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czech republic

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See a detailed overview of the experiences that await you in four countries on this European River Cruise Tour.

Trip Extension: Prague

Delight in terra-cotta cityscapes and Prague's remarkable history on our optional trip extension.


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Prague, Czech Republic

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Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.

Activity Level 1:

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Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 2:

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Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 3:

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Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

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Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

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Watch this video showcasing what makes this country so unforgettable

ReelEarth: An American Composer in the Czech Republic Directed by Marian Svejda

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Czech Republic: Month-By-Month

There are pros and cons to visiting a destination during any time of the year. Find out what you can expect during your ideal travel time, from weather and climate, to holidays, festivals, and more.

Czech Republic in December-February

With fewer crowds to contend with in Prague and other locales, winter in the Czech Republic can be a quiet time to visit. Winter months are moderately cold throughout the country, with average lows in the 30s (ºF) in December and January—although it is colder in Prague, where temperatures fall below freezing most of the time. And few scenes are more captivating than the snow-covered spires of Prague. 

Holidays & Events

  • December 5: St. Nicholas Day is a strange local tradition in Prague where groups of three dress up as St. Nicholas, a devil, and an angel. The trio then sets out into the night to decide which children have been naughty or nice. The good ones get candy and the bad ones are thrown into a devil’s sack.
  • January 5: The Three Kings Procession in Prague features Biblical characters in period dress, camels, and a live nativity scene. 

Must See

Christmas in Prague—Visit Prague when the tree in Old Town Square is beautifully lit and decorated, and take the chill off by sampling the wide variety of treats from street vendors, including spit-roast pork, pastries, hot chestnuts, and mulled wine. 

Watch this film to discover more about the Czech Republic

The Heart of Prague Pumps Lager This film was first published on Travel. Produced by Brad Cohen and Hyde Harper.

Imbibe the history and culture of beer in the Czech Republic—home of the first “golden beer.”

Czech Republic in March-May

The start of spring brings warmer weather and beautiful blossoming flowers to the Czech Republic—but it also starts bringing in tourists, especially during April and May when temperatures average in the 60s and 70s (ºF). Cooler weather than in the upcoming summer months also make these ideal times for hiking and biking in the countryside. 

Holidays & Events

  • April 30: Witches Night is a celebration of the end of winter that takes place in Prague and other cities. Rooted in pagan rituals, witches are burned in effigy and costumed festivities take place in many parks.
  • April 30-May 1: Beltine Festival of Celtic Culture is a 16-hour event featuring Celtic music, dance, and food that takes place in various castles and historic buildings in West Bohemia.
  • Mid-May: Prague Spring International Music Festival runs for three weeks with international musical performances held in venues throughout the city.

Must See

The Prague Easter markets are a sight to see in March and April. Brightly decorated wooden huts line the streets, with vendors doling out homemade food and drinks, and artisans selling handcrafted goods. Traditionally, local artists will hand-paint custom Easter eggs for visitors to take home as souvenirs. Depending on what mood you're in, ice-cold Czech beer and hot mulled wine are said to compliment a stroll through the markets quite well. 

Watch this film to discover more about the Czech Republic

The Heart of Prague Pumps Lager This film was first published on Travel. Produced by Brad Cohen and Hyde Harper.

Imbibe the history and culture of beer in the Czech Republic—home of the first “golden beer.”

Czech Republic in June-August

This is the peak tourist season in the Czech Republic, and cities like Prague can be extremely crowded. Temperatures average in the 70s (ºF), or warmer. With daylight stretching until 9 or 10 pm, these months are also ideal for mountain hiking and visiting historic sites. In a country teeming with year-round music, beer, and wine festivals, most of them take place during these summer months.

Holidays & Events

  • Early June: Every year, the 8-day Bohemia JazzFest takes place in various cities of the Bohemia region, such as Prague.
  • August: Highland Games. One of Europe’s biggest celebrations of Scottish Highland Games take place at Prague’s Sychrov Castle, a social gathering featuring Scottish dancing and drumming, Scottish and Irish music, bagpipe performances, and more.

Watch this film to discover more about the Czech Republic

The Heart of Prague Pumps Lager This film was first published on Travel. Produced by Brad Cohen and Hyde Harper.

Imbibe the history and culture of beer in the Czech Republic—home of the first “golden beer.”

Czech Republic in September-November

Fall in the Czech Republic is marked by cooler temperatures (in the 60s°F and then dipping into the 40sºF at night) and Czech town squares, castles, and national parks are bathed in colorful autumn leaves. This is also the start of the grape harvest and winemaking. 

Holidays & Events

  • September: The Prague Autumn International Music Festival is an annual event that draws the world’s best conductors playing classical compositions.
  • November 17: Freedom and Democracy Day is celebrated in Prague and throughout the Czech Republic featuring ceremonial rituals, flying of the Czech flag, and music associated with the 1989 Velvet Revolution.

Watch this film to discover more about the Czech Republic

The Heart of Prague Pumps Lager This film was first published on Travel. Produced by Brad Cohen and Hyde Harper.

