Prague Castle has been an important symbol of the Czech state for more than a thousand years. Today, it’s one of Prague’s main attractions and will likely be one of your most memorable experiences in Prague. Use these tips to avoid the crowds and to make the most of your visit!
01 | Get there early. Very early.
The grounds of Prague Castle open daily at 6 AM. However, the main attractions within the castle complex don’t open their gates until 9 AM. Getting to Prague castle a little early (ideally around 8:30) will allow you to stroll through the grounds in relative peace and give you enough time to purchase your tickets before all the tour groups take over.
If you only have a short time to explore Prague, you might consider just taking a walk in the free areas in the early morning and snapping a few panoramic pictures of the city while you’re up there. However, if you have the time, I would recommend you visit the castle buildings and iconic St. Vitus Cathedral to enjoy a more in-depth experience—it is really worthwhile.
Important note: 9 AM might not seem that early. However, you need to factor in traveling time from your hotel plus a short walk to the castle. Make sure to set your alarm and resist any parties the night before your visit 😊
02| Purchase your tickets in advance.
The Prague Castle entrance fee comes with three circuit options, only covering self-guided tours. I personally recommend Circuit B, which provides a nice mix of Prague Castle’s highlights. Tickets can be purchased at the castle in person and are valid for two days.
However, you can consider getting your tickets in advance and picking them up at the castle. This saves you quite some time, as you won’t have to wait in a line to purchase your tickets. For 16 Eur per person, you get a ticket for Circuit B as well as a 20-minute info session in which you’ll learn some basic information and recommendations for your visit. Usually, this takes place at 10 AM, 11 AM and 12 PM. Check the availability here.
The second and even more comfortable option is this skip-the-line ticket combined with 2,5-hour guided tour. You won’t even need to find your own way to the castle since this tour begins at Charles Bridge. Your guide will provide a short historical overview of the history of Prague Castle and then you travel there together by tram. This tour usually starts at 1:15 PM and is available in multiple languages (Spanish, Czech, English, French, German, Italian, or Russian). You can check the availability here.
03| Visit on a weekday.
If you have the choice, definitely plan your visit to Prague castle for a weekday. The crowds will be noticeably tamer than on weekends. But even if visiting on a quieter day, there will still be lots of tour groups, so make sure to allow yourself sufficient time. The average castle visit takes 3 hours, even on a weekday. If the weather is good, make sure to also pay a visit to the Royal Garden, with its many flowers and stunning fountains.
04| Visit Prague castle during the offseason.
Prague Castle is among the most visited tourist attractions in the city, attracting over 1.8 million visitors annually. The winter months, especially November, January and February, are considered the low season due to the cold weather. December and early January are an exception, when half the world seems to come around to experience the lively Christmas markets in Prague and take in the boisterous New Year’s Eve celebration.
If you are not into traveling in winter, you can opt for the spring or autumn shoulder seasons. It’s reasonable to plan your visit from March to May, or from September to October. In these two seasons, hotels typically offer good deals to compensate for the decrease in tourists, so can you enjoy high value stay in Prague while still enjoying decent weather.
PS: Visiting the Czech Republic offseason gives you the perfect opportunity to explore: also locations beyond Prague are less touristy at this time. You can consider visiting the spooky Sedlec Ossuary Bone Church.
05| Match your outfit to the weather.
Keep in mind that Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area of almost 70,000 square meters. The sprawling complex is situated high above the city on Mount Hradcany. You will definitely need to be prepared for lots of walking on cobblestone lanes and squares. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.
If you travel in winter, make sure to wear warm clothes. Even if you visit the interiors of the various structures, you will have to walk between the buildings and it can get really chilly there. Also, spring and autumn mornings can be quite cold in the Czech republic. Make sure to check the weather forecast and prepare accordingly.
06| Extend your visit by walking to Petrin hill.
Once you are finished visiting the castle and its gardens, there is a pleasant walk nearby that I’d recommend. Most visitors do not realize that lovely Petrin hill is a short walk away. It’s only about 20 minutes on foot from Prague castle and features more breathtaking panoramas.
