This post is a free, self-guided Prague Castle Tour with a walking tour map and audio tour option.
We also list free (pay-what-you-wish) guided and small group options.
Prague Castle is one of the most historically significant landmarks in the city, and it’s made up of several important buildings including cathedrals, churches, palaces, and more.
It’s important to note that the castle grounds are entirely free to visit.
There are some areas you need a ticket to enter, but most of the castle grounds are free to visit.
These areas include multiple courtyards, gardens, the Deer Moat, the entrance of St. Vitus Cathedral, and more. The Golden Lane is free daily after 5 pm.
We have provided a self-guided tour option in the next section (Things to See), which is a shortened version of our GPS-led audio tour (€1.99).
Several companies offer pay-what-you-wish walks (which are referred to as “free tours”).
These tours essentially follow the route we laid out with our self-guided walk, though some also include a walk up from the Charles Bridge.
If you’re interested in seeing the interior of these locations, you can get tickets that provide entry to these areas with a paid tour.
These outings run the gamut from short orientations to half-day excursions which cover a lot of information about the historic site.
Prague Castle has both an official guided tour and an official audio guide you may want to consider.
There are even night tours you can take.
If you’re more interested in the self-guided route, there are three different types of tickets that provide admission to certain areas of the castle: Circuit A, Circuit B, and Circuit C.
While Circuit A and C include special exhibitions, Circuit B is the most affordable choice.
It covers the cost of admission to sites such as St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, and Daliborka Tower.
There are a few different ways to save money on both Prague Castle tours and tickets. We cover these options in the discounts section below.
There are many interesting you will discover at Prague Castle, and this section provides a map and self-guided walking tour that summarizes them.
This self-guided tour is a shortened version of our Prague Castle audio tour (We also have one of Old Town + the Jewish Quarter).
Here’s a sample.
The tour is researched and recorded by one of our local tour guides and costs just €1.99 per download.
Click on the map to enlarge.
For the most part, the First Courtyard is a latecomer to the castle grounds, but you can still see several phases of the castle’s history here.
If you look to the Western edge, you’ll see the Matthias Gate, built in 1614 and named for Matthias, King of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Emperor.
Empress Maria Theresa commissioned changes to the castle.
Her architect, Nicolo Pacassi, designed the buildings of the New Royal Palace, which enclose the First and Second Courtyards.
Look to the top of the columns on either side of Gate of the Giants, the metalwork that now encloses the First Court, and you’ll see the Wrestling Titans designed by Ignác Platzer.
The statue outside the First Courtyard gates is of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia following the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
Besides overseeing huge changes in the government, Masaryk also made some changes to the castle.
In the First Courtyard, he added the austere flagpoles on either side of the Matthias Gate, made of pine tree trunks.
He also added the two additional gates at either corner of the courtyard; using these gates, Masaryk could come and go from the castle without ever passing under the insignia of emperors.
Changing of the Guards Prague Castle
If you decide to watch the changing of the guard at noon, this is the place.
The castle is guarded by a special division of the Czech military, and while there’s a small, minimal ceremonial changing of the guard hourly, the one at noon is much more elaborate and includes a brass band.
This is where you’ll find the New Royal Palace, which mostly still serves state functions today.
From where you’ve entered, the main sight is the Chapel of the Holy Cross: a wide, white building with a tower built into its left end and a small cross at the top center.
Chapel of the Holy Cross
Looking to the left of the chapel, you can see a couple of small features standing in the middle of the courtyard:
Kohl’s Fountain, a 1686 addition that brings up water from the Brusnice Stream below the Powder Bridge.
Further left, the short northern side of the courtyard used to be the Royal Stables.
In 1583, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II had ramparts and a vicarage torn down to make room for his horse collection.
Today, this location is the home of the Prague Castle Picture Gallery.
Some of the more notable relics from the cathedral are actually on display at the Chapel of the Holy Cross in the Second Courtyard, which is the home of the Treasure of St. Vitus’ Cathedral exhibit.
This attraction includes artifacts from as early as the 11th century, and it’s a lot less crowded on average than the cathedral.
You will need tickets to see this exhibition, and you can purchase them individually in the Second Courtyard.
Alternatively, entry is included with a Circuit C ticket.
Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II was famous as an art collector and art patron; he’s a major reason for Prague’s history as one of Europe’s great cultural centers.
As an emperor, Rudolf acquired much of his collection through war and conquest, and while Prague has a history of battles won, it’s also had its share of losses.
