Is there any end to Prague’s charm? The beautiful Czech city has become a favourite among travellers of Europe and it isn’t hard to see why.
It possesses an enchanting, romantic atmosphere, from its Gothic architecture mixed among pastel-coloured apartment buildings, almost like the vibe you wish Paris had, strolling through pretty cobbled streets with a pastry in hand. And there’s something here for everyone: nights out are fuelled by water-cheap beer and local spirits, romantic strolls for couples, and as I found, it’s a great city for the solo traveller – safe, and plenty of stuff to just walk around and gaze at.
From my description above, you may have pegged Prague as an idyllic city break, and it is. But how should you fill your days aside from wandering through its streets with a trdelnik? Here’s how I recommend filling a long weekend in the Czech capital.
Day 1 – Start early at Charles Bridge
Prague is a popular city among tourists, and one of the most popular things to do is cross Charles Bridge, enjoying the views of the river on either side. But it’s difficult to cross, and even harder to get pictures, in the middle of the day when it is filled with other visitors. If you want to really enjoy it, start early at sunrise – this was what I did and there was hardly another soul on the bridge. Plus the lighting was just gorgeous for photos.
Stop for some breakfast after, depending on what side of the bridge you’re on you can grab pastries and coffee at Cafe Savoy in Malá Strana or a more traditional brunch at Pauseteria near the Old Town Hall.
Take a free walking tour
I did this on my second day and didn’t get nearly as much out of it, having already stumbled across most of the sights day one (it’s an easy city to get around). Sandemans run free walking tours in English and Spanish every hour in the Old Town Square. I’d recommend reserving ahead through their website to guarantee a spot during your chosen hour.
It lasts about three hours and takes you through the main parts of the Old Town, across to the New Town, and then back up past Old Town to visit the Jewish Quarter. Our tour guide also had some handy tips along the way, like pointing out where the ‘good’ exchange bureau is and the best corner shops are.
The downside was it felt like a lot of talking and not much seeing, but you get an idea of the history of the city and the lay of the land. I’d also recommend not eating during the break, by the time I even got my drink order it was time to go.
Go sightseeing solo in the Old Town
It will probably be nearing afternoon by the time the tour ends. Make your way back to the Old Town and down to Dlouha Street for lunch. Post-eats, spend some time exploring around the square and enjoying the sites on your own, taking in the sites such as the Astronomical Clock, Church of Our Lady before Týn, and take a peek inside St. Nicholas Church.
Next, head back up to the Jewish Quarter to check out some of the places you just heard about on the tour, like the Jewish Cemetery.
Afterwards, you’ll probably be in need of a snack. Why not head over to this too-cute little gingerbread shop, Perníčkův sen (the Gingerbread Man’s dream) for some lovely cookies. I brought some home to Matt, forgetting he doesn’t like gingerbread cookies (yeah, I’m not sure why either) and even he liked them! Plus, the shop front is like something out of a fairy tale.
If you still have some time left, take a river cruise down Vltava and enjoy the views of either side of the city.
For dinner, head back to Dlouha Street and check out another one of the great restaurants. You’ll also be well-placed to grab a few drinks afterwards.
Day 2 – Cross over the river to Malá Strana and Prague Castle
Focus on the other side of the bridge today, which is full of sites both quirky and historic. After putting on your best walking shoes or mapping out your tram route (this area is quite steep), head over to Malá Strana.
Start near Charles Bridge and head around the corner to check out the Lennon Wall. The wall, which is the only legal place for graffiti in the city, is covered in decades of brightly coloured paint. The wall popped up after John Lennon’s death in the ’80s and is often filled with Beatles quotes and lyrics and others making their mark on the city.
Visit a record-holding castle
After, start the climb (or grab the tram) to Prague Castle, which dominates Prague’s skyline. The castle, which dates back to the 9th century, is the largest ancient castle in the world. The complex is vast, with several places to see. There are two main types of tickets for unguided tours, which include:
- Circuit A
St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, exhibition “The Story of Prague Castle”, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower, Rosenberg Palace
- Circuit B
St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower
I opted for Circuit B for 250kc and set off exploring. St. Vitus Cathedral was the highlight of the grounds with its grand Gothic architecture, jewel-toned stained glass windows and golden mural on the outside. Meanwhile, Golden Lane is quite fun to explore, peeking through the doors of the traditional little row of houses behind the castle.
