Moon Prague & Beyond
Day Trips, Local Spots, Strategies to Avoid Crowds
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- Explore In and Around the City: Get to know Prague’s most interesting neighborhoods, like the Castle District, Old Town, and Lesser Town, and nearby areas, including Kutná Hora, Liberec, and the Moravian wine country
- Go at Your Own Pace: Choose from multiple itinerary options designed for foodies, history buffs, art lovers, outdoor adventurers, and more
- See the Sights: Stroll through the vast Vysehrad complex and relax in the beer garden, marvel at the medieval astronomical clock and the twisted Dancing House, or wander the winding streets of the Jewish Quarter. Climb the Charles Bridge towers, snap a photo in front of the John Lennon Wall, and watch the sunset from a riverside boardwalk
- Get Outside the City: Hike to Trosky Castle at the summit of a volcanic plug, grab a pint of Pilsner at Pilsen’s namesake brewery, explore natural wine vineyards, or study the intricate Baroque monuments of Olomouc
- Savor the Flavors: Linger over coffee at a riverside café, enjoy a hearty dinner of meat and potatoes or a light lunch from a street stall, and snack on fried cheese and Czech sausage at a corner bar
- Experience the Nightlife: Savor a pivo in a beer garden, kick back at an Old Town pub, or see what’s on tap at a microbrewery. Sample local, seasonal wines or catch a live music performance in a former army barracks. Sip Art Nouveau-inspired creations at a craft cocktail bar or soak up 360-degree views of the city from a rooftop bar
- Get to Know the Real Prague: Follow honest suggestions from Prague local Auburn Scallon
- Full-Color Photos and Detailed Maps, including a full-color foldout map
- Handy Tools: Background information on Prague’s history and culture, plus tips on what to pack, where to stay, and how to get around
DISCOVER PRAGUE & BEYOND
MY FAVORITE EXPERIENCES
EXPLORE PRAGUE & BEYOND
BEST OF PRAGUE
SIGHTSEEING WITHOUT THE CROWDS
LIBEREC AND BOHEMIAN PARADISE
WHERE TO GO FROM PRAGUE
NAVIGATING OUTSIDE PRAGUE
ČESKÝ KRUMLOV AND PILSEN
OLOMOUC, BRNO, MIKULOV, AND VALTICE CHÂTEAUX
TRAVEL LIKE A LOCAL
WHEN TO GO
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT TO PACK
Some Czechs like to joke, with a characteristically self-deprecating wit, that everyone has heard of Prague but many have no idea that it’s in the Czech Republic. Prague has certainly earned its share of attention, along with various nicknames, through the centuries. “The Golden City” reflects the red-orange rooftops, the crowned National Theater, and the pastel facades bathed in sunlight. “The City of a Hundred Spires” (or a thousand, depending on who’s counting) captures the complexity of the skyline viewed from numerous towers and viewpoints across town. “The Heart of Europe” might be one of the most important monikers, reminding visitors that geographic location puts the Czech capital smack in the center of the continent (and Prague being referred to as “Eastern European” while located west of Vienna is definitely a sore spot for many).
Prague certainly is a captivating city, but taking a few steps off the typical tourist path will open up a country filled with pleasant surprises. Architectural wonders range from mountaintop towers in Liberec and manicured gardens in Mikulov to artfully arranged human bones in Kutná Hora and Brno. The famous fairy-tale vibe in Český Krumlov complements the town’s artistic scene. World-famous breweries in Pilsen organize guided tours, while innovative microbrewers set up shop in repurposed industrial spaces. Exhibits of history, royalty, and occupying forces in Olomouc or Brno are intertwined with a modern generation of Czechs bringing innovation to the dining and nightlife scenes. Taking in the natural beauty of Bohemian Paradise or a spa weekend in Karlovy Vary can offer an escape from the stresses of modern life. There is no one right way to explore the beauty and complexity of this country, but there are plenty of options to fill itineraries for different tastes.
MY FAVORITE EXPERIENCES
1 Wandering the vast complex of Prague’s Vyšehrad, which is no less impressive (and much less crowded) than the Prague Castle.
