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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