How to experience Prague with and without the crazy crowds?

Lively and quiet vibes in the Czech capital…

Prague. Praha. Mother of all cities. Eye-candy heaven. Home to ultra-magnificent monuments. Steeped in rich, unbroken history. Prettier than Paris. Quintessentially medieval, quintessentially European. So then…touristy and crowded? Or calm and serene? No need to pick, because Praha has twin vibes. Find both. Love both. Wherever you are in the charming Czech capital.

Staré Mesto: Hub for all times

Mingle merrily: The nerve centre of the old town of Prague has been pulling crowds since medieval times. Who are you to disagree with the magnetism of the great Astronomical clock (read more here), the time-blackened charm of the Tyn Church and the baroque beauty of the St Nicholas Cathedral? Or the row of pastel houses shoulder-to-shoulder in camaraderie since medieval times. The generously proportioned medieval square unaffectedly accommodates the swell of crowds, no matter what the volume. Perk up in the warm buzz.

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or seek solitude: Sacrifice snooze time, make a 6 am start and pamper yourself with early morning glory. Cobbled roads glisten with the glow of street lamps, art nouveau facades of mansions cast long shadows, cafe chairs rest upturned under folded canopies and dark outlines of the centuries-old heritage structures loom mysteriously. The padding of your footsteps, the rhythm of your heartbeat and the roving of your curious eyes are only things breaking the stillness.

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Charles Bridge: Iconic and irresistible

Mingle merrily: Jostling crowds is part of the Charles Bridge experience, so  join the gang! Admire the handiwork of street artists as you stride 500 meters of the most beautiful bridge in the world. Study the expressions of the 30 ominously dark statues poised on the balustrades over the 16 arches. Question the secret ingredient (ground eggshells) behind the infallibility of the Bohemian sandstone making up the 15th-century masterpiece that has survived vagaries of nature and World War II. Gloat and gawk.

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or seek solitude: Ascend the 138 steps of the Old Tower Bridge, one of most impressive Gothic creations of Europe. Views to kill for await on the breezy viewing gallery of the modest-sized roof. Feel this image burn into your memory: the Charles Bridge stretched between two parts of the city…the eternal river flowing beneath, and the incessant stream of human traffic drifting above. Come full circle for a 360 degree perspective of the red-roofed medieval metropolis. City of 100 Spires, indeed! Hungry for more drama? Return for a sunrise stroll.

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Prague Castle: Enduring appeal

Mingle merrily: Choosing to stay centric in the largest castle complex in the world is a no brainer, considering a 1000-year history of Czech rule. 120 steps up Hradcany Hill? Where’d they go so fast? Flashback to the era of clip-clopping horse-carriages while exploring 70,000 square metres of courtyards, palaces and churches. Jawdrop at the mammoth St Vitus Cathedral. Taste tranquility on vantage points and reflect on the refined atmosphere of the extensive gardens.

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or seek solitude: Diverge from the queues in Mala Strana, the pretty neighbourhood spread at the foot of the Castle Hill. Wander along the rows of noble mansions, which used to be homes to the city’s administrative officials. Stop to sample desserts at sloping streets or sip a soup at a hole-in-the-wall cafe frequented by locals. Find peace in canals of Little Venice and merge into the colors of John Lennon Wall. Put on a thinking cap in Kampa Museum or contemplate the quirkiness of the Cerny sculptures outside as you chew on a artisanal gingerbread.

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Vltava banks: Relentless river 

Mingle merrily: Get your lazy-fix by indulging in an hour-long boat cruise along the Vltava river that divides the Czech capital into two equally stunning halves. Gape at the panorama unfolding on the banks. Play guessing games with the names of the elaborate buildings lining both sides. Glide under some of the 18 graceful arched bridges, including the Charles Bridge. Watch the castle from a new angles. And watch Prague light up slowly. Intoxicating!

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.…or seek solitude: Slow your pace and quieten your mind with a refreshing stroll along the river banks. Spoil yourself with the openness. Linger. Stand and stare. Touch the tree trunks. Pan the scene. Zoom in on details that catch your eye. Give in to the whims and fancies of your camera. The grill with the castle as a backdrop. The redhead against the autumn forested canvas. Loosen up.

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Jewish town: Ghetto

Mingle merrily: Book a walking tour in this fascinating neighbourhood, which was home to a Jewish community of about 18,000 in the 10th century. The Parisian effect of the 19th-century screams out to be noticed in every street. Its a medley of gracious buildings in soft colors, high-end shopping, fine dining and stylish antique stores. Concentrate on the main draws…Synagogues, the birthplace of Franz Kafka and the Old Cemetery, where over 100,000 lie buried under piles of lopsided tombstones.

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or seek solitude: Melt into the oblivion of the back streets and take the same sights from unusual angles. Peek into old Jewish bakeries and taste traditional biscuits. Locate subtle Moorish influences in building architecture. Chase the shadows that lengthen as the evening approaches and witness the change hues.

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Wenceslas: Symbolic and sacred

Mingle merrily: If its hustle-bustle you seek, rest assured in Wenceslas Square…you will always be in the comfort of thick swarms. Czech history has been made here repeatedly over the ages. Humble horse market to celebration ground for creation of new Czechoslovak Republic to the peaceful Velvet Revolution of 1989…this has always been a preferred place for congregation. Art Nouveau meets baroque meets dull communist-era architecture in this ever-crowded shopping area. Spot arty buildings and tick-off retail therapy.