2 Sipping a foam-topped pivo (beer) in one of Prague’s beer gardens.
3 Surveying the landscape from the mountaintop Ještěd Hotel and TV Tower in Liberec. The sweeping view reaches all the way to the German and Polish borders.
4 Dining and drinking in Prague’s outer neighborhoods, where you can still get a sense of the undiscovered vibe the city was once known for.
5 Taking in the panoramic view from Český Krumlov’s Castle Tower—equally beautiful in summer (when the city teems with tourists) and winter (when the city is quieter, and snow blankets the landscape).
6 Melting stress away in the relaxing salt caves of Elisabeth Spa in Karlovy Vary.
7 Admiring the Baroque fountains scattered across Olomouc. Searching for them creates a fun scavenger hunt across the city.
8 Comparing the lager at Pilsner Urquell Brewery with those at inventive microbreweries in Pilsen.
9 Tasting the country’s best wines surrounded by aristocratic glamour in the Czech National Wine Cellar at Valtice Château.
10 Watching the sunset from Holy Hill as the light fades over the picturesque town of Mikulov.
11 Wandering through the “bone church” at the Sedlec Ossuary, which contains the artfully arranged bones of more than 40,000 human skeletons.
EXPLORE PRAGUE & BEYOND
A two- or three-day tour of Prague will give you a solid first impression of the city. After that, there are excellent options for day trips or longer excursions. Kutná Hora, Liberec, and Bohemian Paradise are all easily doable as day trips by train or bus. An overnight stay will help to make the most out of Karlovy Vary, Pilsen, or Český Krumlov, balancing travel time without feeling rushed. If you head east to the Moravian region, it’s worth spending 2-3 days (or more) traveling between Olomouc, Brno, and the Lednice-Valtice Area. All three cities are easily connected to each other and to Prague by regular trains and buses or highways.
BEST OF PRAGUE
An ideal itinerary in Prague varies wildly based on the weather. A sunny day opens the doors to manicured gardens and outdoor beer gardens, while winter requires more indoor entertainment. These two days provide a base for you to modify according to your interests, no matter the weather.
DAY 1: EARLY 20TH-CENTURY ELEGANCE
This day centers largely around the glamour of Prague’s early 20th century, one of my favorite eras that often receives less attention than Prague’s Communist history and beer halls. Browse the programs at Prague’s National Theater and concert halls when booking your accommodation. Make your reservation at Café Louvre a few days before arrival. Note that the sights of the Jewish Quarter are closed on Saturdays.
▪ Arrive in the morning to check into your hotel or drop off luggage. Refuel with coffee and cake at Old Town’s Cubist-themed Grand Café Orient.
▪ Head to the Alfons Mucha Museum to get to know an Art Nouveau master.
▪ Next, walk through Wenceslas Square to Palac Lucerna for a cold pivo (beer) or hot mug of svařák (spiced wine) in Kavárna Lucerna, and get a pic of the upside-down horse statue.
▪ Exit through the Franciscan Gardens and hop on a tram to the Jewish Quarter’s Pinkas Synagogue and Old Jewish Cemetery. Afterwards, head back to your hotel to change into theater attire.
▪ Book an early evening dinner at Café Louvre for a Czech meal of svíčková or roast duck.
▪ Arrive early to admire the ceilings and find your seat for an opera, ballet, or classical music concert at Prague’s National Theater or concert halls.
▪ After the show, walk through a peaceful (and safe) Old Town Square at night, followed by a stroll over the Charles Bridge for a view of the spotlights on the Prague Castle before heading home to bed.
DAY 2: PRAGUE BEYOND THE CITY CENTER
This itinerary aims to avoid crowds, learn about local history, and get to know life outside Old Town. Make a reservation for dinner at Martin’s Bistro and drinks at both Oblaca Bar and Bukowski Bar a few days in advance. Note that the National Monument to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror and New Town Hall Tower are closed on Mondays, and Martin’s Bistro is only open for lunch (10am-4pm) on Sundays.
