SO YOU’VE GOT A DAY’S LAYOVER IN THE CZECH CAPITAL? That’s a full 24 hours to take in all the aptly-named “City of a Hundred Spires” has to offer, and I’ve seen some people who can save the world in less time.
The city is action-packed with oohs and aahs, but the most beautiful part of being in Prague is that everything is already in your path. You can spend countless days simply picking a direction and walking — but on this trip we only have the one, so let’s make it count.
John Lennon WallPrague, Czech RepublicIf you’re looking to leave your “tag” in Prague, the John Lennon wall is probably the best place to do it. The mural-turned-graffiti wall is a gorgeous site to see and makes for some really great selfies too. Wear black to stand out.
First things first: Get some cash, or exchange your currency. Find an ATM, bank, a safe place to exchange, whatever your situation calls for. Figure it out, because your credit card is going to be a problem all day if you don’t.
Second things second: Get some coins. One of the earliest lessons I learned in Prague was how important coins are, and you’re definitely not getting those out of the ATM. Luckily, solving the coin problem is a grand excuse for breakfast, and there’s an abundance of pastries and other quick, simple goodies all over the place, all the time, almost everywhere. Find one you like and buy it. Heck, buy three. Pocket that clutch of coins and find the closest potraviny (market) while you eat your treasure. Buy a bottle of water and stash it, because water isn’t free at any of the places to eat in Prague, and in most cases it’s more expensive than beer.
And, yes, this may be a bit of a bitch, but all of this is for a reason: You’ll want 110 CZK in coins to effortlessly get your 24-hour public transit pass. (Note: You can buy a pass with cards and bills at the windows, but sometimes the windows are closed; even if they’re open, sometimes the attendants are shy about language. Unless you know Czech, its probably not happening. You can certainly risk it, but you’ve been warned.)
The final step is to go down into one of the metro stops and put your coins in the vending machine to get your day pass. I’d highly, highly recommend buying the pass. I’ve heard so many stories of people getting fined up to nearly 1000 CZK (about $40) for failing to do so, and it can make a real bummer out of your trip. (Again, you can certainly risk it, but you’ve been warned.)
Once in business, hop on the C line to Vyšehrad, which is both the name of your stop and of a baroque fortress overlooking the Golden City. Follow the signs to “K Rotunde.” This time of day will be very calm and quiet, and you should have plenty of time to explore Prague’s past. Sitting atop the imposing ramparts of the 10th-century complex are the 15th-century neo-Gothic churches of Saints Peter and Paul, as well as one of the oldest standing buildings in Prague, the Rotunda of St. Martin (there will be signs along the way toward all of these).
You can also visit the Vyšehrad cemetery, the final resting place of many of the most famous and influential Czechs throughout history, including the Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha. Be sure to make your way all the way to the back of the “Castle on the Heights” to overlook the river — if you’re lucky, you might get to see an awesome morning fog roll through the river valley just below you.
#Prague #BeautifulBuildings #buildings #colorful #Colourful #ColorfulBuildings #ColorfulBuildings
If you didn’t already find one of the many places to eat surrounding Vyšehrad, make your way up to Náměstí Míru, or Peace Square. There you’ll find another neo-Gothic church. At this point you might be all “churched out,” but that’s fine because you’re not here for that — it’s lunchtime and this place is far enough away from the center of Prague, where you won’t spend a small fortune on a good Czech meal. The entire church courtyard is surrounded by enough local lunch choices sure to make even the most discriminating palate happy. Wherever you stop, I would recommend svíčková (sirloin with veggies) or guláš (goulash), and I would certainly wash it down with a good Czech beer like Pilsner Urquell or Staropramen. Once your belly is full, take a few minutes to notice the gorgeous architecture all around the square including the famous Vinohrady Theater.
