Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is one of the few European cities that were spared from destructive bombing raids during World War II. Thus, the city still retains much of its old world charm and you will see beautifully restored art nouveau buildings at every corner. Combined with the city's medieval gems, such as the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, I could see why the Czech capital was chosen as a film location for so many international blockbusters.
Armed with a film location map from the Prague tourist office, I recently discovered the highlights of this charming city through its famous film locations. So here are the best tips I brought back for you…
Prague Travel Guide Overview:
- Things to Do
- What to eat and drink
- Where to stay
1. Things to Do
Old Town Square – This central square is a great starting point for exploring Prague. Next to the St Nicholas Church, you'll find the main tourist information centre, where you can get a free copy of the Prague film locations map "Lights! Camera! Prague!". Most walking tours, such as the Free Tour with Sandemans, also start from here.
3 h Guided Walking Tour with Sandemans (FREE) – Always a good idea for a first overview! The walking tour covers all the main sights of Prague's historical city centre. If you had a good experience, you can pay your guide a voluntary tip at the end.
Self-guided film locations walk (FREE) Get a free map at the tourist information centre or download it online. Only covering films up to 2013, the map is a little outdated, but still fun to walk around with. It also covers some of the many music videos that have been filmed here. By the way, the most recent films shot on location in Prague include the action-comedy Bad Spies (2018) with Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, and the crime TV series McMafia (2018– ) with James Norton.
Charles Bridge (FREE) – This medieval bridge is among the most famous bridges in the world and usually flocked by tourists. It also happens to be a popular shooting background for action scenes. As such, it appeared in Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), Van Helsing (2004) and Blade II (2002).
Petřín Lookout Tower – From the bridge, you can see Prague's "Eiffel Tower". Smaller than the one in Pairs, the Petřín Lookout Tower is also made of a steel-framework and thus looks very similar to the real thing. As the Sandemans tour guide told us, the tower was used as a filming location for the trashy American comedy EuroTrip (2004). Being a low budget production, the crew apparently filmed nearly all of backgrounds for the various European countries in Prague.
Prague Castle – From here, you have one of the best views over the city. To learn about the history, it's best to book a guided tour though as there is not much information on site. Among the films that have been shot here are Shanghai Nights (2003), in which the castle stood in for Buckingham Palace, and The Illusionist (2006), in which it pretends to be Crown Prince Leopold's Vienna palace.
Hradčany Square (Czech: Hradčanské náměstí) – This medieval square near Prague Castle was used as one of the main shooting locations to recreate 18th century Copenhagen in A Royal Affair (2012). It was also somewhere around here, where pre-World War II Berlin was recreated for the German war drama Before the Fall (2004).
Beer Spa – This has nothing to do with film, but it's a very unique thing to do in the beer-crazy Czech Republic. One place to enjoy this slightly different idea of a wellness experience after a busy day of film fan sightseeing is the centrally located Spa Beerland.
Old New Synagogue – Don't miss the chance for a sneak peak into one of the oldest, surviving synagogues in Europe built in the 13th century! You can get your ticket (200 Czech koruna) from the visitor centre opposite the main entrance of the synagogue. Prague's old Jewish quarter Josefov is also worth checking out – especially to remember the cruel injustices that happened here during the occupation of Nazi Germany. You will pass by here on your walking tour with Sandemans. If you want to dig even deeper into Prague's Jewish history, book the 2,5 h Jewish Quarter tour.
Powder Tower and adjacent Municipal House – Prague's medieval town gate was another hot spot for Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011). While we stopped here on the walking tour with Sandemans, our guide also told us about the war drama Anthropoid (2016). Shot on location in Prague, the film tells the true story about the assassination of SS General Reinhard Heydrich by two Czech resistance fighters (played by Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan in the film).
The Estates Theatre (Czech: Stavovské divadlo) – In 1787, the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart conducted the world première of his Don Giovanni at this theatre. Almost two hundred years later, the scene in which Mozart performs Don Giovanni for the Emperor Josepf II in the biopic Amadeus (1984) was filmed here as well.
Pařížská Street – This side street linking from the Old Town Square to the Jewish quarter was modeled on Paris. As such, it features many stunning art nouveau houses built in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Today, the street is lined with luxury shops and is considered the most expensive street in the whole of Prague. The street appears as a tree-lined Paris boulevard in Hannibal Rising (2007) and also in the romantic comedy The Prince & Me (2004).
If you have more time…
A walking tour is a good start to see and learn about the city. Thus, it's my number 1 recommendation if you only have one or two days in Prague. But there is, of course, so much more to discover in and outside of the city.
World-famous museums – If you are a fan of art, history and culture, you might want to check out one of Prague's world-class museums. These include the National Museum, the City of Prague Museum, the Jewish Museum, The National Gallery, and the Prague City Gallery.
Bones Chapel– Sandemans offers a day trip to this slightly morbid, but fascinating sightseeing attraction located just a one hour drive away from the city. On the trip to the town of Kutná Hora, you will also pass by several other places of historical importance and learn a lot about the country's glorious Bohemian past.
Terezín Concentration Camp – Also a one hour drive away from Prague, Terezín was once a magnificent 18th century Austrian fortress. But under Nazi occupation, it was converted into a horrible Gestapo prison, a Jewish ghetto and a deportation camp. On a bus day trip with Sandemans, your guide will tell you some of the emotional stories behind the sad statistics.
2. What to eat and drink
Trdelník: Something you can get only here in the Czech Republic is the typical grilled waffle cone filled with (ice) cream! You can find little booths selling the typical Czech dessert all throughout the city.
Crisps on a stick: What I've also seen quite often were crisps-on-a-stick as an alternative to chips.
Coffee & cake: The Café Imperial and the Grand Café Orient (also called the cubist café because of it's unusual design) are two grand coffee houses from the art nouveau period. Although a bit more pricey, the charm of old Prague can be best experienced here. The Café Imperial (opened in 1914) also served as a filming location in The Illusionist (2006).
Beer: The Czechs love their beers and many visitors to Prague love its prices! Half a litre of a will typically cost you around 50 Czech koruna (around 2 euros).
3. Where to stay
Hostel SKLEP – I booked an affordable single room here, which included a good breakfast in the mornings. It was also within walking distance of Prague's main train station and the city centre on the right side of the river.
Hostel One – recommended to me by fellow travellers with an even more central location
Apartment – Prague is actually quite affordable when compared to other European cities. So if you want more of a local feel, you can stay in your very own Prague apartment – for example at Apartments 39 Wenceslas Square or Old Town Square Apartments (both rated Fabulous on booking.com).
Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | filmfantravel.com
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