Off the Beaten Path in Prague: 5 Suggestions

Prague is one of my favorite cities in the world. I was fortunate to spend quite a lot of time there when I was younger because I lived in a town in the southeast corner of the Czech Republic. I fell in love with its beautiful architecture, charming back streets, and lively atmosphere, and millions of tourists have fallen for it in the past twenty years, too. With all the people visiting, it may seem hard to know where to go in Prague to see the “real” city.

what to do in Prague off the beaten path

It makes me sad to hear people complain about Prague being too crowded with tourists. There is much more to Prague than just the main sights, so you should get off the beaten path in Prague by trying some less-touristy places.

Of course there will be tourists at these sights, but just not nearly as many as at the main ones. These are just some possibilities; honestly, Prague is a city with a rich history and culture, so with some good research and plenty of time, you should find many less touristy things to do in Prague.

The Nový Svět area

Where to go in Prague off the beaten path. Photo credit: B Romero on Flickr.

One of my favorite areas of Prague is this quaint little pocket just beyond Prague Castle. It is virtually tourist-free. Nový Svět is named for a long winding alley that starts near the castle and continues past several quiet residential streets that house art galleries.

Because Nový Svět used to be a poor neighborhood, it doesn’t have the grand architecture that is typical of central Prague, but it has tons of charm. The combination of walled streets, cobblestones, trees, old street lamps, and charming houses give the area a calm beauty. At the far end is the Loreta, an impressive Baroque church and cloister.

Where to go in Prague off the beaten path

The best way to experience this area is to just slowly wander its streets.  It is easy to find—simply start with your back to the entrance to Prague Castle, then walk straight through the square and continue on until you run into Nový Svět street.

Strahov Monastery

Where to go in Prague off the beaten path. Photo credit: Tjflex2 on Flickr.

Near Nový Svět is Strahov Monastery, which overlooks Prague and is easily reached from Malá Strana (the Little Quarter) or Prague Castle. Founded in the 12th century, it was rebuilt several times after fires and wars.  It is now famous for its incredible library of old books and illuminated manuscripts.

Where to go in Prague off the beaten path. Photo credit: Tjflex2 on Flickr.

Strahov Monastery also houses a basilica, an art museum, a brewery, the Museum of Miniatures, and the Galerie MIRO, with modern art exhibits.  The grounds offer wonderful views of Prague. If you don’t want to walk there, Tram #22 stops right in front of Strahov Monastery.

Valdštejn Garden

Prague Castle is surrounded beautiful formal gardens, including the terraced ones directly below the castle and the Royal Garden just past the castle, but my favorite is Valdštejn Garden (Wallenstein Garden). It is located in Malá Strana below Prague Castle.

Where to go in Prague off the beaten path. Photo credit: Tjflex2 on Flickr.

Valdštejn Garden is part of the Valdštejnský palác (Wallenstein Palace), a 17th century Baroque palace that is now home to the Czech Senate.  These formal European gardens are a peaceful respite from the busy sightseeing of Prague’s center.  The entrance can be hard to notice-it is located on Letenská Street near the Malostranská metro station.

 Vyšehrad

Vyšehrad is Prague’s other hilltop castle. Actually, little remains of the castle from the 11th century, but there is still a lot to see in this quiet spot above the river in Prague.

Where to go in Prague off the beaten path. Photo credit: Panagiotis Georgiu on Flickr.

You will see the impressive Gothic cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, with its intricate doors and murals by art nouveau master Alphonse Mucha. Vyšehrad Cemetery is a must-visit: its sculptures, painted walkways, grandly decorated headstones, and stunning art nouveau monuments are beautiful.  The cemetery is also of great cultural importance because it is where many famous Czechs are buried.

Where to go in Prague off the beaten path. Photo credit: Dustin Drew on Flickr.

Vyšehrad also includes an 11th century rotunda, ruins of a lookout tower and castle walls, and green space for you to relax—bring a picnic and soak in the views of Prague and the Vltava River.

Olomouc, a great day-trip

Day trip to Olomouc: Off the beaten path in Prague. Photo credit: Ana Paula Hirama

Very few people think of taking a day-trip as far as Olomouc and instead go to Kutná Hora to see the bone church or to a nearby castle, but with fast trains going to Olomouc in about 2 hours, it’s easy to visit this charming city in a day.  The city receives only a small number of tourists, so you can easily witness daily Czech life there.

Olomouc day trip from Prague. Photo credit: Ana Paula Hirama on Flickr.

Olomouc, the fifth-largest city in the Czech Republic and former capital of the region of Moravia, offers plenty to do for a one to two days.  It is home to the old and prestigious Palacký University and has the highest density of university students in Central Europe.  Besides people-watching and taking in daily life in Moravia, you can visit St. Wenceslas cathedral, the enormous plague column (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the squares with their lovely fountains, the local shops and cafes, and the town hall with its communist-inspired astronomical clock.

Looking for more ideas? Try 25 things to do in Prague.

Have you been to Prague? What are your suggestions for getting off the beaten path in Prague?

