The mere mention of Prague conjures up fairy tale like vistas capable of convincing the weariest traveler to stop and snap pictures. With its rich history, gorgeous classical architecture and quaint neighborhoods, there’s a lot to love about this city. While one day in Prague may not be enough to explore everything the city has to offer, you will still have plenty of time to see and experience many of the top things to do in Prague. And now, off you go 🙂
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How to Get Around 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. Many of its major attractions are within comfortable walking distance of each other.
Many streets in Prague are paved with bricks, some of which have cracks, uneven angles and can become slick when wet. It would be optimum to stick with a comfortable pair of flat shoes rather than heels as they can get stuck in the pavement.
It is also possible to get around Prague with the aid of public transport. The transportation network consists of the metro, trams, and buses which are cheap and reliable. A day ticket only costs 110 CZK. You can also buy 30 and 90-minute tickets for 24 and 32 CZK respectively. Just remember to validate your ticket at the start of your journey in one of the validation machines. 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. Some of the better ones are AAA Radiotaxi and Sedop. Uber is another option to get around Prague and is usually cheaper than taxis.
Your One Day in Prague Itinerary
This itinerary covers many of the important sights in Prague. For your convenience, this post includes a free map of the top sights in Prague. We understand that everyone travels at a different pace so feel free to choose the destinations according to your own pace. This itinerary includes:
- Lesser Quarter including Czech Pastries, Charles Bridge and the Lennon Wall
- Prague Castle including St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, and the Golden Lane
- Letna Park
- Jewish Quarter including the Old Jewish Cemetery, Spanish Synagogue, and Parizska Street
- Old Town Square including the Church of Our Lady before Týn and the Astronomical Clock
- Wenceslas Square
- Traditional Czech Dinner
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1. Mala Strana (Lesser Quarter)
The Mala Strana is located just below the Prague Castle and is in many ways, Prague’s most captivating area. It is packed with Baroque architecture and is definitely the most romantic part of Prague that is punctuated with fairy-tale charm. It is home to many serene and hilly cobbled back streets that have hardly changed for ages.
1.1 Charles Bridge
The best way to kick off your one day in Prague would be by going to the iconic Charles Bridge. You can’t really ignore it since it is an absolute must-see attraction in Prague. This beautiful Gothic bridge has a rich history that goes back some 600 years in time and it occupies a special place in the hearts of Prague natives. The particularly beautiful statues of saints and religious scenes that adorn the bridge were once intended to get people back into the church. It is said that if you make a wish at the golden cross halfway across the bridge, your wish will be fulfilled in the following year!
However, since sauntering across the Charles bridge is everyone’s favorite activity it is usually 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.
1.2 Breakfast at Cafe Lounge
A good breakfast is necessary when you have a full day of sightseeing ahead of you. Just a short detour from the Charles Bridge lies Cafe Lounge, one of the very best cafes in Prague. You can sample delicious Czech cakes and pastries like buchty and kolache here. We highly recommend that you 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 Lennon Wall
Take a moment to stop by the Lennon Wall. The Lennon Wall is a prominent wall in Prague that is filled with the graffiti inspired by John Lennon. Lennon was a powerful symbol of non-conformity for young people throughout Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia and his death in 1980 inspired some of his fans to scrawl portraits and messages to air their grievances on the wall near the Maltese Garden. The communist police repeatedly painted over the messages, but intrepid fans repainted over the wall.
The wall continuously undergoes change and the original portrait of Lennon is long lost under layers of spray-paint. You can find snippets of lyrics from the Beatles’ song on the wall. It’s worth to take a quick look at before moving on.
2. Prague Castle
Prague Castle lies on top of Castle Hill in the Castle District and dominates the skyline of Prague like no other building. The Prague Castle was built in the 9th century and with an area of 70,000 square meters, it is the largest ancient castle in the world. Visiting the castle is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Prague.