One notable loss was in 1648 at the end of the Thirty Years War, one of the worst chapters of Central European history.
As the final peace negotiations were underway, the Swedish Empire took one last chance to invade Prague and carry off most of Rudolf’s extremely valuable collection.
This hasn’t kept the collection from amassing to over 4,000 pieces, about 100 of which are on display at any given time, but only a few are pieces Rudolf ever touched.
You can get individual tickets for either of these, or they’re included together on a Circuit C ticket.
The cost is the same either way – 250 CZK for the Chapel of the Holy Cross, 100 CZK for the Picture Gallery, or 350 CZK for a Circuit C ticket that includes both.
About halfway down the passage that will take you to the Fourth Courtyard, there’s a window that looks into the ruins of the oldest church on the grounds and one of the oldest in the region.
The Church of the Virgin Mary was built in the 9th century when both the castle and the local practice of Christianity were new.
This was a small church with an adjoining cemetery, and it lasted a few centuries before it burned down.
Garden on the Bastion
At the end of the passage is the Fourth Courtyard, the main feature of which is the Garden on the Bastion.
It’s named for a 13th-century bastion that probably once stood here, part of the castle’s medieval defenses.
The building you see today broke ground in 1344 when Prague first became the home of an archbishop.
The cathedral was only finally considered finished in 1929, after almost six centuries of off-and-on construction.
St. Vitus Cathedral
From the outside, you can see one of the last touches added to it: high above the doors is a Rose Window.
It is a signature of Gothic design, made up of scenes from the Biblical creation story, and positioned to let in a flood of light during the right time of the day.
Today the cathedral is still the seat of the Archbishop of Prague, the largest church in the country, and one of the landmarks of Gothic architecture in the world.
One hallmark of Gothic architecture is extreme detail, and this cathedral has no shortage of architectural details and artifacts in that style.
It’s free to take a quick peek inside, but you will need to pay to explore the cathedral.
If you aren’t planning to go in, you can still get a feel for Gothic detail by way of the central pair of bronze doors on this side.
The full name of the building is the Cathedral of St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas, and St. Adalbert – all of whom are buried inside alongside several kings, nobility, clergy, and architects.
This is the site of Old Provosty, formerly a home for the Bishop of Prague. This building is now part of the Czech President’s office, one of the areas not usually open to visitors.
As you pass along the front of the building, notice a small sandstone statue of St. Wenceslas high up on the far corner, here since 1662.
Past that, you’ll see an obelisk. The obelisk puts us back into the presidency of Masaryk and the changes he commissioned to the castle.
It was placed to commemorate the Czech dead of World War I.
Finally, in the middle of the Courtyard is a statue of St. George on a pedestal. This is a reproduction of a gothic statue from the 14th century.
The original is a rare example of cast bronze from that era, and you can see it in the National Gallery.
This is another side of the St. Vitus Cathedral, and it’s somewhat historically relevant as well.
After all, during the 14th century, this was actually the front of the cathedral.
Look above the doors to see a mosaic, the Golden Portal, depicting a scene of the biblical Last Judgment, with a particular focus on Czech saints.
This tower is the home of Sigmund the bell, the creation of bellmaker Tomas Jaros.
The previous bell came crashing down when a fire destroyed its supports. Sigmund is the replacement.
Unlike many church bells, the ringing of Sigmund has never been mechanized – it’s still a manual endeavor that takes six people.
You can pay to walk to the top of the tower for some spectacular views of Prague.
The Old Royal Palace has been the site of a statehouse since its origins, and it still serves some ceremonial state functions.
Several rooms of the original 12th-century palace are still there. Vladislav Hall is one of the most notable rooms in the Old Royal Palace.
It’s named for King Vladislav II who had this enormous room built for tournaments on horseback indoors, with stairs that horses could traverse.
Climb up to one floor below ground and you’re in the castle’s Gothic period.
This floor contains the exhibit called The Story of Prague Castle, the most comprehensive historical display you’ll find here.
If you’d like to see the history of the castle in a more orderly way, this exhibit has you covered, with artifacts and models of what the castle probably looked like at every phase.
All of this is spread through twenty rooms in the 14th-century gothic upper basement of the Old Royal Palace.
It also has specialized exhibits about life around the castle, including church, burial, eating and drinking, scholarship, disasters, and recoveries.
Like so many ancient buildings, Prague Castle is built on a site that’s been useful to humans for longer than we know, and the artifacts found here go back as much as five millennia.
