Prague, Praha in Czech, is the stunning and historic capital city of Czech Republic. Located in the heart of Europe along the Vltava River, Prague was the first stop on my six country Premium Central Europe Tour with Intrepid Travel. I choose to travel with them again (my first Intrepid trip was to Italy) because they are leaders in responsible tourism and have been on the forefront of animal welfare issues for years. They became the first tour company to put an end to elephant riding on all their trips and now they help preserve the planet by planting forests in Kenya, are committed to protecting ecosystems, and are a carbon-neutral business. Specializing in small group travel, they work directly with local guides, industry experts, and their exceptional leaders are a wealth of information regardless what country you visit. They recently introduced 10 new tours as part of their Intrepid Premium range featuring hand-picked accommodations, private transportation, train journeys, and an assortment of exclusive experiences. Alternatively, if you are traveling on a budget they offer basix levels in addition to original and comfort. Intrepid trips offer themes such as wildlife, retreats, cycling, family, food, festivals and urban adventures.
I arrived two days early in Prague and decided exploring is more important than sleep and immediately found myself among the twists and turns of the city, admiring the stunning architectural heritage, and falling in love with Prague.
Discover Old Town Square And Surrounding Area
Old Town Square (Staromestské námestí) is the oldest and most historical square of Old Town Prague and founded in the 12th century. You can easily spend the day here as it’s packed with things to do and there are plenty of attractions all within walking distance. Arrive early to beat the crowds but even when it’s busy it’s quite spread out and you can still find a cute outdoor patio for lunch. The Square first functioned as the city’s original marketplace and today you can find authentic and trending stores to satisfy your shopping desires.
The most historical attractions in Prague are in the Old Town including the Baroque Church of St. Nicholas, the Church of Our Lady before Týn, the Rococo Kinský Palace, and my personal favorite, Old Town Hall with the Astronomical Clock Tower (Prague Orloj). Instead of displaying the time of day, this masterpiece determines phases of the moon and equinoxes and uses symbols.
Every hour between 9am and 11pm the clock chimes and everyone nearby stops what they are doing and aims their phones upwards while recording in an attempt to catch the twelve apostles that appear from the clock to show a visualization of time and of course, to delight tourists.
A few minutes walk from Old Town is Prague’s historic Jewish Quarter. There are many synagogues to explore including the Spanish Synagogue, Pinkas Synagogue, and the Old Jewish Cemetery, which is one of the oldest surviving Jewish burial grounds in the world.
It’s a truly moving experience and unlike any cemetery I have seen and the most important site in Prague Jewish Town. More information on Jewish Prague can be found online.
Walk Along Charles Bridge
For a peaceful stroll grab a drink at a local café in Old Town and head to Charles Bridge (Karluv Most). Prague’s oldest bridge dates back to 1357 when construction began, and was completed in 1402. This medieval stone arch bridge crosses the Vltava River and is lined with 30 saint sculptures. Charles Bridge is made of sandstone blocks with fortified towers at each end. Benches line the walkway and it’s the perfect place to sit with spectacular views of the city and I easily found friendly tourists willing to exchange taking photos for each other, since I was exploring alone that day. One of the great things about Intrepid is that in addition to tours, meals, and adventures you have with your group, you also have time alone to explore and chat with locals at your leisure.
When the sun goes down over the Vltava River and the lights in the city flicker on, it’s truly a magical place. Take a dinner cruise along the Vltava River and see the city illuminated at night for an opportunity to try authentic Czech food and drinks, listen to music, and see Prague from a different perspective.
Explore Prague Castle Complex
Prague Castle (Prazsky hrad), is one of the largest complexes in the world and provides truly incredible panoramic views of the city. The area consists of gorgeous gardens, church and fortification buildings, historical palaces, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site spanning 45 hectares. The architectural styles include remains of Romanesque-style buildings dating back to the 10th century and Gothic modifications from the 14th century. There have been extensive renovations and reconstructions over the years and Prague Castle has remained an important symbol of the Czech state for over a thousand years. There is no charge to enter the grounds but some individual sites charge an entrance fee as well as the guided tour option. The complex is home to St. Vitus Cathedral, a burial place for saints and sovereigns, and the biggest and most important temple in Prague that hosted Czech Queen and King ceremonies. Our Intrepid group was at the Castle as the sun set over the city and the views were truly magical, marking the perfect beginning for our European adventures.