Photo credits: (1st photo is mine), B Romero, Wikimedia Commons, Tjflex2, Tjflex2, Tjflex2, Panagiotis Georgiu, dustin_drew, Ana Paula Hirama, Ana Paula Hirama.

44 Comments

  • Ele says:

    Thank you. The photos are superb, just the kind of places I want to see. Is there an entrance fee to the Strahov monastery?

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Ele,
      Yes, there is an entrance fee. The library halls cost 80 Czech crowns, which is just a few dollars.

  • Aryn says:

    I absolutely fell in love with Vyšehrad. I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as the interior of that church!!

    Aryn
    Driftwood and Daydreams
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  • I am yet to make it to Prague but when I do, I’ll certainly be starting with your great suggestions. The ceilings in the Strahov Monastery look amazing. I’m a firm believer it getting off the tourist path! Now i can’t wait to visit.
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  • katie says:

    I just recently went to Prague, and while I loved my short two days there, I am sadly one of those people who complained (just a little) about too many tourists. I wish I had had this handy list of beautiful places before my visit (and will definitely pass it along to a friend going there next month). But it also just makes me more determined to return one day.
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    • Jenna says:

      You definitely should return! Like all great cities, it needs time (5 days minimum, I would say). And the rest of the country is wonderful. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Jenna, Prague is one of my favourite cities in the world too. If you’re talking day-trips from there that are off the beaten path, I have to put in a plug here for Kutná Hora — and not only because of its chapel (the Sedlec Ossuary) that has tens of thousands of human bones arranged into decorative patterns. 🙂 You’ve told me before that you’ve been to that chapel, by the way. Kutná Hora’s historical town centre is a UNESCO world heritage site; and you can also tour a silver mine there.

    By the way, I think the main sights in Prague are pretty awesome, too. 🙂
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    • Jenna says:

      I loved Kutná Hora, too, and did the silver mine tour on my first visit, back in 1997. It was great fun!

  • Arianwen says:

    Looks beautiful. I don’t know anyone who’d been to Prague and not liked it. I will have to get myself there one day!
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  • Good catches, especially the Valdstejn gardens are easily missed and you get to admire the beautiful peacocks an wolf owls besides the baroque garden.

    If I may add something I would suggest to take a stroll from the Castle down to Letna in the good season and have a refreshing beer. It is equally beautiful in the winter because of the view but the atmosphere in the summer with people sitting down for a pivo and a bit of suntan is really special.
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    • Jenna says:

      Thank you! I didn’t see the owls you mention but did see the peacocks. It is a beautiful garden, and with the view of the castle hovering above it, it’s almost too good to be true 🙂

  • Andrew says:

    Prague has a special place in my heart for a number of different reasons. I’ve been quite a few times and always enjoy it. Though the last time it was winter and not as much fun.

    The monastery looks awesome. And I wish I knew about that daytrip place. I ended up choosen Plzen and really didn’t like it. I got lost and couldn’t find the brewery I had gone to see.

    • Jenna says:

      I also went to Plzen and had mixed feelings. There are other day-trip options as well, but with the fast train, Olomouc is now a great choice. I also love Prague and always discover new things no matter how many times I’ve been.

  • Cheryl says:

    I love this post as I do love Prague. Such a beautiful city and one that changed my life actually. 🙂

    Thanks for all the tips – now I have a new list of things to city when I return for my next visit.
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    • Jenna says:

      Great! There is always more to see and do in Prague. An amazing city, and one that changed my life in a way, too. 🙂

  • These are all wonderful suggestions! We’ve been warned with the number of tourists during the summer so we’ll be visiting a few of these places especially Vyšehrad and the monastery. They look so beautiful. Looking forward to finally visiting Prague!
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..5 Free Things to do in Santa Fe New Mexico with KidsMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      So glad you found these useful. Karlstejn is just outside Prague, about 25 min. by train, and is one of the most beautiful castles in the country, so with kids, it makes a good half-day trip.

  • William Tang says:

    Definitely some great ideas here. I wish I knew about some of these places when I was in Prague just 2 years ago!
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  • Blogs like yours are vey helpful. It’s worth 5 days to see it and go out on some excursions as mentioned above. They are now on my list for next visit.

    I was in Prague a few months ago, and the way to dodge the river of other tourists is to get to the Castle at opening time; saunter across the Charles Bridge early etc and be at any touristic spots at opening times and after 3 pm or so to avoid the barrage of tour groups. The bridge is empty at 8 am, and I had time to get photos of the statues and people setting up their stands. Strahov Monastery is a gem. to see the library for a few dollars. They closed for lunchtime or something when I was there. Pickpockets hang out by the Astronomical clock, and do a brisk business. I watched the crowd, not the clock, and saw a couple suspicious ones with their eyes on those in front of them, clearly not looking up at thel clock! They are no more common in Prague than parts of Lisbon, London or San Francisco for that matter.

