Prague in 2 Days | Top Things To See & DoNovember 27, 2016
Prague a.k.a Praha, the city of a thousand spires and the capital of the Czech Republic is one of the most vibrantly charming cities we have been to (and we have been to quite a few around the world)! And let’s be real, when you travel, there’s hardly a place you do not fall in love with, but then, there are places that instantaneously cast a spell on you, say love at first sight... Prague is one of such cities that will hopelessly and head over heels make you fall in love with it (despite being rained on, hit by a cold-wave and being pushed around through overcrowded streets). The moment you set foot on the cobblestone streets, the moment you lay your eyes on the baroque style architecture and the moment you realize you have entered a fairy-tale land from the medieval period, you are bound to be mesmerized!
The Czech Republic was the second country we visited during our 17-day EuroTrip 2016 (I promise you a full itinerary on the blog in the future but for now this will have to do). A 6 hour train from Munich, Germany brought us straight to the city center in Prague. And even before we reached the train station, glimpses of the city, bridges and the magnificent churches through the wide windows of the train rolling down the tracks were indications enough to imply, ‘get ready to be captivated and spellbound by the charisma of Prague’. Sadly, we only had 2 days in Prague; it was cold and raining one entire day but luckily the clouds cleared and decided to make way for the sun to shine for a good part of the second day. Though the weather didn’t diminish our spirits to explore this place, it did make us bury ourselves in layers, hide under the umbrella, shy away from the camera and slow down our pace.
We stayed at an Airbnb that was just a 5 mins walk from the train station and also equally convenient to walk to the city center. We were surprised at just how affordable our Airbnb stay in Prague was, especially given the location and that we had the entire clean and tidy apartment to ourselves with every amenity we could think of for our short stay. We got all the insider info including some great suggestions and recommendations about the local favorites - what to eat, see and do (gotta love knowing a local in a new country!). And without wasting any time, we set out to explore the city.
As we strolled around the fairy-tale-like streets of Prague, the first thing that struck us was just how amazingly well the city has preserved its history without letting modernization take over - the art and the intricate architecture of the various medieval buildings made us feel as if we were taken back in time (I am still awestruck weeks after returning from Prague!). And yet, the city just as gracefully seems to embrace a modern lifestyle with a flourishing cultural scene, a vibrant nightlife and a well-connected public transportation system. (Watch out NYC! Prague will give you a run for your money on being called ‘the city that never sleeps’)
And whether you are in Prague for a day, two or even a week, here are some of the top attractions you ought not to miss...
Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) and The Castle District: It is the largest ancient castle in the world. The castle is located in the castle district (of course) and is perfectly set all the way up on a hilltop overlooking the winding cobblestone streets, the Charles Bridge, the Vltava river and offers a stunning panoramic view of the rest of the city. It houses some of the very famous museums, palaces, the royal garden and the grand St. Vitus Cathedral. The castle is surrounded by plenty many restaurants and cute little antique stores where you could spend hours exploring all they have to offer.
St. Vitus Cathedral: Though it is a part of the Prague Castle, this Roman Catholic Cathedral, which has influenced many gothic churches in Europe needs a special mention. Can you believe the architect for this cathedral, Peter Parler was just 23 years old??? I’ll give you a moment to digest that :) (the original builder was Matthias of Arras) The architecture of this cathedral is next to none. The intricate details of this church will have you drop your jaws and gawk at it for hours (and will also compel you to wonder at the young architect’s exceptional talent). The cathedral is said to hide the tombs of the Bohemian kings and the Czech Crown Jewels.
Charles Bridge: Originally called the Stone Bridge, is built across the Vltava river. It houses 30 baroque style statues and statuaries, which depict the various saints who were idolized at that time. Though the originals (now at the museum) have been replaced by their replicas, they will easily have you believe that the look-alikes are the real masterpieces. This bridge is one of the most over crowded attractions that connects the Lesser Town and the Old Town Square. It is also known for photo ops at sunrise and past sunset when the bridge is less crowded. We walked along the bridge 3 times in just 2 days.
Old Town Square (Staré Město Pražské): This is the heart of Prague, with Jan Hus statue at the center of the square. It is surrounded by Our Lady Before Tyn Church, St. Nicholas Church, Astronomical Clock and the pastel-coloured medieval houses. A wide range of galleries, cafes, restaurants, souvenir stores and underground dungeons surround the square. With thousands of tourists occupying almost every inch of Old Town, day and night, there is no dearth of (all sorts of) street performances to keep them entertained. One could spend hours or even an entire day at this quintessential part of the town; people watching, being touristy and satisfying their hunger.
Astronomical Clock (Orloj) and The Old Town Hall: This medieval clock is housed on one side of the Old Town Hall and is the only astronomical clock in the world that is still operating! The clock consists of 3 main parts - the walk of Apostles, the astronomical dial and the calendar dial. It shows the location of the sun and the moon, its phase and many other astrological measurements. The details, complexity as well as the science behind the operation of the clock will leave one awestruck, and the legend associated with the clock is extremely intriguing as well (so fascinating that we even bought a miniature version of it back home). You could go up the Old Town Hall for a spectacular 360 degree view of the city.
