Things to do in Prague

There's so much to see and do in Prague, you should plan on at least three to four days to cover the main sites and perhaps explore some of the lesser know attractions.

As the center of art and culture in Bohemia for hundreds of years, Prague is bursting at the seams with wonderful places to explore. The first place people head to is Old Town, with it's huge square surrounded by colorfully painted buildings. This is the center of the tourist district and pedestrian malls radiate in several directions from the square enticing you to stroll and shop.

Restaurants and a crafts market line the perimeter of the square and you should sample some of the food and drink available here. The world famous Astrological/Astronomical (1410) clock is here. Every hour (on the hour) you can see this clock do its thing which consists of doors opening and apostles peering out while death tolls the hour. It's one of Prague's must sees, along with the Castle and Charles Bridge.

Not far from the Old Town square is Charles Bridge, where artists and craftsmen also ply their wares, while dark religious statues tower over the sea of tourists. Charles Bridge crosses the Vltava River which bisects Prague and carries boat traffic, mostly tourists. The views from this bridge and the others are usually spectacular. You can visit the Charles Bridge tower.

Prague Castle can be reached by crossing over the Charles Bridge and walking up the hill or take the funicular to the park above (where there's a replica of the Eiffel tower) and walk down to the Castle. This landmark is visible from much of Prague and is home to the Czech president and has housed the leaders of Bohemia for almost a thousand years. St. Vitus' Cathedral (1344) and the Royal Palace are just a couple of places worthing visiting in the Castle.

At the foot of the castle are gardens that go down to Mala Strana, where there are many small hotels and restaurants.

Boat Cruise: The Vltava river, which bisects Prague, hosts a wide range of boat cruises, which offer not only fine views of Prague, but dinner and music too. We recommend the Jazz boat, but there are many others from a short 45 minute no frills tour to a whole evening on the water. You can even rent small rowboats or paddle boats. The cruises are very popular with tourists in summer, you can book in advance, but there's usually room until the boat leaves the dock.

Wenceslaus Square. This is the more modern shopping area where you can go to take care of any business you might have. It's a pleasant shop-lined street with department stores like C&A, Tesco and others.

Shopping: There's many bargains to find in Prague, especially if you like crystal, cut and colored glass, ceramics, marionettes, art and antiques. These can all be found in shops around the city.

Music: Prague is alive with music, and you'll hear it everywhere; in cafes, pubs, restaurants, churches and concert halls. For a treat, you should find a restaurant with live music to accompany your meal. Jazz, classical and traditional Czech music are the most common. For a real treat you could fork up around 17 Euros for a live concert at one of the many smaller churches in the Old Town which present an array of Classical music almost every day of the week. Or better still, for around 30 Euros you could take in a real Opera, like Mozart's famous Don Giovanni which made it's debut in Prague.

Food: Eating out is possibly the most popular activity in Prague, and for good reason. The food is usually good to excellent, there are so many places to choose from that you'll easily find something you like and of course the price is about half what you would pay in Western Europe for a meal. In addition to the Czech specialities which revolve around meat, potatoes and a few veggies, you can find many other popular cuisines including French, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Vegetarian, even kosher food.

Drinking: Everybody hears the same story about Prague, even before they visit. "The beer is good and cheap." This is so true, there's no need to repeat it further. However we must mention that not only is the beer good, it's also very strong, often 11% alcohol, which makes it as strong as wine. And of course they serve it up in half-liter mugs, which you can request by asking for a "big beer." One or two of these are enough to accompany a meal. There are several popular brands of beer, the worst of which is the same name as the world's most popular beer, Budweiser. I suggest you avoid that one, which lacks a lot of flavor and robust character that makes all the other Czech beers so special, even though it tastes far better than the American version. My favorites were Staropromen and Krusovice, with the latter having the most flavor. Czech beer is SO good, it's no wonder the Czech lead the world in per capita beer consumption!

Petrin Hill: On a hill (1043') overlooking the city and the Vlatava River is a large park. It has a replica of the Eiffel tower that stands 203 ft tall. You can climb up the towers many steps and take in the awesome view. Access to the park is either via a steep climb or taxi ride or try the funicular to the top.

Old Jewish Quarter and Jewish Cemetary: The plight of the jews in Prague seems to go back many centuries, but the Nazi era resulted in the death of so many of Prague's jews that the Cemetary stands as a monument for oppression and is a must see. Likewise some of the old synagogues are now popular tourist attractions as well as important historical artifacts.

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