“I see a vast city, whose glory will touch the stars” ~ Princess Libuše, founder of 9th century Prague.
How many days in Prague? At LEAST four! In my 4 days in Prague itinerary, I’ll help you make the most of your trip by detailing more about Prague’s eventful past with its struggles and triumphs that shaped the city we know today.
From off the beaten path gems to spellbinding medieval architecture, you’ll also learn more about life under Communist rule and the significance of Prague to astronomers whilst they were making scientific history centuries ago.
Why only spend a day or two when there is so much to see? It’s quite important to know these essential Prague travel tips to help you not look like a tourist. A quick visit juuuust isn’t going to do this city any justice so it’s a good idea to blend in with locals as best as possible and know what to expect beforehand.
Spending 4 days in Prague is the perfect amount of time to uncover more of the city than is possible in a brief visit. Of course, no travel guide would be complete without covering hidden gems and the must-sees in Prague… You could say I’ve got all your first-time experiences covered!
Why visit Prague?
If there’s two words that best describe Prague, for me they would have to be “architecturally stunning”. At the risk of sounding pretty clichéd, it’s definitely true when people say that visiting Prague is like stepping into the pages of a real-life fairytale!
The combination of impressive castles, princesses leaving their mark and medieval buildings create an overall magical feel to this once powerful Bohemian trading hub – you simply must add it to your Czech itinerary.
As a massive lover of European architecture and history I’d wanted to visit this astonishing city for many years, so you can imagine my delight when I finally had the chance!
Stepping foot onto the cobblestone streets and gazing up at the pastel-coloured buildings with incredible paintwork, my heart filled with excitement and intrigue. There was so much to discover in dear old Prague. After all, her modern history dates back to the 9th century… And ancient history stretches back even further.
Are you interested in finding out how Princess Libuše’s prophecy about Prague’s future quite literally came true? Read on to find out this and more!
This 4 days in Prague itinerary will cover:
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Where to stay in Prague
In all my detailed itineraries I’m forever preaching about being an Invisible Tourist (which is kinda obvious, considering it’s the name of my blog!). To do this on any trip, staying in a centrally located hotel is of utmost importance if you want to maximise your travel experience. In Prague it means you’ll spend less time getting around and more time exploring this UNESCO World Heritage city, wandering the medieval streets and enjoying the fairytale atmosphere that places Prague on the world map.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Rott Hotel, near Old Town Square. Don’t let the name put you off! This beautifully decorated hotel’s location is exceptional for Prague, just steps away from the Old Town Square, Astronomical Clock and numerous restaurants, but tucked away so noise and crowds are not an issue. Free breakfast in the basement during our stay was more than adequate and in a charming exposed-brick setting. It’s also only a few moments’ walk from Praha hlavní nádraží station which is very handy.
Need more information on Prague hotels?
And now for the best part! Let’s make things easy be breaking down the things to do in each Prague neighbourhood into a day-by-day guide:
DAY 1: Staré Město
Arrive in Prague and prepare to be blown away by the feeling of stepping back half a millennia in time when you first lay eyes on the Old Town. Although, the hoards of people taking photos with their smartphones and cameras is a reminder that you’re still in the present day!
Things to do in Staré Město
The classic sights of Prague you’ve likely seen in travel books or over on Instagram can all be found in Staré Město. You’ll soon see why these are the must-sees of this city and should be the first things on your Prague itinerary!
- Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) – You haven’t really been to Prague unless you’ve stepped foot in its most recognisable square! The Old Town Square has been Prague’s beating heart since the 12th century.
- Astronomical Clock (Pražský orloj) – For over 600 years this intriguing gem of Prague has been attracting visitors to marvel at its hourly Procession of the Apostles. Keep your eyes peeled for the spooky dancing skeleton that represents death! This amazing timepiece not only keeps track of the day, week and month but also Babylonian time. NOTE: At the time of writing, the Astronomical Clock is undergoing repair and should be completed by 2020. An LED screen is currently in its place.
- Church of Our Lady Upon Tyn (Chrám Matky Boží před Týnem) – Towering over Old Town Square since the 14th century, this Gothic-style church is easily recognisable from many vantage points across the city.
