Romantic pastel buildings of yore stroll alongside utilitarian edifices courtesy of the USSR. A Jewish Quarter brimming with life has been a sanctuary for the exiled over 800 years. The Vltava sparkles in the unrelenting rays of the sun, the Charles Bridge adorning its banks as a gateway from the city to its other half. Long before I came, I already knew—Prague was the one that got away.
Years before I started this blog, I studied in Barcelona for a semester. It seemed all the students I knew were going to Prague, raving about the city and peppering my Instagram feed with photos of the John Lennon Wall. I planned to go myself, but other pearls of Europe called to me—Rome! Paris! London! Glasgow! Dublin! Out of money and out of time, I packed my bags and took a one-way back to Music City. Peace was with me, because I knew I’d make it to Prague someday. I didn’t even need to know when.
Six more years, and here we were. Prague and I, getting acquainted on our own terms. Four days in the city, and I felt it in my bones. This was the exact right time for both of us.
Here’s how it went, a postcard from me to you. ❤️
A Note on Accommodations
If I could go back, I’d try to find a hotel either in Prague 2 or nearby. The hotel we chose was fine—it was comfortable, close to the Metro, and we got to spend points. But I wouldn’t necessarily stay there again.
If you need to stay near the airport for a night, the Courtyard at the airport is a 5-minute walk from the terminals and has amazing service. Highly recommend!
If you’re short on time and want to keep your transit on the Metro to a minimum, stay in Prague 1. Depending on the season, you’ll pay a pretty penny for it, but you’ll get your time back.
What to See and Do in Prague
Day 1: Vyšehrad
This oft-overlooked fortress and church is my favorite church I’ve visited so far on the Journey to 197. The photos below explain why.
We only had one activity planned for day 1, considering we chose to sleep in (a very good choice!) and move our luggage from the airport hotel to our new Prague accommodation.
Vyšehrad was a relaxing activity without crowds or long lines, and no need to book tickets in advance. Nestled in a tranquil park with picturesque views of the Vltava River, Vyšehrad is a go-to landmark for an activity that offers something new to your Prague itinerary without being full of tourists or requiring tons of energy. Make time for this one—you won’t regret it.
Day 2: Old Town Free Walking Tour and Astronomical Clock
When in Prague, you must see the Old Town—buildings all around you in this area are a thousand years old (or almost that old, depending on which ones we’re talking about). As an American, it is astounding to me that this is normal in European cities.
This tour also goes to the Jewish quarter, which I personally find so interesting. There was a man in the area doing some shopping with his family. He saw our group, locked eyes with a few of us as we passed, greeting with a smile and a welcoming “Shalom.” It warms my heart just to think about it.
The astronomical clock was the #1 thing I wanted to see in Prague, and it was even better in person. This intricate, magical piece of art is almost folkloric in its design. At high noon in Old Town, it’s the most popular place to be—get a spot early to watch all its layers move with the sun and chime with the passing of the day.
Day 3: Prague Castle, John Lennon Wall, and Charles Bridge
Prague Castle is probably the main landmark tourists visit when in Prague, and the complex is full of sights to see. The castle itself is very anti-climactic—the main view is of a massive, imposing cathedral with vibrant, richly-detailed stained glass. We stopped every few feet to look at the intricacies.
After Prague Castle was the John Lennon Wall, another world-famous landmark in the area. Both Prague Castle and the John Lennon Wall are across the Vltava River from Old Town, so it’s easy to lump these two together on a day of sightseeing.
The John Lennon Wall is a tribute to the singer for his calls for world peace. It was created to commemorate the anti-Soviet peaceful resistance of Czech youth. When I saw it in August 2023, there was a piece of the mural devoted to Ukraine. A tank runs over sunflower fields (which are ubiquitous in the Ukrainian countryside), and yet the flowers keep growing. Slava Ukraini. 🇺🇦
After John Lennon, we took a boat cruise on the Vltava. The cruise itself was okay; nothing to write home about. We did get a lovely view of the Charles Bridge, easier to see in its grandeur from the river than from the bridge itself.
