How to spend the perfect weekend in Prague
Prague may be full of incredible sights, but they are also located close enough that you can take in many of them over the course of a weekend. Find out how to make the most of the city with this perfect weekend itinerary.
Prague Castle & Hradčany
Meander through the courtyards of the expansive Prague Castle, the seat of Czech monarchs for centuries. The site, located high up on the left bank of the Vltava, contains an incredible variety of galleries, museums and historic buildings. Spend your morning exploring key sites such as the St Vitus Cathedral– constructed over a span of 600 years, and not consecrated until 1929, it is a fascinating piece of history to experience. The Old Royal Palace is also a must; one of the complex's oldest structures, it dates back to 1135. Once inside be sure to plant yourself beneath the Gothic vaulted ceiling within the Vladislav Hall. Although constructed between 1493 and 1502, its lines are almost art nouveau in feel. Before taking in the changing of the guard at noon, try to have a gander at the 16th-century Lobkowicz Palace. Inside are the Princely Collections, which include furniture, priceless paintings by Canaletto, Piranesi, Breughel the Elder and Cranach, and musical memorabilia.
Before leaving the castle, grab some goulash or a sandwich for lunch on one of the balconies at Lobkowicz Palace Café. The food is as good as the view.
Make your way down from Prague Castle to Malá Strana via Nerudova street, which will allow you to admire the baroque beauty and huge copper cupola of St Nicholas Church. Inside, Europe's largest fresco – Johann Kracker’s 1770 Apotheosis of St Nicholas – awaits. Kracker's use of trompe l’oeil techniques has enabled his painting to blend almost imperceptibly with the architecture. Next move on to the Wallenstein Garden for a little chill time in its peaceful surroundings. When you eventually decide to leave, take the far side exit and follow the backstreets to Kampa, another of the city's best green spaces. If it's sunny, park yourself with a beverage at Mlýnská Kavárna. If not, perhaps pay homage to cubist sculptor Otto Gutfreund and painter František Kupka by visiting the Kampa Museum.
As the sun begins its descent and casts its soft light across the city, find yourself on Charles Bridge to take in the spectacle. To fuel your evening, dine at Augustine, a hotel eatery that is both relaxed and sophisticated. The menu features creative dishes with locally-sourced Czech ingredients, including delectable choices such as pork cheeks braised in the hotel's very own beer. Stick in Malá Strana for a post-dinner drink – the area is full of hip bars. A great option is the petite U Malého Glena, an American-owned bar featuring local jazz and blues bands nightly.
Start your Sunday in the Old Town Square, one of the continent's largest and most majestic urban spaces. Since the 10th century, Staroměstské náměstí (Staromák for short) has been the city's principal public square, and was Prague's main marketplace until a little over a century ago. Impossible to miss (thanks to the waiting crowds) is the square's Astronomical Clock, which bursts to life for 45 seconds every hour. For a lofty view over all the proceedings, ascend to the summit of the Old Town Hall Tower. Next, work your way along Celetná to the magnificent art nouveau Municipal House – even its restaurant and cafe stand testament to this design era, so sit back and soak it all in. The building's Smetana Hall hosts concerts, so now might be a great time to purchase a ticket for an evening performance. A tour of Municipal House is also an option.
If you didn't dine within Municipal House, try Lokál for lunch. This classic Czech beer hall's menu changes daily, but it always offers a range of tasty Bohemian treats to go with the tankové pivo (tanked Pilsner Urquell). A meaningful way to spend the afternoon is to visit the half-dozen monuments that make up the Prague Jewish Museum. If you're running low on energy and time, best focus on three key sites. The first is the Old-New Synagogue, which was constructed around 1270 – it is Europe’s oldest working synagogue and one of the city's earliest Gothic structures. So old in fact that it was built when the street level of Staré Město was much lower (you'll need to step down into it). The Spanish Synagogue, though much younger, is another highlight. Completed in 1868, it boasts an imposing Moorish-Andalucian interior. Lastly, take in Europe’s oldest surviving Jewish cemetery. From its founding in the early 15th century to its official closure in 1787, some 100,000 Jews were buried here. Today you'll see 12,000 crumbling headstones stacked together, much like the graves themselves which were layered due to lack of space.
Start your Sunday evening with a memorable meal of locally-sourced Czech produce treated with French flair at Kalina. Fully sated, you're ready for all the after-dark options: enjoy a concert in the Municipal House's Smetana Hall or the Klementinum's Chapel of Mirrors; or take in an opera at the Estates Theatre. Afterwards, seek out cocktails in the Old Town at places such as Hemingway Barand Čili Bar.