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Prague is deceptively compact. So despite the spider-like appearance of the city metro map, most of the top tourist sights and activities in the Czech capital can be reached on foot or by tram. Here are five not to miss:
1. Climb up to Prague Castle. The largest medieval fortress in the world, Pražský hrad has been the cherished residence of Bohemian kings, Holy Roman emperors and Czech presidents for more than 1,000 years, and it still looms high above the Vltava River. The complex contains several attractions, including St. Vitus Cathedral, Lobkowicz Palace and the ancient street Golden Lane. Plus, it offers an achingly pretty city panorama.
2. Walk across Charles Bridge. Constructed between 1357 and 1402 by King Charles IV, this stone masterpiece is flanked by 30 finely chiseled sculptures and two magnificent towers. A hive of cultural activity day and night, the bridge is teeming with musicians, artists, street vendors and, naturally, snap-happy tourists.
3. Take a hike in the hills. Although much of the center is flat, Prague is surrounded by a variety of sweeping undulations — and many of them are host to some top tourist attractions. Hilltop highlights include the 12th-century Strahov Monastery, the Gothic cathedral of Vyšehrad, the ahead-of-its-time Štefánik’s Observatory, the picnic-perfect Letna Park and the enormous statue of one-eyed general Jan Žižka.
4. Visit the Old Town market. As well as being home to the famous astronomical clock, Prague’s Old Town Square also houses the Týn Church, the Baroque Town Hall and St. Nicholas’ Church. But the finest feature of the square is the (almost) ever-present market, which consists of traditional wooden stalls selling exquisite handicrafts, clothing, souvenirs and seasonal local fare, including hot mulled wine.
5. Go for a beer. Prague is world-famous for its beer (Pilsner was invented just 30 miles down the road), so you can’t leave without sampling one of its famed half-liters. Shun the heavyweights such as Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen and the original Budweiser and plump for lesser-known names like Kozel, Démon and Master. Better still, visit a local pivovary (micro-brewery) for a true taste of Prague.