Prague has become one of the top ten most popular tourist cities in Europe. According to the Prague tourism website, the city gets about 7.7 million visitors every year. That means a lot of people are looking to spend 24 hours in Prague.
But you, dear Internet Stranger, are not just one of the masses. You want to get off the beaten track. You want to see the hidden side of one of the least hidden cities in Europe. I’m most happy to oblige! We’re going to spend the morning exploring some of the more obscure attractions in Prague on our own. Then we’re going to take a street art tour with a real Czech graffiti artist.
Finally we’ll take a food tour with a local, so we can eat at restaurants that most tourists don’t visit. By the end of the tour, you’re going to feel like the coolest of all the 7.7 million people who visit Prague!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Prague.
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24 Hours in Prague
Where to Stay?
Hotels in Prague are more expensive than hotels in many cities in Eastern Europe. (I can hear someone typing an email to me saying that Czech Republic isn’t in Eastern Europe. Take it up with the UN Statistics Division!) It can be hard to find a place that is within walking distance of the Old Town, Charles Bridge, etc. And who wants to waste their entire time in Prague commuting?
Enter the Hotel Cerny Slon. It’s in a perfect location, it’s affordable, the rooms are clean and comfy, and there’s a solid breakfast included. But best of all, it has a dope name; cerny slon means black elephant. I try not to pick hotels solely based on the name, but if you can resist staying in a hotel called Black Elephant, you have more willpower than I do, Internet Stranger!
24 Hours in Prague
Morning: Explore Prague
In our last 24 hours in Prague, we spent the day exploring the most famous attractions in Prague, like the Old Town, the Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle. Plus we drank a lot of beer. But during this 24 hours in Prague, we’re going to head out on our own and see some of the smaller, more unusual sights in the city.
Of course, I encourage you to use this itinerary as a jumping off point. Feel free to wander off it and see whatever floats your cookies on your own. But I’ll get you started with…
approximately top 5: 24 hours in prague
1) monument to the heroes of the heydrich terror
This museum/memorial/exhibition, whose full name is the National Monument to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror, should be much better known than it is. After all, if we can’t stop and pay tribute to people who lost their lives fighting Nazis, who will we honor? This museum is dedicated to the brave Czech men who assassinated the Nazi SS officer Reinhard Heydrich.
I’m Jewish on my father’s side, and I grew up hearing that Heydrich was even more evil than Hitler. This might sound surprising until you realize Heydrich was the chairman of the Wannsee Conference where the Holocaust was planned. Some people call him the architect of the Holocaust.
If you want to know more about this history, I recommend the HBO film Conspiracy, starring Kenneth Branagh as Heydrich. It’s a difficult film to watch, but it’s important to understand how ordinary men (many of them lawyers) could have organized such a monstrosity.
But Heydrich wasn’t only the architect of the Holocaust. He was also in charge of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. (If you want to know what kind of job he did, his nickname was the Butcher of Prague.) A group of Czech patriots decided to assassinate Heydrich so that his reign of terror would end, and also to prove to the Allies, especially the United Kingdom, that the Czechs could be counted on.
The assassination did not go as planned, but it was successful in that Heydrich died, horribly and in a lot of pain. (Sorry, not sorry.) The Nazis retaliated with horrific violence, murdering all inhabitants in two Czech villages and burning them to the ground. The assassins sought refuge in the crypt of the Baroque Church of Sts Cyril and Methodius, where either they were killed by the Nazis or committed suicide to avoid capture. That’s why this monument is located in the crypt of that very church to this day.
2) dancing house
It seems strange to move on to something so lighthearted after spending an hour or so deep in one of the darkest periods of history. But I suppose it’s part of being a tourist. And the Dancing House is truly one of the most remarkable buildings in Prague, which is a lot more impressive than being one of the most impressive buildings in Secaucus.
If you know anything about architecture, you might look at this building and assume it was designed by Frank Gehry. And…you’d be right! But he was working with a Czech architect named Vlado Milunic, so that makes this building local and authentic.
The Dancing House is made of two towers. The rock tower is supposed to be Fred Astaire, and the glass tower is supposed to be Ginger Rogers. That is adorable! We should have more buildings designed like classic Hollywood stars. I bet the Marilyn Monroe-shaped building would get a lot of attention.
3) petrin hill
Petrin Hill is a wonderful place to take a break from the tourists during your 24 hours in Prague. You can get lovely views of the entire city of Prague from here. Keep in mind that Petrin Hill is quite high, so you’ll need a plan if you want to get to the top.
You can easily take the funicular to the top of Petrin Hill. It costs the same as the other kinds of Prague public transportation, so it’s very affordable. However, the lines can get really long on a beautiful summer day, so you may prefer to walk up the hill. You won’t have time to walk all the way to the top, but you’ll still get some nice views.
