As the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic, Prague is a sightseer's dream. Seniors on Europe tours can come face-to-face with a thousand years of architecture, pints of cheap beer and world-class art. It was only in 1989 that the Velvet Revolution freed the Czechs from communism, and since then, American visitors have come in droves to visit the Gothic castle and looming bridge tower. On any Danube River cruise, there will be no shortage of must-sees in a city whose beauty has been compared to Paris.
The Prague Castle is by far the most influential cultural institution in the Czech Republic, making it an absolute must-see for seniors on affordable travel. It was most likely founded by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty in 880.
The structure, a UNESCO World Heritage site, consists of a complex of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, from Roman-influence from the 10th century through Gothic adjustments in the 14th century. In the early 1900s, the iconic Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik added extensive renovations. Standing at the front gates, visitors will be looking at the largest coherent castle complex in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
St. Vitus Cathedral
Lying within the Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral stands as an excellent example of Gothic architecture. The Roman cathedral contains the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors. To avoid long lines, arrive earlier in the day. There's no doubt that St. Vitus is the biggest and most important church in the country.
For travelers who want to see opera, theater or ballet, the National Theater is the place to go. Operas start at roughly $3 U.S. dollars, which is about 50 Czech Koruny, and run up to around $50 USD, or about 1,000 Koruny, a bargain compared to what performances cost in the States. The theater is located near the eastern end of the Legion Bridge, serving as an integral part of Czech identity.
Old Town Square
Located in heart of Prague, Old Town Square is filled with vibrant cafes, baroque buildings and street entertainers. When walking through the small lanes of this historic square, visitors will feel the Old-World charm. Amid churches such as the gothic Týn Church and baroque St. Nicholas Church, its centerpiece is the stunning Prague Astronomical Clock, the oldest working clock of its kind in the world.
Connecting Old Town with Mala Strana over the Vltava River, the Charles Bridge rivals the Prague Castle for most iconic structures in the city. However, what the 14th-century stone bridge has no parallel for its age - it's Prague's oldest bridge. Although it was originally called the Stone Bridge, the name changed in 1870 in dedication to King Charles IV. The stretch is adorned with 30 stone statues of saints and personages, added between 1683 and 1928 (unfortunately, there are only replicas today), the most famous of which is St. John of Nepomuk. Rub his foot to bring good luck.
Old Town Bridge Tower
Guarding one end of the Charles Bridge, Old Town Bridge Tower was part of an old fortification system built in 1380. This blackened, aged gate heralds the entrance to Old Town, standing as one of Europe's finest examples of High Gothic architecture. Want to stretch the legs after a few days on the ship? Climb the 138 stairs inside the tower to reach the tower gallery, which grants a birds-eye-view over the city.
Best Places to Enjoy Prague's Beer
The Czechs have long been famous for producing some of the finest brews in the world. Centuries after Pilsner Urquell was invented in 1842, microbreweries have been cropping up in Prague. Visitors will find a wide range of ales in the city's pubs, and there are so many hotspots that it's hard to put a finger on just one. But few places do it better than U Pinkasů, located in the Praha 1 neighborhood. Cloud 9 is another popular place, as it's on the roof of the Hilton Hotel. Cultural? Not especially. Scenic? Absolutely.
Seniors on Europe tours who want a more authentic taste of the neighborhood can head to Letna Beer Garden, a green oasis park that sits along the bank of the Vltava River overlooking Staré Město. The only beer on tap is Gambrinus 10°, but the views are more than intoxicating.
Art Galleries: Mucha Museum and Veletržní Palace
Admire the Gothic altarpieces in the Convent of St. Agnes, or take in the art nouveau of Alfons Mucha, the Czech painter whose distinct styles can be found in Mucha museum. Art lovers should make their way to this hotspot filled with Mucha's drafts, posters and paintings. At the Veletržní Palace, there are three floors of a permanent exhibition of 20th and 21st century art, further acquainting visitors with cubists, surrealists and constructivists.