Prague is one of those destinations that always seems to be in vogue. It’s been on the tourist map for a long time, and the crowds show no signs of abating – particularly when it comes to women. And I understand the fascination. Prague is, after all, gorgeous; has a Vegas-style nightlife; and speaks, from its all nooks and corners, but a hint of romance.
But where on one side, the city is beautiful and vibrant, its well-preserved medieval city is abundant of rich history and stories. In fact, there is just so much to see and absorb here that if you’re staying here for only a few days, you’re going to miss a lot, unless you plan better.
Since I stayed in Prague for only 3 days, out of which, I spent a day in the Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland Park, I was out of luck too. So very carefully, I opted for a full-day guided tour around the city (despite not being a big fan of guided tours) for I did not want to leave the city unsatisfied and complaining to myself “wish I’d given it some more time.”
Prague In One Day
As I said earlier, it is virtually impossible to cover Prague in one day, for there’s just too much to see and do here, but if you’re still out of choices and are travelling for a limited short time, a full day guided tour can be a convenient and best way to explore as much possible.
I used a tour company called Prague Bus Tours, for their full day (a little more than 7 hours) guided tour, to some of the highlighted jewels in Prague, including Prague Castle and Charles Bridge, before finally stopping for some traditional food, and then continuing further with the old town square and a wee boat ride across Vltava River.
So let’s talk about it one thing at a time…
Before Lunch: A Walk Through Prague’s Tourist Dyad
Prague Castle and Charles Bridge (and the Old Town Square, of course) are the highlights of any tourist trail in Prague. And that’s exactly from where you should be starting your tour from, when you’re in town.
After quickly picking me from my hostel (Hostel Florenc — a place I would recommend you to stay if you’re travelling by bus, because of its convenient location), we (me and 7 other German guests who were also a part of the tour) drove through the scenic ride up above Prague Castle, from where we started our half-day walk across a few highlights and the many blissful neighborhoods.
Getting to Prague castle, unless you’ve your own transport can be tough, or at least time consuming, as you are required to take a tram (number 22) to the castle and then wait in significantly longer queues to get your ticket, and pass through. And that’s exactly when a paid guided tour seems the most blissful.
We entered via back-side, for we already had our tickets sorted, though the queue still took 10 to 15 to clear, it was at-least not as annoying, as other queues (from the main entry) seemed. We went lucky to make it in time and be able to see a bit of Changing the Guard ceremony at the Castle.
After a quick stroll through a few parts of castle, and a bit of information feed from our guide, we headed to the ever-impressive 10 centuries old St. Vitus Cathedral.
It was sad to know that such impressive architectural marvel faced a hardship of a communal fights and an uncontrollable fire in 16th century, during which most of the building got damaged. It was only after 20th century that the Cathedral was completely restored and given a shape, we are much familiar to, today.
Walking through the conduit of ever-impressive cobbled streets, next, we reached the popular Charles Bridge. Along the way, we learned from our guide that the Charles Bridge played a critical, strategic role in linking the castle to the rest of the town and until 1841 the Charles Bridge was the only link between the two halves of the city. The bridge was originally named the “Stone” or “Prague” bridge but was renamed the Charles Bridge (after Charles the fourth) in 19th century as a tribute to the leader who transformed Prague into imperial glory and greatness.
Everyday thousands of tourists pass though this remarkable attraction in Prague, with some of them taking the usual selfies, while others, opting for a more detailed self portrait.
As much Prague is about history, a vibrant lifestyle, and fashion, food and beer is also an equally important part of it. And to experience a bit of it and savor our taste-buds well, we ended up in a traditional Czech restaurant right opposite the old town square. Though the main course and a drink was included in the tour package, and we could have anything we wanted, I still left the decision to my guide, for of course she knew better about what a tourist must eat when he had no idea about the real Czech food. Yet, not opting for something too traditional knowingly Czech food can be heavy, and we still had a lot more to walk, I decided to go for roasted chicken with potatoes and sauce, and it tasted just as delicious as it looked in the picture.
After Lunch: A Bit More History And The Blissful Cruise-ride
After having our bellies filled and satisfied, we get to the Old Town Square – the city’s main marketplace since 11th century.
The square, one of Europe’s most beautiful, is surrounded with exquisite historical buildings, the most eye-catching of which are Old Town City Hall, Týn Cathedral, Astronomical Clock and St. Nicholas Church.
But among all the attractions, at Old Town Square, the one that attracts most tourists and end up being a part several thousand selfies in a day, is the Astronomical Clock. This is where every hour, hundreds of tourists gather round, with a camera in their hand, heads peering up the tower, as they await excitedly to see the astronomic clock welcome in a new hour.
The clock chimes and the four figures flanking the clock are set into motion. A window above the clock opens and the mechanical Walk of the Apostles begins. As a nice touch, after the clock’s performance, a trumpet player heralds in the beginning of the next hour. It is said that the cock in the middle, with a smaller circle, symbolizes the short human life.
A few meters away the old square lies The Paris Street – Prague’s most expensive street (with some 8000 Euros per-square-feet market value, if I heard it right) – which is renowned for its numerous high-end luxurious shops for apparel, watches, and jewelry. A quick look at the parked cars that range between Audi and BMW (with a rare Lamborghini shining almost blissfully), moreover gives you an idea that you’re walking across a street that is rather unusual.
Bypassing the Paris Street, and on the other side of it was Náplavka na Františku – the starting point of Prague Boat Ride that cruises along the beautiful Vltava river, with some more translation in English and beautiful views on Prague on a fast-track. The cruise lasted almost an hour, and summed up, quite perfectly, almost all the things we covered during the day on foot – perfect ending to the day, I would say.
A bit about the factual mumbo-jumbo
- I booked my tour with Prague Bus Tour, that offer several day tours in and around Prague.
- For a 7 hour tour, including free pickup/drop from the hotel, lunch and the guide, it costs 52 Euros, or 47 if you book it online..
- Though I am not a big fan our guided tours, and I know a lot of you people reading the story here aren’t too, but if you’ve only a few days in a city like Prague, opting for one such experience not only saves time and feels convenient, but also helps you learn a bit about the place fairly quickly.
Have you been to Prague? How long did you stay for? What all places did you cover?