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Wines of Eastern Europe: Vienna, Budapest & Prague11 days from $2,559 (USD)
Get a taste of Eastern Europe’s most dynamic cities.
The last twenty years have been exceptionally kind to the Czech Republic. While many areas of the former Soviet block are still wastelands of cold concrete and destroyed glory, this peaceful country has slowly, surely regained its historic splendor. The Republic has a long and proud history as the home of royalty, artists, and intellectuals, and today a certain kind of person will always be drawn to this place: someone artsy, brooding, intensely cultured, maybe a little cynical.
It’s true that many tourists never make it outside the capital, but those who limit their Czech explorations to Prague are missing out. While Prague ranks right alongside Vienna as one of the Central European region’s great treasures, there is much more to see and do than can be contained within one city. Resort towns surrounded by curative hot springs, storybook-perfect countrysides, churches packed with the tombs of saints and kings, and dozens of castles await in the Czech Republic, just begging you to explore. Whether you consider yourself a refined aesthete or simply someone with a soul that sings in the presence of beauty, this is a country that will stay in your heart for a long time.
Top Czech Republic Attractions
Divided primly in half by the Vltava river, Prague’s mixture of old-world charm and slightly neurotic artsiness is altogether captivating. The older parts of town—the Little Quarter and the actual Old Town—are enchanting spiderwebs of narrow alleys and delicate, fantastic construction. One could spend days getting lost in the streets and not see the same thing twice nor grow bored of the experience. Experience the romance of Prague Castle and the splendid Charles Bridge, as well as the sprawling, magnificent heights of St. Vitus’ Cathedral—the church that took the better part of six centuries to complete. Indeed, Prague is known for its towering spires and fairytale architecture. To visit here is to see and breathe beauty with every step and every moment.
Danube River Cruises
The mighty Danube flows through ten countries, of which the Czech Republic is one. Not for nothing are Danube pleasure cruises a perennial favorite of holidaymakers—the scenery is gorgeous, the experience is peaceful and relaxing, and you get to sample the best food and finest sights that the country has to offer! The cruise ships are like floating hotels, with every comfort and amenity you could ask for, and many itineraries are offered. Discover the inspiration behind the vast body of music and art dedicated to these waters, and immerse yourself in the national culture with a wide overview of culture, history, and architecture. If your Czech tour is part of a greater Central European itinerary, a cruise is a fantastic way to take in many “must see” stops in the region.
The Christmas markets of Europe are a cultural institution, and Prague’s Christmas markets are attractions unto themselves—some of the best to be found. In December, when night falls on the Old Town, the squares transform into brightly-lit festivals dedicated to holiday celebration. These are great places to pick up some of the city’s exceptional food and drink, take a stroll, and pick up some unique gifts and souvenirs to remind you of your time in Prague. Artwork and handicrafts always represent a strong sampling of the city’s wares. The combination of quintessential “winter wonderland” weather and twinkly lights bring both locals and visitors together in an unforgettable celebration of this special time of year.
The rose-colored churches of Český Krumlov glow warm in the morning light as you venture early in the day toward this UNESCO World Heritage Site. This small Bohemian outpost is nevertheless one of the Republic’s most notable sites for tourism. You simply must take a guided tour of the castle and chateau, which is not only the country’s second-largest but is known for its exemplary Italian gardens. Busses litter the streets and disgorge heaps of day visitors around midday, but the finest experience is had by those who bide overnight and get to experience a moonlit stroll of one of Central Europe’s jewels while light emanates from the palace like a beacon.
The Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV founded Karlovy Vary, or Carlsbad, which even today bears a derivative of his name. This famous spa town is a beloved fixture of the Czech holiday circuit for centuries. Casanova, Beethoven, Mozart, and Kafka all visited here in their lifetimes, and scores of silver screen luminaries do so each year when they visit the annual International Film Festival. The hot springs are sent to have healing properties, and beckon you to take a dip— be sure to bring a swimsuit to sample these or the thermal pools. In the summertime, bands play the colonnade in the evenings. Don’t miss a visit to the Moser glassworks for a peek at the creation of handmade Bohemian crystal, a method that hasn’t changed in centuries.
