Known as the City of a Hundred Spires, Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The largest city and capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is a vibrant city founded more than 1,100 years ago that’s filled with historical culture, music and arts and spectacular architecture styles such as Baroque, Gothic and Romanesque. Although the Euro is reaching a 12-year low, Prague remains one of the most affordable cities and romantic places to visit in Eastern Europe.
Getting To Prague
Václav Havel Airport Prague is the international airport serving Prague and the primary airport for the Czech Republic. Travelers have several transportation options into the city, located about 10 km away. The most affordable ways to reach Prague is with public transportation via route 119, with service to the Dejvická metro station or the Airport Express to the main train station (Hlavní nádraží). For travelers who have difficulty understanding public transportation, Minibus Cedaz provides airport shuttle services to Prague, departing in either direction every 30 minutes. Taxi service and car rentals are also available at Václav Havel Airport Prague.
Rail travelers from international cities or other parts of the Czech Republic will arrive at the central train station (Hlavní nádraží). Several cities across Europe including London, Paris, Vienna and Munich offer reliable train service into Prague. Information on train service and passenger fares can be found from recommended sites such as Eurail and RailEurope. Much like the rest of Europe, train service to and from Prague is very efficient, typically arriving and departing on time.
The currency used in Prague and the Czech Republic is the Czech Koruna (CZK). As of the time of publication, the conversion rate between 1 CZK and the U.S. dollar is .04 USD. Conversely, 1 U.S. dollar is equivalent to about 25 CZK. Travelers can determine the current conversion rate by visiting reliable websites such as XE Currency Converter, which also offers a free or pro app for the iPhone and Android. Although the Euro is accepted in the Czech Republic, most businesses prefer the Koruna.
The easiest way to get around Prague is with the Prague Public Transit Company, with bus, tram and subway service. However, the official website may be difficult to understand for English speaking travelers. A better resource is to visit other sites such as MyCzechRepublic, which can also serve as a resource guide. The Prague Metro (subway) currently operates just three lines – A, B and C, serving 57 stations with stops near all of the city’s most important attractions.
Taxi service is available, but the recommendation is to avoid hailing a cab on the street and instead call one of the major taxi services in Prague such as AAA Taxi. Nevertheless, taxi drivers operating throughout the city at busy places like the train station, Prague Castle and Old Town Square are frequently known to overcharge unsuspecting tourists, so those who wish to take a taxi should agree on a cab fare before boarding.
Some travelers may opt to rent a car while in Prague. However, the recommendation is to rely on public transportation to get around the city. While there are benefits to renting a car, it may be difficult to understand common traffic signs and signals, as well as driving European roads, watching out for pedestrians and cyclists and other challenges.
Romantic Places To Stay
With more than 600 hotels operating in the city, visitors to Prague have several options for lodging from three star hotels under $70 and luxury accommodations under $200. Among the suggested choices for lodging: Hotel Residence Agnes, Golden Well, Pod Vezi, Unitas Hotel and Alchymist Grand Hotel. Other more affordable romantic hotels to consider include Jungmann, Domus Henrici Boutique Hotel, King Charles Boutique Hotel Residence and Domus Balthasar Design Hotel.
All of the following restaurants can offer an elegant and romantic dining experience: Terasa u Zlate Studne, Bellevue Restaurant, Mlynec Restaurant, Villa Richter and La Degustation. About an hour’s drive from Prague is the five-star Chateau Mcely, home to arguably the finest restaurant in the Czech Republic.
Attractions In Prague
The official residence and office of the President of the Czech Republic, the ninth century Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) is the largest ancient castle in the world. Admission to Prague Castle starts at CZK 350 ($14). Among the top sights to see are the Changing of the Guard, St. Vitus Church and the Old Royal Palace.
The Charles Bridge is one of the most famous and recognizable bridges in Europe. Completed in the 15th century, the bridge crosses the Vltava River (Moldova), the longest river in the country and connects the Old Town to the Lesser Town (Mala Strana). By day, the 621 meter-long bridge attracts thousands of people who enjoy the remarkable city views, street musicians, souvenir vendors and the many sculptures. The most romantic time to visit the Charles Bridge is at night, when the illuminated Prague Castle casts breathtaking reflections upon the river. Another option for couples is to embark upon a Romantic river cruise.
Old Town Square
The principal public gathering spot is in the medieval square, which dates back to the 10th century. The most famous attraction within the square is the Astronomical Clock, situated near the frontal base of the Old Town Hall Tower. The 15th century clock is the world’s third oldest astronomical clock and the oldest still in operation. Visitors should visit the clock as it reaches the top of the hour, to watch the procession of mechanical figures that appear at the two windows above the clock. Among the other must see attractions in Old Town are the Mucha Museum and The Old-New Synagogue. Couples looking for something romantic to do might also want to take a ride on a horse drawn carriage.
St Vitus Cathedral
Located on the grounds of Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral is the largest and most important church in the country. Founded more than a thousand years ago, the magnificent church represents one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture on the continent. The interior of St. Vitus is graced by beautiful stained glass windows and multiple chapels, most prominently St. Wencesias Chapel, where the Bohemian Coronation Jewels are stored.
New Town (Nové Město)
About 1.5 km south of Old Town is New Town, which is somewhat of a misnomer since it’s more than 600 years old. But New Town is one of the most vibrant sections of the city, filled with modern hotels, retail shopping, businesses and nightlife. Most of the activity is located within Wenceslas Square, which is also the location for the National Museum and the National Theatre Opera Prague and a great spot to enjoy a romantic dinner.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.