Without a doubt, Prague Castle (locally known as Pražský hrad) is the city’s star attraction, attracting around 2 million people per year.
Founded in the 9th century, the castle complex is home to stunning palaces, lush gardens, and the imposing St. Vitus Cathedral – plus several other attractions. Therefore, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things to see and do.
Well, I’ve put together a guide to help you navigate this important site. Here’s what you need to know about Prague Castle, including how to get there and what not to miss.
Table of Contents
How to get to Prague Castle
Prague Castle is located on a hill overlooking the Lesser Town, on the west side of the river. It’s easy to get to, especially if you’re staying in the city centre.
There are several tram stops nearby, as well as two metro stations. You can get on tram 22 or 23 and stop at Pražský hrad. From here, it’s a 5-minute walk to the castle.
Alternatively, you could stop at Pohořelec and head towards Hradčany Square.
If you’re using the metro, you’ll need to stop at Malostranská and make you way up to the castle. You can take the Old Castle Stairs or walk up the beautiful Thunovská Street.
If you have mobility issues, you may want to consider getting a taxi. The paths leading to the castle are rather steep. They’re also cobbled and a little uneven.
When to visit Prague Castle (and other tips)
If you want to explore the entire castle complex, you’ll need at least two hours. In the busy summer months, you’ll probably need to queue to get in (there’s a security check at the entrance).
Therefore, I recommend visiting the castle first thing in the morning. You might also want to buy your tickets online to avoid further queueing.
You can enter the castle grounds for free. However, you’ll need to purchase a ticket to be allowed inside the cathedral, the basilica, and other main attractions within the complex.
If you’re planning to do a lot of walking, it’s important that you wear comfortable shoes. Some parts of the castle complex are cobbled. Also, the paths in the gardens can get a bit muddy when it rains.
Where to eat in Prague Castle
There are a few little cafes within the Prague Castle complex. Most of them serve hot drinks and light snacks.
The Lobkowicz Palace Café has a nice selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches. They also serve homemade cakes. You can sit on the terrace and enjoy beautiful views of the Lesser Town.
There’s also Café Galerie on the Golden Lane, and IPPA CAFE Hrad on Jiřská Street. As you might expect, these cafes can be a little pricey, so you might want to bring your own lunch instead.
Top things to see in Prague Castle
The Prague Castle complex houses a variety of significant buildings and pretty gardens. Let’s look at some of the top attractions.
St. Vitus Cathedral
Founded in the 14th century, the Gothic cathedral of St. Vitus dominates the Prague skyline. It was constructed over 600 years, with works being completed in 1929.
The cathedral harbours several treasures, including the beautiful St. Wenceslas Chapel, the Crown Chamber, and stunning stained-glass windows, including a piece by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha.
Several Bohemian rulers are buried in the crypt inside the cathedral. These include St. Wenceslas, Charles IV, and the eccentric Rudolf II.
St. George’s Basilica
St. George’s Basilica is the second oldest church in Prague. It was founded around 920 AD and houses the remains of Princess Ludmila (the grandmother of St. Wenceslas) and other members of the Přemyslid dynasty.
The basilica has a reddish facade and a Romanesque interior. Its bare stone walls are adorned with ancient frescoes and decorative arches.
In the 13th century, a chapel dedicated to St. Ludmila was added to the church, and five centuries later, the architect F.M. Kanka added the Baroque Chapel of St. John Nepomuk.
During the reign of Joseph II, the church was used by the army. For a long time, it lay in a state of dilapidation, until in the late 1880s it was restored to its former glory.
Golden Lane is a cobbled alley within the castle grounds, lined with little colorful houses. These dwellings date back to the 16th century and were occupied till the 1940s.
Franz Kafka lived and worked in house no. 22. Other figures who once called Golden Lane their home include the clairvoyant Matylda Průšová and the poet Jiří Mařánek.
Today, most of these houses serve as gift shops and museums.
At one end of Golden Lane, you’ll find a round tower with a red roof. Daliborka Tower dates back to the late 15th century and was used as a prison till 1781.
The tower is named after the first person to be incarcerated here, Dalibor of Kozojedy. An opening in the floor leads to the dungeon. You can still see the pulley that was used for lowering the prisoners into the underground chambers.
The Royal Garden
If you want to escape the crowds in Prague, you can go for a pleasant stroll through the Royal Garden.
Founded in 1534 by Ferdinand I, the garden was inspired by Italian Renaissance and was later renovated to reflect the English style of the 19th century.
The garden is dotted with beautiful buildings and structures. These include Queen Anne’s Summer Palace, which Ferdinand I built for his wife, and the Ball Game Hall with its intricate sgraffitoes and arched doorways.
In front of Queen Anne’s palace, you’ll find the iconic Singing Fountain. Made of bell bronze, the fountain is decorated with hunting motifs, relief masks, palmettoes, and mythological figures. When the water hits the rim of the lower bowl, it creates a melodious sound, like music.
From the Royal Garden, you can enjoy beautiful views of the Lesser Town and Petrin Hill.
The Garden on the Ramparts
The Garden on the Ramparts borders the southern wall of the castle complex, offering stunning vistas of the Lesser Town.
The garden contains several interesting structures, including Baroque-style fountains and obelisks, and a balustrade made of polished granite.
You can enter the garden from the Old Castle Stairs or the Paradise Garden (another must-see). There are several benches where you can sit and enjoy your packed lunch.
Guided tours of Prague Castle
Prefer to visit Prague Castle with a guide? Here are some of the best-rated tours.
Frequently asked questions about Prague Castle
Is Prague Castle worth visiting?
Yes! It houses a wealth of architectural gems, including beautiful palaces and the impressive St. Vitus Cathedral. Plus, you can wander the grounds for free (though you’ll need to purchase a ticket to visit some of the attractions).
What is inside Prague Castle?
Prague Castle is home to several historical buildings, including St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica, the Ball Game Hall, and Queen Anne’s Summer Palace.
When is Prague Castle open?
Prague Castle is open every day from 6am till 10pm. However, most of the buildings within the complex are open from 9am till 5pm. You can visit the official Prague Castle website for more information on opening hours.
What’s the best way to see Prague Castle?
You can explore Prague Castle on your own. If you want to learn more about its history, you may want to consider booking a walking tour of the castle.
How long does it take to tour Prague Castle?
If you just want to wander the castle grounds, 1-2 hours should be enough. However, if you’re planning to visit the attractions within the complex, you’ll need at least 2 hours.
Can I bring food into Prague Castle?
Yes, you can bring your own food. Note that your bags will be checked at the gates, so you may want to avoid carrying a lot of things.
Do you need to prebook Prague Castle?
No, you can purchase your tickets at the gates. However, I recommend purchasing them online to avoid queueing.
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