Prague is the new Prague. While other born-again Central and Eastern European cities claim to be the hot new destination, the Czech capital never went out of fashion. Immersing yourself in its fairy-tale architecture remains essential, and now the emerging energy of exciting inner neighbourhoods is the only reason you need for an initial or return visit. Here are some suggestions for how to make the most of your trip to this beautiful city.

One day

Such an unusually short timescale demands an unorthodox approach. Be sure to pack comfortable, cobblestone-proof footwear. Alight at Můstek metro station (Václavské náměstí exit) and glance up Wenceslas Square to the National Museum, before turning down Na můstku. Turn right at Rytířkská and left at the Estates Theatre. Follow Železná to the Astronomical Clock and Old Town Square. Note the Church of Our Lady Before Týn and then leave the square through its upper left (northwest) corner, passing Franz Kafka’s birthplace. Wander through the Old Jewish Cemetery. Head across uncrowded Mánes Bridge, admiring neighbouring, and usually very crowded, Charles Bridge. Pop into the Wallenstein Garden and then head to the castle. Post-castle follow Nerudova downhill and refuel – beer or coffee, you choose – at U Zavěšenýho kafe.

Continue downhill to Malostranské náměstí for a circular detour through southern Malá Strana. Head through Maltese Square, past the Lennon Wall, and maybe pay a visit to the Kampa Museum, devoted to 20th-century and contemporary art from Central Europe. Retrace your footsteps north and cross Charles Bridge back to Old Town Square. Follow Celetná to Municipal House for a late afternoon tea.

Alternatively, cross Legion Bridge at the south of Kampa Island and take a seat in Café Louvre. Choose a pub for the evening – perhaps Baráčnická rychta or the Pivovarský klub. Having ticked at least eight Prague highlights before 6pm, put your feet up, and treat yourself to a well-deserved drink. You’ll have definitely earned it.

Two days

If you know you’ve got two days, you can take a slower pace. This time start at Prague Castle and spend a few hours here, before wandering downhill along Nerudova. Head under Charles Bridge (right off Mostecká at Lázeňská, left into Saska and onwards in U lužického). Laugh at the ‘Piss’ sculpture at Cihelná, before treating yourself to a slapup lunch at Hergetova Cihelná. Head north to see the Wallenstein Garden and then cross the river via Mánes Bridge. Stop in the Old Jewish Cemetery, then head through the Old Town Square to cubist Grand Café Orient. The evening is yours, for dining, pubbing, clubbing or culture.

If you can get up early the next morning, cross Charles Bridge and head south into Kampa Island. If not, catch a tram (6, 9, 12, 20, 22 or 23) to Újezd. Take the funicular up Petřín Hill and walk to Strahov Monastery.

In the afternoon, head to Wenceslas Square. Look at the nearby sights – the Jan Palach Memorial, the Wenceslas Statue, Lucerna Passage and the cubist lamppost – before heading back towards the Old Town for a spot of souvenir shopping.

Have dinner at Asian-fusion restaurant Angel, and sample the cocktails at Bar & Books or Čili, before heading to legendary Roxy or M1 Lounge. Take tram 1, 3 or 5 north across the river to Holešovice for Cross Club or Sasazu, depending on your tastes and mood.

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