When you wander the winding streets of Prague, it’s easy to see how Franz Kafka’s surreal stories could have been inspired by this Czech Republic city — the gothic architecture, smoky beer halls and a massive castle that overlooks Old Town all lend a sense of mystery and history to the surroundings.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Entry requirements: Passport valid for three months beyond your departure
Currency: Czech crown
Flight time: 11 hours from New York City; 14 hours from LA
Getting around: Metro, tram, bus and taxi (agree on a price before getting in)
When to Go: Prague at its best
Best weather: The weather will be nicest if you visit Prague between May and September, though the city can get crowded with tourists during the summer months. December through March can be cold, but the frigid weather certainly doesn’t take away from the city’s ambience.
What to Do
Tour the Castle: Prague Castle, with its vantage on a hill above the city, is practically begging to be explored. Prague Castle is actually the place where the city began, founded in the 9th century. Perhaps the most impressive building in the castle complex is St. Vitus’s Cathedral, the oldest parts of which date back to 1344. The cathedral’s spires and the mosaic of the Last Judgment above the entrance are beautiful and unforgettable. Also at the castle, don’t miss the Golden Lane, a row of tiny houses and workshops that give you a great sense of what life was like in the 16th century.
See the clock chime: One of Prague’s most enchanting areas is Old Town, where the dramatic building facades and narrow streets seem like they’re part of a movie set. Sit in Old Town Square — with the Church of Our Lady before Tyn on one end and the Old Town Hall on the other — and let yourself get lost in thought among the amazing surroundings. On the hour, make your way to the side of the Old Town Hall (there will likely be a crowd gathered with you) to watch the astronomical clock chime (it’s nearly 600 years old!).
Go to the opera: Even if you’re not a fan, it’s worth seeing an opera at the Prague National Theatre if only to admire the space’s auditorium. Check NationalTheatre.cz for performances and tickets during your trip.
Drink a pivo: The Czech take a great amount of pride in brewing fine beers (called pivo), so try a few different types for a fuller appreciation of Prague. Among the best are Budvar and Pilsner Urquell, or try a tall, tasty Velvet.