Travel to the capital city of the Czech Republic and you’re bound to visit the top landmark in Prague – the Prague Castle. The Prague Castle is located in the Castle District or Hradčany. This Guide shares everything you need to know to plan your visit. Plus, things to do in the Castle District – one of Prague’s best historical quarters. 

About the Castle District in Prague

The Castle District, otherwise known as Hradčany is almost entirely made up of Prague Castle. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it’s the largest castle complex at 70,000 square metres. Visiting this historical quarter in Prague is a bit unique in that, there are no hotels or restaurants like the other historical quarters. Exploring here is solely for seeing the top attraction – the famous Prague palace. 

staircase up to Prague Castle in Prague's Castle District

Other than the Castle District, Prague’s historical quarters and their guides can be found here:

Prague Castle History

The Prague Castle dates back to the 9th century when the Church of the Virgin Mary was built. Over the next couple of centuries, buildings were added as the complex expanded including the first convent in Bohemia. Under the reign of Charles IV in the 14th century, the royal palace was rebuilt and restored and has remained the same ever since. It’s no wonder that Prague Castle has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

view of Prague Castle through trees

What to See at Prague Castle

Of all the castles in Prague, this is the one to visit! Prague Castle is among the most visited tourist attraction attracting over 1.8 million people every year. While you can roam the castle grounds for free, there is an entrance fee to visit the entire castle complex.

Cathedral in Prague

St. Vitus Cathedral

St. Vitus Cathedral is located at the centre of the castle complex and is the largest cathedral in the Czech Republic, not to mention the most important. It took almost 600 years to build it. Starting in 1344, many Renaissance and Baroque details were slowly added over the centuries. 

Historically, this is where Czech kings and queens were coronated, but today it is the seat of the Archbishop of Prague, and the final resting place of Holy Roman Emperors, kings, and saints.

Old Royal Palace

Old Royal Palace is one of the oldest parts of the castle complex. It was built on the remains of the original structure dating back to the 9th century. The best part is the Gothic Vladislav Hall with its beautiful gothic vaulted ceiling. This vast hall was used for banquets, councils, coronations, and even indoor jousting tournaments. There’s even a Riders’ Staircase designed to allow a knight on horseback to enter. 

prague castle

Golden Lane

Golden Lane is a picturesque cobblestone street with small, brightly coloured houses from the 16th century where castle guards lived. In the 19th century, these cute houses were opened up for any citizens of Prague to live here.

coloured houses on cobbled stone street in Prague

Of note, there were a few famous residents who lived on Golden Lane. Literary icon Franz Kafka lived in house No. 22 in 1916 and film historian Josef Kazda lived in No. 12. Kazda is best remembered for saving thousands of films and documentaries from the Nazis during World War II. He hid copies in his house – and even organized small screenings in secret – in his tiny home. Madame de Thebes, the famous WWII fortune teller and the home of the goldsmith the lane was eventually named for. Lastly, Daliborka Tower, the castle’s gun tower also served as a prison. 

Skip the Line Guided Tour of Prague Castle

Get your Skip-The-Line Entry Ticket to Prague Castle, it’s the only way! No lines, direct access and best price. Click here to book.

Or, Prague Castle 2.5-Hour Tour Including Skip-the-Line Entrance Ticket, click here for more information.

Prague Castle Hours: Prague Castle complex – 6 am to 10 pm and the historical buildings – 9 am to 5 pm

Royal Garden

Royal Garden is a beautiful Renaissance garden built in 1534, showcasing rare botanical flowers and exotic plants from other countries. The gardens were meant to entertain the royal family and other nobility.

Gardens on Prague Castle in Prague

Structures were soon added and included the Ball Game hall (1569), the Summer Palace or Belvedere (1560), and the Lion Court (1560). Today, it’s a peaceful place to stroll and admire the peaceful and beautiful surroundings. 

Other Sites in the Castle District

Beyond the main attraction of Prague Castle, there are a few more noteworthy sites to see. The nearby buildings are also impressive. That’s because Hradčany was an independent borough until 1784, and held the status of being a ‘royal town’. Because of that, the best architects were hired to build some of the most incredible buildings. Here are the most notable ones. 

Hradčany Square

Hradcany Square faces the entry point to Prague Castle where all you can see are the towers of St. Vitus Cathedral when standing in the centre. It’s a square buzzing with people (mostly tourists) with pop-up markets and the starting point for vintage car tours of Prague. 

