Despite translating to “Lesser Quarter” in Czech, there’s nothing at all inferior about the enchanting Prague district of Malá Strana. It has just as much to offer as Old Town and New Town on most fronts (except perhaps nightlife), including the sprawling Prague Castle with former noble residences transformed into cute shops, pleasant cafes, and intimate hotels.
Although it gets busy, it’s fairly easy to escape the crowds and find some surprises down a quiet side street or the areas above and around the castle — including neighboring Petřín Hill. Note that this is Prague’s hilliest district, though trams and buses connect many of the main sights.
The Charles Bridge
While other bridges in Prague cross the Vltava River, that wasn’t always the case. For centuries, this bridge — named for King Charles IV — was the only one that spanned the river. The wide pedestrian bridge has numerous statues that are replicas of the statues dating back over 300 years and which are now in the National Museum. The Charles Bridge gets needlessly packed during the day, so make your way across early on your way to breakfast.
Start your day two in Prague with breakfast at the welcoming Cukrakavalimonada, which is close to the Malá Strana side of Charles Bridge while still being off the main beaten paths. It has two pleasant rooms, one of which is a dedicated patisserie. It has a menu of fresh mixed juices, high-quality Italian coffees, and a range of breakfast options from freshly baked croissants to platters brimming with eggs and bacon.
If you just wanted a quick bite and a delicious cup of coffee — whether an Americano, drip coffee, or flat white — head into Cafe Vescovi. They’ve got lovely pastries and cakes as well.
Lennon Wall and the Kafka Museum
After breakfast, stroll back towards the river to find the small but lovely Kampa Park, where you can wander through the series of manicured gardens and visit the Kampa Museum, which has a permanent collection of international contemporary art and sculpture, plus good regular exhibitions. From here, it’s a short hop to the John Lennon Wall, which since the artist’s death has been continuously scrawled with Beatles lyrics and Lennon-inspired graffiti. The colorful and creative wall served as a backdrop to many selfies before selfies were even a thing. And on the other side of Charles Bridge is the Kafka Museum, which offers insights into the author’s personal life and his relationship with Prague.
A quick lunch
For a quick lunch, check out Sousto Bistro, a casual and airy place that puts a little love into its comfort food menu of quesadillas, burgers, crepes, and salads. The portions are big, so feel free to share.
Prague Palace and Petřín Hill
After lunch, head to Malá Strana’s main square, Malostranske Namesti, a former marketplace. Explore the shops along Nerudova Street and the striking Church of St. Nicholas, one of the finest baroque structures in the city. Leave at least a couple of hours to explore Prague Castle — part of an impressing and sprawling complex dating back well over a thousand years. Every hour on the hour the changing of the guards is a lovely ritual to see, while daily at noon, the flag ceremony is quite the spectacle.
The castle consists of an ensemble of different buildings. Ones to be sure to see are the splendidly Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, the 16th-century Vladislav Hall, and the impossibly cute Golden Lane, a row of tiny houses built for castle workers and alchemists.
Adjacent to the castle is Petřín Hill — a former vineyard that these days offers a replica Eiffel Tower, a Rose Garden, and a mirror maze that dates from the Victorian era. Once you’re done exploring, grab a refreshing wheat beer at Klasterni Pivovar Strahov, which also has a decent restaurant and garden.
If you don’t dine at Klasterni Pivovar Strahov, stroll back down towards the river. Next to the Legion Bridge — or, in Czech, the Most Legií — sits the elegant Café Savoy, a belle-époque café-restaurant with painted ceilings, chandeliers, and a top-notch menu of Czech, Austrian, and French cuisine. There’s an evening tasting menu with sophisticated dishes like quail, duck leg, and oysters that can be matched to some great local wines, or choose from the a la carte options. Don’t forget to save room for the fantastic desserts.
Alternatively, walk south to the adjacent neighborhood, Prague’s Anděl District, and check out at the outdoor restaurants at Manifesto Market Smichov. It’s equally delicious for lunch, but it’s a great place to grab a cocktail and a bite from one of the food vendors there because it’s open late.
Jazz and drinks
Whether you’ve wined and dined at the Café Savoy or had your meal while enjoying the chill outdoor scene at Manifesto Market, you aren’t far from Jazz Dock, a venue on the river where you can catch a live show by local and international acts — blues and world, as well as jazz. If you still aren’t ready to call the end of your day in Prague, wander back into Malá Strana and hit up the legendary Blue Light Bar for another round of drinks at this unpretentious cellar bar, frequented by the likes of Bruce Willis and Johnny Depp. The drinks menu here is quite basic, but the vibe is quintessential Prague.