Cover photo by Roman Boed.
From the slow-flowing Vltava, criss-crossed with stone bridges, to the melting pot of architectural styles on show, Prague is certainly a sight to behold, but it won’t leave your other senses wanting either. If you’re on a tight schedule, there are plenty of ways to dive in to the charms of the Czech capital.
Whether you’ve only got an hour or an entire evening, here’s a selection of some of the best sights, attractions and establishments that are perfect for a flying visit.
One hour: Indulge in local delicacies at Café Savoy
Feasting on local cuisine is an excellent way to get yourself acquainted with any new city, and Café Savoy’s neo-renaissance, 19th-century décor makes it one of the most glamorous places to do so in Prague. While they do serve exceptionally hearty breakfasts (including English, French and Continental varieties), there’s also a gourmet menu to sample. Dedicated gastronauts won’t want to miss the deep herby flavours of the Czech snails.
If you don’t have time to eat, sitting back and taking in the buzzing atmosphere over one of Café Savoy’s speciality Chinese or Indian teas is a wonderful way to spend a spare hour.
One hour: Admire a local hero at the National Memorial
Few generals can truly claim to have been undefeated in their lifetime. Bohemian leader Jan Žižka, whose imposing figure sits aloft a horse on the National Memorial on the Vítkov Hill, is one of them. The mighty statue of the general and his steed is not the only attraction though. You can also learn about the Czech battle in the 19th Century to become its own country, free from the Austro-Hungarian empire, at the exhibition here. Spend longer taking in the impressive views from Vitkov Hill in the Memorial’s cafe – it’s well worth a quick coffee stop.
Two hours: Shop like a 20’s icon at Pasáž Lucerna
It’s not often you can combine shopping and sightseeing, but Pasáž Lucerna delivers both with effortless class. Built in the 1920’s, this cultural hub is still a treasure trove of music, cinema and exhibits, not to mention the exciting array of shops. Buy sleek Italian clothing and footwear at Bella Donna, pick up some vinyls at Happy Feet or something a little older at Antik Lucerna.
Perhaps you need a nice bottle of red for an evening with colleagues? If so, Lucerna’s oldest wine shop, Cellarius, is sure to have something that fits the bill. Head to the Hospoda pub to round off your spree with a snack over a crisp glass of Pilsner Urquell, straight from the tap.
Two hours: Explore the majestic citadel of Prague Castle
This UNESCO world heritage site is said to be the most expansive castle compound in the world, sprawling to almost 70,000 square metres. Today, it’s the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic, but over a thousand years of history have taken place within its walls – it’s been built and rebuilt, looted by Swedes during the Battle of Prague and even stayed in by Hitler during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. It’s no wonder that the castle’s many churches, halls, palaces and towers display a diverse mix of architectural styles.
Take the short one-hour guided tour to visit two of the gems: the Old Royal Palace and Cathedral of St Vitus. Spend the rest of your time wandering the impressive collection of lush gardens. Spectacular views of terracotta houses and emerald forests from the Southern Rampart garden are certain to leave you feeling refreshed.
Three hours: Dance until dawn (and after) at Le Clan
If you’ve got a free evening in the city and want to delve into one of its most idiosyncratic nightlife spots, look no further than Le Clan. This ‘private club for good people’ keeps the party going until the early hours and beyond every night except Mondays. Built on the principles of respect, freedom, comfort, and fun, you’ll find a lively and pleasant crowd inside whenever you visit.
You could even spot a few celebs: the club has been frequented by Matt Damon and Queen Latifah, to name a few. It’s not all about the music, though. Competitive types can add a little fun to their evening with a game table football, ping pong or even mini golf.
Three hours: Enjoy a candlelight dinner (for one or two!) at Pálffy Palác
When a restaurant is supplied by its own organic farm, you know you’re in for a treat. But Pálffy Palác already sets the bar pretty high thanks to the fact that it’s a Baroque palace dating back to the 18th Century. All dishes are fresh and seasonal, and you can expect to find delicacies like lamb picanha with sweet turnips and tangy sheep’s yoghurt, as well as smoky grilled veal steak on a velvet tomato confit.
There are plenty of tempting classics on the dessert menu, from silky smooth lavender crème brûlée to rich and hard-to-resist homemade chocolate pralines. Dine on the terrace and don’t forget to sample a few glasses from the extensive wine and champagne list.