First Impression of Prague: A Captivating Blend of History, Beauty, and Bohemian Flair


I arrived at Prague taking a night train from Budapest, Hungary at the ungodly hour of 4 o’clock in the Czech Republic traveling to the capital. The entire railway station is practically a ghost town.  It was a little eerie and then frustrating that the ATM was not working correctly and just spitting my card back out …no thanks, good luck and welcome to Prague, not quite the first impression of Prague I wanted to have. Fortunately, there was another ATM from another bank in the building,  and finally, some Koruna (crowns) came out of the ATM. Now finding a cab was the next problem because we could not find a single cab waiting in the station pick up zone that early in the morning. So thinking out of the box, we decide to haul our suitcases outside the station and found another cab zone with a large Mercedes waiting for rides. We quickly pile in and quickly ride into the dark streets and then enter a highway.  In a short time, we arrive at the edge of the Old Town and the driver stops in front of our hotel.  Everything is deadly quiet outside,  and I’m really hoping that our hotel can either serve us an early breakfast, let us hang out at the lobby or better yet, let us check in early at 5am in the morning.

Good news, the hotel check in is open and the manager is very gracious about our early arrival and offers us an open room that early in the morning. I am so grateful for this and crash instantly on the oh so comfortable bed for a few hours. Afterwards, I take a really nice long hot shower to shake off the uncomfortable night train from Budapest to Prague and relaxing before getting my first impression of Prague.

Exploring Prague’s main attractions in old town

A first impression of Prague - Travel Photo Mondays - main square and town hall tower
Prague main square and town hall tower

Hotel check in and a guided tour

Our hotel Clement, is conveniently located in the historic central district with just a short walk to Prague’s main square, called Staroměstské náměstí. This expansive square has been in existence since its founding in 1230 and is filled with so many spectacular monuments and stunning architecture. We book a local guide with Prague City Tourism to take us on a tour of some of the main attractions in the city starting with the main square. The first thing you notice is the impressive  town hall and tower towards the middle of the square. I find out the tower has stunning views of the entire city that I will show you below and it really is amazing!

Old Town Hall Tower & Astronomical Clock in Prague
Old Town Hall Tower & Astronomical Clock in Prague


The main town square of Prague

The town square has always been the center of life in medieval Prague as a place for gatherings, events, market days and daily social life. Our guide takes us into the old town hall now converted into a museum, welcome center including some unique sections of the building we get to explore on the tour.  Finished in the 1380, it was a representative building serving important cultural and social gatherings. We check out the various assembly rooms, the tall main tower overlooking the square, a small chapel used to pray before assembly of the various guilds and government people doing business, the backside of the astronomical clock, and finally an extensive cellar underground that covers the town hall and many other adjacent buildings throughout the old town. It’s a wonderful first impression and a highlight of what to do in Prague and the old town.

Astronomical Clock in Prague
Astronomical Clock in Prague

The Astronomical Clock

There is a huge clock tower that you can now take an elevator ride up to the observation area to enjoy the views of the city.  Even though the visits are timed for the elevator ride up the tower, there is plenty of time to check all the magnificent views of the entire city.  It just seems like an endless sea of red tile roofs all over Prague with some key monuments peeking out above loved the old central district of the city. Everything looks so immaculate that it almost looks like a miniature model city from above the clock tower.

View from above at the Old town tower in Prague
View from above at the Old town tower in Prague

The main square of Prague

The main square of Prague, known as Old Town Square, is a captivating hub of history and culture. Surrounded by stunning architecture, the square showcases a harmonious blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. At the center of the square stands the iconic Astronomical Clock, a medieval marvel that attracts crowds with its hourly display of moving figures.

The square is adorned with magnificent buildings, including the Church of Our Lady before Týn, with its striking spires, and the Old Town Hall, featuring a towering observation tower offering panoramic views of the city. Lined with charming cafes, shops, and street performers, the square exudes a lively atmosphere. Whether you’re admiring the architectural splendor, immersing yourself in the history, or simply enjoying the vibrant ambiance, the main square of Prague is a must-visit destination that encapsulates the city’s timeless allure.