Day 4: New Town Free Walking Tour
This was my favorite thing we did in Prague. On a cloudy Sunday afternoon, we met a guide from the same company as the Old Town Tour and walked back into my favorite histories: World War II and Soviet Resistance.
We started in Wenceslas Square, home to peaceful protests in both 1939 (against Nazi occupation) and 1989 (against Soviet repression). The tour then winds through this neighborhood, showing memorials to WWII Czech Resistance fighters who lost their lives. A main stop is the St. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral, made famous for its role as sanctuary to Resistance fighters during Operation Anthropoid.
If you’re unfamiliar with Operation Anthropoid, it was a mission to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, nicknamed The Butcher of Prague. See the movie Anthropoid if you want to learn more—it doesn’t sugar coat any of this history and tells the story artfully. I watched it years ago, then saw it again after returning from Prague. I appreciate it even more now after this tour. Here’s a trailer if you’re interested.
I loved this day so much I’m currently writing a From the Aisle Seat issue on it. Once it’s live, the link will be here!
Prague Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant Guide
I’ve been a vegetarian since before I started traveling internationally, so I always try to seek out local restaurants making traditional delicacies without meat. After all, why travel halfway around the world just to eat avocado toast and smoothie bowls? Come to think of it, I don’t even eat those at home.
All 30 countries to date (on 3 continents, no less) have bistros and cafés bringing tradition to life with veggie ingredients. Czechia was no exception.
This place is vegan Czech goodness. I ordered the soy meat dumplings over sweet and sour red cabbage. It’s not my favorite thing I’ve ever eaten, but I definitely enjoyed it. This place also has a menu option to buy lunch for a person in need, which we found to be a great idea. Definitely try this place when in Prague—they have many other menu options we never got to try, so you’re sure to find something delicious.
For a hearty, healthy brunch in Old Town, Bistro Monk is your place. This is also a veg-friendly spot that sells meat, so it’s perfect for groups of mixed eaters!
The main drawback of this place is the price tag. It’s definitely expensive, but worth it if you have the budget and want brunch with healthy ingredients. The second is the line for a table—it will probably be long, but it moved quickly when we were there.
Once you’re inside and seated, I recommend a flat white and the superfood bowl. Mine came with hummus, poached eggs, sprouts, pickled veggies, quinoa, roasted seeds, and delectable crunchy, hearty bread. This wasn’t the most amazing meal I’ve ever had, but it definitely hit the spot before a long day of walking and kept me full for hours of sightseeing!
From the moment we got off at Náměstí Míru, our walk to this bistro brought me back to pleasant days in Kyiv. The area has charming pastel architecture and a relaxing park, perfect for a sunset stroll. We loved this place so much that we returned for dinner the next night.
On night 1, I ordered the dumplings. Again, I wanted all the Czech veggie food. Moment delivered with these potato dumplings over a hearty bean stew. After this meal, we knew we’d come back—from the cozy atmosphere, delicious food, and friendly staff, we had many reasons to return.
Our second time there, I got the gnocchi. I never eat gnocchi, but decided to go with this option after trying a bite off Mom’s plate the night before. Wow.
These are perfectly seasoned with a delicate blend of oregano, rosemary, and basil. The creamy tomato sauce is light enough to be complimentary, but not overbearing or too hearty. That slight drizzle of EVOO you see on top ties it all together. Mmmmm. I’d gladly eat this again.
When in Prague, you can’t miss Moment!
Six years I waited—you’d think four days wouldn’t be enough to quench me. But in this moment, it is enough. Every second I had in this city was enough, and if I ever step foot within her borders again, Czechia will be different. It happens every time—it’s never like the first time again. So with that, I say goodbye to Prague, knowing these four days we had are ours and exactly what we were meant to have, for now.
After all, I had a flight to catch. Country #30 was due north, and the sky was calling my name.