Petrin Lookout Tower and the surrounding park and gardens is a great place to start exploring Prague. It’s definitely one of my favourite places to be and because of that I’ve put together everything you need to know about Petrin Lookout Tower in Prague, including my local insider information, history and practical tourist guide for 2023.
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What is Petrin Tower?
The Petrin Tower, also known as the Petrin Lookout Tower, is a steel framework tower located on Petrin Hill. It was built in 1891 as part of the Jubilee Exhibition held at the Holesovice Exhibition Ground next to Stromovka Park, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I. The tower was designed by Frantisek Prasil, and it was built in just a few months using 175 tons of iron.
The tower was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and it was built at a ratio of 1:5 to the original tower. It stands at a height of 63.5 meters (208 feet) and has 299 steps that lead to its observation deck. The observation deck is located at the same altitude as the real Eiffel Tower, and it offers stunning panoramic views of Prague.
Initially, the Petrin tower was used as an observation and radio and television transmission tower. During World War II, the Germans used the tower to jam radio signals from the Czech resistance and at one point they apparently wanted to take down the tower because it was spoiling the view from the Prague Castle. After the war, the tower was restored and opened to the public once again.
Today, Petrin Tower is a major tourist attraction in Prague, and it is visited by thousands of tourists every year. It has undergone several renovations and upgrades over the years, including the installation of an elevator in 1999 to make it more accessible to visitors.
The tower was closed to the public from 1979 to 1992 when it was mainly used as a television transmission tower. When the Zizkov Tower was built in 1992, the Petrin tower was re-furbished and opened to the public again in 2002.
Is Petrin Lookout Tower worth visiting?
Oh, that’s a tricky one! I’ve climbed the tower many times and I’ve always loved it and always enjoyed the views from the top. I also liked the exhibition under the tower.
But, I made sure that I visited during off-peak hours and deliberately didn’t go up when it was very busy as all of this will make the visit a bit stressful. I would also recommend going up only when the weather and visibility is good, otherwise, you might not see much.
The entrance price has recently increased to 220 CZK for adults or 150 CZK concession (children under 5 go free). If you want to use the lift it’s another 150 CZK or 50 CZK if you have a concession ticket. I guess that’s still OK, although it’s a much higher entrance fee than other viewing towers in Prague; as a comparison, you can have about 3-4 coffees for the same cost or a full lunch meal with soup in a non-touristy restaurant.
So, whilst I think that climbing up 299 steps might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I definitely think that just walking under the tower and in the park below and taking everything in is sometimes just as good as visiting the tower inside.
Since Prague is very walkable, I often take a long walk from the Ethnographic Museum of the National Museum in the Kinsky Garden and walk up through the Hunger Wall to Petrin Hill park, have a coffee at the coffee cart (or ice-cream) and sit at the bench bellow the tower (watching everyone else queuing up!) and then continuing to walk towards the Strahov Monastery and Prague Castle.
Petrin Lookout Tower was built within 3 months and completely opened within 4 months of starting the initial ground works.
At the same time the cable car was built to help to get the visitors to the top of the hill. At this time (1891) the last stop was ‘Nebozizek’ which is only half-way up the hill. From there the visitors had to walk the rest of the hill up.
During the Jubilee Exhibition of 1891 the biggest attraction (apart from visiting the actual Jubilee Exhibition in Holesovice) was to take the cable car up the Petrin Hill and climb Petrin Lookout Tower.
Make sure you don’t miss
There is a small exhibition at the bottom of the Petrin Tower (both in Czech & English language) about the tower developments and includes historic photos.
I loved looking at the old photos of people promenading and enjoying themselves at the time when this was the biggest attraction in Prague. I think it helps to connect with the place and understand its importance even if these days it might not look like it!
It might sound obvious but don’t pay to go up to the Petrin Tower if the weather and sky is not clear and it’s not good visibility. You’ll be only disappointed with the views, especially if you are thinking of taking photos.
Also, if you are thinking of taking photos of Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square from Petrin Tower, you will be too far away for this. You will, however, get a good view of the Strahov Monastery, Prague Castle and the Lesser Town in the distance. You will be able to spot Charles Bridge and people walking on the bridge in the distance.
The tower moves a little as you and other people walk up and whilst it’s completely safe, it’s a bit strange feeling (especially if you have difficulty with heights).
Petrinske sady 633, 118 00 Prague 1
How to get to Petrin Lookout tower
There are several ways to get to the Petrin Tower:
The cable car (Funicular): The easiest and most popular way to get to the top of Petrin Hill is by taking the funicular railway. The funicular starts at Ujezd and takes you to the top of the hill in just a few minutes. From there, it’s just a short walk to the tower.
Tickets are 60 CZK (one way) or free if you have one day or 3 days Prague public transport travel card.
Please, make sure to mark (stamp) your ticket in the machines at the bottom of the cable car before you take the ride up. There are inspectors waiting on the top, checking tickets and if you don’t have a stamped ticket with a date and time, they will fine you 1000 CZK on the spot. Most people think that buying the ticket is the way you ‘validate’ the ticket, but it’s the stamping in the yellow machines as you pass through to the cable car that makes the ticket valid and official.
