The locals' guide to...Prague

Prague is the city of a hundred spires, but you don't necessarily need to visit all of them to make the most of your visit. Czech out what the locals say.

Prague

How do I get away from large tour groups wearing matching caps?

As well as being one of the city's major tourist attractions, Charles Bridge connects the Old Town to another tourist honey-pot, Prague Castle, which means that it's a busy place during the day - artists, musicians and people selling various trinkets on the bridge tend to reel in large numbers of camera-toting Americans on holiday in Prague. But the bridge isn't quite as hectic at night and it's worth taking an evening stroll across to see it lit up in all its glory. When you've had enough of sightseeing and beer, pack a picnic head to the south-eastern edge of the city to Pruhonice Park - it's over 500 acres of tranquil greenery all overlooked by the superb Pruhonice Chateau.

Where do the locals party?

With approximately one pub for every day of the year, you shouldn't have too many problems finding a place to quaff down a few glasses of fine Czech lager on a city break to Prague. U Cerného Vola is a no-nonsense joint not far from the castle that serves native brews like Kozel and Pilsner Urquell. Another fine local boozer is U Hrocha. It's little more than a hole in the wall under the castle, but the quality of beer deems it all worthwhile. In terms of late-night partying, Prague has the largest club in central Europe in Karlovy Lázne near Charles Bridge, which plays everything from hip-hop to electro, while the Lucerna Music Bar offers a cheesy, 80s vibe.

Restaurants without an 'all-you-can-eat tourist buffet'?

The Art Hotel, about ten minutes walk from the town centre, is a good place to eat, especially between May and September when you can dine in the picturesque Summer Garden. They also put on a really good breakfast buffet - throw in a couple of glasses of Bucks Fizz and you've found yourself a smashing way to get over a hangover. To experience the local fare, head to U Pinkasu, a traditional pub that serves roasted pork neck and other things derived from strange parts of animals.

tip The locals' absolutely secret number one tip : Between 31 January and 5 February each year, the Bohemian Carnevale takes place. There's a whole range of events including food festivals, live concerts and parties taking place in parks, restaurants and palaces across Prague.

A quick guide to where the locals hang out

Prague

The cultural coffee: Enjoy a coffee, tea, or lunch in the Art Deco surroundings of the Grand Café Orient in the Old Town. On weeknights between 4 and 7pm, a resident pianist entertains the punters.

The cocktail : Sip on a White Russian at Papa's on Betlemske Namesti, a square just five minutes from the Old Town. It's a highlight of any Prague holiday.

The breakfast: Cukrkávalimonáda on Mala Strana does scrambled eggs in five different ways. You'd think it wasn't possible...

The view: Head to Bellavista near the Strahov Monastery. It's a decent Italian restaurant with spectacular views over the city.

The walk : Leafy Petrín Hill is about a half-hour walk from Prague Castle. The hill rises more than 300 feet above the city, and offers stunning views. Once on the summit, you can climb the Petrín Tower - like the Eiffel Tower, only smaller and less French.

The cubist lamp post: Prague is big on cubism and nothing sums up its avant-garde architecture quite like the cubist lamp post just around the corner from Wenceslas Square.

The evening of culture: It's well worth visiting the spectacular Prague State Opera House to take in an opera, ballet or even just admire the architecture.

The trip: Take a musical cruise on the Prague Jazz Boat, which runs up the Vltava River between March and December.

Can I drink the water?

The eight essential questions you'll need answering

Which local animal is likely to hospitalise me?

Although the Czech Republic is home to the wolf and the lynx, you're not likely to see any roaming the streets of Prague.

Which native liquor will make me think I am attractive?

Aside from the beer, Prague is famous for its absinthe. For a while the stuff was thought to be hallucinogenic, although the levels of mind-warping thujone have decreased these days.

How can I avoid a beating by the local hard nuts?

Don't kick off if someone joins you at your table in a traditional Czech pub or restaurant. It's the norm in Prague.

Will I get lost?

Undoubtedly. Prague is a maze of streets and you'll need a map to find your way around - even then it's a tricky place to find your bearings. Using the Metro, buses and trams can make it a little easier to relocate your Prague hotel.

Will I find myself?

Prague isn't really that sort of place - it's quite a busy city so don't expect too much time for meditation.

Should I take an umbrella?

If you're visiting Prague between May and October, it's probably a good idea. Bring your woolies if you're travelling between November and April.

What should I order in a restaurant to impress the locals?

A bowl of Cesneková polévka (garlic soup) followed by pork and Knedliky (dumplings) all washed down with a few glasses of beer will have the locals nodding in approval.

Can I drink the water?

It is safe to drink the tap water in Prague, but none of the locals tend to swig it down. Instead, they opt for bottles of mineral water.

 
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