- Jan Hus Monument (Pomník Mistra Jana Husa) – Popular amongst locals today as well as during his time, Hus was burned at the stake in 1415 for opposing Vatican control over the local church. He is a symbol of standing up against oppression, which may be why locals would quietly sit contemplating by his feet during the Communist rule of Czechloslovakia!
- Goltz Kinsky Palace (palác Kinských) – Breathtaking and in Rococo-style this palace is the former residence of the Goltz family in the 18th century. Today it houses the National Gallery.
- Charles Bridge (Karlův most) & Old Town Bridge Tower (Staroměstská mostecká věž) – Now’s your chance to pretend you’re royalty! This enchanting Gothic gateway looming over Charles Bridge was reserved for kings to pass under during their coronations over the centuries. The Tower and Charles Bridge have been standing since the 14th century, with the bridge being named after Emperor Charles IV. Some of the statues are actually copies of the originals, though! They can be found at the National Museum and Vyšehrad (more on this later).
DON’T MISS: Clementinum (Klementinum)
A very underrated Prague attraction, at Klementinum you’ll be able to follow in the footsteps of Galileo, Tycho and Kepler at the Astronomical Tower (not to be confused with the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square). Into astronomy? Take a closer look at some of Galileo’s original scientific instruments Kepler and Tycho used to make history gazing into the heavens.
This significant event must have been the prophecy that Princess Libuše foresaw ✨
Without a doubt, for me the icing on the cake was the sweeping views over Prague’s terracotta rooftops from the Astronomical Tower’s 360° lookout, incredible at 68 metres up!
Visiting the Astronomical Tower at Klementinum can only be done via a guided tour which is definitely worth the 45 minutes for your time. The tour also allows you access to the Meridian Hall and Baroque Library Hall, which is considered the most beautiful library in the world (keep in mind you won’t be allowed to take photos in there though, unfortunately).
NOTE: Keep in mind on the tour there are some confined spaces and steep staircases in the old building to climb to get to the rooftop – but it’s worth it for the panoramic views over the Old Town.
COST: Klementinum Guided Tour, Adults 300 czk
DAY 2: Nové Město
With more examples of fascinating architecture (both old and modern) and hidden gems scattered throughout this neighbourhood, if you’re into finding obscure sculptures on your travels then you should include Nové Město on your Prague itinerary!
Things to do in Nové Město
- Powder Tower (Prašná brána) – Darkened with age, the foundations of this tower were laid in the 15th century and it is one of the few medieval gates that remain in Prague today (there were originally 13 gates and a moat safeguarding the old city). In the 18th century the tower was used to store gunpowder, hence its name.
- From the Powder Tower, walk down picturesque Na Prikope street and turn left down towards Wenceslas Square. From the proclamation of independence of Czechoslovakia to Nazi demonstrations, violent protests, mysterious assassinations and coloured revolutions, Wenceslas Sqaure has been centre stage to many events throughout Prague’s turbulent history. The Jan Palach memorial can also be found here.
- Heading back towards the Old Town, nick into art-nouveau Lucerna Passage to see the Upside Down Horse dangling from the dome ceiling. Unusually, this sculpture is said to be a mockery of the statue of King Wenceslas in Wenceslas Square. No one is quite sure why, though! If you’re adventurous, you can continue the hunt for more funky statues in Prague.
- Keep going down street to see the chunky Cubist Lamppost. Tucked away in a small square, apparently it’s the only one of its kind in the world… What a little novelty.
- Don’t forget to look up as you wander cobbled backstreets to find the Hanging Out sculpture. Another of David Černý’s art pieces, visitors to Prague have genuinely thought this odd sculpture was someone about to end their life!
- As of April 2021, the old Havelské tržiště Market (Havel’s Market) has been dismantled after almost 800 years of being in operation. It was a place to buy souvenirs and fresh local produce, however with a lack of tourists these days, locals hope the area will be transformed into outdoor seating for the adjacent restaurants and cafés. It’s such a shame this market from 1232 is now gone, so if you can’t find it during your visit – you know why!