Walk: If you’re feeling energetic, you can walk up Petrin Hill to the tower. It’s a steep climb, but the views along the way are worth it. The walk takes around 30-40 minutes, depending on your fitness level. You can start your walk from Ujezd, Strahov Monastery (or Prague Castle), Kinsky Garden or from the side of the Strahov Stadium (get there by 191 bus from Andel – Smichov).
Tram: You can take tram number 9, 12, 15, 20, or 22 to the Ujezd stop, and then walk to the funicular railway or carry on walking to the top of the hill from there.
Taxi or Uber (or Liftago): No car can get directly to Petrin Tower, but you can get close enough if you ask the taxi driver to drop you off at the end of ‘Sermirska Street’ next to the university student accommodation on the top of the Strahov. From there it’s about 10 minutes walk (suitable for wheelchairs) on a fairly level and flat surface. You will walk pass the Rose Garden, the sunken Flower Garden and the Stefanics Observatory, the Mirror Maze Building, church and another garden before you get to the Petrin Tower, so it’s a nice way to walk there.
How to get around Petrin Hill once you are there
The only way to get around is to walk as there is no public transport or car access. The main paths in the park are accessible by wheelchair, but you might still need to negotiate a few steps. The tower itself has a lift, which takes you to 2/3 of the building to the viewing platform (if you can manage the stairs you can also walk all the way up to the top of the tower).
Petrin Tower is open every day (Monday – Sunday) all year round.
- January – March, 10 am – 6 pm
- April – May, 9 am – 8 pm
- June – September, 9 am – 9 pm
- October – December, 10 – 8 pm
The last tickets are sold 30 minutes before the closing times.
The basic adult entrance fee is 220 CZK (students or senior citizen 150 CZK, family ticket 440 CZK).
There is an extra fee for using the elevator 150 CZK for adults, but senior citizens and adult with a child younger than five years pays only 50 CZK.
You can also buy combined tickets for Petrin Tower and the nearby Mirror Maze, which cost less than if you were to buy the tickets separately.
Best time to visit
The Petrin Tower can get a little busy during the day, so it’s best to come either right in the morning when the tower opens or later in the afternoon or close to the closing time. By then the day tours usually move to the centre of Prague and Petrin Hill is a little quieter.
You will also find weekdays less busy than weekends or Fridays and since the tower is open all year round, you can also visit off-season or in the winter.
How much time to allow for your visit
If you are not paying to use the elevator, you will need to climb 299 steps to get to the top of the tower. Once you are there you will probably want to take some pictures, so I’d allow at least 45-60 minutes for your visit. There is also an exhibition about the history of Petrin Hill with old photos, which can take another 20 minutes to look at.
What to take with you
Don’t forget to take your camera phone (or camera), good enclosed shoes (for walking at Petrin Hill and easy walking up the 299 steps to the top of the tower) and perhaps an extra layer or a hat as it can be quite windy up the top of the tower.
There is a cafe directly at the Petrin Tower, which sells tea, coffee, snacks and ice-cream. I’ve also seen a coffee cart in the park next to the benches opposite the tower.
You can also get refreshments in the newly open ‘I love you’ bistro, which also sells savoury snacks, ice-creams and cocktails and it’s located to the side as you walk towards the Strahov Monastery.
There is also an ice-cream van (in the spring, summer and early autumn) right by the entrance at the Petrin Hill cable car.
If you fancy more of a ‘dining in’ experience, then you can also try the ‘Atelier’ restaurant, which is located behind the tower in a glass square building. You get a beautiful view of the park, the food is good but expect the prices to be matching the prices of food in the centre of Prague (mains start from 265 CZK). Also, be prepared to wait when the restaurant is busy.
There are no toilets at the Petrin Tower itself, however, there are (payable) toilets close by in the park under the tower (along the Hunger Wall).
There are no shops nearby, only a few tourist souvenirs that can be purchased at Petrin Tower and a few places with refreshments (see my notes above).
Can I do this independently or do I need a guided tour to visit?
You can definitely visit Petrin Tower by yourself, it’s very easy to find your way around and very safe to walk around.
How to avoid crowds around Petrin Tower
The best times and days to visit the Petrin Tower to avoid the crowds are weekdays (Monday – Thursday), evenings (or late afternoons) and off-season times (early spring, winter and late autumn).
What else you can see and do nearby
- Visit the Mirror Maze (next to the Petrin Lookout Tower and opposite the church)
- Visit the Stefanics Observatory (next to the Cable Car entrance on the top of Petrin Hill)
- See the rose gardens at the Petrin Hill
- Walk towards the Strahov Monastery (about 10 minutes walk) following the Hunger Wall and further to the Prague Castle (20-25 minutes)
- Walk along the Hunger Wall to the Kinsky Garden for a longer walk (20-30 minutes depending on how far you want to walk – Kinsky Square to get no.9, 12 or 15 tram)
- Walk down the hill via Vlasska Street to see The Hospital Church of the Merciful Sisters of Saint Karla Boromejský in Prague, the Lobkowicz Chateau and Garden (now German Embassy) and more quirky streets under the Prague Castle. The street will eventually take you to the side street next to Vrtba Garden and Lesser Town Square (where you can continue your walk to the centre via Charles Bridge or see the Kampa Island with Lennon Wall first).
This blog post was originally written on 15 May 2023 and last updated on 15 May 2023