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Prague is a wonderful city filled with historical architecture and a rich history. Be warned that 24 hours in Prague, the exhilarating Czech Republic capital might not be enough to get your fill but we will attempt to draw an itinerary that will allow you to see and taste as much of the city as possible.
Start your day early at Charles Bridge (Karlův most), and when we say early, we mean very early! If you want to catch the sun rise over the bridge for that most perfect photo opp free of the hordes of tourists and street artists that are usually wandering around one of Prague’s most historical and most visited monuments, you’ll need to get there at around 6am. The view over the Vltava River all the way up to the Prague Castle is priceless. The bridge is decorated with 30 mostly baroque statues depicting religious figures whose dark silhouettes against a dawn sky are just awe inspiring.
Cross the bridge and stroll around Mala Strana’s (Lesser Town) cobblestone streets. This is one of Prague’s quaintest neighbourhood complete with beautiful Baroque architecture and breathtaking views of the Castle above. Stop by Cukrkávalimonáda pastry shop for a coffee and bread roll or slice of cake for a little pick me up before continuing. Don’t forget to hand a left when exiting the bridge to visit Kampa Island, one of Mala Strana’s most beautiful spots from which you can get a great view of Charles Bridge. The Lennon Wall is not too far away from there so stroll by and admire the graffitied wall with images and lyrics by the famous Beatles member. This piece of real estate was a symbol of the rebellion and hope for Prague’s youths rebelling against the communist regime before its fall in 1989.
Walk all the way to the foot of Petrin Hill and catch the funicular up to Petřínské Sady (departs from Ujezd street), one of Prague’s most picturesque parks and home to the Petřín Tower, which offers 360-degree views f the city below and of the Castle across. If you’re not too keen on climbing the 300 or so steps to the top of the tower, you can visit the lush green spaces, the mirror maze built in 1891 and the rose garden around it as well as the Church of St. Michael, a quirky wooden church, originally built in Ukraine then taken apart and rebuilt here at the beginning of the century when it was gifted to the city of Prague.
Make your way down Petrin Hill and cross the Vltava at the Jirásek Bridge (Jiráskův most) that will bring you to the Dancing House, one of Prague’s most recognisable contemporary buildings. Designed by Croatian architect Vlado Milunic in collaboration with world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the “Fred and Ginger” house is in stark contrast to the surrounding traditional Art Nouveau and Gothic styles. Turn left at the foot of the bridge and walk along the Vltava River until you reach the Legion Bridge (Most Legií) and the grandiose National Theater built in 1881. With its golden roof and stunning details, it’s a great example of neo-Renaissance architecture. Walk by it (or visit if you have the time) this architectural gem then head to U Medvídků, a restaurant hall where you’ll experience another one of Prague’s unmissables: beer! Lunch here consists of the traditional Czech fare, including copious amounts of meat accompanied by dumplings. For a lighter lunch, the century-old and Kafka favourite Café Louvre is a great option. After lunch, make a pit stop on your way to Old Town at Original Coffee, one of the many new third wave cafés sprouting up in Prague.
Old Town Square
On your way to Old Town Square, visit the Clementinum, a large historic complex of religious and academic buildings founded in 1232. Climb up the Astronomical Tower for a 360-degree view of Prague or take a guided tour of the whole complex. Keep winding your way around Old Town until you reach Old Town Square. If it’s near the top of the hour, head straight to what is most certainly one of the city’s top attractions: the Prague Astronomical Clock. Hordes of tourists gather around the 600-year old medieval clock every hour with cameras at the ready. The hourly spectacle reveals, among many wonders, the 12 apostles, Vanity admiring itself in a mirror and Death (a skeleton) ringing a bell on a background representing Earth and the stars.
After roaming around Old Town Square, head towards the city’s most spectacular attraction: the Prague Castle. The end of the afternoon is the perfect time to visit this spectacular sight since it is much quieter. The Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world and you can spend hours walking its cobblestone streets and admiring its architecture. The Castle complex counts several churches, halls, palaces and gardens. You can take a guided tour of the Castle but if you decide to walk around on your own, make sure to visit the Golden Lane where Czech writer Franz Kafka is said to have lived at no. 22. The stunning St. Vitus Cathedral is also a must see. The most important cathedral in the Czech Republic was built over a thousand years and is an awe-inspiring example of Gothic architecture.
Wind your way down the hill and back towards town. Dinner options include locally sourced contemporary cuisine at Michelin-starred La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise in Old Town followed by a nightcap at one of the many bars around Old Town Square. You can also head towards Žižkov, a hip neighbourhood renowned for its many pubs, cafés and restaurants. Enjoy a Czech beer and sausage at Pivo a Párek or a traditional Czech meal at U Slovanské Lípy paired with one of their many Czech beers on tap.
For longer visits:
- Pražská tržnice – Prague’s largest farmers markets in the Holešovice neighbourhood.
- The Jewish Quarter and the Old Jewish Cemetery ¬– The oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe, dating back to the first half of the 15th century.
- Vinohrady – Take a stroll around this chic neighbourhood full of great restaurants, contemporary cafés, leafy parks, Art Deco architecture and the Jirak Farmers Market.
- Tip: Arm yourself with a day-pass for the city’s public transport system, which includes the funicular ride up to Petrin Hill. It’s the best way to get around Prague.