Schwarzenberg Palace and Salmov Palace sit side by side on Hradčany Square. They’re both elaborately designed, each one painted a different colour and covered in naturalistic stucco designs.

Strahov Monastery

The Strahov Monastery was founded in 1140 and within its complex, you will find Church St Roch (1612), which is now an art gallery, and the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady (1143). Also of interest, but wasn’t able to visit, was the rare Stratov library which houses a number of medieval manuscripts and maps.

white monastery in Prague


Insider’s Tip | Seek out Peklo, an upscale restaurant in the Monastery offering one of the best views of Prague from its outdoor terrace. Be sure to try some of the featured wines grown from the small vineyard on the grounds of the Monastery. Or, visit Klaterni Pivovar Brewery right across from the Monstery for a more lively and casual experience.

Loreta

Loreta is a 17th century pilgrimage site consisting of a Baroque Church of the Nativity and a replica of the Holy House surrounded by cloisters and chapels. From the tower, a 27-bell carillon plays the Loretan Marian song “A Thousand Times We Greet Thee” every hour from 9 am to 6 pm.  

Nový Svět

Seek out Novy Svet, a tiny area just a couple of streets tucked away off the beaten path, and off the radar of most tourists. This hidden gem is full of charm with its picturesque cottages dating back to the Middle Ages. There’s a cute coffee shop called Karvarna Novy Svet to stop and sit awhile. 

cobble stone street with cafe table and chairs in Prague

As a holidaymaker…

Let’s face it, most go to the Castle District or Hradčany only to see Prague Castle. Beyond the castle, what I loved the most was how quiet and picturesque this area is. With its elevated position over the city, it offers some beautiful lookout points and definitely a quiet respite from the busy, tourist filled streets of Prague.  

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80 Comments

  1. I visited Prague 10 years ago and it’s always nice to remember the places I’ve been. The tips are excellent and I think the article covers the most iconic places in the city to visit. Thanks for sharing

  2. Golden Lane looks sooo cute 😍St. Vitus Cathedral is an interesting and beautiful highlight, and I love the details on the ceiling of the Old Royal Palace. Great overview of this must-see attraction!

  3. I didn’t know that in the castle district, there are no restaurants or anything like that. I like how it’s centered around the historical buildings and castles, so nothing else can really take away from the site. Golden Lane looks so beautiful and perfect for some photo ops and St. Vitus Cathedral looks so exquisite!

  4. Beautiful and informative post. The St. Vitus Cathedral looks gorgeous. Loved your recommendation of the restaurant with the view in the monastery.

  5. Wow I had no idea the Prague Castle was a record-breaker! The Golden Lane also looks adorable – the historical quarters seem like a great place to explore! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. I haven’t been to Prague in over a dozen years but I remember really enjoying exploring this area of the city. It’s so beautiful. Golden Lane is stunning and I’d really like to check out the monastery if I make it back to Prague

  7. Every photo of Prague is so gorgeous! I have yet to visit, but it’s on my bucket list for sure. I really appreciate how thorough this guide is, definitely useful.

  8. I was so impressed by Prague and I really wasn’t expecting it. Prague Castle was stunning and gave really good views of the city! It was really magical over new years with all the snow!

      1. I love that the Castle District isn’t full of tourists. The architecture and details on the buildings are spectacular!

        1. Actually the Castle district is full of tourists. It is one of the most populated areas, all to see Prague Castle. But it’s the other places around Prague Castle that don’t seem to get the draw of tourists.

  9. I think Prague was the place that set my pulse racing in my late youth and set off the yearning to go explore more places round the world. I was captivated by the city in general and the Castle District was certainly a highlight. I never knew that it was in the Guinness Book of Records for being so big.
    The photos are great are certainly do Justice to the city. Those pictures of the Cathedral windows and their bright colours are beautiful. It must be glorious on a sunny day to admire the vibrancy.
    This is a timely reminder that I need to revisit Prague and capture its beauty again.

  10. It is excellent idea that you have divided the Prague guide into several parts and given so many tips for visiting. Castle District is a fantastic place. I love the architecture, all details of Prague Castle. One of my favorite places is St. Vitus Cathedral.

  11. I second Prague’s Castle is stunning and totally worth a visit. I have to confess I’m also guilty of only going up to the castle and not further exploring. I should! I had no idea that tere’s a little pilgrimage site nearby and as you pointed out, the little squares and narrow streets close by are very quaint. Thanks for sharing and I’ll pay more attention to this area next time I’m in Prague.