You can find Petrin Hill by following the signs from Strahov monastery (see my map below). Arriving at Petrin Hill, you can ascend a viewing tower (know as our “Little Eiffel Tower”) and when you’re finished, you can descend the hill by funicular (you will need a public transportation ticket for this; it’s worth getting a 110kc 24-hour pass). If you get hungry along the way, there are several lovely restaurants along the way to Petrin Hill.
Things do see in Prague castle
If you buy one of the tickets into Prague Castle, the very first place you should head is Golden Lane. It’s a charming cobblestone street from the 16century, featuring tiny, brightly painted houses where castle guards and various tradespeople once lived. Many of the houses are now souvenir shops. Popular are houses number 22 and 77, where two personalities (Franz Kafka and Jaroslav Seifert) used to live.
Old Royal Palace
The Old Royal Palace is definitely the most important palace in the Prague castle in terms of history. This palace was the seat of Bohemian princes and kings until the 16th century. Most notable among the many sections is the Gothic Vladislav Hall, once the largest secular space in medieval Prague (1487 – 1500, Benedikt Rejt), featuring remarkable rib vaulting, and used today as the venue for ceremonial state events. It’s also home to a copy of the Czech crown.
St. Vitus Cathedral
Built over almost 600 years, St Vitus is the largest and most important church in the Czech Republic and one of the most richly endowed cathedrals in central Europe. It dominates the skyline of Prague, is the seat of the Archbishop of the city, and has long been the site of the coronations of centuries of Czech royals.
Changing of the Guards at Prague Castle
Presidential guards stand at all three main entrances to Prague Castle, and they make a handover switch every hour. The major ceremony, including the exchange of flags and a trumpet call, takes place at exactly noon every day. Head to the first courtyard at Prague Castle at least half an hour early to find a good spot for taking pictures, as the courtyard can get pretty packed.
The ceremony begins with a musical performance and then a short parade follows as the guards switch out from their duties. The whole thing takes less than 20 minutes, but it’s definitely worth working into your schedule if you plan to visit the castle!
How to Get to Prague Castle
Located at Prazsky Hrad, 119 08 Praha 1, the castle is the most visible landmark in Prague and occupies a hilltop overlooking the Vltava River.
Getting to the Prague Castle complex is easy. There are several tram stops nearby (Královský letohrádek, Pražský hrad, Pohořelec) and also two metro stations (Malostranská, Hradčanská). Visitors mostly arrive using tram No. 22 (stop name: Pražský hrad) then leave the Castle through the Old Castle Stairs, descending to metro station Malostranská. This is the easiest way, as you will mostly avoid walking uphill.
Where to stay near Prague castle
Prague offers lots of accommodation choices that fit any budget. I have listed my favorite hotels and boutique accommodations in my Where to Stay in Prague guide. If you are traveling on a budget, then you will surely find a suitable choice among my favorite hostels in Prague. I have included also a few recommendations below.
BUDGET: Post Hostel
Post hostel is the best place to stay in Prague if you are backpacking alone and want to meet other travelers. It features a 24-hour front desk, free private lockers, and a bar. It’s situated in Vinohrady District.
MIDRANGE: Lazenska N°4
Would you like to rent a room or a studio right in a Baroque Palace? Then this is the place for you. This accommodation offers great reviews and is located just 6 minutes away from Charles Bridge. Plus, your continental breakfast will be delivered in a basket directly to your apartment.
SPLURGE: Palac U Kocku
Housed in a Baroque building in Old Town, Palac U Kocku is one of the best boutique hotels in Prague. The rooms are spacious and all the main sights are just a stone throw’s away. The staff is happy to help with any questions.
I hope this article will help you to plan your visit to Prague castle. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask in the comment section below!
- Day trip from Prague to Český Krumlov by train
- Things to do in Prague in Winter
- Best View of Prague
- PS: When it Prague, you should definitely try Trdelnik, a fire-cooked sweetened dish which belongs to one of Must-Try European Delicacies