Prague, the quintessential fairytale city of castles, cobblestone streets, and lantern-lit passageways; is one of the most beautiful European cities and a favorite for many travelers.
Homage has been paid to Prague’s beauty and culture since the Middle Ages. Still, to this day, its cultural richness continues with a thriving music and arts scene, and some of the best beers in the world.
While I recommend spending three days in Prague, or even more; if you are on a time crunch, here’s how you can absorb Bohemia’s rich cultural life in just 24 hours.
Start with a Breakfast full of Pastries
Start your bohemian day at Bakeshop Praha; one of the only places in Prague serving real, softly sweet, and satisfying sourdough.
They also have a huge selection of tarts, pies, and cakes. A great place to have a full breakfast.
Spend Your Morning in Prague’s Old Town Square
Even though Prague is easy to walk, it is recommended to get a 24-hour pass to its public transportation system – DPP – for 100CZK ($5.70). It is well worth it and their system is very efficient.
To avoid the packs of tourists, take an early walk around the Old Town Square (Praha-Staré Město) and its surrounding streets. History is all around Prague, but this square could easily be considered its center.
There are so many cheap and free things to do in Prague, and especially in the old town, that you could spend days here seeing everything.
Alongside the medieval buildings and architecture dating back to the 10th century, you’ll find the Old Town Hall. Here you will see the legendary Astronomical Clock (Prague Orloj). Arrive on the hour to catch the clock’s sounds.
This clock, a gothic masterpiece from 1410, is made of three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; “The Walk of the Apostles,” a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months.
If you wish, you can climb to the top of the 60m-tall tower and have a look over Prague’s rooftops.
While at the Old Town Square, visit the Church Of Our Lady Before Týn, Old Town’s main church since the 14th century.
Head over to the Jewish Quarter of the Old Town to visit the Old Jewish Cemetery. It was in use from the early 15th century until 1787. Due to the layers of tombs, the number of gravestones and the number of people buried here is uncertain.
However, it has been estimated that there are approximately 12,000 tombstones presently visible and there may be as many as 100,000 burials in all.
Have Lunch at a 100+ Years Old Bistro
Not to be missed are a number of city delicatessens, pastry shops, and cafés serving lunch and traditional treats. In Prague, you will not go wrong when selecting a street café to have a bohemian style lunch.
A good option is Jan Paukert, a 100-year-old bistro that claims to have invented the Chlebicek (Little Bread) – a popular open-faced sandwich topped with a number of ingredients like roast beef, ham, egg salad, salami, and smoked salmon.
For dessert, try the unusual-looking traditional Czech pastry called Trdlo (Crazy). It is a dough, wrapped around a steel rolling pin, baked over open flames, and then rolled in sugar, vanilla, crushed almonds, and cinnamon. Delicious!
Spend Your Afternoon Across the Charles Bridge
Now, to burn all those calories, walk along Karluv Most (Charles Bridge); the oldest bridge in Prague, dating from 1357. The bridge series of saints sculptures that not only serve as decoration but also play a strong role in Prague’s religious culture.
Many of the sculptures already gleam after being rubbed by many – for luck or out of religious respect.
Being the only bridge crossing the Vltava River until 1841, it was the most important connection between the Old Town, Prague Castle, and adjacent areas.
Take some time to explore Prague Castle, the largest castle complex in the world. The Czech are fiercely proud of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightly so!
Prague Castle deserves a couple of hours of your time. This complex houses religious buildings, palaces, museums, gardens, and defensive towers. This castle has been home to the country’s rulers for more than 1000 years and hosts the current president’s office.
Every hour by the gates of the Castle, there is the changing of guards ceremony; a visitors’ favorite. Wander around the gorgeous gardens before exploring the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral and the Golden Lane; a network of small, colorful houses -that originally housed the palace guards- turned into shops.
Still, have time and looking for more to do? Spend the rest of the afternoon shopping at the Old Town. Prague caters to different shopping tastes around its many streets and districts.
If you’re looking for a marionette, then head to Malá Strana district (Lesser Side). Here you will find finely handcrafted marionettes of famous figures and traditional characters.
Have Dinner Along the Vltava River
Dine with the locals at Hergetova Cihelna. This riverside eatery offers a modern European menu, complemented with Czech specialties such as Bramboracka (potato and mushroom soup) and duck breast with fennel baked prosciutto.
Have an after-dinner drink at Park Café in Riegrovy Sady Park. This is one of the largest beer gardens in Prague, and even though it is not a glamorous place, it offers a nice view from its hilltop perch. Excellent beers!
A Night of Arts and Dancing
If you’re looking for a high culture night, go to Narodny Divadlo National Theatre at Vltava. This Neo-renaissance theatre has an internationally acclaimed repertoire of drama, opera, and ballet. It also hosts some of the best acts in Europe for a reasonable price.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to feel more of the heartbeat of the city, head over to one of the many jazz bars spread all over Prague’s streets. Then, you can finish the night at the underground club AghaRTA.
Make yourself comfortable in one of their tables and order absinthe (any of the many types of absinthe they have) to get that bohemian feeling transmitted through its high alcoholic content while listening to their live jazz and blues performances.
