Prague City Breaks
Known as the City of A Hundred Spires, Prague is one of the most attractive capital cities in Europe. It has been an important cultural and economic centre for over a thousand years, having been a seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and an important city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city is a delightful mix of ancient and modern – there’s plenty of history to be found in a very cosmopolitan setting.
Prague lies on the Vltava River and there are important sites of interest on both sides of the river. The heart of the city is usually considered to be the Old Town Square which contains the elegant tower of the Town Hall with its famous Astronomical Clock. On the same side of the river is the famous Wenceslas Square, which is actually a wide boulevard rather than a square, with the bronze statue of St. Wenceslas and the imposing National Museum at one end. It’s well worth crossing the Vltava River on the pedestrian Charles Bridge and heading up the hill to the complex of buildings which make up Prague Castle and St. Vitus’ Cathedral.
Famous as a city of culture, Prague boasts more than ten major museums, numerous theatres, galleries, cinemas, and other historical exhibits. The National Museum in Wenceslas Square is the oldest and largest museum in the Czech Republic. There are numerous art galleries including the Czech Museum of Fine Arts and the Kampa Museum. Prague’s musical heritage should not be ignored. The Smetana Concert Hall is one of the finest Art Nouveau buildings in Europe and hosts major orchestras performing a variety of classical concerts. On a much smaller scale you can’t miss the notices all over the city centre promoting the classical music concerts which are held regularly in many churches.
Eat and Drink
Food tends to be fairly hearty with plenty of meat, mainly beef and pork. A speciality is dumplings (knedliky) made from wheat or potato flour, boiled and then sliced and served with meat in a tasty sauce. Another classic dish is Smazeny Syr, fried cheese coated in breadcrumbs served with potatoes and tartar sauce. All meals are traditionally washed down with Czech beer, the best known of which is Pilsener. For an original Czech liqueur order Becherovka, a bitter-sweet herbal drink.
Wenceslas Square and nearby Republic Square are the places to head for a mixture of international chain stores and local shops. The maze of streets in the Old Town and the Lesser Town (Mala Strana) areas are best for small boutiques and art, craft and souvenir shops.
Petrin Hill is home to many fascinating attractions including a 12th Century Monastery, a mirror maze, a reduced scale model of the Eiffel Tower and some beautiful landscaped gardens. Take the funicular railway to the top from Mala Strana.
The John Lennon Wall, also in Mala Strana, was formerly just a normal wall but became a focus for young pacifist activists during the Communist era. They began to paint pictures and slogans linked with Lennon’s music on the wall and to this day graffiti artists still paint Lennon-inspired pictures and song lyrics on the wall.
The town of Pilsen (Plzen) lies about 90 kilometres west of Prague and is easily reached in an hour or less by train or bus from the city centre. The town is famous for its beer and it’s possible to take a brewery tour to discover the history of Pilsener beer and learn how it is made. This charming town is also an academic and cultural centre. Worth a visit are the Gothic St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral, the Renaissance town hall and the Great Synagogue, the second oldest in Europe.
Prague has a temperate climate, with warm summers and chilly winters
Any time of year. Prague consistently offers good value for money.
Goes well with
Vienna – the Austrian capital is only about 4 hours away by train
With the beautiful view of Prague Castle as seen from across the river in the Old Town etched in your memory for ever.
In Our Opinion
Despite being one of the most visited cities in Europe, Prague still conjures up a celestial atmosphere with its cobbled streets, alleyways, superb churches and palaces.
Well-preserved European architecture
Getting value for money
Combining with a stay in Berlin or Vienna