Prague City Guide
The Czech capital city of Prague is reputed to be one of prettiest cities in Eastern Europe. This city is traversed by the River Vltava and is located in central Bohemia and has long been the political, financial and cultural epicenter of the Czech state.
Prague’s landscape is dotted with stunning architecture, flowing hills, ancient cobbled stoned streets and tall church spires, which have been relatively untouched by war unlike other cities in Europe. However in recent times, the city has undergone a process of rapid modernization and now the city in addition to its old-word treasures also hosts numerous trendy new galleries, clubs, restaurants, shops and cafes which attract hordes of tourists on vacation from around the world.
The city of Prague has been an all time favorite with artists, photographers and poets. The city was one of the most prominent cities in Europe in the fourteenth century. After Second World War, its importance was greatly diminished as it disappeared behind the walls of the communist regime that engulfed most of Eastern Europe in the 1950’s. The historic Velvet Revolution of 1989 ultimately liberated the city from the grips of communism and in 1993 Prague became the capital of the new Czech Republic. The inner city center of Prague contains some stunning architecture and many parts of this gorgeous city have now been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you enjoy sight-seeing, a vacation to Prague is highly recommended.
Where to stay in Prague
Staré Mesto & Josefov
Staré Mesto is Prague’s famed old town that hosts various prominent attractions like the medieval Astronomical Clock and the St Nicholas Church amongst others. Also located in the Old Town are many designer good stores and restaurants and bars for the district is the nightlife center of Prague. The area of Josefov lies to the north of the Old Town and is the old Jewish quarter of the city that hosts synagogues, cafes, restaurants and even hip boutiques. Both these areas are equipped a wide range of hotels, which are immensely popular with visitors who like to be in the thick of all the action on their Prague vacations.
Malá Strana is known as the Little Quarter of Prague and lies just below the Prague castle. This area is home to many luxury hotels, embassies and consulates and several parks and galleries. Malá Strana is connected to the Old Town via the Charles Bridge and is yet another favored accommodation option in Prague.
Smichov is one of the new gentrified areas of Prague which has excellent metro and tram connections to the rest of the city. The area today hosts many boutique hotels, malls and cinemas. Smichov is most famously associated with the composer Mozart for he lived here during the time that he spent in Prague.
Nové Mesto and Vyšehrad
Nové Mesto is the New Town of Prague that lies between the districts of Vinohrady and Staré Mesto. This area is also home to chic, boutique hotels and several upscale restaurants along with Prague’s landmark attraction, Frank Gehry’s Dancing House.
The area of Vyšehrad is home to Prague’s second castle though it is better known as the home of huge Prague Congress Centre that offers top-notch congress facilities. Accordingly the area hosts numerous business-oriented hotels that cater to the accommodation needs of numerous congress attendees.
Places to see in Prague
The Charles Bridge
Perhaps the most popular attraction is Prague is the cobble stoned pedestrian Charles Bridge, which is an absolute tourist magnet. The Charles Bridge was built in 1357 to replace an earlier bridge. Until the 1800's, it was the only bridge that provided access across the Vltava River.
The Charles Bridge is adorned with nearly thirty baroque sandstone statutes that are stationed on either side of the bridge. These statues date back to the eighteenth century and were created by sculptors like Matthias Braun and Jan Brokoff. The original statues have today been removed and are preserved in the Lapidary to protect them from environmental damage. The statues that currently adorn the bridge today are replicas of the originals. Tourists love visiting the Charles Bridge to take in the gorgeous vistas of the Prague castle and the surrounding hills. The bridge is also popular with musicians, buskers and artists who consider it an ideal location to exhibit their art as they earn a buck or two from the tourist hordes.
The Castle District (Hradèany)
The Castle District is also called Hradèany and is located on top of the hill that overlooks Prague. The castle district has several churches and museums located within its folds along with the grand Prague castle, which is the largest castle in the world. This castle dates back to the 9th century and has served as the residence of Kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors and Presidents of the Czech Republic.
