By Lee Boughan
Kidnapped by communism for forty years, Prague, capital of the Czech Republic and one of Europe's most beautiful cities, has finally come into full bloom. Its compact medieval center remains an evocative maze of cobbled lanes, ancient courtyards, dark passages and churches beyond number, all watched over by an 1100-year-old castle with liveried guards.
The bohemian allure and fairytale features of Prague make it a perfect destination for beach-weary vacationers who want to immerse themselves in culture. Cross the Charles Bridge and you could devote an entire day to exploring Prazsky hrad (Prague Castle), then refueling over a hearty dinner at a classic Czech tavern on the river. Spend some time wandering the Old Town Square before heading over to gape at The Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock. Prague’s best bars are found in cellars, where historic pubs set the scene for a night of traditional tippling.
No time is the wrong time to visit this city that will no doubt capture your heart! Prague is lovely in the summer. For those of you saying "Summer!? It's too hot. I'll be melting into the cobblestones." Honestly, it's not heat as you may know it (depending on where you live of course). Granted, some days may be "sweltering" but that's not too common and all in all, Prague summers are beautiful and considered mild by most standards. It is soooo gorgeous when the trees and flowers are all in bloom and people are outside enjoying themselves at cafes. The ONLY downside of visiting in the summer is that it is more crowded with tourists since many people choose the summer months to travel and kids/college kids are out of school, but everyone is in good spirits and although the Old Town Square may be busy with people; it's just as busy during Christmas and the Holiday season. Fall and Spring are great times to go too since the crowds thin out, but the temps are much cooler. Which is great for many!
Everywhere you look in the centre of the city there are amazing buildings, art and historical pieces. Take the time to have a wander around Old Town Square. There are many paths that lead to the square, all filled with various trinket shops, from Crystal to jewelry to general souvenirs. The square itself has an amazingly romantic feel to it. The Old Town Hall and the Astronomical Clock are must see items. Going to the top of the Old Town Hall tower gives a bird's eye view of the square, and some great pictures. To top this off there is the Astronomical Clock, which performs a show on the hour every hour.
Charles Bridge is most certainly a jewel in Prague's crown. Stretching over the Vltava, Charles Bridge is a mix of entertainers playing music, puppeteers and some very good artists. It's well worth taking the time to look at some of the creations on the stroll across. At night, it is perfect for a romantic stroll, with the Castle overlooking the bridge and river
There are many free walking tours that meet in the morning in the Old Town Square, or maybe a beer tour, and after a few days you might want to take some time outside of the city to Kutna Hora and see the Church of Bones. The city is very intriguing, with more than a week of different activities to keep you busy, but don’t forget to sit in a café, have a coffee or a beer to watch the world go by your table.
Lee Boughan is a local travel agent and the owner of Cruise Planners in Apopka