Prague is always a popular spot. You can walk across the heart of the city in an hour through a maze of traffic-free streets. Around the edge of the densely built-up historic city are extensive green spaces where you can sit and enjoy the sunshine and birdsong. Inspired? Take a look at our fantastic Prague holidays
Walk down Karmelitska to find the Church of Our Lady of Victories (Kostel Panny Marie Vítězná) named in honour of the victory at the Battle of White Mountain in 1620. Most visitors come to see the Holy Infant of Prague - a wax effigy brought from Spain in 1628 and said to work miracles. It’s an impressive piece of work and a highlight to any visit in Prague.
Pinkas Synagogue can only be accessed via a tour, but make your way through the outer courtyard of the Synagogue to reach the Old Jewish Cemetery (Starý židovský hřbitov) which is completely free. This small area was once the only burial ground for Jews and as such each plot was used by several generations of the same family. It is thought that over 12,000 gravestones have been placed here, the earliest surviving ones dating from 1429 and the most recent from 1787. The jumble of carved stones sits under the shade of mature trees. The Ceremonial Hall next to the cemetery was built in 1911 for the Prague Burial Society and now has an exhibition on Jewish life and traditions.
West of Lesser Quarter Square is Nerudova, named after writer Jan Neruda, who once lived here. There are a number of fine buildings on this street, each distinguished by an emblem as they were built before the introduction of street numbers. Look out for ‘The Three Fiddles’ at No. 12 or ‘The Green Lobster’ at No. 43. Thun-Hohenstein Palace at No. 20, its ornate entranceway framed by huge eagles, is now the Italian Embassy. The Morzin Palace at No. 5 now serves as a diplomatic base for Romania.
Grand Priory Square (Velkopřevorské náměstí) leads across a bridge to Kampa Island. Here you will find a fading mural of John Lennon - a focus for youth unrest in the final days of Communist rule. The narrow branch of the river separating Kampa Island from the Lesser Quarter was once used to power watermills. Most of the island is now parkland, though at its northern end is na Kampu, a delightful cobbled square. A large mill on the banks of the Vltava has been imaginatively converted into the Museum Kampa (CZK300), with collections of 20th-century and contemporary art. Exploring Kampa Island is most certainly one of the best free things to do in Prague.
Petřin Hill is a vast, open area stretching all across the hillside. Footpaths wind up to the summit. Once at the top you can stroll along to explore the park’s attractions. These include the Observation Tower - a mini Eiffel Tower built for the Prague Industrial Exhibition in 1891, a mirror maze, two chapels and a church, and the remnants of the Hunger Wall (Hladová zed’) - a city wall built by Charles IV and said to have been a community project to provide work, and therefore food, for the poor. Not far from the Hunger Wall, on Ujezd, is the stark Monument to the Victims of Communism, unveiled in 2002.
At the east of Lesser Quarter Square is Mostecká (Bridge Street). This short, shop-lined road leads to the river and one of the most impressive free things to do in Prague: Charles Bridge (Karlův most). This 520-metre (1,700ft) -long bridge, one of the most famous in the world, was built across the Vltava in the mid-14th century following the destruction of the previous Judith Bridge in a flood. Charles IV and his architect, Peter Parler, were determined to build a bridge that would endure. But even they could not have imagined that it would last 600 years and counting. The original bridge was a very functional structure with little embellishment. At the Mala Strana end there were two towers: the Judith Tower (dated c.1190), the smaller of the two, survives as the only reminder of the Judith Bridge. The Lesser Quarter Bridge Tower was built as a gateway to the town. At the Old Town end of the bridge is the Old Town Bridge Tower, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.