Prague and beyond: five of the Czech Republic’s most beautiful towns and cities

The Czech Republic’s capital remains one of the most beautiful eastern European cities, with iconic sights such as the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle and elegant Wenceslas Square. The best way to explore is to walk; the city is famous for its street musicians, and many of the city’s churches hold concerts and recitals. Alongside the Old Town, the Jewish quarter is dotted with synagogues, historic buildings and traditional cafés. Pop into U Rotundy , which serves up hearty Czech staples – pork knuckle, dumplings – and excellent local beer. Visit Letná Park at sunset for gorgeous views across the city, and in the evening take a glass-topped boat trip along the Vltava to see the city’s elegant buildings picked out in warm, golden light. No trip to Prague is complete without a visit to a cellar bar – the modern city is built on top of the old, creating a network of caves, tunnels and cellars. Try U Sudu (Vodickova 677).
Around 45 miles from Prague, this small town in Central Bohemia punches well above its weight thanks to its wealthy past. In medieval times, the nearby silver mines saw Kutná produce a third of all Europe’s silver, leaving a legacy of imposing Gothic churches, a stunning Baroque Jesuit College and the 13th-century Italian Court, a sprawling palace that once contained the royal mint. Dip into Hrádek, the town’s museum of silver, and brace yourself for the macabre Sedlec Ossuary, where bones and skulls are worked into the fabric of the chapel. For traditional dishes – dumplings and roasted pork – head to Dacicky , with its long trestle tables and tremendous portions; or for something more contemporary try Factory for excellent burgers, pizza and pasta.
As beautiful as Prague but less crowded, Cesky is located among the rolling hills of the South Bohemia region. Bisected by the sinuous Vltava river, the city escaped bombing during the Second World War, leaving a perfectly preserved Old Town. The cobbled streets and elegant main square are lined with houses in sugar-almond colours (powder blue, mint green, egg-yolk yellow) and dominated by the grandiose 13th-century castle. The 162-step climb up the castle’s tower is worth it for the amazing views, and the 17th-century baroque theatre housed within its walls is one of the most complete in Europe. Pair history with art with a visit to the Egon Schiele Art Centrum, and indulge in a long lunch on a riverside terrace; the Vltava restaurant serves classic Czech dishes with stunning castle views.​
Also known as Carlsbad, Vary (as the Czechs call it) is best known for the thermal spa waters that have made the town a popular resort since the 19th century, and the elegant colonnades that run beside the river. The best way to familiarise yourself with the town is to follow the “Becher Drinking Cure”; buy a porcelain “sipping cup” from one of the spas and drink from each of the 13 springs located around Vary. For a quicker overview, take the funicular up to the Diana Observation Tower which gives spectacular views over the city – or hike up, and reward yourself with a soak in the thermal waters at one of the town’s many spas. Counteract the healthiness with a visit to the oldest café in town, the Elefant (cafeelefant.) which has been serving up lipsmacking cakes for over 200 years.
The Czech Republic’s second-largest city, Brno boasts an excellent night life, thanks to a large student population, and a fascinating mix of architecture, from modernist buildings by Mies van der Rohe to the medieval Spilberk castle, home to the city’s museum. The city is renowned for its coffee, with cafés on every corner of the Old Town’s picturesque streets; locals drink turek, the Czech version of espresso, often standing at the counter, like Italians. But it’s in the evenings that Brno really comes alive. Kick off with a visit to The Bar That Does Not Exist (, where rare bottles fill the shelves; follow up their killer cocktails with hearty steaks at

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