Free Sights in Prague for the Budget-minded Traveler

Prague is one of Europe's most popular holiday destinations and one of the best value for money capitals in Europe. On top of this, there are lots of things that won't cost you a thing. Prague is speckled with budget-friendly sights. Go on a do-it-yourself walking tour and follow in the steps of the Kings of Bohemia who wended their way up to Prague Castle on the day of their coronation. If you like a solitary walk far away from bustling Prague, wander along the stag moat a nature trail right under Prague Castle. This is one of the best ways to avoid the tourist crowd. The John Lennon Wall is only a few steps away from Charles Bridge. This ever changing work of art is in memory of free speech and started as a symbol of protest against the Communist regime. The most popular free sights of Prague is undoubtedly the Astronomical Clock. Be there at the hour to watch the spectacle. Don't blink because it is all over in less than a minute. Be sure to wander up and down Charles Bridge, admire the statues of the Saints on the parapet and listen to the Dixieland band.

Here is a list of the 10 best free things in Prague.


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St Michael Church
Photo courtesy of Marianne Crone

Catch a breath of fresh air and climb up Petrin Hill. Have fun in the mirror maze before you climb the steps to the top of the miniature Eiffel Tower. See if you can count the hundred spires and towers of Prague. When going down take a detour via the Russian-Orthodox Church of St Michael. A charming wooden structures built in the Ukraine in the seventeenth century and given to Prague in the 1920s. It was dismantled piece by piece and rebuilt in Kinsky Garden on Petrin Hill. Inside it is decorated in the colours white, green and red. The exterior is of dark wood. Its shingled domes and low-hanging roof make it a perfect fit in the landscape.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Walking across Petrin Hill gives the impression of being deep in the countryside far away from the hustle and bustle of Prague.

Local Expert tip: Take the funicular up Petrin Hill from Ujezd street, get off at Nebozizek restaurant for the view and a coffee continue on foot to the top with more panoramic views on the way.

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John Lennon Wall
Photo courtesy of Marianne Crone

Every night political activists daubed graffiti slogans on the wall. Every day the police scrubbed them away. After John Lennon's murder in 1980,this part of the wall belonging to the Knights of Malta became a work of art with a political touch overnight. The wall became a symbol of protest against the totalitarian regime. Today, some locals but mainly tourist still embellish it with graffiti, but the political tone is abscent. The John Lennon Wall is located on a leafy square close to Charles Bridge. Take metro line A to Malostranská station or hop on tram 12,20,22 and get off at Malostranská stop.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Every time you pass, the wall has changed colour and design.

Local Expert tip: This a piece of art on the move. Come back again and again to see how the wall changes color and character.

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Wenceslas Square
Photo courtesy of Marianne Crone

Wenceslas square, V�avsk��st�is the most crowded pavement in Prague. Brightly-lit souvenir shops rub shoulders with bookshop and cafes. Tourists mingle with office workers and sausage vendors. Square is a misnomer because V�avsk��st�s a sloping avenue about 750m long and 60m wide, with a walkway in between. The statue of St Wenceslas on horseback dominates the top. Behind him is the monumental national Museum. Climb its ornate steps for a sweeping view. Wenceslas Square is a crash course in architectural styles. Neo-Renaissance, Art Nouveau, Socialist Realism and modernist buildings sit side by side. The Art Nouveau-decorated fa�e of Hotel Evropa sparkles in the sun. Opposite is Wiehl House adorned with colourful sgraffito. Socialist realist style Hotel Jalta is a Unesco World heritage site and streamlined Bata shoe store is an exquisite example of funcionalist architecture.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Wenceslas Square combines sightseeing, eating, and drinking. This is also the best part of the city for shopping.

Local Expert tip: Stop at one of the stand-up-fast-food outlets and try a spicy sausage with a big dollop of mustard.

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Old Town Square
Photo courtesy of Marianne Crone

Old Town square, Staromestsk��st�hums with activity. In summer, cafes spill out onto the street. In winter the Christmas market draws a crowd. Brightly coloured houses ring the square. Cobbled streets lined with shops fan out in all directions. The pink and white Rococo stucco work of Kinsky Palace dazzles in the afternoon sun. In 1948, Klement Gottwald proclaimed communist rule from the first floor balcony. The palace is now part of the national gallery and exhibits Czech art from the seventeenth to twentieth century. The eye catcher of the square is Tyn Church with two irregular towers flanked by a forest of spires and pinnacle. The most popular attraction is the Old Town Hall Tower and the astronomical clock. Join the crowd waiting for the spectacle. Marvel at Death ringing a bell and a procession of apostles popping out of a hatch. The monument in the middle of Old Town Square commemorates reformer Jan Hus and is a fine example of an Art Nouveau sculpture.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Old Town Square is the heart of Prague and buzzes day and night.

Local Expert tip: Climb the Old Town Hall tower for sweeping views of Prague, the Vltava River and the city beyond. December is a special month when the Christmas market is in full swing.

