Prague has long broken free of its Communist ties and continues to attract travellers from across the world, drawn to the party atmosphere by night and the spectacular architecture by day. Your best bet is to visit during the shoulder seasons to avoid the peak crowds and take your time to explore and immerse yourself in the fascinating culture and history.
Prague was built between the 11th and 18th century and as you’d expect boasts rich and varied architecture with fine Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings on display. UNESCO listed since 1992; if you look carefully you’ll also find examples of Art Nouveau, Neo Classical and even Cubist architecture on offer. Prague was joint host of the European Capital of Culture in 2000. Wander the Old Town’s medieval lanes and take in the magnificent buildings including Hradcani Castle, Charles Bridge, St Vitus Cathedral and the plethora of 14th century royal churches and palaces. Prague will also host the UEFA Super Cup 2013 at the Eden Arena in August.
Walk the Old Town
The oldest area of Prague and certainly the most heritage-rich has to be the Old Town (Stare Mesto) which is brimming with fine architectural examples. Spend time in the Old Town Square where the buildings will astound you during your stay in Prague. Admire the richness of the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque structures. Check out the Jan Hus monument which pays homage to the great religious reformer. Wander the fine gothic Convent of St Agnes and admire the Art Nouveau within the Municipal Hall. Learn about the past whilst in the Old Town at the interesting Museum of Communism and learn about Art Nouveau at the Mucha Museum and the cubism movement at the Museum of Czech Cubism.
Explore the fascinating Castle District
The stunning centrepiece of the Castle district is, as you’d expect, the magnificent Prague Castle itself, the Hradcani. Formerly the seat of the King, today it is the seat of the Czech president. This is in fact the biggest medieval castle complex on earth. Buy some Prague Castle tickets to explore the area and prepare yourself for large crowds. Within the Old Royal Palace you can wander the chapel, state rooms and throne room. At the center of the castle complex lies the St. Vitus Cathedral which dates back to the 14th century, with many later additions. See the rose window and gargoyles of the Western portal and the Flying Buttresses in the eastern section. Also within the Castle is the gallery at the Lobkowicz Palace, St. George’s Basilica which houses the remains of Princess Ludmila, the first Czech saint. The Royal Garden offers a spectacular view of the river and the Prague Castle Picture Gallery contains original works of art that belonged to Rudolph II.
Discover Lesser Town
Enjoy a walking tour of ‘Lesser Town’ which, despite its name, is no less grand than the rest of Prague! Visit the Charles Bridge which is the longest in Europe and also the most beautiful medieval bridge. Charles IV who was the King of Bohemia and Moravia commissioned the bridge in 1357. Additions were made over the years including 36 statues of saints in Baroque style added in the 17th century. There are also 16 arches looping over the bridge. Whilst in Lesser Town, also visit the famous Child Jesus of Prague statue which came from [ain in the 16th century.
Wander Prague’s New Town
Despite the name, the New Town district actually dates back to the 14th century. Spend the day visiting the large history and nature museum at the National Museum and the Museum of Communism which details the Communist Czechoslovakia from 1948 to 1989 via exhibits. At night the Wenceslas Square area comes alive with a wide variety of bars, clubs and restaurants. Notable monuments in New Town include the St. Wenceslas statue and the bizarre Dancing House is quite a sight to behold, as it appears to collapse in on itself.
Reflect and ponder in the Jewish Quarter
The Jewish Quarter lends itself perfectly to quiet contemplation of the past, as you wander the district where thousands were confined. As you’d expect there are several fine examples of Synagogues ere including the 13th century Old-New Synagogue, the Klausen Synagogue, the neo-Renaissance and Moorish-Spanish style Spanish Synagogue and the moving Pinkas Synagogue, which displays the names of all 77,297 Jews that were killed during the war. In the district are also the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Church of the Holy Ghost.
See the city on a Segway
For a tour with a difference try it onboard a Segway! This has to be one of the most unique things to do in Prague! Join an organised tour that takes in the main sights of Prague. Sure you can take a walking tour or explore by bike, but a truly modern Segway is the only way to travel.
Enjoy some downtime at Prague Zoo
Exploring Prague can be pretty full-on especially for kids, whose tolerance of historical sights will only last so long! For a change of scene visit the Prague Zoo which is now one of the best in Europe, thanks to a recent extensive renovation. Opened in 1931, the zoo today houses nearly 4,500 mammals, birds and reptiles on the 111 acres (45 ha) site.