Prague was the number one reason I wanted to back to Europe last fall. I am not sure what actually triggered my initial interest. Maybe it was how it seemed mysterious when it came up on Alias back in the early aughts. What I do know was Pinterest really fueled the fire that was my need to go to Prague. So this past fall we did a Cosmos tour of Prague Vienna and Budapest. Each of these major cities got a full day to explore which in hindsight was only long enough to wet our appetite. These are the Things to do in Prague in one Day.
Things to do in Prague; Old Town
In one day we had enough time to have two walking tours of Prague. One of the Old Town and one of the Castle District.
We started the morning walking through Old Town. Unlike most of the historical city centers Prague came out of WWII relatively unscathed making it the best preserved large Midieval city in the world. That alone warrants a visit.
The walking tour started out in the Jewish Quarter which like many other Jewish Quarters was outside the main old town. We walked by the New-Old Synagogue (the oldest preserved synagogue in Central Europe) and the Jewish Museum which allows you to see many preserved Jewish artifacts collected by of all people the Nazis.
Moving on from the Jewish quarter we continued walking through the charming narrow streets. We stopped next at the Charles Bridge. The Charles Bridge is named after Charles IV who commissioned this bridge to replace the Judith bridge which was destroyed in a flood. There are towers one at each end of the bridge which at one time would have been a check point going from the Old town to Lesser Town or vice versa. If you do one thing make sure to walk across the Charles Bridge. It is now a dedicated pedestrian zone and the views are amazing. Plus it is a bit overwhelming to walk somewhere with so much history! This bridge dates form the 1300s.
After walking across the Charles Bridge we ventured again into the narrow side streets of the Old Town making our way to the Old Town Square. I feel like modern cities are missing the grand meeting spots that were town squares. I know we don’t need a big square for market places any longer but they make for a great focal part of a city.
The city center is a great spot to find restaurants and there are Trdelnik stands too. That being said if you don’t want to pay the jacked up tourist prices venture to the side streets instead. Trdelnik are worth the hype even though I didn’t try one until Budapeast. They are a bit like eating a cinnamon bun that is less doughy and easier to eat because there is no sticky icing.
Our walking tour ended at the Astronomical Clock. This is the most crowded spot that we found on our Old Town walking tour. While the clock is pretty amazing it is a bit underwhelming compared with the rest of the city. The crowds don’t really allow for you to really soak in the full beauty of the clock. This is an area to watch for pickpockets due to the crowds.
Next it was time for a lunch break and then head back down the high end fashion Paris Street which we followed back across the Vltava river to meet our tour bus to head up to the Castle District for the afternoon.
Things to do in Prague: Castle District
Prague Castle dates back the the 900’s and is still in use today by the President of the Czech Republic. It is the largest ancient castle in the world and a must visit when you are in Prague.
Bus tours can not go into the castle complex so expect lots of walking even before you get into the castle iteself. You will have to go through a security check point before you get to the castle.
If you time your visit perfectly you will enter the castle just after the changing of the guard. Definitely something to see, the dedication these guards have while everyone is gawking is amazing. Walk through a small corridor into the castle courtyard.
As our guide was grabbing the tickets for the group we were able to wander around the castle courtyard to take it all in. It really is amazing to see. This area is where the current govenment has offices on the castle complex.
The first building we visited was the Gothic Church St. Vitus Cathedral. It took 600 years to fully finish this church, which considering Canada just celebrated it’s 150 anniversary puts things into perspective. There are three distinct parts to the cathedral, the modern entrance shown above which was built at the turn of the 20th century. The middle portion of the Cathedral includes the Renaissance Bell tower and to the right of the tower is the Golden portal and the oldest portion of the church.
In addition to being an excellent example of Gothic architecture this is also the crypt of the Bohemian kings. Next we quickly visited St. Georges Basilica, which didn’t really stand out to me as much as the Old Royal palace. There is a view point from the Old Royal palace that is a must stop for the best views over the city.
The final portion of the tour was walking the Golden Lane which is an alley on the northern wall of the castle. The area was built in the 1600s to house the castle guards it later got its name because of the alchemists that lived and worked there trying to turn iron into gold. More famously Frank Kafka lived in cottage 22. The area was inhabited up until the second world war. Now the area is full of gift shops. The alley is quite narrow and if you are not into gift shops you might want to wander ahead for more views over the city.
The stairs down from the Castle district will take you down into the lesser town. If you aren’t tired after walking all day through the Old town and then the Castle District you are in much better shape than me! This was one of our most vigourous walking days so keep that in mind when you are planning your time in Prague.
If you have the time I would spend a minimum 3 days in the city the next time I visit. Allowing for more time in the Old town and time to see more of modern Prague. Still it is possible to get many of the most important sights seen in one day. The beauty of the way Prague is set up, with its compact Old Town and so many sights to see in the Castle complex allows tourists to see much of the things to do in Prague in one day.
What do you think of the Things to Do in Prague – would you do it all in one day or spend more time in this beautiful historical city?