If you only have limited time in Prague don´t be stressed. Prague is definitely doable in 24 hours, although I would suggest everyone to come here for at least three full days. My name is Dana and I am local non-touristy guide and these are my tips how to spend one day in Prague.
Where to stay when you only come for one day?
This is very importat thing while planning only one day in Prague. For such a short stay you should definitely book your hotel downtown. City center is perfectly walkable and you don´t need any car or taxi to get around. I suggest staying in Old Town or close to the Old Town. It´s not only conveniently located close to all the major sights but it´s also close to Main Train station (Hlavní nádraží) or Main Bus terminal (Florenc) – if you plan to travel from Prague to Vienna, Budapest or Berlin. From Prague airport to Old Town it takes around 30 – 40 minutes, depends on a traffic.
Prague in one day? Definitely stay downtown. Old Town back alleyes are super pretty, quiet and safe.
When to start exploring the city?
There is only one correct answer: early in the morning. No matter how long you are staying in Prague, it´s always fascinating (even for us locals) to explore Prague in the morning. By this time it still has the nostalgic, old times vibes. I know it´s difficult to leave your warm bed and skip the hearty hotel breakfast but believe me it´s worth it. Between 6 – 8am the city is most beautiful. During the day time many places in the city center are really really really crowded, noisy and exhausting (Old Town Square, Jewish Quarter, Charles Bridge). If you prefer starting later, you can also join one of my tours: Prague Behind the Scenes 4,5h tour or Prague Behind the Scenes 3h tour.
Prague is wonderful and empty in the morning!
Where to start?
My itinerary (scroll down) starts in the Old Town but there is also great route starting from the Castle district (Hradčany). It´s really up to you what are your preferences. Prague Castle is open from 6am and by this time you will be there alone. If Prague Castle is #1 sight for you, then you should start from there. As soon as possible. There is no entry fee to Prague Castle grounds. Just don´t take any knifes, guns or drones, there are security check by the entrance.
Nice way to Prague Castle. Early in the morning.
Where to finish?
My itinerary (scroll down) ends at Prague Castle from where you can easily walk (downhill) back to the Old Town or wherever you plan to go. If you are not too tired I suggest to continue later in the evening and finish your day at Letná beer garden.
Letná beer garden is a great place where to finish your downtown city tour. Photo: Praguebeergarden.com
What to avoid?
With such a limited time I suggest to skip museums and interiours of historical buildings. The only place worth stopping is: Charles Bridge Old Town Tower (open from 10am, entrance fee 100 CZK / person). There are fantastic views. Another thing you should definitely skip is Trdelník (chimney cake). So called typical Czech pastry. Trdelník ranks among the top Prague tourist traps!
Views from Old Town Bridge tower are stunning.
Where to stop to drink and eat along the way?
There are many nice and non-touristy places where you can stop for a beer, coffee or lunch. It only depends when you come as some places can be still closed in the morning. Please check the opening hours ahead.
- Simple – to go – breakfast. On the very ground floor of Palladium shopping mall there is a small bakery stand Artisan Bakehouse (in front of Albert supermarket). It´s nothing hipsta photogenic but they sell really good stuff. Try their koláčky, šátečky or koláče. Very reasonably priced and close to the starting point of my suggested itinerary.
- Mincovna restaurant on Old Town Square – Czech cousine. Very good selection of Czech wines and the Pilsner Urquell beer goes right from a tank. Their prices are really fair for the location and they also use ingredients from local producers. Mincovna in Czech language means „mint“ because during the 18th and 19th century they were making coins there.
- Roesel beer and cake– Roesel is well hidden in Prague´s most bizarre street leading from the Charles bridge. You need to know the address otherwise you can easily pass it by. Young locals recently opened this relaxed non-touristy hideaway pub and serve Czech craft beers and small meals (also special lunch menu on working days). The staff is smiling and fantastic. Right by the entrance there is another place worth stopping. Original souvenir shop called Pragtique – where everyting is made in the Czech Republic by local designers.
- Kavárna Nový svět – just 10 minutes from Prague Castle is located this cozy family run coffee place serving delicious coffee and home baked cakes. They don´t have a printed menu, everything is written by the counter on a black board.
- Kuchyň – right by the entrance to Prague Castle. Perfect spot for beer because the views from their gardens are absolutely stunning. Just grab your drinks and go to sit outside – you will love it. Fair prices for the location.
