Best of Prague in 24 hours including self-guided city walk

See Prague in a nutshell. Explore Prague in 24 hours. This may seem short but it is possible to see top attractions like Charles Bridge and the astronomical clock, Old Town Square and the Municipal House, the best example of Art Nouveau in Prague. Stroll along Wenceslas Square and do a bit of shopping. Have an affordable meal and ask for the poledni menu, or lunch menu at a fixed price: the best kept secret in town. If you do not feel like walking, hop on tram 22 for the best (almost free) sightseeing trip.

24 Hours in Prague: mini guide contents

1. Self-guided walk from Wenceslas Square to Charles Bridge
2. Guided walk and bike tour
3. Public transport tram 23, a self-guided sightseeing tour
3. Affordable restaurants
4. Getting from the airport to the city centre by public transport
5. How to buy tram and metro tickets

1. Self-guide Walk: Wenceslas Square to Charles Bridge

START: metro station Muzeum
1. Stand with your back to the National Museum on the top of Wenceslas Square and walk down to the bottom.

At the top of Wenceslas Square is the monumental National Museum and in front of it the equestrian statue of St. Wenceslas. Two plaques in the pavement near St. Wenceslas commemorate those killed during the communist era and the other is dedicated to Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in protest at the Soviet invasion.

Wenceslas Square is a crash course in architecture from neo-renaissance and Art Nouveau architecture to post-modernist buildings.

Wenceslas Square number 47 is Primark, discount fashion store, a remarkable modern building called ‘The Flow’, it was inspired by the architecture of St Vitus Cathedral and combines images of burning candles and flowering plants.

Look at the Art Nouveau façade of number 25. This used to be Grand Hotel Evropa, and after extensive renovations it is now Hotel W Prague.

2. Turn right at the bottom of Wenceslas Square, you are now in Na Prikope Street
Na Prikope is a busy shopping street. At 19-21 is an interesting building: Myslbek Shopping Centre with a striking glass façade.

3. At the end of Na Prikope is the Powder Tower and the Municipal House
Obecní dum, or Municipal House, is the best example of Art Nouveau architecture in Prague. The entrance is a wrought-iron gate and a stained-glass canopy compliments a delightful mosaic entitled Homage to Prague. If you want to see the Art Nouveau interior, join the guided tour or have a coffee or a mealin Kavarna Obecni Dum, the café restaurant of the Municipal House.

Opposite the Municipal house at Namesty Republky are two shopping centres. Palladium with 200 shops and a food court on the top floor and Kotva, a striking example of Communist architecture.

4. Walk back to the Power Tower and go through its arch. You are now in Celetna Street. At the corner of Ovocny trh is the House of the Black Madonna, the first cubist building in Prague.

The House of the Black Madonna, named after the statue that adorns its facade, is one of the best examples of cubism in architecture. It was built between 1909 and 1911 as a department store. The construction was new at the time; a reinforced concrete skeleton that made a spacious interior possible.

The Grand Café Orient occupies the entire first floor. The interior is impressive and the only remaining cubist interior in the world. During the communist era the building was subdivided and used as offices. Much of the original cubist furnishings were lost. Some ten years ago the café underwent an extensive renovation. Old black and white photos showed what the interior once looked like. The café has been redecorated in the old style with replicas of the furniture and chandeliers.

5. Celetna street leads to Old Town Square
Old Town Square is always busy, in summer outside cafes and in winter the Christmas Market. The pink and white Rococo building is Kinsky Palace. In 1948, Klement Gottwald, leader of the Communist party and President of Czechoslovakia, proclaimed communist rule from the first floor balcony. The palace is now part of the national gallery and exhibits Czech art from the seventeenth to twentieth century.

The eye catcher of the square is Tyn Church with two irregular towers flanked by spires and pinnacle. The most popular attraction is the astronomical clock, on the side wall of the Old Town Hall. Join the crowd waiting for the spectacle. The monument in the middle of Old Town Square commemorates the church reformer Jan Hus, theologian and philosopher.

6. Keep the astronomical clock on your right hand side. And walk straight on to Male Namesti.
In the middle of this square is a fountain which can only be seen in winter because in summer the square is full with outside cafés. The most striking house in the square is Rott-House whose façade is beautifully decorated with sgraffiti and now home to the Hard Rock Café.

7. Keep the square on your right and walk straight on. You are now in Karlova Street.
Karlova Street is always crowded and full of souvenir shops.

