Best Photo Spots To Photograph Prague Castle and Charles Bridge
I had been longing to visit Prague for years. During my 6-week Europe family vacation in the summer, it certainly became one of the most important stop.
Before I visited a new place, I typically followed my general guideline to maximize my chance to photograph in the right place at the right time.
I had to confess, I did little homework before the trip. Traveling with kids oftentimes meant “Carpe Diem”. I wanted to maximize my photo experience, but I also had to be more flexible to accommodate the schedule of our kids whenever there was conflict.
Upon arrival, I set a reasonable expectation: as long as I could get some good shots of Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, I would be happy.
Fortunately, I exceeded my expectation.
Here are some of my favorite photo spots.
1 - Letna Park
I didn’t see this iconic image until I saw a painting on Charles Bridge at the very beginning of our trip.
After diligent online search, mapping, and recon, I saw the view with my own eyes in Letna Park. It was like treasure hunt and felt so gratifying!
Look for Letenský profil on the map. Even with a toddler and a baby, it was still a pretty easy walk for us, from the east park entrance. There were a number of lookouts, just find the one with less obstructed view from trees and bushes, and most importantly the one where you could include all the bridges into your frame.
The park was very large, but much less crowded than Charles Bridge and Old Town. So it topped the overall photo experience for me in Prague.
See below my photo and setup.
This was my setup (below). You do not need remote shutter release during the golden hour.
2 - Prague Castle Seen On Top of Charles Bridge
Charles Bridge is probably the most crowded place in Prague. To have an unobstructed view, I had to set up my tripod as close to the edge of the bridge, but not tipping over (tip: one of my tripod legs was on the ledge, not on the ground).
I couldn’t avoid part of the bridge in the frame, but that didn’t matter. It actually made the image look more interesting.
3 - Prague Castle Seen At the Base of Charles Bridge
This was one of my most uncomfortable photo positions. There were hundreds of tourists around, and everyone wanted to get the same shot.
I had to wait for at least 15 minutes, while having my camera gear all set up and ready, to get a spot. I first used a 10-stop filter for a long exposure (see below) with wide angle lens, but the photo came out a bit dark. But in order not to claim the spot and possibly piss other tourists behind me, I did not make any further attempt. I swear during the long exposure, there were at least 10 mobile phones over my tripod taking the same photo. (See When And How You Should Use Filters)
I took a few other quick shots as the sky darkened, with a telescope lens this time. Although the water surface wasn’t as smooth as I’d liked (with a long exposure), I was happy with the colors.
With the crowd behind me, I wrapped up quickly. It wasn't the most enjoyable photo experience, but the view and photo was definitely worthwhile.
4 - Charles Bridge Seen from the west bank of Vltava River
Contrary to the above location, this was much low key. There were restaurants nearby and people walking by, but I had plenty of time to enjoy the view all by myself in the darkness.
I took this image several times, with exposure time ranging from 60+sec, 70+sec and 80+sec. Although the lights and reflection were over-exposed in my longest exposure (80+sec, see below), they were such small portion of the image, and I got some interesting light trails from boats passing by my frame.
The shorter exposure time got me perfect exposure, but I had nothing passing by, nor the water surfaced looked as smooth as this one.
The point is - there is no formula of what’s right or wrong of a photo. If I had to choose between an interesting composition with some technical “errors” and a boring composition with “technical perfection”, I would still choose the former. (See Night Photography - How To Start)
5 - Charles Bridge Seen from Střelecký Island
This was photographed in the least crowded spot. It was after 9:30pm, we saw very few people on the island.
It was a bit far from the bridge, but the water was quiet from all the day-time boat activities. So a long exposure got me a smooth water surface and perfect reflection, something I always liked.
6 - Prague Castle and Charles Bridge Seen from East Bank of Vltava River
We had our first dinner in a fine dining restaurant called Mlýnec, as suggested by our Airbnb host. It was close enough to the river, but not right next to it. We didn’t get a balcony table either.
So a few nights later, I walked to the end of Novotného lávka (the riverside lane where Mlýnec was located). There was a restaurant bar, and the outdoor seating area was literally right in front of the river with a perfect view.
I was lucky enough to get a corner table, and managed to take a few shots within 5 minutes. By the time I wrapped up, the waiter hadn’t come back to take my order yet. So I decided to move on to my next location.
This was another shot perhaps 5 minutes walk from the restaurant along the river. Even after 9:30pm, there were photographers and tripods. I took a few other long exposure shots and happily wrapped up my day.
7 - Prague Castle seen from Vyšehrad
We have stayed a total of 8 nights in Prague, the former 4 in Staré Město (old town), and the latter 4 a couple of blocks from the Dancing House.
Vyšehrad was recommended to us by our 2nd Airbnb host, and was less than 10 minutes walk for us. It was further away from the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle compared to Old Town, but offered a panoramic view and different perspective to see the castle in the skyline.
We spent an evening watching sunset there. It was a very peaceful, and nice experience. There were people here and there, but after a few days of non-stop shoulder-rubbing in old town, this felt like heaven.
8 - Charles Bridge from Petrin Lookout Tower
Petrin Tower provided 360 degree panoramic view of the entire city. It was very crowded and had limited space. So it was just for a quick day time visit.
There were many additional photo spots in Prague. I have listed more in our video above.
With regard to landscape photography, the above were my personal favorite.