▪ After a hotel breakfast, jump on the metro to Vyšehrad, a peaceful complex with an ornate cemetery of Czech legends, a Gothic Cathedral that opens at 10am, and hillside views over the river. On a sunny day, grab a drink and a snack at the Hospůdka Na Hradbach beer garden.
▪ Walk downhill and along the river to the Dancing House for a beverage at the rooftop Glass Bar with panoramic city views.
▪ Step inside the National Monument to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror around the corner for a free history lesson on a fascinating story of Czech resistance efforts during World War II.
▪ Walk through the park at Karlovo náměstí and climb the New Town Hall Tower, site of the first Prague Defenestration.
▪ Jump on a tram to Martin’s Bistro for a dinner of international dishes fresh from the neighborhood farmers market.
▪ In spring, summer, or autumn, you should be able to catch a sunset (or twilight) drink at the Žižkov TV Tower’s Oblaca Bar.
▪ Close out the night with beers or cocktails over candlelight at the laid-back Bukowski Bar.
DAY 3: DAY TRIP TO KUTNÁ HORA
You can stay in Prague one more day to explore the Prague Castle and the Malá Strana neighborhood in detail, or you can jump on a train for a quieter, less crowded tour of Kutná Hora’s visually impressive churches and contemporary art. Kutná Hora travelers should make a reservation for lunch at Staročeská restaurace V Ruthardce the day before. Note that the Church of the Assumption opens late at 11am on Sundays. Apply at least three weeks in advance for permission to take photos at the Church of the Assumption and Sedlec Ossuary.
▪ Have breakfast, check out of your hotel, and stash your luggage at the main train station (Praha hl. n). Then jump on a train around 8am to Kutná Hora hl. n (about 60 minutes). Book your train tickets in advance at www.cd.cz or in person at the station—they’re unlikely to sell out.
▪ Walk to the luminescent Church of the Assumption and pick up a combined ticket for the Sedlec Ossuary and St. Barbara’s Cathedral.
▪ Continue to the Sedlec Ossuary to peruse the Church of All Saints, the “bone church,” and the surrounding cemetery.
▪ Take the tourist shuttle to Staročeská restaurace V Ruthardce for a hearty Czech lunch (try the kulajda soup).
▪ Walk through town and along a statue-lined footbridge to the GASK Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region. Take in the creatively curated permanent exhibit “States of Mind – Beyond the Image.”
▪ Head next door to marvel at the interior and exterior beauty of St. Barbara’s Cathedral and complete your combined church ticket.
▪ Walk back to the tiny Chocolate Museum and Chocolaterie and ask the staff to call you a taxi while you browse souvenirs or enjoy a hot chocolate.
▪ Allow 15-20 minutes for the journey back to Kutná Hora hl. n. Then catch a late-afternoon or early-evening train back to Prague, leaving almost every hour.
LIBEREC AND BOHEMIAN PARADISE
Get a taste of North Bohemia’s natural beauty and architectural charm, surrounded by mountain ranges and protected forests.
BEFORE YOU GO
▪ Hotel reservations: Book nights 1 and 2 at a hotel in Liberec. (Return to Prague at the end of day 3.)
▪ Restaurant reservations: For day 1, make reservations at Balada (lunch) and Masa Buka (dinner; closed Sun. and Mon.) at least 24 hours in advance. For day 2, make dinner reservations at Radniční Sklípek a few days in advance. For day 3, make brunch reservations at Mykina. All restaurants located in Liberec.
▪ Transit: Book your return from Liberec to Prague by bus at least 24 hours in advance.
▪ Don’t forget: Bring comfortable hiking shoes and sunscreen to explore Bohemian Paradise.
DAY 1: PRAGUE TO LIBEREC
▪ Have breakfast, check out of your hotel, and jump on an hourly Regiojet bus (60 minutes) to Liberec in the morning. Check into your hotel and settle in or stash your luggage.
▪ Walk to the main square of Náměstí Dr. E. Beneše to find the Neo-Renaissance Town Hall. Take a few photos and climb the tower.
