01 Strahov Monastery
Seeking solitude? Head to this peaceful monastery whose foundations were first laid nearly 900 years ago. Ascend the steep pathways to its entrance for broad views of Prague’s towering spires below and spend a few hours browsing the tomes of the adjoining Philosophical Hall.
02 Prague Castle
You’d be mad to miss an afternoon wandering the lanes of this miniature ‘city’ — the largest castle in the world and the seat of the Czech head of state — whose unequivocal highlight is the ethereal St Vitus Cathedral. For something a little different, head down to the Old Town’s Umelecke Sklenarstvi Jiricka-Coufal, an artisanal glassworks where some of the cathedral’s windows have been painstakingly restored. If you’ve got money to splurge, why not blow £1,500 on your own St Vitus window? www.vitraz.cz
03 Old Town Square
The drama of this ancient square, lined with architectural gems of the romanesque, baroque and gothic eras, continues to be something to behold, not least because it’s the former stomping ground of Franz Kafka. Zip up and sip a coffee al fresco at one of the plaza’s many cafes while gazing at its standout attractions, namely the 600-year-old Astronomical Clock and the fairytale spires of the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn.
04 Petrin Hill
Flex your calves on a walk up this hill where all that lies between you and thrilling views of the city is a mere 299 steps to the crown of Petrin Observation Tower. Once you’re back on solid ground, drift through its pretty landscaped gardens — which are stunning at any time of the year — before stumping up a mere £1.50 to explore the odd ‘hall of mirrors’.
05 Prvni Pivni Tramway
As autumn descends, beat the chill and hole up at this ‘themed pub’, decorated with old tram seats, at the end of the line in Sporilov. With walls adorned in rock ’n’ roll posters, kitsch Czech memorabilia and graffiti by local cartoonist Igor Sevcik, this friendly place is more than a little quirky. Serving three standard beers and three guest draughts, it also dishes up a tasty selection of bar snacks. www.prvnipivnitramway.cz
06 Black light theatre
Shun traditional stage shows and catch an eye-opening black theatre production of big screen projections and animated motion pictures at the WOW theatre. As you’re swathed in darkness, watch in awe as actors appear from the dark depths in a hallucinatory mirage of lights and music. Book well in advance for its daily 8pm showings. www.wow-show.com
£ Home Kitchen: Freshly prepared duck breast with rosehip sauce and steaming bowls of soup have made this a favourite foodie spot, using fresh and local ingredients with a daily changing menu. www.homekitchen.cz
££ Cafe Savoy: There’s something ‘olde worlde’ about this stalwart, with an elaborate plasterwork ceiling and crystal chandeliers. On the menu are staples of soups and salads, while carnivores have plenty to choose from with dishes such as fried pork schnitzel and roasted Prague ham. www.ambi.cz
£££ Sansho: The latest offering from former Nobu sous chef, Paul Day, Sansho champions a sophisticated, Asian-inspired menu with highlights including mackerel ceviche tacos and salmon sashimi with citrus soy. Be brave and go for the six-course feast with the 12-hour beef rendang its centrepiece. www.sansho.cz
Going underground: The Prague Metro is the fastest means of transportation around the city and serves about one and a half million passengers a day, making it the seventh busiest metro system in Europe and the most-used in the world on a per capita basis.
Don’t miss: Feeling peckish? Go for a calorie-laden snack at one of the city’s many pastry shops. Try Mysak, close to Wenceslas Square, for the house karamelovy pohar, a bowl of ice cream topped with caramel, chocolate and walnuts. Or just go for a hot chocolate — pure, hot melted chocolate. www.mujmysak.cz
Published in October 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)