I first visited Prague in 2004, returned in 2014, and again in 2023 to discover numerous surprising changes since my first visit to the City of a Hundred Spires. In September, there were as many people visiting the City Centre (Old Town) as you would expect in Rome, Paris, or London. Today, the capital of the Czech Republic is very safe (just ask a local) and along with its Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architectures, it has morphed into a cosmopolitan destination.

Plan your trip to Prague with our favorite discoveries: 

The most beautiful bars we have ever seen are set in the walls of Prague’s riverside embankment.

At night, walk along the riverside to peep inside the Prague embankments to witness little illuminated “dungeons” where you can savor a cocktail, or sit outside at one of these numerous bars that welcome visitors with massive rotating circular glass “doors” along the waterfront. These lens-like hinged round portal windows near the Palacky Bridge are custom-made and imported from Thailand. They are the largest of their type in the world. Some of the spaces also hold cafes, art shows, and private events. The moody sexy portholes offer beer or cocktails for $6 or less. Try the bistro bar – called Lab – for a Mule, Spritz, or Skinny B vodka soda while admiring the cityscape of golden bridges, castles, and palaces.

Medieval towers are the best way to get a bird’s eye view of Prague.

Gain perspective of this magical city by climbing one of Prague’s Gothic monumental buildings. Those energetic enough will want to scale the narrow steps to the observation deck of the Old Town Hall Tower, or for a few extra crowns, ride the glass elevator to the top of the 200-foot tower to witness the ancient heart of the city in all its architectural glory, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Look down (or if you are outside look up) to watch the Grim Reaper ring the bell, the cock crow, and the apostle figures pop out of the famous 15th-century astronomical clock each hour to delight crowds. If you look closely, find 27 crosses in the paving stones representing the 27 people beheaded in this place once upon a time. Inside, visitors can also peruse the chapel, historical halls, and underground areas.

Climbing the Gothic-style 15th-century Powder Gate Tower that marks the entrance to the Royal Route leading to Prague Castle is a must. It is one of the original city gates entered by everyone in the Middle Ages. Consider coming on a weekday at dusk for a more private experience. Scale the 186 narrow spiraling steps to be rewarded with a bird’s eye view 144 feet above Prague Centre. Today, netting holds up the slanted slate roof and some of the exterior facade showcasing stone sculptures of kings, Czech patrons, gargoyles, and saints.

Both charge a small fee. Other towers to consider visiting for sensational views include St. Nicholas Bell Tower, Old Town Bridge Tower, New Mill Water Tower, Clementinum Astronomical Tower, and Baroque Library.

You can stay in a former historic bank used in many films like Bourne Identity – the glamorous, palatial NH Collection Prague Carlo IV.

Located in an authentic Neo-Renaissance palace, the 5-star NH Collection Prague Carlo IV hotel built in the late 1890s was once the bustling Czech Mortgage Bank used to support the development of construction all around the country, then later met its fate during communism as the Prague Post Office or seat of postal censorship. In 2022 the glamorous property went through a major design update respecting the historical appearance.

Situated in the heart of Prague but away from the main tourist hub and just a 10-minute walk from the Old Town Square, a stay in this stunning elegant building with 152 rooms will not be forgotten. One step inside and your mouth will surely be agape at every turn. The lobby stuns with its soaring light-filtered ceiling and former wooden bank teller windows as the guts of the bank are now the 1890 Restaurant.

Marvel at the restored original ceilings with paintings where ornate crystal chandeliers hang and a coat of arms represents the city branches the bank opened. The chic 1890 foyer bar is where you should spend an evening relaxing after a day of sightseeing with a cocktail in hand. A pianist sets the mood and a cocktail menu comes with options named after the many movies filmed here. Just off the lobby find the secret wooden-clad Vault Bar located in the original bank treasury where currently an exhibition details the former bank’s history.

High-ceilinged spacious suites impress with classic Italian furniture and massive vertical windows allow light to filter into these impressive rooms with walk-in closets, vintage dressers, couches, and oversized marble bathrooms. Guests can stay in the historical section or the modern wing added in 2003. Just stepping outside our room into the original corridors with an elaborate staircase made me feel like a princess. Penthouses here have been used by celebs, fashion designers, and heads of state.

