Sleepless in Prague: 36 non-stop hours for the young and the restless

If you are younger than 35, you travel the most of any age group, reports travel market research firm, PhoCusWright. According to the report, you are twice as likely to take long trips but are even more likely to spend three days or less in one city before moving on to your next destination. You want to see it all. Save your zzz’s for some other time, and take a sleepless but well-paced weekend trip to the city that Time Magazine calls one of Europe’s hippest travel destinations.

DAY 1 | FRIDAY EVENING | McGee’s Ghost Tours

Do the tourist thing. Spend your evening in the city center, eating gelato in Old Town Square, snapping selfies and being charmed by tunes in the open plaza. As the sun sets, eat traditional cuisine — goulash — before following the red cobblestone road near the square’s bell tower to a dark passageway. Find McGee’s Ghost Tours, an alternative tour that shows “the eery side of Prague’s enchantment.” Tour guides take you to neighborhoods that were once ghettos and tell legends of this historic, medieval city. The stories of ill-fated lovers, plagues, insanity, alchemy and dead bodies (or “ghostly spirits,” as the tour guides say) come alive under the dimly-lit streetlights of Prague.

Address: Týnská 7, 110 00 Praha 1
Opening Hours: 7:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m., daily               
Prices:
275 CZK – 330 CZK, about $14-$19
Website: www.mcgeesghosttours.com

FRIDAY NIGHT | Bio-Oko Arthouse Cinema

Surrounded by residential apartments and lots overflowing with cars, this well-preserved 1940s cinema is not your typical movie theater. The building hasn’t changed much in 80 years. Glass doors line the front of the building, and bright red walls with modern black and white chairs welcome you into the main hall. By day it’s a theatre and café, and by night it is a place where old friends meet. This art-house cinema airs independent and mainstream films in English and Czech. No popcorn, but you can choose from an assortment of fresh sandwiches, salads and desserts from the café. Sit in a beach chair or sprawl on a beanbag as the movie flickers. Do what veteran Bio-Oko barista Daniel says many visitors do – grab a beer or cocktail from the bar, listen to music being played in the main hall and balconies, and chat with someone new. It’s a party at Bio-Oko, and it doesn’t end until the next day at 1 p.m.

Why no popcorn? Popcorn is a symbol of how not to run a theatre, Bio-Oko barista Daniel says. Most theaters “don’t care. They sell you stuff and then tell you, ‘go away’.” Instead, Bio-Oko baristas want to strike up a conversation with the people who walk in and out of their glass doors, he says.

Bio-Oko’s theater will undergo reconstruction this September, which will include better movie quality and seating arrangements. The beach chairs and beanbags will soon be gone. The private screening areas that have been idle for years will be resurrected and used more effectively than 80 years ago.

Address: Františka Křížka 460/15, 170 00 Praha
Opening Hours: Saturday and Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.                         
Prices:
110 CZK – 120 CZK, or $6
Website: www.biooko.net

DAY 2 | EARLY SATURDAY MORNING| PETRIN HILL

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Picturesque landscapes place Prague among USA Today’s Top 10 for most beautiful cities in Europe. Strap on your boots, cross the nine granite arches of the Legion Bridge, and hike up the 420-foot Petřín Hill. Floral species, a rose garden and fruit orchards carpet the hill, which overlooks the Vlatava River. Climb what Prague’s miniature Eiffel Tower at opening hours to see a 360-degree view of the city.

Photos courtesy of Nick Seymour.

Address: Petřínské sady, 118 00 Praha 1
Opening Hours: Observation Tower (Prague’s Eiffel Tower). April through September: 10:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.                    
Prices:
30 CZK – 60 CZK
Website: www.petrinska-rozhledna.cz

SATURDAY MORNING | NÁPLAVKA FARMERS’ MARKET

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For a taste of Prague, follow the river. Locals meet, greet and eat on Saturday summer mornings at Náplavka, which means a narrow strip of land on the riverside. Stalls of hanging meats, vegetables, fruits, drinks, breads and desserts line the path that touches the edge of the river. Once you find the right treat, take your breakfast to the pier and watch the ships sail by.

Photos courtesy of Katie Story.

Address: Šumavská 69/17, 120 00 Praha 2
Opening Hours: Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Website: www.farmarsketrziste.cz

SATURDAY AFTERNOON | VLTAVA RIVER

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You’ve seen the river from above — now see city’s architecture from the river. Rent a classic or swan paddleboat from a nearby vendor. Paddle by the Prague Castle of the 9th century and under the arches of the 19th century Legion Bridge. Weave through the islands of the Vltava River enjoy the view.

 

Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. daily
Prices:
70 CZK – 250 CZK, or $3-$13

SATURDAY EVENING | THE JAZZ DOCK

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Also on the river, a live jazz venue has indoor and outdoor space for music listeners. The double-decker boat has glass windows that replace two walls and pink and green couches. Sit at one of the tables on the main floor in front of the stage. Order a cocktail from the award-winning bar and try the tomato and lentil soup with a main course meal. As you eat and drink, gaze across the river to the backdrop of jazz, blues, funk, folk, classic or acoustic sounds. When the sun sets and city lights dot the river’s edge, waiters light up the room with candles on each tabletop.

 

Address: Praha 5 – Smíchov Janáčkovo nábřeží 2 (riverbanks)
Opening Hours: April – September: Mon – Thurs,3:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m.; Fri –Sat 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m.; Sun 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.  
Prices: 
For the best seating, call or email the venue ahead of time to reserve a seat at no additional cost.
Website: www.jazzdock.cz

SATURDAY NIGHT | THE CROSS CLUB

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Located outside of the city center, Cross Club has two music stages that play drum ’n’ bass, dubstep, techno and house. Moving industrial metal shafts and pipes hang from the ceilings and drape the walls of this large, colorful space. Walk up the stairs to the club’s café and take in the scenery. Contrasting the industrial feel of the bottom level, the upper level is made solely of natural material. Enjoy a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza before the kitchen closes at 2 a.m.

Photos courtesy of Cross Club.

Address: Plynární 23, Prague 7
Opening Hours: Fri – Sat: 2:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Website: www.crossclub.cz

DAY 3 | SUNDAY MORNING | VYSEHRAD

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Pack breakfast in a bag (or buy a picnic basket of baked goods and bread at Café Lounge), and take the C metro line outside of the city center to Vyšehrad. Built 70 years after the Prague Castle, the Vyšehrad housed the first Bohemian King. Although little remains of the castle, the fort attracts a mix of locals and tourists. Walk through the gate and up the cobblestone path to eat your breakfast on a park bench near the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The adjacent cemetery contains the Czech Republic’s elite, ornamented with intricate tombs and headstones draped in vines. Explore the winding paths of this fortress and sit by the walls of the castle to see another view of the city.

Address: V pevnosti 159/5b, 128 00 Praha 2
Opening Hours: Apr – Oct, 9:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.                            

Take the 36 Sleepless Hours in Prague virtual tour here!