Travis and I are outdoor folks at heart, so sometimes it’s hard for us to get excited about visiting big cities. Despite having really cool attractions to see, a big city trip requires a level of planning we’d rather avoid: the necessity of pre-booking accommodations, figuring out public transportation in an unfamiliar city vs. the convenience of driving, visiting popular attractions with thousands of others in a constant crush of humanity, and the dilemma of what to do with our dog when she’s with us and we have a mixed itinerary – some sites dog-friendly, others not. Sometimes the stress alone of just planning a city trip leads us to procrastinate right out of going! The problem is that so many of the best things to see in Europe are in cities. This year, we found out about the annual Easter event held in Prague. The city was already on our bucket list because of a number of unique things to do in Prague, so the promise of additional holiday festivities motivated us to head to Prague for a long Easter weekend.
Our first tip is to book your lodging well in advance! Spring is still off-season for travel to the Czech Republic, but the Easter festival draws a huge number of visitors. Most of them want to stay in or near Old Town, which is where the main Easter Market takes place. Budget accommodations are snapped up quickly, leaving mostly overpriced and luxury rooms available for booking.
Since we didn’t book lodging in advance, we stopped at Triocamp when we arrived in Prague. A campground and RV park on the outskirts of the city, it was perfect for our needs – cheap, quiet, dog-friendly, and right on the bus line to Prague. We booked it for several nights with plans for it to be our home base. We could take day trips from Prague from there, drive into the city, or leave our car parked at the campground and bus in.
If you’re able, plan on spending at least two entire days exploring Prague, especially if you want to visit the Easter Market. One day will allow you to explore Old Town and the attractions listed in this post. We recommend spending Easter itself at Prague Castle. See our post about Prague Castle for useful travel info about where to park when visiting the castle and other attractions not to miss in the area.
Keep in mind that if you’re driving to Old Town Prague, traffic can be challenging. The city has several parking garages that are a short walk from Old Town. We recommend parking your car there for the day and exploring the city by foot.
We did just that - park in a garage and walk to Old Town. But first, we had to make our way from where we were tent camping at Triocamp to the parking garage. With trusty map app in hand and Travis bravely at the wheel, we entered the city from the east. Impressed by the light traffic on the Saturday before Easter, I actually started to wonder if folks had left Prague for the holiday weekend. In reality, they'd all just beaten us to Old Town!
We were doing great until our route abruptly ended in a barrier across the road with no marked detour. A mass of construction blocked our path. With no place to go, Travis abruptly turned right down a narrow cobblestone lane, drove up a few stairs, and a block later, descended a curb to return to the main road from where he'd been driving on the sidewalk. I think we're even now for my misadventure driving down the train tracks in Zaragoza.
Unfortunately, the driving mishaps in Prague didn't end there.
Minutes after pulling over to scope out a new route on our map, we were back en route. Crossing an intersection, Travis entered a one-way street the wrong way. Immediately realizing his error, Travis pulled wide to swing a U-turn out of the way of oncoming traffic, pulling up right in front of a parked police car. When they immediately hit their lights, I started fishing around for our car registration, already expecting a ticket. At least Travis hadn't still been driving on the sidewalk while going down the one-way illegally.
One of the officers approached our car, listened briefly as Trav explained our mistake, and realized we were obviously tourists. Nodding in understanding, he merely waved us on our way!
But that wasn't the end of it.
Incredibly grateful and eager to put some distance between the police car and us, we heaved a joint sigh of relief, then allowed them to pull out in front of us. Falling in behind, we turned left in the direction they'd pointed. They turned left also. At the next intersection, we still were unsure where to go but continued to follow them, afraid to make a colossal driving error while behind a cop.
We were still behind them several blocks later when they came to a near stop in our lane, put on their blinker to go left, then slowly continued straight. Even though they didn't know for sure where we were going, they'd led us back to the main highway to downtown. They'd even signaled us where to turn! On Easter weekend somewhere in downtown Prague, we received a personal police escort.
Needless to say, we were relieved and extra excited to finally reach the parking garage. We walked the few blocks to Old Town, then spent the rest of the day immersing ourselves in the festive sights and sounds of the Easter Market. These are our favorite highlights. Make sure not to miss them during your holiday visit to Prague.
1. Watch the Astronomical Clock Strike the Hour
The most famous attraction in Prague is probably the 600-year-old Prague Astronomical Clock.
Built in 1410, legend says that the Imperial clockmaker, Mikuláš of Kadaň, was blinded after he finished the clock so he couldn’t recreate it. One hundred years passed before another clockmaker was able to repair the clock. It has since survived wars, uprisings, and fires, including an attack by Nazis in 1945 that left the Old Town Hall virtually destroyed.
The clock is located on the southern wall of the town hall. Every hour between 9 am and 11 pm, visitors gather to watch the 12 apostles begin their procession to mark the passage of time.
2. See the Oldest Organ in Prague
Immediately across the square from the Prague Astronomical Clock is the Gothic Church of Our Lady Before Týn. It towers over the numerous booths that vendors set up every year for the Easter Market.
The church is home to the oldest pipe organ in Prague and dates from the 17th century.
