19 ways to spend one weekend in Prague
Prague is nicknamed "the City of a Hundred Spires" for a very good reason. In fact, it's one of those European cities where a Google image search actually does the place justice. Picture beautiful palaces, numerous castles, towers, churches, riverbanks, bridges and houses all coming together in one heady mix, and top the whole thing off with some really good Pilsner ale. That's Prague. All of this makes the capital of the Czech Republic a good choice for whatever type of weekend break you fancy - a cultural one, a boozy one, a trip with your mates, or just you and your camera. So if you're heading there or need some convincing reasons to go, here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Explore the historic squares
The historic centre of Prague is rightly a World Heritage Site. Its Old Town Square, with its Gothic houses around the edges, is a great example why it has that status. Named after the patron saint of Bohemia, you can't miss Wenceslas Square - which has been the site of demonstrations and major gatherings.
2. Cross the river on an historic bridge
There are dozens of large bridges across the Vltava, the largest river in the Czech Republic. Crossing the Charles Bridge is one of the most popular things to do in Prague - it even has its own museum. As the oldest and grandest bridge on the river, it's fun to take a stroll across it at any time of the day. The Old Town Bridge Tower is equally influential, and was also built by Charles IV. You can climb up its Gothic tower to get views across Prague.
3. Check your watch by one of the oldest working timepieces
Prague has the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. It was a great engineering feat of its time when it was installed back in 1410, and it was fully mechanised by 1566. Here's an easy guide to how to read the clock and time.
4. Visit one of the many castles
Prague Castle is probably the monument the country is most proud of. It's even got a Guinness World Record to show it's the biggest castle complex in the world, at a massive 70,000 m². It's part of the central UNESCO World Heritage Site, and includes gardens, vineyard and greenhouses.
While you're there, don't miss the picture-perfect Golden Lane. This is an intriguing street of tiny unusual houses - the writer Franz Kafka is probably the most famous ex-resident. The 10th century Vyšehrad fort with its twin towers was home to the first Czech Princes and has a prime position on the hill overlooking the Vltava River (to get an idea of its splendour watch their aerial video). Karlštejn Castle was built by Charles IV as a place to keep the royal treasures and important jewels in the 14th Century. Keep an eye out for the unusual wall paintings.
5. See the churches which in-spire-d the city's nickname
Kings and Holy Roman Emporers are among those buried in the grounds of St Vitus Cathderal, whose foundation stone was laid in 1344. You'll find the cathedral within the Prague Castle estate, and the Archbishop of Prague presides here. There are plenty of national treasures (like the Saint Wenceslas Crown), shrines and relics to see. The twin spires of the Church of Our Lady before Týn are a distinctive Prague landmark. A tiny 47cm tall figure of Infant Jesus is the big draw at the Church of Our Lady Victorious. The Strahov Monastery still has monks going about their daily business, along with impressive 17th century libraries and some lovely grounds.
6. Get a good view of the city
The oldest park in Prague can be found on Letná hill alongside Prague Castle. We should also mention they have a beer garden - there's a limited food and drink selection but the view more than makes up for it. You could also spend some time on the Petřín hillside and its parks. Take the funicular up to the top if you don't fancy a walk. Although the view is wonderful, it's even better from the top of the Petrin Observation Tower (which was based on the Eiffel Tower).
7. See a play, show or concert
The Municipal House is more than just a theatre. It was once the Royal Court, and Czechoslovakia declared independence here in 1918. The striking building is impressive both inside and out and if you want to catch some classical music, this is one of the places to do it. The National Theatre and National State Opera share the same historic building if you want to absorb some of the best in Czech culture.
8. Quickstep to visit Fred and Ginger
9. Spend time in the Jewish Quarter
Josefov is one of the most significant historic Jewish centres in Europe. The Spanish Synagogue was built relatively recently (1868) but has a dramatic Moorish design. The sprawling Old Jewish Cemetery is one of the oldest surviving burial sites in the world. As you wander round the 12,000 tombstones, you can't miss the striking motifs.
10. Do some beer tasting
Pilsner was invented near Prague. They continue to take their brewing prowess seriously - they've been doing it for more than a thousand years, after all. There are more than 20 working breweries in Prague alone, and good quality beer here doesn't come with a premium price. While you're not going to struggle to find a good pint, Zlý Časy (Bad Times) possibly lays claim to having the most beers from across the country on offer - a whopping 48 different types. Head to the Prague Beer Museum - which is actually a pub, to sample even more.
