The statue of St. Anne on Charles Bridge in Prague is a model of solace. Image by Kayti Burt.
Prague has a lot to offer the introverted traveler. It is a relatively quiet city, and the Czech people are more reserved in public spaces than is common in cities of similar size. There is the occasional British bachelor’s party to avoid, but travelers don’t have to work too hard to find peace in a place filled with cozy cobblestone lanes, humbling architecture, and a laid-back pub culture. And, even if you do get caught in a swarm of tourists, Prague is a city that makes you want to try, charming even short-term travelers with its intangibly Bohemian brand of magic. There is much to see and do in the Czech capital, but here are five places that can be especially suited for introverted visitors looking for depth and/or the occasional bout of solitude in the Golden City.
Charles Bridge in the early hours
Charles Bridge teems with tourists, but it’s a site that shouldn’t be missed. As a willful insomniac, I once walked across the cobblestone span at three a.m., one of the times during my nine-month stay there when I felt closest to the city. The bridge was impossibly deserted, making me feel as if there were nothing separating me from the ancient River and the looming, centuries-old structures. However, if you understandably don’t feel like losing sleep to catch the bridge by yourself, sunrise on the Charles Bridge is breathtaking. You’ll most likely run into early-rising tourists and photographers who make their living capturing new daylight over the city, but people tend to stay quiet in the face of such a sight: the coming together of natural and man-made grace.
On the eastern side of the Vltava River lies Petřín Park, a forested hill that offers views of the spires below. During the non-winter months, the leafy trees of Petřín provide a barrier between you and the modern metropolis beyond while you climb the meandering paths. If you don’t feel like walking up, a funicular offers a mechanical alternative. At the top, climb to the top of a mini-Eiffel Tower, explore the rose garden in the spring, or simply admire the view, reflecting on the knowledge that much of the stone used to build the great city was mined from Petřín itself.
Lucerna dance parties
As an introvert, I tend to avoid loud, crowded spaces – but, sometimes, you just feel like dancing. A favorite escape of mine is the Lucerna Music Bar’s 80s and 90s video dance parties. On Friday and Saturday nights the club breaks out two large screens and projects the original videos from 80s and 90s pop classics. One of the reasons I generally dislike clubs and loud bars is because it can be hard to hold down conversation. It can feel like I spend the entire night in a superficial stupor, impervious to in-depth connection. At Lucerna, music videos provide an interest point even if conversation cannot – and make for great discussion topics on the tram ride back to your hostel.
Arguably incorrect legend has it that Prague began on Vyšehrad (literally translated to “high castle”), a sprawling historical fort overlooking the city. The peaceful green perch hosts the Gothic church of Saints Peter and Paul, as well as Slavin Cemetery, which holds many a Czech historical figure – composer Antonin Dvořák, playwright Karel Čapek (who coined the word “robot”), and Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha (Don’t miss the stained glass window Mucha designed for Prague Castle’s St. Vitus Cathedral). Vyšehrad is large enough that, even with its fair share of tourists, it can feel like you have the Gothic arches and Baroque ironwork fences to yourself.
Opened in 1902, Café Louvre has played host to the likes of Czech novelist Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein in the course of its storied history. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, though. The café was destroyed, its light fixtures thrown out the window and into the avenue below, during the Communist coup of 1948 and wasn’t reopened until 1992, three years after the overthrow of the Communist government. You may come for the history, but you’ll stay for the opulent décor and excellent hot chocolate. The café also makes delicious chocolate and honey cakes and offers billiards in the back. With the richness of both the desserts and the history, this is the perfect locale to find depth and decadence in this amazing city.
Do you find it difficult to stay energized when immersed in a new place? What kinds of introvert-friendly locales do you like to visit while traveling? Sound off in the comments below!