Make sure to take some time to enjoy the stunning views from the castle over the rest of the city.
If you have time, stick around for the changing of the guard at noon. I stumbled upon it by accident and watched from the top of the hill rather than crowded around the gates and felt like I had a much better view.
After the castle, head back down the hill and take a stroll through Vojanovy sady, a gorgeous, peaceful park featuring gardens and a lot of peacocks strolling around. I actually didn’t know this place existed before I visited and stumbled upon it, so I was a bit surprised by all the peacocks running around!
For lunch, check out the little street food market underneath Charles Bridge, or check out one of these.
Check out some quirkiness
Malá Strana is also home to some quirky sites and you’ll find weird and wonderful art near the Kafka Museum. This includes the famous piss statue (which moves around having a wee in a pond shaped like the Czech Republic, because…art?). The odd piece is from the imagination of artist David Cerny.
Nearby in Kampa Park you can see another one of this artist’s creations, the creepy, faceless Crawling Babies.
Right around the corner is the narrowest street in Prague, with barely enough for one person to squeeze through.
After, it is sure to be nearly dinner time. Find some inspiration for restaurants here.
Day 3 – New Town
I stayed near Wenceslas Square in an Airbnb, so I saw a lot of the New Town while I was there, but I focused my last day on this area. Start your day at the place where do many historic moments have taken place:
Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) is at the heart of Prague’s New Town, dominated by the statue of St. Wenceslas in front of the historical National Museum building. Check out the museum while you are there. You can get tickets for either the historic building, new building next door, or both.
Make some time for shopping
Check out the shops lining the street around the square. As we don’t have them in the UK, I always make some time to pop into Sephora whenever I’m in a city that has one. Even though this one in Wenceslas Square is quite small, I still came away with a few beauty treats including a few sheet masks and new eyeshadow.
Make sure to grab some trdelnik from one of the places at the bottom of the Square and enjoy it on your way.
Nearby was my favourite place to get souvenirs from was Havel’s Market (Havelské tržiště), just past Wenceslas Square. Unlike many of the other shops in the areas, much of the stuff sold here is made in the Czech Republic. The only downside was a lot of the stalls tend to sell similar goods, but I came away with the usual magnet and a drawing for my travel wall.
If you’ve got some extra time, you could stop by one of Prague’s weirder museums which include the Apple Museum (as in iPhone not fruit), Sex Machines Museum, Museum of Alchemy, Museum of Historical Chamber Pots and Toilets (why?!). I didn’t, and chose to spend some time relaxing in a cafe with my travel journal.
Or stop by the more interesting Museum of Communism, which gives a glimpse of life in the country between 1948 and 1989 under communist rule.
Take a stroll down the river, stopping off to admire the weird architecture of the Dancing House (also known as “Fred and Ginger”), one of Prague’s modern attractions.
Follow up with dinner at Cafe Louvre (read more about my experience at this restaurant here). Take your time enjoying the restaurant’s amazing hot chocolate, or:
End with a beer tour
I recently wrote about my fun experience on a Prague beer tour here, so I won’t repeat myself too much, but if you can/do drink, make sure to try some of Prague’s brews while in the city.
I set off back home the next day with a lingering headache from all the tasting the night before. The downside is that we didn’t spend a great deal of time in the first two bars, yet had two 0.3L beers in each, which leaves 5’0 tall me a bit fuzzy. But it was a great way to round off the trip and try some of the local cultures while meeting new people.
Three days seemed plenty to see the main sites of the city, but if you are lucky enough to have some extra time, there are plenty of day trips to take from the city centre. A few that were recommended to me but I just didn’t have time for include:
- Fairy-tale town Český Krumlov
- Spa town Karlovy Vary
- Kutna Hora and its famous Chapel of Bones