I had a strong hankering for visiting Prague ever since I saw the movie ‘Operation Daybreak’ as a kid. ‘The City of a Thousand Spires’ has so much to offer from the hubbub of the New Town and the regal flavor of Castle District to the Gothic splendor of the Old Town and the charm of the former Jewish quarter. While 2 days in Prague may not be enough to see everything this magical city has to offer, it still gives you plenty of time to experience the city’s essential attractions and a little bit more. Here’s our lowdown on the best things to do in Prague in two days 🙂
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Table of Contents
How to Get Around During Your 2 Days in Prague
Prague is an extremely walkable city and it’s the best way to discover its many hidden gems and appreciate the true charm of the city. Only on foot can you explore the countless nooks and crannies. Many of its major attractions are within comfortable walking distance of each other. I can’t think of another world capital where there is so much in such a compact area.
Many of Prague’s streets are paved with bricks, some of which have cracks, uneven angles and can become slick when wet. It is best to stick with a comfortable pair of flat shoes rather than heels as they can get stuck in the pavement.
However, to make the most of your 48 hours in Prague to get around the city quickly, or to visit a more distant sight, public transport is a great option. Prague’s public transport is reliable, clean and cheap and consists of trams, buses and the underground (metro) system. For getting around the inner city, the tram is probably the easiest and most pleasant mode of transport. You’re unlikely to use a bus as buses are not allowed in the city center because the streets are too constricted.
A day ticket only costs 110 CZK. You can also buy 30 and 90-minute tickets for 24 and 32 CZK respectively. Tickets can be purchased from the automatic machines at the entrance of all metro stations, at some tram or bus stops, and at tabáks (tobacconists). Just remember to validate your ticket at the start of your journey in one of the validation machines. Periodic checks are carried out by plain-clothes ticket inspectors and you’ll incur a hefty fine if you don’t. You can plan your journey here.
We wouldn’t recommend using taxis unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s very difficult not to get fleeced unless you speak Czech or know the terrain. There are several taxi companies operating throughout Prague. One of the better ones is AAA Radiotaxi. Uber is another option to get around Prague and is usually cheaper than taxis.
Cycling is also an alternate option of getting around Prague. There are no special bike lanes in the city center, so be heedful of traffic when biking. Prague is a particularly fun city to bike when the crowds are thin. Renting a bike is easy, with PRAHA BIKE being one of the good ones. Mountain bikes are the natural choice given Prague’s ubiquitous cobblestones.
Is the Prague Card Worth It For 2 Days?
First of all, let me start by saying that the Prague Card does not lead to any immediate savings. Yes, the Prague Card grants free admission to most of the city’s attractions. However, the Prague Card does not include free travel which is a little annoying.
If you’re planning on visiting a lot of museums and attractions that aren’t free, then buying the Prague Card might be a good option. It does also beat the hassle of constantly waiting in line to purchase tickets. Thus, the Prague Card MAY be worth it, depending on how much you would like to fit into Prague in 2 days.
Your 2 Days in Prague Itinerary
For this two-day itinerary to Prague, I have decided to give you a good mix of popular sights and off-beat corners. I’ve split the itinerary in such a way that it gives you a multifaceted view of the city. For your convenience, this post includes a free map of the top sights in Prague. You can find addresses of the attractions by clicking on the icons in the map.
Naturally, everyone travels at a different pace so feel free to choose the destinations according to your own pace. The earlier you start your day the more time you’ll have to see the attractions. Below I have compiled a list of the best things to see (or eat) in Prague over the course of two days:
- Lesser Town
- Strahov Monastery
- Prague Castle
- National Theater
- Dancing House
- Vysehrad Fortress (Bonus)
- Letna Park
- National Technical Museum
- Jewish Quarter
- Old Town Square
- Celetna Street
- Powder Tower
- Municipal House
- Jubilee Synagogue
- Museum of Communism (Bonus)
- Wenceslas Square
- King Wenceslas Riding on a Dead Horse
Day 1 in Prague
Day one of this ‘2 days in Prague’ itinerary will cover the main sights in the Baroque streetscape of the Lesser Town (Mala Strana), the massive Prague Castle, and the Vysehrad fortress.
1. Lesser Town
Prague’s beautiful Lesser Town (Mala Strana) is possibly its most enchanting locality. The area was founded in the 13th century and is full of poignant sights that remind visitors of its long history. It is now full of grand palaces, mansions and red-roofed townhouses replete with Renaissance and Baroque details built during the reign of the Habsburgs, many of which serve as government buildings and embassies. Beautiful parks, lovely cafés, winding cobblestone streets, and unassuming churches can be found here.
1.1 Charles Bridge
The best way to kick-off your 2 days in Prague is by visiting Charles Bridge (Karlův most), undoubtedly Prague’s most iconic sight. For over 600 years, this spectacular bridge has witnessed processions, battles, and executions since its construction between 1357 and 1402.
The foundation stone of the Charles Bridge was laid in 1357 replacing several earlier wooden bridges. The bridge became a symbol of the Counter-Reformation’s vigorous re-Catholicization efforts after 1620, following the disastrous defeat of Czech Protestants by Catholic Habsburgs at the Battle of White Mountain. The bridge is 520 meters in length and is built of sandstone blocks, rumored to be strengthened by mixing mortar with eggs. The artistic differences between Baroque and Gothic styles lend Charles Bridge much of its charm.
The bridge’s most recognizable feature is the 30 beautiful statues of saints and religious scenes that were once intended to entice the obstinately Protestant Czechs back to the Catholic Church. I love how the silhouettes of the statues linger like phantoms in the still of the sunrise skyline. However, all the statues are copies, with the originals preserved in museums across the city. Halfway across the bridge is the brass Lorraine Cross, of which is said that if you make a wish at the cross, your wish will be fulfilled in the following year!