3. Listen to the Bells of St Nicholas Cathedral
Another massive cathedral, St. Nicholas’, squares off with Our Lady before Týn – because one imposing cathedral in a square is never enough.
4. Buy a Traditional Hand-Painted Easter Egg
You can easily spend several hours wandering among the rows of vendors selling handmade wool slippers, silver jewelry twined around gemstones, and tasty edibles.
The star of the Easter Market, though, are the delicately painted eggs laid out in tidy rows of white boxes. Known as kraslice in Czech, they’re made with everything from bee’s wax and straw to onion peel and watercolors.
5. Savor a Warm, Sweet Trdelnik
The spicy scent of trdelniks cooking over a bed of hot coals fills the air. Not even the strongest will power can resist ordering one of these sweet desserts.
Trdelniks are a sweet pastry – a spit cake made of dough grilled around a wooden stick and brushed with sugar and often crushed walnuts.
If you love them, you’ll be pleased to discover they’re not exclusive to Prague, or even the Czech Republic. In fact, it’s believed that trdelniks originated in the Hungarian-speaking part of Transylvania, Romania, where they’re known as kürtőskalács. Since they’re heavily marketed to tourists, you’ll often find them across Central Europe at popular tourist attractions.
6. Sip a Hot Glass of Medovina
The festival offers plenty of stands selling hot apple cider, mulled wine, “punch,” and medovina.
The mulled wine is similar to what you’ll find elsewhere in Europe. Known as Glühwein in Germany, you’ll see it as Svařák in Czech. Typically it’s made with red wine, cinnamon, cloves, and sometimes a little sugar. It’s my personal favorite!
Czech hot “punch” is another alcoholic beverage that’s popular during the colder months in Prague. It’s similar to mulled wine but also has either fruit or fruit juice and liquor, often rum or brandy.
Medovina is a type of mead – an alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey and water. Sometimes it’s flavored with vanilla, spices, or fruit juice. Some stands offer free samples, so if you haven’t tried it and aren’t sure you’ll like it, ask for a small taste. Stands that sell medovina also often sell jars of honey. Consider buying a jar to support the local honeybee farmers.
Note that the legal limit for drinking and driving in the Czech Republic is zero. That means that even if you've only had one small drink, you're likely over the legal limit. If you're planning to drink at the Easter Market, make arrangements so you don't have to drive.
7. Pet a Goat at the Petting Zoo
Beneath a tree hung with brightly colored Easter balloons, a petting zoo is set up with a handful of farm animals. It’s really popular with the kids, but animal lovers of all ages enjoy it. Give the friendly goat a scratch and laugh at the roly poly pony.
Keep in mind that if you have a dog, it might enjoy meeting the farm animals, but they might not enjoy meeting your dog!
8. Walk Over the Charles Bridge
Following the curve of the Vltava River where it snakes through Prague, you’ll reach the Charles Bridge Tower at the entrance of Charles Bridge, then the famous bridge itself. It’s not far from the Old Town Square.
Standing since the 14th century, the bridge was once a path for kings during coronation. Some say that the architect in charge of building the bridge mixed eggs in with the mortar for extra strength. Before the construction of the Charles Bridge, another had stood in its place for nearly 200 years. It was destroyed in a flood in 1342.
Visitors can climb both of the towers on either side of the bridge for views of the city and the river.
Now, Charles Bridge is an incredibly popular tourist attraction. Expect large throngs of tourists, day and night.
9. Enjoy the Sunset Over the Vltava River
The waterfront is a superb place to watch the sunset. For the best views of the Vltava River and Prague Castle beyond, stake out a spot along the east bank of the river just north of Charles Bridge.
10. Visit Old Town Prague at Night
If you have the chance to visit Old Town Prague during the night and night, we highly recommend it. Even more, the square is transformed at night, more closely resembling what it might’ve been like hundreds of years ago. In particular, the Church of Our Lady before Týn is lit up in Gothic splendor.
During Easter weekend, Old Town is a great place to track down dinner from one of the many food vendors. The rest of the year, restaurants offer endless options for visitors.
12. Indulge in a Fish Pedicure
If you’re exhausted from exploring all the Easter festivities, you can treat your feet to a fish pedicure. They’re banned in a handful of US states due to safety concerns, but they’re growing in popularity across Europe and Asia.
We didn’t try it, but this pair clearly seems to be enjoying themselves!
While this list includes all the best activities near Old Town over Easter weekend, it’s missing several of the best things to do in Prague. There simply isn’t time to see and do everything in one day.
For those interested in spending Easter Day at Prague Castle – sampling “stuffed chimneys,” visiting the magnificent St. Vitus Cathedral, and trying to dodge your first bona fide Czech spanking – you’ll want to read our other post about Easter at Prague Castle.
The Prague Pass is a discount city card for entry into multiple attractions for one low price.
If you’re visiting on Easter weekend or during other festivities when street vendors are set up in Old Town Square, it’s a good idea to bring some local currency – Czech korunas, also called Czech crowns or written as CZK. If you don’t have it, some booths accept euros and will give change in korunas.