Until as recently as 1989, the Czech capital of Prague was nearly impossible for any Western visitor to get to, shut off as it was behind the Iron Curtain. However, that all changed when the city achieved its freedom from Communist rule. Over the following decades, more and more tourists found their way to Prague, drawn by the city's stunning architecture, cute cafes, incredible historical monuments, and shockingly cheap prices.
Maybe it was too good to last. After the end of communism, the splitting of Czechoslovakia into two different countries, and accession to the EU, the Czech Republic got steadily wealthier, and therefore more expensive. Although Prague is still something of a bargain, especially for those looking to spend some time in the many beer halls of the city, it's not the budget travel destination it used to be. Perhaps that's a good thing for the locals, but for budget travelers, visiting Prague can cost as much as it does in most other European cities.
However, if you look around, there are still bargains to be found in the capital of the Czech Republic. You can save money by enjoying all these free things to do in Prague. And with a little planning, you can see some of the most interesting parts of the city completely free.
To make things easier on yourself, don't forget to drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Prague. The lighter you travel, the easier it will be to get to all the free things to do in Prague, and the more fun you'll have exploring this unique place.
Old Town Square
Old Town Square is virtually impossible to avoid. The historic heart of Prague, this impressive square is home to some of the city's top attractions and within walking distance of many more. Plus, Old Town Square is an attraction all by itself. Prague is a city that is very much on the tourist radar now, and so the opportunities for people-watching here are limitless. Taking a seat at a sidewalk café or restaurant table isn't free, but just spending some time in the square and soaking up the atmosphere is, making it one of the best free things to do in Prague.
To get more out of your time in Old Town Square, consider taking a free walking tour that will explain more about the history and importance of this area. Free walking tours aren't hard to find in this part of the city, and they can give you a good grounding in the history of Prague. If nothing else, they will give you a good idea of places you might want to visit for yourself. And if you prefer a self-guided walk, check out some of the best hikes in Prague.
The Old Town Square is also home to one of the city's top free attractions. Prague's Astronomical Clock, installed in 1410, is the oldest still-functioning astronomical clock in the world, and a true icon of the city. Legend has it that the famous astronomical clock, located at the bottom of the Old Town Hall Tower, is cursed, and when the spooky figures come to life on the hour, you'll understand why someone might think that. Watching the astronomical clock do its thing is completely free, but you'll probably have to jostle for space among the crowd. Still, it's undoubtedly one of the best free things to do in Prague.
Another of the city's top tourist attractions, Charles Bridge connects Old Town to Prague Castle over the Vltava River, and has therefore been an important street in the city since it was built in 1357. Keep an eye out for the statues that line the bridge, which is said to bring good luck to those who touch them. Along the way, you'll be entertained by the many street performers that set up in this area to amuse the tourist crowds. You also get incredible views not just of the bridge but of Prague Castle and Prague Old Town.
Prague Castle is one of the city's top tourist attractions, and it's no wonder why. Occupying a hill overlooking the Old Town and the Vltava River, the sprawling castle complex is considered by many to be the largest castle in the world. It's also been the seat of power in the Czech Republic for centuries, and remains the home of the President to this day.
Unfortunately, visiting Prague Castle isn't free. But there are so many attractions up on the hill that you can have a fun day hanging out here without spending a penny. You can enter part of the grand St Vitus Cathedral without paying, though if you want to see it all you'll need to buy a ticket. Also, just wandering through the cobblestone streets and soaking up the Gothic architecture is worth doing, and won't cost you anything.
One of the best free things to do in Prague is located close to Prague Castle. The Golden Lane got its name from the fact that it was home to many of the city's goldsmiths during the 17th century. But now, it's better known for the well-preserved medieval architecture that makes this small street famous. Taking a stroll down here feels like taking a trip back in time. It's no wonder the area has been home to some of the city's most famous residents over the years, including writer Franz Kafka.
As part of the larger Prague Castle complex, Golden Lane isn't free to visit during the day. However, when the rest of the complex closes at 5 PM, you can visit Golden Lane completely free. And in many ways, this ancient street is even more atmospheric after the sun goes down, earning its place on this list of free things to do in Prague.
