This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)
Prague is one of the European gems that for the longest time has been neglected by international tourism. The Bohemian Capital of the Czech Republic in the past few years has finally gotten on the tourist radar and many people now think it’s even more beautiful than Paris!
This Prague itinerary aims to help those who are planning to spend 2 days in Prague… or even 3 or 4: if you have more time in fact there are a few day trips that will take your breath away!
This Bohemian capital, with its centuries-old buildings, quirky art, tasty beer and beautiful architecture, is among the most beautiful in Europe. If you are expecting it to be “old and grey” only because you’ve read that Prague is a medieval city, think again. Our first walk through the narrow streets in Prague left us speechless: cute, pastel colored buildings with intricate designs, a beautiful blue sky, smiling people and the scent of food in the air. We immediately knew we were in for a ride!
Two days in Prague can be enough if you want to see all the main highlights. Three are already way better, so you won’t have to hurry, and four is the perfect number if you are planning to experience also at least a day trip from Prague. Because the city can be particularly crowded from May to August, we encourage you to plan your trip to Prague in April or September. If snow and cold don’t scare you, then we highly recommend you visit Prague in December for the Christmas markets. You can get there also using a train (or a river cruise!) from Bratislava, and if you plan wisely, you could manage to visit three Christmas markets in one trip: Prague, Vienna and Bratislava are all doable in a few days! Don’t tell me I’m the only one who gets all excited in thinking of Christmas markets? It must be because in Naples we have Christmas Alley open throughout the year!
Let’s see what to do in Prague in 2 days, and then we’ll add a few more, so you can plan the perfect Prague itinerary even before to book your flight tickets!
Day 1 – Explore Prague Old Town
Your first day in Prague will be devoted to exploring the city center: Old Town Square (Staromestska namesti). This is the perfect place to go also if you’re looking for some instagrammable spots. The first thing you’ll notice, upon arriving in the main square, is the familiar shape of the Church of Our Lady before Tyn. Probably the most famous postcard of Prague! This square is filled with colorful stalls for Christmas Market or Easter Market seasons, and has been Prague’s principal public square since the 10th century. When we visited Prague Old Town, it was pretty early in the morning, with only a handful of food stalls just opening up and preparing warm Trdlo (Trdelnik) for the tourists. I’m stating “for the tourists” because, as we mentioned in another article, Trdlo isn’t a traditional recipe from Prague. If you are looking for traditional Czech dishes and where to eat them, read our guide from the locals!
Because this area tends to get pretty crowded during the day, we highly suggest you add it to the top of your Prague itinerary, so you can visit first thing in the morning and enjoy the beautifully colored buildings without feeling pressured by the throngs of tourists.
At center of Old Town Square you will find the massive Jan Hus Memorial, a statue unveiled in 1915 to commemorate the martyrdom of Jan Hus, a Czech Theologian, rector of the Charles University in Prague. All around the memorial you can sit down on one of the benches to eat your breakfast. The people watching here is unbeatable!
Unfortunately many people come to this square only to shoot a quick picture to the spiked towers and admire the Astronomical Clock. This medieval clock is located at the Southern side of the Old Town Hall Tower. When it strikes the hour (from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm) the procession of the Twelve Apostles sets in motion. Yet starting in January 2018 the whole tower has been closed to be repaired. While the observation deck is still open to public, the Prague Astronomical Clock will be opened again in August 2018.
If you’re already despairing, wondering how to spend your two days in Prague if the main highlight is closed, rest assured: there’s much more to see and do besides the Astronomical Clock!
You can visit The Gothic Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, or the Baroque church St. Nicholas. If you like Oriental Art, make sure to get inside the neo-Rococo Kinsky Palace, where they also have a particularly interesting exhibit on the art of calligraphy.
Another highlight in the magical Old Town Square is the Renaissance building called The House at the Minute. It’s covered in ornate Sgraffito decorations depicting Greek mythology scenes and references to Biblical and Renaissance scenes. Franz Kafka used to live here with his family, on the second floor.
While we were debating what to see in Prague in 2 days, to work on our itinerary (and then ended up booking a few more days), we wondered where we could go from Old Town Square, where there are several nice hotels, without using public transport. While we enjoy to walk around, to experience in the best way every new city, Al was worried that we’d get to the evening too tired to even go to dinner. Now that we’ve also tried this itinerary with the snow, I can tell you that it’s perfectly doable. At a slow pace, you can see a big chunk of Old Town Prague by foot. In case you get too tired, you can still hop on a tram or a metro and move to the next spot.