Each morning guests can expect an over-the-top breakfast spread (where you can also order a la carte) with a dizzying array of fresh options (i.e. hot dishes, cold cuts, cheeses, yogurts, fruit, pastries, bread, eggs, freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, DIY Mimosa and Bloody Mary possibilities) all enhanced with a calming harpist who we heard also performs at the National Theatre.

For those who need a reboot while traveling, the hotel houses an expansive spa in the subterranean vault with a 20-meter-long heated swimming pool with whirlpool, massage beds, steam room, dry sauna, and fitness studio. Ask for Denisa for an unforgettable relaxing massage with linden aromatherapy and masterful techniques like rubbing your hand and foot at the same time. Staying here will enhance your Prague memories.

Prague has over 25 restaurants in the Michelin Guide. 

For those who want to try a fine dining experience when visiting a new country, Prague may be the best place – due to cost and a slew of options for various budgets. One of the richest meals we tried was near the Jewish Quarter at Field, a one-star Michelin restaurant offering various tasting menus mixing Czech classic dishes with modern elements including artful presentations of foie gras, duck liver, veal, and sweetbread stuffed with Mangalica pork topped with truffle. Many amuse-bouche appetizers began this affair in a Scandinavian-esque room with farm tools hanging from the walls and windows. Seasonality leads the way with a guarantee of surprising combinations like a dish of tomato, marinated strawberry, basil granita, yogurt, and basil powder prepared tableside while many courses arrive with a symphony of waiters finishing the dish finales in front of you. We suggest a wine pairing to help compliment the decadent haute cuisine.

La Degustation is another one-star Michelin restaurant to try in Prague with a set menu. Eska and Eatery come highly recommended too – both in the same neighborhood. Some of our favorite Czech-inspired dishes came from the 1890 Restaurant and Bar, a sophisticated newcomer located within the historic grand NH Collection Prague Carlo IV. We won’t be surprised if the restaurant joins the Michelin Guide, as guests can find traditional recipes prepared in elevated ways like pumpkin ginger soup, beef cheeks with cream sauce, wild cranberries, and fine chive potato dumplings, and homemade buns for dessert with vanilla sauce and dark rum.

The best place to listen to classical music is on the street and in churches. 

Musical talent has long flourished in the Czech capital where in the 17th and 18th centuries it was known as the conservatory of Europe. “Whoever is Czech, is a musician,” may be a local proverb. Walk around the city and there is no shortage of street musicians setting the mood by playing mesmerizing classical tunes, jazz, or pop around Charles Bridge or Old Town Square. Churches are some of the best places to listen to classical music due to the acoustics. For around $20, duck into the glorious St. Francis of Assisi Church with its magnificent dome located by the Charles Bridge. Here, admire a unique baroque organ from 1702 where most evenings at 7 PM, you don’t need a reservation to experience an hour of moving Mozart, Dvorak, Bach, Schubert, Vivaldi, Handel, and Czech Baroque music. Even Mozart played this organ. Learn more at www.organconcerts.cz. The highly acclaimed Royal Czech Orchestra can also be found playing at St. Salvador Church, the main early Baroque-style church of Clementinum, and the city landmark entrance to the Old Town.

Beer is still inexpensive and some of the best in the world.

Czech beer has a long history, with brewing beginning in Brevnov Monastery in the year 993. Beer is so fresh here because it’s not pasteurized. We often paid around $3 or less for a pint with a big head of foam. Make your own brew tour by resting your legs and flexing your beer muscles in a historical brewery such as 12th century Strahov Monastery courtyard (for light and dark lager), U Fleku (for dark home-brewed beer at the oldest and most famous beer hall), or Staropramen. Try blueberry beer in a cave at Restaurant Na Pekle now with an outdoor garden deck or sip beers with the locals at the Letna Beer Garden park high above the city. Prague Beer Museum has over 30 beers on tap. We also loved sitting at Mlyny in Kampa Park on the river. Great beer can be found anywhere – at every restaurant, bar, and pub. Or soak it all in at the Chodovar Beer Spa. For 17 days in May, Prague hosts the Czech Beer Festival annually where more than 70 brands of Czech beer can be tasted.

