Guide Fodors Prague: with the Best of the Czech Republic (Full-color Travel Guide)

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Customize your trip with simple planning tools - Top experiences and attractions - Lodging comparison charts - Easy-to-read color regional maps Explore Old Town, the Castle District, the Jewish Quarter, and beyond - Discerning Fodor's Choice picks for hotels, restaurants, sights, and more - "Word of Mouth" tips from fellow Fodor's travelers - Illustrated features on Czech beer and Czech dining - Best classical concerts, majestic spas, and authentic pubs Opinions from destination experts - Fodor's Prague-based writers reveal their favorite local haunts - Frequently updated to provide the latest information.

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Rating details. Book ratings by Goodreads. Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X. Learn about new offers and get more deals by joining our newsletter. Sign up now. Czechs, on the other hand, use native words for climate-related events to reflect the importance of the four seasons. Beautiful year-round, Prague is busiest over the Christmas and Easter holidays and during the summer months. Spring generally offers good weather, with a more relaxed level of tourism: flowers are blossoming, historic sites are open for business, and the Prague Spring International Music Festival is in full swing.

Once fall arrives the trees are decked out with gold and scarlet leaves, and Czechs head to the woods in search of mushrooms picking fungi is a time-honored pursuit here.

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In winter, crowd sizes and hotel costs drop along with the temperatures. January and February usually bring the best skiing to Bohemian slopes, and finding a room at area ski resorts can be difficult. April through October, most of the city attractions open each day save Monday. Notable exceptions are the Jewish Museum which shuts Saturday instead and Prague Castle which opens daily. Hours vary off-season, and many outlying sites close completely November through March. Czech stores traditionally open weekdays from 9 am to 6 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm.

Ditto for shops in key tourist zones. Restaurants typically welcome diners from 11 am to 11 pm and start dishing out dinner around 6. Pubs have a similar schedule, but clubs are another matter altogether. As for other services, most banks are open weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm. Central Prague is ideal for walking—provided you have enough leg muscle to handle the hills.

Tourists will typically use one of three types of transferable tickets when riding subways, buses, and trams. Tickets are available from dispensing machines located in all metro stations and at select surface transit stops. They may also be purchased at tourist information centers, as well as at designated tobacco shops and newsstands. After buying your ticket you must time-stamp it at one of the machines found inside metro stations or aboard buses and trams.

Prefer taxis? Be warned. Local cabbies are notorious for overcharging, especially if hailed on the street or from a stand in touristy areas. Scams include doctoring the meter or forgetting to turn it on, then demanding an exorbitant sum. To avoid rip-offs, confirm an approximate fare up front.

Better yet, call an honest radio-operated firm like. AAA Radiotaxi. Prague —— www. Prague neighborhoods are sometimes referred to by numbers corresponding to their postal district:.

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Although crime rates in Prague are relatively low, this is a major city, and travelers should exercise the usual precautions. For starters, that means being careful at night—even when visiting spots that seem safe by day. Prostitutes and drug dealers can make parts of Wenceslas Square feel sketchy after dark, and stag parties comprised of rowdy beer-addled lads can appear anywhere.

Regardless of the hour, be wary of pickpockets at crowded sites like the Charles Bridge and on public transit the Tram No. To be on the safe side, always keep your hands on purses, backpacks, cameras, and such, rather than leaving them placed beside you. Distribute cash, credit cards, ID, and other valuables between a deep front pocket, an inside jacket or vest pocket, and a discreet money pouch—please, no in-your-face fanny packs. If you need an ATM top-up, choose a machine inside a bank building.

One further tip: Ignore those ubiquitous guys offering to exchange currency at great rates on the street unless you want to end up with worthless bills. Most gather in Old Town Square to marvel at the architecture and watch the astronomical clock strike, then wander the narrow streets. Josefov Jewish Quarter. The original Jewish Ghetto was largely razed in the 19th century, and art nouveau structures replaced many of its buildings. Yet the past is still apparent in the restored sites that comprise the Jewish Museum and the active synagogues.

This neighborhood is filled with hilly cobblestone streets edged with baroque buildings. The stunning Church of St. Nicholas dominates the district. It shelters a Romanesque basilica, a Gothic cathedral, a Renaissance garden, and a baroque palace. Its focal point is Wenceslas Square: a grand boulevard lined with shops, restaurants, and hotels.