HIDDEN GEM: Museum of Communism
Ironically located next to a McDonald’s and casino, this museum is a real gem! The permanent exhibition literally walks you through the different phases of life during the Communist era – rooms that demonstrate The Dream, The Reality and the Nightmare, as some have put it.
These rooms replicate the feeling of what it was like during Communist rule and each is loaded with artefacts, propaganda posters, videos and information about different aspects of life for Prague’s residents during the era. It’s so interesting!
The Museum of Communism is a humbling reminder of why we should never be silenced into oppression and to always stand up for freedom of speech, rather silencing those with differing opinions.
If memes were around in the 80’s, you could say these propaganda posters would be the closest thing!
COST: Adults 290 czk
DAY 3: Hradčany
Towering high over the medieval old town below, the district of Hradčany (Castle District) is one for the culture vultures (like myself!) and is a must for any Prague itinerary. Magnificent Prague Castle may be the obvious attraction here but there are a few others nearby I’d recommend “Czeching” out to admire the true magic of this area (see what I did there?).
Boasting over 1,000 years of history, the castle complex is part of the Historic Centre of Prague listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site for its architectural and cultural significance. When strolling through the grounds and feeling that fairytale magic I keep mentioning, it’s evident why. Within the complex you’re able to visit:
- Old Royal Palace
- The Story of Prague Castle Exhibition
- St George’s Basilica
- Treasury of St Vitus Cathedral
- Golden Lane
- Picture Gallery
- Powder Tower (currently closed temporarily)
- St Vitus Cathedral
- Rosenberg Palace
COST: There are different types of tickets that allow you to explore different areas within the castle. The ticket that covers all sights above is classified as “Circuit A”, Adults 350 czk. Tickets are valid for two days. Opening hours vary depending on seasonality and building type within the castle complex. You can check Prague Castle’s official website for the full details to help you plan your visit.
How to get to Prague Castle
From the Old Town, make your way across Charles Bridge by foot to Prague Castle (Pražský hrad). Don’t miss the guards and cast-iron gates over by the West entrance. There’s much more to Prague Castle than visiting St Vitus Cathedral and I’d recommend dedicating at least half a day to your Prague itinerary to see it all!
Did you know? St Vitus Cathedral located within the castle grounds boasts stunning stained-glass windows by beloved Czech artist, Mucha.
Other things to do in Hradčany
- After you’re done exploring the castle grounds, don’t forget to spin around from the Castle’s West entrance to admire Schwarzenberg Palace. Sitting on the grass beneath the tree adjacent the Palace is a great way to examine the optical illusion that is the exterior paintwork!
- Finally, for some great photo opportunities head down Nurdova street. It’s quite steep with dozens of stairs and allows for some nice architecture views from the top.
Prague off the beaten path: Nový Svět & Loreta
- This is a must to add to your Prague itinerary! A hidden gem that’s often overlooked in Hradčany is the historic narrow streets of Nový Svět. The beautifully preserved houses in this off-the-beaten-track area of Prague date back to the 16th century and were built for castle staff to reside. Quiet and lovely, the “New World’s” cobbled paths are the perfect escape from the usual crowds and allow you to stroll in the footsteps of people who were important to the upkeep of Prague’s iconic castle.
- On the way back into the city pass Loreta and if you have some extra time, you might wish to go inside to see the Prague Sun – a gorgeous object encrusted with over 6,000 diamonds. It was a gift to the shrine from Countess Ludmila of Kolowrat in the 17th century.
DAY 4: Petřín & Malá Strana
Just south of Prague Castle, the Petřín & Malá Strana areas are sprinkled with eye candy throughout to completely spoil you. Culture vultures are going to adore the combination of vibrant terracotta rooftops, leafy surrounds, striking street art and intriguing sculptures.
How to get to Petřín & Malá Strana
To begin day four of this Prague itinerary, cross Charles Bridge to explore Mala Strana & Bridge Tower. Skip Mala Strana for now as there’s an important reason to come back to it AFTER Petrin!
