Since slipping out from under the Iron Curtain, Prague has become Central Europe's finest all-rounder. It has plenty of history, offers glorious representations of virtually every architectural style you could care to mention, is home to the world's largest castle, serves up some of the world's best beers on the cheap and has a surprisingly diverse dining scene. It can be romantic one minute, boisterously energetic the next.
The Museum of Communism is, appropriately, next to a McDonald's. And it presents an unashamedly one-sided view of what life was like in Czechoslovakia during the Soviet puppet rule. The historic side – protests, persecution and revolution – is covered well, but it's at its best when focusing on the mundanity of everyday life – hopeless cleaning products, and depressingly inferior clothing. See muzeumkomunismu.cz
Down by the riverside, with tremendous views, a sprawling terrace and a child-friendly attitude that includes face-painting sessions over Sunday brunch, Hergetova Cihelna does the hearty Central European meal thing with more panache than most. There are five-course tasting meals available too for those who want to delve beyond river fish or meat and dumpling stomach-liners. See kampagroup.com
Irreverent artist David Cerny has left his highly distinctive sculptures all over Prague – including the baby-like figures climbing up the unmissable TV tower and the figures of two men relieving themselves into a pool shaped like the Czech Republic outside the Kafka Museum. Stringing them together makes for a fun alternative walking tour. See davidcerny.cz
The Czech Republic's calling card to the world is its fantastic beer. Pilsner Urquell, Budvar and Staropramen are among the brands to look out for – and any pub advertising "z tanku" is selling an ultra-fresh, unpasteurised, straight from the tank version. But there's also a booming craft beer scene – try the misleadingly named Prague Beer Museum (it's not a museum, it's a pub) for a strong range to sample. See praguebeermuseum.com
At first glance, a music-themed hotel sounds… pretty tacky. But the Aria manages to pull the concept off with surprising elegance and grace. Mosaic flooring features musical bars, caricature artworks of composers and rock stars are sprinkled liberally and rooms are named after either composers or musical styles. The in-house Coda restaurant is top notch too. Doubles cost from $290. See ariahotel.net
Prague's unexpected strength is its plethora of small, quirky museums. The Muzeum Miniatur places artworks on human hairs and poppy seeds, the KGB Museum is a bewildering rapid-fire romp through Soviet espionage and the Karel Zeman Museum delves into old school movie special effects. See muzeumminiatur.cz, kgbmuseum.com, muzeumkarlazemana.cz
David Whitley was a guest of Czech Tourism.