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If You Only Have One Day In Prague

If You Only Have One Day in Prague

The beautiful city of Prague, ranks as one of the prettiest I’ve visited in Europe, with its perfect location on the Vltava River. I have visited the city twice now, once recently with a local Czech so read on for insight on how to spend one day in Prague.

It’s amazing how much you can do in one day in Prague when you’re motivated. Prague is a compact city that’s perfect for walking with the major sights in close proximity. If you keep reading you’ll discover one of the coolest rooftop bars in Prague – hardly any tourists know about.

Head for the flower filled parks above the Prague Castle to get away from the crowds
Head for the flower filled parks above the Prague Castle to get away from the crowds

Here’s what you can pull off if you have only one day in Prague

Check out the Prague Castle Complex

Our group didn’t arrive in the city till about noon. Immediately we marched off to the Prague Castle Complex – considered to be the largest coherent complex in the world and home to the President of the Czech Republic.

Next up was a line-up to get inside the St. Vitus Cathedral. We seemed to get lucky, perhaps because the weather was a little dreary, because despite first appearances it moved quickly. Seeing the soaring Gothic architecture dating to 1344 was worth every minute of the wait. It’s one of those experiences where words can never capture what you feel inside.

Beware the lineups in Prague
Beware the lineups in Prague
St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral
Even if you're not religious the inside of the St. Vitus Cathedral will wow you
Even if you’re not religious the inside of the St. Vitus Cathedral will wow you

After the cathedral be sure to take some time to explore the winding cobblestone streets of what is called Lesser Town.

If You Only Have One Day in Prague
These guards look good but according to our guide they aren’t very well trained
Wander the city of a 1000 spires
Wander the city of a 1000 spires

Go for a walk in the parks and gardens near the castle

From there our group moved away from the crowds and made our way to the beautiful parks and gardens south of the castle and west of the river. There’s quite a network of trails with some offering spectacular views of the city and its red tiled roofs.

After exploring the park we made our way through a maze of narrow streets to arrive at Kampa Park beside the Vltava River.

Take a boat tour – an enjoyable way to spend one day in Prague

Rent a boat or take one of the boat cruises on the Vltava River, the longest river at 400 kilometres in the Czech Republic. You get great views from the boat of both the Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle Complex.

One cruise that sounds a little different takes you up the Devil’s Channel, called a blind arm of the Vltava River. The boat – either a small mahogany boat or a solar boat, glides past medieval homes and the Grand Priory Mill – considered to be the most famous of the preserved mills.

If You Only Have One Day in Prague
The crowds on the Charles Street Bridge
If You Only Have One Day in Prague
Rent a paddle boat on the Vltava River

Explore neighbourhoods on foot if time permits

En route to Hotel Leonardo, our home for the night on one of my visits, we passed the National Theatre and off in the distance I spied colourful houses, perhaps part of an old neighbourhood that begged to be explored but time didn’t permit.

If You Only Have One Day in Prague
Take to the streets on a bike

Visit Petrin Hill

By early evening we were back on foot, this time to get to the funicular that takes you up Petrin Hill. I highly recommend including this in your exploration of Prague. (Your ticket for bus and tram travel is also valid for the funicular.) 

The funicular has been around since 1851 – but with an on again, off again history. It was electrified in 1932 but then problems arose in 1965. Part of Petrin Hill became destabilized so for a solid 20 years the funicular didn’t run. In 1985 it reopened to tourists.

The funicular is open from 9 AM to 11:30 PM everyday, running every 10 or 15 minutes depending on the season. It’s got two cars and stops at three places on Petrin Hill.

At the top of the hill there’s an observation tower, a mirror maze and an old church. In the evening we got off at the halfway point so we could dine at Nebozizek Restaurant – which I’d suggest for the view alone. Aim to be there for sunset.

If You Only Have One Day in Prague
View from the Nebozizek Restaurant accessed via funicular

Have a drink with a view on the Lucerna Rooftop

For one of the unique places to have a drink outside in Prague be sure to visit the Lucerna Rooftop. You get to it through an entrance in the Lucerna passage opposite the entrance to the Grand Hall. Then take a most unusual elevator (one that runs continuously so you must hop on or off while its moving) or take the stairs to the 5th floor.

The rooftop is open from 3 PM until dusk Saturday, Sunday and Monday. It is truly an awesome space and something I’d highly recommend doing.

A great place for a drink with a view - Lucerna Rooftop
A great place for a drink with a view – Lucerna Rooftop

The Charles Bridge – a must see sight if you only have one day in Prague

Following dinner we strolled over to the Charles Bridge, stopping to gawk at the shop windows along the way. Many stores were open in the vicinity of the bridge well after 10 PM.

The Charles Bridge, a pedestrian only bridge, has been in use since 1402. During peak periods, it’s a mass of moving flesh. Aim to visit either first thing in the morning or late at night when the crowds have subsided.

The views and the lights from the bridge are fantastic – even romantic. My exploration of Prague ended at the hotel after a walk alongside the river where I enjoyed fabulous views of the Prague Castle complex all lit up. Truly, Prague is one of Europe’s great cities.

If You Only Have One Day in Prague
Window shopping at night is a lot of fun
If You Only Have One Day in Prague
Walking the Charles Bridge at about 11 PM
Charles Bridge, Prague at 6 AM
A very different feel on the Charles Bridge in the early morning
If You Only Have One Day in Prague
Prague is equally beautiful in the evening

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Where to stay in Prague

I have stayed in three wonderful hotels. My favourite was The Emerald – and Art Nouveau house in the centre of Prague, with 13 fully equipped apartments in five different styles. In the morning walk a block and enjoy breakfast at Mistral Café Restaurant.

Recently I stayed at MEETME23 – a styling spot that is well positioned to explore the Old Town. It’s home also to a bespoke restaurant.

Hotel Leonardo is another solid choice – and again in a great location.

The living room in The Emerald
The living room in The Emerald – my top pick for a place to stay in Prague
Mistral Restaurant in Prague
Mistral Cafe in Prague

Day trips from Prague

If you’re using Prague as a base for a few days check out these best day trips from Prague. It’s a compact country and easy to get around so I’d recommend trying to fit in at least Cesky Krumlov and České Budějovice.

What I missed in Prague

I had an early flight so by 11 PM I figured I’d call it a night. Some of our group headed off to see the Prague Astronomical Clock built in 1410. But after reading a Huffington Post article that called the clock one of the most disappointing tourist attractions in Europe, I was happy I’d gone to bed.

Another place for a superb city view is Vítkov Hil – close to two happening neighbourhoods – Žižkov and Vinohrady, both full of bars and pubs. I highly recommend a meal at Spizírna – one of the most Instagrammable places to eat in Prague with outstanding food.

The beautiful Spizírna Restaurant
The beautiful Spizírna Restaurant

Further reading on the Czech Republic

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

What to do if you have only one day in Prague

 

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

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