2 Days in Prague – Uncovering the Secrets of Medieval City

Wondering what you can see and do in 2 days in Prague? Check out our suggested 2 days in Prague itinerary for unmissable sites and some tips on how to make the most of your visit.

Prague is one of the most charming and easily explored cities in Europe. 2 days in Prague is the perfect amount of time to explore the combined areas of the Old Town, Prague Castle and the Lesser Town, which add up to an impressively large ‘medieval city’ where everything is still within walking distance of everything else.

This medieval town centre of Prague is so beautiful, so neat, and so uniformly free of modern intrusions that it feels like a period film set rather than a living, breathing metropolis. It is a city that has been preserved in its entirety as a unique piece of art.

A word about crowds in Prague

Because it is so beautiful, Prague is one of the busiest cities in Europe. In the middle of the day, the crowds in the ‘medieval’ part of town are so thick that you can’t see the buildings behind them.

The secret to seeing the ‘real’ Prague is to start your days early. I hear you – holidays are for sleeping in, not for waking up at the crack of dawn. But early in the morning, you’ll experience Prague as a centuries-old city rather than a modern-day tourist attraction.

2 Days is Prague - walkign at sunrise

Imagine walking across Charles Bridge and not meeting another soul apart from an occasional jogger or a dog walker. Or wandering the streets of Old Town and Lesser Town as shops and cafes open up for the day. And having fresh-from-the-oven croissants for breakfast.

The only possible downside to an early start in winter is the frosty temperatures. Thankfully, drinking mulled wine is encouraged in Prague from about 9 am onward.

So if you want to escape the crowds in Prague and see the city beyond its tourist facade, get up early and go exploring! Wandering around the old town of Prague is one of the best things to do in Prague for free

Day 1

Start your 2 days in Prague with an early morning walk through the Old Town across the Vltava River to Prague Castle. In the afternoon, check out the jaw-dropping Strahov Monastery library and finish the day with dinner in Einstein’s favourite cafe in Prague

The Astronomical Clock

Start your day with a visit to the Old Town Square to see the Astronomical Clock – Prague’s most iconic landmark. The dials on this unusual clock represent the most ‘cutting edge’ understanding of time and universe at the time the clock was built – in 1410.

The clock is composed of two dials: the 15th-century astronomical dial and the latter addition – the 19th-century calendar dial below it. The astronomical dial is by far the more interesting of the two. It has multiple dials displaying the ‘traditional’ time, the old Bohemian time, and the movement of celestial bodies around the Earth.

The calendar dial is composed of images of various saints that represent each month of the year.

What made the clock famous in medieval times was the Walk of the Apostles – a procession of apostle figures past the two windows in the top half of the clock. Each hour on the hour, the small windows open to reveal the moving apostles. And as the clock chimes, a figure of Death on the astronomical dial strikes the time to symbolise our limited time in this world.

Soak in sight and sound of the clock in the tranquillity of the morning. You will thank yourself later when you see the epic crowds that gather in front of the clock later in the day.

There is a small museum inside the clock tower where you can learn about the fascinating clock’s history. Not many people know this little museum exists, which makes it one of the most unique museums in Prague.

Charles Bridge

From Old Town Square, follow Karlova street to Charles Bridge. During the day, this street turns into a sea of tourists and souvenir sellers. But strolling along it early in the morning, you get to experience the medieval charm of this beautiful street.

Like most of the city, Charles Bridge is almost deserted early in the morning and probably looks not much different to what it looked like for almost a thousand years. The bridge was commissioned by Charles IV – the holy Roman emperor who ruled the empire from Prague.

2 Days in Prague - see Charles Bridge

A curious bit of trivia about the bridge is that the construction of the bridge was started at precisely 5.31 am on 9 July 1357, by Charles IV himself laying down the first foundation stone.

The date and time are known so precisely because they represent a palindromic number (reading the same in either direction) 135797531 that was meticulously calculated by the royal astrologists and numerologists as the best time for starting the bridge construction. It seems like it was a good call, given that the bridge is still standing today.

The bridge is adorned by 30 statues of saints, including King Wenceslas, St John Nepomuk – Prague’s national saint, and St Francis of Assisi – founder of the Franciscans from the Umbrian hill-town of Assisi.

St John Nepomuk plaque on Charles Bridge, Prague

There is a spot marked on the bridge where St John Nepomuk was thrown into the Vltava River at this very spot in 1393. According to legend, John of Nepomuk was the confessor of the queen, and when King Wenceslaus IV wanted to learn his wife’s secrets, John Nepomuk refused to betray the queen’s confidence. The king was not easily deterred, and after torturing St John and still failing to learn what he wanted, he ordered for the monk to be thrown into the river.

Lesser Town / Maliy Svet

Continue your walk across the bridge and onto Nerudova Street Nerudova Street which leads all the way up to Prague Castle.

