12 best free things to do in Prague

panorama of Prague with red roofs from above summer day at dusk, Czech Republic
Prague isn't the low-cost destination it once was, but there are still some amazing things to do for free © NaughtyNut / Shutterstock

Prague is no longer the budget city break of 15 years ago. While the beer remains refreshingly cheap, big-ticket attractions such as St Vitus Cathedral, Strahov Library and the Prague Jewish Museum now require visitors to dig deeper into their pockets. Luckily, there’s still plenty to enjoy in the Czech capital for travelers on a budget – or, in fact, for travelers with no budget at all. Here’s our pick of the 12 best things to do in Prague for free.

A view of the Vltava River that runs through Prague, with the various bridges spanning it.
The Charles Bridge (second from bottom) looks good from any angle © Westend61 / Getty Images

Charles Bridge

It may be one of Prague’s most iconic attractions, but the 650-year-old Charles Bridge doesn’t cost a penny to cross. Stroll along its stone cobbles to admire rows of baroque statues, enjoy armies of buskers and artists, and take in the spectacular spires and domes on both sides of the river. For a great view of the full 1640ft (500m) span of the stone-arch bridge, head to the riverbank behind the Franz Kafka Museum.

A large astronomical clock with several faces covers the side of a three-storey building
The Astronomical Clock puts on a free show every hour © Ilyshev Dmitry / Shutterstock

Astronomical Clock

Another famous city landmark, the Astronomical Clock, is one of the most popular free things to do in Prague – yet its on-the-hour procession of mechanical figures leaves some tourists a little underwhelmed. So instead, come here between showtimes for a closer look at the clock itself.

As well as being intricately beautiful and rich in symbolism, the two clock faces are also fonts of information. They tell you the time (look for the point where the golden hand meets the Roman numerals), the day and month of the year, the zodiac sign, the times of sunset and sunrise, the current phase of the moon and so much more. Not bad for a clock first installed in 1410.

The Hunger Wall, a decaying 21ft high stone wall and the eastern bank of Prague.
The Hunger Wall runs down the side of Petřín hill © Richard Nebesky / Lonely Planet

Petřín

Topped by what looks like a pint-sized Eiffel Tower, Petřín hill is one of Prague’s most popular playgrounds. Come for the woodland walkways, blooming rose gardens and gorgeous views of the city below – and don’t miss the Hunger Wall, a structure built in 1362 that takes its name from the claim the wall was, purportedly, built not for strategic value, but as a means to provide income to Prague’s starving population following a famine. You can hike up and down Petřín or simply hop on the 19th century funicular; it’s part of the public transport network so a free add-on to any tram or metro journey.

Prague Castle complex with gothic St Vitus Cathedral in the evening time illuminated by sunset.
Visit Prague Castle in the evening to avoid the crowds © Pyty / Shutterstock

Prague Castle

While it costs to visit most of Prague Castle’s lavish interiors, including St Vitus Cathedral, you are free to roam the grounds and gardens for, well, free – just remember to bring your ID to get through security. Exploring the courtyards is best at night, as the crowds typically thin out in the early evening while the gates remain open until late. You’re also free to discover the quaint Golden Lane, where writer Franz Kafka lived for a spell, after the stalls have closed and an alluring quietness falls over the historic thoroughfare.

Aerial view of old medieval narrow cobbled street and small ancient houses of Novy Svet, Hradcany district, Prague, Czech Republic
An aerial view of the medieval Nový Svět Quarter © PytyCzech / Getty Images

Nový Svět Quarter

Combine your trip to Prague Castle with a wander around the ‘New World’. Although just a short walk northwest of the castle complex, this picturesque quarter feels like a world away, with its strollable cobblestone streets, pastel-shaded 16th century houses and remnants of the old city walls. It’s also home to a small garden, a children’s play park and a charming little cafe.

The pretty, ornate exterior façade of Prague Municipal House.
Municipal House is a masterpiece of art nouveau architecture © agustavop / Getty Images

Municipal House

Connected to the tall, Gothic Powder Gate that marks the entrance to the Old Town, Prague’s Municipal House is a masterpiece of art nouveau architecture. While the upstairs halls are only available by (paid) guided tour, budget-conscious travellers can still enjoy the dazzling facade, complete with grand entrance mosaic, as well as the ornate foyer for free. There’s also a chandelier-stuffed cafe here.

The Vyšehrad Citadel built on the Vltava River; rock ramparts flank the water's edge and rise up the slope to buildings and the twin-spired church.
The Vyšehrad Citadel, Prague's 'other castle', set on the edge of the Vltava River © Andrew Koturanov / Shutterstock

Vyšehrad

Like Prague Castle, the Vyšehrad Citadel is perched on a hilltop, served as a former royal residence and is also dominated by an important church that overlooks the Vltava river. Unlike Prague Castle, however, it’s free to visit.

