Czech Republic, formed in 1993 after separating from Slovakia (together, formerly Czechoslovakia), is a gorgeous country, rich with history. We visited Prague and Karlštejn and highly recommend both. Things we loved about Prague include the warm and welcoming locals, rich history, beautiful architecture and affordable prices. The City is walkable but also has great public transit. Karlštejn, less than an hour from Prague, includes the beautiful Bohemian countryside.
Old Town Square and Prague Astronomical Clock: This colorful town square has a mix of Prague's Gothic Period (14th and 15th centuries) and High Baroque (18th Century). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this town square was the site of a flash mob (!) when we arrived. It is also the home of the 15th Century Astronomical clock which uses symbols of greed, vanity and death. (Photo right, while under renovation).
Prague Castle: Serving as the current home of the Czech President and also a tourist destination with museums, Prague Castle is accessible by foot from Old Town. Originally built in the 9th Century, this 750,000 square foot complex has been partially destroyed and rebuilt over the years. Gothic, Romanesque, and Bohemian Baroque architecture are featured throughout the complex.
St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague: Located within the Prague Castle Complex, construction on this striking Roman Catholic Church began in the mid-14th Century. Climb the 280 steps of the South Tower of the Cathedral for a spectacular view of the City of Prague.
Wander the Streets of Prague: This City is filled with lovely people. Spend time wandering the streets, shopping local markets, frequenting small pubs and listening to musicians busking.
Charles Bridge, Prague: This world famous and historic bridge was completed in the 15th Century. Rebuilt several times over the centuries due to massive floods, it remarkably survived World War II.
Jewish Museum, Prague: A solemn experience, to say the least, this is a "must see," while visiting Prague. This multi-part complex has a museum and a haunting memorial dedicated to Jewish lives lost during World War II, among other collections. The grounds also contain a historic Jewish cemetery.
Free Walking Tour, Prague: One of the best free walking tours we have ever had was in Prague. Our guide, David from Sandemans was a wealth of knowledge, entertaining, and kept our pre-teens interested during the 2-hour tour. The tour itself started in Old Town near the Prague Astronomical Clock, where we traveled through several centuries of history as we walked Old Prague. Don't forget to tip your guide generously.
Karlštejn Castle and Hiking in Bohemia: Karlštejn Castle is a 14th Century Gothic castle in the region of Bohemia in the Czech Republic. Bohemia is the largest historical region of the Czech Republic. Formerly part of the Holy Roman Empire and then the Hasburgs' Austrian empire, Bohemia became part of the Czech Republic when the Country was formed in 1993. Easily accessible by a 45 minute train ride from Prague, Karlsteijn Castle is one of the jewels of Bohemia. The Castle is also surrounded by gorgeous countryside that is perfect for a day hike.
Where We Stayed
Air BnB Listing: We stayed in a great 2 bedroom AirBnB in Prague's District 1. This top floor apartment has a ton of charm and really great host, who was always available to answer questions about the City and the apartment. It was clean, comfortable, and plenty of room for the four of us. The neighborhood was perfect: close to Old Town, restaurants, a grocery store and the Metro line. We definitely recommend this apartment. Photo right are the stairs but there is a lift as well.
Where We Ate
The Beer: First, we must point out that beer is quite literally cheaper than water in this City. At just 70 cents per stein in some establishments, this great quality beer was hard to pass up....so we didn't.
Restaurants: For authentic Czech food, we tried and recommend Kynšperský Pivovar. It is close to Old Town but does not feel touristy at all. All of us were happy with our meal choices which were modestly priced.
Taking a break from the heavy Czech food, we visited a neighborhood Thai restaurant, Restaurant Modry zub. Surprisingly, it was one of the best Thai restaurants we have ever visited and ended up going again before leaving Prague.