By Molly Golubcow
From Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible to Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, the fairytale rooftops, cobblestone streets, and scenic architecture make Prague a magical locale. However, you don’t have to be part of a Hollywood movie crew to savor the “City of 1,000 Spires.” From the iconic architectural clock in the Old Town Square to crossing over the Vitva River on the Charles Bridge, Prague shines bright as one of Europe’s most charming cities.
Put On Your Walking Shoes and “Czech” It Out
Prague, the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, absolutely begs you to walk her streets. The old town, with winding lanes lined with quaint shops and cafes, transforms into a meanderer’s dream come true. So, go ahead and get lost; take a round-about route and see what you can discover as you stroll the serpentine streets.
If you start your walk at the Old Town Square, make sure to see the figures change on the medieval astronomical clock in the Town Hall Tower. The moving 12 Apostles sculptures, carved out of wood, appear every time the clock strikes the hour. In addition to the apostles, figures representing the vices - vanity, greed, and lust – all rotate when the clock strikes. For breath-taking views of the Old Town Square, climb up the Town Hall Tower. It’s worth the steps!
Another required walk is crossing the Charles Bridge - built by Charles IV over 700 years ago using sandstone blocks. Since vehicles are prohibited, your feet (or bicycles) are the only ways you're permitted to cross from one side of the city to another on the bridge. As you do, visit the vendors lined up on both sides of the bridge – local artisans and jewelry, caricature artists, and musicians from jazz to classical.
Photo ops on the bridge are a must - from any vantage point. In addition, check out the statues of saints adorning the 16 pillars that support the iconic bridge.
Although walking is the best way to experience the twists and turns of Prague, city bikes and electric scooter rentals are everywhere. Another fun way to sightsee Prague, although definitely off your feet, is via classic antique cars from the 1930s. With the top down, sit back and relax while sipping sparkling Prosecco as your guide shares stories about Prague.
Must See Tours
Every city boasts its “must-see” sites. When in Prague, Prague Castle is the most visited landmark. Built in the 9th century, the massive structure is the largest ancient castle in the world.
Take the tour and learn how the word defenestrate, as in to throw a person out of a window, became part of the English vocabulary in Prague Castle centuries ago!
Another must-visit is the Cathedral of Saint Vitus – the largest and most important church in the country. Complete with eerie gargoyles and towering spires, the church stands as a classic example of Gothic architecture. The interior is jaw-dropping - a triple-aisled basilica with two choirs. In addition, crypts of saints, some emblazed with stunning silver décor, are a marvel. Stained-glass windows adorn the entire church including the impressive rose window created in 1927 by Art Nouveau artist, Alfons Mucha – a Czech native son.
Once you cross Charles Bridge from the castle over to the Old Town, explore the Jewish Quarter. Established in the 13th century as a mandatory Jewish ghetto until the mid-1800s, several synagogues, and buildings that are now used as museums still remain. Behind the Klausen Synagogue, visit the ghetto’s small Jewish cemetery – ranked by National Geographic as one of the world’s most interesting cemeteries. Walk peacefully among the 12,000 gravestones protruding over souls stacked 12 layers deep, in some places.
“Czech” Out the Food
Let’s start with the most incredible dessert you can buy while strolling through Prague - Trdelník (Chimney Cake). Picture this – fresh dough rolled out like ribbons are wrapped around a long dowl and baked in front of you. Then, the freshly cooked dough, now resembling a large crunchy on the outside, but churro-like on the inside cone, is generously rolled in cinnamon sugar! Next, select filling for your chimney – ice cream, custard, and/or toppings like whip cream or strawberries. No, do not worry about a single calorie! Enjoy every delectable bite as you stroll through Prague.
Other local dishes include paprika-packed goulashes – meat and vegetable stews. Whether served with bread dumplings or over noodles, partake in a local Czech beer, like a Pilsner Lager, to pair the meal. One more food favorite in Prague that is a must try – Palačinky. Similar to crepes, these paper-thin pancakes can be filled with jam, sweet cheese, ice cream, whipped cream, or Nutella.
Regardless of what you select to eat in Prague, it’s all good and so are the picturesque surroundings - from the Charles Bridge to the Old Town Square - Prague wishes you Dobrou Chu – enjoy your meal!