Prague offers the holiday-maker a feast for the eyes and ears - eleven centuries' worth of fascinating history and stunning architecture

The city of Prague is one of Europe's holiday hotspots, with over 4 million visitors a year, considerably more than the population of 1.2 million.

Reached in around a 14 hour flight from Johannesburg or Cape Town , Prague benefits from a temperate climate. Summers are warm, Winters can be cold and snowy, and rainfall is fairly light, except during the Summer, which is the season for thunderstorms. For the best-value airplane ticket deals , try to avoid the height of Summer if possible, when the city does become quite crowded. Your flight will arrive at Vaclav Havel Airport a short bus or taxi ride from the city centre.

The Czech Republic, of which Prague is the capital, joined the European Union in 2004 but is not yet a Eurozone member. It has its own currency, the Koruna. The official language of the Czech Republic is Czech, although many people will understand English, German or Russian as well.

Prague has played a key part in the history of Central Europe, from seat of the Holy Roman Empire to centre of the 'pre-reformation' under Jan Hus and the failure of 'socialism with a human face' in the shape of the abortive 'Prague Spring'. This has endowed it with a tremendous wealth of sights of historical interest. The city's architecture is second to none, containing great examples of virtually every major architectural style in use in the Western world, from Romanesque and Rococo to Baroque, Art Nouveau and Cubist.

Variety is definitely the spice of life in Prague - each district has its own very special look and feel.

Prague is divided into clearly defined districts, each with their own distinctive character and top tourist sights. The principal areas of interest in the city are:

  • The Old Town
  • The New Town
  • The Jewish Quarter (Josefov)
  • The Little Quarter
  • Prague Castle and Hradčany
The Old Town and the area around Prague Castle form the historic heart of the city. The Old Town Square is one of the most beautiful public squares to be found anywhere in Europe, with its colourful house fronts taking you on a journey through Romanesque, Renaissance and Gothic styles. The Kinský Palace, the Church of our Lady before Týn, the Old Town Hall and the Jan Hus monument are all located on the square. The nearby Municipal House is much more recent and is a gorgeous example of Art Nouveau architecture.
Lying on the other side of the River Vltava is Prague Castle. The enormous St Vitus' Cathedral, fruit of almost six hundred years of work, lies within the castle complex and contains the Czech Crown Jewels and beautiful stained glass windows by Alfons Mucha. A number of palaces and monasteries, many of which contain superb art collections, such as that on display in the Sternberg Palace, complete the picture.
The Little Quarter lies beneath Prague Castle, and has changed little since the late 18th century. It holds a mixture of grand Baroque palaces like the Wallenstein Palace, steep, narrow streets, inviting squares and parks, the massive Church of St. Nicholas and the western entrance to Prague's most famous bridge, the Charles Bridge, lined with statues of saints.
The old Jewish quarter, Josefov, is an intriguing blend of old and new, with much of the area having been rebuilt from scratch in the 1890s in the latest styles, including Art Nouveau and Cubist. However, the area's distinctive Jewish heritage was preserved, and can be seen today in the form of the Old Jewish Cemetery, the High Synagogue, the Jewish Town Hall, the Old-New Synagogue and the Maisel Synagogue.
Art Nouveau has also left its mark on the New Town, especially in buildings like the Hotel Europa. This part of Prague is home to some of the city's most interesting museums, including the Dvořák Museum, the Mucha Museum and the National Museum. Alternatively, you could book seats for an opera, ballet or theatre production at the National Theatre during your stay here.
There's also much to see outside the city that's only a short car journey away . Karlstein Castle and the towns of Karlovy Vary and Kutná Hora are all good day trips from the capital.

Take the stress out of your stay in Prague - plan ahead with these handy websites

This selection of Prague tourism and travel internet sites are ideal for your upcoming trip: