As beautiful as Paris, as bohemian as Amsterdam, and with Europe’s best beer, Prague is a gem.
It’s a European favourite – at times it feels like half the world’s travellers are on Charles Bridge. But explore its cobbled lanes a little further and you’ll find the real Prague; boho galleries, traditional bars, gothic spires and bijou cafes.
Arriving at Václav Havel Airport Prague
Prague’s only airport is about nine miles (15km) from the city centre. It takes about half an hour to get from the airport into the city by public transport, and 20–40 mins by car, depending on traffic.
You buy your ticket before you get on a bus, tram or train. You can choose from a selection of tickets or passes at a public transport information booth at the arrival halls of Terminals 1 and 2 (cheapest). You can also get tickets from an automat or the driver. Follow the signs in the airport to either the Airport Express bus, which takes you to the main station in Prague. There are also a couple of buses that will take you to Metro line A or B. Bear in mind that there’s limited space for luggage on public transport.
If you have large or heavy luggage, you can find a taxi through a contact counter in Terminal 1 and 2’s arrivals hall, and then follow signs to departure points. If you’re hiring a car, you’ll find all car rental offices in a separate hall on the ground floor of Parking C. You can also book airport transfers in advance through your hotel or a private company.
Prague’s central area is so compact that you can pack an awful lot of sightseeing into half a day. The Old Town Square is a classic starting point, dominated by the gothic spires of the Church of Our Lady Before Týn. Time it right, and you’ll see the Astronomical Clock’s hourly chime.
From here, wander through Staré Město’s 14th-century townscape in the direction of the Clementinum. Invest in a street map as the streets don’t follow any logical pattern, making it too easy to lose yourself. On the corner of Mariánské Náměstí, look for the fountain with an allegorical statue of the Vltava, who gave her name to the river.
Reaching the Clementinium’s vast complex of beautiful baroque and rococo halls, walk freely through the courtyards. On to the infamous Charles Bridge, pause before you cross to look over the parapet downstream at right hand wall. Here you’ll see a carved stone head known as Bradáč (Bearded Man), a medieval marker for the river’s water level that told Praguers when flooding was imminent.
Cross the famous 500-metre span over the Vltava River to Malá Strana’s maze of quaint cobbled streets, looking for the statue of St John of Nepomuk and rubbing his bronze plaque – superstition says it guarantees that you’ll return to Prague one day. Continue to the square, Malostranské Náměstí, where you can visit St Nicholas Church to see Europe’s largest fresco on the ceiling.
There’s so much to see in this beautiful, historic city. Fill your weekend with history, culture, great food, and a taste Czechia’s famous beer
Starting in Josefov, Prague’s former Jewish ghetto, you’ll find the Prague Jewish Museum. Six Jewish monuments clustered together hold an incredible collection of sacred Jewish artefacts, made even more moving when you know that it was first established by the Nazis who intended it to be a ‘museum of an extinct race’.
After lunch in neighbouring Staré Město’s historical Old Town Square, climb to the top of the gothic Powder Gate for spectacular city views. Wander the maze of narrow cobbled streets, exploring the boutiques, stores and galleries. With time on your side, browse for bargains from marionettes and folksy keepsakes, to lithographs, semi-precious crystals and jewellery.
Finish your day in the famous Wenceslas Square in Nové Město where you’ll find upmarket shops and plenty of restaurants. More a boulevard than a square, it was named after Bohemia's patron saint.
Start early to beat the crowds crossing Charles Bridge. From here, meander up through Malá Strana to Prague Castle, stopping in one of the many cute cafés for a coffee and buchty, a sweet doughy pick-me-up. Get tickets to explore the fairy-tale castle’s palaces, museums and galleries.
Walking back down towards the river, past Wallenstein Palace’s huge, baroque gardens and the John Lennon wall with its political graffiti, to Kampa ‘island’ for lunch in the most peaceful, picturesque little square, Na Kampě.
Refuelled and refreshed, there’s time to explore the Kampa Museum, a modern European art gallery in a converted mill. A short walk from Kampa, take the funicular railway at Újezd up to Petřín, Prague’s largest green space. Enjoy the quiet, tree-shaded walks and wonderful views; the perfect place to watch the sun set.
For the rest of your evening in Malá Strana, find an authentic Czech restaurant for food and that famous beer. Finish your weekend in Prague with a magical walk through the almost deserted, lamp-lit streets back to your hotel.
No amount of time in the beautiful city of 100 spires is too long. Fill your week, and you’ll still want more.
Any quintessential Prague experience is best begun in the Old Town Square. Here you’ll find the gothic spires of the Church of Our Lady Before Týn. Spend a morning exploring the church’s baroque interior, before taking a guided tour of the Old Town Hall with its Astronomical Clock, galleries, chapel and gothic cellars. After lunch, stroll through the cobbled streets to Josefov, to see the moving collection at the Prague Jewish Museum.
Having learned about the plight of Czech Jews at the Jewish Museum, take a trip by bus to Terezín, about an hour north of Prague. A sleepy town in the bohemian countryside, your guided tour will reveal the dark story behind its pretty façade. This former ghetto, concentration camp and Gestapo prison is a testament to Czech-Jewish history, World War II and the Holocaust, with monuments, memorials and museums. A sobering but fascinating day trip.
Today is about exploring Malá Strana, the city’s pretty Little Quarter. Beat the crowds of tourists and hawkers by taking a dawn saunter across the infamous Charles Bridge. After coffee in one of the many bohemian cafés, take the funicular railway at Újezd up to Petřín hill for shady walks and spectacular views. Next, it’s on to the fairy-tale buildings, galleries and spires of Prague Castle, before meandering back through the cobbled streets to Wallenstien Palace. Its huge, baroque garden offers an oasis of peace amid the bustle of Malá Strana's streets.
Take the train from Central Station to Ossuary, a strange and exotic UNESCO world heritage site an hour from Prague. At first glance, you may wonder why you travelled to see another gothic church, but when you enter you’ll see why. The Sedlec Ossuary is decorated with more than 40 thousand human skeletons, including a chandelier of bones in its centre. Sounds macabre, but the ‘Church of Bones’ is unique and well worth the trip.
Time to pick up a souvenir of your Prague stay, but no bog-standard tourist tack will do. The square mile that makes up Old Town and Nové Město, offers varied shopping from high street stores to quirky little boutiques selling unusual lithographs, gems, jewellery, marionettes and antique books. After a morning’s shopping, hop on a tram to The National Gallery in Holešovice, for a wonderful collection of art spanning three centuries and four floors.
If your final full day falls on a Saturday, include a morning trip to the colourful riverfront farmer’s market in Podskali. A little bit further along the river is the Vyšehrad Citadel, a complex of hilltop buildings and structures that have been a royal residence, religious centre and military fortress. Viewed as the city’s spiritual home, explore a thousand years of Prague history, and enjoy amazing views out over the Vltava and surrounding city.