Photographing Prague

Where, when and how to photograph Prague
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Your complete guide to photographing Prague, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, indeed the world.

Photographing Prague is one of the main reasons many decide to visit the Czech capital. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It’s small and compact and easy to get around, but you’ll want to make the most of your limited time in Prague to shoot the best Prague photos possible.

Most people visit Prague enticed by photos of the same few landmarks of Prague – the Old Town Square, Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.  Of course, these are among the best places in Prague to photograph, but there’s far more to Prague photography than this.

In this guide to photography in Prague we’ll show you some of the most popular places to visit in Prague, and also plenty of Prague hidden gems. You’ll get to see and shoot some of the extraordinary Prague architecture, and find out the best viewpoints in Prague. All of this will give you Prague Instagram ideas galore.

So let’s embark on our tour of the best Prague photo spots, and shoot some fantastic Prague pictures all the way around.

  1. Most Prague attractions – and places to photograph – are concentrated in a small area – the Old Town (Stare Mesto), Lesser Town (Mala Strana) and Prague Castle Hill (Hradčany)
  2. It takes a lot less time to photograph Prague than it does much larger cities like London
  3. The Prague skyline of church spires and domes is one of the most beautiful skylines in the world
  4. You would photograph most points of interest in Prague from outside, but there are also some outstanding interiors for when the weather isn’t so good
  5. It’s well worth exploring some Prague destinations away from the centre, including the suburbs of Holešovice and Žižkov
  6. There’s an enormous variety of architecture in Prague spanning a millennium, from Romanesque to Art Nouveau Prague-style to contemporary
  7. The reason so many beautiful Prague buildings have survived intact is that it got through World War II almost unscathed materially

Charles Bridge Prague

Image of the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle from the Old Town bridge Tower Prague
One of the enchanting views from the Old Town Bridge Tower

We’ll begin with one of the most obvious places to see in Prague, indeed probably the busiest of the tourist spots in Prague. The famous Prague bridge is a huge draw. It spans the River Vltava and is lined with a series of statues of saints and other Christian figures. It’s the most beautiful of the bridges in Prague, but the crowds there often make shooting there difficult.

At both ends of the Charles Bridge – Karluv Most in Czech – there is a cluster of magnificent buildings. And there are incredible views up to Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral up on the hill. No wonder it’s one of the most popular Prague photo spots.

The popularity of Charles Bridge presents quite a challenge to your Prague photography. The Bridge is crammed in the summer season, and even in winter, the crowds thin out a bit, but there are always plenty of people around. So you have to work around the Prague tourist crowds as best you can.

Image of Crucifixion scene on Charles Bridge and statues and churches Prague Czech Republic
If you want the crowds out of your shot, you’ll need a long lens in the bag

This is the time to dig out a long lens. One of the reasons I still think the Charles Bridge is one of the best places to visit in Prague is that you can zoom in on the spires , towers and domes of Prague Old Town in one direction (east) and the, erm, spires, towers and domes of Mala Strana (Lesser Town)  in the other.

This makes for some amazing compositions. You can incorporate some of the Charles Bridge statues for added effect. Widen your view and you might get some people passing through the shot, which can sometimes be a good thing. 

The Old Town Bridge Tower (Staromestska Mostecka Vez) is a superb Prague viewpoint. It has many people’s favourite Prague view, looking over the Bridge to Mala Strana and Prague Castle. It is indeed a breathtaking sight.

However, the view from the other side is just as special, giving you a higher view of the Prague Old Town skyline than you get from the Bridge itself. The view from the Mala Strana Bridge Tower towards the Castle is great, while the view across the Bridge to the Old Town has the Žižkov TV Tower making an appearance right above the spires and towers.

Prague Old Town Square

Image of the Old Town Square Christmas Market in Prague
The view from the Old Town Hall Tower of the Christmas Market and Tyn Church

The Old Town Square Prague is one of the city’s top attractions. It’s one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, and also the venue for the best of the Prague Christmas markets held each year. Unsurprisingly, with two of the best churches in Prague, this is where you’ll find some of the best Prague photography spots.

The Old Town Hall Tower Prague is the place to start. High above the Square you have a great view over many of the best sights in Prague. The Old Town Square – Staromestski Namesti in Czech – is just magnificent. From the Tower viewing gallery you have great views over the medieval and Renaissance townhouses around the Square, and the lovely Baroque St Nicholas Church.

However, the highlight is the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn (Tynsky chram in Czech). This Gothic church with its fairytale spires and pinnacles is one of the absolute top Prague attractions. For me, it’s what makes the Square so beautiful. It looks amazing from the top of the Tower or from ground level.

One of the most popular things to do in Prague is to see the famous Prague Astronomical Clock at the base of the Old Town Hall Tower. Crowds always seem to be gathered to photograph it, most of all just before the hour when the clock’s figures make their appearance.

Image of the Jan Hus statue in old Town Square Prague
The Jan Hus statue makes a great photographic subject

For me, the Old Town Square is close to being the best location in Prague for photography. Walk around the Square and you’ll find all kinds of cool picture ideas for Instagram.

