I would recommend doing one of the free walking tours, given that the main attractions are in a small area. You can find them in the main square, just check the time on the website first. You will probably find lots of tours in the square (free, paid, walking, by car or bus), I did one by White Umbrella. This will take you half day. They will offer two paid tours for later: one around the castle uphill, and one in the evening to try a few beers, including the world-famous Pilsner Urquell.
So the recommended places are the following (1 to 12 are included in the walking tour):
- Powder Tower
- Municipal House
- Spanish Synagogue
- Old Jewish Cemetery
- Pinkas Synagogue
- Old Town Square
- Astronomical Clock
- Charles University
- Estates Theatre
- Wenceslas Square
- Old City Walls
- Prague Castle
- St. Vitus Cathedral (close to 13)
- Naplavka and Malá Strana (more info below)
I chose to do both the afternoon tours by myself. The castle is beautiful and has a great view of the whole city. There are several options to get there: you can walk taking a nice and smooth path, or you can go by tram (Královský letohrádek, Pražský hrad, Pohořelec stations) or by metro (Malostranská, Hradčanská stations). There is a street food market next to the main entrance. I tried some potatoes with cheese and ham made in a huge casserole, which always works with a good beer.
Regarding the evening tour, there are plenty of options to try good food and beer, so better to explore yourself. But let’s start with a bit of culture:
The Czech Republic has a great beer culture. They have the highest consumption per capita in the world: 146.6 litres (Wikipedia). Its most famous beer, Pilsner Urquell, was the world’s first-ever blond lager. This is motivation enough to start trying as many as possible.
You should try the tank version of their beers: “… recent developments in technology have driven the introduction of tank beer (tankove pivo) into several Prague pubs. Instead of beer delivered in barrels, it is transported either pasteurised or unpasteurized from the brewery to the pub by tanker lorry/truck. At the pub, it is then fed via a large pipe (in the same way, as a fuel tanker delivers) into a huge stainless steel tank stored in the cellar. The tank is lined with a water and airtight polypropylene bag, sealing the beer in…” (PragueExperience.com)
The best beers I tried -besides Pilsner- were: Klosterman, Velvet, Budvar and Staropromen. The latter is one of my favourite lagers in the world. I would recommend visiting their Visitor Centre. You will be able to taste their tank and some other types of beer that you will hardly find outside Prague. Next to the centre, you will find a pub/restaurant which is very good and cheap. It is worth pointing out that Prague is very cheap in general, and beer is no exception. One pint cost £1! Yes, one pound is around 33-36 Korunas, and that is the price for a pint. The Economist should think about the beer index to replace the Big Mac one.
Tip: be careful with the pretzels on the tables of some pubs, it seems they are free but they are going to be included in the bill.
Where to Stay
Without any doubt, I would stay in Malá Strana (Czech for “Little Quarter”). It is not as crowded as the city centre and much nicer. It feels like a small town on its own. I stayed in Hotel U Kříže. The location was excellent and they brew their own beer. It also has a restaurant and the food was very good.
I would avoid the city centre to go out for dinner or drinks. It gets crowded and pricey. You may also find a noise stag do. You can easily imagine how convenient Prague can be for thirsty British with £1 a pint. So I would recommend Malá Strana for this purpose as well. You can also visit John Lennon’s wall and walk by the canal.
It is worth mentioning a restaurant called Velkoprevorsky Mlyn. Although its reviews are not encouraging, the place is beautiful and there is a table on a sort of balcony which is unique.
This is a really nice neighbourhood, also well known as a hipster hangout. It is basically a pavement path by the river, but there are pubs (some of them in boats), street food and a really special vibe. Good for a walk, run or picnic. Ideal for a sunny day. My favourite spot here was Bajkazyl.
You can also find a Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8:00 to 14:00.
I think Zizkov is like the Shoreditch of London, the Kreuzberg of Berlin, the Williamsburg of New York, the Canal Saint-Martin of Paris, etc. The subculture of these places is “composed of affluent or middle class young who reside primarily in gentrifying neighbourhoods” (Wikipedia’s definition of hipster).
It is really worth a visit. I would start in Riegrovy Sady park, where you can find the biggest beer garden in the city (1400 guests). You can then just walk around until you get to the Television Tower, with its famous baby climbers.
Another iconic place is Palác Akropolis. You can go to the theatre for a bit of culture, or you can simply stay in its pub if you just want to get drunk or do both. There are other good spots nearby, including a small club on Nejedleho street. My favourites are U Slovanske Lipy, which is supposed to be the oldest pub in Zizkov; and Bukowski’s, which is more cocktail-oriented.