Prague is many things to many people. To some, it is communism and political revolution, to others it is a shrine of history and culture and to others still it is some of the best nightlife in Eastern Europe.
A settlement has straddled the River Vltava on the site where Prague now stands for over a thousand years, and the city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is divided into four areas: Hradčany (the castle district), Malá Strana (the little quarter), Staré Město (the old town) and Nové Město (the new town, although founded in 1348, it's not that new!).
Prague is a treasure trove of architectural delights, with a wealth of primarily Gothic and Baroque structures - just walking the streets is like stepping into a fairytale. But it is anything but stuck in the past. The city's creative scene is forward-thinking and dynamic, and Prague is the setting for numerous arts festivals, in particular music and film (see our Prague events section).
Read our guide then book your own taste of Bohemian life in one of our Prague bed and breakfasts.
- • Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) The Old Town Square is the site of the famous Astronomical Clock (Pražský Orloj), which dates back to 1410 and features a complex array of dials as well as a collection of intricately carved figures. The square is overlooked by the imposing Gothic steeples of the Týn and St Nicholas Churches.
• Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) Visible from almost everywhere in the city, Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world and is home to the President of the Czech Republic as well as the crown jewels of the old kingdom of Bohemia. A variety of tours are available, depending how much time you have, and sights include the cathedral, several churches and chapels, the Golden Gate, the Czech History Museum and the lovely Garden on the Ramparts.
• Charles Bridge (Karlův most) Built in 1357, for 500 years Charles Bridge was Prague's only crossing over the Vlatva River. The bridge is lined with 30 religious statues built in the 17th and 18th centuries. For great views of the bridge and the city, climb the Malá Strana bridge tower.
• St Nicholas Church Not to be confused with the church of the same name in the Old Town Square, St Nicholas Church is located in Malá Strana and is one of the most spectacular buildings in Prague. It was built in the 17th century and, in true Baroque style, is impressively ornate inside and out.
• Museums: Prague's top museums include the National Museum (located at the southeastern end of Wenceslas Square), the Prague Jewish Museum (situated in the former Jewish quarter of Josefov), the City of Prague Museum and the Museum of Communism.
Choosing just a few favourites from our wide range of hotels, apartments, B&Bs and guesthouses in Prague is no easy task, so be sure to check out the full selection.
Modern and stylish, the Dahlia Inn offers comfortable accommodation and an intimate atmosphere at the heart of the city. Just a few minutes' walk from Wenceslas Square, this cosy Prague guest house has eight well-appointed guest rooms equipped with satellite TV, WiFi, mini bars and en-suite bathrooms with complimentary toiletries. Plenty of shops and restaurants can be found nearby as well as frequent trams connecting you with all parts of the city.Book Prague guest house Dahlia Inn
For those who like a little bit of grandeur, Alchymist Residence Nosticova provides luxury accommodation in Prague, just two minutes from Charles Bridge. An unassuming building on a quiet cobblestone street opens up into a world of opulence, created by local master craftsmen working for two years to create 16 beautiful rooms and suites along with a gourmet restaurant which must be seen to be believed.
Guests also have access to the wellness centre at sister property Alchymist Grand Hotel and Spa, just a few moments away. Facilities include a health club, steam rooms, saunas, a swimming pool and a spa with a full range of treatments.Botel Albatros
For something a little bit different, try life on the water at Botel Albatros. The floating hotel is moored at the centre of Prague and offers a variety of cabins to suit any budget, each with an en-suite bathroom and satellite TV. On board, guests can sample a tasty menu of international and traditional Czech cuisine at the restaurant, enjoy a drink at the elegant bar or sit out on the terrace and take in the great views of Prague Castle.
Prague is famous for its music, whether classical, jazz or rock. Here's a list of music festivals and other events in Prague.
- • Prague Winter Festival (January)
- • Prague Carnival (February - March)
- • One World Film Festival (March)
- • Febio Fest International Film Festival (March - April)
- • Prague Marathon (May)
- • Czech Beer Festival (May)
- • Prague Spring International Music Festival (May - June)
- • Prague United Islands International Music Festival (June)
- • Prague Proms (June - July)
- • Prague Christmas Market (December)
Ruzyně Airport is located 17km west of the city centre with frequent buses and minibuses into town. Florenc Bus Station is the main terminal for domestic and international services, located to the north of Praha-Hlavni nádraží, the main train station. Other major train stations are Praha-Holešovice, Praha-Masarykovo and Praha-Smíchov.
- • Karlštejn Castle Located 30km southwest of Prague, Karlštejn Castle was built in the 14th century by Emperor Charles IV. Like something from a fairytale, the castle perches on a rocky promontory over the Berounka River. The highlight of the guided tour is the Chapel of the Holy Rood, built to house the crown jewels of Bohemia whose walls are beautifully decorated with ornate paintings and precious stones.
• Kutná Hora During the 14th century Kutná Hora was one of Bohemia's most important towns, thanks to the silver which was mined there for nearly 500 years. Around an hour from Prague, the town is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main attractions are the Silver Museum and the morbidly fascinating Sedlec Ossuary, where the skeletons of around 50,000 people have been used to provide decoration for the church, including a candelabra made entirely of bones.
• Terezín Built as a fortress in the 18th century, Terezín is unfortunately better known as a WWII prison and concentration camp. Visitors can take a self-guided tour through the barracks, morgues, mass graves and execution grounds, and see moving exhibits of daily life in the camp at the Museum of the Ghetto.
• Bohemian Switzerland National Park (Národní park České Švýcarsko) About 2 hours north of Prague, to the east of the Elbe River, the Bohemian Switzerland National Park is 7,900 hectares of sandstone peaks, dizzying gorges, thick forests and wide meadows. The park is home to the charming village of Hřensko and a 19th-century chateau, among other attractions. A 16km circular hike is a good way to explore for those who have a day to spare.
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By Eleanor Brown