Daily Escape

Charles Bridge

Photo by Getty Images

Charles Bridge

Prague, Czech Republic

Take a stroll along the historic Charles Bridge in Prague for picturesque views of this ancient, but avant-garde city. Until 1841, this famous bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town, and today, it is protected by 3 bridge towers -- 2 of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the 3rd on the Old Town side. The 30 baroque-style statues that line the bridge were originally erected around 1700, but they were eventually replaced by replicas. Now, you can escape to Prague and enter to win a $10,000 trip for 2 to explore the city, including a bike tour to Karlsteijn Castle.


You Might Also Like

Prague Castle
Prague Castle

Prague Castle

Dating back to the 9th century, the Prague Castle complex is home to the Bohemian Crown Jewels, the office of the president, courtyards, shops and countless other sights that shouldn't be missed. Open daily, Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world. Though many areas of the castle are free, it's worth the price of admission to tour St. Vitus Cathedral. Other attractions include the changing of the guard, castle gardens (open from April 1 to Oct. 31) and Golden Lane shops. The castle is not well-marked, so bring a map. 960 1280

iStock  

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge

The <a title="Charles Bridge" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/take-a-tour-of-prague-11091" target="_blank">Charles Bridge</a> is Prague's iconic vaulted arch bridge, connecting Old Town Prague to Lesser Town. Huge crowds swarm to the 15th-century bridge each day to watch performers, browse street art and vendors’ wares, and to take pictures of the 30 Charles Bridge statues. Trips across the historic bridge vary from a half-hour crossing to a day-long guided tour. Start your visit before 9 a.m. to get the entire bridge to yourself.  960 1280

Ronira / iStock / Getty Images  

Prague Astronomical Clock

Prague Astronomical Clock

Prague’s Old Town Square features animated entertainers, hot local street food, horse-drawn carriages, colorful architecture and a medieval astronomical clock that is impossible to miss due to the large crowds who gather every hour. Go in the morning and enjoy ham and coffee while you watch the short mechanical performance on the hour. For a small fee you can take a tour behind the clock and gain an impressive view of the city. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Dancing House

Dancing House

Evocative and unique, the deconstructivist Dancing House stands out in rich contrast to the cobblestone streets and traditional architecture that surrounds it. The building was designed in 1992 by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunic with Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. At the top floor, you'll find Celeste: a highly regarded French restaurant with a glass-enclosed dining room and soaring views of the Vltava River and Prague Castle. From June through September, diners have access to a rooftop terrace. Celeste is open for lunch and dinner, and reservations are a must. 960 1280

iStock  

National Gallery at Veletrzni Palac

National Gallery at Veletrzni Palac

Not to be confused with the larger National Gallery, the gallery at Veletrzni Palac offers 5 floors of contemporary art. The museum boasts important Czech works from artists like Kupka and Mucha as well as widely recognized masters such as Picasso, Seurat, Gaugin, Cezanne, Klimt, Rodin and Renoir. Veletrzni Palac also features items on loan from other Prague museums, including the Museum of Decorative Arts, making it an efficient visit for those on a tight schedule. 960 1280

alcuin, flickr  

Old Jewish Cemetery

Old Jewish Cemetery

The surreal Old Jewish Cemetery is home to an estimated 100,000 gravesites in what is thought to be up to 12 layers, with approximately 12,000 grave markers visible at the surface. The price of admission is worth the moments you'll spend reflecting among crooked tombstones, moss and erosion fighting to reclaim the space for Mother Nature. Visitors must pay an extra charge to take pictures, and access is granted as part of a combo ticket to visit other Jewish Quarter sites. 960 1280

Dnaveh / iStock / Getty Images  

Prague State Opera

Prague State Opera

The Prague State Opera features an often-changing schedule, English subtitles and wonderful acoustics. The Prague State Opera offers a surprisingly populist and fun atmosphere for audiences whose dress varies from casual to formal. The interior drips gold with opulent balconies, a baroque ceiling and ornate side panels. Prague opera tickets are affordable and specials are often available. A large second-floor balcony is where you can sip champagne and indulge your senses. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Vltava River Cruise

Vltava River Cruise

One of the most notorious Prague activities is the scenic river cruise. Cruising down the Vltava and admiring the Charles Bridge from the river is appealing, but it is important to find a trusted recommendation. Prague river cruises are notoriously overpriced with lackluster gastronomy, but that is not the case with every cruise tour. Select Prague cruises rival even the best European river cruises in beauty, entertainment and cuisine. <a title="Premiant City Tours" href="http://www.premiant.cz" target="_blank">Zizkov</a> comes highly reviewed by American travelers, as do the river cruises arranged by <a title="Prague Airport Transfers" href="https://www.prague-airport-transfers.co.uk/zakaznik" target="_blank">Prague Airport Transfers</a>. 960 1280

Marina Geysman / iStock / Getty Images  

Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square

Take in the festive atmosphere and enjoy a trdelnik (traditional sweet pastry) at Wenceslas Square. Originally the site of a horse market, Wenceslas Square is home to a garden center, the neoclassical National Museum, the Wenceslas Monument and the main shopping area of New Town Prague. In addition to shopping and entertainment, the square was the site of critical chapters in history, from Nazi demonstrations to protests as part of the Velvet Revolution. 960 1280

iStock  

Zizkov

Zizkov

<a title="Zizkov" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/arts-and-culture/photos/worlds-wackiest-skyscrapers?page=4" target="_blank">Zizkov</a> makes a refreshing break from tourist-oriented districts.  Zizkov, a district centered between streets named Histka and Seifertova, is home to many pubs and fashionable but affordable cafes. Visit Palac Akropolis, a venue famous for indie culture, music, theater and art projects that also houses a restaurant, independent cinema and bar. Another must-see is the unmistakable TV tower. Zizkov offers panoramic views of downtown and the best green open spaces in Prague, including Vitkov Hill, a wooded ridge with a statue commemorating a  15th-century battle, and Parukarka, a public park with stunning views.  960 1280