Tip – If you have time visit the Astronomical Clock to get these amazing views of the town square and surrounding areas.

A scenic panorama of Prague from the Old town tower
A scenic panorama of Prague from the Old town tower

A view from above

The sprawling medieval square below are filled with visitors in the early morning hours until late in the evening when the square is filled with street performers and the cafes are sprawled out into the square and open late into the night. The looming church over the main square is the church of Our Lady before Tyn. The guide tells us that this gothic three nave structure was built in 1365 on the ruins of an old Romanesque church.  The interior of the church is mostly done in the ornate baroque style with the main baroque altar representing the suffering of Christ. The exterior twin bell towers were built consecutively in the 15th to 16th centuries.  There are so many interesting facts about Prague and the guide shares quite a few stories and important facts of Prague’s development during the tour to highlight the history of the city.

When you do visit the main square, make sure that you do take the opportunity  check out the beautiful interior details and baroque altar.

Looking down Prague's old town square (Staroměstské náměstí)
Looking down Prague’s old town square (Staroměstské náměstí)


Prague’s Mala Strana

Up at the tower, our guide points out the major landmarks from above including Prague castle and cathedral (below).  Located across the Vltava river is the Mala Strana (Little Quarter) and has many of the important medieval monuments that became part of the Bohemian kingdom. The guide shares that during Charles IV rein in 1316-78, Prague for the first time  and was the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor and the King of Bohemia. From his rule, the city was the ruling center of Bohemia and the entire medieval Holy Roman Empire and one of the most important cities of its time in all of Europe.

Looking towards Prague castle and St. Vitus cathedral
Looking towards Prague castle and St. Vitus cathedral


 Czech glass used in the Old Town Hall

Beautiful Czech glass and bronze in Prague's old town hall
Beautiful Czech glass and bronze in Prague’s old town hall

Checking out the astronomical clock

While touring the inside of the town hall, I learn more about the wonderful astronomical clock with rotating animated sculpted figures. This clock was one of the first timepieces created in all of medieval Europe and is a main draw for visitors seeing the main square and the hourly clock animation show. During the visit, we are able to get close to the rotating figures behind the timepiece and take photographs of them. They are almost made in  human scale, so it really is impressive seeing the details up close.

Close up detail of the rotating figures of Prague's Astronomical Clock
Close up detail of the rotating figures of Prague’s Astronomical Clock

 Beautiful stained glass and painted ceilings of the Old Town Hall chapel

The ornate chapel in Prague's old town hall
The ornate chapel in Prague’s old town hall
Assembly room in Prague's Old Town Hall
Assembly room in Prague’s Old Town Hall


Underground cellars of the Old town square

The downstairs cellars to the town hall are fascinating and huge. They also seem to be connected to many other cellars of the entire old town and medieval past. Not totally cellars, I find out that these cellars were the original ground floors to many establishments around the old town. The guide tells us that when the New town was developed, the excess dirt was placed surrounding the areas of the old town to elevate it from the Vltava river to prevent any flooding from happening to the old town. Eventually many of these cellar rooms were closed off and almost forgotten until recently when a variety of interest in the old town and cellars created new tours underground.

Prague's historic cellars in the Old Town Hall
Prague’s historic cellars in the Old Town Hall
Carriage rides waiting in Prague's main square
Carriage rides waiting in Prague’s main square

Walking through the various sections of the city, you can’t help but look up everywhere at all the stunning architecture created in different styles and time frames. Covering several periods ranging from Medieval, Gothic, Beaux arts, classical renaissance to modern Polish and Stalin influences, it’s all dazzling to see so much variety and almost perfectly maintained structures. Walking around each district in the old town, you get to see a rich architectural history with such beautiful details in the doorways, portals and even the façade decorations of the various buildings – including the images below with magnificent details.