As its name implies, Vinohrady began as a wine-producing region and the lovely, leafy neighborhood is still intoxicating. It reputedly has the most drinking spots in Prague. Now protesters have been replaced by locals out for a stroll. The former industrial district is a warren of bars, galleries and start-up workspaces inside of repurposed factories and pre-war tenement buildings.

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To set this all in context, it helps to make The Story of Prague Castle your first stop. The City of a Hundred Spires has more than its fair share of churches. None, however, can top this glorious Gothic structure on the grounds of Prague Castle. Almost six centuries in the making the cornerstone was laid in , and work was finally completed in , St.

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Vitus is a place of superlatives. The most striking of these—quite literally—is the Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Hall tower, which marked its th birthday in Operating like a giant cuckoo clock, its meticulously carved wooden figures of the Twelve Apostles appear on the top of the hour from 9 am to 11 pm.

One legend has it that local officials were so impressed by the mechanical marvel that they blinded the clockmaker to ensure that he could never duplicate it. Rather than being a single bricks-and-mortar building, this museum is made up of six sites in the Josefov district. These include a Ceremonial Hall as well as four historic synagogues that house themed exhibits. The museum also administers the Old Jewish Cemetery, which contains some 12, tilting headstones.

A prime example of high baroque, its extravagant interior features a gilded statue of St. Nick plus frescos depicting his life in addition to the usual paintings and putti. The church also hosts evening concerts from late March through early November, and again in the Christmas season most showcase the music of Mozart, who himself played the organ here. Those who prefer the sound of pealing bells are welcome to climb the adjacent bell tower. Prague is a compendium of architectural styles, and the remarkable range inevitably draws stares.

For fans of art nouveau, though, this building takes the cake. Municipal House was built with nationalist zeal when the Austro-Hungarian Empire was waning. Like St. Vitus Cathedral aesthetically, its only rival , St. What makes this church so unusual, though, is the way metallurgy and liturgy intersect inside. Paying homage to both the blue collar and the clerical collar, it contains frescoes portraying both religious scenes and scenes of mining and minting.

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With the capital so full of foreign visitors, it can be a little hard to uncover what life for residents is like. So put the sightseeing on hold for a while and try these activities, beloved by locals. Every discussion about this republic begins and ends with beer. They are so good, in fact, that beer here commands the type of reverence usually reserved for fine wine. Head to the nearest pivnice, or pub, grab a seat at a communal table, and wait for the waiter to plunk down a mug in front of you.

Congratulations: you are now an honorary citizen. The quality of the performances is high, and the audience reaction is invariably heartfelt. Like many city dwellers, residents of Prague are fond of their green spaces, which serve as a sort of communal backyard. Yet lounging in a park is preferable. Since both parks have huge beer gardens, you should be prepared to stay awhile, too. Rather take a walk on the wild side? Praguers love spa resorts, and there are plenty of Bohemian ones to pick from.

Other prized resources also come into play. In addition to water, spas build their treatments around peat, natural gas, and even beer. Czech spas have a long tradition of welcoming visitors past guests at Karlovy Vary, for example, include Peter the Great, Beethoven, Tolstoy, and Freud. However, one legacy of the communist era is that many still present treatments as medical procedures.

In short, they focus on health more than hedonism. If you want full-on pampering, choose your locale carefully. The obvious choice is to attend an opera at the opulent Estates Theatre, where Don Giovanni personally conducted by the maestro premiered to an appreciative audience in Anyone who fears that opera may be a bit uppity can enjoy a more accessible performance—albeit with some strings attached—at the National Marionette Theatre.

The world-renowned pale lager was invented here in A different kind of beverage is the drink du jour in Karlovy Vary. Accidentally discovered by Emperor Charles IV in the s, the hot springs here provide water for sipping as well as spa-ing—which explains why most folks tote porcelain cups that they fill for free at thermal fountains.

You can buy your own for a few bucks the unique little handle that doubles as a straw makes it a fun spa souvenir. Even without one, though, you will remember the experience. The Czech Republic is synonymous with fine cut crystal, and purists contend that the very best is created by Moser, a glassmaker that has been operating in Karlovy Vary since Looking for something more modern? Wherever you shop, be sure that pieces bear an official Bohemia Crystal sticker. Paging all literature lovers!