Traveling throughout Europe can leave you with some big, albeit totally worth it, holes in your wallet. So, if you’re at all concerned about saving money and getting the most out of your travels, doing a bit of research on the various attractions and services offered ahead of time is worth your while. While in Prague, I did just that and discovered that free walking tours were everywhere. Tour guides throughout the main streets offer tourists a completely free 2.5 hour walking tour in Prague. Too good to be true? Keep reading to find out.
Prague is a fantastic city with so much to see and do – you’ll constantly find yourself in awe of the beautiful architecture hidden alleyways, beautiful bridges, and the delicious food. Given that there is so much to see, going on a tour is a great option to see as much as possible in the smallest amount of time.
This is where Prague’s ample tour companies come into play, most of which offer a free walking tour every day of the week. The tour company, Discover Prague Tours, I chose was not calculated – I simply spotted them on the streets, standing out in their bright yellow t-shirts, and approached one of the guides to inquire about the tour. The guide was extremely friendly and informative, so the choice of which company to choose was rather obvious.
The meeting point is located about 25m from the Old Town Square in the passage of Celetna St. (as seen in the photo above), where many other tour groups will also be seen. Discover Prague free walking tours are offered between 10:00 am – 3:00 pm on the hour, every day.
Some Of The Sights You’ll See
Old Town Square
The Old Town Square is basically the epicenter of Prague and is filled with people at all hours of the day. When the sun is out, you’ll see people sitting outside at one of the numerous cafes surrounding the square, enjoying a pint of beer and some nibbles. Be warned that the majority of these restaurants are all a tourist trap; overpriced and unauthentic food and beverage, possibility of scamming you on your bill by adding additional items, and the service is less than stellar. At night, you’ll find a lot of younger locals and travelers who sit down throughout the square and listen to buskers playing music, watch a fire show, and whatever else these buskers can come up with.
Our tour guides’ words when we momentarily paused at the clock tower went something along the lines of, “this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Prague and also one of the worst.” He wasn’t wrong. Though the tour doesn’t stick around to watch the clock “show”, I went back there later on and the entire walkway in front of it was covered with tourists and their cameras set to record this boring sight. Believe me when I say, this is certainly not worth your time. Spare yourself and just watch this YouTube video of what happens if you’re really curious.
Old Jewish Quarter
This was one of the highlights of the tour, as our guide described to us how this area used to be completely run down and would often flood because it wasn’t built high enough above the river. The first photo above is of the Pinkas Synagogue and the Old Jewish Cemetery. What was once a dirty and extremely poor part of Prague is now – ironically – one of the most expensive places to live in the city (as seen in the second photo above).
Old New Synagogue
The Old New Synagogue is Europe’s oldest synagogue that is still used to this day. The reason it is named “Old New” is because when it was originally constructed in the early 1200’s, the name given to it was the New (or Great) Synagogue. However, during the 1500’s, many new synagogue’s were also built. Thus, this synagogue became known as the Old New Synagogue.
Church of St. James
During the tour, we didn’t get a chance to go inside the Church of St. James, but we did hear about what makes this church so unique. The story goes that about 400 years ago there was a thief who attempted to steal some jewels from the Madonna high up on the shelves one evening when the church was closed. As the thief went to take the jewels, the Madonna grabbed the thief’s hand and would not let go. The thief remained there, dangling from the Madonna, all night until the morning, upon which the only way to get him down was to sever his arm. His mummified arm still hangs from the church ceiling today, and even if the church is closed, you can still look through a little window at the entrance way and see the hand (spooky!).
Powder Tower & The Municipal House
The Powder Tower (or Gate), as seen on the left side of the photo, is one of the original city gates of Prague. Dating all the way back to the 11th century, this gate separates the Old Town from the New Town.
The Municipal House is currently home to the Smetana Hall (a concert venue), however, this used to be the location of the Royal Court Palace with the King of Bohemia residing here from 1383 – 1485 . Afterwards, the property was abandoned and demolished in the early 1900’s. The building you see here today was under construction for seven years, until its opening in 1912.
Located in the New Town of Prague, Wenceslas Square is one of the main city squares in Prague. There is a lot of history tied into this square and many public events and demonstrations take place here to this day. The photo above is taken on a street called Na Prikope, which connects Wenceslas Square with the Square of the Republic.
Overall Tour Experience
I was really happy that I chose to go on this tour: I met some other tourists throughout the tour, the guide was engaging, informative, and funny, and the experience itself was really interesting. At the end, the guide does ask if you could leave a “tip” for whatever you felt the tour was worth, as this is their only form of income for working the tours.
I would highly recommend going on one of these free walking tours in Prague. If you’ve done one before, I would love to hear your experience!