Prague is awash in glorious Gothic, baroque and Renaissance architecture, operas, museums, theaters and galleries. It's a cultural Mecca of central Europe, the capital of the Czech Republic and, thanks to its predominance of churches, referred to as "the city of a thousand spires." Although summertime bargains can still be had, it's historically a cluttered time to flood (and often get lost in) the tiny cobblestone streets. Travelers interested in a fall trip to Prague will find the rates even more pleasing -- and the streets a little emptier.
Go Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) is running a handful of Prague deals, but the best one for summertime travel is the six-night, all-inclusive "Prague Special" from $869 plus tax, for travel between July 1-August 25; it drops down to a low $569 for Sept 1-October 31 travel. The lowest price package is for the modern, tourist-class Best Western Smaragd Hotel, about four miles from the city center. However, a new tram line was recently completed, and it takes only about twenty minutes to get into the city. For a slightly closer hotel, try Ibha Praha Smichov, a tourist hotel adjacent to the city's largest indoor shopping center. Purchase deadline for both travel dates is July 14. The package includes continental breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges but excludes airport taxes and fees. Fares are based from New York-JFK or Newark airports; others are available for additional fees. For a quick weekend excursion in the fall, Go Today is offering a "Prague Getaway" for three nights, air inclusive, from an alarmingly low $499 for travel between September 1 and October 31, departing from New York or Newark. Prior planning pays off here: the booking deadline is July 14.
If you really want to live like a local and enjoy creature comforts of a fully furnished apartment, Untours (tel. 888/868-6871; www.untours.com) does well with vacation rental properties in Europe. There are six properties to choose from in Prague, with mid-week departures. The Eliska apartment located in the Jewish district and within walking distance to major sites such as the Charles Bridge and Castle district, is bright and modern. Amenities include cable television and an eat-in kitchen with microwave. The price for all six apartments listed, for July 13 departure is $2,099, which includes airfare and your apartment for 14 nights. The great thing about Untours is you are greeted by an English-speaking member of their staff, escorted to your temporary home away from home, and receive an orientation with insider tips. There are also optional events they offer throughout the trip in places that are off the typical tourist radar. All six properties are available in July; for August 24 and September 7 arrivals, only one property is vacant.
Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) is running a special to Prague that is advertised from $649 but don't be fooled: that rate does not apply in high-traffic summertime. Nevertheless, their "6 Day Prague" special has openings and prices start at $949 for June 30-August 27. There are opportunities to upgrade to different accommodations, including two American chains (Hilton and Marriott). The lowest price deal is for the three-star Dalimil Hotel, with brightly lit rooms, furniture in warm cherry tones, and private bathrooms. Located in the quarter Zizkov, the hotel is a five-minute train ride to the historical center of Prague. Also, it is important to note that the advertised price is a discount for paying in cash: the regular price is $977.47. Gate 1 makes other add-ons available, such as a performance at the legendary Krizik's Music Fountain for $29, and a tour of historic areas of the city, including a walking tour of the Prague Castle area. The departures are based on flights from New York, but other departures are available upon inquiry and for an additional fee. For fall travel on the same trip, the rates drop to $649 between September 1 and October 31; again, it's the cash discount price. These tours offer a mix between independent and assisted travel.
General Tours (tel. 800/221-2216; www.generaltours.com) is running a six-day privately guided tour called "Our Classic Prague" around $1,599 for travel through August 31, which is a little high. If you wait until September 1, the package price drops down over three hundred dollars, to $1,249, for the same accommodations, the Mövenpick Hotel, which is down the street from Mozart's house. The rate includes round-trip airfare, four nights accommodation breakfast every day, all transfers and luggage handling fees. In addition to a personal, private tour, the trips depart any day of your choosing, but there is a surcharge for Friday, Saturday or Sunday departures. However, General Tours makes it easy to add on another night for about $95, once you are there and presumably don't want to leave.
Paul Laifer Tours (tel. 800/346-6314; www.laifertours.com) is running an eight-day tour of "Historic Prague" for about $1,359 until August 31. The only bummer is that it's biased toward East Coast (sort of) departure points. The airfare is included, and you can leave daily from JFK in New York or Monday, Fri and Sunday from Newark; additional departures from Toronto or Montreal are available. You will stay for six nights at the first-class, centrally located Charles Hotel, with high ceilings and baroque period furniture. Included in your stay are daily buffet breakfast, an English-speaking tour guide, and all transfers to and from hotel and airport. For fall travel, it drops to $1,099 between September 9 and October 31, and a scandalously low $719 between November 1 and December 15. But you can get as fancy as you want with these tours, and book the Prague Four Seasons for $1,969 between July 17 and August 3 and $1,559 between October 23-31.
Friendly Planet (tel. 800/555-5765; www.friendlyplanet.com) is running a "Budapest, Vienna and Prague 11-day tour" for $1,699 that is so popular that it's sold out for most of the summer, with a waiting list for the rest of the year, literally. If you're the gambling sort, get on the waiting list; the first available trip with one is August 24. The rates stay at $1,699 through October and drop down to $1,599 for October 5 and 12 departures and even lower, to $1,399 for November 9 departure. The booking deadline, though, for these extraordinary rates, is June 24. The good thing is that you can get on the waiting list without sending in a deposit, and the company will contact you immediately if space opens up. As with nearly all of these deals, the rate is based on New York departures.
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