▪ Take a quick peek behind the Town Hall at the exterior of the F. X. Šalda Theatre, and seek out the Giant’s Feast sculpture, which is on top of a bus stop.
▪ Backtrack through the square and downhill to Balada for a casual Czech lunch.
▪ Move your luggage into your room (if you couldn’t earlier) and walk to the Fügnerova bus station to pick up one 24-hour tourist ticket (50 CZK each) for today and three single rides (20 CZK each) for the following days.
▪ Jump on a tram (15-20 minutes) to Horní Hanychov and take the cable car to Ještěd Hotel and TV Tower for 360-degree views and a drink or snack in the retro-futuristic café.
▪ Head back down on the cable car any time before 6pm. Take the tram to Fügnerova and bus #15 or #19 to Technická univerzita to reach the Liberec Reservoir. Kick back with a Svijany beer from the outdoor pub or walk across the turret-lined dam for a lap around the water.
▪ Walk to Masa Buka for a Greek dinner and then head back to your hotel for a good night’s sleep.
DAY 2: DAY TRIP TO BOHEMIAN PARADISE
You’re coming back to Liberec, so no need to check out of your accommodation. Stop by an ATM for some local currency before leaving Liberec, and wear your hiking gear on the train. Comfortable shoes or sport sandals are enough for these well-worn paths, as long as you don’t mind them getting dirty.
▪ Enjoy a hotel breakfast and hop on a tram to the Liberec Train Station around 9:30am. Trains to Turnov (30-45 minutes) leave at least once an hour. English-speaking staff at this station may be limited, so book your round-trip train tickets online in advance at www.cd.cz.
▪ From the Turnov Train Station, follow the yellow and green trails through the town of Turnov and pick up some hiking snacks at any local shop.
▪ When you reach the residential Turnov město train station, follow the red trail into Bohemian Paradise to the Hlavatice Lookout Tower. Climb the spiral staircase and try to spot Ještěd in the distance.
▪ Continue along the red trail to Hospůdka U Hradu and grab a snack or a drink on the picnic grounds.
▪ Wander across the statue-lined bridge to peek inside the courtyard of Valdštejn Castle.
▪ Follow the red and blue trails onward to Jan’s Viewpoint and spot the Czech flag flying over a landscape of sandstone rocks.
▪ Around late afternoon, turn back and follow the red path out of the nature reserve and through town (about 90 minutes) to the Turnov Train Station. Trains back to Liberec (30-45 minutes) depart roughly once an hour.
▪ From the Liberec Train Station take a tram (7-10 minutes) back to the Town Hall for dinner in the underground beer hall Radniční Sklípek.
▪ After dinner, grab a drink at Jimmy’s nightclub underneath the F. X. Šalda Theatre before turning in.
DAY 3: LIBEREC TO PRAGUE
This is an easy itinerary to relax after two jam-packed days. Allow yourself a lazy morning before checking out of your hotel and storing your luggage. Book your Prague bus online at least 24 hours in advance.
▪ Walk to Mykina for a breakfast of open-faced sandwiches and specialty coffee.
▪ Stop into Lázně Regional Art Gallery to browse the latest art exhibit.
▪ Continue up Masarykova Street for an easy walk along a tree-lined row of historical villas.
▪ When you reach the Zoo tram stop, grab a ride back to your hotel to pick up your luggage. Within a 40-minute window, you can also jump back on the tram to the Fügnerova bus station with the same ticket.
▪ Take an afternoon Regiojet bus back to Prague.
ČESKÝ KRUMLOV AND PILSEN
Get to know South Bohemia with a peaceful trip to Český Krumlov, famous for its castle views with a lesser-known artistic side, followed by Pilsen’s beer-focused nightlife. This itinerary is designed either for shoulder seasons or for a winter visit, when Český Krumlov in particular is less crowded, and both cities have the chance of being blanketed in snow.
BEFORE YOU GO
▪ Hotel reservations: Book accommodation for night 1 in Č
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- Apr 21, 2020
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