Imbibe the history and culture of beer in the Czech Republic—home of the first “golden beer.”

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Czech Republic Interactive Map

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It’s easy to understand why Prague is known as "The City of a Thousand Spires.” Castles, chateaus, and many towers hearken back to previous centuries, when such structures were monuments to the majesty of ruling families and the church. Prague’s cathedrals and chapels, opulent basilicas, and large synagogues give the city a richly diverse architectural heritage. Prague Castle, for example, is the world’s largest castle complex and is the seat of power even today.

Petřín Lookout Tower—a miniature Eiffel Tower and as such a popular visitor destination—stands at just over 60 meters high. One of the most prominent landmarks of the city, standing atop Petřín Tower on a clear day allows you to see nearly the whole of Bohemia. From Petřín Tower, one can also take in a breathtaking view of Charles Square and the Charles Bridge which runs over the Vltava River running through Prague.

The monastery in the Břevnov district of Prague is where beer was first brewed in Bohemia in AD 993. After a 120-year hiatus, the monastery is brewing beer again.

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Cesky Krumlov

“Medieval charm” is one of a few ways to describe the small town of Cesky Krumlov. Nestled along the Vltava River and surrounded by a moat, much of the town’s architecture, from Cesky Krumlov Castle to the bright red-roofed homes, was built between the 13th and 17th centuries.

Now a museum, Cesky Krumlov Castle was constructed in about 1240 by the Witigonen family. At night, the glow of the main tower illuminates much of Cesky Krumlov. Having fallen in disrepair during the Soviet era, the new parliamentary government of 1989 worked to restore the castle into a major tourism destination. Inside the castle walls are also dozens of buildings, gardens, a brewery, and expansive courtyards.

The castle—and the entire town—are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Centuries-old cobblestone roads, bright red pitched roofs, and elegant bridges all lend to an iconic fairy tale scene.

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Stare Mesto, Old Town Prague

Prague’s charming Stare Mesto (Old Town) is chock-full of wonderful Gothic and Baroque buildings, and wide cobbled streets straight out of a fairy tale. For centuries, visitors and locals alike have flocked here, most notably to see the famous 15th-century Astronomical Clock at the Old Town Hall. Every hour, crowds assemble below to watch Christ and the twelve Apostles appear at two little windows above the clock face, followed by the skeleton of Death tolling the bell. This medieval achievement is the world’s oldest astronomical clock still in use.

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Featured Reading

Immerse yourself in the Czech Republic with this selection of articles, recipes, and more


Find out how a wartime history led to a flourishing artistic landscape in this famous Czech Republic city.

Prague: Conflict & Creativity

How a wartime history led to a flourishing artistic landscape

by Julia Hudson, for Grand Circle

Prague, the ancient “City of a 100 Spires,” is known for its landscape filled with churches and red terra-cotta roofs … its subterranean pivovars (beer cellars) … its connection to such great legends as the Golem … and architecture that seems lifted straight from a child’s fairy tale. Prague also cultivates a rich creative life, from black-light theater and puppet shows to music clubs and a late-night energy that rivals any other city in the world.

But for many, Prague also conjures images of a war-torn Czechoslovakia—and it may be hard to reconcile the dark and often violent 20th-century history of the Czech capital with the colorful and friendly city that stands today. The two, however, are closely intertwined. Czech art and culture is closely connected to Czech history, and these resilient people have long used their history as inspiration for some of their most iconic artworks.

A historic city of conflict

Prague was, luckily or unluckily, spared from destruction in World War II when Hitler, using the Munich Agreement, officially annexed the regions containing the most ethnic Germans and renamed them the Sudetenland after the nearby Sudetes Mountains.

Even after the fall of the Nazis, the pain of war would re-enter Prague with the Warsaw Pact of 1955, under which the Soviets occupied the entire region that was then Czechoslovakia. The Pact was designed to strengthen the communist countries’ ability to defend themselves against a potential Western invasion. But for the Czechs and Slovaks, the Warsaw Pact was an unwelcome intrusion onto their sovereignty, and it met with deep resistance. Residents refused all aid to the Soviet military, which they viewed as another invader on their land.

In 1968, the Soviet Union launched a full-scale invasion of Czechoslovakia to put an end to a series of liberal reforms known as the Prague Spring. The leader of these reforms, Alexander Dubcek, was taken into Soviet custody. A year later, a university student named Jan Palach self-immolated in protest in the middle of Wenceslas Square. This tragedy was in many ways a reflection of the larger attitude about the occupation: Rather than commit violence against the invaders, the residents of Prague turned their sorrow inwards.

Twenty years later, a series of anticommunist demonstrations in Palach’s memory became known as “Palach Week.” These gatherings became so large that the police began to beat people and use water cannons and other violence to suppress the groundswell of opposition. But the Czechs had had enough. Within a year, the Velvet Revolution, so named because of its lack of violent action, ended the Soviet regime in Prague.

