Travel to Prague?
This 'City of a Hundred Spires' - cobbled cruising ground for Kafka,
Mozart, and Soviet tanks - brims with aesthetic and architectural
treasures, Baroque here, Gothic there and a splatters of Neoclassical everywhere.
Prague (also Praha or Praga) is a
UNESCO World Heritage Site, in great shape and booming with innovation and interest.
It is clean, romantic, relaxed, walkable, and has oodles of entertainment ranging from twee puppet shows to spontaneous poetry outpourings to heavy-metal S&M.
Cuisine is surprisingly sophisticated, Czech beer is world famous
and it's good value - especially for opera and plastic surgery! All in all this is one of the best short-stay tourist destinations
in Europe, with something for everyone.
won't let you go, the little mother has claws' Kafka
- Where have all the locals gone? There are just too many tourists!
- Service people are not exactly friendly.
- Taxis have a VERY bad reputation, so take the excellent public
transport instead. It's worth getting an interchangeable transport
ticket. Otherwise, check the meter is on and working (properly)
- Pickpockets enjoy the city enormously, and profitably.
Best: This depends on personal preference, though bugbog would choose almost winter time, November and March, for clear, chilly days with space to move. Winters are less busy, very cold but get less than half the summer's precipitation, maybe snow, with average lows of -3C (27F) and highs of 3C (37F), whereas summers get most of the rain, pretty fair heat of 14C-25C (57F-77F) and massive herds of tourists trampling the feeding grounds and watering holes. Curiously May - August gets the most sunshine hours but also the most rain.
Current Prague temperature and time.
This city is loaded with Disneyesque sights, but for real.
Hradcany (castle district): Prague Castle (Prazsky Hrad), the city's
most magnificent landmark and a World Heritage Site, including the imposing (and free to enter) Gothic St Vitus
Cathedral, with some fine stained-glass windows, the Royal Palace/garden
and St Nicolas' Church.
Getting into St Vitus's Cathedral without lining up: start early and join the locals for Mass every day at 7am or Sundays at 8am. Prague Castle gates open at 5am in summer, 6am in winter. Castle information (choose English on the left where it says Cesky).
The Old Town Square (Staromestské
Námestí), includes the Old Town Hall/Astronomical
Clock and the Gothic T´yn Church, the Powder Tower, medieval
Charles Bridge, and Josefov, the former Jewish
Town, with Europe's oldest in-use synagogue, remarkable cemetery and excellent Art Nouveau cafés. nb. this area closes on Saturdays.
The Fortress in Visehrad. The gardens are peaceful, free, lovely and - best of all - unknown to most tourists.
Petrin Hill with its mock Eiffel Tower
for panoramic view of the city.
Other notable buildings: National theatre,
Estates Theatre, Dancing Building, Municipal House, Loreta and Kinsky
Zizkov is currently the funkiest district in the city, home to all sorts of absurdities, night and day, street theatre to wacky nightclubs.
The River Vltava provides an escape from the tourist mobs, so hire a rowing boat and take a picnic onto one of the islands, or head into the surreal Wallenstein Gardens at the base of Hdradcany Hill.
The province of Bohemia has many interesting possibilities.
Karlstejn Castle, the prettiest castle in the area, superbly situated
above the River Berounka, 35 minutes (28 km) by train from Prague,
now commercial and touristy, though.
- Kutna Hora, UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, used be the second
most important town in Bohemia. It is a small version of Prague,
with the finest Gothic masterpiece in Europe, Santa Barbora (Barbara)
Cathedral, which is even more spectacular than St Vitus. 1 hour
- Cesky Krumlov, one of the Europe's
prettiest medieval towns, with streets lined with fairly-tale buildings.
A UNESCO World Heritage site. The train is actually a tortoise, so take a bus, 1 hour out of town.
- Sedlec if you have some spare time, known for the 'Bone Chapel'
(Ossuary Chapel of All Saints) decorated with human bones.
- Terezin, fortress town/ex-concentration camp, is 50 km north-west
of the capital.
This city is busy with tourists for most of the the year though the high season and high prices run from April to September. Booking
ahead during those months and Christmas time, is
Although public transport is decent and fast, staying in heart of
the city (preferably Stare Mesto or Mala Strana) is worthwhile since
walking is the best way to explore the place and taxis can be an
This is a crowded medieval city that has had an historic shortage of hotels and supplemented the lack of rooms with room lets long before the idea too off elsewhere around Europe, so they have plenty of experince in organising efficient and good value Prague short term apartments for rent.
