While the Old Town revels in popularity among visitors, the Malá Strana district is a must-visit for any curious traveller to Prague. Directly translating as ‘Lesser quarter’ in English, there certainly isn’t anything ‘lesser’ about the beautiful, sloping Malá Strana district at the foot of Castle Hill. Here are our seven best things to see in Prague’s oldest neighbourhood.
1. Prague Castle
Prague Castle. Source: Flickr - Roman Boed CC 2.0
Perhaps the most well-known attraction in Malá Strana, if not in Prague altogether, Prague castle is a remarkable complex and a visit here is, without doubt, one of the best things to do in Prague. It has been the seat of power in Bohemia since the ninth century, having housed kings, Roman emperors, and national presidents and is still today the official office of the Czech president.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, and the largest castle complex in the world, visitors are immersed into the sheer grandeur of palaces, churches, cathedrals and gardens which provides a fascinating variety of architectural styles such as Romanesque, Baroque, and Gothic.
It’s the stuff of fairy-tales and a truly majestic place to visit in Prague, and you can get unrivalled insight to the castle, the history of the complex and the fascinating legends surrounding it on our excellent free tour of Prague castle with friendly local guides.
2. Petrin Hill
Source: Flickr - Tim Adams CC 2.0
An oasis of green and calm, Petrin hill is the perfect reprieve from the bustling centre of the city. Ancient trees, cherry orchards, rose gardens and open-spaces make for a wonderful environment to stroll, relax and rejuvenate in – and for a panoramic view of Prague and the Vltava River, Petrin hill can’t be beaten.
There’s a lookout tower, modelled to a smaller scale on the Eiffel Tower, atop the hill which was built in 1891 and affords those who venture up it an incredible overview of the golden city below.
To get here you can take trams 9, 12, 15 or 22 to ÚJEZD and make your way up the manageable hill on foot through the park or take the delightful 19th Century funicular right up to the tower.
And, while you’re here, do not miss the opportunity to visit Strahov Monastery & Brewery - dating from the 1140s, this is arguably the most exquisite Baroque library in the world, as well as the site of three restaurants serving quality Czech dishes and delicious local beers. The Monastic brewery dining hall is the best of the three for price, food and brews. While there is no shortage of excellent bars and pubs in Prague, this is a truly unique spot for indulging in a beer or five.
3. Infant Jesus of Prague
Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague. Source: Flickr - baldeaglebluff CC 2.0
The exact origin of The Infant Jesus of Prague statue is hitherto unknown, though it dates from the 16th
century. At just 48 centimetres tall, the wax-coated wooden depiction of Jesus as a child has become a most famous object of devotion for Catholic pilgrims, not just from Prague and the Czech Republic, but from around the world. While numerous ‘miracles’ have been attributed to the statue down through the centuries, religious processions around the Infant Jesus continue to this day as part of the annual Feast of the Infant Jesus in Prague.
The infant Jesus statue can be seen in the Carmelite church of Our Lady of Victory, one of the many impressive churches in Prague.
4. John Lennon Wall
John Lennon Wall. Source: Flickr - Roman Boed CC 2.0
Now, from a depiction of Jesus as a child to a man who once controversially remarked, in a roundabout way, that they were more popular than Jesus – John Lennon.
This wall, at 4-6 Velkopřevorské nám, had long been utilised as a canvas for people to protest and voice their opposition to the communist regime in Prague post 1948, and even became known as the ‘crying wall’ in the 1960s; and so, it served as the logical place for heart-broken locals to go on December 8th
, 1980, when news broke of the murder of Beatle, John Lennon.
Lennon became a symbol of pacifism; a mural of his face was painted on the wall along with protest slogans and Beatles lyrics. Young Czechs in the capital and visitors to Prague since have actively contributed to the sentiments displayed. There are innumerable layers of whitewash paint, every inch scribed with thoughts, expressions and comments, coating the John Lennon Wall - reminiscent of the demonstrations of several generations.
The John Lennon Wall is the only place in Prague where graffiti is, technically, allowed; so, you can feel free to add your own message for the world here too!
5. St Nicolas Church
Source: Dudva, CC 3.0
from Wikimedia Commons
Yet another of the impressive churches in Prague, St. Nicolas’ is a fine example of Baroque architecture. Dating from its inception in 1673, and taking a little over a century to completion, the church is a marvellous trove of marble sculptures, magnificent art, exquisite frescoes, and the crowning dome above the transept is the third biggest in Europe. The church also acts as a venue for the Chamber Music orchestra and boasts an incredible, huge organ dating from 1745 on which Mozart himself has played.
One of the most splendid things to see in Prague's Malá Strana district, you can find St. Nicolas Church at Malostranské nám.
6. KGB Museum
Source: Flickr - Raphaël Vinot CC 2.0
Not far from Prague castle, the KGB museum is unlike any conventional museum. Housing intriguing and often bizarre artefacts from the communist period and devices of the secret police in Prague, including Lenin's death mask, Trotsky's murder weapon, spy cameras, hidden pistols, and torture devices.
With rare photographs of Prague, taken by a KGB officer in 1968, the museum is also a fascinating insight into the turbulent communist regime and the life lived here at the time. Of course, you can find out plenty more about Czech history and our Soviet past on our free walking tours in Prague
7. Franz Kafka Museum
Source: Flickr - Mikel Santamaria CC 2.0
If you’re a fan of literature, then you will likely be familiar with Prague’s most famous literary son, Franz Kafka. The culture, society and history of the Czech capital shaped Kafka and his existentialist writings and this museum on the Vltava river banks manages to give us a real insight into that relationship between city and author.
The museum houses fascinating pieces, such as first editions, diaries, manuscripts, letters, photos and drawings as well as remarkable installations and audio-visual presentations.
It is a fantastic museum experience if you are interested in learning more about one of the foremost literary geniuses of the 20th
Century, right here in his home city.
How to get to Malá Strana from the airport
We do recommend staying in Prague’s oldest neighbourhood, there are a plethora of excellent hotels and holiday rentals housed in incredible, decadent buildings and getting to and from the airport is very easy when in Malá Strana. The airport is less than 15 KM from the district and there are plenty of transport options. A taxi will cost approximately €20-€25 and takes about 25 minutes.
The cheapest way to get to Malá Strana from Prague airport is to take the bus (119 or 322) from the airport, which leaves every five minutes approximately, to Nádraží Veleslavín where you can hop on the subway line A for a seven-minute ride to Malostranská in the heart of Malá Strana. This journey will cost you less than €3 in total. You could also take the bus from the airport to Divoka Sárka and then take the tram to Malostranská, it will cost about the same and while it takes a little bit longer, you’ll get to see a little bit more of Prague on your way.
Of all the many wonderful things to do in Prague, be sure to put some of our recommended best things to see in Prague's Malá Strana district on the agenda when you’re visiting. We hope we’ve inspired you with our top things to see in Prague's oldest neighbourhood, and we look forward to welcoming you and helping you have a truly wonderful experience here in the beautiful Czech capital.