8. From here you can follow the signs ‘Karluv Most’ (Charles Bridge), or simply follow the crowd.
Halfway Karlova Street widens, look up at the façade of house number 22 and you will see a bust of Libuse, the legendary ancestor of the Czech people. She prophesized that one day Prague would be an important city. Karlova street is full of shops – Bohemian crystal, jewelry, T-shirts, puppets and lots of souvenirs. At the end of the street, close to Charles Bridge, on your right is the Karolinum, the largest Jesuit complex in Europe and now part of the Charles University.

9. Walk to the end of Karlova Street and Charles Bridge is in front of you.
This is the oldest bridge in Prague, spans the Vltava River and connects the districts Stare Mesto (Old Town) and Mala Strana (Lesser Town).
Charles Bridge is always full of people. Most of them are tourists. Locals prefer public transport to cross the Vltava River. Vendors sell artwork and Charles Bridge souvenirs. A Dixieland Band half way the bridge plays jazz music and you can buy their CDs.
Thirty statues adorn the bridge railings. They are all replicas because the original sandstone ones weathered badly and are now in the Lapidarium Museum.

The most popular statue is St John of Nepomuk. You recognize him by the halo of five gold stars around his head. Nepomuk was a priest who refused to disclose the confession secrets of Queen Sophia, the wife of Wenceslas IV. He was tortured and thrown into the river; five stars appeared above the water.


2. Guided Tours

A relaxed way to see the highlights of Prague is joining a guide walk or bike tour

Bike tour
Explore the best sights of Prague on a 3-hour bike tour with an experienced guide. You will see the John Lennon Wall, Old Town Square, Astronomical Clock, Wenceslas Square, Charles Bridge, Old-New Synagogue and more. Bike rental is included.
Book the guided bike tour here

Walking tour
When you join the guided walking tour through the Jewish quarter and the Old town district, you will learn about Prague’s Jewish past, see highlights of the Jewish districts, including the old Jewish cemetery, the Maisel synagogue and the Spanish synagogue where you will see a statue representing the writer Franz Kafka. You will go to Old Town Square. The historical landmarks here include St Nicolas Church, Tyn Church and the Jan Hus Monument. You will also witness the spectacle of the Astronomical Clock.
Book the guided walking tour here


3. Tram 23 for self-guided sightseeing

Tram line 23 is a nostalgic line in Prague and takes you past various highlights, such as Prague Castle, the National Theater and St. Nicholas Church. All you need is a regular public transport ticket. The tram runs daily from 08.30-18.00 at 30-minute intervals. Alternatively you can take tram 22 which runs partly parallel to the route of the 23 tram.

The route is the same but the trams are different: tram 23 only nostalgic older trams whereas tram 22 has the newer model trams.
The route: from Namesti Miru to Karlova Namesti, along Narodni street and across the Vltava River. The route continues along Karmelitska Street in the Mala Strana district. It then winds its way up to Prague Castle. You can get off here to visit the Castle. If you continue along, you will reach Bila Hora, which means White Mountain, via the Brevnov Monastery.

If you do not like the hassle of arranging your own sight seeing, the hop-on hop-off bus is the perfect way to see the highlights of Prague in a relaxed way.

Book here the hop-on hop off bus tour

4. Affordable restaurants

Important to know: The poledni menu, or lunch menu at a fixed price, is the best kept secret in town. Tourists are not automatically given this list. Simply ask for it and you will be surprised at the prices. The snag us that it is often only in Czech, but that is no problem because restaurant staff speak English and will explain the various dishes to you.

Eating in Prague Delightful and Affordable is a list of recommended restaurants

5. From the airport to the centre of Prague

The ticket booth for tram/metro tickets is in the arrivals hall on the left. Buses leave from outside the Arrivals terminal. Ticket machines are on the platform of the bus stop and inside buses and trams. Payment is by credit card or contactless.
Note: validate your ticket before you board the bus or tram, but if you bought your ticket on the bus or tram it is already validated.

Option 1
Airport Express runs every 15 to 30 minutes (they claim but in practice it is every 30 minutes). The journey takes 35 minutes but usually longer because of heavy traffic. It is slightly more expensive than the regular public transport bus. You buy your ticket from the driver. Do not take the airport shuttle, a mini bus as it is about €20

Option 2
Take bus 119 to Nádraží Veleslavín metro station on line A). From here you take the metro using the same ticket. The metro will get you in seven stops to Muzeum metro station (journey time bus and metro is 39 minutes)

6. Tram and metro tickets

Transport tickets are valid for both tram and metro. After buying your ticket you must validate it. If you change from metro to tram or vice versa you validate it only once – at the entrance to the metro station or inside the tram (a yellow machine).
If you buy your ticket on the bus or tram, it is already validated. Do not stamp it again, as this makes your ticket invalid.
Three types of tickets: valid for 30 minutes, 90 minutes or 24 hours.

photos: Marianne Crone

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