How To Explore Prague In A Day

Prague is one of the most walkable cities that I have ever been to. It’s winding, cobblestone streets leading towards Old Town Square are dotted with shops, pubs, restaurants, and more. You can easily pass people without the awkward struggle of waiting for them to make space for you or jumping out of the way for the inconsiderate brute who thinks the sidewalk was made for them and them only. If you know me, you know I hate being stuck behind slow walkers.

Our hotel, U Zlatého stromu, was right beside Charles Bridge and offered a great start to the day’s journey. The bridge has two towers on either side and for about $4USD, you can climb to the top for an epic view. Going down the stairs takes you to a little exhibit of items found around the bridge, from old tools to cellphones. The bridge itself is decorated with 30 statues, mostly of saints, that have been replaced with replicas over the years. Grab a picture with them as you stroll around pop-up vendors selling art and souvenirs.

Once you arrive on the Lesser Quarter, you can quickly find the Lennon Wall. Named for John, not Vladimir, the wall quickly popped up with symbols of freedom and western culture shortly after John’s assassination in 1980. It was used to protest the communist regime in then-Czechoslovakia. Each time we passed by, we found a busker performing “Imagine” that is impossible not to sing along with in your head.

The John Lennon Wall.

Climb the steps to the north until you arrive at Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world. The most prominent structure here is the St. Vitus Cathedral, where you’ll find an incredibly long line to get in. The good thing is, you don’t need to wait in line to take a picture of the outside. Spend some time wandering around the grounds where you can find all kinds of history surrounding Bohemia and the Holy Roman Empire. Statues, medieval-era buildings, one of the most fascinating things about Prague is how untouched it was during the World Wars, leaving many structures still intact, a feat that much of Europe can’t also claim.

As we descended down from the castle, we stopped by the oldest tavern in the city for a beer, and made our way towards Petřín Hill. It’s a doozy of a walk, but you can take a tram to the top if you need a little assistance. At the top, you’ll find it covered with parks and gardens. My favorite spots, however, were the Lookout Tower (it looks like a mini-Eiffel Tower), the Hunger Wall (a 14th century defense wall for the Lesser Town), and the Štefánik’s Observatory (an astronomical observatory used mainly to popularize astronomy.) Take your time here, you have a chance to slow down and take in a great view of the city, while meandering through beautiful gardens.

The city of 100 spires.

We ventured back down, towards the Charles Bridge. Just north is the Jewish Quarter, where you’ll find one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe. Continuing down the pedestrian-only street, you’ll come across Old Town Square. This is the perfect place to relax with a beer and food. Even the tourist trap restaurants aren’t bad, but a quick dive into some online recommendations and you can find plenty of food and drink options for under 200CZK (~$10USD.)

The gothic architecture is great to see, as well as several museums, but the biggest draw here is the Astronomical Clock. Operating since at least 1410 (with a brief lapse in 2018 for repairs), the clock has several animated figures that put on a show each hour. It’s an overstimulating experience, but it’s one you can’t miss if you’re in Prague.

From here, depending on the time of day, you can take it easy and enjoy some food and drink for the rest of the night, or you can continue on to Wensiclas Square. We chose the former, enjoying some goulash in a restaurant above a bank as I practiced my Czech with our server. It was just the most basic of phrases, but she was very happy with the effort insisting I was an exchange student, at the least, to have spent the time learning some vocabulary. I assured her it was just because I’m a fan of the city.

Below here is a shopping district where you’ll find some international brands like H&M and Zara, but you can skip that and make your way back towards the river. By now, your feet will probably be tired, but you have to make it down to the Dancing House, a pair of office buildings that stick out from the typical Baroque and Gothic buildings you’ve seen around the city.

Fred and Ginger – The Dancing House.

We took an easy stroll back up the river until we reached the Charles Bridge and our hotel. One last beer while I finished the latest episode of Game of Thrones, and we’ll call that a perfect day in Prague.

Where Beer Is Cheaper Than Water

Jedno privo, prosim. One beer, please.

Roughly 100km northeast from the birthplace of the pilsner, Prague is home to beer that is literally cheaper than water. And it’s good beer, too.

We enjoyed beers at the oldest pub in the city.

The Czech Republic consumes near 192 liters per capita every year. That’s nearly double the next closest nation, Austria (107 liters per capita), and far more than the US (73 liters per capita.) The Czech people love their beer.

You’ll find a fairly liberal atmosphere surrounding the drinking culture here. It’s not unheard of to order one or two small beers with your lunch and knock a few more back after dinner, and it doesn’t stop there – the nightlife is never ending. I stayed in an incredible hotel a stone’s throw from the Charles Bridge, but it was right beside a night club and across the street from another bar. There was partying and commotion all the way until sunrise.

Though the tap water is safe to drink in this central European country, don’t expect it to automatically come with your meal. We found a carafe or .3L bottle of water to be around 40Kč or $2 USD. Being one of the most walkable cities that I have ever been to, it’s a good idea to stay hydrated while exploring.

Pure happiness.

After visiting the Prague Castle and Petřín hill, we passed by U krále Brabantského – the oldest tavern in the city. It has an awesome, medieval aesthetic inside and offers shows on certain nights (we didn’t get to see.) Now my mom definitely isn’t a beer drinker, but we ordered a couple and she enjoyed them just as much as I did. One of the things that may shock you is the large head of foam on top of the drink. You’re still getting the .5L of beer, but the foam provides a different taste and a little complexity.

There’s even a pour called the mlíko that’s basically all foam, meant to be drank all at once for a sweet, dessert-style drink. I never had one, but I’ve seen sources say you get it for half-price.

Near our hotel was a long, indoor passage, called a pasáž, which is essentially a small mall. It’s a great way to get around the city. You get to avoid any inclement weather and pick up a sweet beer stein souvenir. Some of the bigger ones, like Lucerna pasáž, have pubs inside where you can pick up a .5L for 35-38Kč (~$1.75USD.) That’s more to drink for a lower price than water. All around Old Town Square, you’ll see green Pilsner Urquell awnings. It’s the most popular beer in the country and quite delicious. It’s nice to stop to people watch for a drink and continue on.

The birthplace of the pilsner, Plzeň, is about 100km southwest of Prague.

In the past decade, some public officials have attempted to enforce regulations that will make pubs sell a non-alcoholic beverage at a cheaper price than beer. This is been in an effort to curb underage drinking and the negative effects thereof. Business owners and the public have fought back and, at least during my first visit in 2017, have been doing quite well.

Make sure to add one of my favorite cities in the world to your travel bucket list and enjoy the beer. Na zdraví.