Gorgeous architecture in Prague's historic central district
Gorgeous architecture in Prague’s historic central district

Prague’s Jewish Quarter

We tour through the neighboring Jewish district in Prague next to the town hall and the area is now converted to chic promenades with all the trendy designer names and boutiques.  Further down from the shopping promenades are the main areas that contain more of the Jewish monuments and synagogues along with the Jewish cemetery being one of the most well preserved monuments of Prague’s Jewish town. I find out there are 12,000 gravestones but they do not account for all the true amount of people interred in the cemetery.

Unusual and artistic period doorways in Prague
Unusual and artistic period doorways in Prague
Painted façade detail in Prague's historic central district
Painted façade detail in Prague’s historic central district

Vltava river waterfront area

We finally make it to the main river that divides the city, called the Vltava river.  We walk close to the shoreline and finally come across to the Rudolfinum which is a Neo Renaissance style building that is the major concert hall that houses the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. There are also many galleries within the building where daily concerts are held of classical music masters of the day including Chopin, Vivaldi, Strauss and Beethoven.

The Rudolfinum housing the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
The Rudolfinum housing the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Scenic Vltava River

Fronting the Rudolfinum is the Vltava river which separates Prague’s Old Town to the Mala Strana with the Bohemian castle and cathedral on one of the peaks overlooking the new town. It is also a wonderful place to explore this new district of Prague but I will save it for another post on the rest of the city which really is filled with amazing treasures and landmarks. I’m so glad that I had read this post from the Venturist on nine things that you much eat and drink in Prague. I ended up looking for and trying almost everything on the list except the Pho which I can get where I live in San Francisco. We were able to check off quite a few of these fun things to do in Prague list which I had researched earlier on cool things to do and we had a busy and full day touring the entire city.

Views of Prague's New Town, castle and cathedral across the Vltava River
Views of Prague’s New Town, castle and cathedral across the Vltava River


Traditional foods to eat in Prague

When exploring Prague, be sure to indulge in the city’s traditional cuisine, which offers a delightful blend of hearty flavors and local specialties. Here are some traditional foods to savor during your visit:

Goulash (Guláš): This savory stew is a Czech favorite, featuring tender chunks of beef or pork cooked with onions, paprika, and other spices. Served with bread dumplings (knedlíky) or potato dumplings (bramborové knedlíky), goulash is a comforting and satisfying dish.


Svíčková: This iconic Czech dish consists of marinated beef sirloin cooked with root vegetables, onions, and spices. It is typically served with a creamy sauce made from the cooking juices, along with a side of bread dumplings and a dollop of cranberry sauce.


Trdelník: A popular street food snack, trdelník is a sweet pastry made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a cylinder, grilled, and then coated with sugar and cinnamon. It’s a delightful treat that can be enjoyed plain or filled with ice cream, Nutella, or other sweet fillings.


Bramborák: These crispy potato pancakes are a Czech specialty. Made from grated potatoes mixed with onions, garlic, and herbs, they are fried until golden brown and served as a delicious side dish or a snack.


Smažený sýr: A beloved Czech comfort food, smažený sýr is deep-fried cheese, typically made from Edam or Gouda. The cheese is coated in breadcrumbs, fried until golden and crispy, and served with tartar sauce or a side of fries.


Czech Beer (Pivo): Prague is renowned for its excellent beer culture, and trying a local brew is a must. From the famous Pilsner Urquell to the rich and velvety Czech dark lagers, there is a beer to suit every taste.

These are just a few examples of the traditional foods that Prague has to offer. Exploring the city’s culinary scene will introduce you to a delightful array of flavors and dishes that reflect Czech culture and heritage. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor these delicious treats during your visit to Prague.

Weather and best time to visit Prague

Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, experiences a temperate climate with distinct seasons. The best time to visit Prague largely depends on your preferences for weather and the type of activities you’d like to enjoy.

Spring (March to May): Spring is a wonderful time to visit Prague. The city comes alive as temperatures start to rise, and the parks and gardens begin to bloom. March can still be chilly, but by May, you can expect mild and pleasant weather. It’s a great time for sightseeing and enjoying outdoor activities.

