Written by Eva Christiansen
This day is designed to take you around to some of Prague´s most impressive sights, and scale the heights for some breathtaking views of a breathtaking city. It´s an inexpensive, action packed day so good shoes are recommended, as well as an extra layer. Tip: save this trip for a clear day, when you can devote at least 6 hours.
Start your day by taking a tram to the stop called “Ujezd.” The 22 and 23 go there, or it´s a short walk across the river from National Theatre. If you´ve not eaten breakfast, grab a bagel to go from Bohemia Bagel – you can fuel up as you wait in line for the funicular. The funicular is located across the street, at the base of Petrin hill. Facing the tree-covered hill, you´ll see the Communist Memorial – sculptures on a wide staircase – on the left. On the right, is the base station of the funicular – or “Lanovy Drah.” It´s a cable car that goes up and down the slope from 9:15 AM to 8:45 PM. The price to ride is just one ticket, same as anywhere else – so if you have a multi-day pass or are still within the valid timeframe from an earlier ticket, that is enough.
Every 15 minutes the funicular picks up another load of passengers and glides up the hill. The second and final stop is at the top of Petrin hill. Veer to the right, and you will find yourself headed towards an observation tower that looks like the Eiffel Tower It was designed to be a replica. If you´re up for it, an entrance fee of 60 krones allows you to ascend to the top, for unrivalled views. See if you can spot Prague Castle and the futuristic TV tower – your next views will be from there. After you´ve returned to the bottom of Petrin Hill, either by the same funicular or one of the pleasantly winding paths, you can catch the 22 or 23 trams going towards a stop called “Praszky Hrad.” That´s the Prague Castle, and you will know you´ve arrived because the bulk of the passenger get off there. It comes right after a stop called “Belvedere.” The castle is a place you can easily spend several days exploring – but for the purposes of this “Day of Views,” head straight for the tallest structure you see – St. Vitus Cathedral. Entrance into the castle is free, but the climb the 300 or so steps of the church tower costs around 60 krones.
The workout alone is worth that – and the view of the castle grounds alone is impressive. Now that you´ve seen the best there is at the castle, you can continue on your mission. Leave the cathedral and continue through the rest of the castle complex, until you emerge on the other side – through the gates with uniformed guards – and see a wide terrace. If you like, take a few moments to enjoy the views from here. But not too long – there are even more spectacular views waiting. To the right, a wide set of stairs leads down the hill, with many merchants selling their souvenirs. At the base, there is a metro stop for the “A”, or green line. The stop is called “Malostranska” If you´re starving, grab a “Parek” at the hot dog stand, but if you can wait half an hour, you´ll be glad you did. Making sure your ticket is time stamped, board the metro headed towards “Skalka”, not “Dejvicka.” After five stops, you´ll arrive at Jiriho Z Podebrad, which is where you exit and look about you to spot the TV tower. If it´s not immediately visible, it´s just because the buildings aground the exit you chose is blocking the view. Walk around a little, you won´t get lost, and the tower will loom into view.
As you walk towards it, note the crawling babies going up and down – a wonderful example of large-scale experimental outdoor art, by Czech artist David Cerny. A small entrance fee allows you to ride up the tower elevator, and if you´re ready to take your meal, there are two restaurants to choose from, one slightly more casual than the other, but both recommendable. There is also an excellent observation deck slightly further up. From here you can see all of Prague – right to the outskirts with all the high-rise apartment developments. But best of all, you´ll see the spots you previously stood in – Prague Castle and Petrin Hill´s “Mini Eiffel”.