Photograph by Westend61, Getty Images

 

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Dawn breaks over the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic.

Photograph by Westend61, Getty Images

 

Everything to Know About Prague

Here's how to plan the best possible trip to the Czech Republic's timeless capital.

From the start of spring through the last days of autumn, Prague is abuzz with street fairs, exhibitions, concerts, and beer. Thousands of visitors—and locals, too—cram those cobblestoned streets to create what feels like, on most days, a nonstop carnival.

When to Go

The City of a Hundred Spires is at its best in spring and fall, but watch out for Easter, when crowds are at their peak. Summers are hot and muggy, and winters dark and cold, though the city does look gorgeous in fresh snow.

Celebrate

The Prague Spring Music Festival, held over three weeks in May, is considered the height of the cultural calendar. It draws orchestras from around the world for dozens of mainly classical concerts, but also jazz, modern music, and vocalists. At the start of June, the Prague Fringe Festival is a weeklong celebration of English-friendly theater, comedy, dance, and, well, whatever. The Signal Light Festival, held over a fall weekend, features elaborate digital displays of light and music, projected onto the city’s historic buildings.

What to Eat

Czechs prefer simple food done well. The national dish is roast pork, served with bread dumplings and sauerkraut. Look out, too, for Svíčkovánasmetaně: beef sirloin topped with a creamy sauce and served with dumplings, a dollop of cranberries, and a slice of lemon (to cut the cream). For drinks, the choice is easy: Czech beer is among the best in the world.

Souvenir to Take Home

Czechs are known for high-quality Bohemian crystal and cut glass, and many shops, including well-respected Moser, will ship it home for you. Easier-to-carry items include deep-red garnet jewelry as well as hand-crafted marionettes and wooden toys. Resist the urge to buy Russian nesting dolls, KGB hats, and other items that litter souvenir shops. These have little to do with the Czech Republic.

Sustainable Travel Tip

Prague has perfected the art of public transportation, so there’s no need for cars or even taxis. Hop the tram or metro from place to place, or better yet, walk. The center is compact, and distances are manageable.

Instagram-Worthy View

Climb to the top of Letná hill, just north of the Old Town, for awe-inspiring views of the spires below and the bridges receding out into the distance. For a classic Charles Bridge plus Prague Castle mash-up, head to Smetanovo Embankment (Smetanovo nábřeží), just south of Charles Bridge, on the Old Town side of the river. Late mornings work best here, as the light comes in over your shoulder.