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I’ve learned how to see all the major sites AND avoid the crowds of Prague! And I’m giving you all the info right here.
Because Prague is one of the best cities in the world to visit, Prague is also one of the busiest cities in the world to visit.
Let’s dive in!
Avoiding the Tourist Crowds in Prague
The city where the beer is cheaper than water, where bars are guarded by big-busted ghosts, and where food is…everywhere. And I mean the stick-to-your-ribs, cabbage-soup-in-a-bowl, whole-grilled-pig-on-a-spit kind of food.
The Czech people are a hardy bunch. They eat outside even when it’s really cold. They eat and they eat and they eat.
Of course, all those hardy folks with big appetites could be tourists too.
Because it’s not just the food that is everywhere here. It’s also the tourists who are everywhere in Prague.
But there is a way to avoid the crowds in Prague. But..it involves doing something that I hate the thought of doing (though never regret doing). That’s right. You guessed it: Getting up early.
Prague is a late-night town, which means cafes start to think about opening up at about 10 in the morning. But even Old Town Square, which tends to be just packed with tourists is empty of crowds in the morning.
You will Avoid Crowds in Prague’s Old Town Square if You Go Early
It sounds clichéd, but Old Town is magical. Unlike so many European cities, after the destruction of World War Two, Prague wasn’t as damaged and didn’t have as much rebuilding to do (in terms of physical structures anyway).
A marketplace since the middle ages, this very square has seen its fair share of coronations, celebrations, parades, and executions.
In fact, 27 Prague noblemen and leaders of a rebellion were executed in the square in 1621. Twenty-seven crosses in the pavement mark the spot. The heads of the nobleman men were displayed on the Charles Bridge for years and legend has it that the heads return each year on the June 21st anniversary.
In the morning, you will avoid the crowds in Prague, meaning you can actually see the monument to the rebellion! It’s easy to miss this monument on the ground when there are people milling on top of it.
The square is also interesting for a certain obsession with time. The famous Astronomical Clock on the front of Old Town Hall gives quite the show on the hour…starting at 9 in the morning.
And if you shift your gaze down instead of up, you can spot the Prague Meridian – the mark where a column used to cast its shadow at exactly noon. This is the way time was once measured.
It’s hard to find the Meridian when Old Town Square is full of crows during the day, but it is easy to find in the morning when you avoid the crowds!
Get Up Early To See the Charles Bridge Without the Crowds in Prague
Speaking of time…we’re still up early and avoiding the crowds in Prague on our trek to the famed Charles Bridge. To get there from Old Town Square, we head down the winding Karlova Street.
This is another place that can get pretty packed, but in the morning it’s all yours.
Approaching from the Old Town side, you are welcomed by the bridge’s namesake and commissioner, Charles IV. First a King and then a Holy Roman Emperor, Charles spoke five languages and certainly had a knack for bridge-building.
He must also have had a sense of humor as people say from this view it looks a little like the Emperor is peeing on the tourists. Hmmm…
Continuing onto the bridge, check out the ornate statues that line the sides. On a clear day, you can see Prague castle in the distance. Take your time on this walk.
Keep an eye out for the small plaque marking the place where it’s said that St. John of Nepomuk was thrown into the river in 1393. People say that a wish made here while touching the cross will come true within a year and a day.
Make Sure to Make a Wish on the Charles Bridge in Prague!
John of Nepomuk is the patron saint of good confessions, and for good reason. The legend is that he was thrown in the river because he wouldn’t tell the King of Bohemia the confessional secrets of the Queen.
It’s also said that stars appeared above the water where his body landed, which is why the statue of the saint himself – just a few feet away from his plaque – is depicted with stars.
This statue also brings a lot of wishers. It’s said that touching the falling priest on the saint’s statue will bring good luck and ensure a return to Prague. One can only wish!
Moving on down the bridge, each of the ornate statues has the ability to fascinate, but everyone seems to have their own favorite for different reasons. Mine is St. Anthony because of his propeller hat. Also because he’s the patron saint of lost things (I asked him to find my missing glove!)