NáplavkaPrague, Czech RepublicGrab a beer next to the river as you browse through farmers stalls and vintage clothing markets floating on boats. The vendors are friendly and like to chat. Make sure you come on an empty stomach so you can eat all the things (sausage, honey, ice cream and cider, to name a few) #clothes #souvenirs #cheap-eats #bargins #vintage #fleamarket #farmersmarket
Hop on the tram (schedules change, so just take a look beforehand), head towards the river, and get off at Palackého náměstí. There’s an impressive statue of Francis Palacky right at the tram stop that’s flanked by some scary-looking bronze angel and demon figures, and it’s worth a look before you walk down the stairs to Náplavka. Náplavka is a path right down the river that has bars, flea markets, merchants — the list goes on. It’s a great place to hang out when the weather is nice, and if you get a bum deal with the weather on your visit, you can always get a table on one of the many dining boats and have a meal on the river.
While you’re down on the water make sure to look for the Dancing House. Its design was based on the famous dancing duo, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. If you’ve got time to burn, make your way up to the top of the house for a photo-worthy view alongside some libations.
Riegrovy sadyPrague, Czech RepublicThe best view of the sunset in Prague. A lot of people bring drinks or a picnic and hang out for a while. There is also a beer garden near this view where you can buy plastic cups of beer for takeaway.
#view #viewpoint #sunset #sunsetspot #sunsetviews #beergarden
Depending on how you spend your afternoon in Náplavka, you may find the day winding down — that means it’s time to go watch the sunset over Prague castle, just like in the storybooks. The best view is from a nearby park called Riegrovy Sady, and you can get there by walking two blocks northwest from the Jiřího z Poděbrad station on the A line. (You know you’re at the right stop when you see the Žižkov Television Tower. Make sure to pay close attention to spot the famous David Černý sculptures of giant monochromatic babies crawling up and down the massive broadcast tower, too.)
Old Town SquarePrague, Czech RepublicFeast your eyes on the Christmas markets of Prague; sip mulled wine below the eaves of town houses and dip into a million shops for 21st century Christmas commercialism.
After the mind-blowing sunset, scrape your brains off the park bench and head to Wencelaus Square, one of the most popular civic squares in all of Prague. The lighting in the square at night is on par with Times Square in New York or the Vegas strip in terms of its overwhelming beauty; however, it lacks even a hint of the gaudiness and gimmicks you find in those places. I would walk north, away from the National Museum and head towards Old Town Square, one of the most beautiful man-made places I have ever seen in my life.
As you traverse street after street of gorgeous fantasy-inspiring façades (including the gothic and baroque churches), try and keep track of time. You’ll need to arrive at least five minutes early to the Old Town Hall to see the oldest working astronomical clock in the world keep time and do its hourly mechanical dance — which it’s been doing since 1410. There are so many places to find refreshments of all kinds, but perhaps one of the more rare treats is U Medvídků, a medieval brewery dating back to the 15th century. Take a seat and try a beer worthy of King Charles himself!
It would be easy to spend the rest of the night lost in Old Town Square. There are plenty of little corners to explore, so I wouldn’t blame you if you did, but if you happen to be looking for something with a bit more of a beat, check out the Cross Club. This place is an audio/visual treat every single time I see it with its Willy-Wonka, post-apocalyptic charm and, of course, the world-renowned musicians and DJs that frequent the place. Cross Club was built by a number of artists over the years that have ensured that it was one of the most exciting and interesting places to kick back a few pints not only in Prague, but perhaps the world. Chapeau Rouge is a good stop, too — when the live music on one floor doesn’t do it for you, just go up to the next. Alternatively, if you don’t feel like sweating your night away in between blinks of neon, Letná Beer Garden is the place to be. Good views and good beer.
Remember that, in Prague, the party usually doesn’t stop, and if you find yourself still awake when the guilty birds start singing, give yourself one final treat. Go to Charles Bridge and enjoy the sunrise. You’ll never forget it.
If 24 hours isn’t enough…
- Actually go into the National Museum, or one of the other amazing museums or galleries in Prague.
- Take a train out of the city to somewhere like Karlštejn.
- Go shopping at the Palladium.
- Take the long tour inside Prague Castle.
- Take a segway or bike tour in Old Town Square.
- Pick a direction and walk. Prague is full of surprises.
Featured image: Roman Boed