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Kastanek Playground
Photo courtesy of Marianne Crone

Stromovka is Prague's largest park. Be Czech with the Czechs and come here on a Sunday to stroll or cycle along leafy paths. Playground Kastanek, little chestnut, is close to the Planetarium and the Výstaviste exhibition grounds. You will find here equipment for all ages from climbing frames to swings and balance beans to see-saws. The big feature in this playground is the two-carriage tram with musical instruments. Children can climb onto and into this fiery red tram and play conductor. The tram has lots of surprises. They can wriggle through a tunnel to move carriages, check out the view through a telescope or communicate through pipes.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Parents and grandparents can relax in Vozovna Restaurant and watch the kids play.

Local Expert tip: Children will love this! Catch the historical tram number 5 to get back to the center, but only at summer weekends, otherwise hop on tram 12,17 or 24.

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Charles Bridge
Photo courtesy of Marianne Crone

Festooned with statues and crammed with people, Charles Bridge is Prague's best-loved bridge. Named after Charles IV, it replaced old Judith Bridge destroyed in the 1324 floods. The slightly curved new bridge, Charles Bridge was a true engineering feat; wide enough for four carriages to pass at the same time, but now pedestrian only. At first, only a crucifix adorned the bridge. Today a whole string of statues stands guard on the parapet. The most popular is St John Nepomuk. Legend has it that when you rub his feet, you will return to Prague. Others claim this will bring you happiness. Whichever is true, be sure to polish the brass. As wind and rain eroded the bridge statues, the originals were moved to the Lapidarium Museum and replicas put in their place. Mingle with the multitude on the bridge, listen to the Dixieland band and buy souvenirs from the hawkers. If you haven't ambled across Charles Bridge, you haven't been to Prague.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: If you haven't ambled across Charles Bridge, you haven't been in Prague.

Local Expert tip: Stand on Charles Bridge for sweeping views of Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral. Browse hawkers' stalls and go home with local souvenirs.

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The astronomical clock at Old Town Square is probably Prague's most famous attraction. Not only does the clock indicate the hours, it also marks the phases of the moon, the equinoxes, the seasons and the days. At the same time, the twelve zodiac signs make their course through the heavens. Join the crowd and watch the spectacle. Vanity admires herself in a hand mirror. A miser clutches a bag of gold. Death rings a bell and a Turk shakes his head. A shutter opens and out pop a procession of apostles. They make their round and exit through another shutter. The cockerel crows. The hour strikes.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Astronomical Clock is the best free spectacle in Prague, even though it only lasts for one minute.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to hurry to Old Town Square just before the clock strikes the hour. Have your camera focused and don't blink. The spectacle of the astronomical clock lasts only one minute.

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Stag Moat
Photo courtesy of Marianne Crone

If you want to avoid the bustling tourist crowd, go for a walk along Prague Castle's Stag Moat, Jelení P?íkop. You will wander through a green valley filled with bird song and dotted with sculptures. This walk will give you the sense of being far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but when you look up you will see towering above the spires of St Vitus Cathedral, one of the busiest tourist spots in Prague. The moat connects parts of the Castle grounds with Royal Gardens and the Summer Palace. A remarkable sight is the brick tunnel that runs under the castle gates. Hop on tram 22, get off at Pra?ský Hrad stop. Just before Prague Castle entrance gate turn sharp right and follow the path down to the valley.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: This walk makes you believe that you are in the countryside far way from the tourist crowd.

Local Expert tip: The Stag Moat walk is open from 1 April to 31 October. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes because the path can be slippery.

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Look out for yellow. All guides of the free walking tour wear canary yellow T-shirts and have yellow umbrellas. Tours start at 11 am and 2 pm, no need to book, just turn up on Old Town Square in front of the Astronomical clock. You will visit the most important Prague sights. Your guide will give you a crash course in Czech history. The tour leads through the cobbled streets of the old town, via Charles Bridge up to Prague Castle. The only payment is the tip at the end of the tour, and only if you are satisfied with your guide showed and told you

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: a free walking tour is the easiest way to discover hidden Prague.

Local Expert tip: Prague's cobbled streets are charming. The older they are the wider the crevices, that's why wearing high heels is asking for trouble.

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Royal Route
Photo courtesy of Marianne Crone

One of the best ways to see Prague is on foot. You won't need a guide to follow the Royal Route but be sure to wear comfortable shoes to negotiate the city's cobbled street. The Royal Route is a three-kilometer walk following the path that the Kings of Bohemia took on their way to St Vitus Cathedral for their coronation. The route starts at Obecni Dum at Republiky Square where once stood the Royal Palace. On the way you will pass many famous Prague sights such as the House of the Black Madonna, one of the best examples of Cubist architecture in Prague, Old Town Square, the Astronomical Clock and Charles Bridge.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: the Royal Route is easy to follow. It almost impossible to get lost in the maze of cobbles streets of the historic center.

Local Expert tip: If you start at the finish of this walk, Sint Vitus Cathedral you walk down hill all the way.

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Meet Marianne Crone

Marianne Crone divides her time between her home in the Netherlands and an apartment in Prague, the city where her son, daughter-in-law and grandson live.

Now retired, Marianne is still an...  More About Marianne