Receiving over 4.4 million visitors every year, Prague is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Its history spanning over a millenium, numerous historical and architectural monuments and rich culture have been a source of interest to millions of people all over the world.
Prague is the largest city and also the capital city of the Czech Republic. Going as far back as the ninth century, the city’s history has been marked with numerous ups and downs. Fortunately, events such as World War II did little damage to historic buildings and monuments that exist to date.
A visit to Prague will bring you face to face with amazing architecture, numerous monuments, exquisite cuisine from all over the world and unique cultural practices. You can also indulge yourself in the throbbing nightlife of the city or attend one of the many events held there.
The best time to visit Prague is during spring and summer.. In spring the landscape blooms as nature takes life and wakes up from the long cold spell. Summers come with high day temperatures and cool nights. You should also expect heavy rains during summer months. In winters, get ready for almost-freezing temperatures and snow cover in the months starting from mid-November to march.
When you are deciding which Prague sights to visit, there are various major towns and quarters you should consider going to.
1. Mala Strana (Lesser Town)
You can find this quarter just across Vltava River from the city on your way to the Castle. Some of the most famous sights in Mala Strana are;
- Prague Castle, which is one of the most popular sites in Prague. This castle has housed kings, presidents and even Holy Roman emperors. Currently, it is the official residence of the president of the country.
- St. Vitus Cathedral located inside the Prague Castle compounds. The Roman Catholic cathedral currently serves as the center for the Archbishop of Prague. It also serves as a Gothic architectural attraction.
- The Lennon wall.
- Charles Bridge, one of the most picturesque places in the city. The bridge is built over the Vltava River and its construction dates as far back as 1357.
- Saint Nicholas church. Also known as the Church of Saint Nicholas, it is a Baroque Church built in the 1700s.
- Church of Our Lady Victorious. This church is famous for the Child-Jesus wooden Statue called Infant Jesus of Prague.
- Pisek Gate, also known as Bruska gate.
- Franz Kafka museum.
2. Stare Mesto (Old Town)
This is majorly a historic centre.
- The oldest working Astronomical clock in the world. It was installed in 1410.
- Church of Our Lady before Tyn, a 14th century Gothic church.
- Museum of decorative Arts which features numerous collections of toys, textile, glass and furniture.
- The Baroque Clam-Gallas Palace.
Near Old Town, there is the Jewish ghetto known as Josefov. It features the oldest synagogue in Europe, the Spanish synagogue, Kafka’s house and the Old Jewish cemetery.
3. Nove Mesto (New Town)
It was constructed in the 14 century as an extension of Stare Mesto or Old Town.
Other places worth of a visit include the Strahov monastery on Mount Worth, the Prague dancing house, the Prague Giant metronome the Prague Christmas markets and many others. It is impossible to list all the interesting sites you should not miss out on. To get the full experience, plan for a long holiday in the city. You can explore the many Museums, Theatres and Galleries.
There are many restaurants in Prague serving a wide variety of foods and drinks, both local and foreign. The best meal of the day is usually lunch where you can eat at a discount in most restaurants. You may however have to ask for a menu that’s in English rather than Czech.
The main meal is usually centered around chicken or pork. The side dishes consist of starchy foods such as fries, dumplings or potatoes. You can also get beef and fish although they are not as popular. For the dessert, you can go with ice cream, crepes or fruit dumplings.
Transport around the city
Public transportation is very efficient and well organized in most areas. You can therefore expect to move around with minimal problems.
• Over short distances, the best way to visit popular sites is by walking. However, the cobbled streets might prove troublesome for the elderly and disabled.
• A faster way to travel around is by using trams and metros. They start operating in the morning at around 5am till around midnight. To find the schedules, visit the stops where they are displayed.
• An alternative to trams and metros is the shuttle service. These minibuses are good for door to door transportation and for those coming from out of town.
• You can also get a taxi although public transportation is usually better. To avoid being swindled only call a taxi from major taxi companies.
• Try a boat for travelling along Vltava River. There are various steamboat companies which offer sightseeing services along the river.
As a visitor, moving around the city can prove to be a headache. The most important thing is to have a guidebook and to look out for anyone who might con you. Taxi drivers are especially notorious for swindling money out of tourists.
The city’s rich and varied culture ensures that several festivals are carried out annually. Some of the most popular ones are film festivals, music festivals with the best known one being the Prague Spring International Music Festival, writers’ festivals, cultural festivals and fashion shows.
Recent major events hosted by the city include the 2002 NATO Summit, IAU General Assembly in 2006, USA and Russia Summit in 2010 and World Bank summit in 2000.
Basically, Prague is a city that caters to almost all types of tourists. Whether it is a family, a business traveler, a romantic honeymoon or an individual wanderer, there is something for everyone.