It’s got a section particularly for children, and there’s interactivity throughout to make the exhibits as enjoyable as possible.
Access is available with a Circuit A ticket, but you can also pay for admission just to this exhibit. It’s 140 CZK for an adult, 70 CZK with a discount, and 200 CZK for families.
In the summer season, this exhibit runs slightly different hours from the other historical sites – 9 am to 5 pm, rather than 10 to 6. Written information is in Czech and English
St. George’s Basilica is the oldest whole building in the castle, with construction starting in around 920.
St. George’s Basilica
The towers (named Adam and Eve) and the crypt are from the 12th century and the main façade is from the 14th century.
Ghere was a 20th-century renovation meant to bring its interior back to its original appearance.
If you go inside, you’ll see a much simpler approach than in St. Vitus’ Cathedral.
The oldest elements are the frescoes around the choir space and a relief sculpture of Mary and Jesus located in the crypt.
It’s part of Circuit Tickets A +B.
Prague is a musical city, and St. George’s Basilica is the most frequent concert venue at the castle. Here is the schedule.
This Eastern part of the castle takes you further from the royal palaces, into the areas where the nobility and working people lived.
Like most things you can see in the area, this location was built after a fire in the 16th century.
Later, when Maria Theresa was transforming the castle, the nobility had gone through some decline. She turned this building into a residence for poor, unmarried noblewomen.
With the establishment of democracy in 1918, the home was abolished.
This lane is full of tiny houses. Many of them are souvenir shops now, but they were residences until the conclusion of World War II.
This is when the government of Czechoslovakia reclaimed them and gave them the bright colors you see now.
The house numbers count down as you proceed east. It’s easy to imagine that small, colorful housing would have once belonged to artists, and sure enough, writer Franz Kafka spent a year writing in #22.
Craftsmen came to live here, and for a while, the street was called Goldsmith Lane. #15 was actually a goldsmith’s residence.
It’s free to visit between 17:00 (5 pm) and closing, otherwise, it’s part of Tickets A + B.
You can reach the next major landmark – Daliborka Tower – from a stairway in #12 at the end of the street.
Entering Daliborka Tower, you can see part of the prison facility, including instruments of torture.
You can also see the access point of a kind of solitary confinement chamber in the bottom of the tower, into which a person had to be lowered with a pulley.
The name Daliborka comes from the name of one of its first prisoners, the knight Dalibor of Kozojedy, who was imprisoned here and eventually executed in 1498.
Across from the Lobkowicz Palace and downhill from the Rosenberg Palace you’ll find the Supreme Burgrave’s House.
The Supreme Burgrave was a high-ranking member of the nobility who was appointed, usually for life, to serve as the king’s second-in-command.
Besides the Burgraves, Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, also known as Charlemagne, lived here for a short time while his palace was being improved.
The 1541 fire left its mark here, too. The Supreme Burgrave’s House was rebuilt and the Black Tower, the square structure all the way to the right, got its name from the blackening of its walls.
The South Gardens run all along the length of the castle’s southern wall, with the Old Royal Palace and its neighbors towering above on one side, and on the other, the view over Prague.
Belevedere Pavillion (South Gardens)
As you traverse it from east to west, the first point of interest you’ll come to is Bellevue Pavilion, a columned overlook.
You’ll see Classical Greek touches here – the small fountain and its pedestal, the statues, and the Doric columns along the pavilion.
A little further along, you’ll find a small obelisk along the pathway. Like the obelisk near St. Vitus’ Cathedral, this is a memorial, but to someone who survived.
Defenestration of Prague
Right by it is a protruding portion of the palace walls with vines climbing the lower floors.
This is the site of a famous Defenestration of Prague from the Old Royal Palace.
Looking up, you can picture the fall and how lucky anyone would have been to survive.
Originally the site of medieval vineyards, this spot became an Italian Renaissance garden in the mid-16th century, under the rule of Emperor Ferdinand I.
Rudolf II, the collector of art and horses and everything else, made it the home of exotic plants and animals brought from afar.
In 1554, an ambassador from Turkey gave Rudolf the gift of tulips, which bloomed here for the first time in Europe, before their famous connection with the Netherlands.
There are several interesting locations to visit within these gardens including the Ball Game Hall, the Orangery, Queen Anne’s Summer Palace, and much more.
This section covers free tours of Prague Castle.
