You might be wondering when is the best time to visit the Charles Bridge. On a recent trip to Prague we visited the iconic bridge several times during our trip. I mean how could you not, especially considering it is one of the most visited sights in Prague. With that in mind though, it can get really busy. So the best time to go is definitely before it becomes swarmed with tourists. We have put together a post explaining why you need to visit the Charles Bridge at sunrise, as well as providing you with some information about the bridge and its history.
The Charles Bridge is Prague’s oldest Bridge and was built to replace the Judith Bridge that had been damaged by floods in 1342. Construction started in 1357 by Charles IV and it was not completed until 1402. Whilst it has had many names such as the Stone Bridge, or the Prague Bridge, it came to be known as the Charles Bridge in 1870.
The bridge joins the Old Town with Mala Strana and at each end of the bridge sits a tower. These towers can be climbed for some pretty spectacular views of the bridge and the city. The bridge is 621 metres long and about 10 metres wide. As you walk over the bridge you will be able to observe the 30 baroque style statues that line either side. These statues were said to have been erected during the 1700’s and these days most are replicas due to damage.
The statues on the bridge depict various saints and patron saints. Each one tells a story and if you get the chance, try to spend a little time admiring each one.
The most popular however is the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, a Czech martyr saint. He was executed by being thrown into the Vltava River from the bridge. Wenceslas IV who was reigning at the time had ordered this as he had refused to share the Queen’s confessions. A lot of this was to do with the conflicting power of church and state. You will find a bronze cross between statues 17 and 19 which is said to be the place where he was thrown off. These days tradition dictates that touching the statue is supposed to be good luck and will ensure your return to Prague. If you have seen how beautiful Prague is you will try anything once to ensure you get to come back. At least in our opinion anyway.
When is the best time to visit the Charles Bridge?
So when is the best time to visit the bridge? We recommend sunrise. For starters there are nowhere near as many people as there are during the day. As you make your way over to the bridge in the dark you will find only a handful of other people with the same idea.
Together you wait, and watch as the sky goes from black to pink. It is an incredible moment and well worth the early morning start. There is nothing else like being at the Charles bridge at sunrise. It’s so quiet you can hear the Vltava flowing beneath you and as you gaze out to the water you will see the city’s many swans paddling away ready for a new day.
For us this was an incredible experience. We even happened to see a bride and groom getting their wedding photos taken at this time as well. Which if you ask me really is dedication!
Other times to visit
You will probably find yourself crossing the Bridge several times during your stay in Prague. And each time it never gets old. By about 10am the bridge comes to life as tourists, artists, and musicians flock here. It does get really busy so if you are in a rush, cross the river via a different bridge. But if you are like us, you will appreciate the slow walk which enables you to take in your surroundings.
Another one of our favourite memories was crossing the bridge in the evening. The lamps provide soft light and as you look around you could be mistaken for thinking that you have gone back in time. One of the evenings it started to snow and so we kept walking with a warm glass of mulled wine in hand and soaked in the atmosphere.
A word of warning
As a place that attracts a crowd of tourists, the bridge also attracts pickpockets. Particularly at busy times, keep your wits about you and you will be fine.
Where to stay near the Charles Bridge
If you want to visit the Charles Bridge at sunrise then we recommend you stay in accommodation close by. In fact we purposely chose our hotel based on its proximity to the bridge. Our top hotel recommendation has to be Lokal Inn. Only a couple of minutes walk from the bridge this hotel is really good value.
The rooms were spacious and clean, and we loved that it was so close to everything. There is also a bar and restaurant downstairs which really adds to the atmosphere. For booking information you can have a look at the hotel website directly.
And if you want to know what it’s like visiting Prague in autumn this article might be handy.
And if you are still wondering if Prague is worth visiting after reading this article then here is some more info.