Prague, Czech Republic
Awash with culture and historic sights, Prague is the perfect city to explore on foot at any time of year.
Since the fall of Communism, the Czech capital has become one of Europe’s top city break destinations, and it’s easy to see why.
Designated European City of Culture for the year 2000, Prague’s historic core is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dominated by the striking silhouette of Prague Castle.
Straddling both banks of the wide Vltava river, the centre of Prague comprises a series of distinct urban quarters.
On the east bank of the river, the 750m-long Wenceslas Square is the heart of the Nove Mesto (New Town), dominated at its southern end by the neoclassical Czech National Museum. The playful Dancing House, designed by Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry, and completed in 1996, is a more recent landmark in that part of the city.
North of the New Town, the Staré Mesto (Old Town), is centred around the Old Town Square, famous for its Astronomical Clock and the twin-towered Týn Church. Head north again and you reach Josefov, the city’s fascinating Jewish quarter, with its six old synagogues and Europe’s oldest surviving Jewish cemetery.
Cross the iconic Charles Bridge – packed with tourists, artists and traders – and you come to Malá Strana (Lesser Town), spread across the slopes beneath Prague Castle, its skyline peppered with churches. Climb the hill above the quarter, and you reach Prague’s equivalent of the Eiffel Tower – the Petrín Lookout Tower – which affords a stunning panorama of the city.
From Petřín, it’s just a short walk to Prague’s Castle District, known as Hradcany, which is dominated by the castle itself – the largest in the world – and by the Gothic cathedral of St Vitus, completed in 1929, almost 600 years after construction began.
You’ll need somewhere to stay, and Prague has no shortage of options – from big-name luxury to boutique hotels in the city’s historic heart. Located close to the centre of Prague, the Grand Majestic Plaza Hotel is the ideal base for exploring the city. Nearby you’ll find the famous Municipal House – Prague’s most important Art Nouveau building – the Gothic Powder Gate, Republic Square (Námestí Republiky) and the Palladium shopping centre.
If you’re visiting Prague in summertime, you can reward yourself – and escape the crowds – with a cooling bottle of local beer in one of the city’s many fine bars. Or, if you’re there in the winter, wrap yourself up and enjoy a warming cup of Czech mulled wine – Svarák – from one of the many street vendors. Na zdraví!
Photo credit: Mark Leaver
For more ideas, visit Prague Welcome – The Capital City of Prague Tourism Portal.