If you have a day in Prague, you’d probably be spending your time in the Old Town Square waiting for the medieval astronomical clock’s little parade of apostles at the top of the hour, crossing Charles Bridge and on to the Prague Palace.
Half of the time you’ll be in line waiting to go in the palace and the other half you’ll be elbowing your way across the bridge and realizing there’s no way you can take a selfie without a hundred other people in your picture.
Fortunately, we had 5 days. Called the city of a thousand spires, Prague is a page torn right out of a fairytale book. So much so that everyone else in the world comes to see it. BUT … despite it’s overcommercialization and overcrowdedness, it is still undeniably a beautiful city, the quintessential old world, medieval Europe at it’s best.
We learned quickly that if you want to see Charles Bridge, go at dawn or after midnight. This is when Prague could probably surpass Paris as the most romantic city in Europe. Watching the sun rise behind the Baroque domes and spires while on the bridge is surreal, you can’t leave Prague without doing it at least once.
After sunrise, head to Old Town Square. This is the best time to wander the streets around the square as it will be absolutely empty at this time of day.
Anytime between 9am and midnight, the bridge and the square morphs into Disneyland with loads of vendors and droves of tourists meandering from the square to the bridge to the palace. Stay away from the main thoroughfare and instead, go and explore the Mala Strana neighborhood (lesser town), tour the Klementinum, look for David Cerny’s sculptures, sit in one of the many parks or at Wencelas Square, go up to Strahov Monastery or find one of those open markets and grab some Prague ham, dumplings and a beer (or two), try some trdlenik and burcak, explore the Jewish quarter and it’s synagogues, check out the memorial to the victims of communism, or just marvel at some of the best architecture you’ll ever see – from Gothic to Rennaisance to Baroque to Romanesque to Cubist.
Late in the afternoon, go up the Town Hall tower to see the best view of the square while the late afternoon sun casts it’s soft light to the Gothic towers of Our Lady Before Tyn, looming over the colorful buildings surrounding the square.
As it gets dark, go back to the other side of the river and wander the streets of Mala Strana once more as it’s even more charming at night, and have some goulash and potato pancakes in one of the quaint restaurants in the neighborhood. After dinner, head over to U Maleho Glena, a tiny basement jazz club for a local jazz trio. After midnight, walk back to the Charles Bridge and experience the magic of Prague, without the crowd and selfie sticks.