One of the most important buildings located within the castle complex is the gothic St Vitus Cathedral. The St Vitus Church is the country's largest church and has several small side chapels and is adorned with beautiful frescoes and stained glass windows. The most significant tomb located here is the tomb of St Wenceslas, which is now a pilgrimage site and is housed in the most ornate chapel of the church.
This district also contains other important buildings and fortifications like the Old Royal Palace, the Royal apartments, Vladislav hall, the Benedictine Convent and a cobble stone alley known as Golden Lane, which contains a row of tradesman's cottages that date back to the 16th century. The castle district is a definite must-do on any trip or vacation in Prague.
Old Town Square (Staromestské Námestí)
The Old Town Square is one of the prettiest districts in all of Prague whose origins can be traced back to the 11th century. Today this square hosts Prague's many vibrant and charming markets including the celebrated annual Christmas Market. The cobble stone paved Old Town Square has several important monuments located within its folds including an art nouveau monument dedicated to the religious reformer Jan Hus and the popular ornate Gothic Astronomical Clock from 1410.
On the hour every hour, the apostles, Christ, a skeleton and rooster swing out and parade from the interior of the clock much to the delight of the crowds that gather on the square to gawk at this spectacle. The Old Town square also has within its environs the magnificent baroque structure of the St Nicholas church as well as the gothic Týn Church both of which are worth visiting as well.
Museum of Cubism
If you are at all a fan of Cubism then a visit to the house of Black Madonna or the Museum of Cubism in Prague is highly recommended. The museum is housed in the first cubist building of Prague built in 1912. This intriguing building has a copy of the original statue of Madonna with child positioned on its roof along with several other exhibits.
Prague Toy Museum
If you are on vacation in Prague with young children in tow, then a recommended outing is a visit to the Prague’s Toy Museum. The museum is made up of seven exhibition rooms that contain toys from the times of ancient Greece to more contemporary collections that feature the iconic fashionista toy, Barbie. Many other kinds of toys including toys made from tin and wood are displayed here as are toy cars, toy motorbikes, ancient train sets and toy airplanes, teddy bears and much more.
The Museum of Communism
Prague’s museum of communism is ironically located next to two prominent symbols of capitalism a casino and a McDonald’s outlet. The museum offers a valuable insight into life behind the Iron curtain with its displays of informative text and several multimedia presentations.
Miluniæ and Gehry's Dancing House
This iconic building was designed by Croatian-born Czech architect Vlado Miluniae and Canadian architect Frank Gehry has such a unusual shape and form that it is said that it resembles a dancing couple. The building was then accordingly named ‘Fred and Ginger’ after the famed dancers, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Today this edifice, which was designed in 1992 and completed in 1996, provides many photo opportunities for visiting tourists.
The Jewish Museum
Prague’s Jewish museum is the largest and most authentic museum of Jewish people in Central Europe. This museum is located in Prague’s old Jewish quarter and has its exhibits spread over many venues that include synagogues, ceremonial halls and even in the Jewish Education and Culture center. This museum was first conceived by the Nazis who brought Jewish artifacts from all over Bohemia and Moravia with the intention of creating a ‘museum of extinct people’. Today the museum is a silent testament to their horrendous atrocities. One of the important sites of the museum is the Old Jewish Cemetery, which has over 12000 tombstones with the oldest one dating back to 1439.
Best time to visit Prague
Prague’s climate is characterized by warm wet summers and cold winters. Summers in Prague extend from May to August and usually experience average temperatures that range from 75 F to 79F(24C to 26C). During winter months, temperatures in Prague tend to hover around freezing or below freezing. The best time to visit Prague is usually during the season of spring (April to early May) when temperatures are a pleasant 57F (14C).
Getting around in Prague
Prague is usually accessed via its Prague-Ruzyne International airport situated 10 miles(16km) north west of Prague. This airport receives low cost and legacy carriers from around the world and this makes getting to Prague infinitely easy.
