One Day in Prague Itinerary for First Time Visitors
Prague (Czech: Praha) has been becoming more and more popular a spot for travellers. No longer an “undiscovered gem” of Central Europe, it is now one of the most popular destinations in the region. What is it that makes Prague so special?
There is simply so much to do in the city, whether you are a foodie, into museums or just love to wander. This Prague itinerary has everything you should do on your first visit to the city. This itinerary is perfect if you only have one day in Prague and want to fit all the best spots in or if you have a few days in the city and want to have a more leisurely city break.
Keep on reading for all the best places to visit in Prague!
Prague, with its magical medieval architecture (bridges, cathedrals and churches almost untouched by the terrors of WW2) and its charming Old Town in the shadow of the majestic castle is a vibrant city full of energy, history and culture. It is a city that any traveller, nomad or backpacker should see.
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic or Czechia (not Czechoslovakia, as one of my friends recently thought) and they are part of the EU and Schengen Area, but they DON’T use the Euro. Their currency is Czech koruna (CZK), and €1 is approximately 25 koruna (£1 = 29 CZK, $1 = 23 CZK). [as of 29th December 2019]
The language is Czech and a few basic phrases to get you around include:
Good day – Dobrý den (DOH-bree dehn)
Hello (informal) – Ahoj (ahoy)
Please- Prosím (Proseem)
Thank you – Děkuji (Dyekooyih.)
Yes – Ano (AH-noh.)
No – Ne (neh.)
Do you speak English? – Mluvíte anglicky? (Mlooveeteh unglitskee?)
Goodbye (formal) – Na shledanou (NAHSH-leh-dah-noh)
Bye (half-formal) – Nashle (NAH-skhleh)
Most staff in restaurants and bars tend to speak pretty good English, but some staff at train and metro stations don’t always speak very much. It’s always handy to have a few phrases at hand!
Recommended language apps: Lingopal 44, Offline English Czech Dictionary FREE (movin’App)
Getting to Prague
Prague is easily accessible by air, road and rail. EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air and British Airways fly to Prague from many British airports and trains and buses connect from a huge number of European cities including Berlin, Bratislava, Warsaw and more. Night trains connect the city with Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Poland, Belarus and Russia.
Getting from the airport to the city centre is very simple and there are a few options for doing it. If you want to keep to a budget then you can take the line 119 bus from Prague airport to the city and get off at the stop Nádraží Veleslavín and change to metro line A. Metro line A will take you to the old town, including stations such as Staroměstská and Mustek.
You can also take bus 191 and change at Sídliště Petřiny to line 2 tram, which will then take you right into the old city with stops near Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.
Alternatively, if you want a direct transfer right to your accommodation without having to deal with buying public transport tickets then you can book an easy door-to-door transfer. GetYourGuide offers an excellent shared transfer option that takes you right from the airport to your hotel from only €10 per person.
Getting around Prague
I loved Prague because it was so… walkable. If your legs get tired from all the walking, they have pretty good public transport too. Prague has trams and metro with a variety of tickets, from a 30-minute ticket up to a 3-day ticket.
Tickets work on an ‘honour system’ – don’t forget to validate your ticket before getting on a tram/bus/train. They do have both uniformed and plainclothes ticket inspectors and if you get caught with an unvalidated ticket you can be hit with an 1,500 (€60) koruna fine [as of December 2019].
- 24 CZK (€1) – 30 minutes (transfers allowed), children get 50% discount
- 32 CZK (€1.25) – 90 minutes (transfers allowed), children get 50% discount
- 110 CZK (€4.30) – 24-hour ticket, children get 50% discount
- 310 CZK (€12.20) – 3-day ticket (72 hours), you can take one child free of charge with you
[Source: Prague Public Transport]
The Best Prague Itinerary
Prague has SO much to see and do – when I visited for the first time in 2013 I was only there for three days (three days, two nights) and I only saw a small portion of what the city has to offer. Prague has something for everyone – museums, architecture, tours, nightlife, amazing food.
Prague in One Day
If you’re looking to spend one day in Prague then a great way to structure your day is to start at the Charles Bridge early in the morning since it can get very busy. This Prague itinerary covers the main spots in the city, but there is so much more to do if you can spend more days in Prague!
So, what does this itinerary cover? The following places are the perfect introduction to Prague:
- Charles Bridge
- Prague Castle
- Old Town
- Jewish Quarter
Charles Bridge (Karlův most) is probably one of the most touristy spots in Prague now. Commissioned by Czech King Charles IV in the 14th Century, this 1,700ft long cobblestone bridge is one of the most well-known landmarks in the city. The bridge is popular with musicians, artists and other street performers – I wish I still had a video (sadly on an old phone and was lost) that I recorded when I was there during my first visit as I watched an amazing singing group perform in the evening!
