of the city – all for a £4 ticket.
- How to get there: It’s a short (but very steep) walk up from Florenc metro station.
2. Pick up some fresh produce
Farmers’ markets have burgeoned in Prague in recent years. One of the most popular takes place on the river embankment between Výtoň and Palacký Bridge every Saturday morning. Stalls also sell cooked food and excellent beer from the early morning. If a “morning beer” is just a bit too Czech for you, there’s also great coffee to be had.
- How to get there: Karlovo náměstí metro station (use the “Palackého náměstí” exit)
3. Relax in Prague’s second castle
Vyšehrad rivalled Prague Castle in importance in the Middle Ages, but little of its former glory is left today. Nowadays the complex is a fortified park on a hill towering over the river Vltava, with a basilica and some ecclesiastical buildings. It’s a great place to relax from the hustle and bustle of the Old Town. Have a drink in the beer garden Na hradbách while enjoying spectacular views across the city.
- How to get there: Vyšehrad metro station or Výtoň tram stop
4. Dine like Švejk
Jaroslav Hašek, the author of The Good Soldier Švejk, was known as a connoisseur of hearty Czech food and frequented the pub U Bansethů in the Nusle neighbourhood. In fact, the place even makes an appearance in the novel and has remained a local favourite to this day. Try the roast duck and wash it down with a beer (brewed in a microbrewery just next door).
- How to get there: Tram to the stop Nuselská radnice
5. Explore the New Jewish Cemetery
Prague’s Old Jewish Cemetery is one of the main tourist attractions in the city. Few people, by contrast, make it out to the New Jewish Cemetery, which is located in the outer Vinohrady neighbourhood, but easily accessible by metro. Its main claim to fame is Franz Kafka’s grave, but even if you’re not a fan of that essentially modern writer, the cemetery is worth a visit. Strolling through its shady alleys and reading the headstones (which are written in Czech, German and Hebrew) gives an indication of the profound loss Prague experienced in the twentieth century.
- How to get there: Želivského metro station
6. Admire the modernist architecture
Prague is not only a baroque jewel, but also has a large number of modernist architectural monuments. One of the most striking is Adolf Loos’s Villa Müller in Střešovice. An example of the design concept Loos termed Raumplan, the Villa Müller is an unadorned cube from the outside, but much more playful inside. Tours must be booked in advance here and cost approx. £15.
- How to get there: Tram to the stop Ořechovka
7. Go on a slightly different brewery tour
Czech beer is world-renowned, and rightly so. The Communist regime destroyed most smaller breweries in the country, but recently microbreweries have been springing up across the country, with many offering excellent beers. The brewery in the village of Únětice, just outside Prague, was active from the 16th century until 1949 and has been brewing again since 2011. It offers tours that give you a handy opportunity to get out of Prague and see some of the Czech countryside.
- How to get there: From the metro station Dejvická, take bus 355 (every 30 minutes)
Want to experience more cities off the beaten path? Check out our secret and unusual guides to Rome, London, Berlin and other destinations around the world.