Astronomical clock, Prague
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Astronomical clock, Prague

© / Jeff Whyte

Prague travel guide

Few cities in Europe can rival the old-world beauty and charm of Prague. Yet there is more to this colourful Czech capital then meets the eye, with a layered appeal that goes beyond its cobbled streets and lovely, meandering river.

The bridges, spires and hilltop castles of the city combine to heart-melting effect, particularly if you’re lucky enough to stumble into an unexpected garden within its hidden courtyards. Prague’s flourishing art and dining scene thrive, and its live entertainment is almost as renowned as its graceful and varied architecture.

A smorgasbord of classical sites and exuberant monuments, it goes without saying that the city is no longer a secret. There was a time when Prague’s impeccably preserved Old City seemed to emerge onto travellers’ maps out of nowhere; its medieval lanes and squares untouched by extensive wartime bombing.

These days it’s become a key stop-off on the continental tour, and despite the summer throng, it remains a very special place. If you’re canny enough to visit over winter, when its snow-crusted roofs and icicle-laden churches add to the atmosphere, you’ll find far fewer visitors.

The city’s past makes for a labyrinthine tale of both high living and hard fortune, and its dramatic history informs much of its character. It’s lived through royal upheavals and renaissance movements and spent time under Nazi occupation and Soviet control. For heritage buffs, there’s a huge amount to delve into.

Quintessential sights include the statue-studded Charles Bridge and the immense Prague Castle. Wander historic alleyways in search of secluded chapels, concealed courtyards and traditional Czech pubs selling world-class beers. The appeal of this UNESCO-listed historic centre never ends; with the bonus of a burgeoning array of luxury hotels, contemporary dining, shopping and entertainment.

There are superb galleries, sobering museums and speaker-shaking nightclubs. Food, drink and nights out are all taken seriously here, so those in search of meaningful nightlife will find far more to enjoy than the stag-do clichés.

The Czech capital is a city you can fall in love with. It’s somewhere to feast on delicious and traditional cuisine and sink into a blend of architecture that ranges from Gothic to cubism. It’s a place to enjoy bold, humorous works of art before taking a walk in a riverside park. Prague is somewhere to enjoy at length.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.