The Bohemian gem of Eastern Europe, the centuries-old buildings, the quirky art, the tasty beer…these are just a few of the reasons Prague makes such a great destination for travelers. With so much to see and do, you could spend your entire vacation exploring Prague, but many people choose to spend a few days there in addition to visiting other cities in Eastern or Central Europe. This Prague itinerary will show you how to make the most of 3 days, or even 4 or 5 days, in Prague.
Table of Contents
Where to Stay
Prague numbers its districts, with Prague 1 being the old town. Prague 5, 6, and 7 are across the river from the old town. There is good transport in the city, but it doesn’t really get close to the old town hall. The bulk of tourist activities are in the center, but this also means most of the restaurants and such are oriented at tourists as well. Prague has taken to being a tourist destination and the center shows this. The center can be loud as this is where the most bars are. Look for side streets if you want to stay in this district, but even still don’t assume it to be silent in the summer. The area around Namesti Republiky/Powder could be a better choice with a Metro stop if you plan to do a lot of things beyond just the old center.
The main avenues of foot traffic run from the Powder Tower through old town square to the Charles Bridge (Korluv must) and from old town square to Wenceslas Square. There are plenty of little winding streets in the district as well.
Look beyond Prague 1
Prague 3 extends north east of the main station. This area is called Vinorhady and is less of a tourist destination, while still having plenty of restaurants. The main artery is Vinorhadska road, which also mirrors the metro line. Definitely look for a place not far from the metro or one of the tram lines so you can get around easily.
Prague 2 extends south from the old town. Again a less tourist-ed, but still lively, part of town. There is a metro line and several tram lines into the center.
If you are looking for a hostel outside the center, Andy stayed at the Czech Inn a few years ago and liked it. It is a mix of hostel and hotel. There aren’t a lot of restaurants around, but it is right at a tram stop. The place was clean and felt more upscale than a normal “dirty cheap hostel.”
Getting Around Prague
Transport in Prague is really good. There are subways and trams, both served by the same set of tickets and sold by time. You can buy a 30 minute ticket, roughly similar to a “single ride” ticket, up to a 24 hour ticket and several levels in between. There are machines in the Metro stations to buy tickets, but they take only coins. Hit up a tobacco shop to buy things with bills. Just remember to stamp the ticket in one of the yellow machines before you use it for the first time.
A 24 hour ticket costs 110 Kc and is a great deal if you are moving around the city. It means you can hop on and off transport without worrying about tickets for that day. It is also literally 24 hours from the moment you stamp it, not just that calendar day. So a ticket bought at noon one day will still be good in the morning the next day.
Find more info on the Public transport website.
Getting to Prague
Long distance train connections are pretty good to the rest of Europe:
Berlin to Prague – 4.5 hours
Vienna to Prague – 4 hours
There are bus options that can be quite cheap. There is an airport that serves international flights if you are coming from farther away.
Day 1 – Old Town and Beer Tour
The center of Prague is Old Town Square (Staromestska namesti). This where you find the iconic picture of the town of the spiky topped Church of Our Lady of St Tyn across from the Astronomical Tower. This square is filled with a Christmas Market or Easter Market in the right season. The rest of the year it is just filled with people and a handful of food stalls. You can take an elevator to the top of the tower, but save that for tomorrow.
From the square, you can get to all of the big sights in Old Town. Wenceslas Square is an enormous long square lined with retailers that you can find nearly anywhere in Europe, capped with the National Museum. This is the center point of much of the revolutionary history of the city. The Velvet Revolution began here.
Walking and wandering around the old town area is a lot of fun. There are a lot of little winding streets and tiny hidden squares to find. As mentioned in the “Where to stay” section above, Prague’s center has embraced commerce and tourism completely, so be aware of that. Hopefully the new law banning Segways will help.
Prague is well known for its beer. Czech beer is a wonderful thing and is very steeped in the history of the place. Check out our review on this Prague craft beer tour. It really was the highlight of the trip. And the best part is that it starts at 5pm, so it gives you almost the whole day to go sightseeing and know that there is beer in your future.
Day 2 – Food tour
In almost every city we visit, we book a food tour. Food tours give you a look at the food and a list of places to try right off the bat. It also gives you a bit of the history as well. Check out our review of the Eating Prague food tour here.
