48 Hours in Prague: The City of A Hundred Spires
I finally landed in the dreamy city of Prague! With just 48 hours at hand, I had to make the most of my Prague travels. While I had done some research on things to do in Prague, I decided to take it easy over the next two days and not be in a mad rush to tick off a Prague sightseeing checklist.
Starting my adventure with some shopping in Prague
Day 1 – Evening
After checking in my hotel at Wenceslas Square, I decided to head out. At dusk, the long rectangular Square was at its vibrant best. Walking past glitzy fashion stores, busy restaurants, buzzing cafes, upscale casinos, and night-bars, it was clear that this was the cultural and social centre of the city.
The historic Square was founded in 1348 AD by Charles IV – the ruler of Kingdom of Bohemia. On reaching an end of the square, I sat down to admire the iconic equestrian statue of St Wenceslas – the patron saint of Bohemia – and the stunning vista of the National Museum – an impressive neoclassical building. Before I wrapped up a tiring day, I did manage to kick off shopping in Prague and ended up picking up some fancy warm coats! After all, Prague is truly a fashion capital and locals are always dressed in their stylish best!
Lots of history, and some delicious Prague food!
Day 2 – Morning
A fellow traveller at the hotel advised me to head to the Old Town Square early in the day. It is clearly the tourist-central of Prague. I ventured out early morning before the crowds woke up!
Havelská Street Market. (c) Gitika Saksena
On my way, I got distracted by the sights and sounds of market stalls being set up on Havelská Street. I sauntered through the alleys, ogling at the fresh fruits and vegetables, souvenirs and knick-knacks on display. I later found out that this was the only preserved market area in Old Town and dated back to 1322 AD! Before I knew it, half an hour had passed and recalling my morning’s purpose, I scurried to the Old Town Square.
Prague’s Old Town
Once a medieval settlement that was separated by a semicircular moat, the Old Town is indeed the best spot to admire the glorious architecture of the old buildings. Top Prague attractions here include the Astronomical Clock placed on a tower! Dating back to 1410 AD, the clock has different components including an astronomical dial, statues of Catholic saints and a calendar dial with medallions. There is a unique hourly clockwork show called the Apostles’ Parade with moving figures and rings. While visible from the Old Town Square, the best views are from the chapel in the tower of the Old Town Hall.
Another notable Prague attraction is the Church of Our Lady before Týn. The Gothic spires of the church are dominant on the city skyline.
For lunch, I chose to dine at Restaurace Mincovna for a hearty Czech meal.
CC by 3.0 / By Matyáš Havel
Svičková na smetaně – a traditional Czech dish – meat is served with dumplings, whipped cream and cranberry sauce.
Visit to Josefov
Day 2 – Afternoon
The former Jewish town – Josefov – is located about 500 meters away from the Old town Square. The Ghetto was established in the 16th century when Jewish traders started settling in Prague. The Jews in the Czech Republic were discriminated against during WW2 under the Nazi Occupation. Thousands were deported to the concentration camps in Poland. Even today, one cannot help feeling sombre at the sight of the grey tombstones in the Old Jewish cemetery. Do visit the Holocaust memorial at the Pinkas Synagogue.
Admiring the views from the Charles bridge
Day 2 – Evening
Views from the Charles bridge. (c) Gitika Saksena
My next stop was the Charles bridge, romanticised in countless movies. Well, the number of tourists here quickly dispelled any notion of romantic solitude. Mustering courage, I decided to walk down the bridge. This is Prague’s oldest bridge and was constructed between 1357 and 1402. Joining two towers – the Old Town Bridge Tower and Lesser Town Bridge Tower – the bridge has about thirty stone statues of saints carved out at regular intervals.
The place was lively indeed – street musicians, caricature artists… – all jostling for space and a share of the tourists’ penny. Finding a corner for myself, I leaned over the railings and stared at the glittering cityscapes and the birds flying over the Vltava river.
Not feeling too hungry, I chose to have crepes for an early dinner at the Café Creperie Pod Věží near Lesser Town Tower bridge. The gluten-free crepes and the potato soup were fantastic!
Charmed by the Lesser Town
Day 3 – Morning
Having missed Strawberry Fields – the John Lennon memorial at New York City – I deliberately added the John Lennon Wall located at Malá Strana to my list of things to do in Prague. Fans have filled the wall with graffiti and song lyrics since the 1980s, and the original painting of Lennon is now buried under layers of paints.
Walking aimlessly around the Malá Strana or Lesser Town was perhaps my most memorable experience at Prague. The fact that it was devoid of the rush at Old town or Charles Bridge added to the charm. The Baroque churches, old houses, and cobbled streets – the sights were just lovely!
A shop selling puppets at the Lesser Town. (c) Gitika Saksena
What’s more, the place is dotted with traditional pubs and restaurants. I stepped into the lovely Cafe Savoy. And what a revelation it was! My Prague food experiences were getting better and better! With its tasteful wooden interiors and a beautiful Neo-Rennaisance ceiling, this restored Cafe transported me back in time. Soups, schnitzels, steaks – I could not help ordering more and more!
I didn’t manage to see it myself, but art lovers must include the Strahov monastery in their Prague sightseeing itinerary. The monastery was founded in 1140 AD, and the gallery has an impressive collection of Baroque and Rococo paintings. Also, check out the centuries-old Strahov Monastic Brewery. The beer brews here come well recommended! You must try the dark beer!
The autumn colours and the majestic Prague Castle
Day 3 – Afternoon
To burn all those lunch calories away, I decided to stroll down the park at Petrin Hill. The vistas were stunning! I soaked in the colours of the autumn – the flaring reds, ochres, and ambers – and remembered the quote by Franz Kafka –
“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”
Night view of the Prague Castle across the Vltava river. (c) Gitika Saksena
I sat down on the velvety grass carpet and stared at the spires of the Old Town on the horizon.
The Prague Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was founded in 880 AD. It is known to be the largest castle complex in the world and is spread across almost 18 acres. Top sights here include the St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica, and there are numerous palaces, gardens, and courtyards to explore. My time was limited, so I decided to sign up for a Walking Tour. The tour starts at 2:30 p.m. from Jan Palach Square.
And my two days in Prague were over! There were a number of other Prague attractions I could not find the time for – including the Franz Kafka Museum and the Lego Museum! But then again, I had reasons to visit Prague again!
[tab title=”Best Time to Visit” icon=”entypo-light-up”] Best time to visit Prague
Spring and autumn for pleasant temperatures[/tab]
[tab title=”Getting Around” icon=”entypo-compass”] Transportation in Prague
Pick up a Prague card at the airport or online for unrestricted access to all forms of public transport – trams, buses, metro, Airport Express bus, Petřin Hill funicular, and ferries.[/tab]
[tab title=”Where to Stay” icon=”entypo-suitcase”] Our Pick of Hotels in Prague
Aria Hotel by Library Hotel Collection, Domus Henrici, and Golden Well Hotel have been rated as Exceptional by travellers. There are some other fabulous stay options as well. I recommend staying at a hotel in the Lesser Town.[/tab]