Although I've lived in Prague for almost eight years, I have never taken a city tour. So, when I was offered the chance to write about Martin Tours, one of Prague's best and most established tour companies, I was interested to see what a guided tour of Prague would be like.

I arranged to take a two-hour sightseeing tour of Prague's city center and guessed it would be a walking tour. When I got to the meeting place (a kiosk on Old Town Square) and saw a Martin Tours bus waiting I was a little concerned. Being prone to motion sickness, I wasn’t looking forward to spending two hours on a bus crawling through Prague traffic. As it turned out, my fears were completely unfounded. Although the bus was full, I was quite comfortable. The over sized windows and retracted roof of the bus gave me an unobstructed view of the city as we wound our way through town. In fact I was so comfortable that, during one of the recorded guide's musical interludes, I almost dozed off.

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As with many Prague tours, it started in Old town square. Our bus tour moved slowly through the square as we passed St. Nicholas church, the Old Town Hall Tower with its famous Astronomical Clock, and the statue of Jan Hus. We then continued through Old Town, New Town, Wenceslas Square, back across the bridge to Lesser Town and up to Prague Castle.

There are 25 language options and the recording is perfectly timed to draw your attention to various buildings and monuments of historical or cultural significance. We passed by: The Spanish Synagogue, St Agnes Monastery, Municipal House, Powder Tower, State Opera House, National Museum, Wenceslas Square, New Town Hall, Charles Square, The Dancing House, National Theater, Charles Bridge, Strahov Monastery - the list goes on. Given how imbued with history and culture this city is, it must have been a huge task deciding what to leave out. However, the tour covers all the places that someone might try to see while walking around on a three to five day visit.

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After about an hour, we found ourselves at Prague Castle and were encouraged to take a 30 minute stroll around the grounds. As comfortable as I was, I could have just stayed on the bus but I was happy to take the opportunity to stretch my legs and take in the spectacular view of the city. The castle is a "must see" when visiting Prague. Most tourists looking for things to do, eventually find their way to the castle. It's hard to find a Prague tour that doesn't include a visit here, and any guide worth his salt can tell you more about the history of the castle than you ever wanted to know. I'd say 30 minutes is the perfect amount of time to explore a little and get a few great photos. I'm sure many of my bus mates made another trip up the hill during their stay, perhaps even on one of Martin Tours’ 3 and 1/2 hour walking tours of the Prague castle.

After we regrouped and took our seats back on the bus, we continued with the final leg of the tour. At the end of two hours I found myself back at the starting point in Old Town square feeling more relaxed and informed than I had when we started.

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The two hour bus tour from Martin Tours is perfect for a first time visitor to Prague. It's a great way to get oriented and learn a little about the city. I wouldn't stop there though. If you have the time it might be a good idea to take one of the company’s walking tours to get a slower and more detailed look at Prague's beautiful architecture or see the city from the Vltava river on one of Martin Tours' many river cruises . If you plan to be in the city for more than four or five days, Martin Tours also offer day trips from Prague. These include, among others: Karlovy Vary, Cesky Krumlov, Karlstejn, Kutna Hora, and the Pilsner Brewing company. They even offer tours of Dresden and Vienna, two cities I would personally recommend to anyone staying in Prague for a week or more. Martin Tours is really a full service tour company. When people visit Prague they have very individual interests, whether they want an intensive and detailed tour, a Prague day trip or just a little light sightseeing, Martin Tours has it all. I'll see you on the river cruise.

Steve Meyers

         
  Logo MartinMartin Tour Praha
1. Staroměstské náměstí /
Old Town Square / Pařížská 1
2. Náměstí Republiky /
Republic square
3. Melantrichova 2
4. Na Příkopě 33
5. Václavské náměstí / Wenceslas Square 23

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