11. Eat at a restaurant with a view
The floating restaurant Marina Grosseto Ristorante has a beautiful view of the river, Charles Bridge and castle. The best spot is on the upper deck, but you can also eat inside as there are plenty of windows - they serve up both Italian and Czech food. Café Slavia is a traditional cafe in the centre of Prague with a menu of both Czech and international cuisine. From the café you can see the National Theatre, Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle.
12. Have a relaxed bite to eat
Cafe Neustadt is good for either coffee or a drink, it also does good Czech food and plays decent music. You'll get a fine Pilsner on tap at Lokal - a traditional Czech bar and restaurant. They serve it up in chilled mugs. You can get express meals (five minutes) if you just need to refuel, or take your time and enjoy the home-cooked traditional food. Lehka Hlava, which means clear head, is a well-regarded vegetarian restaurant which serves up international meat free dishes.
13. Try some fine dining
14. Dance the night away
Roxy is a good spot for a bit of Czech clubbing - its one of the most established in the city. It's got a huge dance floor and attracts some of the best DJs around. You could also get your electronic dance fix at the Cross Club. It's a club at night, and a cultural hub by day.
15. Take a walking tour
Let an expert take you round the city and point out all the sights. Discover Prague Tours do a free two and a half hour tour most days (check website for exceptions) of the Old Town. They also offer paid specialist tours.
16. Pop to Prague in the springtime
You can get involved with the Velikonoce (Easter) celebrations which usually take place in either March or April - and there are special markets held. This is also the best time to see Prague in full bloom. The annual Prague Spring International Music Festival is one of the cultural highlights of the Czech calendar and takes place in May - its a bit like the BBC Proms. If you really want to test yourself, you can enter the Prague Marathon which takes place in May. The course is flat and takes in some of the best sights in the city - you start in the Old Town Square and run over the Charles Bridge. You could take it easier and take in the Prague International Film Festival.
17. Spend the summer in Prague
June kicks of with a free music weekend - United Islands of Prague. Prague's version of the Edinburgh Festival, Letní Letná, also takes place at the end of August and into September. You can see some of the biggest names in circus and theatre appearing at venues across the city. If the weather is warm visit Divoká Šárka, which has three outdoor swimming pools within the Divoká Šárka Nature Reserve. It's a great time to enjoy some of Prague's parks as well as sit and relax by the river and the outdoor bars stretched along it.
18. Visit Prague in the Autumn
Watch the leaves change colour from green to gold on Petrin Hill. Time it right for the Prague Light Festival in October, which takes place over four evenings and lights up some of the city's streets and spaces. There are plenty of art and music festivals taking place across the autumn, like 4+4 Days in Motion. If you're a football fan you can go watch Sparta Prague, with the season well underway - they play their home games at the GENERALI Arena.
19. Wrap up for Prague in Winter
It can snow as early as November in Prague, so you can start getting into Vánoce or Christmas with a visit for the traditional markets. You'll find them all over the city, but the main ones are in the Old Town and Wenceslas Square, and they usually run from the end of November to the New Year. Foodwise, try the traditional fare of fish soup with fried carp and potato soup. You should also try the Pražská šunka (Prague Ham), but specify the size of the piece as you might find yourself paying over the odds. (For details of dates and exact opening times for the market - visit the Prague Tourist website). The end of winter in February also marks Valentine's Day - and with its romantic riverside walks and pretty architecture - it's not a bad city to take your other half to or even pop the big question.
When's the best time to visit Prague?
The peak tourist season is during the summer, and it can get pretty warm too, with temperatures well into the twenties. In the spring (May- June) and early autumn (September) the weather can also easily hit an average of 20C to 22C.
Getting around the city
Despite being in the EU, the currency in Prague is the Czech Crown or Koruna (czk) - although some places will take Euros. You can buy a Prague Card if you're planning on travelling round on public transport and visiting some of the city's main attractions - as you can get discounts on entry as well as free travel. The city has three Metro lines, and they run from around 5am to midnight and an extensive bus service. The modern trams also run throughout the day. If you're looking for the sightseeing version - you need to take Tram 91 which is available from March to November. If you don't fancy the hills - take the Funicular (Újezd - Nebozízek - Petřín) which is open from around 9am to about 11pm. You can also take a boat trip along the river or catch one of the ferry boats.
You can be in Prague in just under two hours from London airports - find the latest deals on flights to Prague.
You might as well make a weekend of it and we've got plenty of hotels in Prague to choose from. It sometimes can be cheaper to book a Prague city break package where you get your flight and hotel together.
What would you do on a weekend in Prague?
Let us know what your favourite things to do in Prague are. Share your top travel tips by leaving a comment below.