This is How to Avoid the Crowds in Prague

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, especially during the holiday season.

But, fear not, I’ve learned how to see all the major sites AND avoid the tourist crowds of Prague!

Video: How to avoid the crowds in Prague

Avoiding the Tourist Crowds in Prague

Oh, 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.

tourist crowds eating in Prague

Of course, all those hardy folks with big appetites could be tourists too.

eating in a crowded outdoor market in Prague
Oh, hey, that’s me!

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

Old Town Square Astronomical Clock
My parents, Barb and Phil, in Old Town Square in the early morning

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 market place since the middle ages, this very square has seen its fair share of coronations, celebrations, parades and executions.

Old Town Square in Prague with no crowds
Without the crowds, you can actually see the monument in Old Town Square!

In fact, 27 Prague nobleman 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.

The Prague Meridian in Old Town Square
The Prague Meridian

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!

How to Travel Deeper

Get Up Early To See the Charles Bridge Without the Crowds in Prague

The Charles Bridge in Prague
View of the Charles Bridge

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 the 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.

Video: Karlova Street with the crowds

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…

Is Charles peeing on the tourist crowds in Prague?

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.  

Charles Bridge in Prague
The Charles Bridge at Sunrise

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.

You can see St. John of Nepomuk on the Charles Bridge without the crowds
Making a wish here worked for me!

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.

Making a wish on the Charles Bridge in Prague
Making a wish

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!)

Saint Anthony of Padua the Patron Saint of Lost Possessions on the Charles Bridge in Prague
Saint Anthony of Padua, Patron Saint of Lost Things

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.

Shakespeare & Sons Bookstore in Prague
Shakespeare and Sons Bookstore

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.)

The narrowest alley in Prague
The narrowest street in Prague.

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.

Piss Sculpture in Prague
The Piss Sculpture at the Franz Kafka Museum

Wait a minute…that means the Charles Bridge begins and ends with….piss.

On a serious note, the Piss artist, David Cerny, has a lot of interesting and eye-popping creations throughout Prague including the Hanging Man back in Old Town.

Hanging man in Prague
“Man Hanging Out” is Černý’s depiction of Sigmund Freud suspended by one hand.

The next time I return to Prague I think I’ll do a sculpture tour. Or, maybe, a legends and ghosts tour. Which reminds me…remember how I mentioned big-busted ghosts guarding Prague bars?

This Ghostly Pub in Prague is a Place to Avoid the Crowds!

Awww yes, 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.

The ropemakers wife in a haunted pub in prague

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!)

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!

The Charles Bridge in Prague
Save for later!
Beer in Prague
Cheers!

If you liked this post, please check out my other walking tours or my other stories of Prague (below):

6 Comments on “This is How to Avoid the Crowds in Prague”

  1. Prague is my favorite city and I always recommend it to friends traveling abroad. I will be sharing this video along with my recommendation.

    Congrats on the website. I am traveling today and plan to spend lots of time “exploring”. All the best to you,

  2. FIRST!! Congratulations on your FIRST VBLOG!! Extremely successful to say the least. It is wonderful being an armchair traveler with you. Visiting Prague , was so vivid that I almost had some of their food! I certainly would have tasted their beer. The people seem to be a happy, hearty lot. I can’t wait for the next chapter. In the meantime, enjoy, keep safe and make one very important wish for your future.

    • Thank you so much for following along! I did make a very important wish for my future. Here’s to hoping it comes true within a year and a day as the legend would have it!

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