  12. I visited Prague castle on several occasions, in summer as well as in winter. And I always found new details to explore. From my first visit there, more than 20 years ago, I vividly remember the amazing library of the Strahov monastery. I want to go back and visit again some time.

  13. I would certainly not want to miss the Castle District in Prague. I would certainly want to book a tour of the castle. And enjoy the beautiful interior of the St Vitrus Cathedral. The Royal Garden looks like a lovely spot to relax after enjoying the historical sites. Definitely lots to not miss in this area of Prague.

  14. Prague looks beautiful. Unfortunately I have never been there and have to live vicariously through my sister’s photos. During the pandemic my husband and I took a virtual tour of Prague, which detailed history in the time of the plague. I find the history and architecture of the area fascinating.

  15. I never knew all the different nicknames for Prague before we visited. But I agree it was a captivating city to visit. We enjoyed our visit to the historic quarter of Prague. Although we missed a few spots. I would love to hear the 27 bells of the Baroque Church of the Nativity. But we didn’t miss trying lots of Czech beers!

  16. Prague is high on my list and historic areas are always on my travel itinerary. St. Vitus Cathedral is gorgeous! I’d love to check out Nový Svět and drink a beer at the brewery!

    1. Thank you Lara for commenting. If historic areas are on your list, then Prague is definitely the city to explore. When you go, make it for a week, it’s not a city that can be seen in a couple of days.

  17. Hradčany looks so colorful! And the old palace architecture is stunning. I had never heard of Hradčany before but sure looks like an amazing and calm place to explore.

    1. Hello Ketki, thank you for commenting. This is just an area of the historic Prague, not a city itself. Prague is broken into 10 districts, 5 of them fall into the historic city centre of Prague. The posts will focus on 1 of these 5 areas at a time. Indeed it is a lovely and calm place to explore.

    1. Thank you for commenting Akriti. That sounds wonderful that you are planning a trip this summer and that you might use this as your guide. Would love to hear back from you once you return if you feel there was anything I missed about this area in Prague. Safe and happy travels.

  18. This is such a wonderful and informative guide for those of us planning a visit to Prague. I always like to visit cathedrals, but from your list, the Golden Lane really piqued my interest.

    I love these colorful quaint areas, but even better when there is so much history behind them. I had no idea both Josef Kazda and Franz Kafka lived here. Are you allowed to go inside them or do they offer tours?

    1. How wonderful Candy that you are planning a trip and happy to know this post has expanded your itinerary. Yes, some of the homes are open for tours – they try to show what life would have looked like for some of the key castle staff. You can tour Josef Kazda’s house, and read up on some of the ways he was able to hide his documentaries. The house that Franz Kafka lived in for almost 2 years with this sister is not open for a tour, but it makes a great photo. Sadly, mine wasn’t up to snuff to post! Thank you for commenting Candy.

  19. Great detailed post! I’ve only visited Prague on a uni trip when I was 19. I think that, after reading this, I seriously missed out on some beautiful places. No harm done – I’ll just have to go back!

    1. Thank you for commenting. Yes, we all have those travels in our youth that we feel we need to return to and experience it in a different way. That is what I love about travel, it broadens your perspective and creates great memories that last a lifetime, no matter the age or the experience. Hope you get to return!

  20. That row of pastel houses is so lovely. It was snowing when we went and I think I spent more time huddled underground tasting beer than sightseeing – now feel like I missed so much. Looking forward to the other posts.

    1. Oh, it must have been a completely different experience to see it covered with a blanket of snow! I don’t blame you for wanting to hibernate in one of their cozy restaurants or cafes. That would have been a great experience too! Thank you for commenting Helen and for stopping by. Hope you get the chance to check out the rest of the series.

  21. Prague has been on my list for far too long – – I must plan a visit. I’m with you. While I would like to see the castle and the rest of the complex (including the Stratov library ), I really like those cute streets like Golden Lane and Nový Svět. I love wandering in neighbourhoods like that and then stopping at the coffee shop you recommended for something sweet.

    1. Hello Cindy, and thank you for commenting. It sounds like we are kindred spirits. Yes, the small little coffee shop, with only 2 tables out front is the perfect spot to sit and enjoy the peacefulness of the area, and watch the locals go to and from. Hope you get there one day soon.

    1. Hello Tania, thank you for commenting. Yes, it is the largest castle complex (which includes all the buildings) according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Hope you get there one day soon. And, always happy to inspire.

  22. Now I understand what makes Prague beautiful. I thought it was just the Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle! Thanks. Looking forward to the other four areas.

