First time in PRAGUE - Day 1 - West side of the river
Updated: Mar 10, 2020
Below is a guide to spending your first day in Prague around the Prague Castle and Mala Strana (lesser town) areas. The day 2 guide will focus on the east side of the river - old town, new town and the sights within.
Why start on this side of Prague? Because of the Castle. It is the biggest tourist attraction in Prague and needs some of your time and energy, also castle tickets are valid for 2 days and this gives you time to come back if you need to.
Top Tips for your first time in Prague:
Instead of walking up to Prague Castle from Charles Bridge, why not start at the top and work your way down to the bridge - your feet will thank you.
If you want to go inside any of the Castle buildings then try to be there by 9am in summer, before it gets too crowded.
If you only have 2 days in Prague, spend one day on the west side of the river and the next on the east side. This way most of the city can be seen on foot, and without backtracking. Each side has a full day of sights to see.
DAY ONE IN PRAGUE - the west side of the river
Start the day by taking the 22 tram up to the PRAGUE CASTLE. But don't follow the tourists that get off at the bottom of the castle steps, instead stay on until you loop around the castle and reach the POHORELEC stop. From here it is a pleasant 10 min downhill stroll to HRADCANY SQUARE and the IV Courtyard entrance of PRAGUE CASTLE.
Allow at least 2-3 hours to explore PRAGUE CASTLE, as it's apparently the largest castle complex in the world. The OLD ROYAL PALACE and ST. VITUS CATHEDRAL are two of the most popular buildings and the houses of GOLDEN LANE are particularly photogenic.
After leaving the Castle, spend some time exploring MALA STRANA. This is the area between the castle and CHARLES BRIDGE, and although Mala Strana translates roughly as "lesser town" there is nothing lesser about it and there are just as many interesting places to discover here as there are on the other side of the bridge.
The sights below should fill several hours, and have you crossing CHARLES BRIDGE towards the OLD TOWN in the late afternoon.
HIGHLIGHTS OF MALA STRANA
the GARDENS of WALLENSTEIN PALACE which was once home to a Duke, but the Palace itself is now home to the Czech Senate but the Gardens are open to the public and they are spectacular - and FREE!
the CHURCH OF ST NICHOLAS is easy to spot due to its large Baroque dome and green spires. located in the centre of Malostranské náměstí (Lesser Town Square), admire the exterior of this large church or visit the Baroque interior for a small fee.
Grab refreshments at U GLAUBICU PUB, a traditional tavern with 700 year old cellar, located opposite the ST NICHOLAS bell tower.
The NARROWEST STREET IN PRAGUE, so skinny that it has traffic lights at each end.
the PEEING MEN statues, in the courtyard of the Frank Kafka Museum, designed by the Czech artist David Cerny, who also created several other cool and provocative sculptures in the city.
MALTESE SQUARE, once home to the Knights of Malta, houses the CHURCH OF OUR LADY UNDER THE CHAIN which was originally built in 1158 and has quite an interesting history, as well as a STATUE OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST which was erected in thanksgiving after the end of a plague in 1715. The Knights of Malta also own the JOHN LENNON WALL.
JOHN LENNON WALL has a really interesting history that dates back long before John Lennon's assassination and as well as a cool place to visit is the only place in Prague where grafitti is legal. Just around the corner is the JOHN LENNON PUB, where you can enjoy memorablia covered walls with only slightly overpriced food and drink.
the DEVIL'S CHANNEL, a picturesque river that divides Mala Strana and KAMPA ISLAND. The old water wheel is best seen from the bridge near John Lennon Pub.
PRAGUE CASTLE TICKETS
Tickets don't need to be purchased in advance, simply buy them in the castle grounds when you arrive. The grounds are open from 6am, and buildings from 9am (in summer).
Standard tickets are for either circuit A or B. B is the cheaper of these and includes entrance to: St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George's Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower. Circuit B tickets cost CZK 250, or CZK 125 for kids and seniors.
Tickets are valid for two (consecutive) days so you can always come back tomorrow if there is something you miss.
Full ticket info can be found at the official website for Prague Castle