In fact Fare Buzz periodically announces well priced flight deals for Prague so if you are in the market for cheap air flights to Prague then you should connect with Fare Buzz through popular social media channels so that you can be in the know about these cheap air tickets.
The Prague-Ruzyne International airport is connected to the city via various modes of public transport like the Cedaz minibus shuttle that transports visitors to various hotels throughout the city, the Airport Express train that connects the airport to the main Prague train station and public buses.
Prague is served by an inexpensive and efficient public transport system that is made up of buses, trams, the metro and a funicular that operates on the city’s Petrin Hill. Prague is in fact a very compact city that is easily navigable on foot as well. The city is also equipped with various private taxi companies but Prague taxi drivers are notorious for overcharging tourists so if you wish to travel by taxi in Prague, you must try and negotiate a price before you embark on your journey.
Most visitors on a business trip or vacation in Prague elect not to rent a car for the duration of their stay in the city for much of the city is pedestrianised and parking is quite expensive and difficult to find in Prague. Car rentals are also expensive in a city where vehicle crime is rife however if you must rent a car for the duration of your stay in Prague, you should probably fix your car rental before you arrive in the city. Fare Buzz can be of help at this instance as well for it offers a wide array of affordable car rentals for Prague, which can be booked via its regular travel booking channels before you set off for your vacation.
Where to shop in Prague
Prague’s shopping landscape has undergone a dramatic transformation since the early 1990’s. As the Czech Republic shrugged off the shackles of communism, the variety and quality of goods available in Prague dramatically improved, so much so that the shopping scene in the city today is comparable to any other European city.
Favored shopping haunts in Prague today consist of the city’s many department stores like the Kotva (the anchor), My Národni (owned by British retailer Tesco), and outposts of British department store chains like Debenhams and Marks and Spencer.
Shopping malls first made an appearance on Prague’s shopping landscape in the early 1990’s and today these large bastions of retail are much favored by locals and tourists alike. Recommended shopping malls in Prague include the Palladium, Arkády Pankrác, Nový Smíchov, Palác Flóra, the Myslbek Shopping Gallery and the Cerná ruže passageway. These malls offer a wide range of products like apparel, home wares, electronics, lifestyle items and traditional coveted Czech souvenirs like Czech produced crystal, glass and porcelain, wooden toys, jewelry, puppets and marionettes, herbal liquors and more.
Shopping hours in Prague’s city center tend to extend from 9am until 7pm during the work week, though many shopping malls have extended business hours. Additionally stores within the city center and within tourist hubs also tend to stay open for business on weekends.
Almost all stores in Prague are shuttered on Christmas Eve (December 24) and Easter Monday.
Where to eat in Prague
Prague today offers a dynamic, ever-changing culinary landscape. Alongside restaurants that serve traditional Czech eats like beef and pork dumplings, the classic Smažený Sýr (Fried Cheese) and Guláš are some excellent, modern eateries offering a wide range of international fare.
The list of recommended restaurants in Prague at present includes eateries like the Lichfield Restaurant (European eats), Cotto Crudo, Aromi and La Finestra (all Italian restaurants), the Alcron (seafood), Celeste Restaurant (French), Siddharta Café and Coda Restaurant (International eats), Essensia and Rickshaw (Asian fare).
Nightlife in Prague
Of all the wonderful things that Prague has to offer, nightlife is not the least of them. There seems to be something for every kind of reveler in Prague. The city’s nightlife arena is populated by a plethora of bars, pubs and thumping nightclubs offering all kinds of nocturnal fun you might be looking for.
Buzzing nightlife haunts in Prague currently include hotspots like the Nebe Celnice cocktail and music bar, Yes Club, Nebe Kremencova cocktail and music bar, Solid Uncertainty Bar and Club, N11 Club, Roxy Club, M1 Lounge Bar and Club, and Chapeau Rouge Bar and Club.