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or seek solitude: Luckily, in Prague, peace is never more than a stone’s throw away. Slip into one of the many side streets for a quiet moment or embrace solace as you enter an arcaded shopping passage (see post here). Hide away in a sheltered courtyard or discover a slice or paradise in a secluded park behind the buzzing main street. Surprises await at every few feet…museums, theatres, galleries, you name it. Contrasting worlds…so close, seeming so far!Wenceslas Square_Prague_3

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Vinohrady: Timelessly today

Mingle merrily: One of Prague’s most trendy residential neighbourhoods is a potpourri of hip stores, atmospheric cafes and chic galleries. And the star attraction awaits at Náměstí Míru, Vinohrady’s most important square. The Neo-Gothic St. Ludmila Church deserves all the attention it gets, don’t miss it. Admire the rich ornamental facade of the church and trace the star shape of the park around. Get literary with fellow fans at the inverted J of the Poetry Jukebox or be inspired by the statue of a girl setting a bird free.

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or seek solitude: Trust your instinct and pick a direction to investigate. Drift along, savouring the relaxed character of the dignified residences. Go gastronomical…be a slave to your tastebuds. Break for a delicious snack at a Greek bistro. Gaze from the windows of a coffee shop. Please your stomach with a refined Italian meal. Pick up odds-and-ends for your home. Go green and russet in one of the many parks. Lose count of how many times you said, “look at that”. See. Love. Repeat.

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Letna Hill: Sunset boulevard

Mingle merrily: Letna Hill. Steps up again, some 250-odd. Unquestionably worth it. For the seven-tonne, 75-foot tall Metronome installed in 1991 as a symbol of the new era, replacing a Stalin statue? No. For the skateboarding heaven that it? No, no. For the dozens of skaters’ sneakers dangling from a long wire stretching across the park? No, no, no. Its the views! Those aerial-kind-of views…of the Old Town, the river and Charles Bridge. Enjoy company of fellow revellers and the casual vibe.

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or seek solitude: Moments of calm aplenty in Letna Park…traverse the grassy hillocks, rest under the mature trees and tramp along the plane tree-lined avenues, till you’re all green in the eyes. And for the climax…trudge along the narrow path to Hanavský Pavilion, a Baroque-wannabe restaurant facing the riverside. Camera ahoy! Brace for the pride and joy of your Prague album. Its magic time…

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Prague can be touristy and crowded or calm and serene. Find and love the twin vibes of the Czech capital. #prague #praha #czech capital #traveldeeper

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68 thoughts on “How to experience Prague with and without the crazy crowds?

  1. Prague is such a beautiful city! The tourist hotspots are always busy, so I try to avoid them by going super early in the morning 🙂 I’d love to check out the Jewish bakeries as I love biscuits. I wonder how the traditional biscuits taste.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So many of my friends have been to Prague, and I have only heard good things. I am yet to visit Prague, but it is high on my list. I totally love the architecture there!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your captures are an eye-candy and I am drooling at the architectural marvel called Prague! My weakness is ‘Architecture and Doors’ and Prague is definitely on my travel-list especially after going through this post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I can so understand your dilemma,Punita.. I too spend a huge chunk of time just admiring those captures that I take of these monuments, structures and temples.lol..I wonder if there is a word for our obsession ??!!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. From your gorgeous photos, Prague looks like a subtle hipster town! Love how they have incorporated splashes of modern art among those ancient buildings. Excellent write up, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A 6AM start is definitely good advice. I think waking up early in the morning and going out to the city is a wonderful way to start the day when traveling! Also grab a coffee at shops you walk past by once they open!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve ever been to Prague so figuring out how to deal with the crazy crowds is very useful to me. One of the reasons Prague is so appealing to me is all of its color. The cobblestone streets are so clean and pretty! I think I would want to see the view from the Old Tower Bridge the most! Your photos are beautiful and really show off Prague well!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Prague is so high on our list. Your this awesome post kept me engaged throughout especially the mingle merrily or solitude part. The views to kill from Old tower Bridge will be our favorite and Lenta Hill too has attracted us a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this post! I totally agree that the crowds and the less-crowded spots are equally a part of Prague’s charm. It’s amazing how the Old Town is so quiet first thing in the morning (and late at night…another way to beat the crowds is to hit the bars until 3 am and then take the long walk home :)). (And I so agree that Prague is prettier than Paris!)

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  9. Amazing post. Really loved reading about Prague. Seems like there are a lot of places to explore. Definitely want to visit, of course the less crowded places. I won’t miss the Jewish ghetto. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve been longing to visit Prague for quite some time now but have always hated how crowded it seems. That said, thank you so much for these awesome tips! Love that you didn’t just say wake up early for all of them hahaa (because I’m definitely not a morning person).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Glad that you had a great time in my country! Prague during the summer is really a tourist trap, so one has to really try hard to enjoy a bit of solitude! However, I see you managed to see all the important places. Next time come to Brno, my home town!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This has brought back some wonderful memories of Prague. I love how you have included two alternatives-one for people that don’t mind the crowds and another for early risers. I didn’t get to go on a river cruise, so this is something I definitely want to do next time. Loving all of your photos too!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is such a cute way of presenting this post, I love the pairings of jingle merrily and then the solitude option! I am torn about Prague. I visited on a student road trip in the late 1980s, it was not much of a tourist destination at all back then and so there was very little crowding anywhere. On the bridge, we sat and sang with some students from other parts of the world, to the strumming of one visitor’s guitar. The rest of the city was equally uncrowded. On the other hand, the food options were very poor, it was hard to find anything palatable at all. Part of me wants to go back and another wants to leave it as it exists only in my memories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah! I can visualize the group singing to the guitar.. What a delightful memory that is, Kavita! I think you should go back and discover the Prague of today again. Nothing has changed except the crowds. But you cam work around that, like my post suggests 🙂 🙂

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