Surrounded by Germany, Austria and Poland, the Czech Republic has lured vacationers with its red-tiled roofs and hidden green valleys since the Middle Ages. The labyrinthine, cobbled streets of Prague leave visitors delightfully disoriented as they make their way up to Prague Castle. Idyllic Ceský Krumlov brims with baroque chapels and Czech restaurants that have dished up goulash and pork for centuries. Finish a tour relaxing at Karlovy Vary's resort spa, which has been easing fatigued travelers since the 14th century.
Baroque chapels and a royal palace make up the medieval courtyards of Prague Castle, set on a hillside overlooking the glorious City of a Thousand Spires. Romantic Ceský Krumlov is home to its own castle, too: It's a 13th-century gem with a moat, rococo chapels and a balconied tower that would have made Rapunzel smile. Soak away your road-weariness at the resort spa of Karlovy Vary, a favorite relaxation spot since King Charles IV discovered it in the 14th century.
Eating and Drinking
Czech cuisine borrows flaky strudel and savory goulash from nearby Germany and Hungary while adding its own specialties. Dine on pork and cabbage plates or svícková na smetane (thinly sliced, creamed sirloin over bread), at dark, wood-paneled pubs tucked along Prague's alleyways. If the Czech Republic is famous for any culinary contribution, it is beer. Travel to Plzen, the birthplace of Pilsner beer, and toast the city's brew masters at Pilsner Breweries.
Sort through pen-and-ink drawings of Prague Castle, sparkly costume jewelry and cheap Kafka T-shirts along Prague's statue-laden 14th-century Charles Bridge over the Vltava River. The Czech Republic's most prized glassware, from delicate wine glasses to Christmas ornaments and pendants, is sold in shiny display rooms throughout the New Town in Karlovy Vary. For special gifts, take home wooden toys or graphite pencils from Ceský Krumlov.
Arts and Culture
Mozart loved Prague, and the city loves him. Catch live concerts at centuries-old churches throughout Prague, or experience Don Giovanni at the National Marionette Theatre. The exquisitely painted puppets and enchanting music guarantee you won't mind that the words aren't in English. The Franz Kafka Museum in Prague shows manuscripts, photographs, and letters of the enigmatic author. At the Beer Museum in Plzen, artifacts and old brewing equipment tell the story of the Czechs' most prized gastronomic achievement: Pilsner beer.