Watch out for the famous statue of St. John of Nepomuk, who according to legend was wrapped in chains and thrown to his death from this bridge. The bronze relief below Nepomuk’s statue, the one with five stars on the halo around the head, depicts the final moment of the saint. It is polished each day by the hands of thousands of tourists who hope it brings good luck or, according to some versions of the legend, a return visit to Prague.
There are two towers at both ends of the bridge, both of which can be climbed for a bird’s-eye view of the masses pouring across. I particularly like the tower on the Old Town’s side whose eastern facade is encrusted in Gothic cake-like decorations.
Given that Charles Bridges is Prague’s most popular sight, it is almost always jam-packed with buskers, hawkers, and tourists during the day. This can put a bit of a damper on your visit here, especially if you want good pictures. It is for this reason that we recommend going to the bridge at dawn when there are much fewer people. With the changing light of dusk, the statues, the bridge, and the panoramic view take on a completely different character.
According to Czech legend, Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV had the foundation stone of the Charles Bridge laid on the 9th of July 1357 at 5:31 a.m. This was no coincidence since Charles IV was a devout follower of numerology and carefully chose the date himself. When it is written in the chronology of the year–the day–the month–the time, it makes a palindrome, going upwards and then downwards: 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1. He felt this would bring the bridge strength and good fortune.
1.2 Traditional Czech Pastries
You’ll need a good breakfast when you have a full day of sightseeing ahead of you. Cafe Savoy is an elegant cafe in the Mala Strana. Grab yourself a hearty meal and sample delicious Czech cakes and pastries like medovnik and kolache here. We highly recommend that your try Vetrnik – a choux pastry filled with whipped cream and topped off with caramel fondant.
While walking around the streets of Prague, you’ll encounter the ubiquitous sight of street vendors selling Trdelnik – a spiral-shaped dough cake grilled around a stick and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Trdelnik is touted as a ‘traditional Bohemian’ pastry, but its real origins lie elsewhere. Trdelnik is believed to have either originated in Romania or Slovakia. Czechs see Trdelnik as a bit of a ‘tourist trap’ and don’t like it associated with their cuisine. Although I like to keep things authentic while traveling, I tried one on a whim. It tastes pretty good, the crust has a really lovely, caramelized richness and the aroma of cinnamon is divine. So if you eat Trdelnik, just keep in mind that it isn’t really a ‘traditional Czech pastry’.
1.3 Crawling Babies
One of the best things to do in Prague over two days is to admire the wealth of artwork all over the city, which ranges from the simple to the eccentric and quirky. Some of our favorites are the works by Czech avant-garde installation artist David Cerny. He first came to my attention when I saw his ‘London Booster’ sculpture at the time of the 2012 Olympics.
Cerny is internationally notorious for creating pieces which are darkly humorous, eye-catching and highly controversial. Many of his works can be seen around the city and we wanted to see his best ones. Seeing his works is one of the many free things to do in Prague and makes for instagrammable pictures.
The three crawling giant babies are situated in Kampa Park. These creatures with imploded slot-machine faces, which would make David Lynch proud, are part of Cerny’s “Babies” project – to make the hideously ugly Zizkov TV Tower more attractive. Gaze into the distance and you will see 10 of these eerie mutants scaling the brutalist eyesore that perennially makes the list of World’s Ugliest Buildings.
1.4 Devil’s Stream
Devil ́s Stream (Čertovka) is a charming and peaceful corner of the Little Quarter that also happens to be one of the most beautiful places to see in Prague. It is an artificial channel, separating the Kampa Island from the Lesser Town. The name “Devil’s Stream” ostensibly comes from a crotchety old harridan who once lived on Maltese Square.
The stream was used as a millrun for centuries and from Kampa, you can see the remains of three old mills. The old mill-wheel is still on the channel has had its wheel meticulously restored, though it now turns at a very tardy rate. The charming atmosphere of the channel has given rise to the name “Prague’s Venice”, but you will see canoes instead of gondolas.
Though there are several theories as to the origin of Prague’s name, the most likely one is that the city’s name is Czech “Praha” stems from an old Slavic word, práh, which means “ford” or “rapid”, in reference to the city’s origin at a crossing point of the Vltava River. The English spelling of “Prague” is loaned from French.
1.5 Lennon Wall
Take a quick detour to stop by the Lennon Wall. The wall is the site where Prague’s youth established an impromptu graffiti shrine to the former-Beatle after his murder in 1980. Most of the vivid graffiti on this wall is dedicated to John Lennon and the lyrics of the Beatles. Lennon was a leading symbol of non-conformity for youths in communist-ruled Czechoslovakia.
The wall morphed into an ad hoc protest space for the young people of Prague in the 1980s. Fed up with the silence and repression, Prague youths vented their frustration and concerns via some paintings and messages on the wall. The graffiti artists and the secret police once waged a long-running paint battle here, as the latter constantly tried to eradicate the graffiti artists’ work, but a compromise was finally reached and the wall’s scribblings were legalized.
Ironically, Lennon never visited Prague, although the wall is one of Prague’s landmarks. Although interest in the wall has waned, it continuously undergoes change and the original portrait of Lennon is long lost. The graffiti has lost its political touch and borders on the zany.
1.6 Piss Sculpture
The Piss Sculpture or simply “Piss” is possibly my favorite of David Cerny’s works. It’s an obvious crowd-pleaser. What couldn’t be funny about two gyrating, butt-naked mechanical men micturating into a pool shaped like the Czech Republic! It’s even possible to send an SMS to the number next to the exhibit and have these lads spell out your own personal message through urinating by wiggling their weeners.
According to popular legend has it that Princess Libuša, a mythological leader of a Slavonic matriarchal tribe, picked the farmer Přemysl to be her husband. She told him to go look for a village on the banks of the Vltava and to found a town there, which she predicted would achieve great things. This later became Prague, the ‘golden city’.
1.7 St. Nicholas Church
When spending two days in Prague, a visit to the captivating St. Nicholas Church (Kostel Sv. Mikuláše) is a must. The church’s massive green dome dominates the Lesser Town skyline below Prague Castle. This church is the purest and most exquisite example of high Baroque architecture in Prague. The church itself dates back to the 18th century and was designed by the father-son duo of the Dietzenhofers.
