Prague is beseiged by British stag and hen parties hunting its legendary cheap beer and irrepressible nightlife. But there’s more to this city than what comes served in a pint glass. With its 100 spires, medieval cobbled streets, courtyards and stunning architecture, Prague is one of the best-looking city breaks on the continent.
Whether you want a romantic fling, a holiday with friends, or a cultured city break, Prague is sure to win your hearts and minds.
Getting there, getting around Prague
Low cost airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet have made a weekend break to the city affordable. Other airlines worth considering are: Sky Europe, British Airways and Czech Airlines.
The beauty of Prague is that it’s compact enough to explore on foot. There are plenty of guided walking and bus tours available. Adventurers can opt for a Segway tour of the city, a two-wheeled scooter that cuts nearly through summer crowds. The city’s buses, metro trains and trams, are efficient and cheap. Taxis are also reasonably priced.
Look out for the Prague Pass which offers discounts and free entry to attractions, as well as 48 hour free public transport.
Sightseeing in Prague
Perched at the top of a steep, cobbled street, the medieval splendour of Prague Castle overlooks a district known as Lesser Town. Tickets are flexible to allow you to choose which palaces and buildings you want to visit within the sprawling complex. Highlights include the pretty stained glass windows of St Vitus Cathedral and the 287 spiral steps to the Great Tower for dizzying views of Prague’s red-tiled roofs, spires and cathedrals.
The city’s main draw however is Old Town Square stuffed with gorgeous Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic buildings. It looks like it’s leapt straight out of the pages of a storybook, with moody-looking, dramatic towers and steeples next to pretty pastel facades. Most tourists flock to see the 18th century astronomical clock but don’t ignore the Church of Our Lady of Tyn and the Town Hall.
Charles Bridge, originally built in the 13th century for knight tournaments, is now the stage for a different kind of joust. This involves prodding your way through hundreds of tourists, souvenir stallholders, caricaturists and buskers to get from one end to the next. A favourite for couples at sunset and sunrise.
Wenceslas Square, which played a pivotal part in the Czech Republic’s turbulent past, has become disappointingly over-commercialised. However, the National Museum looms at one end of the boulevard. Tucked away on one of the side streets however lies one of the city’s must-see attractions – the Communist Museum, which ably dramatises the country’s political past via memorabilia, photos and a short video documentary.
Fans of the country’s liquid gold can tour Prague’s biggest brewery Staropramen which offers free beer tastings.
Family attractions in Prague
Consider a paddle boat trip through Prague on the river Vltava, enjoy a ride on the Petrin hill cable railway before climbing the steps of the 60 metre high observation tower for panoramic views of the city; visit the Toy Museum within the walls of Prague Castle for displays spanning 150 years, including a colourful collection of Barbie dolls.
Other highlights are Prague Zoo which hosts informative feedings and training excercises at weekends; Stromovka Park and zoo; the National Technical Museum for charming exhibits on old trains and planes and Prague Planetarium.
Day trips in Prague
Karlstejn Chateau nestled by the Berounka river with picturesque towers is popular among day-trippers. It’s a 35 minute train ride from Prague.
Kutná Hora, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site which once proposered thanks to its silver mines, is an architectural gem featuring many beautiful monuments such as St. Barbara Cathedral, the Italian Court with Royal Mint and The Stone House.
Self-guided tours are available around Terezin, which was used as a concentration camp by the Nazis during the World War II.
Eating out in Prague
Sampling the local cuisine could be short-lived unless you like beef, dumplings or goulash. Heavy soups also dominate.
There is plenty of international fare though, including fast food chains, particularly around Wenceslas Square, and pizzerias.
The Jewish quarter has some fantastic eateries. Try the excellent, uber-cool, Barock which delivers everything from sushi to curry at decent prices.
Lesser Town is worth exploring for less touristy restaurants and pubs – great if you want to avoid being over-charged around the Old Town Square.
Nightlife in Prague
The city’s buzzing nightlife tends to get more raucous during the summer when the stag and hen parties invade the city. If you want to avoid them, visit the city in spring, autumn or winter. Clubbers can expect a range of music options from Euro pop to house and rave while the pubs range from traditional Czech to cocktail and jazz bars.
Wander around the Old Town and you’re bound to pass the occasional neon-lit, lap dancing joint, but head for tiny underground club La Fabrique which has a relaxed vibe. If size and thumping tunes matter, visit the riverside Karlovy Lazne Dance Club. It may resemble an NCP car park but it’s apparently central Europe’s biggest disco.
If you’re more of a culture vulture, visit the Black-light theatre on Parizska Street in the heart of the Jewish quarter for performances which combine mime, dance, drama and puppetry.
Shopping in Prague
Wenceslas Square is the largest and busiest shopping street in Prague featuring modern malls and arcades. More interesting shops can be found along the labyrinthe of streets around the Old Town.
Popular purchases include Bohemian glass, crystal and china, ceramics, wooden toys and local handicrafts.