As well as exploring the exquisite Church of Sts Peter and Paul, you can walk the Citadel’s walls for fantastic views over the city, and visit the Gothic Vyšehrad Cemetery, burial place of notable Czechs like Dvořák, one of the first Czech composers to achieve global fame, and Mucha, a renowned artist who painted The Slav Epic, a series of 20 giant canvases depicting the history and mythology of the Slavic peoples (a dedicated Prague gallery is supposedly in the works to house it). In the summer, Vyšehrad has one of Prague’s best beer gardens.

A small statue of an infant Jesus stands in the centre of a lavish, golden shrine in a church in Prague. The statue is wearing a white cloak.
The Infant Jesus sporting a white gown © SL-Photography / Shutterstock

The Infant Jesus

First brought over from Spain in 1628 and believed to possess miraculous healing powers, the Infant Jesus remains a site of pilgrimage for Christians – and a great thing to see on a Sunday.

The 47cm-tall waxwork of baby Jesus is adorned in a vast and ever-changing array of colorful costumes to rival BrusselsManneken Pis. You will find the statue, plus a free museum showcasing many of its most elaborate frocks, in Malá Strana’s Church of Our Lady Victorious.

The Prague Metronome stands atop a giant plinth in hilltop Letna Park. The large mechanical contraption has a long swaying 'hand' that points skyward and lets out an audible click every few seconds.
The Prague Metronome stands atop a giant plinth in Letna Park © dnaveh / Getty Images

Letná Gardens

Prague has a high number of green spaces for a big city, from the lake-filled Stromovka Park to the statue-lined Wallenstein Garden. But for a mix of winding paths, beer gardens and wide open spaces, it’s hard to beat Letná Gardens.

Climb the steep staircase from the Čechův Most tram stop for a slow-reveal of a remarkable Prague panorama, taking in the Vltava River, its bridges and the city’s rooftops. At the top, you’ll come across a giant plinth that once supported a colossal statue of Stalin (which was destroyed by dynamite). Today, a striking 75ft (23m) metronome (a machine that makes an audible click every second or so) stands in its place; an ode to that age-old adage: in time, all things pass.

The towering twin spires of Tyn Church looms over Prague's Old Town Square. The open square is full of people, who walk through it and sit at tables.
The towering twin spires of the Church of Our Lady Before Týn looms over Prague's Old Town Square © Adisa / Shutterstock

Týn Church

The Czech Republic is among the most secular countries on earth, yet its capital is jam-packed with majestic churches from centuries past – and many are free to enter (though donations will be gratefully received). One of the most photographed is the Church of Our Lady Before Týn, a twin-spired Gothic masterpiece looming over the Old Town Square.

Step inside to explore a bold baroque interior, including a 17th-century altar and the tomb of pioneering Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who is also notable for sporting an artificial nose throughout most of his life (his original sniffer being partially decapitated in a sword duel with a contemporary over who was the better mathematician).

A giant metallic sculpture of the head of author Franz Kafka stands in the centre of a street in Prague.
The head of Franz Kafka is just one of David Černý's public artworks in Prague © Marben / Shutterstock

David Černý artwork

When it comes to provocative modern art in Prague, one sculptor reigns supreme: David Černý. The artist is perhaps best known for his work ‘Entropa’, a huge sculpture depicting EU states as crude stereotypes (like France on strike and Romania as a Dracula theme park), which, after causing just the smallest amount of controversy, is no longer on display. However, many of the artist’s other works dot the streets of Prague, and – to make things even sweeter – are completely free to enjoy.

Highlights include Kůň, in the middle of the Lucerna Palace shopping arcade, which depicts a lifeless, upside-down horse ridden by an inattentive King Wenceslas; K, a gigantic rotating metal bust of Prague writer Franz Kafka, located above Národní třída metro station; and Miminka, a series of faceless babies crawling up Žižkov’s TV Tower. You can also find some ground-level miminka (babies) on the small river island of Kampa.

An aerial view of a large statue of a man on horseback, standing on the top of a hill in Prague. Around the hill, the cityscape is visible.
The National Monument standing atop Vítkov Hill © josefkubes / Getty Images

Vítkov Hill

While a trip up the futuristic masterpiece/looming eyesore (delete as appropriate) TV Tower will set you back a pretty penny, similarly sweeping vistas over Žižkov and Karlín can be enjoyed from the nearby Vítkov Hill. The National Monument may have an entrance fee, but it costs you nothing to gaze up at the mammoth Jan Žižka statue or to stroll the tree-shaded hilltop paths.

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This article was originally written by Mark Baker and published in October 2019; it was last updated in August 2021.

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