While the exterior of St. Nicholas Church is rather austere, its gilded interior is absolutely amazing. It features exquisite carvings, statues, frescoes, and marble pillars from the great artists of that era. Watch out for the Celebration of the Holy Trinity dome fresco which features four terrifyingly large statues of church teachers, one of whom is brandishing a gilded thunderbolt. We also really loved the pulpit in the center that is sumptuously decorated with gilded cherubs.
St. Nicholas Church is open daily, you can check opening hours here. The entrance costs 100 CZK.
1.8 Nerudova Street
Just beyond the St. Nicholas Church lies Nerudova Street (Nerudova Ulice), a street lined with one-time palaces and fine houses that leads uphill to the Prague Castle. Jacky and I really enjoyed walking here. Nerudova Street used to be the final leg of the “Royal Way,” the king’s cavalcade before his coronation. Historically a hub for artists and craftsmen, the street is worth checking out for its many artisan shops and galleries, though some of the shops and restaurants that flank Nerudova are fairly touristy.
One of the many pleasures of walking here is admiring the many buildings that are decorated with intricately carved cornices or ornamental balconies and friezes depicting mythical, religious, and heroic figures. The buildings are each distinguished by an emblem as they were built before the introduction of street numbers.
As you make your way up the street watch out for the Red Eagle (No. 6), the House of the Red Lamb (No. 11), the Three Fiddles (No. 12), the Golden Horseshoe (No. 34), the Green Lobster (No. 43) and the White Swan (No. 49). Many of the marvelous Baroque buildings now serve as embassies.
2. Strahov Monastery
Strahov Monastery (Strahovský Klášter) is Prague’s second oldest monastery and dates back to the 12th century. People flock here to see its Baroque library, which contains over 200,000 books and manuscripts, the earliest dating back to the 9th century. A visit to the Strahov Monastery is one of the best things to do in Prague and will definitely not leave you disappointed.
The oldest part of this impressive collection is kept in the Theological Hall, built between 1671 and 1679. Its ornately decorated ceiling frescoes vividly depict the profession of the librarian. It also houses a large collection of religious books and manuscripts and also features a cool collection of 17th century astronomical and geographical globes. Simply amazing!
The Philosophical Hall was added in the 18th century and this grand hall houses a huge collection of leather-bound books covering topics such as philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, and history. Its high ceiling is adorned with artwork which depicts the history of mankind. Among other things, look out for the 18th-century cabinet of curiosities in the connecting hall houses, that has a fake chimera and two whale penises.
The only catch is that if you want to see the library and halls up close, you must go on a special tour. Otherwise, a normal ticket only permits you to stand at the doorway of each room and gawk from behind a rope. You can order the special tour by sending an email to the library manager in advance. More information is available here.
The special tour costs 400 CZK, lasts approximately an hour and includes permission to take pictures and videos. Even though it’s a little pricey I would recommend it because with just the normal ticket you won’t really see anything properly. The Strahov Monastery Library is open daily and the normal ticket costs 120 CZK (plus an additional 50 CZK to take pictures).
Now would be a good time to take a lunch break. Klášterní pivovar Strahov (The Strahov Monastic Brewery) serves some excellent local brews and Czech favorites such as nakládaný hermelín (pickled marinated soft camembert cheese slices with red round peppers in oil) and svíčková na smetaně (beef sirloin with cream sauce).
4. Prague Castle
Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) lies on top of Castle Hill in the Castle District and dominates the skyline of Prague like no other building. It is the largest ancient castle in the world with an area of 70,000 square meters. Visiting the castle is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Prague.
According to popular legend, the specter of a large black dog haunts the Hradčanské náměstí entrance to Prague Castle. It supposedly appears between 23:00 and midnight, and far from being contentious, it accompanies passers-by as far as the Loreto before vanishing into thin air.
The first records of the castle date back to 870 and parts of it have been rebuilt over the years due to destruction or fire. As a result, you can see signs of many Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance features. It has been the seat of the Bohemian Kings and Holy Roman Emperors and since 1918, the residence of the President of the Czech Republic. The castle isn’t just one sight, rather it encompasses a number of points of interest including four churches, four palaces, sprawling gardens, and even a defense tower. The Prague Castle is a breathtaking sight to behold at night.
Did you know that the word defenestration (the act of throwing someone out a window as a means of execution) originates from an incident that occurred in the Prague Castle in 1618? When the Habsburgs attempted to make Catholicism the sole religion of the empire in 1617, the Protestants of Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic) took umbrage at the suppression of their religion. To demonstrate how vexed they were, Bohemian nobles in Prague chucked two Catholic regents and their secretary out of a window of the Royal Palace. Luckily, a manure pile cushioned their fall and they escaped. This event was also the catalyst that triggered one of the most calamitous wars in European history, the Thirty Years’ War. This however, wasn’t the first notable defenestration to occur in Prague. The first defenestration in Prague took place at the New Town Hall on July 30, 1419, when a mob of townspeople, followers of the martyred religious reformer Jan Hus, hurled Catholic town councilors out the windows.
The Prague Castle complex is open daily from 06:00–22:00. Entrance to the castle is free but many of its attractions keep different hours and charge an entrance fee. In order to avoid long queues at Prague Castle, you should definitely get the skip the line ticket. You can decide which places to visit depending on the time you have and your interests. Below are the ones we would recommend:
4.1 St. Vitus Cathedral
No visit to Prague would be complete without seeing St. Vitus Cathedral. This spectacular cathedral is the largest and the most important religious building in Prague. Even though the construction of the cathedral began in 1344, it took nearly 600 years to complete due to interruptions by wars, plagues, and fire. The immense construction time span gave rise to a blend of Gothic, Neo-Gothic architectural styles along with influences from the Renaissance and Baroque styles.
