When the desire to visit a destination where history and modernity blend becomes supreme, leave the popular European tourist sectors and their hustle bustle aside and travel to Prague in the Czech Republic: a cosmopolitan hub with perfect panoramas, attractive myriad of historic architecture, music, art and wonderful lager. The city offers an exciting range of gourmet, sightseeing, relaxation and shopping options. Prague has tremendous artistic soul with a touch of bohemian feel to it. The Czechs have a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor which truly defines bohemia! With an efficient network of trams, brick walled spaces, candy-colored buildings, stone bridges, hilly vistas and numerous subways the lanes and streets of the city are steeped in quaintness. With immensely warm, hospitable people all around, in Prague one can easily feel lost in time.
The pretty houses with their red roofs lining the streets and the gold topped spires of the church dominating the city’s skyline paint the heavens in different shades of crimson and sunglow. Little wonder that the city draws fairytale aficionados and folklore lovers from around the world.
Getting There and Transport: Lufthansa has daily flights from Mumbai to Munich; take a connecting flight from Munich to Prague.
The Czech Republic has one of the best rail networks in Europe and an elaborate system of public transportation with a great density of connections. These buses, trams and trains are usually reliable, quick and cheap. Easy connectivity facilitates the exploration of the outer fringes and surrounding countryside which offer their own unique charm.
If you are hoping to explore the Republic in depth, you can hire a car and set out.
Prague, the once communist city, is gorgeous and is indeed an idyll for walking, your footsteps reverberating on the cobblestone lanes that define the entire city. An incredible array of art and architecture left behind centuries ago by the multi talented classical creators leaves you awestruck as you walk in and out of the buildings. Exploring these spots on foot is both refreshing and viable.
Must Visit: Bridging the gap – One of the most favorite activities of the locals and the tourists alike is walking down the Charles Bridge at sunrise or sunset, which makes for a busy yet fun walkway what with the 30 baroque statues guarding the Bridge, and caricature corners and souvenir sellers lining it; it indeed is a busy spot providing one of the best views of the city. It is also the oldest bridge in Prague founded by Charles IV.
Castles in the air – The city is home to a number of castles, the most popular being the Prague Castle, which is a national cultural monument. Situated on the banks of River Vltava, the castle is a gigantic complex of ecclesiastical fortifications, residential and office buildings representing all architectural styles and periods.
Fair and Square – Prague’s historical city center has been recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site. The Old Town Square is the most significant square of historical Prague. The most notable sights here are the Church of Our Lady before Tyn, the Old Town Hall Tower with Astronomical Clock and the St. Nicholas Church. This is also the most buzzing part of the city, so sit back and soak up the atmosphere over a cup of hot coffee or a tankard of cool beer with a plate of tasty snacks at one of the unique pavement cafés lining the square. Stunning views nestled with numerous pubs, bohemian restaurants, unique shops, folklore and live music: this place is bursting at the seams with tourists all year around!
Historical Hub – Another Czech delight that one can visit is Český Krumlov, which is a picturesque Unesco World Heritage Site located at a two and a half hours drive from Prague. This lively, charming, enchanting town with an unspoiled countryside keeps the tourists pepped up with its magnificent views and pleasant weather. Dominated by a castle stretching over the meandering Vltava River, Český Krumlov has more than 300 historical buildings, located on narrow cobblestone streets winding along romantic nooks, which make a drive down to the village an unforgettable memory. This renaissance city also boasts of medieval pubs, alehouses, galleries and graphite mines and is full of globetrotters. The innumerable tourists though do not deter the countless couples walking hand and hand along the lanes probably lost in their dream world. A visit to the famous baroque theater is enough to capture many memorable images for posterity. Houses hosting attractive exhibits of world renowned artists, music festivals, concerts, and castle gardens make Český Krumlov a unique hub of culture, convention and tourism.
Must Do: Bond – A boat ride down the Vtlava River is just the thing for a romantic holiday. Watch other people sail by waving at you as you move through the water at an unhurried pace, marveling at the beauty of the Creator.
Exert – At Český Krumlov, the hilly green countryside makes for an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts to indulge in hiking, biking, horseback riding, golfing, canoeing and river rafting on Vltava River. A one day picnic with the family can refreshingly adventurous.
Boogie – Prague will not be its usual self without jazz music spilling out of every nook and corner of the city. One can enjoy violins and trumpets around the streets and shake a leg to the jazz music pouring out of resto-bars. For the restrained music lovers, the classic concertos and concerts provide serene yet foot tapping melody.
Shop – Do not get taken in by the old world charm of Prague. This city doubles up as an a la mode center with a wealth of malls and big brands for those who really want to shop until they drop. Excluding the souvenir splurge and the numerous fashion bargains in the trendy malls or the local boutiques in Prague, one can also shop for glassware which the country is famous for provided one is sure how to lug them back. The Old Town in Prague is littered with shops selling collectibles, souvenirs, antiques, crystal, glassware and handmade goods.
Revel – With its calendar full of festivals, from the famous Spring Festival, the Czech Beer Festival and the Prague Folklore Festival to the Christmas Markets, there is not a dull moment in this city of joy. The city of one hundred spires turns into one giant catwalk with fashion shows, lectures on fashion and many other events taking place throughout the city during the Dreft Fashion Week in September.
Binge – Czech cuisine is influenced by the current global gastronomic trends. Goulash, soup, dumplings, potato pancakes (sweet and salted), fish preparation and a variety of cakes are the specialties. Trying the traditional north Indian food at the Indian Jewel restaurant in Prague is a must. Also a must visit is Krčma U dwau Maryí, the fancy riverside restaurant at Český Krumlov, where one can enjoy original medieval cuisine. Discover countless coffee shops across town and sipping a cuppa can rev you up like never before.
Prague’s picture postcard scenery has so much character embedded in it which begs to be explored. If you are planning a European holiday this autumn, hang up your stilettos, pull out your sneakers, rise early and get going to this romantic and historical delight. You will return healthy, wealthy, wise and mesmerized.