The food tour we did started at 12:30, so gives you some time to see things in the morning. It runs until late afternoon, so you have time after it to do a few more things. You will probably want a light dinner anyway and walking off the food can be good.
After the food tour
The Old Town Hall Tower is open from 11am until 10pm, so makes a good stop after the tour. And it has an elevator, so no worries about walking steps on a full belly.
Day 3 – Castle Hill
Crossing the River on Charles Bridge
The typical approach to Castle Hill is a long upward sloping road lined with tourist shops to the cathedral-crowned, fortified hill of Prague Castle. To get there from old town, cross Charles Bridge and make your way upwards.
Charles Bridge is a pedestrian only bridge that crosses the Vltava River. The spiked towers on either side were used as models to rebuild several of the other towers in town during the Victorian era. This is definitely a worthwhile site to stroll over. Be aware that in the high season it will be quite crowded. Even at sunrise (5am in June), we were not alone on the bridge, though there were far fewer people that early. There are usually peddlers of art and musicians during the day.
Castle Hill and Beyond
Prague Castle is a fortified hill with several different things to take in. You do have to pay to get onto the premises, but the ticket lasts for two days. For more info on tickets, see their website here.
Highlights of the hill include St Vitus Cathedral, whose towers dominates the skyline of the hill, and you can climb one of the towers. There are also several exhibits about the history of the castle, and the palace buildings. A row of old low houses called the Golden Row once housed the city’s famous author son, Franz Kafka.
Other things on this side of the river
There are other interesting things on this side of the river as well. Just north of the end of the Charles Bridge in the courtyard of the Kafka Center are a pair of bronze statues peeing into a pool in the shape of the Czech Republic. The statues were made by David Cerny, one of Prague’s most famous artists. If you see something odd around town, he probably made it. Check out 10 bizarre sculptures by David Cerny that you can find in Prague.
Just south of the end of the bridge is an area worth a wander. The Lenin wall is there as well as some of the better views of the bridge itself.
Have 4 or 5 days in Prague?
If you have more room in your Prague itinerary, here are a few more things you can do to explore the city.
Prague is the city of towers and hills and provides so many ways to see the city from above. Check out our post on where to find the best views of Prague from above and see if you can hit them all.
The ticket to the Castle Hill lasts for two consecutively days, so you can explore it for a second day. It’s also worth exploring one of the other neighborhoods, like Prague 2 or Prague 3, if you have extra time in the city.
Though primarily a city of big architectural sights, there are museums in town to go through as well. Check the websites if you are interested. Most of the museums are closed one day a week, usually Monday. A few are closed in the winter.
- The City of Prague Museum near the Florenc Metro station has exhibits about the history of the city, with maps and models in some exhibits.
- The National Technical Museum has exhibits of science and technology and is north of old town on the other side of the river.
- The Jewish Museum in Prague shows the life of Czech Jews through the years.
- A Public Transport Museum is run by the public transit company in one of their depots.
- The Mucha Museum is worth it if you like the art of Alphonse Mucha, but is probably a bit expensive for its size if you aren’t an art fan.
- The Anton Dvorak museum might be more your speed if you are into classic music. This is part of the National Museum complex of buildings. The main building is on Wenceslas Square and is under renovation for several years (as of June 2016).
Day Trips from Prague
The Charles that built the Charles bridge also built Karlštejn Castle out in the countryside and it’s within day trip distance. There are regular trains from Prague to the station at Karlštejn and take 45 minutes. Then Google says a 30 minute walk, though it is steep, from there to the fantastic looking castle.
The town of Kutna Hora is Unesco listed for two churches. The more well advertised of the two is an Ossuary, with rooms built from human bone. Hourly trains run the 50minutes to the town, which has more than just a bone church. The medieval old town has the Gothic St Barbara’s cathedral and the former Royal Mint named the “Italian Court.”
Kutna Hora is doable on your own if you want, but there are some guided tours on Viator if you want the logistics taken care of and a guide for some information.
While planning your Prague itinerary, you might also be interested in:
- Taking a Craft Beer Tour in Prague
- Prague Food Tour Review
- Prague From Above
- Prague: 10 Locals Tell you Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In
- For more info, check out the full Prague section here