The ornate facade features pointed arches, elaborate tracery, flying buttresses, a rose window, a dozen statues of saints, and gargoyles sticking their tongues out. Some of its graceful spires rise to a height of 96 meters, towering over the Prague castle complex. The Rose Window above the portals is quite exquisite and portrays scenes from the biblical story of the Creation. Look out for the Last Judgment mosaic above the golden portal which consists of over a million pieces of stone and glass!
Once you enter the cathedral, its gigantic proportions are immediately apparent. There are over 18 separate chapels lining the walls. I really loved the 19th- and 20th-century elements of the cathedral, especially the Art Nouveau chapel by Alfons Mucha, depicting the blessing of Sts. Cyril and Methodius (9th-century missionaries to the Slavs). Despite appearances, the glass is painted, not stained.
Of the cathedral’s numerous side chapels, the grand Chapel of St. Wenceslas is easily the main attraction. The chapel’s walls are decorated with over a thousand semi-precious stones and gold leaf, set around several ornate frescoes illustrating scenes from the life of the saint. Beside the chapel is a small room containing the Bohemian crown jewels.
St. Vitus Cathedral is open Monday-Saturday: 09:00–17:00 and Sunday: 12:00–17:00.
The Bohemian Crown Jewels include the Crown of Saint Wenceslas, the royal orb and scepter, the coronation robe of the Kings of Bohemia, a gold reliquary cross, and St. Wenceslas’ sword. They are only shown to the public on special occasions. The rest of the time, facsimiles are on display at Prague Castle. The Crown Jewels chamber in St. Vitus Cathedral is remarkably well-secured and the least accessible place at Prague Castle. The door to the chamber and the iron safe has seven locks, and there are seven holders of the keys, viz. the President of Czech Republic, the Prime Minister, and the Archbishop of Prague, the Chairman of the House of Deputies, the Chairman of the Senate, the Dean of the Metropolitan Chapter of St. Vitus Cathedral and the Lord Mayor of Prague. All seven key holders must be present in order for the door and strongbox to be opened.
4.2 Old Royal Palace
The Old Royal Palace, the ruling seat of the Bohemian royalty from the 11th century until the Habsburg takeover, is one of the best things to see in Prague. It dates back to the 12th century and was built in the graceful Romanesque style, making it one of the most interesting buildings in the Prague Castle complex. Its rather spartan facade conceals a fascinating building whose architectural style spans several centuries.
The main attraction of the palace is the imposing Vladislav Hall, which was built in the 15th century. With its entwined ribbon vaulted ceiling, it represents the climax of late Gothic architecture. It is the largest ballroom in Europe and has a length of 60 meters and a height of 15 meters.
The hall has been used for a variety of purposes such as gatherings, jousting tournaments, and coronations. The Riders staircase leading into the building which permitted mounted knights for jousting competitions is truly a sight to behold.
The Old Royal Palace also houses the Story of Prague Castle exhibition, which uses castle models, films and artifacts in an innovative way to tell the long and intriguing history of Prague Castle.
4.3 Golden Lane
Golden Lane (Zlatá ulička) is yet another charming part of the Prague Castle complex. Contrary to its name you won’t find any golden pavements or items here. It is actually named for the goldsmiths who moved into the houses in the 17th century. One side of this small lane is lined with small, brightly painted historic houses that are built directly into the arches of the castle walls. The scenery is perfect for cute Instagram photos.
These picturesque houses now display medieval armory and textiles and sell tourist souvenirs. Golden Lane was a haven for poor artists and writers in the 19th and 20th centuries. The most well-known Czech author, Franz Kafka, even reputedly lived here for a year.
Entrance to the Golden Lane requires a Prague Castle ticket, but the entrance is free if you go after 17:00.
4.4 Lobkowicz Palace
The 16th-century Baroque style Lobkowicz Palace (Lobkowický palác) is the only privately owned building in the Prague Castle complex. It has been in possession of the aristocratic Lobkowicz family for over 400 years. The palace now features a museum that displays a cornucopia of historical and cultural artifacts, with paintings by Canaletto, Rubens and Velázquez being some of its major draws. The original scores of works and manuscripts by Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart are particularly interesting.
Since it is privately owned, an additional ticket is required for admission to the palace. Tickets cost 295 CZK and are well worth the price of admission. An individual audio guide comes with the ticket and also includes some anecdotes about the Lobkowicz family.
5. National Theater
No 2 days in Prague should go by without seeing the gold-crested National Theater (Národní Divadlo), one of the city’s architectural gems. This opulent Neo-Renaissance edifice overlooks the Vltava River and is one of Prague’s most recognizable landmarks. Completed in 1881, the theater has always been a shining beacon of Czech cultural revival. Almost immediately upon completion, the building was wrecked by fire and rebuilt, opening in 1883 with the premiere of Bedrich Smetana’s opera Libuše.
The National Theater’s sky-blue roof interspersed with stars is said to represent the pinnacle that all artists should strive for. The magnificent interior contains allegorical frescoes and sculptures about music and busts of Czech theatrical personalities created by some of the country’s best-known artists. The theater doesn’t offer daily tours so if you want to see its interiors, it’s best to buy a ticket for a performance.
6. Dancing House
Your next stop on this ‘48 hours in Prague’ itinerary is the Dancing House (Tančící dům), a popular landmark set by the Vltava River in the New Town. This quirky edifice was completed in 1996 and stands in stark contrast to the classical architecture you find around it.
The Dancing House building is colloquially known as “Ginger and Fred”, due to its iconic towers, which vaguely resemble the 1930’s Hollywood dancers, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The glass-and-concrete tower (Ginger) gives the illusion of being held by the upright tower (Fred), as though being caught in action on the dance arena.
The building isn’t accessible to the general public as it houses offices. However, the 7th-floor restaurant, Céleste, is open to everyone, offers sublime views of Prague Castle and the Vltava River.