On the subject of atmospheric and historical places to visit in Prague, they don't come much better than the old Jewish Cemetery. Prague was a center of Jewish life in central Europe for centuries, and at one point had one of the largest Jewish populations anywhere in the world. The oldest gravestone in this stunning cemetery dates back to the 15th century, and the cemetery offers an oasis of tranquility and calm in the center of a busy city. It's also located in the former Jewish quarter of the city, which is an interesting neighborhood to explore in its own right. If you can find a free walking tour of the Jewish quarter, you should definitely avail yourself of the opportunity to learn more about the turbulent history of this ancient community. As always with free walking tours, don't forget to tip your guide.
John Lennon Wall
John Lennon remains one of the world's most iconic and beloved celebrities, even decades after his untimely death. There are monuments to this gifted songwriter around the world, including in Prague. Prague's John Lennon Wall, located in Mala Strana on the opposite side of the river from Old Town Square, is a graffiti-covered tribute to the life and work of this iconic figure by local street artists. And it's one of the most popular free things to do in the city.
Fans of John Lennon or the Beatles shouldn't miss this opportunity to pay their respects. You don't need to be a John Lennon fan to be moved by this memorial. It's a testament to how much art means to people around the world, and how music can break down barriers.
Church of Our Lady Victorious
Also located in Mala Strana, the Church of Our Lady Victorious and the Infant Jesus of Prague is one of the city's most popular free things to do. This church is famous for a 400-year-old statue of the baby Jesus which is dressed in a selection of ever-changing costumes and is said to have healing powers. Whether you're a believer or not, seeing the offerings and prayers directed at the infant Jesus of Prague is a fascinating spectacle, and forms a good counterpoint to the nearby John Lennon Wall.
Beautiful Christmas markets are a centuries-old tradition in Europe, and Prague is home to some justifiably famous Christmas markets. If you're in the city at the right time of year to enjoy them, the Christmas markets are one of the best things to do in Prague with kids, as well as being one of the best free things to do in the city.
Take a wander through the stalls, listening to the music, enjoying the lights, and savoring the smell of mulled wine dancing on the air. The Old Town Square has a particularly beautiful Christmas market, but is just one of several in the city during the holiday season. Of course, it may take some serious self-control to avoid spending any money at the many food and craft stalls you'll find at the Christmas markets. But the atmosphere is free for anyone to enjoy.
Petrin Lookout Tower
Located on a hill overlooking the city, the Petrin Lookout Tower is one of Prague's most famous attractions. This former radio tower was built to resemble Paris's Eiffel Tower, and the tower is now one of Prague's top tourist attractions. Unfortunately, the tower doesn't offer free entry, so you'll need to part with a little bit of money if you want to ride to the top. However, the tower is located in a sprawling park that rises up to the top of the hill, making it an excellent place to stretch your legs and go for a walk. And even without going up into the tower, you'll enjoy incredible views over the city that make for the perfect photo opportunity.
Wallenstein Palace Gardens
The Wallenstein Palace dates back to 1630 and was once the home of one of the most powerful noblemen of the period. Now, it's the home of the Czech senate. But what makes the palace one of the best free things to do in the city is the fabulous Wallenstein Gardens.
The Wallenstein Gardens are a beautifully landscaped public park in Italian style. The gardens even contain an artificial lake with an island. And in the summer, the Wallenstein Palace Gardens host free concerts by the FOK Prague Symphony Orchestra. These events are understandably popular, so make sure you get there early. There's really no better way to spend an evening in Prague and it's completely free.
If you're a major music fan, you should also make time to visit the Czech Museum of Music. Just a few minutes' walk from the Charles Bridge, this museum is generally free of the tourist crowds you'll find at other attractions. Admission is free on the first Thursday of every month, and the historical collection of musical instruments is definitely worth a look for musicians visiting Prague. The Czech Museum of Music is a hidden gem of Prague Old Town, and one of the many great free things to do when you visit Prague.
Prague may not be the bargain destination it used to be for travelers from Western Europe. But there's enough free stuff to do in the town that you should have no reason to get bored. With all the churches, street performers, beer halls, and museums there are in Prague, you'll be able to keep yourself entertained without spending too much. Even a popular tourist attraction like the Church of Our Lady Victorious offers free entry, making it a great way to save money.
So drop off your unneeded baggage at a Bounce luggage storage in Prague and enjoy some of these free activities. Who says a great vacation has to cost a lot of money?