Five Attractions You Shouldn’t Miss in Prague

Eastern Europe — By on July 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm

By Edd Morris

Charmingly cobbled and surprisingly cosmopolitan, Prague’s rightfully one of the most attractive destinations in Europe. From baroque squares to renaissance churches, the diminutive historic centre heaves with centuries of architectural triumphs, all jostling for the attention of the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the city every year.

And therein lies Prague’s greatest tragedy: the sheer numbers of other tourists can detract from the beauty of the old town. To make the most of your visit, be prepared: use My Destination Prague to list your must-sees before you arrive; pack a fair amount of good humor and patience for dealing with fellow travelers; and don’t forget your strong shoes for the cobbled streets. You’ll be rewarded with one of Europe’s most beguiling cities – here are five amazing sights to whet your appetite.

Explore Prague Castle – an UNESCO world heritage site

The vast grounds of Prague Castle are a magnet for tourists exploring the city’s historic heartlands. Despite initial impressions, the castle isn’t just one big fortress: it’s a collection of palaces and churches built through the centuries, partially enclosed by moats and thick curtain walls. You can wander around parts of the atmospheric complex for free, but entrance to most individual buildings is ticketed. Be warned that ticket prices border on the extortionate so, unless you’re a huge castle enthusiast, the ‘Short Tour’ option is probably sufficient.

Admire a panorama of Prague from the deck of the TV Tower

The one blip in Prague’s architectural heritage is the communist-era Žižkov TV Tower, which, at 709ft, rather dominates the city’s skyline. Time hasn’t been kind to the tower, and, to add to its incongruous appearance, the edifice is adorned with sculptures of creepy babies (with coin-slots in the place of heads), climbing ominously towards the zenith. It’s best not to dwell on this weirdness, and instead speed up to the 328ft viewing deck which offers a magnificent panorama of the entire city.

Enjoy a Budvar in a laidback, streetside cafe

Thankfully, in recent years, Prague’s lost a good deal of its least-likable visitors: boozy tourists from Western Europe intent on guzzling a lifetime’s worth of cheap beer in one weekend. Nowadays, a cool Budvar in one of Prague’s traditional cafes is a much more pleasant way to while away an hour of the afternoon, while you watch the tides of tourists streaming by the breezy, open windows.

Take a breath of fresh air in Divoká Šárka Gorge

If the hoards of tourists are getting a bit too much for you, catch a tram to the Divoká Šárka  park on the outskirts of the city. It’s a bit more interesting than your average town park, offering a rugged, rocky landscape; rolling hills with lovely city-views; and a chilly freshwater swimming-pool fed by nearby streams. It’s a brilliant place to catch your breath and enjoy a little solitude: and, in the summer, definitely a spot to take a picnic.

Wake up aboard a floating hotel

Prague’s popularity shows no signs of waning, and, as a result, convenient hotels in Prague are always in high demand. However, ingenious hoteliers have found a way to squeeze more accommodation into the old town: by creating floating ‘boatels’ harbored along the Vltava riverbank. The bobbing boatels offer luxurious accommodation in small cabins, with the benefit that you’re moored near to all the biggest attractions. Don’t be afraid to be a little picky about the room you’re given, though, as some lower-deck cabins can be rather dark.
Edd Morris has been a Londoner since 2005. That hasn’t cured his itchy feet – he still loves traveling the world in search of spicy food and someone to practice Spanish with.

Tags: , , ,