Prague Mali svet

You are now in The Lesser Town neighbourhood – the most historic area in Prague, having been settled in the 8th century. It is packed with little shops and restaurants nestled between grand embassies and castle-like estates.

Nerudova Street retains its Baroque appearance, and most of the houses still bear their signs that were used as ‘addresses’ before house numbers were introduced. In fact, Nerudova street has the biggest concentration of old house signs in Prague. There is the red lion – at number 41, the two suns at number 47, and the white swan at number 49.

Prague castle neighbourhood

Of course, it is much easier to stand and gawk at the house signs when the streets are empty, and you don’t have to worry about interrupting the flow of traffic. And the Baroque-style buildings look fairytale-like when the golden light of the early morning sun touches their ornate roofs and window frames.

Prague Castle

Founded in around 880, Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 m² – that’s seven football fields! It contains churches, gardens, alleyways, royal residences, torture chambers, and tradesmen’s quarters. You should allocate a good 3 hours to exploring the castle complex.

The most imposing structure of the Prague Castle complex is the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, which took six centuries to build. Its tremendously high ceiling, no doubt designed to make one feel small and insignificant, falls right on the mark.

The Cathedral is home to tombs of two famous historic Prague personalities, King Wenceslaus, who was the first ruler to unite Czech people in the 10th century, and St. John of Nepomuk — the same St. John who was thrown off Charles Bridge at the behest of Bohemian king and who was later made a saint.

Golden lane in Prague Casle

Of all the streets in the Castle, Golden Lane is the most picturesque.  The tiny multicoloured houses, while freezing inside, look incredibly cozy from the outside. The interiors of the houses look quite similar to what you would see in a traditional eastern European farmhouse even now. In fact, I could’ve sworn I saw my grandma’s foot-operated sewing machine there.

View from Prague castle

The castle wall near Gold Lane is a good spot to see some panoramic views of the city. The castle is perched on a hilltop and has some of the best views in Prague.

One of the more gruesome spots in the castle is the Daliborka Tower, a medieval prison and torture chamber.

The most picturesque way to leave the Castle is via Old Castle Stairs. It is such a quaint spot, you can just imagine Daenerys Targaryen strutting down these steps.

Prague Castle steps

Prague Castle is one of the most popular attractions in Prague, and it gets super busy, especially during peak season. Unless you are visiting first thing in the morning (and you should try to), save yourself from lining up at the ticket booth by purchasing a Skip-the-Line ticket in advance.

Alternatively, if you would like to learn more about the city, its culture and history, it is always a good idea to take one guided tour during your stay. A tour is also a good way to maximize your time if time is of the essence.

Novi Svet Street

A short stroll from the castle is one of the most charming hidden gems in Prague – Novi Svet Street. Considered Prague’s most romantic little street, it feels completely untouched by time. On one side, the street is lined by the old town wall – the houses on this street were just inside the defence walls in the 14th century.

Novy Svet street in Prague

Most of the buildings you see today were built in the 17th and 18th centuries as common people’s houses. Today they are sought-after residences of artists and writers. It is only a short street, but absolutely worth the visit since you are in the area. Check out my guide to Novy Svet for more details.

Strahov Monastery

From Novi Svet, it’s only a 12-minute walk to another medieval complex – the 12th-century Strahov Monastery. One of the most spell-binding sites in Prague is the Strahov library housed in this monastery. It is one of the most beautiful libraries of the old world.

Strahov Library, Prague
The Theological Hall of Strahov Library

The 800 years old Strahov library is split between two halls: Theological and Philosophical. Both rooms are filled with rows upon rows of antique books and decorated with such beautiful ceilings that Michelangelo would’ve been proud of such work.  The combination of ancient knowledge and the spectacular beauty of the rooms creates an awe-inspiring site.

There isn’t much else to see at the monastery, so you can have a quick visit. The monastery is surrounded by a tranquil park that offers good views of the Lesser town and Vltava River. There are also plenty of cozy cafes nearby where you can experience the Prague lifestyle without the crowds.

Lennon Wall

As you make your way back across the river, check out one last site on this bank – the John Lennon wall in Lesser Town. It adds a modern art element to the mix of architectural styles comprising the old city.

John Lennon wall in Prague

Lennon Wall is the symbol of modern Prague’s fight for freedom during the Soviet occupation. The first mural appeared on the wall shortly after Lennon’s death, and Prague residents began scribbling their own messages on the wall calling for freedom and independence. The communist government found such activism problematic, of course, and would constantly have the wall re-painted. But people always found ways to write their messages against the regime, even at the risk of getting arrested.

Czechia won its independence in what is known as Velvet Revolution in 1989. But even today, people take to the wall to leave messages of peace and hope for those who are still denied their freedom in other parts of the world.