Exploring the Little Quarter of Prague
At the end of the bridge, head up to the castle grounds or take a sharp right and explore many of the hidden treasures of what’s called the Little Quarter. Shakespeare and Sons, the famous English bookstore in Paris has a little sister store quietly tucked away here.
Speaking of tucked away, there is also a tiny little alley that even has its own pedestrian street signals. This little street in the little quarter opens at 11:30 in the morning, so you won’t be able to avoid the crowds. (I took this picture before the alley opened.)
Finally, wander into the courtyard of the Franz Kafka Museum. The gates open early, before museum doors. That’s important because once the tourist crowds arrive, you can’t get a clear picture of this peculiar statue.
And you will want to see the sculpture called “Piss”. Yep, Piss. These guys are actually peeing on a map of the Czech Republic.
Wait a minute…that means the Charles Bridge begins and ends with….piss.
The Lennon Wall
Our next stop is the Lennon Wall.
Double back across the mouth of the Charles Bridge to find the wall, which has been painted over time and again, but tributes to John Lennon, the Beatles, and peace always come back in colorful variations.
The Lennon Wall was one of my late partner’s favorite things about Prague.
Now head up the hill with the Charles Bridge to your back. We are en route to Prague Castle complex opens early, so if you’re making good time, you can enjoy the grounds without the crowds. The buildings open at 9 am. You’ll be first in line!
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest coherent castle complex in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Give yourself plenty of time to explore.
Other ways to see Prague:
Back over the Charles Bridge
Now it’s time to eat! Retrace your steps toward the Charles Bridge. If you want to walk the tiny alley, take a short detour to see that again. You can also pop into the Franz Kafka Museum now that it is open.
But you’re probably hungry, so let’s get you some traditional Czech food and a beer!
This Ghostly Pub in Prague is a Place to Avoid the Crowds!
Time to eat! My very favorite restaurant in Prague is U Provaznice Restaurant, which means “the Ropemaker’s Wife’s Restaurant”.
It is said that the Ropemaker’s wife was a beautiful woman who once owned this bar, but when her husband got jealous of the goings-on at the pub, he strangled her with a rope. Yikes.
Now, it’s a perfectly pleasant place filled with good food, good beer, and lots of locals. And…shhh…the tourist crowds have yet to find out about this gem!
Make sure to touch the portrait or the statue of the ropemaker’s wife if you need a little luck in your relationship. It’s said she brings good luck (despite her own misfortune!)
The next time I return to Prague I think I’ll do a sculpture tour. Or, maybe, a legends and ghosts tour. I’m definitely going to follow along with my friends at Creative Travel Guide who wrote a fantastic list of all the best things to do in Prague.
Postscript on Prague:
I found my lost glove! Thanks, Saint Anthony – patron saint of lost things!
Also: BOTH of my wishes on the statues of John of Nepomuk came true. This is interesting because I wished for true love and a return to Prague.
Both came true when my true love brought me back to Prague where I walked in his footsteps after his death.
Now that you know how to beat the crowds, schedule yourself a trip to Prague and make yourself a wish!
Where to stay in Prague
I really loved staying in the Little Quarter because I avoided the crowds of Old Town but was still close to all the action!
If you read my post about wandering in my late fiance’s footsteps, you’ll see the balcony with the epic views at the Golden Well Hotel. This luxury hotel would be a grand place to stay, but if it’s not in the budget, stop by for a cocktail with a view.
It opens at noon, so you can go after touring Prague Castle. Or do what I did and embark upon the ten-course meal!
Here is a map of available accommodations in Prague:
About the Author
Hi! I’m Jen!
I’m a freelance writer and travel blogger who quit my nine-to-five after my fiancé, Jeff, died of cancer at the age of 40. When he died, I realized that life is just too short to delay our dreams. Since my dream was to travel and write, I now travel and write full-time. Today I wear hiking boots instead of heels and collect experiences instead of things.