How to spend one day in Prague, Czech Republic
One day itinerary for Prague
With its historic sites, beautiful architecture and one of the most beautiful city skylines in Europe, Prague is a wonderful city for wandering. It’s great value, too – a day full of exploring can be done for less than £35.
1. Free Walking Tour
As most of our one day guides begin, your travels in Prague start at 10am with a free walking tour of the city. Meet the tour guide from Sandemans at the Old Town Square and get set for around two and half hours of history as you wander through the city. I personally love free walking tours and Sandemans are always outstanding; their guides are knowledgeable but more importantly (for me) charismatic, so I’m happy to part with a tip at the end of the tour for the entertainment value alone. Like many others, I learn best through storytelling and experiences so for me, a guided tour is the best way to take in some facts about a new place.
2. Astronomical Clock
If you do any of the walking tours in Prague you’ll pass the Astronomical Clock and learn the story behind it. Like me, you’ll probably marvel at its ingenuity (it’s the oldest astronomical clock still in operation) then mourn its sombre history – but I won’t spoil the story for you now, you’ll have to visit it to find out what I mean. What I can tell you is that you’ll want to be near it on the hour, when the clock’s figures becomes animated and put on a show. To be honest, it’s rather underwhelming; but worth it to feel part of something almost magical as the road in front of the clock tower fills with tourists and everyone stops in their tracks to get a view, if only for a few minutes.
3. Charles Bridge
Next, head over Charles Bridge to continue your exploration of Prague’s historic sites. The bridge connects the Old Town to Mala Strana, where you’ll find beautiful churches, cathedrals, halls and the magnificent Prague Castle – a lovely place to spend your afternoon. The bridge itself is one of Prague’s most visited sites and will likely be full of people, so take a slow stroll over it and savour in the views as you wait for a clearing to grab a quick photo.
4. Lennon Wall
Your first stop on the Mala Strana side of Prague should actually be one its more modern sites, the famous Lennon Wall, which is just over the bridge then down to your left near the French Embassy. This wall has been a place for political protest through art and graffiti for decades, but is most famous for its portrait of John Lennon, painted after the singers murder in 1980. It has since been covered up with graffiti, including Beatles lyrics but also a mishmash of other tags and portraits and political statements. I was expecting something a bit more aesthetically pleasing but given the nature of the wall, it makes sense that it is more of a collage than a masterpiece. This is another place you’ll find crowds so spend some time walking the wall while you wait your turn for some clear space for a photo.
5. Prague Castle
The castle complex in Prague is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. It’s a well maintained precinct with multiple sites that can be accessed, or you can wander around the entire complex surrounding the castle free of charge.
As you might have read before on this blog, I’m not a huge history buff so I opted to spend my entrance fee on the South Tower of the Cathedral. It’s not for the faint hearted, but after 287 steps up a winding, tight, cramped and hot staircase you’ll be rewarded with epic views over the Charles Bridge, Old Town and back over the castle complex itself. The tower also displays the biggest church bell in the country.
I have to admit I missed a trick on this one. With limited time and a limited budget I thought it more economical to purchase a single ticket to the one site I wanted to do, so spent CZK 150 on my ticket to the South Tower. After walking through the complex, though, I realised the South Tower is part of the Cathedral, so if I’d sprung CZK 250 – 350 for one of the circuits, I would have had a ticket to multiple sites with access to the entire Cathedral including the South Tower.
Where to eat
Prague is very cheap so you have so many choices for food! You can try a super Instagrammable chimney cakes (trdelnik) and depending on the season, food markets in the city’s square or behind the castle complex. If you want more traditional fare, you should definitely go to a local restaurant for some goulash. Prague also has some very strong spirits and beers so watch out for those!
Loft Cafe – good coffee, pastries and cakes
Grils – amazing value for delicious chicken and sides in a casual dining setting
Lokal Dlouhaaa – authentic local place to try goulash and other traditional Czech dishes (and beers!)
Good Food Coffee & Bakery – great spot for a chimney cake
Transport in Prague
Getting around in Prague is really easy by foot – this is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve traveled to so walking its streets was a pleasure, even in winter. The itinerary above will make you walk around 6km across the day (including some stairs and hills around the castle area) depending on where you start and finish, but public transport options are also available.
The journey to Prague city centre from the airport is a bit tricky. You’ll need to get a bus to a metro stop, then change onto the metro to get into the city. Because of this, I opted for a 24 hour public transport ticket for CZK 110 so I could make it to my accommodation and then use the metro again to the Old Town for the walking tour. I think you’ll find a separate bus and metro ticket would come close to that price anyway over the 24 hour period depending on where you are staying.
How much I spent in a day in Prague
Airport transfer: £4
‘Free’ walking tour tip: £5
Chimney cake after walking tour: £5
Lunch and a beer at Lokal: £15
South Tower entrance: £6
One day total: £35
Make a weekend of it
If you can spend more than just one day in Prague I would dedicate a full day across the Charles Bridge in Mala Strana to tackle the castle complex.
Make day one all about experiencing the Old Town with a walking tour followed by goulash and dumplings for lunch. After a big day of exploring take the opportunity to treat yourself to a nice dinner while you’re in a city where most restaurants are beyond affordable.
On day two, invest in a full circuit ticket to make the most of the sites and stop in at one of the nearby cafes or restaurants for lunch.
I was actually in Prague to celebrate New Year’s Eve, so value accommodation was hard to come by. I ended up staying in Karlin, a trendy suburb around 20 minutes walk from the Old Town. The Pentahotel was a nice boutique hotel with plenty of space and a great bar with a pool table. I managed to have the best pool-playing streak of my life while staying here – I credit the strength of the local beers I was drinking from the bar.
How much I spent in a weekend in Prague
Day one (minus South Tower): £29
Dinner and beers at Grils: £20
Accommodation at Pentahotel: £75 (double room)
Day two – breakfast, lunch, Castle circuit and airport transfer: £40
Weekend total: £164
My trip highlights
Walking across Charles Bridge and climbing the stairs of the South Tower of the Cathedral at Prague Castle is still one of my most memorable experiences of my travels. I took some photos of Prague’s terracotta rooftops with the Vltava river that are so quintessentially European they make me happy every time I see them.
As I mentioned, I was in the city for New Year’s Eve which was also a very European experience. As an Australian (where personal use of fireworks is mostly illegal) it was such a novelty to see people roaming the streets letting off fireworks from New Year’s Eve throughout New Year’s Day. For anyone who is interested, I bought tickets to the event at Retro Music Hall with some friends and spent the night on the dancefloor; very fun.
Ultimately Prague was a great city to visit for many reasons; the lovely Old Town, beautiful Castle complex, cheap beers and great food. It is an incredible place to spend a day – but if you can stretch it to a weekend or more I’m sure you won’t regret it!