These outings are pay-what-you-wish, which means there is no cost to join and you get to decide what to pay after it’s over if anything.
These services do not include admission to any of the landmarks. Instead, they provide historical information from outside each building.
However, you can expect to see at least the entrance of St. Vitus Cathedral for free!
This tour is perfect for anyone who needs a basic orientation of Prague Castle.
These outings cover many locations in and around the castle grounds, including:
Note that Charles Bridge is outside the castle grounds.
As some tours cover both the castle grounds and the surrounding district, you may need a tram ticket (24 CZK) to take this tour.
Be sure to read our guide on public transportation in Prague.
This company offers a free tour of Prague Castle both in the morning at 10:00 am and in the evening at 17:30 (5:30 pm).
And although this tour is shorter (just 90 min) than the others listed below, it spends much more time exploring Prague Castle than the other companies.
This tour begins and ends at Prague Castle.
Their 2.5 hour Prague Castle and Charles Bridge tour will take you inside the Cathedral and down the Golden Lane, as well as many other notable sites in the area.
Tours are available daily at 14:00 (2 pm).
Aside from their day and night tours of the old town area, this company also provides a tour of Prague Castle that actually finishes at Charles Bridge rather than starting there like most of the services listed above.
This 2 ½ hour tour is available daily at 14:00 (2 pm) in both English and Spanish.
In addition to their Old Town and Jewish Quarter tour, this company also offers an outing which covers the Charles Bridge to Prague Castle Tour at 14:45 (2:45 pm).
The tour runs daily and takes 2 hours and 30 min.
This 2nd tour is timed so that you could take both of their tours and have a 90-minute break in between for lunch.
Much like their competitors, this company also provides a Charles Bridge and Prague Castle tour for free at 1 pm and 3:30 pm every day.
This is an excellent alternative if you can’t manage to sign up for one of the other tours on our list, and it’s nice that the trip is provided twice a day instead of just once.
Whether you’re interested in learning more about the castle grounds and district or you want to get a deeper look by entering some of the buildings at Prague Castle, a paid tour is definitely worth consideration.
While some paid outings include just basic highlights, as well as skip-the-line admission to the castle, other outings are half-day guided tours that include an in-depth history of this area.
This section covers the best-paid tours of Prague Castle, including official tours provided at the landmark and as well as a night tour.
Whether you’re looking to save some money or you want just a brief overview of Prague Castle before exploring both the interior and exterior on your own, this is an excellent option.
In addition to providing an introductory overview from a professional tour guide, this outing includes a Circuit B ticket to Prague Castle which covers entry to the following locations:
This is a great way to get skip-the-line tickets before heading to the castle.
Even better, your guide will tell you where the shortest security check queues are located so you can get into each building quickly.
Keep in mind that your guide won’t provide much of an actual tour. This service is more about preparing you to take a self-guided trip around the castle complex complete with a ticket to Prague Castle.
Also, if you’d rather discover this historic site on your own, this is an excellent alternative to a traditional paid tour.
This is one of the most highly-rated tour companies in Europe, and they currently offer a tour that covers the Prague Castle grounds.
The Sandemans tour does not include a Circuit A, B, or C ticket, but you can always purchase those tickets separately if you want to spend even more time visiting the various landmarks included.
Visitors can expect to see and learn about several notable sites including the following:
Sandemans provides a slightly longer tour than some of their competitors, and they cover locations that aren’t included on other tours of Prague Castle such as Wallenstein Palace and the Deer Moat.
Much like their competitors, this tour also includes a walk across the Charles Bridge and covers the district surrounding the castle.
As such, you’ll need a tram ticket (24 CZK) to take the tour. Be sure to read our guide on public transportation in Prague.
If you’re looking for a slightly more in-depth tour which includes admission to some of the most notable buildings surrounding the castle, this half-day outing is an excellent option.
In addition to learning about the Prague Castle grounds, you’ll also enter the following locations with the included Circuit B ticket:
While on this tour, you’ll also see and learn about sites such as the home of Franz Kafka, the vineyards of St. Wenceslas, and hear the story of the Philosopher’s Stone.
One thing that sets this outing apart from the others is that you don’t need a tram ticket and they offer hotel pick-ups/transfers by air-conditioned bus from the city center.
As you can see, tickets for this tour are a bit more costly than some of the other options we’ve mentioned, but it’s also much longer and it includes a ticket to enter Prague Castle.
It’s also nice that you don’t need to pay for any additional tickets or services, as this tour covers everything you need to enjoy the experience.
