9:00 The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It is bisected by the Vltava River with its two main districts, the Stare Mesto (Old Town) and Nove Mesto (New Town), on the right bank. However, the best way to get your bearings in a new city is by elevation, so start on the left bank, at Petrín Hill. Take the funicular to the top and spend the morning taking in historical sights such as the Hunger Wall, Strahov Monastery, the Memorial to the Victims of Communism, and Štefánik’s Observatory. Don’t leave without ascending the 299 steps to the summit of the Petrin Lookout Tower, or Petřínská rozhledn, which is Prague’s Eiffel Tower. It will reward you with sweeping views across the city and its magical spires.
12:00 Cross the river via the 14th-century Charles Bridge, decorated with 30 Baroque statues and bustling with traders, merchants and painters, then visit the birthplace of Prague, Vysehrad. The 10th-century castle here marks the place of the city’s original settlement, and now houses the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul.
14:00 Spring arrives in Prague sooner than almost any other city, and this is celebrated at the St Matthew’s Fair at the Vystaviste exhibition grounds, by Stromovka Park. A 400-year-old tradition, it’s a classic day out for local families, and if you’re visiting between Feb 21 and March 31, it’s a good opportunity to try typical fair food and drink, such as Czech gingerbread, Turkish honey, freshly smoked Moravian meats, real slivovitz and Czech sausages and beer.
18:00 Of course, you’ll find local grub at any time of year, and a stay in Prague isn’t complete without a beer-and-pork fest in a dingy cellar. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds. Try U Radnice (U Radnice 2).
21:00 Now you have a belly full of pork sausage and beer, you probably want to sample the nightlife. Prague offers some thrilling options in that department, such as one of the city’s most popular nightspots, Lavka Bar & Club (Novotneho Lavka 1, Old Town), by the Charles Bridge. Show the locals a thing or two!
03:00 Say goodbye to all the new friends you made on the dancefloor, and sleep off the debauchery at Old Prague Hostel (oldpraguehostel.com) in the Old Town.
10:00 Tuck into your free breakfast sandwich, then set out for a walk. The more you walk in Prague, the more hidden streets and quiet corners you will discover. Mala Strana, which translates to the Lesser Quarter, in the Old Town, looks as if time stood still in the 18th century. Then, it was Prague’s most colourful quarter, home to artists, poets, musicians and drunkards. There are also some beautiful walled gardens here. The Wallenstein Garden (Letenska) and Vrtbov Garden (Karmelitska 25) are both charming. Continue off the main drag of Mostecka and you’ll find a host of old ateliers and traditional beer halls. Hair of the dog, anyone?
12:00 Need a pick-me-up? You’ll be glad to know the people of Prague enjoy a coffee, and there are several nicotine-stained dens where you are likely to come across some earnest fellows debating over their espressos. One such den is at the Franz Kafka Café (Siroka 12), where wooden booths hide behind the frosted-glass windows.
14:00 The 70,000sqm Prague Castle, said to be one of the biggest castles in the world, dominates the skyline. Once the residence of the Kings of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Emperors, it dates back to 880, and is now the office of the president of the Czech Republic, and a Unesco World Heritage site.
16:00 You haven’t quite seen all of Prague’s attractions just yet. The Church of Our Lady Before Tyn is a city landmark that dominates the skyline of Prague’s Old City. It dates back to the 14th century and reaches 80m high. Its late Gothic style facade is equally as impressive as its Baroque interior.
17:00 Venture to the Old Town Square. The centrepiece is the Astronomical clock, which has been striking the hour with the aid of a skeleton and 12 apostles since the 15th century. Nearby is Wenceslas Square, home to shops, restaurants and cafes, so make it an early dinner. Use the rest of the day to explore, avoiding tourist haunts to see the best of what Prague has to offer.
21:00 For a night that’s smoky and atmospheric, the Charles Bridge Jazz Club (Saska 3, jazzblues.cz) should hit the spot. There are concerts on every night.