Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a city of visual delights — a hilltop castle, a grand medieval square, a hauntingly beautiful bridge — that enchants visitors with its exceptionally well-preserved Old Town and its proud Slavic culture. Bisected by the Vltava River, the capital of the Czech Republic is a highly walkable city (there are terrific trams and subways, too) notable as both the birthplace of Franz Kafka and a hotbed of beer culture.
What We Love
Old Town Square: One of Europe’s most atmospheric squares dates to the 12th century and remains Prague’s vibrant heart — as well as the home of its Christmas Market. Here, all eyes are drawn skyward by the fairytale-like twin spires of Týn Church and Old Town Hall’s striking tower with its 600-year-old astronomical clock offering an hourly procession of apostles.
Charles Bridge: It’s impossible to walk across it just once. Linking the winding streets of Malá Strana (little side or Lesser Town) with the more commercialized areas of Staré Mesto (Old Town), Karlův most, as it is known in Czech, is lined with 30 weathered statues of religious figures and offers perfect castle views. Most amazing of all: It was completed in 1402 (the statues were added in the late 17th century) and survived World War II unscathed.
Best Known For
Prague Castle: You can’t miss this 1,000-year-old walled fortress — it’s the largest castle in the world. Climb the streets and steps of Hradcany (or take a taxi) to explore medieval St. Vitus Cathedral (known for its stained-glass windows), the Gothic Royal Palace, and the colorful little houses of Golden Lane, while enjoying a view of the entire city.
Beer Halls: Czechs drink more beer per capita than any other nation, and you can join the sudsy revelry in beer halls that range from young and rowdy to intimate and mellow.
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Who It's Best For
Romantics: This city is seductive, an ideal place to stroll back through time hand in hand with a loved one — although the constant crowds can challenge the mood.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It Can Feel Disney-esque: The facades of Prague’s buildings are so ornate and meticulously restored that at times they seem almost too perfect.
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Coastal Living and Islands.