We will be flying into Prague at 9 am. We will have that day and the next. Our hotel is near the Astonomical clock. We know very little about Prague, but want to see the Castle and the Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square. Can anyone suggest an itinerary? We aren't interested in art, but love history and have thought about walking tours, boat rides, the haunted tour and some music. Any suggestions?
Prague is more of walking city than a "site" city. Lovely architecture all around you, but few museums or tourable historical buildings. If you walk from the Old Town Square to the Castle via Charles Bridge, you'll get a good overview of most of the scenic parts of the city (minus Wenceslas Square, which you'll probably see anyway as you go from the train station to your hotel).
The "Castle" is more of a complex of buildings than a single structure. Some sections are open free of charge, others charge admission. Other than seeing the windows of the "Defenestration of Prague" fame (my high school world history teacher would be proud!) , I found the state room section unimpressive. St. Vitus Cathedral is about as interesting as any other similar gothic structure.
If you want a good, unobstructed photograph of Charles Bridge, go very early in the morning. Otherwise, the bridge is packed with wall-to-wall people throughout the rest of the day.
For music, on the high end, you have both the Prague Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras, and on the lower end, countless cheap Vivaldi/Mozart concerts that play virtually every night. For information there are two centralized ticket offices, one at the entrance to Tyn Cathedral (close to your hotel) and the other across the street from St. Nicholas Cathedral.
The Jewish Quarter is a must-see. We also liked the Mucha Museum, but if you're not into art, that may not be up your alley.
One fun thing that we enjoyed and stumbled upon by accident is the "Lennon Wall" ( as in the Beatle not the Communist)
This is basically a grafatti wall that has comments written on the wall from people from all over the world. Very cool and worth a look. Not going to be able to give you specific directions,... but near the senter of town close to a large water paddle mill and an Embassy.
It is not that big a secret, might even be in Rick's book.
Definitely do not miss the Jewish Quarter and cemetery. We attended a concert near the castle that was very nice and only about $30 pp--not sure as the money was a bit confusing and I found that shop clerks became impatient over this. St Vitus is very impressive and should be high on your list. Wencelas Square can, IMO, be missed--shopping area around it bordered on being sleezy. There was construction going on at the Charles Bridge when we were there a year and a half ago but probably completed by now.
We also plan on visiting Prague for 2 days (not including travel days), and one of our must-see's is the Kutna Hora bone church. Most of my friends who have been to Prague went there, and they raved about it.
Kutna Hora is a separate town/city, right? How are you getting there? I think it was in one of Rick's videos and I remember thinking it was very cool. Also, the Lennon wall is a must ( I have a 15 year old shagging haired boy with me!) Is it on the Castle side of the river or the old square side of the river?
Kutna Hora is indeed a separate town. To make things a bit confusing, the ossuary is actually in Sedlec. You can take the train or bus from Prague, schedules can be found at www.idos.cz.
If you take the train you've got 2 options: direct or via a transfer at Kolin (which is only about a 10 minute ride from Kutna Hora). Either way, the train will drop you off at Kutna Hora hl.n (the main station on the outskirts of town) and then you transfer to a one-car train thing (timed with arriving/departing trains). The one-car train thing runs between the main station (hl.n) and the train station in town (Mesto), stopping at Sedlec (where the ossuary is) along the way. Ride takes about 5 minutes to the ossuary, about 10 minutes all the way to the Mesto train station in town.
Once on this one-car train thing (technical language, I know), if you want to stop to see the ossuary then make sure to tell the conductor you want to get off at Sedlec and he/she will make sure that happens. The ossuary is just up the street from where they drop you off.
Next, to get to the town of Kutna Hora from the ossuary you can either walk the rest of the way (I think it took us about 20 minutes) or get back on the one-car train thing and it will take you through to the Kutna Hora Mesto (town center station), but I'm not sure how often it runs as we chose to walk. There might be a bus option, too.
To return from Kutna Hora you do the reverse: get on the one-car train thing at the Mesto station, ride it the 10 or so minutes to the Kutna Hora hl.n station and transfer to the big train back to Prague.
It sounds more confusing than it really is, trust me.
As to the Lennon Wall, it is on the castle side. If you are on the Charles Bridge walking toward the castle side, at the end of the bridge there is a set of stairs on the left that go down. Take those down and walk up the street a little ways. I believe the first street on the right will take you to the Wall, but Rick's book has a little map for clarification.
Hope this helps!
The Museum of Communism was quite interesting and didn't take too long (it's not very big).
Heads up for Kutna Hora. The ossuary was a 'must see' for my daughter. She loved it. whilst I found it fascinating, I also found it a bit macarbe. Also a vote for the Musuem of Communism. Word of warning, avoid eating anywhere on the square near the Astronomical clock. Like all famous squares in Europe, prices match the clock
You will have a wonderful time walking. Too bad you do not have another day. A day trip to Tarazin (sic) would be a wonderful experience.
We were in the Czech Republic for 2 weeks in October 2009, one solid week in Prague. We stayed near Vysehrad and enjoyed the walks thru that area, both Dvorak and Smetana are buried at the cemetary in Vysehrad. Beautiful view of the Castle and the Vltava River from that area. Everything is easy to reach using their Prague Metro rail lines along with their street cars and buses, all one fare. Take the Metro from downtown to Vysehrad station (10 minutes) and walk 5 minutes and your there. Fare is 100 CZ per person per day.
Charles Bridge was under renovation in October, not sure if finished yet. Lots of churches offer music programs and most are willing to dicker on price the closer you get to the time of performance. ATM machines arevery easy to use and in October the exchange rate was 17 CZ to 1 US Dollar.
Resturants do not serve a glass of water with your meal and if you order water they bring small bottle and charge twice the price of a glass of beer. Beer is excellent and roughly only $2.50 to $3.00 per glass.