    It’s a great walking city. Wander through streets and alleys during the day…people off the touristic paths are curious and friendlier than those busy, busy busy taking care of the tourists. A young man at our hotel gave us places to eat a few blocks off the beaten path where locals eat, and a beer is 1/4 the price of one by Wenceslaus Square. Taking the trams and the subway is incredibly easy-once we were shown how to buy tickets, we were good to go for days!
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  • Great info on Prague and good tips in the comment section too! I haven’t been…but hope to get there one day:)

  • This is really going to come in handy! We will be in Prague very soon. I like the look/sound of Nový Svět and Strahov Monastery. I hope to check them out!
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    • Jenna says:

      You’ll love it! Prague really needs planning; otherwise you can just get lost in the crowds and come away feeling disappointed. Have fun!

  • Lisa says:

    I am looking forward to going to Prague soon. I am a big fan of Mucha and Art Nouveau and so I greatly appreciate your posts. A friend of mine was there last year and said the food was terrible. What do you recommend? I don’t want to eat American food, if I can help it!

    Also, I loved your photos of the Monterey Peninsula. It is a great place.
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    • Jenna says:

      Hi Lisa,
      If you love Art Nouveau, I think you will love Prague! I have a post just about art nouveau architecture there: http://thisismyhappiness.com/2013/08/05/art-nouveau-architecture-prague/
      I haven’t been to Prague in quite a while, so I don’t have any recommendations about food, but I would say 2 things. First, Czech food is typical central European food, with lots of meat, dumplings, potatoes, etc. It is part of the culture and the place, so I think it’s important to experience it. Try to find a nice Czech place and have fun. Also, order sweet snacks such as trdelnik, kolachy, and apple pastries. Second, Prague is a big city and a European capital, so there are fancy restaurants with first-class food as well as plenty of ethnic restaurants with plenty of variety. Do yourself a favor and skip the American food while you’re there. Here’s some inspiration for the sweet stuff: http://alittleadrift.com/2009/08/traditional_czech_desserts/

  • LeonL says:

    Lovely photos!

    I have never before stepped on Czech soil but have spent 100s hours ‘researching’ places to go, and the more I look, the more I need to get there….pronto.

    Here are some places that might be of interest to art nouveau/Mucha fans:
    – Veletržní Palac in praha 7: Is currently exhibiting Mucha’s 20 magnificent SLAV EPIC paintings.

    – Kordova vila Helenka (Na Václavce 30, praha 5) – a unique & fun art nouveau villa/house. See this one first via google maps. A beauty!

    – (Outside Praha) In Prace, east of Brno, there is a peace monument (Mohlya míru) for those who fell at the Battle of Austerlitz. Monument designed by Josef Fanta.

    A short distance from the above villa are several streets, Malá Xaveriova & Pravouhlá, that can be called the modern day Nový Svět – therein are charming compact terrace houses (built 1970s?) that a blogger calls ‘dwarf houses’. Probably a few other areas in Praha have similar small houses.

    Some sound advice I’ve seen – often look up when strolling the streets of Praha – you’re likely to spot some wonderful facades/paintings on the upper or top levels of buildings.

    • Jenna says:

      Well, you seem to know a lot about the country and art! I agree, you need to get there ASAP! 🙂

  • Mei says:

    I’m going to Prague in mid-March. Do you have any tips for a winter/spring traveller?

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Mei,
      Well, my only real tip is that it will definitely be cold. I first went to Prague in February and had a blast, but it was freezing! Plan some indoor activities, like the opera house and other concerts at night, cafes and museums during the day. Save walks (and you should do plenty of those!) for the warmest hours of the day. Prague is so beautiful and is so much better to experience when it’s not packed with hoardes of tourists. Mid-March should be great that way.

  • Sacha says:

    Hi Jenna,

    Thank you for all your tips; I was in Prague a couple of weeks ago and I fall in love with the city. A capital surrounder by many forest and parks. Besides, Czech people are really nice and helpful. I’ll add to go to visit Letn Park if you have a sunny day. You will have the bet panorama of the city and it’s quite a quiet place. I did an amazing retro bike tour in it with old bike, my family and I really enjoyed it. Best bike tour in Prague. Have a look: http://retrobiketours.com

    Best regards,

    Sacha

  • Jan says:

    Great article! Awesome tips and beautiful photos! Thanks

  • Andrea Gerak says:

    These are good tips!
    I would also add: Getting lost on Petrin Hill and its feet.
    Greetings from just under Prague Castle 🙂
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  • Kadir says:

    I will go to Prague next week. I will note them all. Thank you for all these great tips.

  • Bookmarking this for my family trip there in August. I haven’t been to Prague since 2005!
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  • Leon says:

    Howdy folks

    14 May this year is the 700th anniversary of the birth of that most eminent of Czech kings, Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. Many special exhibitions will be held from mid-May to September, in Prague Castle and the locations in the first link.

    http://ngprague.cz/userfiles/files/the-700th-anniversary-of-birth-of-charles-iv-.pdf

    http://www.prague.eu/en/event/7433/praga-caroli-2016

    Cheers

    • Jenna says:

      Thank you for this information! I didn’t know about the 700th anniversary. And wow, 700 years! What a history the country has.

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