Yuri4u80 / iStock / Getty Images  

Karlštejn Castle

Karlštejn Castle

Take a bike tour through Prague to Karlštejn Castle, a Gothic castle founded in 1348 AD by the King of Bohemia, Charles IV. One of the most famous and most frequently visited castles in the Czech Republic, this castle has served as a safe place for the Imperial Regalia, Bohemian or Czech crown jewels, holy relics and other royal treasures. 960 1280

iStock  

Nizbor Glass Factory

Nizbor Glass Factory

See how the world famous Czech Republic pilsner beer glasses are made at the the Nizbor Bohemia glass factory. Learn the history and see the production firsthand of decorative Bohemian crystal used for decanters, perfume bottles and trophies. Visitors can also pick up newly-blown crystal at discounted prices. 960 1280

Wikimedia Commons  

Prague Shakespeare Company

Prague Shakespeare Company

Prague Shakespeare Company, continental Europe's premiere English-language classical theatre company, presents a wide variety of classic and modern plays and musicals year round. Relish in the rich history and culture of the city during the day and then in the evening be entertained with Prague Shakespeare Company. 960 1280

  

Alleged burial site of Vlad the Impaler
Snagov Monastery

Snagov Monastery

On a tiny islet, surrounded by a lake, stands Snagov Monastery. Vlad enthusiasts have been claiming since the 19th century that Vlad himself is buried inside this monastery, more than 300 miles from Bucharest. While there’s no definitive proof of it, it sure makes for an intriguing story. 960 1280

fusion-of-horizons, flickr  

Count Dracula Club

Count Dracula Club

Inside this 19th-century house in Bucharest, visitors encounter a Dracula-inspired restaurant with some, um, newfangled twists. Dine on menu options like “Count Dracula’s Beefsteak” and the “Van Helsing Plate,” in honor of Dracula’s biggest enemy. But beware -- someone might sneak up on you, and take a bite out of your tasty neck! 960 1280

Count Dracula Club   

Brasov, Home to Dracula’s Castle

Brasov, Home to Dracula’s Castle

The medieval fortress, about 100 miles from Bucharest, was invaded by Vlad back in the day. Perched atop a 200-foot-tall rock, overlooking the village of Bran, Bran Castle yields panoramic views of the village below. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Poenari Fortress

Poenari Fortress

This weathered, cliff-side castle was Vlad’s main fortress. Built between the 13th and 14th centuries in south-central Romania by the rulers of Wallachia (a principality in what is now Romania), the castle was later abandoned and fell into ruin, until Vlad stepped in and oversaw its repairs. 960 1280

RomaniaTourism.com  

Chindia Tower in Targoviste

Chindia Tower in Targoviste

This military tower, in the Romanian city of Targoviste, was built by Vlad in the 15th century. Construction began during Vlad’s second reign (his first reign had been interrupted by a political coup and subsequent exile). Vlad came back strong with Chindia Tower, which stands at more than 88 feet. 960 1280

RomaniaTourism.com
  

Vlad's Old Princely Court

Vlad's Old Princely Court

This place of residence, located in Bucharest’s historic center, was built during the rule of Vlad III. But don’t let its regal arches and (1 remaining) Corinthian column fool you; the princely court was also likely a house of horrors. Local lore has it that Vlad kept his political enemies in dungeons beneath the court’s grounds. 960 1280

Nicubunu, Wikimedia Commons  

Sibiu, Where the Impaling Began

Sibiu, Where the Impaling Began

Vlad’s gory legend was born in the Transylvania city of Sibiu. In 1459, thousands of people were impaled in the city, at Vlad’s orders, on St. Bartholomew’s Day. Vlad’s victims included women and children, along with merchants and the local aristocracy. While some justify Vlad’s gruesome acts as a defense of nationalism (many of his victims were German Saxons), his detractors note that many of his victims were also from his native Wallachia. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Vlad's Birthplace, Sighisoara

Vlad's Birthplace, Sighisoara

See where Vlad III was born. In the winter of 1431, the future Prince of Wallachia was born in the present-day city of Sighisoara -- this yellow building is his supposed birthplace. Vlad’s father was Vlad II Dracul, who went on to become the voivode (warlord) of the area. No one really knows who Vlad III’s mother was; some speculate it was a princess from Moldavia, but Vlad’s father had several mistresses. 960 1280

Aleksandar Cocek, flickr  

Borgo Pass

Borgo Pass

This high mountain pass, roughly 309 miles northwest of Bucharest, is actually known as the Tihuta Pass. Located in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, the area was made famous by Bram Stoker’s Dracula -- in the novel, he rechristened the area, “Borgo Pass,” depicting it as the gateway to Count Dracula’s lair of horrors.

 960 1280

Richard Mortel, flickr  

Hotel Coroana de Aur

Hotel Coroana de Aur

Once you’ve checked out the Borgo Pass, settle down for the night at Hotel Coroana de Aur. The property comprises 109 rooms and 4 suites, with air-conditioning, mini-bars and free Wi-Fi among the amenities, making for a clean, streamlined environment to kick back and read up on Vlad and Dracula’s bloody exploits. 960 1280

Iván Vieito