Language as a tool for freedom

Despite—or perhaps because of—years of having communication monitored and regulated, the use of language has always been important to the Czech sense of identity, as evidenced by a prolific literary scene. After World War II and throughout the Soviet occupation, Czech literature became sharply divided into three different segments: literature written and published domestically, literature published illegally during the war, and literature produced by exiles and expatriates. There was always a deep emphasis on communicating identity and solidarity, and novels focused more and more on psychology and how the individual fit into the group.

One writer who has examined these themes deeply is Milan Kundera, who was exiled in 1975 and since then has lived in France. His works began as pro-communist pieces, as Kundera himself was a member of the Communist Party, but over time—as he was kicked out of the party, and then readmitted, only to be kicked out again—his writing began to show signs of disillusionment. Now, he rejects his earliest writings totally, and his subsequent novels examined both the humorous and tragic aspects of communism. Today he is seen as an anti-totalitarian figure, having himself gone through the same evolution as his homeland, from occupation to freedom, from inherited dogma to creative exploration.

Though his writings may be less famous on the world stage, Vaclav Havel personifies the struggle for freedom of expression in the Czech Republic. Havel was no stranger to the power of language, as he began his career as an acclaimed playwright. Branded a dissident during the Warsaw Pact invasion for his opinionated radio programming, and banned from the theater following the Prague Spring, he continued to write essays about the plight of modern man when expression is curtailed. The political situation of the time deeply influenced his work, epitomized by his essay “The Power of the Powerless.” His passionate viewpoints—and the eloquence with which he expressed them—were at the heart of the Velvet Revolution, and he was elected the first president of the Czech Republic after its split from the slovaks.

Painting for peace

This same creative spirit buoyed those still living in Prague during the Soviet occupation. In 1988, while the Soviet forces still retained a tight grip on all media, graffiti of any kind was banned as an uncontrolled means of communication. But one morning, on a wall in the Mala Strana (Lesser Town) neighborhood, there appeared a painting of John Lennon. The story goes that the Soviets immediately painted over the portrait. But the next day, it was back.

The soldiers painted over it time and again, and each time it came back—along with more and more graffiti speaking to freedom and nonviolent resistance, as well as poems and flowers. The graffiti writers ironically espoused “Lennonism” as the antidote to decades of foreign occupation and the erasure of free speech. Nowadays, the wall is still there, but there are many, many layers that conceal the original paintings. The people of Prague and its many visitors have continued to add messages of peace and tolerance over the years, an enduring symbol of the Czechs’ strength of will.

A building’s, and a people’s, changing identities

Part of this strength undoubtedly came from the curious blend of tradition and mutability that is to be found in Czech culture, and nowhere is this clearer than the Prague State Opera. Originally founded in 1883 as the New German Theatre, this institution in central Prague was conceived as a German-speaking complement to the Czech-speaking National Theatre. There were a significant number of German-speaking residents in what is now the Czech Republic, since at that time the land was controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The debut performance was a Wagner opera—Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg—to celebrate Germany’s artistic heritage.

As the Nazi influence spread in the 1930s, the New German Theatre welcomed artists who were leaving Germany, and provided them with a safe place to continue working. However, a combination of financial problems and the signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 caused the theater to shut down. The Nazis assumed control of the building once they invaded the city. They renamed it the German Opera House, and used it for political assemblies and propaganda.

In 1945, the theater was renamed the Theatre of the Fifth of May, after the date of the Prague uprising that ousted the remaining Nazis. It became a center for Czech opera—marking the first time since its founding that the building hosted performances in a language other than German. The first piece performed under the new ownership was Brandenburgers in Bohemia, an opera by Bedrich Smetana and an obvious reference to the departed Nazi forces. Smetana’s nationalist musical style became intertwined with Czech sentiment—so much so, in fact, that the Czech Communist Party renamed the opera house Smetana Theater in 1949.

But this building still had one transformation left. When the Soviets left the Czech Republic in 1989, the city of Prague was ready to refresh and distance itself from the severe policies of communist governance. The theater was renamed the Prague State Opera, and it has been a stronghold for creative efforts in this city ever since. In stark contrast to its much-politicized history, now the space is often used for charity events and shows works from artists of all nationalities.

Art in unlikely circumstances

The people of Prague have known for generations the importance of maintaining their culture and traditions, even when harsh circumstances force it underground. It is this spirit of preservation and innovation that visitors to Prague can still see today: a city where a Baroque building and a Gothic building sit side by side … where the same plaza that once housed massive student protests now hosts shoppers and diners … and where authors, activists, and even theaters have had to transform themselves to survive the changing times.

But Alan Levy, the American writer and expat to Prague, perhaps said it best: “For some of us, Prague is Second Chance City; for others a new frontier where anything goes, everything goes, and, often enough, nothing works. Yesterday is long gone, today is nebulous, and who knows about tomorrow, but, somewhere within each of us, we all know that we are living in a historic place at a historic time.”

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