Prague deserves much longer than a single day of exploration but, if you only have 24 hours in the Czech capital, here’s how to make the most of your time.
Start your day on the iconic Charles Bridge. The cobblestone walkway across the Vltava is prone to crowds but is blissfully empty in the early morning. Take this opportunity to snap photos without the throngs of people, examine the statues that guard the sides, and look out over the river to take in the two halves of the city.
Continue across the Charles Bridge into the Mala Strana neighborhood. Once you reach the end of the bridge, take the first street to your left and head to Bohemia Bagel Cafe. Stop in for a fresh bagel, egg sandwich, or plate of American-style pancakes.
After you’ve finished the most important meal of the day, hop over to the John Lennon Wall, which is located down the street. This colorful stretch of graffitied concrete has been a Prague landmark since the 1980s, when young Czechs used it as a creative outlet for their grievances against the communist regime. To this day, it remains a symbol of love and peace, with new words, drawings, and artistic designs added each day. Take some time to observe the wall, use it as a backdrop for portraits, and even add your own mark (if you happen to have a can of spray paint or a Sharpie marker handy).
Next, make your way back to Old Town Square. Along the way, pop into some of the shops that line the pedestrian-only streets, and check out the colorful facades of the looming buildings. When you reach the famed square, explore to your heart’s content. Watch the show that marks the top of each hour at the Astronomical Clock, examine Prague legend Jan Hus’ towering statue, head up to the top of the Old Town Hall Building, and marvel at the architectural beauty of Tyn Church.
Don’t linger too long, though — you’ll want to be on time for a free walking tour of the city. Sandeman’s New Prague tours leave from Old Town Square every day at 10 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m. Look for the guides holding red umbrellas, and do your best to make the 10:00 or the 10:45 tours. This tips-only walking tour will take you around the city center, delving into the rich history of Prague and revealing the stories behind its most famous landmarks. If you don’t have much time, this is the best way to acquaint yourself with the city.
After all that walking, find a seat at MeetBurger, a gourmet burger spot right off Old Town Square in front of St. Nicholas Church. Order a beer (or cocktail) and a burger, and relax before heading back out into the city.
Make your way back across the Charles Bridge and up to the Prague Castle complex. Take in the view from atop the hill, explore the vast castle (it’s the largest in Europe!), and don’t forget to peek inside St. Vitus Cathedral. This structure is impressive from every angle — inside and out. Guided tours of the cathedral are also available if you’re particularly interested in the building’s history.
On your way out of the castle, grab some trdelník — a sugary snack that will tide you over until your late-night dinner. And, if you have time, walk through the Wallestein Gardens, located below the castle complex. Notice the bronze sculptures, manicured lawns and topiaries, fountains, abundance of benches, and wandering peacocks.
Cross the Charles Bridge again — but this time, walk slowly and check out the many vendors, artists, and musicians that line the walkway. You’ll find painters selling one-of-a-kind pieces, musicians performing for small crowds, craftsmen showing off their skills, and caricature artists waiting to draw your portrait.
Next, head to one of the city’s black light theaters for an evening show. These unusual performances utilize black lights and fluorescent costumes to create visual illusions magnified by rhythmic dance and acrobatics. Though originally from Asia, black-light theater has found a niche home in Prague. Take your pick from the many black light companies that operate throughout the city; each offer imaginative shows that include everything from lively musicals to a reimagined “Alice in Wonderland” tale.
After the show, make your way to Jazz Dock for a late-night meal, drinks, and live music. This modern lounge sits right by the river, creating a laid-back but exclusive atmosphere. With good food, specialty cocktails, and a variety of live performers and bands, Jazz Dock is the perfect place to end your day in Prague.