Many cities claim to be ‘magical’, but Prague might just live up to that reputation - quite literally! Long before the ‘Mad Emperor’, Rudolf II, filled his court atop Prague Castle with alchemists and occultists, the Jewish community had the famous legend of the golem and the townsfolk, strange tales of events on the Petrin, a hill overlooking the city. Come experience the otherworldly atmosphere of this city - romantic, wistful and mysterious all at once.
Where to go
Climb the hill to the Prague Castle and St Vitus’ Cathedral - the latter contained inside one of Europe’s most imposing and historic fortresses, expanded and rebuilt by Rudolf II to house his strange collections. On the way down, stop by Zámecká Parfumerie, where the perfumer will mix a distinct scent for you. Wander Charles Bridge, admiring the gorgeous baroque statues. Browse the markets at Old Town Square. Admire the astrological clock, still ticking after 600 years. Visit the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Old New Synagogue for an unforgettable cultural experience. Seek out the Loreto, an exquisitely decorated convent behind the castle. As dusk falls, head on a ghost tour and hear some of the strange tales that have defined this city over the centuries. Wander a little bit at night - this is a city that really feels like no other once the sun has set.
Food & Drink
The Czech Republic does a few things really well - pork and beer amongst them. Fare here is hearty, tangy and in large portions, so ask on portion size before ordering. For something a little special, head to La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise (Haštalská 18), boasting three Michelin stars. Here, the tastes of the region meet high-end French cuisine. For something decidedly more down to earth, we think U Medvedku (Na Perstyne 345/7) is a terrific option - a microbrewery, hotel and restaurant serving beer and stunning local dishes for hundreds of years. A place with real warmth and atmosphere.
The Czechs can sometimes seem nocturnal - lingering in bars into the small hours of the morning seems a national past-time. To get a taste of real Prague nightlife culture, head to Hemingway Bar. Despite the name, this is the place to try some local favourites, including absinthe (one of the major consumers of the drink in the 19th century, after Paris). It has a laidback, relaxed atmosphere, distinguishing it from many of Old Town’s establishments. For a taste of the old Prague (as in, pre 20th century), U Hrocha, in the shadow of the castle, is a classic Czech pub, unpretentious and almost medieval in feel - the perfect accompaniment to a day exploring the historic ‘little quarter’, Mala Strana.
Where to stay
The Old Town Square Hotel
has an absolutely fantastic location, close to many of the historic sights of the city. Guests here can use the spa facilities of the nearby Maharal Club, a sister hotel to this one. The restaurant, tucked in the 12th-century cellars of the hotel building, is also a treat, serving traditional Czech fare with a contemporary twist. Across the river, within the grounds of Prague Castle, the Golden Well Hotel
is rich with heritage. Built by Rudolf II, this renaissance gem used to be the home of the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe. Today it is a stunning luxury hotel with cosy intimate suites and one of the country’s leading chefs, Pavel Sapik
, heading the hotel’s restaurant. How to get there
Wizzair, Ryanair, Easyjet and British Airways fly direct to Prague daily.