See the best of Prague without wasting a second.
The clock is ticking. You have 24 hours to see one of the most beautiful and historically fascinating cities in Europe.
Assumptions: You’re not a luxury traveler. You want cheap, you want adventure, you like to walk everywhere. You keep selfies to a reasonable limit and make more real-time memories than endless photos.
24 Hours in Prague
Hours 1-8: Arrive in Prague
Stay at Charles Bridge Economic Hostel because it’s decently priced and smack dab beside the famous Charles Bridge. Check in isn’t until 1pm, so drop by to say hello and see where you’re staying, then tighten your backpack straps.
Smile when the kind front desk person offers you a free coffee or tea. Oh, and ask them to make you a 6:30 pm reservation for later in the day at Choco Cafe. (Unless you speak fluent Czech and can handle this on your own.)
Hours 8-9: See the John Lennon Wall and Eat Breakfast
You need sustenance to get through this crazy day. Eat whatever you can find in your line of sight (there’s a grocery store and a couple of close food shops). Don’t forget you can ask the hostel desk person for advice.
Charles Bridge Economic Hostel to Lennon Wall: ETA 3 min
Get your first glimpse of the famous Charles Bridge and walk down a set of side stairs to the Lennon Wall. Snap an iconic selfie or simply admire the artistry (once you manage to find it). Who cares what the history is? It’s so pretty.
The eternal footman snickers! Make haste, you only have a few minutes until Prague Castle opens.
Hours 9-11: Explore Prague Castle (as fast as you can)
Depending on how much of a museum buff you are, Prague Castle might take an hour or it could take an entire day. Personally, I’m not one for lingering over ancient artifacts, so I think the castle is something you can make your way through fairly quickly.
Lennon Wall to Prague Castle: ETA 16 min
Climb the last of the steps to the entrance. Don’t look back yet! You’ll have plenty of time for gazing out over the red-orange rooftops of Prague once you’ve checked this popular sight off your list.
Part with your hard-earned money for a ticket at 9am and get your butt into the cathedral. Stare in awe at the most spectacular stained glass windows you’ve ever seen (correction: will ever see) and then walk the length of the castle grounds, popping in and out of whichever exhibits pique your interest.
Hours 11-14: Drink, Be Merry, and Walk Your A** Off
Prague Castle to Dancing House: ETA 32 min
Want to feel like a local and cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time? Suck it up and walk the half-hour distance along the water from the castle to Dancing House. This building will make you ponder surrealism and inspire you to embrace your quirky side. It’s worth seeing once and makes for a better talking point than another European church you saw.
Get a good look at Dancing House and then make an optional pit stop at the nearby Cat Cafe. The snacks aren’t anything to write home about, but I’m sure you’re tired at this point and could use some kitty cuddles.
Dancing House to Cat Cafe: ETA 2 min
Don’t linger you cat-loving fiend, there’s plenty left to see in Bohemia!
It should be around 12pm now. If you arrived in Prague this morning and haven’t checked into your hostel yet, it’s probably a good time to get your caboose over there.
Cat Cafe to Charles Bridge Economic Hostel: ETA 24 min
Check in at the hostel or skip this entirely and go directly to Old Town Square (if you have lots of time or don’t want to eat, try to make it to the Synagogue I discuss below). You have until a little before 2 pm to drink a Pilsner and enjoy lunch along the route between the hostel and Old Town Square.
Charles Bridge Economic Hostel to Old Town Square: ETA 14 min
Take your time crossing the bridge and admire the statues. It’s a lovely sight.
Hours 14-17: Take a Free Tour
Make sure you arrive at Old Town Square around 10-15 min before 2 pm just to be on the safe side. Look for large mingling groups and people wearing red “Sandeman’s” tour shirts. (Sidenote: The Sandeman Prague website has a great tourist map you can download.)
This free tour is one of the best I’ve ever been on. The speakers are engaging and funny. By the end you’ll want to be their best friend. Listen to them describe the history and hilarity of popular Prague sights like the astronomical clock and Wenceslas Square.
Don’t forget to tip your guide at the end.
Hours 17-18: Visit a Synagogue or the Museum of Alchemy
Assuming you end up either back at the Old Town Square or somewhere close by (I think ours ended near the Rudolfinum), throw a couple dollars (any currency will do) at your tour guide and speed walk to your next sight.
Rudolfinum to Old-New Synagogue: ETA 4 min
You’ll have passed the Old-New Synagogue and learned some of the golem history on the tour, but it’s worth checking out in more depth. It won’t take long to pay the 200 CZK and take a gander inside.
Depending on the month/time of day/day of the week you may not be able to get in. Double check this info ahead of time! They’re closed on Saturdays (it’s Shabbat).
If you don’t want to visit the Synagogue, skip it and walk to a surprisingly awesome sight: the Museum of Alchemy.
Rudolfinum to Museum of Alchemy (Speculum Alchemiae): ETA 7 min
When I visited the Museum of Alchemy, I didn’t expect it to be nearly as cool/fun as it was. The tour will set you back another 200 CZK (cheaper for students and seniors) and you’ll spend 30 minutes with some re-created bravado and some very real remnants of an actual alchemist workshop where they tried to create the “elixir of life.” Did they succeed? You’ll have to take the tour to find out.
It’s spooky down there.
The museum closes at 6pm, so try your best to arrive in time for the 5:30 pm tour.
Hours 18-20: The Best Hot Chocolate and a Well-Deserved Dinner
Museum of Alchemy to Choco Cafe: ETA 12 min
Since you made a reservation for 6:30 pm earlier in the day, it’s the perfect time to start heading over. Collapse into a puddle of chocolate joy at the Choco Cafe. This is real chocolate, my friends, and it will leave you satisfied enough that you may not want dinner.
If you’re like me, you could easily eat an elephantine amount of food and hot chocolate won’t be enough. Eat dinner as cheaply and quickly as possible (or take your sweet time if you’re done moving for the day).
Hours 20-24: Free Time
Most main sights will be closed, but you could go for a drink or walk around the city. Kiss/hug your companion(s) or pat yourself on the back. You just saw an insane amount of things. It’s either bedtime or airport time.
What’s wonderful is that there is still so much left to see and explore in Prague. If you have another day in the city, I suggest a more relaxed approach to the following 24 hours …
Calories Burned: Enough for a second Pilsner.
Sights Seen: Due to the extensive nature of the 3 hr free tour, you’ll be visiting upwards of 10 different sights. Probably closer to 20.
Kilometers Walked: Who’s counting?