Traditional Czech cuisine is very rich and hearty.

Don’t expect to find many salads on the menu as local Czech cuisine consists of pork knuckle, duck leg, beef carpaccio, duck liver, sausage, pork, beef, schnitzel, goulash, and potato dumplings. Around the city, the smell of chimney cakes wafts in the air as this doughy goodness is wrapped around hot iron rods and is now served stuffed with ice cream and toppings.

Lavka makes a nice spot by the river in view of Charles Bridge to sip beer and share a succulent roasted pork knuckle as they are big enough for two and often accompanied with bread, pickled onion, mustard, and horseradish. Right on the riverbank of Vltava, duck into local rustic Czech cuisine favorite U Kalendu, a restaurant bakery serving big juicy tender confit duck leg, homemade dried sausages, and interesting dishes like chewy pig ears and toasted bread with duck hearts and stomach. For a fresh veggie fix, share their grilled little gem salad and baked leeks with egg.

Surprisingly, we did see a few plant-based restaurants like Vegan Restaurant near the castle with sensational cityscape views where if you are lucky you can score a seat atop their tiny terrace. Locals told us we must try Vietnamese food since a large Vietnamese population has resided here since the Communist era.

An immersive Banksy exhibition can be experienced in a Baroque-style church.

Just like Banksy’s art appears in unusual places all over the world, now in the heart of Prague, the World of Banksy has arrived in a stunning church where a famous Czech priest and church reformer “Jan Hus” used to preach in the 15th century. The church and adjacent monastery were later disestablished during the reforms of Emperor Joseph II in the 18th century. However, in recent years the building served as a warehouse and a nightclub, and now, after centuries, the building hosts another reformer – Banksy!

Here you can peruse the illusive artist’s murals, canvases, graffiti, installations, video installations, projections of his artwork, and unique pieces from private collectors – all reproduced and compiled for this show. The best part is the exhibition gets you thinking especially about morality with themes of corruption, prejudice, greed, environmental issues, societal flaws, and more – with more than 115 artworks presented in their original size.

Funky modern architecture can also be found in this fairytale landscape.

You don’t need to be an expert to appreciate the diversity of Prague’s architecture – although just walking around is like stepping into a 3D architecture textbook of unparalleled design with Romanesque chapels and cellars, Baroque palaces and gardens, worldly Art Nouveau buildings, unique Cubist architecture, and over thirty bridges and footbridges spanning the picturesque Vltava River. It’s easy to be in awe at every turn – from the Municipal House to the Wallenstein Palace to the Church of Our Lady before Tyn – but now dramatic new buildings have popped up in the last few decades like the mod National Library of Technology and the controversial modernist Dancing House building also known as Ginger and Fred designed by a Croatian Czech architect Vlado Milunic with Canadian American architect Frank Gehry. It is deemed out of place, disrupting the landscape of ancient buildings for which Prague is famous. Others to seek out include Mainpoint Prague, AFI Karlin Butterfly, The New Stage of the National Theatre, The Stvanice Footbridge (designed as a “sculpture in the city”), and the reversible Manifesto Market built with reclaimed materials.

You can become spellbound in Prague.

It’s nothing short of wondrous just walking around admiring this “Golden City,” with its high-top castle perched above the river with its St. Vitus Cathedral masterpiece – where at the right time, heavenly colors explode and glow inside due to the stained-glass windows. Visiting the landmark medieval Charles Bridge may leave you spellbound early in the morning before crowds or at night when the glowing deep blue sky contrasts with the 36 Baroque guardian statues. Get your breath taken away at every turn – in the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world, as the State Opera House is aglow in the evening, or as the midday sunlight illuminates the pastel-hued decorative buildings in Old Town Square. Your pocketbook will become spellbound too as prices for food, drink, and lodging are significantly more affordable than most major cities in Europe and the US.

Prague is full of surprises.

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