Prague is the capital city of Czech Republic and if you have just one day to spend in this glorious city, then you need to figure out how to get the most from a day around Prague’s many squares, bridges, bars and cobbled backstreets.
All in all there’s simply too much to do in Prague. But with a tight itinerary, we have compiled a list of sights to see and things to do that will give you the most of your time and money.
Be prepared to walk a lot. Most of the places can be covered on foot, but having a day-pass for the city’s Metro and tram public network system (CZK 110, www.dpp.cz) will surely help.
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One of the best times to visit this iconic bridge is early morning when the hoards of tourists are away in their hotels. This bridge crosses the Vltava river and separates the Staré Město (Old Town) with Malá Strana (Lesser Town). The avenue of 30 mostly baroque statues on both sides of the bridge forms a unique connection of artistic styles with the underlying Gothic bridge.
After spending some time on the bridge, walk to the Malá Strana (Lesser Town) side and walk down the staircase (on the left), just before the bridge ends. Continue walking behind the building on your left and reach the river-side. You will have amazing views of the baroque bridge and the river, with Old Town Prague in front of you.
Additional Note: Late in the evening, performers of the “Fire Show” display tactful fights in the ancient Czechoslovakia.
List of statues on Charles Bridge (Wikipedia)
While most cafes and restaurants don’t open early in Mala Strana, Café Imperial opens at 7:00 a.m. Have a hearty breakfast at this ornate cafe.
A full English breakfast costs about CZK 215, including coffee.
Representing symbol of youth love and peace, this wall is filled with John Lennon inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics from Beatles songs. To reach here, continue walking to the Lesser Town side of Charles Bridge, take a left on Lazenska street from the main drag, and just follow the road to the John Lennon wall.
From Lennon wall, continue walking east and you will reach the Water wheel. This is the last survivor of what was once many water wheels that lined the canal in Prague. Visitors and locals tie love-locks on the metal railing of the small pedestrian bridge over a sidearm of the Vltava river.
Walk back to the main drag to reach Malostranske Namesti, where the Church of St. Nicholas stands towered. The church seems less impressive than St. Vitus or the Tyn Church from the outside, but the interior is astoundingly ornate and it features lots of statues, paintings and fresco ceilings. The Church also has numerous concerts, about 1 hour each. You may want to attend a concert of the beautiful organ, which Mozart played in 1787.
From Malostránske nám., turn to the street Zámecká and after about 15 metres, turn left to Thunovská street. This street takes you to the New Castle Stairs. Go up the steps to Hradčanské square with the Gate of Giants – the entrance to Prague Castle. You will have a demanding view of the Lesser Town from up here.
Directions on map (courtesy: www.hrad.cz)
Make sure to check out the timings of the castle and all the attractions in the compound.
Walk around the castle’s compound to visit:
- St. Vitus Cathedral (climb up the stairs of South Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral)
- The Story of Prague Castle exhibition
- The Treasure of St. Vitus Cathedral exhibition
- St. George’s Basilica
- Golden Lane
- Daliborka Tower
Trace your steps back to Malostranske nam. and grab a quick bite at one of the many restaurants on the square. Try Svíčkova Omačka at Leone & Anna; it’s a delicious Czech dish.
After a quick bite, head south on Kamelitska, which eventually becomes Ujezd street. Look for the funicular taking you up to the Petrin Hill observatory. A small version of Paris’s Eiffel Tower, Petrin Observation Tower was built in 1891 for the Jubilee Exhibition. The tower is 60m tall, which doesn’t sound particularly high until you add the fact that it sits on the top of Petrin hill, overlooking the whole of Prague.
The view is magnificent and well worth the 299 step climb to reach the viewing platform. On a clear day it is possible to see the highest peak in the Czech Republic, Snezka, which is 150km from the tower. To reach the Observatory, either walk for about 20 minutes from Malostranske nam to the funicular; or take a tram to Ujezd (trams 12, 20, 22, 57). Then, take the funicular railway up Petrin hill (daily 09:00-23.20; closed: 12-30 Mar & 15 Oct-02 Nov).
