DISCOVER THE MEDIVIAL CITY OF PRAGUE
Updated: Sep 15, 2019
TOP 25 THINGS TO DO IN PRAGUE IN 3 DAYS
Historical landmarks, magnificent architecture, melodious music, and tasty beer – Cheers Praha!
Stunning architectural marvels of 17th and 18th century take you into the cobbled lanes of untouched history of Europe’s most picturesque destination – Prague in the Czech Republic. When you start your visit at the waterfront garden facing the largest castle complex in the world and one of Europe’s oldest bridges – the Charles Bridge, the sunset takes you into the Renaissance era of romance. All you need is the apt attire and grandeur of the Bohemian kings.
Explore Prague City in 3 days
If you admire art, architecture and scenic beauty, Prague is a must in your bucket list. You can’t have enough of it. Each day as you explore the city, it grows on you, you crave to see more and more. While you may not be able to squeeze all the sites, you must plan to cover the 25 must visit places in Prague.
Day One in Prague
Gardens facing Charles Bridge | Old Town Square | Týn Church | Astronomical Clock | Powder Tower | Prague Meridian | Vtlava Cruise Dinner | The Jan Hus Memorial | The Old Town Hall | The Kinský Palace | St. Nicholas Church (Old Town) | The House at the Minute | Štorch House
It was our first trip to Prague in August 2018 and we savoured every bit of it. When you visit Prague, plan to reach by mid-day so that you can start your visit on a romantic and magical note of watching the sunset facing the Prague Castle and Charles Bridge. We wandered from our apartment near the Powder Tower enjoying the feel of the cobbled streets towards the the gardens facing Charles Bridge. Sitting on benches by facing these ancient monuments was relaxing. It was vibrant with youngsters from colleges, artists selling their creations, modern art sculptors, tourists trying to the get their best shot of the sunset, boats on the Vtlava River and people relishing delicious Czech dinner on cruise boats. Indeed it gives you the first dose of excitement.
You can end your day either with dinner on the cruise or head to the Old Town Square to indulge into one of Prague’s authentic dishes and beer in open air. This is the central square of the historic part of Prague which attracts tourist for its main attraction the medieval Astronomical Clock or Orloj. The Old Town Square is formed by connected medieval buildings. The Týn Church is the most prominent with its small spires visible from all over the square. Those with an interest in geography can stand on the Prague meridian, a line in the cobble stone surface. The Old Town Square is abuzz with street acts, food vendors, artists, music and unending energy that can keep you going until early morning hours.
Around the Old Town Square you can visit the Prague Astronomical Clock, The Jan Hus Memorial, The Týn Church, The Old Town Hall, The Kinský Palace (national gallery) St. Nicholas Church, Prague Meridian, The House at the Minute (famous writer Frank Kafka lived in this house), Štorch House or At the Stone Virgin Mary Townhouse. A little further north you can visit the Powder Tower, an impressive 65m Gothic tower constructed in 1475.
We ended our walk with the traditional spice-coated irresistible Hungarian rolled pastry - Trdelník – Chimney Cake – served warm and topped with a dusting of sugar. You can get toppings also with nuts or cinnamon.
Day Two in Prague
Powder Tower | Prague Castle | St Vitus Cathedral | Vladislav Hall | Golden Lane | Prague Castle Dungeon | St. Nicholas Church (Lesser Town) | Changing the Guard | Charles Bridge
A jam-packed day if you want to absorb and enjoy most of Prague’s fascinating masterpieces. We started day 2 by visiting the Power Tower, a gateway to the Old Town and the Municipal Hall, a celebrated concert venue perfect for lovers of Art Nouveau.
Next stop was the magnificent sprawling Prague Castle – a UNESCO World Heritage site, atop the Hradčany hill. It is a steep climb up but worth it as you explore building from 1oth century Romanesque to 14th century Gothic architecture. In a three hour tour you can cover the St. Vitus Cathedral, the Royal Palace, Basilica of St. George and the Golden Lane within the Castle grounds. If your timing is right, you may be lucky to see the Changing the Guard ceremony that takes place in the first courtyard of Prague Castle at 12:00 daily.