The wall is just a short walk from Charles Bridge. It can be tricky to find in the maze of back streets, but it is marked on Google Maps, so you can easily navigate to it.

Dinner at Einstein’s favourite cafe

Keeping to the historic theme, have dinner at Café Louvre. Not only is it a century old, but it also used to be one of Einstein’s favourite coffee spots during his professorship at Prague University.

Louvre Cafe prague

As its name suggests, Cafe Louvre is a grand cafe with exceptional service and a traditional menu. It actually prides itself on maintaining a traditional menu, perfecting the dishes it’s been serving instead of adding new items to the menu.

The sense of tradition is in everything at Cafe Louvre, and within minutes, you begin to feel like you are sitting in an early 20th-century establishment. It’s a fun experience to add to your 2 days in Prague.

Day 2

On day 2, you can relax your pace, enjoy sweeping views of Prague, wander through the Jewish quarter, go on a river cruise, and do a ghost walking tour at night.

Old Town Hall Tower

Start your day with breakfast at one of the bakeries and cafes around Old Town Square. The first queue of the day to get out of the way is for the Clock Tower. As impressive as the tower is from the outside, the views from the top of it are equally mesmerizing.

View from old town hall tower in Prague

And you don’t even have to climb the steps to the top. Instead, you have to wait in a queue for the futuristic-looking elevator. And since this is the busiest square in Prague, the line can be frustratingly long and slow-moving.

View from the old tower prague

To avoid wasting time on your two days in Prague, turn up at the tower 10-15 minutes before it opens (9 or 10 am. check opening times here). Not only will you escape the crowds, but you will also see some of the best views in Prague in the soft morning light. Especially impressive is the sight of the twin gothic towers of Tyn Church, where the famed Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, is buried.

Old Town Bridge Tower

Another fantastic vantage point is the Old Town Bridge Tower, just a short stroll away along Karlova street. The tower is one of the finest gothic gates in the world. For centuries, royal processions passed under the tower and onto the bridge on the way to the castle up on the hill.

View from old town tower prague

It takes a bit of determination to climb 137 steps to the top, but the views are certainly worth it. On one side, you get a sweeping view over the Vltava River and Lesser Town, with the commanding gothic spires of Prague Castle rising above the uniformly orange rooftops.

Prague castle view from Old Bridge Tower

On the opposite side, you are looking down at the intricate details of the Old Town rooftops. It is amazing how much thought and effort they put into decorating the rooftops in old Prague. Particularly considering that you can only see all this beauty from the few watchtowers.

Jewish Quarter

Now that you’ve seen it from above, explore Prague’s Jewish quarter, Josefov, from the ground level by wandering through its picturesque tree-lined streets.

Spanish Synagogue in Prague

If you are interested in learning about the harsh history of Prague’s Jewish community, join an organized tour. Otherwise, spend some time exploring the neighbourhood on your own.

Visit the Spanish Synagogue on Vezenska street. It looks unexpectedly Moorish, as if it’s been imported from Cordoba in Moorish Spain. It is one of the most elaborate and beautiful synagogues in Europe.

Right in front of the synagogue is the Franz Kafka statue. This unusual and iconic artwork features Kafka riding on the shoulders of a headless man in reference to one of Kafka’s most famous works, Description of a Struggle.

River Cruise

For a different perspective on Prague and for a chance to relax, take a sightseeing Vltava River cruise. Depending on how much time you’d like to spend on the river, there are 55-minute cruises and 2-hour cruises.

2-days in Prague - take a river cruise
Cruise boat passing the Dancing House

The cruises leave from Pier 3, under the Cechuv Bridge, on the edge of the Jewish quarter. You get an audio commentary on board, so if you haven’t taken any tours in your two days in Prague, this is your chance to learn some history behind the city’s famous sites. It is a lovely way to wrap up your introduction to the city and see the fabulous Dancing House from the water.

Hemingway Bar

In the late afternoon, head across the Old Town to the Hemingway Bar. This cozy establishment had been inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s passion for mixed drinks. You dined with Einstein yesterday, so have a drink with Hemingway today. You can check out their cocktail menu here.

There are plenty of cozy restaurants in the neighbourhood for an early dinner.

Ghosts & Legends Walking Tour

Every medieval city has its fair share of ghost stories and spooky legends. If you are still feeling energetic, finish your getaway to Prague with a 1.5-hour Ghosts & Legends walking tour.

Prague ghost tours are quite theatrical. The guides don’t simply lead you from sight to sight, they take you on a journey to medieval times with their evocative storytelling. And they have a lot of stories to work with – Prague is one of the most haunted cities in Europe!

And there you have it. There is quite a lot to see and do in 2 days in Prague: castles, towers, monasteries, and plenty of charming medieval streets.

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