Be warned that there are some surprising statues around Petrin Hill. I was really worried these were zombies, but then I saw the bouquet of flowers, and I didn’t think anyone would leave flowers for zombies. It’s actually a memorial for victims of communism.
I have no clue why these snakes are here or why they are smiling at me like they are planning to eat me. Now that I’ve seen their faces, I may never sleep again. Thanks, Prague!
4) church of our lady victorious
There are many lovely churches in Prague, so you might be wondering what is special about this one. After all, it’s Baroque, so it’s not even that old, relatively-speaking. But this church is special because it is home to the adorable and very well-dressed Infant Jesus of Prague. Many believe this statue has the power to answer prayers and cause miracles.
The Infant Jesus of Prague was originally created in the 16th century as a wedding gift from the Princess of Spain to her Austrian cousin. (European royal families are all related.) He was actually thrown in the trash at once point, but eventually he made his way to Prague. That’s kind of a miracle all by itself.
The Infant Jesus can be hard to see because he’s very small (only 19 inches) and made of wood coated with wax. People come from all over the world to show devotion to him or to make him clothes. So the Infant Jesus has an amazing wardrobe linked to the liturgical calendar. Every time you visit Prague, he’ll probably be wearing a different outfit.
5) manifesto market
There’s really nothing about politics at the next stop, despite the name. We don’t have much time before the afternoon starts, so we’re going to get our lunch at the Manifesto Market. This was supposed to be a pop-up market but it was so popular that it ended up being permanent. There are over 20 different food and drink stalls, as well as really clean public toilets, which are always welcome.
I decided to get lunch at PokeHaus because it was a scorching day, and also because I’m American and I thought it would be funny to go all the way to Prague to eat poke. All the ingredients were fresh, and the sauce was spicy and flavorful. I ordered the Salmon L. Jackson because I really could have used him earlier when I got attacked by those mean, grinning snakes. But you could also get the Tuna Turner. It’s simply the best.
24 Hours in Prague
Afternoon: Alternative Prague Tour
So we started our 24 hours in Prague by getting a bit off the beaten track on our own. We’re going to get even further off the beaten track, but we’ll do it with a bit of help. We’re going to take the Alternative Prague tour. This tour is special because it takes you completely out of the most famous parts of Prague so you can see a side of the city that most tourists never get to visit.
I can’t possibly show you everything we saw on this tour, but I can certainly give you…
three fun facts: alternative prague
1) what’s the famous street art in prague?
An excellent question for any alternative tour! Our guide, Sany, said that she thinks Banksy is very commercial. Instead she directed us to this tiny piece of street art by a guy named Invader. He is French, and he always uses space invaders in his art. (There’s actually an Invader piece on my street in New York City.)
The Invader sign above says “I Space Invader Prague”. But Sany told us that a Czech person came along and added the little beer. It’s not Prague unless there’s beer!
Sany also took us to Tesnov, which is one of the legal street wall areas in Prague. (We saw the most famous one, the Lennon Wall, in our last 24 hours in Prague.) Sany said the only rule here is that you’re not supposed to paint over a better artist. We asked how you can tell, and she said a better work was usually more complex, and that meant using more cans.
2) so where do the cool czech kids hang?
Probably not in the Old Town! Sany explained that Prague is divided in different districts and that District 1, where the Old Town is located, is crazy expensive. Instead she took us by public transportation to District 7. (It’s not really far from District 1, and it was a short trip by Uber to District 1 at the end of the tour.)
There are seemingly an infinite number of Cool Kid Hangouts in District 1. How would you like to visit an avant-garde theater?
Well Jatka78 has every kind of performance art from modern dance to puppet shows. Tragically it seems overrun by giant tree people, but don’t panic. Maybe they are friendly tree people who just love puppets.
We also visited Vnitroblock, which is so underground it doesn’t even have an English website. It also hits the cool kid trifecta of selling local art, upscale coffee, and fancy sneakers. (The iced coffee is scrumptious and just the thing for a hot Prague summer day.)
Finally we stopped at the Institute of Cryptoanarchy, which I imagine is run by those mean but helpful hackers who kept making Sherlock Holmes embarrass himself on Elementary. The Institute of Cryptoanarchy sells things but you have to pay in Bitcoin. As I’m convinced that if I buy even one Bitcoin, I’ll immediately have to file for bankruptcy, I did not buy anything. Even though I was a little tempted by that righteous chess set entirely made with a 3D printer.
3) what about female street artists?
Glad you asked! Actually my favorite thing about the tour was Sany herself. She was the first female street artist in Prague. It’s very rare to have a guide who’s actually done something that notable in the field. I think the closest I’ve come was the time I went to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and had a free docent tour with Andy Warhol’s nephew.
