The Czech Republic’s capital city Prague is packed with fantastic attractions like the historic Charles Bridge, the fascinating astronomical clock and bustling Wenceslas Square. It’s not hard to see why millions of tourists visit the historic city each year. But beyond these famous attractions, there are hidden gems that you won’t find in a guidebook. I got a glimpse at Prague beyond the guidebook and here is what I discovered…
Cemeteries can be cool
I’m not normally the type of person who’ll go out of my way to visit a cemetery, but Vyšehrad Cemetery is the exception to that rule. You’ll find the cemetery on the grounds of the Vyšehrad fort. Although it’s surrounded by thick bushes and trees, there is nothing eerie about it. It’s actually a rather peaceful place with some poignant sculptures that pay tribute to the deceased. The centrepiece of the cemetery is the large Slavín tomb, which is why it is sometimes referred to as Slavín Cemetery. While you’re there you can enjoy great views of the city from Vyšehrad Castle.
Artistic treasures are found in the most unexpected places
A library is not really the place one would expect to find artistic treasures in, but that’s exactly where you’ll find some of the most fabulous frescoes in Prague. The Strahov Monastery library has impressive frescoes that date back to the early 1700s, decorating the Theological Hall and the Philosophical Hall. There is also a cabinet in the passage that connects the two halls, which holds ceramics, Hussite weapons, and ancient books. Most visitors are content to look from behind ropes that prevent you from walking into the halls, but you can arrange (if you’re persistent and don’t mind waiting months for a reply!) a guided tour with one of the curators. I felt the only downside to the library was that in addition to the admission fee, you had to pay extra if you want to take any photos. A word of advice on that note, there are some grumpy old ladies working there who make sure everybody follows the rules; don’t try to sneak a quick photo!
You’ll miss out if you’re not looking for it
Although you’ll find Vrtba Garden in all the guidebooks, if you’re not looking for it, it’s really easy to miss. The magnificent garden is carved into the slope of Petřín Hill, nestled behind Vrtba Palace, and is a stunning example of Prague’s Baroque gardens. The well-hidden garden is terraced and kept in immaculate condition, with meticulously cut hedges and baroque statues. From the top terrace there are great views of Prague Castle and the red roofs of the Mala Strana. Although the garden is small, I think it is well worth the admission fee, which as a bonus includes access to clean toilets! The garden is only open from April to October. Although it’s well-hidden you can find it at Karmelitská 25. Just look for the archway with the sign that says “Vrtbovska Zahrada” which will take you through a passage right to the gardens.
Puppet shows are not just for children
Marionette theatre (puppet theatre) has a long tradition of entertainment in Prague, and these puppet shows are not just for children. Just a short walk from the Old Town Square you’ll find the National Marionette Theatre. The excellent music and visuals means you don’t need to understand any Czech to enjoy the productions. You can get a close-up look and appreciate the artistic craftsmanship of the puppets at the Marionette Museum.
Visiting a nuclear bunker can be the highlight of your trip
How many people can say they’ve been inside a nuclear bunker? If you have any interest in history, a nuclear bunker tour is something that may not appear in guidebooks but is an absolute must! This ex-Soviet bunker was created during the Cold War five stories under the ground. It’s packed with paraphernalia including gas masks, medical kits, weapons and uniforms. The guide is very knowledgeable and fun…they even let you play dress up! It’s a great way to learn about the history of Prague and the Cold War. You can only visit the bunker by taking a guided tour which you can book here.
We have a wide selection of holiday homes in Prague, perfect for exploring the city.
Have you visited? What are your favourite hidden gems?