There’s all sorts of scope for creative compositions, with elements including the Jan Hus statue, the Old Town Hall Tower itself and the archways around part of the edge of the Square.

Terasa u Prince – The Best Prague Rooftop Bar ?

Image of the Old Town Hall Tower and Tyn Church from the Terasa U Prince Prague
The superb view from Terasa U Prince over the Old Town Square

Some of the best places to go in Prague are its rooftop bars, but there’s one that stands out above the rest. Hotel U Prince is on the corner of the Old Town Square, and its 4th-floor terrace has a bar and restaurant. The view from the bar is outstanding, with the Old Town Hall Tower and Tyn Church lined up together perfectly.

You have to pay for this particular Prague view – the minimum order is 300 CZK (12 euros) for a glass of champagne. Absolutely worth it, too.

Powder Tower Prague

Image of the Tyn church and St Vitus Cathedral from the Powder Tower Prague
The amazing view from the Powder Tower of the Tyn Church and S Vitus Cathedral

This medieval Prague tower  has possibly the best 360° views of Prague.It’s next door top Obecni Dum (Municipal House), a gorgeous Art Nouveau concert venue (more on which shortly).

The Powder Tower has a great bird’s eye view of Obecni Dum and nearby Namesti Republiky, but the highlight here is undoubtedly the view of the Tyn Church with St Vitus’ Cathedral in the background. The tower is one of the quieter places to go in Prague, and in winter you can have the viewing gallery to yourself to shoot this at dusk. It’s easily one of the best places to see in Prague.

Prague Jewish Quarter

Image of gravestones in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague
The play of light in the Old Jewsih Cemetery in Josefov

The Jewish Quarter Prague  – also known as Josefov – lies in the north west of the Old Town, close to Staromestska station. The Old Jewish Cemetery here is one of the Prague top attractions, and it’s a very moving sight.

Image of well-preserved gravestones in the Old Jewsih Cemetery Prague
Gravestones huddled close together in the Old Jewish Cemetery

Thousands of gravestones, many leaning or broken, are crammed into this beautiful medieval cemetery. The gravestones look wonderful when sunlight breaks through to reach them – it’s a wonderfully atmospheric place.

There are also several Prague synagogues to visit in the Josefov district. Some of them – the Old New Synagogue, Maisel Synagogue and Pinkas Synagogue – have fairly simple, beautiful interiors. The Spanish Synagogue further along Siroka is a much more ornate affair, with a striking Moorish interior.

I also suggest seeking out the stunning Jerusalem Synagogue – also referred to as the Jubilee Synagogue. It’s a little way from Josefov, close to Hlavni Nadrazi, the main Prague railway station.

It has a wonderfully exuberant exterior, one of the best examples of Art Nouveau in Prague. The interior is just as dazzling and bright, with vivid blue walls, layers of arches and some amazing stained glass. It’s one of the most intriguing Prague sites I’ve visited.

Prague City Library

Image of the book tower sculpture 'Idiom' by Matej Krenby
Matej Kren’s ‘Idiom’ book tower installation in Prague Central Library

As well as the stunning Baroque libraries at Klementinum and Strahov, seek out the marvellous Prague City Library (Meštská Knihovna v Praze). It’s an outstanding library that we’ve used many times while living in Prague. It’s also one of the most intriguing places to go in Prague for photography as well.

The entrance hall is dominated by a circular tower of around 8,000 books by Slovak artist Matej Kren. Mirrors placed inside give it the impression of being endless, just like the search for knowledge. Many people pop in just to get a photo of it. Try it yourself. 

It’s on Mariánské Namesti in the Old Town.

River Vltava and Prague Bridges

Image of several of the bridges over the River Vltava in Prague Czech Republic
A close-up view of the Manes, Charles, Legion and Jiraskuv bridges over the Vltava from Letna Park

One of the top sights in Prague is the view up the Vltava River with several Prague bridges. It’s a particularly beautiful scene at sunset or twilight. This view of the main bridges in Prague is from Letna Park, one of the best parks in Prague.

The ‘cleanest’, least cluttered shot I found was from next to the Baroque-style Hanavsky Pavilion, a restaurant and bar on the west side of the Park, close to the edge of the Prague Castle walls. It’s a steep few minutes’ walk up the hill from Cechuv Most, but a lot of people were there when I visited – unsurprisingly, it’s a very popular Prague city view.

If you love picking out different buildings around the city with a long lens, you can zoom in on several top sites in Prague from there, including the Tyn Church, National Museum and Žižkov TV Tower.

Klementinum Library

The Klementinum is a complex of buildings close to the Charles Bridge which was originally founded by the Jesuits in the 16th century. They gradually expanded over the following two centuries, adding a school – which later became a university – to the site. This included the stunning Baroque library, which is right up there with any Prague best places to visit. You can only visit on a guided tour, and it’s an absolute Prague must see.

You also get the added bonus of access to another Prague lookout tower – the 68-metre high Astronomical Tower. Views are of the Old Town in one direction and towards Charles Bridge and Prague Castle in the other.

