Prague is a top choice for many visitors as it offers a variety of attractions at relatively reasonable prices. Unfortunately, the main sites in the city centre can quickly become jam-packed with jostling tourists. Although there will always be lots of people about, we found that exploring the city centre at night not only meant less camera-wielding tourists, but it also gave us a chance to experience Prague’s dream-like atmosphere. Here’s why it’s worth exploring Prague at night:
Start by taking a sunset walk next to the Vlatava river. It’s a popular choice for locals and tourists alike, with bars and restaurants all along the riverbank. It’s the perfect way to get a feel for Prague and to admire the city’s grand architecture. When walking on the eastern bank, be on the lookout for the Dancing House, the National Theatre, the Old Town Tower Bridge, and the well-known Charles Bridge. These buildings are all beautifully lit and simply magical at night. Remember to take a jacket or coat, especially if you’re visiting during autumn or spring. The days might be pleasant, but the evenings can be chilly.
Charles Bridge is at the centre of the action. Expect throngs of tourists even at night, but we found it much less crowded than during the day. This gives you more time to take a leisurely walk across the bridge and to enjoy the city lights. The Prague Castle complex is also worth visiting at night. You will skip the queues, avoid the crowds, and you will feel like you’re exploring an ‘other-worldly’ kingdom. Stroll through the castle grounds in your own time (like we did) or book a night walking tour if you prefer a more structured evening. Attractions worth seeing include St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, Prague Castle, Golden Lane, and my personal favourite, St. George’s Basilica. The castle is on a hill (note – there are a lot of stairs involved!) making this a romantic spot from which to view the city lights. If you’re lucky, you might even have a busker playing the accordion in the background. TIP: Skip the castle wishing well if you want your wishes to come true. We saw two men with a home-made, but highly efficient, contraption scooping coins from the various fountains around the palace grounds…
The charming streets in the city centre are wonderful to explore at night and you can feast your eyes on the various shops, restaurants and the mixture of interesting people. There’s no shortage of restaurants to choose from and if your budget is tight, you won’t be disappointed with the variety of street food available. When in the Czech Republic you must try a local dish with pork and cabbage; dumplings are very popular. The goulash is heavenly, and I can highly recommend a few pints of local beer. If you enjoy beer and you’re looking for a vibey night out, the Craft House is a good place to start. Currently, they have 27 craft beers on tap! Their beer tasting sets are a great way to sample different beers. This is the perfect spot for people watching.
If you have the time, it’s worthwhile stepping outside the main tourist areas. We stayed in a BnB on the outskirts of the city centre which gave us the opportunity to try a few local places. A highlight for us was a quaint little wine bar called Na břehu Rhôny. We were greeted with warm smiles and were told about the self-service nature of the wine bar: You take a glass and a note pad from the counter and then you walk through the restaurant, scouting for your favourite vintage from the large selection of wines available. Once you’ve made your choice, pour yourself some wine and simply make a note on the notepad. The atmosphere was warm and casual, and they have some delicious meat boards and snacks to go with your wine.
You might wonder: what am I supposed to do during the day if I spend my nights exploring the city centre? Venture a little outside the city and explore one of the local farmer markets, climb Petřín hill, or take a day trip. Prague is beautiful with a lot to offer, but it’s the magic of the city at night that will stay with me for years to come.
Do you have any tips for people who are planning to visit Prague? Leave a comment below.
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