Prague (Czech: Praha) is the capital city and largest city of the Czech Republic. It is one of the largest cities of Central Europe and has served as the capital of the historic region of Bohemia for centuries. This magical city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes, has been mirrored in the surface of the swan-filled Vltava River for more than ten centuries.
Weather in Prague
Spring season - is maybe one of the best times to come for a visit, especially in the month of May. All the nature wakes up after months of hibernation. The cherish atmosphere when everything comes back to their lives is all around. Summer months - are a very popular touristic season and no wonder why. The weather is warm and sunny but sometimes the heat waves are overwhelming so the people with respiratory problems may have some trouble. The rain showers come up more often than any other time.
Colourful and chilly - these two characteristics define the fall/autumn season. Getting dressed warmer is a must because the wind and overcast sky may get in your way. Nevertheless there are also these beautiful sunshine days that literally call you out for a walk.
In the winter Prague has definitely its own magic – but it can be very cold!!!
What to see in Prague
- Prague Castle. This is the biggest ancient castle in the world, according to Guinness World Records, and rises like a dream above the city offering beautiful views of the areas below. Also on site is the St. Vitus Cathedral with its lookout tower, the Castle Picture Gallery , several palaces and museums and the beautiful Royal Garden, among others. You can also watch the Presidential Guard, and the changeover of the guards on duty on the hour. A Prague castle ticket is 350 CZK and an audio guide costs a further 350 CZK.
- Charles Bridge connects Old Town with Lesser Town. Its construction started in the 14th century and it is one of Prague's most beautiful structures. During the day, it is a bustling place of trade and entertainment, as musicians busk and artists sell their paintings and jewelry.
- Old Town (Staré město); Prague's historic centre includes numerous historic buildings and monuments, most notably the famed Astronomical Clock (Orloj), the pure GothicTýn Church, the mural-covered Storch building, and the Jan Hus monument. Nearby, the Estate Theatre is a neoclassical theatre where Mozart's opera Don Giovanni was first performed. Old Town features many historical churches (St. James Church, Church of Our Lady before Týn among others) and some other interesting historical buildings like the Old Town Hall.
- Josefov; this historic Jewish ghetto is interesting for its well preserved synagogues. The Old New Synagogue (Czech: Staronová synagoga) is Europe's oldest active synagogue and it is rumoured to be the resting place of the famed Prague Golem. Another interesting synagogue is the Spanish Synagogue, a highly ornamental building of Moorish style. Other attractions include the Old Jewish Cemetery, which is the oldest in Europe, and Kafka's house.
- New Town (Nové město); New Town was established as an extension of Old Town in the 14th century, though much of the area has now been reconstructed. The main attraction here is Wenceslas Square, a rectangular commercial square with many stalls, shops and restaurants. At the top of the square is the National Museum which is well worth a look (see below). Midway down this historic boulevard, one finds trendy discos and Art Nouveau hotels, as well as quaint parks and arcades, while just off the beaten path are some wonderful panoramic views (Henry Tower), romantic restaurants and the dazzling, Disney-colored Jubilee Synagogue.
- Lesser Town (Malá strana); Across the Vltava River from the city centre and leading to the castle, this quarter also offers beautiful streets and churches (of which St. Nicholas Church is the most renowned). The Lennon Wall, which used to be a source of irritation to the communist regime, is also found here, near a Venetian-like canal with water wheel and close to the Charles Bridge.
- Infant of Prague (Jezulátko). This famous statue of Christ, known also as the Holy Infant of Prague, is among the most widespread religious images in the world. The original statue can be seen in the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Lesser Town.
- Loreta. A beautiful Baroque convent in the Lesser Town.
- Strahov Monastery. A monastery on the mountain. Worth a visit for both its picture gallery and its notable Renaissance library.
- Prague Dancing House (Fred and Ginger Building); one of the most fascinating architectural expressions of Prague co-designed by Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry. Accessible from Karlovo náměstí metro station.
- Prague Zoo. To get there, take Metro C to Nadrazi Holesovice, then bus 112 which terminates at the Zoo. Nearby is the Troja Chateau (Trojský Zámek) with a large garden displaying various sculptures and a Botanic Garden (Botanická zahrada Troja) with a tropical greenhouse.
- Czech National Gallery (Národní galerie). Its most important collections are in the Sternberg Palace (up to to the Baroque), St George Convent (Czech Baroque and Mannerism) and Veletržní Palace (19th century and modern art). The first two are located near and in the castle respectively.
- Czech National Museum (Národní muzeum). An association of various museums. The main building is at the Wenceslas Square and is dedicated to natural history (this branch is closed until 2017). Other branches include museums of the Czech composers Dvořák and Smetana, Czech Music Museum, Historical Pharmacy Museum, Prince Lobkovicz' Collection at the Prague Castle, Czech Ethnographical Museum and Naprstek Anthropological Museum.