The bridge does get very busy so, if you want some great photos, then I would recommend going for sunrise and getting there before most people are up and about. Don’t forget to observe the statues along the bridge – there are 30 statues mounted on the balustrade along the length of the bridge.
Some of the statues you should pay particular attention to are as follows:
- the 10th statue you pass (south side/left-hand side) when walking from the Old Town to the Lesser Quarter is the Statue of Saints Vincent Ferrer and Procopius and is considered one of the most artistically important. It was sculpted by Ferdinand Brokoff, a Baroque-era sculptor who also designed some of the other statues along the bridge.
- the third sculpture you pass (north side/right-hand side) is called The Crucifix and Calvary, or simply ‘Calvary’. This statue dates back to the 1360s but the cross has been destroyed many times throughout history. The metal calvary (an open-air depiction of the crucifixion of Christ) dates back to 1657 and aspects have been added over the last 500+ years, including the sandstone statues of the Virgin Mary and John the Evangelist.
- the 8th statue you pass on the right-hand side portrays St John of Nepomuk and is the oldest statue on the bridge. In 1393, St John was wrapped in chains and thrown off the bridge to his death in the river Vltava below.
- According to legend, this was because John of Nepomuk was the Queen’s confessor. When King Wenceslaus came to believe that his wife had a lover, he demanded that John tell him the name of the lover. When St John refused to break the Seal of Confession, King Wenceslaus ordered that he was to be drowned.
- It is tradition to touch the bronze relief below the statue – urban legend says that those who do will enjoy good fortune or, in some versions of the legend, will return to the city of Prague.
- the brass Lorraine Cross is located halfway across the bridge – just before the statue of St John – and is also considered to bring good luck to those who touch it. It marks the spot where St John was thrown into the river (therefore not a very lucky spot for him) but, according to legend, if you make a wish here then it will come true within a year and one day.
Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) is majestic, impressive, and pretty damn massive. You can get there easily by walking or by tram 22 to stop “Pražský hrad” or by metro line A (green) to stop “Malostranská”. Alternatively, you can stay on the tram until stop “Pohořelec” and then the short walk to the castle is entirely downhill and will take you past some beautiful streets and historic monuments.
The castle complex is open 6am to 10pm and the historical buildings are open from November through March 9am to 4pm and April through October 9am to 5pm.
A visit to Prague Castle is definitely something that can’t be missed on a Prague itinerary and it’s very much worth it! The castle dates back to the 9th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (part of the Historic Centre of Prague), one of 12 in the Czech Republic. Prague Castle is, in fact, the largest ancient castle in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records and occupies an area of over 70,000 square metres.
There are a few different ticket types, depending on what you want to see at the castle. If you are only in Prague for one day, then I would recommend getting the ‘Circuit B’ ticket, since you’ll be trying to fit quite a bit into one day!
The ticket options are as follows:
- Circuit A: St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, exhibition “The Story of Prague Castle”, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower and the Rosenberg Palace (Price: CZK 350, ~€13.75)
- Circuit B: St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica and Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower (Price: CZK 250, ~€9.80)
- Circuit C: Exhibition “The Treasure of St. Vitus Cathedral”, Prague Castle Picture Gallery (Price: CZK 350, ~€13.75)
You can see the full details on the various tickets at the castle website.
Discounts are available for children aged 6 – 16 (inclusive), secondary school and university students in full-time study until 26 (inclusive) and seniors aged 65+ (inclusive). FREE admission is available for children younger than 6 years old.
Photography: Photography outside is fully allowed, but photography inside the buildings is only allowed without flash and without a tripod and costs 50 CZK for a permit.
Guided tours of the castle are also available in English and other languages for 150 CZK per person (minimum 4 people) and lasts for 1 hour. Audioguides are also available in Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian for 350 CZK (3 hours) or 450 CZK (full day).
Prague’s historic centre (Staré město) is not to be missed, with a multitude of monuments and buildings to see. The Old Town Square is the perfect place to begin, with the Týn Church towering over the square as well as being where the Astronomical Clock and the statue of Jan Hus (reformer and philosopher, executed for heresy) are located.
The square is also a perfect point to get your bearings before heading to Wenceslas Square, the Powder Tower and the Church of St. Francis. It’s also a prime location for a coffee or a bite to eat.
Josefov – the Jewish Quarter of Prague – is the location of the Old New Synagogue, which is the oldest active synagogue in Central Europe. There are some poignant exhibitions at the museums, including a permanent exhibition at the Pinkas Synagogue of the now world-famous children’s drawings that were made in the ghetto between 1942 and 1944 under the supervision of the artist Friedl Dicker-Brandeis.