Things to do in Petřín
DON’T MISS: Petřín Hill
Take one of the many paths up towards Prague’s “Eiffel Tower” at Petřín Hill (if you go past Reon Argondian Magical Cavern you know you’re on the right track). If you’re not up for walking take the funicular from Ujezd up to Petrin (cost: Adults 32 czk). Lovely rose gardens and a hedge maze greet you at the top of the hill, and the views over Prague from this leafy vantage point are amazing.
It’s almost like having a birds’ eye peek at the crowds of people crossing Charles Bridge, the tall spires of Our Lady Upon Tyne, and the terracotta rooftops covering Prague’s rolling hills. You can climb up Petrin Tower (cost: Adults 60 czk) but I felt the views from hillside were stunning enough.
One the way back from Petřín Hill, wander south to find the eerie Memorial to the Victims of Communism. These dark, decaying sculptures are a tribute to those who died under Prague’s Communist rule. Take a closer look at the line through the middle of the concrete staircase as the staggering numbers of those who were executed, exiled and arrested are etched into it. It’s very ghostly how the sculptures dissolve more and more the higher up the staircase they are.
Things to do in Malá Strana
- If you opted to walk up the massive hill to the Petrin lookout, it’s likely you worked up an appetite! Mala Strana is perfect to sample some famous Czech beer and take a lunch break at one of the many cafés and pubs.
- Once you’ve got some energy back, have a LOL at the Pissing Sculpture. The mechanical sounds as the weathered figures spin around to pee on the Czech map are pretty funny.
You can’t miss adding the John Lennon Wall to your Prague itinerary. After Lennon’s murder in 1980 this wall became a symbol of opposition to Soviet rule. Those in favour of Western ideologies would vent their frustrations and advocate free speech by scrawling messages of peace over the wall.
It was a source of annoyance to the Secret Police who whitewashed the wall constantly to quash rebellion, until they began to realise their paintwork was carried out in vain. Freshly splattered hearts and messages would colourfully adorn the wall again in defiance faster than they could be covered up!
Please Be Invisible and resit the temptation to leave a love lock on the nearby Lover’s Bridge over the Čertovka canal. I’ve written about the reasons why I’ve been a rebel and not left love locks on bridges, or anywhere during my travels. It’s an unpopular truth!
Furthermore, over 700kgs of metal have been recently removed from these bridges and nearby lampposts in Prague so leaving a lock is not worth your time.
NOTE: As of August 2019 in the wake of overtourism hitting Prague, graffiti on the John Lennon Wall is no longer encouraged. The area is going to be strictly monitored by surveillance cameras, extra police and restored to its original form by local artists. It will become an open-air gallery.
The move is to deter rowdy tourists on pub crawls destroying the ambience in this once peaceful area. Local residents have long been complaining about drunk tourists using spray paint to damage their neighbouring properties. Please “be invisible” at the John Lennon Wall if you plan on visiting.
There are loads of places to enjoy Prague nightlife, but you need to do a little research to ensure you stay safe and have the most enjoyable night possible. Here’s my recommendations for things to do in Prague at night:
- Do check the reviews for the notorious 4 storey nightclub, Karlovy Lane. Personally I was really keen to go for a night out there until I read the many bad experiences of others. Aggressive behaviour from staff and patrons, getting pickpocketed and not being taken seriously by the bouncers, missing designer coats from the cloakroom… It’s a bit of a tourist trap really. Take a look at the reviews for yourself and be skeptical of the hype. You have been warned!
- An amazing and fun alternative to Karlovy Lane is Double Trouble. Dance the night away on the tables, or the bar – this is the norm! This club in a basement in an arched-roof exposed brick setting. The atmosphere in here was incredibly awesome, great DJ’s and the locals were super friendly and enjoyed a chat and drink!
- Coyotes Bar is another great place for drinks. Great cocktails and buzzing atmosphere! Staff are friendly and enjoy getting up on the bar to dance as well as spray each other (and you) with the drink dispenser from behind the bar!
- If you’re up for even more fun, be sure to check out this Prague pub crawl of unusual bars around the city!
Have some extra time in Prague?