After exploring Old Town Square, we moved to Josefov, the Jewish district in the Old town of Prague. If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll know that we have been to Auschwitz and Birkenau, therefore we make it a point to visit the Jewish districts in Europe, to learn and remember. At Josefov you can visit one of the most ancient Jewish districts in Europe, unfortunately half demolished between 1893 and 1913 as part of an initiative to model the city on Paris (here you can find a handy guide to Prague neighborhoods). What was left were a few synagogues, the old cemetery and the Old Jewish Town Hall: they’re all part of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
As we walked towards Wenceslas Square from Josefov, we crossed Na Prikope, the shopping street in Prague. If you are looking for an instagrammable spot to take a few pictures of you rocking your new outfit, this is the place to go to! The parkway is lined with designer shops and beautiful buildings. It’s also one of the nicest places to go to when exploring Prague at night!
The last stop of the day could be Wenceslas Square, which played a major role in the history of Prague. It was (and still is) the traditional place for demonstrations, celebrations and public gatherings. Here you will find cinemas, theatres, hotels, dozens of restaurants and shops.
Day 2 – Visit Prague Castle
For the second day of our Prague itinerary we planned another long walk. Because we were staying at the Old Town in Prague, we decided to walk towards the Powder Tower, which is a city gate that separates the Old Town from the New Town. It is an optional stop that you can or cannot do, according to where is your hotel. Afterwards, we decided to walk towards another one of the main highlights of Prague. Charles Bridge is a pedestrian only bridge that crosses the Vltava River. The spiked towers on both sides were used as models to rebuild several other towers in Prague during the Victorian age.
When we arrived in Prague, our taxi driver (we’ve discovered I have a knack for getting to know a new city by talking to taxi drivers) told us that if we wanted to see the best of Charles Bridge we’d have to get there before 6am. We thought he was joking, until we got there. At 8:30 am it was snowing and still there were so many tourists. The worst part of it was having to wait in line (and gosh, some big groups took ages to take a huge number of selfies, making everyone else wait: don’t be that kind of tourist, please!) to take a few pictures of the statues on the bridge. We can only imagine how crowded it can be during peak season!
Our taxi driver was right: if you are planning to take a few good shots of Charles Bridge, head over there at dawn, when (hopefully) the crowds are still sleeping!
From Charles Bridge you have two options. The first one is hopping on a tram and getting up the Prague Castle hill. When I planned a trip for my parents, that’s what they did: there’s a tram stop fairly close to one of the entrances, at Pražský hrad. But I wanted to climb up there, because, even if I suffer with asthma, I keep on challenging myself.
Full disclosure: it was pretty hard for me, but I still made it up the top (thank you Al for being always so patient!). The long upward sloping road up is quite long but the stairs have some space if you want to stop for some rest now and then. Once you get to the top, you will be able to shoot quite a few good pictures of Prague Castle and of the city from above.
This fortified hill includes several different buildings that you can visit. To get inside, you will have to go through a security check and a metal detector. While the line can be quite long, the soldiers at the entrance were absolutely nice and tried to make it as quick as possible. You won’t have to remove your shoes (hopefully) but they might ask you to open your bag so they can check what you’re carrying inside.
According to how much time you have, and what you want to visit, there are two types of tickets. The first one (Circuit B) includes only the highlights, so it’s a “shorter route” (St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica and the Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower), and a second one (Circuit A) which is longer (St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, exhibition “The Story of Prague Castle“, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower, and Rosenberg Palace). Both tickets are valid for two consecutive days.
If you have a Prague Card the first kind of ticket (Circuit B, the main highlights) is included. We had a card so we decided to go with the shorter route… and we discovered that it’s not as short as you could imagine!
St Vitus Cathedral is one of the places where you’ll spend more time. Its towers dominate the skyline of the hill, and the inside, when the sun is shining through its stained glass windows, is full of colors and history. The Old Royal Palace is a quick visit, because there isn’t too much to see. not as much as the Cathedral, anyway! Moving on (you will be given a handy map with the numbers of the buildings you can visit on your ticket) to St. George’s Basilica, another quick visit… and finally, you’ll get to the Golden Lane. Now, while this is one of the instagrammable places I’ve promised you, I honestly have no idea how some people managed to shot cute pictures here with no tourists around.
This long street, originally built in the 16th century to house Rudolf II’s guards, takes its name from the goldsmiths that lived there in the 17th century. Being Italian, I immediately thought of Burano when I saw it (yes, including the crowds!): there are dozens of tiny, brightly colored houses, and even a couple of shops that sell Christmas decorations all through the year. Many of the houses are now souvenir shops, and there’s even a small museum of medieval armoury, but others can be visited, to see how people were living back then. There’s even a tiny tavern! Many writers and philosophers, like Franz Kafka, used to live here.
If you want to give it a shot (pun intended), make sure to get to the Golden Lane early in the morning, before to visit the other buildings. That way you’ll hopefully find less people and the light will be better!
