Prague doesn't see the same crowds as big-hitter European cities such as Paris, Barcelona and Venice, but its affordability and easy access from London has seen its popularity soar. For visitors wishing to venture even further off the beaten track and into the heart of the Czech Republic, then Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov is just three hours and a world away.
Like most cities around Europe, the complex web of public transport makes car-less travel between towns easy. Trains depart Prague's central station (Praja lj.n) throughout the day, taking just under three hours to traverse the Southern Bohemia region to Cesky Krumlov's city centre. For a cheaper journey, buses take half an hour longer.
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No matter where you are in the world, the best way to see a city is on foot with a local and the Wiseman Free Walking Tour of Cesky Krumlov means you can do both. Departing from the city's information office every day at 10.30am sharp, your local guide will give you a two-hour sweep of the city, pointing out ancient history, little-known facts and folklore as you go.
Travel around Europe long enough and soon the magnificent castles all seem to blend together. However, as a national heritage site and the second largest in the Czech Republic, the Cesky Krumlov Castle, built in 1240, is one you won't want to miss. Explore the grounds for free or pay about NZ$10 for entrance to the castle museum and to climb the turret for sweeping city views.
Europe is large, so when something is called "the best in Europe" you can be certain it's top-notch. Famous for being the best-preserved Baroque theatre in the continent, the Baroque Castle Theatre is one venue where shows are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Although tours run all year, visitors between May and October should research beforehand and catch a live performance.
With great time comes even greater antiques, and anyone wanting proof needs only visit "Antique na Zameckych schodech". The name may be a mouthful but this little treasure trove is packed with antiquated gems from historical music instruments and military items to aged stamps and gorgeous furniture. Spot something you like but can't fit on the flight home? Not to worry, they ship worldwide.
Prices may be a little higher at the Apotheka Cafe and Bar, but when your cocktail comes out, it will be worth it. With a cosy interior, top-shelf local liquor and friendly experts behind the bar (whose drink recommendations are always spot-on), there are few better places to end a day of exploring.
It's easy to be tempted by restaurants serving Italian or western fare but it would be a crime to miss out on the traditional dishes of the bohemian region. And when it comes to finding the best roast duck dumplings, braised beef goulash or sweet pastry and icecream, Konvice is the place to go. Part of a hotel of the same name, the intimate eatery specialises in classic Czech fare prepared by seasoned experts.
Qatar Airways flies from Auckland to Prague, via Doha. qatarairways.com/nz