The castle has been under constant transformation since its inception and. as a result, you can see signs of many Baroque, Gothic, Renaissance and modernist features. It has been the seat of the Bohemian Kings and Holy Roman Emperors and since 1918, the residence of the President of Czech Republic. The castle complex consists of numerous buildings and gardens, including four churches, four palaces, and sprawling gardens. The Prague Castle is a 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? A year earlier, when the Habsburgs attempted to make Catholicism the sole religion of the empire, the Protestants of Bohemia (present day Czech Republic) protested the quelling of their religion. To voice their displeasure, Bohemian nobles in Prague chucked two Catholic regents and their secretary out of a window of the Royal Palace. Fortunately, their fall was cushioned by a manure pile and they escaped. This event was also the catalyst that gave rise to one of the most destructive wars in European history, the Thirty Years’ War.
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. The full ticket costs 350 CZK and you can find more information about tickets here. You can decide which places to visit depending on the time you have and your interests. Below are the ones we would recommend:
2.1 St. Vitus Cathedral
The beautiful St. Vitus Cathedral is the largest and the most important religious building in Prague. The construction of the cathedral began in 1344, but due to interruptions by wars, plagues, and fire, it took nearly 600 years to complete. Due to the immense time span that went by in the construction of the church, the architecture of the church is a blend of Gothic, Neo-Gothic along with the influences from the Renaissance and Baroque styles.
Some of its graceful spires jut out to a height of 96 meters, towering over the Prague castle complex. The tombs of Bohemian kings, Holy Roman emperors, and the city’s patron Saint Wenceslas are all housed in its recesses. It’s also home to the Bohemian crown jewels, a portal mosaic of the Last Judgement. The best part of the interior for me were the striking Art Nouveau painted glass windows.
St. Vitus Cathedral is open Mon – Sat: 09:00 – 17:00 and Sun 12:00 – 17:00.
It’s possible to get a glimpse of the interior from a small space below the western music gallery for free. It does get pretty crowded there though.
2.2 Old Royal Palace & Vladislav Hall
The Old Royal Palace was built in 1135 in the beautiful Romanesque style and is one of the most interesting buildings in the Prague Castle complex. It was once the ruling seat of the Bohemian kings. A quick visit here will suffice.
The most sumptuous room of the palace is the Vladislav Hall, which was built in the 15th century. It is the largest ballroom in Europe and has a length of 60 meters. The hall has no pillars but only a supporting vault and was used for many different purposes such as gatherings, jousting tournaments, and coronations. The broad staircase leading into the building which allowed knights to enter on horseback for jousting competitions is truly a sight to behold.
2.3 Golden Lane (Zlatá ulička)
Golden Lane is yet another interesting and 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, vividly painted historic houses that are built directly into the arches of the castle walls. The scenery looks like something out of a medieval fairy tale.
These picturesque houses now exhibit medieval armory and textiles and sell tourist souvenirs. It was home to some notable writers in the past, most famously Franz Kafka.
Entrance to the Golden Lane requires a Prague Castle ticket, but if you go after 17:00, entrance is free.
For a well-deserved lunch and a break from sightseeing, you can go to Restaurace Na Klárově, a great little traditional Czech restaurant. If you’re in the mood for something different you can opt for Občanská plovárna, a nice Asian fusion restaurant with a waterside terrace.
4. Letna Park
Make your way to one of the city’s most popular green belts, Letna Park, which lies on the west bank of the Vltava river. Its lofty position on the fringes of the historical center, make Letna Park a popular destination for tourists and locals, who come here at all hours of the day, to get an unforgettable view of the city and the tranquil Vltava River with its many bridges. The scenic vantage point is located near the Prague Metronome monument. This was my favorite of the many scenic views of Prague.
5. Jewish Quarter
Cross the Cech bridge to make your way to the Jewish quarter (Josefov). 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 area gradually grew to become the biggest Jewish community in Europe, as well as an economic and cultural center of the highest importance.
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.
Many of the famous sites in the Jewish quarter are part of the Jewish Museum, which also includes the following: the Spanish Synagogue, Pinkas Synagogue, Maisel Synagogue, Klausen Synagogue, the Ceremonial Hall, and the Old Jewish Cemetery. If you want to visit any of these places you are required to buy a ticket to the Jewish Museum, which will also allow you 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.
While you could easily spend a lot of time exploring this fantastic quarter, our top recommendations in the Jewish quarter are:
5.1 Old Jewish Cemetery
The Old Jewish Cemetery is arguably the most impressive sight in the Jewish Quarter. Established in the first half of the 15th century it is one of the oldest Jewish burial sites in the world. It’s just amazing how, due to lack of space, the bodies were buried on top of each other throughout the years, sometimes piling up to 12 bodies in one grave space. There are over 12,000 tombstones, with many toppling over each other and pressed together. It is believed that there are around 100,000 people buried in these grounds.