If you want to experience Gothic Hogwards-esque moment, then one of the must visit places is the St. Vitus Cathedral that dates back to A.D. 925. Consecrated in 1929, the cathedral is a magnificent relic of pointed gothic arches, ribbed vaults, flying buttresses and intricate glass paintings. The gothic structures in the castle elicit strong emotions and imaginations of gothic novels, creaking doors, ghostly footsteps and hidden passage ways. One is in awe of the huge ornate windows, delicately painted. The flying buttresses seemed to scale into the skies when viewed from certain angles.
The menacing gargoyle that transforms simple rain-gutter to a monster is fascinating and indeed creative. While it seems creative today, it was designed to strike fear into the hearts of ill-educated medieval peasants. It did drive my imagination wild as if we were watching a scene from the Zulu of Ghostbusters - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IuBJwuqxVk or episode of Legacies where mythical gargoyles come to life - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnrHR4JFKBo.
Interestingly, in the medieval times, Gothic architecture was called ‘the modern style’. A long walk through the Old Town and you will see so many Gothic buildings you will be in complete awe of the architecture, a style introduced in Czech/ Bohemia in the 13th century, made to last till date.
Vladislav Hall at the Prague Castle is one of the most iconic interior spaces with elaborate ribs on the vaulted ceilings. Mainly used for ceremonial purposes, the Vladislav Hall still gives you the aura of knights and coronation in the assembly rooms. Spacious, intricate and well-lit, the hall has a silent enigma to it. The funny bone element was the throne which seemed to be too small or maybe the king was truly petite. Today, this is the venue for announcing newly elected Presidents of the Czech Republic and other significant political ceremonies. The aerial view of the city is not to be missed from the balconies of the hall.
Within the walls of the castle is the Golden Lane with its mysteries, an intriguing place with its narrow lanes and cute cottages which house art museums and little shops. It is an truly instagrammable site where you will see many tourists posing. Don’t miss your chance next to Czech-Jewish writer Franz Kafka’s house which is the main attraction. The museum of armoured soldier outfits and old stopwatch keeps the Golden Lane abuzz with visitors.
Prague Castle Dungeon or the Daliborka Tower named after its first prisoner who was put in a strict prison in the tower and condemned to death by decapitation. For the brave hearts, read more about the dungeon in the 10 unusual places to visit in Prague.
We were starving but we wanted to visit the St. Nicholas Church at Malá Strana before it closed for the afternoon. It was under renovation, despite that the high Baroque decoration of the 18th century was a masterpiece. Decorated with sculptures and frescos it is an architectural marvel to visit in Prague.
Our next stop was the line of restaurants and cafes next to the church. Our obvious choice was to enjoy the Guláš, a slow-cooked beef meat and vegetable stew, with sweet paprika served with houskové knedlíky, the ubiquitous Czech bread dumplings. Some of us had gourmet burgers and potato chips. Good food, delicious beer and lively atmosphere injected us with energy for the rest of the evening.
Exploring the souvenir shops of Lesser Town we walked towards the most iconic place in Prague - the Charles Bridge which connects the one side of the Vltava River to the old town. Built by Emperor Charles IV in the 14th century, this Gothic bridge dates with its 30 Baroque statues and statuaries. Statue of Saints John of Matha, Feliz of Valois, and Ivan; statue of St. Adalbert; statue of St. Nicholas of Tolentino; and Statue of Saints Vincent Ferrer and Procopius are among some of the impressive ones. Some of the statues are even believed to bring good luck and ensure you return to Prague.