If you’re after a few more interesting things to do to add to your Prague itinerary, I’ve got you covered:
- Stroll south along the Vltava River to do a little dance in front of the Dancing House. Ok, maybe not dance, but this funky office building has a skinny “stomach” as to not obstruct the river view from its neighbours!
- Get off the beaten track and visit Prague’s other castle (yes, there’s two!). Vyšehrad in Nové Město’s southern outskirts was built in the 10th century, and served as the official royal seat for about two centuries until Prague Castle was chosen for this role. This fort is home to six of the original sculptures from Charles Bridge and one of Prague’s oldest surviving buildings, the Rotunda of St. Martin.
- Take note that Trdelnik pastries found at many stalls around the city aren’t from Prague. These cinnamon-walnut flavoured “chimney cakes” are a favourite with tourists however they actually originated in Slovakia and aren’t a traditional Czech treat.
- Head over to the Žižkov neighbourhood to catch a glimpse of some creepy babies climbing the Žižkov Tower. Don’t worry, they’re just sculptures!
How to get to Prague
From outside the Czech Republic by train
Prague is easily accessible by direct, high-speed trains from Germany and Austria. The prices I’ve mentioned below are an average for adult one-way tickets as they change depending on what season and time of day you travel, but it should give you a rough idea to help with your itinerary planning:
- From Berlin: Berlin Hauptbahnhof to Praha hlavní nádraží via Deutsche Bahn / 4 hours / Cost: approx €70.40
- From Vienna: Wien Hauptbahnhof to Praha hlavní nádraží via ÖBB Sparschiene / 4 hours / Cost: approx €44.00
From outside the Czech Republic by air
Multiple European airlines fly directly into Prague Václav Havel Airport. There are a few options for getting to the city centre, including bus, taxi, Uber and private pickup. Václav Havel Airport is roughly 18kms from the city centre and times and prices will vary depending on your transport preference. Find out more information on each option here to help with your decision prior to your arrival.
Things to keep in mind when planning your Prague itinerary
Here are some unpopular truths about visiting Prague and what to expect:
- The Czech Republic’s official currency is NOT the Euro, but rather Czech koruna. The Euro is not widely accepted either, so best to exchange some money beforehand if you’re visiting from a neighbouring country.
- Unlike many Western nations with people greeting you happily, you’re likely to be met with directness from staff and locals in hotels, restaurants and the like. Czechs aren’t necessarily rude, they just aren’t overly friendly so minimise the small talk and don’t take it personally.
- English is not as widely spoken as other Western European countries, so learn a few basic Czech words to get by. Hotel staff and younger Czechs will speak it, although I found some of the older people who ran the street food stalls to be quite hostile towards me when they previously overheard my travel buddy and I speaking English to each other… Even despite me greeting them in Czech. Maybe it’s a Cold War thing? Find out how I learn language for travel fast here.
- Beware of pickpockets, especially near the Astronomical Clock on the hour when it chimes.
- If you arrive in Prague from Praha hlavní nádraží station, the city centre is about 15 minute’s walk. This involves a brief stroll through Vrchlického sady park, where there are quite a few homeless people and loitering groups. Have your wits about you, don’t stare and walk briskly with purpose to avoid anyone approaching you.
Summing up my 4 days in Prague itinerary
I absolutely LOVED Prague and all the incredible experiences I had there – from cultural and historical delights to the top attractions and hidden gems, there literally is something for everyone in this city! If teleporting was an option I’d go back in a heartbeat (can someone just invent it already, please?)
Spending four days in Prague would be the absolute minimum amount of time to truly uncover the fascinating story of her transformation throughout the centuries, to the vibrant city she is today. I’m a big believer in getting off the downtrodden tourist trails and spending extra time to gain a better understanding the sights we visit and their significance to shaping the city and it people.
Now you’ve reached this far, are you planning to visit any of the hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path locations I’ve mentioned? Have I made you aware of a place you didn’t know of before? Let me know! I hope this Prague itinerary has inspired you to spend a little extra time in Czechia’s gorgeous capital city!
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Until next time,
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Featured image credit: Pixabay
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