    1. Thank you Carol for commenting. Well, of course it is those two draws and so much more! 😉 Thanks for stopping by and hope you check back in when the other four ones come out!

  23. I really love your idea to break Prague up into five separate blog posts. There is so much that the city offers – it is nearly impossible to fit it into one. This brought back memories of walking through the castle complex several years ago. It offers such spectacular views of the Old Town and river.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth for commenting. Yes, I like to keep my blog posts short, hopefully capturing people’s attention; and seeing there is so much to see and do, I thought it be best to break it down. I am glad that it brought back some memories for you!

  24. Prague has been on my bucket list since long. I had no idea it was divided into 5 towns. Hradčany looks like a really surreal place with those buildings and the castle. As an architecture lover , I can’t wait to visit here soon. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you for commenting Karie. Actually there are 10 districts in Prague, but there are 5 historical areas, ones that tourists tend to visit most, that I will be highlighting in my 5 part series. I hope you get to travel there one day soon. Thanks for stopping by.

  25. Goodness there is so much history and beauty with all that gorgeous architecture.

    Prague is really popular in the UK for hen-nights or stag parties, but it looks like it would be better suited to a relaxed holiday!

    1. Thank you for commenting Josy. There are definitely a lot of facets to this city. There are a lot of young people, as you mentioned it is quite popular with parties. But there are also a lot of people who are just attracted to the beauty and history of the city. Hope you get to see it one day.

  26. What an interesting read about this country and town full of gem. Honestly, reading a lot about Prague recently made me want to explore it. Hope in two years we can start exploring Europe! Thanks for the informative post.

    1. Thank you for commenting April. Yes, I think Prague is a popular destination and one of the countries in Europe that should be seen. Hope you get to see it in the next couple of years.

    2. Great detailed post! I’ve only visited Prague on a uni trip when I was 19. I think that, after reading this, I seriously missed out on some beautiful places. No harm done – I’ll just have to go back!

      1. Thank you for commenting April. We all have those travels in our “earlier” years, but they were just different experiences. Travel and experiencing looks different as we age, and that is why I love to continue to do it and return to same places, as you will always have a different perspective and interest. But yes, all the more reason to return. Hope you get to one day.

  27. I would love to explore this whole district. Wandering the castles and local eateries would be an amazing way to spend a few days. The buildings look so old and rich with history.

    1. Thank you Emma for commenting. Yes, this was a wonderful district to visit and spend some time in, even beyond seeing Prague Castle.

    1. Thank you for commenting and your kind words. I wanted to go into a bit more detail to do this over a series of photos! Glad you enjoyed as much as I did.

  28. Love, love, love Prague. I have been twice and both times I experienced it differently. The historical quarters are so grand yet not overwhelming at all. The castle gardens were my fave spot.

    1. Thank you for commenting Punita! Yes, they are grand, and that is why finding some serene spots, like the gardens or quieter hidden away areas are always a great find.

  29. It honestly looks like such a beautiful old city. My Nana has always loved Prague and visited many times during her life. Then she’d come home and share those stories and adventures with us, the grandkids. I wonder if I’ll get there myself someday to check it out.

    1. Yes! It sounds like absolutely you should. This would be a wonderful memory, that you Nana was able to inspire your travels. Hope you get there one day soon!

      1. Always love reading your posts! So many beautiful, historical places to see there. I thought it was so neat when you said that the palace had a Riders’ Staircase for knights on horses. How cool is that?!

        1. Thank you so much Faith for reading my post and commenting. Yes the Vladislav Hall is massive, I was just awe of the ceiling that I never got a picture of the actual space.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! It makes me happy to know that this may be helpful to someone.

  30. We had such terrible weather in Prague that we didn’t really get to enjoy it. Your photos and descriptions make me want to go back and try again. Looking forward to the rest of the series!

    1. Hi Christine, thank you so much for commenting. Oh, we have had those trips where the weather hasn’t been great too. We lucked out, springtime in Prague was so vibrant with greenery and blooms.
      The series will be a slow release over the coming months.

    1. Thank you for commenting Rachel. Every trip is a trip of a lifetime. They are each special it is hard to pick a favourite.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting Lauren. Yes, although Prague Castle takes up the majority of this historic area, I really loved exploring beyond the complex. The series will be slowly released over the coming months.

      1. I had to cancel two trips to Prague and I’m trying to pencil in a short weekend trip next spring but looking at your recommendations I might need to extend it to cover all the hidden gems beyond the major attractions. The Golden Lane looks wonderful and your photos of the cathedral are just beautiful!

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