Itinerary “Prague in one day”
If you follow my recommendations and start early, make your first stop at Náměstí Republiky to see Powder Tower and beautiful Art Nouveau building called Municipal house. Powder tower is open to public (from 10am) and if you find some time later in the day you can walk up. From the top balcony there is a fantastic view over the Old Town and in the distance you will see Prague Castle. In Municipal House basement you can find the second oldest bar in Europe. Photo: Prague.eu
Just a stone throw from Powder tower you will find this relatively modern building. Believe it or not, it was built around the same time as Municipal House but in completely different style called cubism. Cubism was a progressive art movement at the beginning of the 20th century but only in Czech lands it evolved in something world unique – in architecture style. This bulding is called house at the Black Madona (you can see her at the corner of the building) and it was the first cubistic architecture in the city (1912). Designed by Josef Gočár. My tip: go inside the building and look up through the stairs. It´s one of the most instagrammed spot in Prague.
Standing in front of House at the Black Madona? Walk left, after 3 minutes you will reach this lovely theatre building called Estate Theatre (Stavovské divadlo). It´s definitely much better to go inside for a performance but since you only have limited time in Prague just remember that the wold premiere of Mozart´s Don Giovanni was performed here and conducted by Mozart himself (1787). Photo: Wikipedie
Old Town Square is the heart of Old Town and therefore always super busy. Only in the morning it´s nice and empty. Here you will find the famous Astronomical clock, Old Town City Hall, Týn Church, St. Nicolas Church and Jan Hus memorial. I personaly like to hide away from crowds in Skautský institut, hidden gem of Old Town Square with the cheapest beer in this location and fantastic seating. Photo: Prague.eu
Jewish quarter is a tiny and beautiful part Old Town. You will easily reach it right from Old Town Square for example through Pařížská street. In this picture you can see the oldest and most visited synagogue called Old New Synagogue. Early Gothic building from the end of the 13th century. Synagogues (and cemetery) in the Jewish quarter are open to public except for Jewish holidays (Friday late afternoons and Saturdays).
Via Jewish quarter you will slowly reach the river bank where you can enjoy the best views over the city, especially Prague Castle.
Charles bridge is open for free 24/7 and it´s connecting Old Town with Lesser Town. The tower in this picture is open to public and I highly recommend going there. You will have a chance to take the best photos and avoid all the crowds (at least for a few minutes before you step on the bridge again).
Kampa Island is a lovely green area close to Charles bridge. You can take a break here and enjoy a cold one for example in Mlýnská kavárna which is located just 5 minutes from this spot in the picture. They have also water wheel there 🙂
John Lennon Wall is a little bit wild place which looks more like a grafitti place for youngsters but it´s actualy very important Prague sight. My tip: don´t lean against the wall while taking pictures….Second tip: right behind the wall you can visit nice design shop called Artiseme.
Only few month back Malostranské Square was one huge parking lot, now it´s a lovely apot where you can sit for a while before going to Prague Castle district. You can either walk (uphill!!!) or take the cult tram number 22.
Tram number 22 is the best option how to get to the Castle district. Ticket machine is located right at the tram stop. From Malostranské náměstí (Malostranské Square) you will take this tram to Pohořelec stop (aprox 10 minutes ride). The ticket costs 24 CZK / person. Don´t forget to validate it once you hop in. Foto: Sabrina Mazzeo | Zdroj: Fotobanka Unsplash
Once you get off the tram you can easily reach Loreta. Stunning Baroque complex and very important pilgrimage destination. If you happen to come here during the whole hour, you can listen to historical carilion located inside the bell tower, currently the biggest historical ecclesiastical carilion in Europe (27 bells). Just stand in front of the building and listen…Photo: www.farnoststrahov.cz
From Loreta walk left and downhill to explore the most picturesque part of the city called Nový svět (New World) through which you can easily get to the main entrance to Prague Castle. In this picture you can see a lovely family run café called Kavárna Nový svět where you can take a break and have a delicious coffee and home made cakes.
St. Vitus Cathedral is part of Prague Castle, it´s standing on the 3rd court. Front part of the cathedral is open for free.
While exploring Prague Castle grounds don´t forget to visit Castle gardens. There is a tiny hidden entrance on the 3rd court through which you can visit this fantastic spot called Zahrada na Valech. Open for free and only during the high season (April – October). This is also the end of my suggested route. From here you turn left and walk downhill back to the city center. Enjoy Prague and should you need any help please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a lovely stay. UPDATE: Zahrada na Valech is closed in 2019.