With its postcard-worthy skyline, fairytale architecture and charming cobbled streets, the best way to explore the Czech capital is on foot. That is, unless the weather’s not on your side. Fortunately, Prague has plenty of options to brighten a rainy day. With world-class galleries, cosy coffee shops and atmospheric cellar bars ideal for whiling away a few hours, here’s what to do when the heavens open in Prague.
Come rain or shine, no visit to Prague is complete without ducking into its historic hallowed halls. The city’s churches and cathedrals contribute significantly to its skyline, with St Vitus Cathedral being the pride of Prague. A Gothic masterpiece that took nearly six centuries to construct, its south tower stands at more than 90m. The hefty 287-step hike to the top is rewarded with spectacular views of the city – while keeping dry.
Also in the Castle District, is St George’s Basilica. One of the Czech Republic’s oldest churches, this charming Romanesque relic is well worth a visit… especially for the nearby Pivovar Hostivar, where the beer is brewed onsite. With floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s an ideal spot to settle back in the warmth and watch the world drift by.
A rainy day in Prague is a great excuse to visit the city’s blockbuster art galleries. Photography buffs will marvel at the first-rate photographs on display at Leica Gallery (of German analogue camera fame). Its café-cum-bookshop is a hipster haven, and a great place to unwind for a few hours with a cup of something warm.
The hub of the capital’s art history scene is Národní Galerie Praha, which sprawls across five extraordinary venues and showcases works ranging from medieval iconography to modern Czech surrealists. Big-name local artists aside, the grand palaces and pretty convent in which the works are housed are worth a visit in themselves.
Prague’s independent bookshops have marked the Czech capital as a poetic haven for literary lovers. There is a decent hand of bookshops that stock English releases scattered throughout the capital, with Shakespeare & Sons being the largest and most popular. Choose from the city’s plethora of cool coffee shops (or, indeed, the cosy perch in the bookshop’s cellar café) and settle in for the afternoon.
The star of Dox Centre for Contemporary Art’s show on a drizzly day is its Gulliver Airship. A wood-slatted zeppelin that’s sheathed in Perspex, it’s a cosy place to take a pew and gaze out across the skyline, the patter of rain an atmospheric soundtrack. Pick up something arty from the gallery’s Bendox bookshop and mark out a quiet corner for a flick through.
Prague is as fascinating below ground as it is above. Beneath its charming cobbled streets is a labyrinth of tunnels, galleries and chambers, which used to be the old city before flooding necessitated the infrastructure to be raised a few storeys. With a history stretching back to the 12th century, it’s certainly atmospheric and, when it comes to the prison, more than a little macabre.
It’s not all doom and gloom underground, though. There’s no better time than a rainy day to hole up in one of Prague’s cosy cellar bars. With a steaming bowl of dumplings accompanying some very good local wine, there’s little chance the weather will get you down here.