7. Vysehrad Fortress (Bonus)
If you still have any gas left in you, you can continue a little further to the Vysehrad Fortress, set high on a hill, overlooking the Vltava River. I personally feel that this is one of the best things to see in Prague and is somewhat of a hidden gem.
This former fortress is steeped in history being built in the 10th century. The castle there has been the site of many significant events and has played a key role in the development of Prague, being involved in the Hussite Wars, as well as serving a royal residence in its past.
While walking around the grounds you will stumble across treasures like the imposing Neo-Gothic Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul that dates back to the 11th century. It features an intricately beautiful stone mosaic at its entrance. Adjacent to the church is Vysehrad cemetery, the burial place of many famous Czech personalities, such as the composer Antonín Dvořák. Vysehrad also contains the Rotunda of St Martin, a Romanesque structure that was used as a gunpowder storehouse during the Thirty Years’ War.
To cap off a perfect day of sightseeing, head to the fabulous U Kroka restaurant, which serves great rabbit and duck dishes along with some good vegetarian options too.
Day 2 in Prague
The second day of this ‘2 days in Prague’ itinerary covers the main sights in the charming Old Town, the New Town, and a slice of Jewish Prague. It also includes more quirky art, Letna Park and some cool museums.
The perfect way to commence your second day of sightseeing in Prague is by heading to the popular EMA espresso bar, which serves some great fresh brews. They also have great cakes and pastries on offer, especially the buchty (sweet rolls made of baked yeast dough, filled with plum jam and topped with vanilla sauce or powdered sugar).
2. Letna Park
Letna Park, which lies on the west bank of the Vltava River in Prague’s seventh district is one of the city’s most popular green spaces. It has numerous paths for running or strolling, making it a hit with tourists and locals, who come here at all hours of the day.
The best reason to come to Letna Park is for a breathtaking view of Prague and the tranquil Vltava River with its many bridges. The picturesque vantage point is located near the Prague Metronome monument. For Jacky and myself, this is the ultimate postcard-perfect image of Prague.
Letna Park is also well-known for formerly being home to the world’s largest statue of ex-Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. The 15-meter tall statue, which depicted Stalin standing at the head of a line of workers, soldiers, and citizens, was dubbed by Prague residents as “the meat queue”—a reference to the notorious food shortages during the Communist era. The statue was commissioned in the early 1950s at the height of Stalin’s cult of personality and was revealed in 1955 to the cheering masses. But within a year, Kruschev’s (Stalin’s successor) de-stalinization policy which denounced Stalin meant that the monument had to go. It lingered uneasily over the city for several years and was finally blown to smithereens in 1962. The statue’s vast concrete platform and steps are all that remain and are now graced with David Černý’s symbolic giant red metronome.
3. National Technical Museum
We went to the National Technical Museum on a whim, assuming it might not be very interesting. Boy, were we mistaken! This is the ultimate how-things-work museum with a collection of over 50,000 different artifacts. You don’t have to be a techno-geek to appreciate this museum as it is quite interactive. It is especially a great way to spend time if you’re in Prague with kids.
The smaller exhibits don’t require much time to browse through and include displays on architecture, household appliances (some cool vintage items are here, like a sewing machine branded Diablo), toys, chemistry, iron mining & steel production (there’s a meteorite on display found in Argentina that’s 5,000 years old!), astronomy, and photography. The star attraction, however, is the huge Transport Hall, which is loaded with vintage Czech planes, racing cars, trains, fire engines, and bicycles.
Opening hours of the National Technical Museum are Tuesday-Sunday: 09:00–18:00. The entrance is 250 CZK.
4. Jewish Quarter
The Jewish Quarter is one of the must-see attractions in Prague since the Jewish community has left an indelible mark on the city’s history. The history of the Jewish quarter dates back to the 13th century when a royal decree ordered all Jewish people to move from different parts of Prague to a single location.
The Jewish Quarter was once the base of one of the most active and influential Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and still home to an Orthodox community. Even though the Jewish community in Prague is only a fraction of the population than what it used to be, the Jewish Quarter exudes a different vibe than the other neighborhoods of Prague.
The Jewish Quarter is home to the most well-preserved Jewish historical monuments in Europe. Six synagogues, including the oldest active synagogue in Europe, still stand in this area in addition to the historic Jewish Town Hall.
During World War II, these synagogues stored valuables looted from Jewish communities and synagogues across the Reich by the Nazis. Ironically, Hitler had a perverted plan to build a museum in Prague, dedicated to the Jews as an “extinct race”!
4.1 Jewish Museum
Many of the famous sites in the Jewish quarter are part of the Jewish Museum. In order to visit any of these places, you are required to buy a ticket (valid for 7 days) to the Jewish Museum, which allows access to all these sites. It is not possible to purchase a ticket only to one of these places. The Jewish Museum is open Sunday-Friday. Opening hours are 09:00-18:00 (April-October) and 09:00-17:00 (November-March). A ticket costs 350 CZK. Tickets can be purchased online or in one of the museum’s ticket offices.
In order to make the most of your visit here and hear interesting anecdotes about the place, you can take this fabulous in-depth tour of the Jewish Quarter. It’s also very handy as it allows you to skip the ticket queue and save some valuable time.
While you could easily spend a lot of time exploring this charming neighborhood, our top recommendations in the Jewish quarter are:
4.2 Old Jewish Cemetery
The Old Jewish Cemetery (Starý Židovský Hřbitov) is not only one of the most unforgettable and evocative sights in the Jewish Quarter but also one of the very best places to visit in Prague. It is one of the oldest Jewish burial sites in the world, dating back to the first half of the 15th century. Initially, there was room for 1,200 plots, but due to the lack of another burial ground, the cemetery found itself with 12,000 headstones and up to an astonishing 100,000 estimated buried bodies.
Because Jewish traditions dictate not to move bodies after they are buried, new layers of dirt had to be piled over the old tombs to make more room. In some places, the places are said to be 10 bodies deep and the settling of the ground over time has created lopsided tombstones pointing in every direction. This creates a very mystic atmosphere.
