Historical Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is renowned for its beautiful architecture and deep-rooted culture, making it the perfect destination for history-lovers keen to explore ancient monuments like the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. But the city also has a very lively, cosmopolitan side, with plenty of chic cafés and restaurants alongside cutting-edge contemporary art galleries. Experience the best of the city with our 24-hour guide to Prague.
Familiarise yourself with Prague’s city centre by going to one of its most popular and historical areas, Staroměstské Náměsti (Old Town Square). Filled with restaurants, bars, and pubs, the square always pulls in a sizeable crowd, no matter what day of the week it is. This will help acclimatize you to the hustle and bustle of Prague. Here you will find the Astronomical Clock, which was first placed in the clock tower in 1410, and is the oldest working clock of its kind in the world. Just a short walk away is the beautiful Charles Bridge, which was constructed between the 14th and 15th centuries. The bridge is adorned with 30 statues, one of which is an effigy of the martyr St. John of Nepomuk—legend has it that touching the statue will bring you good luck.
Head back along the Charles Bridge and on to Smetanovo nábřezi, the busy road that runs alongside the east bank of the Vltava River. The street is home to School, a restaurant and lounge that serves a modern interpretation of classic, traditional Czech cuisine. Dine on updated local dishes like garlic soup and beef tartare while taking in spectacular views of the Vltava. Close by and just off the Old Town Square is Black Angel’s. The beautifully decorated bar is perfect for a nightcap made by one of its masterful bartenders, try a cocktail like the Old-Fashioned or Margarita.
The food and beer stalls at the Old Town Square can be a bit pricey. Going into a bar or restaurant a few streets away from this gorgeous, but very tourist-oriented area will save you a few korun and probably taste a lot nicer, too.
Make your way to the west side of the Vltava to the hilltop neighbourhood of Letná. Stop by The Farm Urban Kitchen and Coffee for an early morning caffeine kick and a spot of breakfast. The stylish, chic but extremely friendly café is an eco-friendly venture decorated with reclaimed furniture items and also operates a dog-friendly policy while serving some the most delicious breakfast and brunch items in the capital; their pancakes are very popular.
Take a tram from Korunovacní to Ujezd where the funicular railway will take you up to the top of Petřín Hill, the summit of one of Prague’s most picturesque parks—Petřínské Sady. The beautiful, wooded, green expanse, which was formerly the site of one of King Charles’s vineyards, is home to the 208.3 ft. (63.5m) Petřín Tower, which, when ascended, offers awe-inspiring panoramic views across Prague from its highest observation deck. For the vertigo sufferers out there, the ground level of the park below the tower offers plenty of entertainment, including a pretty rose garden (obviously best viewed in bloom season), and Bludišté, a beautiful labyrinthine hall of mirrors built in 1891. A short journey away is Prague Castle, the official residence of the president of the Czech Republic and one of the country’s most outstanding cultural monuments. With parts of the castle dating back as far as 870, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-see for any history buff visiting Prague.
After walking the castle grounds, take a stroll down to Malá Strana. Roughly translated as “Lesser Town,” it is one of Prague’s most picturesque quarters, and is typified by its beautiful baroque architecture and quaint, cobbled side streets. If in need of a snack, pop into Cukrkávalimonáda’s patisserie for a fresh bread roll, slice of cherry cake or a light and fluffy meringue kiss. While on this side of the river, it is worth heading along the riverside to Holešovická Tržnice, a colorful marketplace in the Holešovice neighborhood featuring Prague’s largest farmer’s market, souvenir shops, antique dealers, and clothing stores.
Quite a number of stalls and shops at Holešovická Tržnice sell products relatively cheaper than the more centrally located areas. Lovers of designer labels should, however, take caution—there are a lot of fake brand-name clothes hawked, so stick to the more upscale stores if genuine designer threads are your thing.
This is about the time any visitor to Prague will be in need of some refueling and nutrition after a morning of busy sightseeing. Heading back along the riverside, you will find another one of Prague’s beautiful parks, Letenské Sady, which is home to Letenský Zámaček, a charming chateau, housing a number of restaurants, including the Garden Restaurant, where light snacks like pizzas and salads can be enjoyed on its lovely patio. In the grounds of Letenské Sady, visitors can also see the Prague Metronome, a towering kinetic sculpture by Czech artist Vratislav Karel Novak.
After lunch and so much outdoor sightseeing, it’s a nice idea to head indoors to one of Prague’s many contemporary art galleries. In the Holešovice neighbourhood resides the cutting-edge alternative arts institution DOX Centre for Contemporary Art which in its six years of operation has become a top destination for art lovers visiting Prague. Alternatively, head over to Žižkov to visit the Hunt Kastner Gallery which almost exclusively presents talented, early stage career artists from the Czech Republic. After taking in some thought-provoking works of contemporary art, pop into U Slovanské Lipy, a popular Žižkov pub serving a variety of Czech beers from local and national breweries and traditional Czech snack foods like kuřecí řizek (chicken schnitzel) and žavinác (fish pickled in vinegar and oil).
For a few final destinations on a whistle-stop tour of Prague visit the old National Museum, a huge, stunning building that overlooks Wenceslas Square, Prague’s main thoroughfare. The museum was founded in 1818 by Kašpar Maria von Sternberg, and the collection has become so large they recently spread out into a new building, which in the past served as the Prague Stock Exchange, and later, a radio station.