5.2 Spanish Synagogue
If there’s one synagogue that shouldn’t be overlooked in the Jewish quarter, it is the Spanish Synagogue. It was only completed in 1868 and although it is the newest synagogue in the Jewish quarter it is unequivocally the most spectacular one. The interior is absolutely breathtaking, inspired by Islamic architecture and consists of oriental stucco motifs, gilded elements, carved decorations on doors and banisters and colored stained glass windows. It is reminiscent of the Alhambra in Spain. We absolutely loved this place.
5.3 Parizska Street
Parizska Street is the most elegant boulevard in Prague that is full of remarkable Art Nouveau architecture and upscale boutiques. It runs through the Jewish quarter, connecting the Old Town Square to the Čech Bridge. Its leafy atmosphere makes it worthy for a perfect stroll. It is home to some fabulous Art Nouveau buildings as well.
6. Old Town Square
Prague’s Old Town Square has been the city’s chief public center for nearly a millennium. It is one of the most popular spots in Prague that has travelers flocking here from all over for the fascinating history, beautiful architecture as well as the vibrant atmosphere. Be sure to admire the blend of Gothic, Romanesque, Rococo, Baroque and Renaissance architecture that is displayed by colorful buildings surrounding the square.
It is true that in recent years the square has become over commercialized with overpriced restaurants and cafes, and tacky souvenir shops. This still doesn’t take away the allure of the setting.
6.1 Astronomical Clock & Old Town Hall
Prague’s 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. It displays Babylonian time, Old Bohemian time, German time, and Sidereal time. It also shows the moon’s phases and the sun’s journey through the constellations of the Zodiac. I really loved its beautiful bright colors.
Each hour, animated figurines flanking the clock are set in motion. Death rings a bell and inverts his hourglass, and the 12 Apostles parade past the windows above the clock, nodding to the crowd. Finally, a cock crows and the hour is rung. The whole spectacle lasts about 45 minutes. I’ve read a lot about people being disappointed by the slightly underwhelming display. Granted, it’s nothing spectacular, but you have to take in consideration 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.
The Gothic Old Town Hall is the most famous building in the Old Town square and dates back to the 14th century. The tower of the Old Town Hall that features the astronomical clock offers surrounding views of the old town and surroundings. You can go up for a fee of 250 CZK. You can check the opening hours here.
6.2 The Church of Our Lady before Týn
The amazing Church of Our Lady before Tyn (Tyn Church) has got to be one of Prague’s most recognizable buildings. This fairytale-like church with its two Gothic spires is probably the most recognizable church in Prague. Legend has it that Tyn Church gave Walt Disney inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle. True or not, it is certainly an awe-inspiring sight during the day, and even more so at night brightly lit against a dark sky.
The inside of the church is pretty impressive as well. Unfortunately, photography is very rarely permitted so you’ll just have to go take a look yourself. There’s a voluntary entrance fee of 25 CZK. You can check the opening hours here.
7. Wenceslas Square
Your final stop for sightseeing will be Wenceslas Square. 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. The area is the commercial heart of Prague and also the busiest area in the city.
It has been the scene of many historic events in Czech history. It is now a popular meeting point and the numerous hotels, shops, and restaurants around the square attract hordes of tourists and locals alike. There are plenty of fabulous Art Nouveau buildings around the square.
After a long day’s sightseeing, you’ll be jaded and hungry. Since you’re in Prague, it would be a good idea to head to one of the city’s famous gastropubs, the Prague Beer Museum, for some hearty grub and chilled craft brews. If you want more of a quieter evening head to Restaurace Mincovna for a great Czech meal. We would strongly recommend the goulash or svíčková na smetaně (Beef sirloin with cream sauce). Either way, you won’t be disappointed!
Extending Your Stay
If you have any more time to spare than 24 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 amazing architecture, excellent museums, and quirky art scene. Plus, a day trip to Karlštejn Castle is really a must 🙂
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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. 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, 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 during one day in Prague? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!