One of the loveliest capitals in the Old World, Prague blends some 10 centuries of outstanding architecture, almost all of which went untouched through the conflicts of the 20th century. Hence, the city’s soaring Gothic spires, ornate Baroque curlicues and imposing neoclassical columns are impressively pristine.
Forget any preconceptions of post-Cold-War squalor: Yes, this place was once ruled by central planners, but it’s been more than two decades since the Velvet Revolution of late 1989 ended its 41 years of communism. Today, the modern Czech capital can be a surprisingly luxurious place, with top-shelf dining, excellent shopping and vibrant nightlife, especially in its romantic jazz clubs and boisterous neighborhood pubs. Much here is fueled for a thirst for great beer: On a per-capita basis, Czechs still drink more of it than any other nation on earth. But as tastes expand, a new wave of elegant wine bars, stylish cafés and cool cocktail venues are creating a dynamic scene where the next great party is always just around the corner.
Getting around Prague might be more than half the fun: A dream city for strollers, Prague’s central core is pedestrian-friendly, and many sites—like Old Town Square and the statue-bedecked Charles Bridge, from 1357—are completely car-free. Making things even easier is an outstanding public transportation system that includes an extended network of charismatic trams, the city’s preferred form of movement since their debut in 1891.
From the Jewish Quarter to thousand-year-old Prague Castle, history lurks at every corner. It’s not just about the past, however. Recent high-level contributions from star architects like Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel show that the Czech capital is doing anything but sitting still.