- Prague City Gallery. A museum of modern Czech arts divided between several sites most of which are in the old town. Its main building is the House of the Golden Ring at the Old Town Square featuring 20th Century Czech art in a beautiful medieval edifice. 19th Century Czech art is exhibited at the Troja Castle.
What to do in Prague
- Running Tours Prague, 24/7. Activity for those into running who want to explore the city and stay fit. As the concept becomes common in Europe/USA, there are several operators in Prague as well. It combines fitness, culture, adventure, leisure and fun. Sightrunning enables you to see most of the Prague's musts in 90 minutes. The guides are locals with perfect English and good humour, insiders both in terms of running and the city.
- If you want to discover Prague on your own, this is possible by renting a bike. However, if you want to explore the city and learn about culture and history it’s recommended to do a guided bike tour. Two bike tour companies which give bike tours as well as they offer the possibility to rent a bike are Baja Bikes and Biko Adventures. By doing a bike tour you’ll get familiar with the city’s highlights and its history in a few hours.
- For the travelers who want to get a real taste of Prague, you can join real native people that will show you their city around. Everyday with small groups they share their passion of the Magical city during 90 minutes walking tours. This service is free, guests choose their tip. Learn about the main landmarks but also the everyday life, the best addresses from young energetic, fun and educated guides.
What to eat in Prague
Lunch is traditionally the main meal in Prague. Czech cuisine is typically based around pork or chicken with starchy side dishes such as dumplings, potatoes, or fries. Fish and beef is not as popular, though these days it is widely available. Popular Czech desserts include fruit dumplings (ovocné knedlíky), crêpes or ice cream. Most restaurants become very crowded during lunch and dinner, so consider making a reservation or eating earlier than the locals.
If you're on the look out for fast food, you won't be able to move without tripping over street vendors serving Czech style hot dogs and mulled wine in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square in New Town. If you're after Western-style fast food, the major chains also have a large presence in Wenceslas Square and the area immediately around it. Most beer halls also serve light snacks or meals. Definitely try the hot dogs (párek v rohlíku) - they're far superior to the greasy, messy version you get in the West. Small, hollowed-out Czech rolls are used for the bread, filled with mustard and ketchup, and then the frankfurter is inserted afterwards. This turns the bread into a convenient carry-case and means you don't get ketchup all over your hands. Make sure you get mustard, even if you don't normally like it - unfortunately the hot dogs are somewhat flavorless and need that extra bit of kick.Beware of food stalls / street vendors in Wencelas Square
. Some of them will target tourists by providing them with extra products they did not ask for and not giving enough change. These stalls are also by far the most common place tourists get food poisoning in Prague.
Shopping in Prague
The streets around Old Town are full of gift shops geared towards tourists, selling Bohemian crystal, soccer shirts and other mass-produced memorabilia. The thoroughfare between Charles Bridge and Old Town Square is particularly bad, turning off into one of the laneways you can find the exact same merchandise for half the price. If you are looking for some decent souvenirs, try to get off the beaten path. Street vendors can have some unexpected treasures and there are plenty in the Charles Bridge area. Prints of paintings and good quality photos are very popular, and a really good way to remember Prague. Don't bother buying overpriced furry hats and Matryoshka dolls, though, because they have nothing to do with Prague - they are Russian in origin, and their sellers are just trying to capitalize on unknowing tourists.
In December, the squares host Christmas Markets selling a mix of arts, craft, food, drink and Prague memorabilia. The markets are an attraction in their own right and a great place to pick up a more unique memento of the city.
There are several large shopping malls in Prague, you should take "Na Prikope" street - the 18th most expensive street in the world (measured by the price of property), with famous shopping arcades "Cerna ruze" (Black rose) and "Palac Myslbek" and many shops. If you are looking for souvenir shops, you will find them in the city's historical centre - mostly around Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and Prague Castle. There are many other shops offering Bohemian crystal - especially in the centre near the lower end of Wenceslas Square. The other typical (if rather expensive) Czech goods is the garnet jewellery - typical Czech garnet stones (gathered near the town of Turnov) are dark red and nowadays are produced by a single company - Granat Turnov - and if you buy genuine traditional Czech garnet, you should get a certificate of authenticity. "Pařížská" street goes from Old Town Square towards the river - and includes some of the most luxurious (and expensive) boutiques in Prague.
Nightlife in Prague
Prague has a rich and varied nightlife that can offer the right type of entertainment to almost anyone. While pubs and restaurants are typically closed by midnight, many bars and clubs remain open and hopping until early morning hours. You can dance all night at one of Prague's many discos and music clubs, have a cocktail or beer at a bar, and enjoy live music of all kinds.
So many bars, discos & music clubs, and jazz clubs are so different and for everyone in Prague. They all serve beers. Czech beers are among the best and cheapest in the world. Brands to look out for include Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Staropramen and Budweiser (Budvar).
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