Located at the base of Petrin Hill on Ujezd Street in Mala Strana is this disturbing series of statues dedicated to the victims of the Communist era between 1948-1989. A original total of seven (two were damaged due to a bomb in 2003) male statues appear to be disintegrating – the first man whole, the next man missing a limb, ripped open, to the last man who has become virtually nothing. It is to symbolize how political prisoners under Communism were affected, and as a Memorial it is very effective. During the evening, the memorial is lit up providing an even more eerie look. The memorial was unveiled on May 22, 2002, and is the work of Olbram Zoubek, a famous Czech sculptor and architects Jan Kerel and Zdenek Holzel. Notice the bronze strip in the center of the stairs where the statues are located. It tells the estimated number of people impacted by the Communist regime.
Turn around on Vitezna street and cross the Most Legii bridge over to the New Town and head south (right) on Massarykovo street. Walk about about 700m and you’ll reach “Fred & Ginger” Dancing House, designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić in co-operation with the renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry on a vacant riverfront plot.
Turn around and walk north for about 1.2km to reach the Old Town entrance of Charles Bridge. Here you will see:
- Church of the Most Holy Saviour
- Statue of Charles IV
- Torture Museum
- Charles Bridge Museum
- Church of St. Francis of Assisi
Take a right turn on Karlova street, take the slight left at the split, and continue on Linhartska street. At the end of the street, look for the statue of the man with no face, right next to the Prague New City Hall building (on the left of the building, if you’re facing it).
Then turn right and then left to reach Staroměstské náměstí or Old Town Square – the heart and most visited tourist destination of Prague.
One of the most fascinating sights of Prague that draws the crowds from all over the world is the unique, one of its kind Astronomical Clock.
The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working. The clock mechanism itself is composed of three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; “The Walk of the Apostles”, a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures—notably a figure of Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months.
Other sights to see in the Old Town Square are:
- Church of Our Lady before Tyn (Kostel Panny Marie před Týnem)
This Gothic church was built in 1365 on the site of an earlier Romanesque church. Its magnificent multiple steeples are 80m high and dominate the square. A beautiful entrance portal decorated with scenes of Christ’s passion and a huge Rococo altar on the northern wall are its most striking features. Right of the altar there is a tomb of the Danish astronomer Tycho de Brahe who worked at the court of the Emperor Rudolph II. Týn church has a grand-sounding pipe organ and occasionally, it is a concert venue.
- Church of St Nicholas (Kostel sv. Mikuláše)
This church was completed in 1735 by Kilian Dientzenhofer; its statues are work of Antonín Braun. Originally a church of a Benedictine Monastery, now belongs to the Czechoslovakian Hussite Church. There are beautiful ceiling paintigs that shows scenes from the life of St Nicholas and St Benedict, and a wonderful chandelier. It is a concert venue during the summer.
- Old Town Hall (Staroměstská radnice)
- Statue of Jan Hus
Detour: From Karlova street, take the slight right lane at the split, then turn right on Husova street. Continue walking for about 250 metres and look up to see the a life-size sculpture of Sigmund Freud, hanging on a metal rod over the street from the top of a building, at the intersection of Husova and Skorepka streets.
Just a few minutes walking distance from the Old Town Square is one of the main city squares and the center of the business and cultural communities in the New Town – Wenceslas Square. It has the shape of a very long (750 m) rectangle, in a northwest–southeast direction. The street slopes upward to the southeast side. At that end, the street is dominated by the grand neoclassical Czech National Museum. The northwest end runs up against the border between the New Town and the Old Town.
The area around the busy Wenceslas Square hosts many restaurants and cafe; and depending on what mood you’re in for, you may find chic restaurants to fast-food joints to street-side food stalls in this 45,000 sq.m. area.
The magnificent city of Prague adorns a different look in the dark with all the monuments lit up. Retrace your steps back to the Old Town Square and then over to Lesser Town via Charles Bridge for some stunning views of Prague by night.
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If you have one day to spend in Prague, then we have compiled a list of sights to see and things to do that will give you the most of your time and money.
Points of interest:
Charles Bridge, Lesser Town (Malá Strana), Old Town (Staré Mesto), Prague castle, Water Wheel, John Lennon Wall, St. Nicholas Cathedral, Petrin Hill, Memorial to the Victims of Communism, Fred and Ginger Dancing House, Staromestské námestí (Old Town Square) and Wenceslas Square.
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