Summer (June to August): Summer is the peak tourist season in Prague. The weather is warm to hot, with temperatures often reaching the mid-20s to low 30s degrees Celsius (70s to 90s Fahrenheit). The city is bustling with tourists, and you can enjoy longer daylight hours for exploring the historic sites, outdoor cafes, and riverside walks. However, be prepared for crowds and higher prices.

Autumn (September to November): Many consider autumn to be the best time to visit Prague. The weather is still pleasant in September with temperatures in the high teens to low 20s degrees Celsius (60s to 70s Fahrenheit). As the season progresses, you’ll experience the beautiful fall foliage. By November, it starts getting chilly, but the city’s charm remains.

Winter (December to February): If you don’t mind the cold and want to experience a more tranquil side of Prague, winter can be a good time to visit. December is particularly charming with its Christmas markets, and you might get to see Prague covered in snow, which adds to its magical atmosphere. Just be prepared for shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures, often dropping below freezing.

In summary, the best time to visit Prague is in the spring (April to May) or autumn (September to October) when the weather is mild, and the city is less crowded. However, if you enjoy warm weather and don’t mind the crowds, the summer months of June to August are also a great time to visit. Winter can be a beautiful time to experience the city’s festive atmosphere, bu

Accommodations in Prague

Well it really has been a full day touring Prague and I’m ready to crash for the night. Fortunately, we are staying in the city center just outside of the old town at the Hotel Clement. Really it is the ideal location in a very quiet corner of the city but very close access to the main square and many of the important tourist zones and neighborhoods worth visiting.

I’m really fond of boutique hotels that go the extra mile and this was just the perfect stay in a luxurious room with a gorgeous view of the old city and some of the major monuments close by. Our room on the top floor had all the privacy and yet wonderful setting with a balcony to enjoy some private time and views of the city.

Bedroom scene at Hotel Clement, Prague city center
Bedroom scene at Hotel Clement, Prague city center


A large spacious and well appointed room with bright and large windows and a doorway to an outdoor balcony. There is a large office area and chair with a flat screen TV if you prefer viewing from the bed or office set up.  The room is decorated in bold, black, white and red graphic colors and tastefully done in color blocking to give the room energy and a contemporary vibe even though it is an older classical building. Other nice features include free and fast wifi, satellite TVand upgraded Gevalia coffee service.

Bathroom details at Hotel Clement, Prague city center
Bathroom details at Hotel Clement, Prague city center


The bathroom is spacious and modern in neutral colors with nice shower and separate hand shower attachment. You get a full line of bath amenities including plenty of plush towels available in a storage rack and a hair dryer.

Outdoor private balcony, Hotel Clement, Prague
Outdoor private balcony, Hotel Clement, Prague

Overall our stay at the Hotel Clement was perfect for the location, beautiful room and wonderful breakfast service. To find out more details about the hotel, you can visit their website here.

Enjoyed the post, check out these other Prague posts

15 stunning views of Prague

Prague’s cool street and public art

Eating and touring Prague in one day

Exploring Prague’s Archaeological and ancient sites

Best hostels to stay in Prague

Plan your trip to the Czech Republic

Conclusion to a first impression of Prague

Prague leaves an indelible mark on visitors with its enchanting beauty, rich history, and vibrant atmosphere. From the magnificent architecture that adorns the city to the charming cobblestone streets and the warm hospitality of its people, Prague captivates the senses and stirs the soul. Exploring the main square with its iconic landmarks, savoring traditional Czech cuisine, and immersing oneself in the city’s cultural treasures are experiences that create lasting memories. Prague’s first impression is one of awe and wonder, where every corner reveals a new layer of its captivating past and a glimpse into its vibrant present. Whether you’re wandering through the historical sites or simply soaking in the unique atmosphere, Prague is a destination that lingers in the heart long after the visit is over.

Thanks for visiting today, hope enjoyed this A first impression of Prague – Travel Photo Mondays. If so, please share the post with any of the social media buttons located around the post. Also, please do check out the bloggers below participating in today’s Travel Photo Mondays.

Thank you to Prague city tourism and Prague tours for hosting me on this visit and tour of the city, all opinions and thoughts are my own.

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