48 Hours in Prague

Though we’d all like all our vacations to be lengthy, leisurely affairs, sometimes you can only spare a few days to get away. On this visit to Prague, I was tasked with enjoying Prague to its fullest in just two short days. It’s a difficult balance to strike, taking advantage of everything the charming city has to offer while still feeling relaxed, but I think I found the perfect balance. Here’s how I would spend 48 hours in Prague:

 

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Staromestské námestí (Old Town Square), Prague

Start your day with a coffee at EMA Espresso Bar on Na Florenci, just a five-minute walk from the main train station. An expat recommended EMA to me on the premise that it had the most expensive espresso machine in the city, but as an espresso-illiterate, that meant very little to me. What I did know after visiting was that this coffee was good. Really good. Along with a wide variety of drink choices, there are plenty of pastries and snacks here to get your day going, all served in a clean, bright setting with friendly service.

Spend the day in Cesky Krumlov. This fairytale town has steadily risen in popularity because of its delightful winding streets and castle-top views; though the crowds might deter some travelers wary of tourist traps, I think that if you do your research and choose a targeted, high-end tour that caters to your specific interests, Cesky Krumlov can be a worthwhile and enjoyable day trip—but be aware that the drive to the town is about 2 hours each way.

 

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Cesky Krumlov

Enjoy an Eastern European meal. There are never-ending options for you to enjoy a nice Czech meal in the capital—goulash or potato pancakes are good, filling options to get a taste of the local cuisine, but try to avoid places that seem heavily frequented by backpack-clad tourists; these places tend to overcharge for underwhelming quality. My strategy in Prague is to turn down side-street after side-street until you find a place that seems local and authentic—plus, getting lost in Prague is a great way to enjoy its charm.

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Czech potato pancake, sauerkraut, Czech sausage, and honey

 

Savor a street-treat. Trdelník, a confection found in many Eastern European countries, is a glorious amalgamation of dough, butter, heat, and cinnamon-sugar (where could that go wrong?). These thick spirals of dough are heated slowly and lovingly on a rotating rod, making sure every inch turns a tasty golden brown. After they’re removed from heat, they’re immediately rolled in cinnamon-sugar, and even sometimes filled with ice cream, fruit, or nutella, though I prefer the simple taste of the classic version.

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Trdelník

Visit the Mucha Museum. Even the most art-resistant travelers will enjoy this small, charismatic museum in the middle of New Town, featuring the easy-to-appreciate designs of Alphonse Mucha, some of which you’ve undoubtedly seen before without knowing they were by Mucha. If nothing else, the gift shop will be a pleasant surprise—I can never seem to escape without a bag full of new purchases at my side.

Brush up on your Czech history. I was lucky enough to go on a private tour of Prague’s Old Town Hall including its mysterious underground passages that date from Roman times. Having grown up in the United States, where European history has a very specific (and at times narrow) focus, I knew nothing about Czech history, but my fantastic tour guide filled me in on all the highlights. Though much has been erased from history by fires or wars, enough remains of the complex in Prague’s Old Town Square to make the tour an engaging experience. My favorite part was seeing the timeworn Apostles of the famed Prague Astronomical Clock behind-the-scenes, before they make their hourly appearance to the onlookers below.

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Prague Astronomical Clock, Staromestské námestí, Prague

Taste some Czech history. Avid beer-lovers can’t leave Prague without trying some of their famed brews, like the world’s first pilsner, Pilsner Urquell. Centuries of monastic brewing made Prague and the Czech Republic a landmark for anyone remotely interested in beer and breweries. Pivovarsky Klub is a veritable museum of Czech beer history, complete with friendly staff and a wide array of choices. Na zdravi!

Anywhere I need to add to my list for next time? Let me know in the comments!

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