Prague is known for being one of the most affordable places to visit in Europe. That’s because a lot of the city’s main attractions are free or mostly free to enjoy. These are some of the most awesome things you can do in Prague that won’t cost you a thing.
1. Prague Castle
The imposing Prague Castle, which is visible across the Vltava River, is actually almost completely free to visit. Though they’ve imposed security checks at several entrances to the castle complex, once inside, you’re free to wander around the sprawling castle grounds. You’ll have to pay an entrance fee to enter any of the castle’s interiors including the massive St. Vitus Cathedral. But you can walk around any of the courtyards, and the castle gardens which are only open during warm months. The lush and perfectly manicured Royal Garden and the South Gardens are a great place to sit and relax for a bit after hiking up to the castle. The South Gardens also boast an incredible view over the city. The entire castle complex is open until 10 pm all year round.
2. Charles Bridge
Charles Bridge is the ornate stone bridge that connects Prague’s Old Town to the Castle District (Hradčany). The bridge is one of the most popular tourist attractions, so it’s often packed. To enjoy the bridge without too many people, it’s best to go early in the morning or late at night. Both provide a unique experience and amazing views. The bridge is decorated by more than two dozen statues which lead you across in both directions. At both ends of the bridge, there is a tower, which provides a unique backdrop regardless of which direction you’re walking in. You’ll find a lot of vendors on the bridge selling art and souvenirs. There are often buskers, including entire bands that play on Charles Bridge for tips.
3. Get lost in Old Town
Prague’s Old Town Square is another one of the city’s most popular free attractions. The vast square is surrounded on every side by gorgeous architecture and historic buildings. You’ll be able to spot the two picturesque towers of the Church of Our Lady before Týn from many of the winding streets in Old Town. The city center is also where you’ll find Prague’s famous astronomical clock which is on the Old Town Hall building. Stick around for the clock’s show at the top of every hour, when several sculptures on the clock come to life. And though you can’t miss Old Town Square, the real beauty of Prague’s Old Town lies in the tiny meandering streets and alleys that snake all around the main square. The farther you get from tourist shops and troves of people, the more romantic and quaint the city becomes. You’ll be able to find interesting shops, bars, and restaurant on every corner.
4. The National Monument at Vitkov Hill
You’ll notice that a lot of Prague’s free attractions involve a great view. This is no different, but unlike Prague Castle and Petrin Hill, which give you a view of the city from west to east, Vitkov Hill overlooks the city from east to west, including Prague Castle. At the top, you’ll find the National Monument on the Vitkov Hill, which is marked by a statue of Jan Žižka to commemorate the Battle of Vitkov Hill. You can also go inside a ceremonial hall which has The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and soil from every conflict the Czechs have been involved in. From atop the monument, you can get a splendid view of the city, which is especially lovely at sundown.
5. Lennon Wall
Prague’s Lennon Wall has been full of John Lennon and Beatles-inspired lyrics and art since the 1980s. It still stands today as a giant emblem of peace and love. Thousands come to the wall to see it and add their own messages. It’s located in Grand Priory Square (Velkopřevorské náměstí) in the Malá Strana district. There are often street performers playing Beatles songs in front of the wall to add the overall atmosphere. It’s free to enjoy, but always nice to tip.
6. Petrin Hill
In the center of the city, on the same side of the river as Prague Castle, sits Petrin Hill. You’ll be able to spot it from anywhere in the city by looking for the tiny version of the Eiffel Tower that sits at the top. It’s a steep climb, but luckily, there’s a funicular which can take you all the way to the top. It is part of the city’s transportation system, so a regular Metro ticket or pass will serve as admission. It runs every 10-15 minutes from 9 am to 11:30 pm. The lines for the funicular do tend to get long, especially at the bottom. So if you want to avoid the line, or save yourself the cost of a Metro ticket, you can walk up the steep sides of the hill, which takes about 30-40 minutes. The spectacular views of the city will be your reward. There are a series of gardens including the Rose Orchard, Lobkowicz Garden, and Nebozízek Garden. At the top, you’ll also find the Eiffel-esque Observation Tower, and some cafes and drink vendors, so you can refuel before the walk down.
The fort of Vyšehrad is located high on a hill which overlooks the Vltava River. Unlike many of the other free activities on this list, this one is not as popular with tourists so it will make for a quieter, calmer experience. Though there are some really impressive things to see inside the walls of the fort, like the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Rotunda of St. Martin (the largest and oldest in Prague), the nicest thing about Vyšehrad is the huge park within it. It’s a lovely place to have a nice walk and take in the view.
8. Enjoy the outdoor festivals and markets
Czechs love to celebrate, so it’s not uncommon to stumble upon a street fair, a music festival, or simply an outdoor market everywhere you go. In the winter months, Christmas markets spring up all over the city, especially in the main squares like Old Town, Wenceslas, and Peace Square (Náměstí Míru). In the spring, they’re replaced by markets celebrating Easter. There will be dozens of food stands selling Czech delicacies like Prague ham, sausage, fried cheese, cabbage and potato, and the sweet pastry, trdelník. You can also get beer and mulled wine, even at 11 am. The markets in some of the more populated areas of the city also include a small corral where you can pet animals and blacksmiths who make swords and jewelry right in front of you.
For a less touristy experience, where you’ll find more locals than foreigners, you can enjoy the city’s farmers markets where people gather to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, cheese, among other treats. The Trhy Tylak market at I.P. Pavlova is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The Jiřák market, which is in Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad is open Wednesday through Saturday. And Náplavka, which is right on the river near Palacky’s Bridge, is open only on Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm.
9. Wenceslas Square
This is perhaps one of the biggest misnomers for any free attraction in Prague. Wenceslas Square is not so much a square as it is a large commercial boulevard. The square begins where Old Town and New Town meet and runs all the way toward the large Czech National Museum. Aside from large department stores, nightclubs, and restaurants, you’ll also find the famous Statue of St. Wenceslas on one end of the square.
10. Take a free walking tour
If you want to learn a little bit more about the beautiful historical buildings all around you, you can also take a free tour. There are a couple of tour companies that offer free walking tours of the city. One of the most popular is Sandeman’s New Europe tour. It’s a 3-hour tour that starts in front of the Czech Tourism Office in Old Town and takes you through the Old Jewish Quarter, the Powder Tower, and many other highlights. The tour starts every day at 10:45 am, 12 pm, and 2 pm. Booking in advance is encouraged. And yes, it is completely free, but the tour guides work only for tips, so be generous.