These emotionally powerful drawings bear testimony to the persecution of Jews during the Nazi occupation of the Bohemian lands in 1939–45. They document the transports to Terezín and daily life in the ghetto, as well as the dreams of returning home and of life in the Jewish homeland of Palestine. The vast majority of the children perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Josefov is also the area where you can enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner in restaurants that specialise in kosher food.
Strahov Monastery is an active monastery that is easily accessible by tram (no. 22) and is a seriously impressive structure, including its amazing library that still holds over 200,000 volumes (despite being ransacked by invading armies in the past). Tickets cost 80 CZK for adults and 50 CZK for students and children. Photography is at a 10 CZK surcharge.
Visiting the monastery and paying the small entry fee doesn’t get you full access to the library, so if you’re keen to get a full tour of the library then there are some private tours available and you can also contact the monastery themselves, especially if you are interested in an academic or theological purpose!
Day trips from Prague (and more)
There is a multitude of day trips and weekend trips that you can take from Prague, whether you want to head to other cities such as Brno and Kutna Hora, head to fairytale Český Krumlov or the spa town of Karlovy Vary or even if you want to go and explore the German city of Dresden.
The main destinations from Prague easily reachable for a day trip or weekend:
- Český Krumlov is 2 hours 50 minutes by train or 2 hours 15 minutes by car
- Kutna Hora is 1 hour 30 minutes by train or 1 hour by car
- Karlovy Vary is 3 hours 20 minutes by train or 1 hour 45 minutes by bus or car
- Brno is 2 hours 20 minutes by train or 2 hours by car
- Pilsen is 1 hour 15 minutes by train or 1 hour by car
- České Budějovice is 2 hours by train or 1 hour 50 minutes by car
- Olomouc is 2 hours by train or 2 hours 45 minutes by car
- Terezín Concentration Camp (Theresienstadt Ghetto) is 1 hour by train or 45 minutes by car
- Elbe Sandstone Mountains (Děčínská vrchovina) is 1 hour 55 minutes by train or 1 hour 45 by car
- Dresden is 1 hour 50 by bus, 2 hours 20 minutes by train or 1 hour 25 minutes by car
- Vienna is 3 hours 55 minutes by bus, 4 hours by train or 3 hours 30 minutes by car
Karlovy Vary is a popular destination that’s only 2 hours away from Prague. This city is perfect for a day or weekend trip to relax – check out Aurelia’s post on what to do when visiting Karlovy Vary!
Eat & Drink
Instead of my usual opinions on eating and drinking in a city, for Prague I want to direct you to the amazing post by Sarah of Tales from a Fork – check out her recommendations for eating like a king in Prague! Her recommendations include suggestions for meat lovers, pasta addicts and vegans/vegetarians.
Update 2017: I did a short weekend in Prague and discovered an amazing vegan restaurant. If you are visiting Prague, you can’t miss Plevel (Krymská 2, Prague 10). Even if you’re not vegan, they have an amazing selection of delicious meals!
When I was in Prague, I had a great stay at PLUS Prague – part of a small chain of hostels in Europe that have a little more ‘luxury’ than some others. They have pools, saunas, gyms, restaurants and bars and – for the ladies only, obviously – great female-only dorms. Their “PLUS Girls” dorms come with free fluffy towels (none for you, lads) and hairdryers provided. You also get a complimentary cosmetics bag with “goodies” (ooh, a mystery) and the rooms have spacious bathrooms with cosmetics tables and big mirrors. Maybe a little stereotypical, but hey. If you don’t like sharing with guys (and after living with three guys for a year I can see where people get the idea from) it’s a perfect place.
Rooms from €7 per night (mixed 8-bed dorm) or from €9 PLUS Girls (female-only, 8-bed dorm).
Well, we had to make it to this section eventually!
Pubs: So not necessarily nightlife, but it fit best here. Prague has some great pubs, and (the best bit) they’re perfect on a budget. A 0.5l beer (basically a pint) of the local stuff (in Prague that would be Staropramen) costs approximately 20-35 CZK. So between $1 and £1, pretty much.
Clubs: The most well-known of all of Prague’s clubs has to be Karlovy Lázně, a five-storey club right next to Charles Bridge. Each floor has a different music genre (disco, chill out, etc) and this place has been recommended to me by so many people.
Czech out (hehe) the listings at My Czech Republic for more clubs, pubs and bars! If you’re really into your nightlife (or your beer, he has some good suggestions), take a look at Drew’s Ultimate Guide over at The Hungry Partier.
CHECK OUT my article on Vienna, only a train trip away!
Have you been to Prague? Where do you recommend to sleep, eat and party? What should a traveller not miss in the city?
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