We too were excited to try our luck and rushed to touch the shiny golden part of the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, a Czech martyr saint (the 8th statue on the right hand, heading from Old Town Square towards the Prague Castle). St. John was executed during the reign of Wenceslas IV by being thrown into the Vltava from the bridge. With a lot of intriguing history, tales, and ghosts, the Charles Bridge is an Eastern European wonder one must visit in your lifetime. It is one of the busiest spots in Prague and is lined with artists, musicians, painters, souvenir vendors and loads of tourists taking selfies. Some of the paintings are so real, it is worth buying a piece or two of original art. We spend about two hours walking on the bridge, walking under it and to the nearby lanes. We took shelter under the massive expanse under the bridge when there was a surprising bout of sudden heavy showers. We heard some interesting stories from tour guides who were engaging their clients while waiting for the rain to abate.
We ended our day with lots of pictures around the Charles Bridge and headed directly to our apartment resisting the entertainment filled Old Town Square.
Day Three in Prague
Prague Jewish Quarter - Statue of Kafka | Old-New Synagogue | Old Jewish Cemetery | Spanish Synagogue | Pinkas Synagogue
A walking tour to explore the Jewish quarter was our day 3 plan. We started it with fresh local strawberry from the vendor near the tram stop. The Jewish community is supposed to have settled in this region in the 10th century.
The Jewish Quarter houses six synagogues, the Old Jewish Town Hall, and the Old Cemetery. Our first stop was a photo opportunity moment in front of the Statue of Kafka which depicts a smaller version of Kafka riding on the shoulders of a headless full-sized Kafka in a suit. This was inspired by Franz’s early short story “Description of a Struggle” and built 80 years after his death.
The Spanish Synagogue, next to the statue of Kafka is a must visit. Inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, its curved entryways, colourful trim, collection of historic photos, silver artefacts, geometric intricate decorations and the magnificent organ give a fascinating insight into Jewish heritage.
The Old-New Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Europe with an early Gothic architecture style. It has the gothic style as in 1275 when it was completed Jews were not allowed to be architects. This building was designed by Christian architects as Bohemia was dominated by the Germans of the Holy Roman Empire. The saw tooth gable constructed of brick on the top is its striking external feature. This synagogue is well known as Franz Kafka, the famous writer attended it when he lived in Prague.
The Pinkas Synagogue is an eye opening and emotional moment when you see the 80000 names of Jews from Bohemia and Moravia inscribed on the walls. These Jews were sent to die in concentration camps by the Nazis in WW2. The outdoor photo exhibition depicting the WW2 sufferings and torture faced by Jews is heart-wrenching.
Walking through the Old Jewish Cemetery the tilted and tangled tombstones made us realise that Jews were not even given proper burial. It has nearly 12 layers of graves with over 100,000 people buried. It does have a mystic feel to it. After briefly visiting the Ceremonial Hall, we entered the narrow lane of the Old Cemetery Street where we almost bought wooden toys. It is laden with street vendors selling Rabbi Figurines, textiles, lace, and many souvenirs.
Walking down the Paris (Pařížská) Street, the tree-lined shopping paradise is a bliss for the high-fashion aficionados. It connects Old Town Square with the Jewish Quarter. It rivals the Champs-Élysées in Paris and 5th Avenue in New York City.
We took the tram back towards Old Town Square and ended the day by walking on the Charles Bridge explore Czech souvenirs enjoying the view before we ended our last day in Prague. You can endlessly collect Prague souvenirs including Bohemian glassware and crystal products, antique pieces, porcelain, painted eggs, traditional Hungarian dolls, Gargoyle beer mugs, antique stopwatches, marionettes, Kafka souvenirs, street side paintings, Czech Easter eggs.
Karel Zeman Museum was a serendipitous discovery of ours in Prague where we got to experience a unique visual art exhibition where Czech cinematographer Karel Zeman’s famous work Journey to the Beginning of Time being shown.
Beer Bike Tour – Beer on Wheels as it is well known is one of the most fun ways to go around the Old Town while drinking plenty of ice-cold beer. These are with highest-quality electric pedals, comfortable seats and 4-speaker sound system to have a party, dance, eat and drink.
Prague is a city you can explore multiple times. Some of the places we couldn't visit were Petrin Hill, Wencelsas Square, Prague’s beer museums, John Lennon Wall, Letna Park and more.