There’s even been a documentary about Sany and other female street artists called Girl Power, which I recommend seeing. Sany said that she’s had to face a lot of sexism from male street artists who think a woman’s place is in the home. But now there are starting to be more female street artists.
Now Sany is involved in educating people about street art. The tour company even leads street art and graffiti activities for students at the place where the tour ends, a steampunk club called Cross Club. This place was a delightful maze of weirdness, and because it was still fairly early we had it all to ourselves. My only complaint is that I wasn’t told beforehand that we’d be going to a steampunk club because then I would have worn my steampunk earrings from Las Vegas. I always believe in accessorizing appropriately!
24 Hours in Prague
Evening: Eating Prague Evening Food Tour
Ordinarily I wouldn’t ask you to take two tours in 24 hours in Prague. But evening food tours don’t count as a tour in my eyes. They are just a yummy way to have progressive dinners with some fine new friends. I’m a big fan of the Eating Europe tour company. I’ve done tours with them in Rome, London, and Florence. So I was excited to see that they had a food tour in Prague!
They offer the evening tour at several times but please select the 6 PM tour for this 24 hours in Prague itinerary. The other times will be too early. I don’t want to spoil all the secrets of the food tour, and also the exact restaurants you visit when you’re in Prague might be different. But I will whet your appetite with…
three fun facts: prague food
1) What do you eat with czech beer?
That sounds like the start to a joke and it was also the start to our tour. We had a delicious mug of Czech lager paired with assorted meats, cheeses, and pickles. Our guide was an American who was married to a Czech woman and lived in Prague, so I’m going to call him American Greg.
American Greg told us that this assortment of meats and cheeses made up a map of the Czech Republic because they came from all over the country. They didn’t make up anything by the end of this stop because my group ate all of them! I had no idea that the Czechs were so good at making a wide variety of cured meats, from ham to salami, nor did I know that you could get blue cheese in the Czech Republic.
The beer came from a brewery called Zatecky Pivovar. Zatec is famous for having the best hops in the Czech Republic. Considering that the Czechs drink more beer than any other people in the world, that is high praise indeed! I wish I could say that I could taste why this beer had better hops, but my palette is not that sophisticated. I just know it tasted delicious. How do the Czechs make their lager so flavorful? Maybe it really is the hops.
2) what kind of restaurants did you visit?
One thing I liked about the tour is that we visited homey, family-run restaurants so we could talk to the owners. One restaurant was in a hotel, which would ordinarily make me suspicious. But this hotel is really run by a family, and the mother of the family cooks all the food herself. One of her specialties is this rich goulash made with boar.
We were surprised to hear that goulash is a Czech food because we associate it with Hungary. Goulash comes from Hungary, but the Czech Republic and Hungary were once part of the same country when they were in the Austro-Hungarian empire. So that’s how goulash made its way to Prague.
But one way Czech goulash is different from Hungarian goulash is you serve it with carby dumplings called knedly. But if you don’t believe me, just ask your waiter in Prague if the goulash “isn’t really Hungarian”. I’m sure that will go over well.
At another family-run restaurant we were served this adorably presented and delicious cabbage soup…
But this restaurant always throws in a little surprise for their guests with each tour, so we each got a beef slider as a “bonus”. Meat bonuses are my favorite kind.
3) do czechs only drink beer?
Absolutely not, Internet Stranger! In fact we got to sip on some special Czech wines from the eastern part of the Czech Republic. The Czechs love their wines so much, they don’t export them. They drink them all themselves. So getting good Czech wine in the United States will cost you an exorbitant amount of money. On our wine tour, we got to taste a white, a rose, and a red.
But what is better? Getting a great deal on top quality Moravian wines or getting free beef? Please write in and help me decide!
If you’re more into spirits, we got to try a Czech spirit with our dessert. In fact, we had a choice of three. I chose the plum brandy, aka slivovice. I am of Romanian heritage, and I wanted to see if it tasted like the Romanian plum spirit called tuica. (It does because both of them taste vaguely like fruit and a lot like burning. But in a good way.)
24 Hour Treat
Even if you’re not into spirits, I’m sure you’ll be into this dessert, which is like a cheesecake except actually good. I mean, you’ll like it unless you’re lactose intolerant because it has cheese, ice cream, and whipped cream all in the same dish. Well, if you drink slivovice, you need to chase it with three types of dairy, as my grandmother always used to say.
After three wines, two beers, and one plum brandy, you’re going to be a little tipsy. So gently make your way back to your hotel without falling into the Vltava River. Being kind of drunk is the perfect end to 24 hours in Prague!
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Prague!
What would you do with 24 hours in Prague? Free sliders vs. quality cheap wine, which wins? AND WHY ARE THOSE DEMON SNAKES SMILING? Please leave your thoughts below!