Each headstone bears a symbol denoting the background, family name or profession of the deceased: a pair of hands for the Cohens; a pitcher and basin for the Levites; scissors for a tailor; a stag for Hirsch’s or the Zvi’s. The cemetery’s oldest grave belongs to the poet Avigdor Karo and dates from 1439 Moses Beck, who died in 1787, was the last person to be buried in the cemetery. Look out for the headstone of Jehuda ben Bezalel, the famed Rabbi Löw, a chief rabbi of Prague and a scholar and philosophical writer, credited with creating the mythical Golem.
The giant man of clay called the ‘Golem’ is Prague’s equivalent of the Frankenstein monster. Rabbi Löw who was thought to possess magical powers wanted to protect Prague’s Jews from persecution. He thus proceeded to create a figure, the Golem, from mud and then brought it to life by placing a šém in its mouth, a tablet with a magic Hebrew inscription. The golem performed his allotted task of protecting the Jewish Quarter, but—in keeping with the Jewish custom of reserving the Sabbath as a day of rest—Rabbi Löw always removed the šém (that keeps him under control) on Friday night. But one day he forgot and the golem ran amok creating bedlam. Eventually he was overcome and Rabbi Löw had to remove the šém for good. He hid the golem in the rafters of the Old-New Synagogue, where it’s said to be to this day. Two of the most popular retellings of the Golem include the film of the same name, a silent-screen classic by the German director Paul Wegener and the dark psychological novel of Gustav Meyrink.
4.3 Spanish Synagogue
The Spanish Synagogue (Španělská Synagoga) is one of my favorite attractions in Prague. It was only completed in 1868 and although it is the newest synagogue in the Jewish Quarter it is arguably the most fascinating one. The synagogue’s exterior is very elegant with its horseshoe arches atop slender columns, elaborate tracery, and pseudo-minarets.
It derives its name from its Moorish-influenced architecture and swirling arabesque décor, which was inspired by the Alhambra in Spain. The interior is jaw-droppingly stunning with walls, doors and gallery balustrades being richly decorated with elaborate Moorish polychrome, gilded motifs, geometric patterns, and stained glass. We absolutely loved this place.
The synagogue’s two floors display museum exhibits that lend insight into the evolution of Jewish culture in Bohemia from the late 18th century to the end of World War II.
Please NoteThe Spanish Synagogue is currently closed until further notice due to modernization.
In the meantime, you can either visit the Pinkas Synagogue (Pinkasova Synagoga) or the Maisel Synagogue (Maiselova synagoga). Pinkas Synagogue is Prague’s second-oldest Jewish house of worship, dating from the 1500s and is home to arguably the most moving of all the sights in the Jewish Quarter. Its walls are inscribed with the names of 77,297 Jewish Czechoslovak citizens who perished in the Holocaust. The family names are in red, followed in black by the individual’s first name, birthday, and date of death (if known) or date of deportation.
Maisel Synagogue is no longer a functioning synagogue, but it houses a part of an exhibition on the history of the Czech-Jewish community from the 10th to the 18th century. The collection includes silver Torah shields and pointers, spice boxes, candelabra historic tombstones, and fine ceremonial textiles.
4.4 Parizska Street
Parizska Street (Paris Street) is Prague’s most elegant boulevard and is its answer to the Champs-Élysées and 5th Avenue. This tree-lined shopping paradise has a spate of high-end fashion boutiques from Prada, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Swarovski, and more. It runs through the Jewish quarter, connecting the Old Town Square to the Čech Bridge. Its leafy atmosphere makes it worthy of a perfect stroll.
What we really loved about this street is the wealth of swanky Art Nouveau buildings here, which have mixes of Gothic elements. Prague is rich in Art Nouveau architecture and you can see many flamboyant buildings here. Most of the buildings here are characterized by typically rich, curvaceous Art Nouveau ornamentation. The buildings at the intersection of Paris Street and Siroka Street are particularly lovely and are covered in a riot of sculpturing, spikes, and turrets.
You can take a well-deserved lunch break at the fabulous Restaurace Mincovna. It serves some amazing food on offer at reasonable prices.
6. Old Town Square
A major highlight of this ‘two days in Prague’ itinerary is the Old Town Square, which has been the city’s heart and soul for nearly a millennium. The square has historically been used as a marketplace and today it continues to host the popular Easter and Christmas markets. The eclectic array of architectural styles such as Art Nouveau, Gothic, Baroque, Rococo, Romanesque and Renaissance in the buildings surrounding the square is absolutely gorgeous and will surely make your head swirl.
Among all these highly attractive buildings, there are some that especially stand out for their beauty. The Storch House at number 16 is possibly my favorite one. It boasts arguably the most dazzling painted facade of Prague’s medieval buildings, a series of figurative murals covering celebrating science and religion. Two other notable buildings are the Kinsky Palace which sports a lovely pink and white stucco Rococo facade and the House at the Stone Bell, a 14th-century Gothic masterpiece.
The House at the Minute at number 3 is famous for its numerous beautiful white sgraffito etchings on a black facade. The white etchings on the black facade depict Habsburg rulers along with scenes from Greek mythology and references to biblical and Renaissance legends.
While it is true that in recent years the square has become over-commercialized with overpriced restaurants and cafes, horse-drawn carriages, and tacky souvenir shops, it still doesn’t take away the allure of the setting.
Although it may not seem like it these days, the Old Town Square used to serve as a backdrop to public gatherings and also executions. On 21 June 1621, 27 Protestant nobles, merchants, and intellectuals were beheaded on the order of Catholic Emperor Ferdinand and hung some of the heads in baskets above Charles Bridge. The event is commemorated by a plaque set in the wall of the Old Town Hall along with 27 white crosses planted in the ground.