Golden Lane is connected with Dalibor Tower, which used to be a dungeon. It’s one of those fun/macabre/weirdly interesting visits that can take a bit more time.
Before you leave the castle premises, head to the Belvedere, to take a few more pictures of Prague Castle and Prague from above. We decided to buy a nice snack before to hop on the tram: several layers of potato slices deep fried on a stick, for the equivalent of 2€. Cheap and delicious!
While you are on this side of the Vltava River, you can explore a bit more. Do you like bizarre art? Then make sure to visit the courtyard of the Franz Kafka Museum. You will find two bronze statues peeing into a pool shaped like the Czech Republic, made by David Cerny, one of Prague’s most famous artists.
Also, if you want a good picture of the Charles Bridge, you can walk to the Lennon Wall, where the angle is better.
If you aren’t too tired, using the funicular you can get up to Petrin Hill. No, you didn’t drink too much beer on your first night in Prague: there is a mini Eiffel Tower! The Petrin Tower was built as part of the Jubilee Exhibition in 1891, a miniature (not so much) copy of the Eiffel Tower (ratio 1:5). On a clear day from the top of the Petrin Tower you will be able to see nearly all of Bohemia. Unfortunately there isn’t an elevator so make sure you want to climb all the stairs to get to the top!
Day 3 – Eat your way through Prague
While planning our Prague itinerary, we realized that we didn’t want to see only the touristy spots. Sure, we have already added a few amazing things to do in Prague in two days, and we haven’t even started with how amazing it can be at night, but… is it really how the locals live?
For our third day we thus decided that we’d wake up a bit later, to have a lazy breakfast, and we’d explore the real Prague. Which is why we decided to book a food tour. Food tours in fact not only show you the food that locals eat for real (not the touristy stuff), but they also share insights and the history of a place.
Our food tour started at 12:30 so we had time to just leisurely walk through the city until we got to a shop where we’d meet with a tour guide from Eating Prague Tours. Food tours with this company run until late in the afternoon and you get to walk around at a slow pace, with a local that shows you secret foodie spots where the people from Prague go to shop and dine (I did the same in my food tour for Naples!). This is how we explored a little bit more of Prague, off the beaten path, just the way we like it!
After we said goodbye to our group and tour guide, we decided to hop on a tram to go see the Prague Dancing House.
Also called Fred and Ginger, a nickname given to what looks like a weird looking building, according from the angle you look at it. Designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunic, in cooperation with Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, it was completed in 1996.
The design looks almost out of place, in an area where there are so many Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings, because it’s clearly modern and… a bit bizarre. All it takes is looking at it the right way. Stand on the side: you will realize that it looks like two people dancing. It was in fact inspired by the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. And the research the architects did was so thorough that they even tried to imitate the dancing style of Ginger and Fred.
The Dancing House was built on an empty lot where once there was a house destroyed by the American bombing of Prague in 1945. In the building there’s a hotel, a luxury restaurant and an art gallery.
Once you’re done taking shots of the Dancing House, keep walking on a straight line towards Wenceslas Square. The street is lined with beautifully colored buildings, perfect for some great photos. It won’t take you long to get to the Prague National Theatre, the alma mater of Czech opera.
As suggested by our food tour guide, I checked the prices of the theatre tickets in Prague: they are very, very cheap. So if you are looking for things to do in Prague at night, definitely check out the programme during your stay. Chances are that you will be able to attend a ballet or an opera night with a ticket of about 10-15€!
Bonus – Day trips from Prague
If you think you will spend more than 3 days in Prague, there are a few day trips that you can definitely add to your Prague itinerary:
- Karlštejn Castle: Built by Charles IV (the same Charles who built the famous bridge), Karlštejn Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic and represents the perfect day trip from Prague. There are regular trains from Prague to the Karlštejn station. The ride takes about 45 minutes. From the station there’s another 30 minute walk to the castle. It’s definitely easier to book a half day tour to the castle, with a guide!
- Kutna Hora: The town of Kutna Hora is a Unesco protected site. Home to two famous churches, one of them being an Ossuary, with rooms built from human bones. The train ride from Prague lasts about 50 minutes. Once there you can also visit Gothic St. Barbara’s Cathedral and the former Royal Mint named the “Italian Court.” Even in this case there are interesting guided tours that will take care of the logistics, departing from Prague.
- Cesky Krumlov: Another UNESCO-listed town, probably one of the most famous in the Czech Republic. This medieval town, with its cobbled streets, beautiful surroundings and impressive castle, is one of those unmissable spots that will also provide great Instagram shots. Instead than renting a car just to get there, book a bus ride with a guided tour to be able to enjoy also the trip there.
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