Just Back From Prague

Fodor's editor Doug Stallings recently spent a week in Prague, learning first-hand why this small and compact city is one of Europe's most popular destinations.

Why Prague?

Many parts of the Old Town look just as they did in the Middle Ages. The hotel I stayed in was built in the 1400s. I went to church concerts, ate good food, walked the cobblestone streets, saw the sights, and drank lots of cheap Czech beer.

What was your best find?

Two things actually. The first was Jaroslav "Jay" Pesta, a private tour guide I found through his Web site (www.prague-walks.com). He guided me all over town on my first full day in Prague. The second thing was Art Decoratif (Michalska 19, Star Mesto), a store that sells jewelry and decorative art (though not originals) designed by Prague native Alfons Mucha.

What was your favorite part of the trip?

A boat ride on the Vltava River. We went on a small, restored, 19th-century canal boat, which was much more fun than a 50-seater. It's not a long tour, just 45 minutes, but you get a view of the city that you can't get from anywhere else.

What was the best thing you ate or drank?

Pivo (beer). Several brands are popular, including Budvar, the original Budweiser, Pilsner-Urquell, and Gambrinus. My favorite was Staropromen, which is brewed right in Prague. There are also brewpubs, including Pivovarsky Dum, that make their own beer.

What advice do you have for someone going to Prague?
Prague is a small city, but it draws big crowds, so go in the off-season, January through mid-April, or November through December. Also, my advice is to get out of Prague after 3 or 4 days. That's plenty of time to see the sights, and the Czech Republic has a lot more to offer. You can rent a car and wander the countryside or take a train or bus if you don't want to drive.

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