6.1 Jan Hus Monument
The center of the Old Town Square is dominated by the colossal Jan Hus Monument (Pomník Jana Husa). It is dedicated to Jan Hus, an important 15th-century religious reformer who objected to the Catholic Church’s corrupt practices and questioned the authority of the pope. When the popularity of Hus gained momentum, the catholic church excommunicated him.
In 1414, he was summoned to clarify his views before the Ecclesiastic Council at Konstanz in Germany but was arrested on arrival and swiftly burned at the stake as a heretic, making him a Czech national hero in the process. Approximately a century after his death, Hus’ doctrine helped to rouse Martin Luther as he broke his group of followers off into the Lutheran sect of Protestantism.
The monument was unveiled in 1915 on the 500th anniversary of Hus’ death and shows the dominant figure of Hus flanked by two groups of people, one of the victorious Hussite warriors, the other of Protestants forced into exile 200 years later. Although Hus is depicted here as tall and bearded in flowing garb, in reality, he was short in stature and had a babyface.
6.2 Old Town Hall
The Old Town Hall (Staroměstská Radnice) is definitely one of the must-see attractions in Prague. This vibrant edifice was constructed in 1338 after King John of Luxembourg agreed to set up a town council. In 1364, the distinctive trapezoidal tower was added to what was the private house of Wolflin of Kamen. Over time, the neighboring row of vibrant Gothic and Renaissance merchants’ houses were incorporated into the building.
For an enviable view of the Old Town and its maze of crooked streets and alleyways, you can ascend the tower. The tower is open from 11:00-22:00 (Monday) and 09:00-22:00 (Tuesday-Sunday). The entrance costs 250 CZK.
6.3 Atronomical Clock
Prague’s world-famous astronomical clock is probably the best-preserved astronomical clock of all. Built in 1410 by Mikuláš Kadaň, a clockmaker, and Jan Šindel, an astronomer, it is the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still functioning. The clock’s working figures were added in 1490 by a master clockmaker called Hanuš (real name Jan Z Růže) who, legend has it, was then blinded with a red-hot poker by the town councilors, to prevent him from recreating the masterpiece for anyone else.
The clock captures time in a variety of ways, from the passing seconds to the cycles of the sun and moon through to the signs of the Zodiac. The clock displays Babylonian time, Old Bohemian time, German time, and Sidereal time. Of course, in concurrence with the thinking of that era, the clock shows the earth positioned at the center of the universe. You’ll have an even greater appreciation for the clock if you read up on how it works. Unfortunately, the theory is a bit too long for me to explain here.
On every hour (09:00-23:00), animated figurines flanking the clock perform their ritual. First, the figure of Death, the skeleton on the right of the clock, gives a pull on the rope that he holds in his right hand. In his left hand is an hourglass, which he raises and inverts. The Twelve Apostles shuffle past, acknowledging the crowd while perched on pinnacles below are the four threats to the city as perceived during the medieval days: Death carrying his hourglass and tolling his bell, Greed (adapted from the original medieval stereotype of a Jewish moneylender) with his moneybags, Vanity admiring his reflection and a turbaned Turk shaking his head.
Beneath the moving figures, four characters representing Philosophy, Religion, Astronomy, and History stand motionless throughout the performance. Finally, a cock crows and the hour is rung. The whole spectacle lasts about 45 seconds and is what most people flock to see. I’ve read a lot about people complaining about the slightly underwhelming display. Yes, it’s nothing spectacular, but you have to remember that this is a 600-year-old piece of machinery.
Given that the clock is in the Old Town Square, it’s always busy around here. Big crowds really gather around the top of the hour to see the moving statues. If this show isn’t important to you, you’ll definitely find fewer people in between the hour. If you really want to witness the spectacle, arrive at least 15 minutes early so you aren’t caught in the back of the crowd.
6.4 The Church of Our Lady before Týn
The splendid Church of Our Lady before Týn (Týn Church) is one of Prague’s beloved landmarks. With its two Gothic spires and fairy-tale-like appearance, it is probably the most recognizable church in Prague. Legend has it that the Tyn Church supposedly gave Walt Disney inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Fact or fiction, it is certainly a feast for the eyes during the day, and even more so at night brightly lit against a dark sky. An interesting and slightly overlooked fact is that the two towers aren’t identical, the larger one is ‘Adam’ and the smaller one is ‘Eve’.
The inside of the church is pretty impressive as well. A fascinating collection of historic tombstones and the oldest organ in Prague are the highlights. Unfortunately, photography is very rarely permitted so you’ll just have to go and check it out yourself. There’s a voluntary entrance fee of 25 CZK. You can check the opening hours here.
7. Celetna Street
Celetná Street (Celetná Ulice) is one of the oldest streets in the Old Town and follows an old trading route from eastern Bohemia. It has been around since the 10th century filled when this area was overrun with merchants and guilds. The street gets its name comes from the plaited bread rolls that were first baked here in the Middle Ages.
There are some very fine Romanesque and Gothic buildings here, but a large chunk of the colorful houses are Baroque and Neoclassical. Watch out for the House of the Black Madonna, one of the best examples of Cubist architecture from the early 20th century.
8. Powder Tower
The Power Tower or Powder Gate (Prašná Brána) is a fancifully decorated, dark, imposing Gothic tower that served as one of the original 13 entrances to the Old Town. The tower served as a storage facility for gunpowder in the 17th century and it is from this purpose that the tower gets its name. It was severely damaged during the Prussian siege of 1757, losing practically all of its sculptural adornments. It was rebuilt in the 19th century and its Neo-Gothic facade features sculptural decorations. Admire it from the outside and snap great photos!
9. Municipal House
Jacky and I are huge fans of Art Nouveau architecture and thus the fantastic Municipal House (Obecní Dům) is our best-loved building in Prague. The flagship Art Nouveau edifice was finished in 1911 as a center for concerts, rotating art exhibits, and café society.
It was built as an expression of Czech nationalism (at a time when Czechs were demanding independence from the Habsburgs). The architects derived their inspiration for the design from the elaborate Parisian variant of Art Nouveau, thus snubbing the more subdued “Secession” style favored in Vienna. Fittingly, it was here that Czechoslovakia’s independence was declared on October 28, 1918.