If you are still standing on your two feet and the world still makes sense to you, then Karlovy Lazne is a must for you. This five floors mega-club (previously a public bath) is the place where late-night revelers go. Each floor is dedicated to a different musical style.
Where to Stay in Prague
If you’re up for splurging in accommodations, the stylish Hotel Grandium is a good place to have a good night’s sleep. If keeping a tight budget, then the Old Prague Hostel is the place to go. This is one of the best-located hostels in Prague, while still keeping a low price for shared and private rooms.
Even though Prague conserves its famous historic character, this city is always changing by renewing some of its best attractions and by creating new and equally interesting ones.
Prague is easy to walk, so explore its courtyards and cobblestone streets, without any doubt you will find something that will appeal to your senses.
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Great itinerary Norbert. I had a very quick visit to Prague and loved it. I will be referring to this post when I return. Beautiful city and great beer 🙂
Thanks Caz! I too had a quick visit there, but in that short time I fell in love with the city’s vibe, architecture, and desserts! Ha! Their beers are great, and who knew there were so many types of absinthe!
Such a great post, you totally have me bewitched by Prague now!!!
Thanks Andi! Prague can bewitch anyone with its unique character! Such a beautiful and interesting city.
I fell in love in Prague many years ago and became a fan of the woman and the city. I definitely loved Praha-Staré Město. Nice itinerary, but I think I would need to stay longer than 24.
Definitely, Prague deserves way more than 24 hours. There is so much more to see than what is covered here, and the city itself deserves its couple days. Those streets are filled with such interesting architecture and many curious things.
Enjoyed Prague on my visit there. Would love to visit it again and experience a little more of it on my own. Went there in 2006 and it was the first stop. So a little jet lagged and rushed so need to spend some more relaxed time there. A great 24 hours!
Oh yes, when you go back take some time to sit and relax at one of their many plazas and squares. Sitting there, just looking at the people pass by and try to absorb their lifestyle is also a good way to experience part of Prague.
So many people seem to be going to Prague nowadays. While it may deserve more than 24 hours, I really like the concept of this post.
Haha, yes… Prague has become really popular among travelers. I agree, it deserves a lot more than 24 hours. This is part of a “24 Hours” series I will publish every now and then. 🙂
Great day in Prague. Did you feel safe here – is there much a a security issue or not?? Cheers!
Hi John –
I felt totally safe. Prague is full of tourists and streets are always very active. I don’t think there are any security issues there, or at least I didn’t feel them.
You’ll read in my article above “Cricket and Curry” that I’ve just had a week in Bombay, and I have to say, having travelled extensively in Europe, I’ve never felt so safe. Happy travels!
Really?!… I haven’t been in India. But honestly, I have never had the impression that India is a dangerous place.
Nice to read this Norbert and you brought memories back.We have a friend owns budget hotels in the city so stayed there for a week 3 years ago.Prague has got to be one of those cities that calls you back….
I don’t think John was meaning India isn’t safe…
BTW it’s World Blog Action Day on water.
You guys blogging on that?
I’m reprising this, a tale of the Village Water Pump.
I would love to go to Prague! My wife was there back in her college days and loved it. Nice post!
Awesome post! Prague is indeed one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, although it has only recently become how it is.
I just wrote a short series on my visit to Prague in 1980, at the time of the Eastern Bloc. Things were quite different, so if you’re interested in how Prague looked 30 years ago maybe you’d like to have a look at my stories.
Hi Simon – Thanks for stopping by. It is really amazing and beautiful. It’s incredible how much it has changes “socially-wise” in such a short period of time.
Really good series you have there with a totally different experience and perspective of Prague. Such a good read and look back at history. Thanks for sharing it! 🙂
Prague is wicked i would love to spend a month there
Great post Norbert. Having been to Prague several times I also admire the city’s charm and architecture. What I do not find as amusing are the groups of tourists to be found in the center at any time, any day. Nice shots too!
Thanks Federico! Nice to see you around! Yes, its charm and architecture are among the things that make Prague unique. And like you, there were moments during the day where I just wished that it wasn’t as packed with tourists. But, I guess that’s a small hiccup when you’re enjoying such an amazing city.
Nice post. We’re about 1 month into our 3 month stay in Prague and there’s lots to see and do. Probably the best tip I can think of is to get up really early and walk around the Old Town, Charles Bridge, and Castle District before noon. Early afternoon gets really crowded and that’s good time to take an after-lunch siesta. Then come back out late afternoon and do more exploring when the crowds thin out and sun is less hot. Tons of great tower views also in Prague and we just bought tickets which cover 5 of the best towers in town (tickets valid for 2 months). Probably can’t all be done in 24 hours though..
Thanks, Frank! Yes, you’re right about going to those sights in the morning to have less crowds. Thanks for sharing your tips too!
Great suggestions for a quick fly by visit to Prague. Have you read the book 48 hours in Europe? It’s a really good reference for finding some of the best things to do over the weekends in popular cities.
WOW! What a great article. In-depth and it actually provided locations to check out. I’m curious if Bakeshop Praha is considered a “normal” breakfast in Prague. If not, what would be considered a real Czech breakfast?