In a city of nearly 100 spires towering over rooftops, there is much to see. At the top of Prague cathedrals and towers, spectacular views await tourists. At its lofty peak the clock tower in Old Town square offers 180 degrees of unobstructed vistas. This is the perfect perch from which to take in the sights of not only the square, but also the city. Below, horse hooves echo against cobblestone streets and alleys the way they might have centuries ago when royalty arrived in carriages. If you’re in the square at the right moment, you may see the arrival of a wedding party. The architectural beauty of the square makes it a popular stop for wedding photos.
During the tenth century, the town square in Prague was one of the most notable marketplaces in the Czech region. Today the buildings in the enormous square demonstrate a unique mix of gothic, cubism, and baroque architectural styling inhabited by souvenir shops, restaurants and cafes. Crowds of tourists gather in front of the astronomical clock on the hour to watch the clock’s movement as well as the live costumed trumpeter who marks the hour at the very top of the tower. The clock is a meeting place and starting point for many tours of the city.
Jumping on a tour bus with a big group is not everyone’s idea of sightseeing fun. If you’re one of those people, you don’t have to settle for traveling with a gang. The choices for experiencing the spirit of Prague include everything from nostalgic horse-drawn carriages to high-tech Segways. Here’s a list of the top six most popular alternatives available.
You can’t miss the brightly colored pedicabs darting around Prague offering tours of the city by day or pub crawls by night. The cabs are open to the weather and ideal during mild temperatures. The cabs generally hold two seated passengers. The quality of the tour can vary greatly as athletic college students are often the drivers. Although there are always exceptions, if you’re looking for a seasoned guide with a great deal of knowledge about the history of Prague, you might want to try another option. If you’re not looking for that kind of experience, the pedicab may serve you well. Be sure to have a short conversation with the driver to decide if you will be able to communicate in English.
Are you up for a vertical tour? Then you may enjoy the Segway, the ultimate in green transportation. While there is no age limit for this tour, you must weigh at least 88 pounds and no more than 242 in order for the Segway to operate properly. This is a fun way for two people to cruise the sights. Of course the weather governs the experience. Anything heavier than a light rain will remove this option from your list. Segway training before the tour is mandatory for everyone and there is no pressure to get under way until you are comfortable with your ability.
Prague On Segway provides private, flexible tours that allow you to control when and where to spend time. Want to take a break from the tour? Stop for a coffee at an interesting looking café. The day is really in your hands. This particular company is ranked number one on Trip Advisor.
Team Bike/Spider Tour
Ever heard of a bike for seven people? It’s a thing of wonder that turns heads everywhere it travels and causes people to ask “What in the world?” While this vehicle looks a little like that spinning ride in children’s playgrounds, it’s completely unrelated. This creative bike is used for travelling around Prague and unlike tandem bikes, the riders aren’t positioned one behind the other. Instead they sit in a circle facing each other. One person acts as the pilot and steers. This is not a way to see vast areas of the city, as the bike ride is only about forty minutes. But in that time you can roll through Old Prague and see the Jewish Quarter. Unlike pedicabs or Segways, you don’t just flag down a bike in the square. Reservations are necessary. The bike travels on side streets and through parks. While that may sound a bit like a negative, the bike takes you away from crowds and street traffic. Called a Team Bike, it’s a great way to have a party while touring. You also get some exercise and maybe meet new people!
This new and creative bike features large tires, lots of pedals, and a heavy frame.
Because it’s non-motorized, it’s quiet… although you might hear some fun noises coming from the humans pedaling it. The going rate is 290 CZK per person.
Open Air Classic Cars
If you have a thing for the 1920s, take a journey back in time while you visit the sights in an open-air classic car, a popular sightseeing vehicle in Prague. The number of passengers it carries varies on the individual styling of the car. Most advertise one to three people but some will accommodate as many as eight. Most of these completely renovated luxurious and historical Praga-brand Czech vehicles date back to 1928 - 1935. The services provided with these cars include pick-up from your hotel (extra charge) and tours of major Prague sights with an English-speaking driver. Generally you’ll find the cars idling around the Old Town Square where they book most of their business but they also can be found on the route to the Prague Castle. You can hire the car and tour for about $116 for one hour for three people but research before hiring as prices vary from company to company. Shorter tours are also available. Keep in mind that heavily travelled main streets can mean long waits at traffic lights and if safety is an important issue for you, most of these cars do not come equipped with seatbelts.
Horse Drawn Carriage
The clipclopping of horse hooves can transport you back in time to a medieval Prague as you wind along narrow streets in a drawn carriage. The carriage and the guide are separately priced so check pricing carefully. Like the Classic Cars, the horse carriages can pick you up at the Old Town Square or at your hotel. Expect to pay about $140 for a one-hour tour that includes one to four people.
Prague’s excellent Metro system is inexpensive and easy to navigate. Five color- coded (on maps) lines crisscross the city and outlying areas making it easy to reach churches and monuments in the most remote parts of the region. For $5 a day per person, you will get an all day pass which will give you the opportunity to hop on and off and rest your feet between between stops. Beware of the extra speedy escalators at some Metro stations. Boarding one will require your full attention. People riding metro cars seem most helpful. When the vehicle gets very crowded you might see some old world traditions, like young people giving up their seats to older passengers!
Before travelling, invest $5 in the best maps available for U.S. and international cities alike. Called StreetWise Maps, they are colorful, pocket-size and laminated. Besides listing sights with names and icons, they include major hotels and the complete metro system. These maps are a great way to plan a trip to any city before you even leave home.
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