The Municipal’s House exterior is absolutely sublime and one of the best things to see in Prague. It is embellished with stucco and allegorical statuary. The bronze Atlases hoisting their lanterns, the vibrant stained glass, and the mosaics make the building’s facade a pure treat to photograph. The most enticing features of the building are the imposing glass dome and the mosaic above the main entrance, entitled ‘Homage to Prague’.
The interior of the building is also lavish, the lobby features a load of Art Nouveau figurines and murals, elegant chandeliers, and upholstered furniture. Smetana Hall, the music salon, has a gorgeous atrium roof with stained-glass windows. The cafe and restaurants inside the building double as museums of grandiose decor and are the best way to soak up the glittering chandeliers, vibrant mosaics, and exquisite woodwork without a guided tour.
You can take a guided tour of the Municipal House at a cost of 290 CZK.
10. Jubilee Synagogue
You should definitely see the Jubilee Synagogue (Jubilejní synagoga) if you can. The synagogue itself is the youngest and largest synagogue in Prague. It was built in 1906 and is a beautiful hybrid of Art Nouveau and Moorish Revival styles. The facade of the synagogue is characterized by a large arch and a rose-window with the six-pointed Star of David inside.
The synagogue’s ostentatious interior is richly decorated with wrought chandeliers and a beautiful organ. Photos just don’t do it justice. There is an amazing exhibition of artifacts, photographs, and films upstairs detailing the history of Prague’s Jewish community post World War II.
The Jubilee Synagogue is open Sunday-Friday from 10:00-17:00. The entrance costs 80 CZK.
11. Museum of Communism (Bonus)
If you’re up for seeing one more museum, we would recommend that you pay a short visit to the Museum of Communism. It recounts what life was like under the communist regime that ruled over Czechoslovakia until the fall of communism in the Velvet Revolution of 1989.
We really enjoyed the various displays such as the grocery store from Communist times (with the typically limited choices of food), and the chilling interrogation rooms used by the secret police, all of which are setup intricately and feel very authentic. I did, however, get the impression that the museum has a western bias and staunch anti-communist propaganda.
The Museum of Communism is open daily from 09:00–20:00. The entrance costs 290 CZK.
12. Wenceslas Square
An unmissable attraction during your 2 days of sightseeing in Prague is the majestic Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí), the epicenter of modern-day Prague. Although it is called a square, Wenceslas Square is actually a boulevard that stretches for about 750 meters through the heart of the New Town. It is a former medieval horse market that was redeveloped in the 19th century. Named in honor of Saint Wenceslas, Bohemia’s patron saint and there’s an equestrian statue of Saint Wenceslas in the square.
Wenceslas Square is the commercial hub of Prague and the numerous hotels, shops, and restaurants around the square attract swathes of tourists and locals alike. Largely closed to traffic, the square is also a popular place for a stroll and is a famous rendezvous point. Many of the swanky shopping arcades (leading to shops, clubs, theaters, and cinemas) here were built during the commercial boom of the early 20th century.
Wenceslas Square is the commercial hub of Prague and the numerous hotels, shops, and restaurants around the square attract swathes of tourists and locals alike. Largely closed to traffic, the square is also a popular place for a stroll and is a famous rendezvous point. Many of the swanky shopping arcades (leading to shops, clubs, theaters, and cinemas) here were built during the commercial boom of the early 20th century.
One of the great things about taking a stroll down Wenceslas Square is that all artistic styles of the past century, from Neo-Renaissance and Art Nouveau to Socialist Realism can be witnessed in the buildings here. Three of the best examples of beautiful architecture to look out for on Wenceslas Square are the Wiehl House (Wiehlův dům), a striking Neo-Renaissance edifice with colorful murals, and sgraffito and Grand Hotel Europa, an ornate Art Nouveau building with a splendid façade crowned with gilded nymphs and the Lucerna Passage.
13. King Wenceslas Riding on a Dead Horse
Speaking of Lucerna Passage, this grand Art Deco mall is the location of the infamous “King Wenceslas Riding on a Dead Horse” sculpture. This surreal and humorous piece is another one from David Cerny’s oeuvre. It hangs from a lime-tiled dome ceiling and features the Saint sitting atop an upside-down, dead horse.
It is a mocking reference to the equestrian statue of Saint Wenceslas in Wenceslas Square and presumably derides Vaclav Klaus, the former Czech President. Whatever Cerny’s intentions were, the outcome is hilarious and intriguing!
Cap-off your 2 days in Prague at the wonderful U Tří růží restaurant. This cozy brewhouse exudes a lovely old-school atmosphere and serves Classic Czech dishes. The Czechs take their beer seriously and are very proud of it. U Tří růží is no exception to this rule and always has six fresh brews on tap.
Extending Your Stay
If you have any more time to spare than 48 hours in Prague, we strongly recommend that you stay for a little longer. It will give you a chance to check out some of the city’s outer lying attractions, more museums, and feast on yummy Czech food and beer. Plus, a day trip to Karlštejn Castle or Karlovy Vary is really a must 🙂
Where to Stay in Prague
It’s handy to stay in or around the districts of the Old Town, New Town and the Lesser Quarter as they are a good base for sightseeing. With a very efficient metro and tram system, it is relatively easy to stay in one part of Prague and quickly visit another quarter. There are plenty of good options here for all budgets.
Hostel: Hostel Prague Tyn, a great choice within 2 minutes of the Old Town square.
Budget: Palac U Kocku, an amazing budget hotel within 2 minutes of the Old Town square.
Mid-range: Archibald at the Charles Bridge, within 2 minutes of the Charles Bridge, in the Lesser quarter.
Splurge: Art Nouveau Palace Hotel, sumptuous top-choice within 5 minutes of Wenceslas Square.
Now, what do you think? Is Prague on your bucket list? Or is there anything else that shouldn’t be missed