|Primary Airports: Václav Havel Airport Prague (PRG), Karlovy Vary Airport (KLV), Brno–Tuřany Airport (BRQ)|
|Government: Parliamentary Democracy|
|Currency: Czech crown (CZK)|
|Population: 10,510,000 (2012 est.)|
|Electricity: 230V/50Hz (Euro)|
|Time Zone: UTC +1 / UTC +2|
Czech Republic Travel Reviews
From Bavaria to the Czech Republic
During one of my trips back to Germany to visit family in Bavaria, near the Czech border, I had the fortune to visit a quaint, little town called Klatovy in the Czech Republic. The city of Klatovy was established in the 13th century, and being there felt like making a trip back in time. The beautiful baroque apothecary is an absolute must-see. The displays of artifacts (even live leeches) and insight into the job of a pharmacist in the past is interesting for all age groups. The coffee shop next door was a welcome sight, and the pastries and coffee were delicious. The catacombs were a bit cold without a sweater to wear and, to be honest, a bit eerie but entertaining and unique all the same. Klatovy is full of history, with buildings and churches that are impressive as well as breathtakingly beautiful. The local food is a treat, and very affordable. I did not need a hotel since I just visited for a day. However, quite a few places offer lodging bed and breakfast style. I had lunch at the Strelnice restaurant, which I highly recommend to anyone visiting Klatovy. I returned to Germany after a wonderful day in this lovely Czech town, and enjoyed the beauty of Bavaria for a few more days before returning home to the U.S.
Backpacking on a budget
My two best friends and I took a backpacking trip through Europe one summer break during college. Our travels included many of the top tourist cities -- Rome, Barcelona, London and Paris – in Western Europe and very few cities in Eastern Europe. One city we did manage to visit was Prague in Czech Republic as we heard it was becoming the “New Amsterdam”. The city was beautiful and full of old, historic buildings, which was a nice break from the modernized cities. Walking through Old Town felt like roaming through an open-air museum of different early architectural styles where Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance all sit side by side. The St. Vitus Cathedral itself was a stunning building, impressive in size, towering over all the others. After touring Old Town Square and doing a quick photo shoot at the Astronomical Clock, we made the short, but challenging hike up to the Prague Castle where you get a beautiful and humbling view of the whole city.
One of the best things about Prague is that the city isn’t too big geographically. We were able to walk from our hotel, which sat outside the city center, to the main streets with bars and restaurants several times a day. It was nice to not worry about navigating the public transportation system and being able to take in everything around us. The currency was a bit of a headache though as they do not use the euro; however, much to our delight, Prague ended up being much cheaper overall.
My Summer Visit to the Beautiful City of Prague
I have always known that Prague is a beautiful city, and it had long been near the top of my list of must-visit places. When I finally got the chance to visit the Czech Republic last summer with some friends, I jumped at the opportunity. We found that the city center was easy to get to from the airport, and we caught the bus into town. We stayed at the Design Hotel Josef, which is located in the middle of the city center, close to the old town. The hotel was clean, spacious, and modern. I can also recommend the delicious breakfast!
I expected Prague to have a vibrant nightlife, and I was proved correct when we discovered the large variety of bars and restaurants available. I sampled the traditional Czech Goulash, and we found that the price of alcohol was very cheap (particularly traditional Czech beers). It is possibly for this reason that Prague has quite a reputation for bachelor parties, although we didn’t see much evidence of this during our stay.
I particularly enjoyed visiting the old town area of the city, which was only a short walk away from the hotel. The Astronomical Clock and Tyn Church in the old town square are particularly impressive and recalled childhood memories of the fairy tales I used to read. I would also certainly recommend a visit to the King Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, which we discovered seemed to be particularly popular with other tourists.
So much Old-World charm in Prague!
Prague was so wonderful. I'd been told to expect a great deal from this beautiful city situated on a river and full of charming bridges, churches, cafes, castles, etc. I was not disappointed in
the least. Even if you know nothing of this city, you've probably seen it featured in action movies like The Bourne Identity and Mission Impossible.
Our hotel (the Rezidence Lundborg) was just next to the famous Charles Bridge. A great location!
We did a lovely walking tour of the city, visited the Palace grounds, the Jewish quarter, the old-town square, and got a good dose of historical context. Basically, we spent three days exploring the narrow winding streets of what is probably the most picturesque and romantic city I've ever visited.