Travels on the Run: Heart of Prague

End to end, Prague’s cozy, small center is just two and a half miles long, ensuring a quick, satisfying reconnaissance of this ancient capital.

In the early dawn, I head straight into its cobbled heart at Old Town Square, where a street cleaner and flitting pigeons (and the cats stalking them) are the only beings I see. I marvel at the splendidly Gothic Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, its two signature spires rising majestically toward the sky, and hasten past the famous Astronomical Clock (which celebrated its 600th birthday in 2010). I’ll return later to watch its mechanical dance of apostles that takes place at the top of the hour.

Charles Bridge, Prague (Photo: Jaroslave Zakravsky/My Shot)

Rays of bronze light highlight the uppermost reaches of buildings sporting a mix of architectural styles, spotlighting such intricate features as Greek mythology figures etched into the plaster of the Renaissance facades, known as sgraffito. There’s no one on the statue-dotted Charles Bridge, unlike yesterday afternoon when I had to maneuver among the hordes.

I spy Prague Castle up on the hillside ahead of me — my destination. Huffing and puffing my way up stone lanes, I finally make it to the top, to a lovely belvedere where I pause, taking in the city far below me and the Vltava River that snakes through it. From my perch, it’s obvious why Prague is called the City of a Thousand Spires — they’re all sparkling below me, set off by the rising sun.

Run stats:

Mileage: 2.91-mile loop
Best time: Early morning
Start: Old Town Square
End: Old Town Square

From Old Town Square, follow Celetna, Jilska, and Karlova to the river.
Cross Charles Bridge (Karluv most) and snake up the hill via Mostecka, Josefska, Letenska, Nerudova, and Ke Hradu.
Return via the stairs on the castle’s east side (Stare zamecke schody).
Turn right on Pod Bruskou/Klarov at the bottom of the hill.
Cross the river on Manesuv Most, then turn left on Dvorakovo nabr., and right on nam. Curieovych/Parizska.

Photo: Pernek Vinko/My Shot


  1. Radim Prahl
    May 28, 2013, 8:52 am

    Fantastic way, indeed! In such a small city centre you can even afford to get lost as sooner or later U’ll find your way back. The right bank is flat, while the left bank is rather hilly, so huffing + puffing can’t be got around. The core of the centre is cobbled which is a bit tricky, esp. when icy or wet, so you need to accommodate your pace to the situation and don’t rush too much or don’t just stare up on the monuments… There are many more options to wind your way through the city, some may be found here, who operate running tours around Prague (there are other companies of that kind as well) or you can find your own way.
    Definitely, it’s worth packing your trainers into your luggage: the traffic and air-pollution are relatively small and it’s generally a safe and peaceful place. But, yes, as Barbara says, get up early before the crowds awake!

  2. city break in Prague
    Santa Cruz
    May 18, 2012, 7:34 pm

    That sounds like a fantastic way to see this city. I have been wanting to go to Prague for years now but fate always seems to conspire against me. I am hoping to book a city break in Prague later on this year and will be sure to take your suggestions on board.

  3. Vinko Pernek
    April 8, 2012, 11:58 am

    Hi, Barbara.
    Thank you because you are selected my photo of Prague for your article about traveling in Prague. Mistake is only in the surname of author. My surname is Pernek.

    pernek vinko

    • Leslie Trew Magraw
      April 9, 2012, 10:23 am

      Thanks, Pernek, and apologies for getting your name wrong! It’s fixed now :) And thanks to you for contributing to our My Shot photo community. You truly captured a beautiful moment in a beautiful city (I studied abroad there more than 10 years ago and fell in love on day one).

  4. Gašper Pernek
    Ljubljana, Slovenia
    April 8, 2012, 10:43 am

    Thanks! I am really happy to see my father’s photo published at such a visited website! Great! ;)


  5. Alexander
    April 6, 2012, 2:24 pm

    Prague is a cozy city indeed! Traveling in Europe don’t miss the capital of the Czech Republic, along with other european cities