Visitors who arrive in Prague without a place to stay
often head for Hlavni Nadrazi, the main train station, where residents and touts wait to rent out their rooms, but this service is awkward (it's difficult to refuse to stay after walking with and chatting to the owner for half an hour!), unreliable, unverified and occasionally results in out-and-out rip-offs.
Youth Hostels are a good alternative for the young budget traveler
who is not concerned about privacy.
May-June, Spring International Music Festival, with classical music
concerts in various venues; this is one of Europe's best musical
events, a must-see.
July-Sept, the city's Folklore Festival.
Aug-Sept, Verdi Festival.
September, St Wenceslas Sacred Music Festival, performed in many superb
September, Mozart Festival, appropriate music played in the gorgeous
Bertramka Villa often visited by Wolfgang himself.
Sept- Oct, Prague Autumn, international music festival, with classical
concerts in the Castle.
October, International Jazz Festival.
October, Musica Iudaica, a festival of Jewish music.
November, Festival of Cyberculture (Datatransfer), including digital
art, film, net and performance art.
some precise dates or more information see: European
Festivals or Arts
Museums: National Museum for Natural History, Veletrzní Palác
(Modern & Contemporary Art), Frantisek Bílek Villa, Jewish
Classical Music: The gorgeous Rudolfinum Concert Hall is a Neo-Renaissance masterpiece that hosts varied music and ballet performances. There's also the Lichtenstein Palace, Church of St Simon
and St Jude for chamber music, Bertramka for Mozart, while different churches hold classical concerts at least somewhere, everyday.
Fly sheets keep tourists informed.
Dance/Opera: State Opera, Estates Theatre, National Theatre, Duncan
Theatre: Puppet Opera has a very popular long-run 'Don Giovanni'
at the National Marionette Theatre. Impressive and funny at first,
but too long.
English language shows are held at Black Box International Theatre
and Misery Loves Company.
Live Music and Clubs: Stare Mesto and Zizkov have endless venues offering all kinds of performances ranging from old-fashioned jazz to off-the-wall experimental insanity.
Check English language Prague Post 'Night and Day' section for event
info and listings.
Tickets can be bought from the venue or try ticket agencies: Bohemia
Ticket International, Ticketpro.
Some popular souvenirs are:
Fine Bohemian crystal, ceramics, wooden toys, Easter eggs (Kraslice)
Touristy: Around the Old Town Square and en route to the Castle
(The Royal Way) are endless shops for puppets, Kafka or communist
T-shirts, Russian stuff, and matrioshka dolls.
Classy: Wenceslas Square, Parizska trida near the Old Town
Square, and Na Prikope area.
Wacky: Back streets in Stare Mesto and Mala Strana.
Agree the price of all journeys in advance as the meter rate
is fixed by the driver and often results in massive overcharging. If there's a problem at the end of the trip offer to call the police (158). Best to get a proper taxi from a hotel or station rank, or call one.
Pickpocketing is endemic in Praga (much of it perpetrated by East Europeans) and the police are of no use at all so look after yourself. Regular tourists or backpackers are all targets, especially if they are drunk and careless.
Basic rules are: never keep a wallet in an outside pocket and preferably leave most of your money in a hotel safe or stashed in your underpants; keep backpacks closed/locked; keep cameras hidden when not in use; don't wear flash clothing; be very aware in danger zones such as crowded trams, buses and main tourist attractions such as Charles Bridge (photo above). Also beware sleeper trains and lock bags to luggage racks.
Meat (especially boiled beef) and heavy soups (chicken or potato)
are an essential part of old Czech culture and all available in
The good news for vegetarians in Prague is that many pub/restaurants
now serve vegetarian meals or dishes excluding dead animals, and
there are plenty of good pizzerias too.
Beer: Pilsner is the most popular local brew, but Budvar - the original/tastier
Budweiser - is Bugbog's choice. And by the way, to test the quality of the draft beer you are served put a coin on its head. If it takes at least half a second to drop through then you have a proper Czech beer!
Wine: Moravia's red wines are fine and bargain prices.
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