While most people will visit Prague Castle during the day, there’s something magical about seeing the beautiful landmark lit up after the sun goes down.
This tour covers the Prague Castle grounds but does not include admission to any of the buildings.
You will, however, hear detailed information about the grounds and learn about the Old Town neighborhood of Prague.
In addition to the castle, you’ll also see the following sites:
Although this tour does not include admission to any of the buildings at the castle, it does cover the cost of a tram ticket, allowing you to reach all of the locations on the trip.
Whether you’re a night owl or you want to discover the most historic landmarks in the city after dark, this is an excellent opportunity to experience Prague Castle and the city in general from a different perspective.
If you’d rather take a self-guided tour of Prague Castle, it’s worth noting that the castle grounds are open until 10 pm each night.
The historical buildings are only open until 5 pm each night (4 pm in the winter), so you’ll need to visit them during the day if you plan to purchase a Circuit A, B, or C ticket.
Official Prague Castle Tours
In addition to all the paid guided tours provided by independent professional tour guides and companies, you can also take one of the tours offered directly from Prague Castle.
The standard tour is available in Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian. This outing covers sites such as St. Vitus Cathedral and the Old Royal Palace.
While it’s not as extensive as some of the other tours on our list, it’s more affordable than most of the options we’ve already mentioned.
It provides one with a very good overview of the landmark.
Tickets for this tour can be purchased only at the Information Centre in the Third Courtyard of Prague Castle.
The only problem with this tour is that you have to purchase tickets at the castle, which means you won’t be able to skip the line and it might take a while to get them during popular times of the year.
If you’re short on time, you may want to consider another option.
If you’re really interested in taking a self-guided tour, you may want to consider picking up the official audio guide provided by Prague Castle.
This guide covers details about a total of 96 different spots at this historic location, and it takes about 3 hours to hear all of the information provided.
The official audio guide is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Czech.
Topics covered include both the exterior and interior of the castle.
While the tour itself will take 3 hours to enjoy, that doesn’t account for the time it will take to walk from one spot to the next while using the audio guide.
If you want to take your time, we recommend purchasing a full day audio guide so you won’t have to worry about missing out.
Prague Castle audio guides can only be purchased at the Information Centres in the Second and Third Courtyard.
As with the official tours, you have to get these at the castle, which means you can’t skip the line. If you’re looking to save some time, consider another option.
We’ve already covered some great tours, but there are even more options you may want to consider.
Many guided tours are run by well-respected tour companies. Others are led by independent professional guides.
If you’re interested in seeing more than just Prague Castle, you can also get a combo package that includes admission to the castle as well as other attractions or activities in Prague.
Alternatively, you could take a self-guided tour to explore the landmark and see the most significant sites in the area.
Visitors planning out a self-guided trip should keep in mind that Circuit B tickets are included with some tourist passes, allowing you to save some money on this activity. Read the discount section below for details.
This section lists some of the best deals you can get on tours and tickets to Prague Castle, including tourist passes, combo packages, and opportunities for free admission.
If you’re planning to visit more than a few attractions while in Prague, it may be a good idea to purchase a tourist pass, as admission to Prague Castle is included with the following two services:
Each pass includes a Circuit B ticket to Prague Castle, allowing you to visit several notable buildings on the castle grounds.
If you’re also interested in a tour of the castle, you may want to consider either the official tour or the official audio guide as a supplement to this ticket.
Depending on which pass you choose, you could save 50% or more off ticket prices for several different landmarks and activities in the city.
While the Prague Card is an excellent choice for anyone planning on visiting for a few days, you might want to choose the Prague City Pass if you’re going to be in the city for a week or more.
The only real disadvantage of the City Pass is that it doesn’t include as many attractions as other Prague tourist passes.
If you’re wondering about some of the other locations and activities are included with these passes, here are a few of the most notable options:
For more information about how to save money with these services, please check out our post on Prague tourist passes.
Prague Castle tours are included in a few different hop-on, hop-off bus tour combo deals and in packages with other notable landmarks in or around the city.
This section covers some of the best combo packages which include tours of the castle.
City Sightseeing + Prague Castle
City Sightseeing + Prague Castle + Jewish Quarter
City Sightseeing Bus & Boat + Prague Castle
City Sightseeing Bus & Boat + Prague Castle + Jewish Quarter
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour + Prague Castle + Cruise
Prague Castle + Lobkowicz Palace