Across the river, the Baroque Strahov Library Prague is also hugely impressive. It’s part of the Premonstratensian Strahov Monastery, and it’s up on the hill just to the south-west of the Castle.

Prague Castle

Image of Prague Castle from across the River Vltava in Prague at night
Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral at dusk

A visit to Prague Castle is, of course, one of the best things to do in Prague.  But how do you go about photographing it and doing it justice? There are numerous vantage points around the river, including the Charles Bridge, and the viewpoints in the Old Town.

One of the best places to shoot Prague Castle images is from next to the Karlovy Lažne tram stop, a minute’s walk beyond the building housing the mega-nightclub of the same name. From here you get the full sweep of one of the biggest castles in the world. It looks amazing most times of day and especially dusk. Needless to say it’s one of the most Instagrammable places in Prague.

Image of Loretanska street in the Prague Castle district

You can enter the Prague Castle precincts for free, and will usually have to undergo a bag search before being allowed through. Your free entry will give you the run of some of the Castle and its grounds. This includes the Prague Castle Gardens which have great Prague city views, and some of the squares inside the Castle.

However, you’re missing out by not opting for one of the Prague Castle tickets, which gives you greater access. Prague Castle Tour A and B include the interiors of St Vitus’ Cathedral and St George’s Basilica, not to mention one of the most beautiful Prague streets, Golden Lane (Zlatá Ulička).

Nearby you can also explore other Prague Castle sights including the lovely Baroque Loreta church and Loretanska, another beautiful Prague street.

Mala Strana – Lesser Town Prague

Image of St Nicholas Church Mala Strana Prague at night
St Nicholas Church in Mala Strana from Petrin Hill

Mala Strana is on the west side of the River Vltava and the Charles Bridge, and just below Castle Hill Prague. It’s a gorgeous area, and one of the best places to go in Prague.

It’s also at the foot of another Prague hill, Petrin Hill, which is one of the best Prague viewpoints. From Petrin Park (reached via Hellichova), climb halfway up the hill until you’re just above the treeline, from where you see possibly the best panorama Prague has, with the whole of the Old Town and Nove Mesto (New Town). Climb further to the Petrin Tower, the so-called Prague Eiffel Tower, from which you get a better Prague Castle view.

The most beautiful building in Mala Strana is St Nicholas’ Church, a domed Baroque beauty with an adjacent belltower that you can climb for the view. In the Cold War this was used by Communist spies to keep tabs on various embassies close by.

Mala Strana also has some of the most beautiful streets in Prague, including Nerudova (leading up to the Castle), Mostecka (leading to Charles Bridge) and Na Kampe on Kampa Island.

Prague Metro Stations

Image of Malostranska Metro station Prague Czech Republic
The retro-futurist Malostranska Metro station

Some underground railways – like the London Tube or Paris Metro – have become icons of the cities they serve. The same probably can’t be said of the Prague Metro. Much of it was built in the 1980s – while the Communists still held sway – in a style that was probably meant to be futuristic that was somehow already retro.

The interiors of some of the Metro stations in Prague are fantastic, their retro-futuristic walls looking like Daleks, the arch-villains from the long-running BBC Doctor Who series. For many the metro in Prague serves the simple prosaic function of getting you from A to B, rather than being among the top places in Prague to photograph. Get yourself a 110 CZK ($5) day ticket if it’s raining and explore.

For the record, my favourite stations are Malostranská, Staromestská and Namesti Miru

Zizkov Television Tower

Image of the Zizkov TV tower in Prague at sunset
The Zizkov TV Tower looms high above the east of Prague

The ŽIžkov Tower dominates the eastern skyline of Prague, a grey retro-futuristic carbuncle seemingly put there by Communist authorities to spoil photographs of the city. At least that’s what I thought of it in 1991 when, with just a Minolta compact to my name, and it kept ruining my compositions from Prague Castle hill.

It’s best photographed from afar, when you can show it in context high above the surrounding suburb. However it is worth a look close in to see the crawling baby figures by David Černy, which seem to be climbing the tower from all angles.

If you choose to do so yourself, you get an unrivalled Prague panoramic view. However, it’s so high up and far away from the best of Prague sights that the compositions are nowhere near as good as some of the other Prague viewpoints I’ve mentioned.  

Dancing House Prague

Image of the Dancing House, or 'Fred and Ginger' at night in Prague
Tancici Dum, the Dancing House of Prague at night

The Dancing House (Tancici Dum in Czech) is one of the most famous buildings in Prague, and probably the best-known example of modern Prague architecture. It’s on a riverside site at the end of the Jiráskuv Bridge, and was partly designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, who was responsible for the later Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

The Dancing House should be on any Prague what to see list. Gehry nicknamed it Fred and Ginger, and from some angles the building does look like two dancing partners, one with the arms around the other’s waist.

Twilight is a great time to photograph the Dancing House, with the light trails from the traffic and passing Prague trams adding dynamism to the shot. Otherwise, late spring or summer evening light is ideal as well.

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David Angel
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 25 years.  His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.