Lesser Town Area (Malá Strana) and Lesser Town Bridge Tower: It is a quaint and charming district right by the foothills of the Prague Castle. The name really is a misnomer as we clearly did not think any less of this beautiful neighborhood. And just like the Old Town Square, the Lesser Town also offers very many attractions to see and things to do. The Lesser Town Bridge Tower is situated on one end of the Charles Bridge. The tower was once used as storage but has now been turned into a gallery.
Strahov Monastery and Library: This magnificent library contains a collection of over 200, 000 books. Though a majority of the library is cordoned off for tourists and needs a special permit to enter the library, the frescoes on the ceiling are reason enough to visit the general area. The exhibits displayed along the hall, though limited in number, are truly intriguing. You could also wander inside or around the many buildings that are part of the Monastery complex. As you walk past the Monastery and make your way towards Petrin Hill, the stunning views of the city, river and the castle district will urge you to stop and admire the beauty and vastness of Prague.
Petrin Tower (Rozhledna) and Petrin Hill: An imitation or a miniature version of the romantic Eiffel Tower in Paris is what is called the Petrin Tower in Prague. As you walk from the Lesser Town or the Strahov Monastery up the steep Petrin Hill and look back, you will see some of the most beautiful views of the city, especially from certain vantage points (or you can skip walking up the hill and take the funicular railway). However, nothing compares to the spectacle that you will witness once you climb the 299 steps of the Petrin Tower (or pay extra and take the elevator instead) and reach the top of the observation deck and admire the beauty of the city as the sun goes down.
Powder Tower (Prašná Brána): This gothic tower is one of the 13 original gates situated at the edge of the Old Town. Originally built as a storage for gunpowder (and hence the name), it is now the starting point of Coronation or Royal Way to the Prague Castle. The tower is 65m high and has a viewing gallery located at a height of 44m, but be prepared to climb the 186 steps that lead to the platform (we did not have enough time for it). The Palladium mall, biggest shopping center in Prague is located very close to the tower to grab a quick bite after the climb or for a change of scenery.
Wenceslas Square (Václavské Náměstí): This part of Prague feels like you are brought back to the modern world. It is not really a square though, more like a long avenue, the equivalent of 5th avenue in New York city and Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris. The square connects many attractions around the city. Famous for its shopping malls, high end brands, chic and upscale restaurants, this part of the town is ever vibrant and bustling with activity even after midnight.
Other attractions we wanted to visit but did not have the time for: Vyšehrad, Jewish Quarter, John Lennon Wall, Dancing House among a few others. Apart from these attractions, you could also spend days at the museums, galleries and other non-touristy parts of Prague.
- Koruna is the currency of Czech and most places do not accept Euros, so be sure to exchange/withdraw some money as soon as you enter the country.
- Weather in Prague can be really unpredictable, so do dress in layers (I was wearing 3 layers, don’t be fooled by the photos the layers were kind of in hiding).
- The best way to see any city is by walk, and if you are up for it in Prague, then wear comfortable shoes as the uneven cobblestone streets can start to bother your feet real quick.
- Considered one of the safest cities in the world, walking around the town way past midnight felt perfectly safe.
- If you are not the kinds who likes to walk, then you just try the trains or trams that connect the city and seem to run 24/7, plus the tickets are cheap too. Most ticket dispensers only accept (Koruna) coins and do validate the ticket before getting on the train/tram.
- The street signs for attractions display the Czech names only, so it’s easy to walk right past an attraction and not know it. Hence, a city map really comes in handy.
- The best panoramic views of the city are from up the Petrin Tower, The Old Town Hall, Letna Park and from right behind the Strahov Monastery.
- Do not forget to turn back and look around as you walk around the city, the views of what you just left behind offer a not-to-be-missed different perspective altogether.
- And at times, just stroll through the streets without looking at a map, you will be surprised at the hidden gems you discover as you get lost in the city.
- If the weather permits, take a cruise along the river or pack some picnic lunch and enjoy the food in the park overlooking the water, the bridges and the city.
Highly recommend you try these restaurants and cafes, the best in town as well as a local’s (our airbnb host) recommendation: Lehka Hlava (vegetarian) and it’s sister, Maitrea (vegetarian), Cafe Slavia, Dhaba Beas (Indian vegetarian) . Don’t forget to try a Sacher torte while in Prague.
There you have it, Prague in two days…
I know, that was a lot of information packed into one post - you will find most of the general information about the attractions and things to do in a city all over the internet but sharing stories from our personal travel experience is what, according to me, makes a travel post more relatable and interesting.
Having said that, have you been to Prague or do you have it on your bucket list of places to visit? If not, you should most definitely add it to your must-see-destinations, because, we loved Prague just as much as we did Paris, and that says a lot about the city!
“If European cities were a necklace, Prague would be a diamond among the pearls.”