Prague Travel Guide
A prosperous and bustling city, Prague now attracts more tourists than ever. But its picturesque downtown veils both a dark legacy and a resilient past; in its 1,100 years, Prague has withstood numerous overthrows, invasions, fires and floods. It's this reputation for survival and perseverance that has made the Czech capital so fascinating. Today, its storied churches, narrow streets, daunting hilltop castle and statue-lined bridges create the scene of an urban fairy tale ... continue»
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The best times to visit Prague are the spring and the fall when the weather is mild and the tourists are few. Because of the city's generally chilly climate, the warmer summer months see the largest influx of tourists. Average high temperatures in the low to mid-70s are ideal for sightseeing; however, hotel rates tend to rise alongside the mercury level. The spring and fall bring clear skies, with highs in the mid 50s and much lower room rates. If you want to enjoy Prague without having to push through crowds of fellow sightseers, consider a winter trip. But be warned: The city tends to see a fair amount of snow with highs barely reaching the mid 30s.Best Times to Visit Prague»
The Prague district system is outdated and often contradictory. There are actually three systems in place that attempt to order the city's neighborhoods, which make navigating the streets difficult. One such system is known as the "old district system," which divides Prague into 10 parts. Many of the oldest and most recognizable landmarks in Prague are in Prague 1, but there are some exceptions. Rather than breaking down the city by numbered section, we feel it's easier to see the most popular parts of Prague as a series of quarters with specific, universally acknowledged names.
Accessible via the Hradcanská metro station.
The Castle district on the left bank of the city's River Vltava is the highest point in the area. Atop the district's largest hill is Prague Castle, perhaps the most famous landmark in the city and one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Today the castle is used as the office of the Czech Republic's president, but it formerly housed the country's royalty.
St. Vitus Cathedral lies at the center of the castle's complex of buildings and dates from the 14th century. You can also walk the 287 stairs to the top of the Cathedral's Bell Tower and enjoy a fine view of the city. Another popular activity in the Castle district is the hourly Castle Guard changing ceremony, which is at its most formal at noontime. A trip to the nearby Royal Garden also offers travelers a brief respite from the bustling castle and great views of the river's east bank. Also within the castle district are several smaller churches, palaces, small hotels and restaurants.
Lesser Town (Malá Strana)
Accessible via the Malostranská metro station.
Next to the castle district is the residential neighborhood of Lesser Town, or Malá Strana, which contains a popular park for couples, Petrin Hill, with highly recommended views of the city center. The area also contains the Petrin Observation Tower that offers excellent views. According to writers, you should be sure to have a beer at one of the local pubs or bars if you visit the neighborhood.
Old Town (Staré Mesto)
Accessible via the Mustek metro station.
The most scenic and famous of Prague's neighborhoods, Old Town contains some of the most iconic historical landmarks in Eastern Europe. The center of old town is, not surprisingly, Old Town Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the city's Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. On the side of the Old Town Hall is the famous Astronomical Clock, built in 1410, which records the current time, the placement of the sun and moon, the phase of the moon, the time of sunrise and sunset, and other interesting data. The piece is popular more for its aesthetic and historical qualities than its time-keeping abilities, but it remains one of the must-see sites in the city's Old Town. Nearby is the famous Charles Bridge, the 14th century, statue-covered crossing which fills with pedestrians, peddlers and merchants during the day. Old Town Prague also contains some of the city's most popular bars and nightclubs, as well as several restaurants.
Jewish Town (Josefov)
Accessible via the Staromestská metro station.
Adjoining Old Town is this old Jewish enclave, with several historic and new synagogues, which showcase both the triumphs and hardships of Prague's Jewish population across the centuries. Highly recommended is the Spanish Synagogue, which combines neo-Renaissance and Spanish-style architecture to create a unique, unusual and colorful worship space. Inside Jewish town, you can also enjoy some local kosher delicacies at Shelanu Cafe & Deli or the King Solomon Restaurant.
New Town (Nové Mesto)
Accessible via the Florenc metro station.
New Town isn't as new as you might think. It was established in the 14th century, but contains many of Prague's most impressive -- and yes, newest -- architectural innovations. The most famous of these is the Frank Gehry-designed Dancing House. The house's curved lines and uneven windows give the illusion of concrete and glass in motion. Also in New Town is Wenceslas Square, a popular nightlife spot with bars, clubs and casinos. It is home to the large Hotel Europa and the Statue of St. Wenceslas, both popular meeting points in the city center. Also be sure to check out the National Museum in Wenceslas Square, with a variety of natural history exhibitions.
Prague is generally considered a safe city, especially for one of its size. The main danger to be aware of is pickpockets, who hover around the tourist hotspots like the Astronomical Clock and Charles Bridge. Also, keep an extra eye out for them when using mass transit.
Some taxi drivers have been known to overcharge tourists. Phone for a taxi or go to an authorized taxi stand (they are marked with red and yellow signs) to reduce your chances of being swindled.
The best way to get around Prague is on foot or by public transportation. Many of the most noteworthy attractions are within walking distance of one another, and exploring this city on foot will be a treat for the eyes. There is an extensive public transportation system that includes bus, tram and subway lines, however. To get into the city from the Prague-Ruzyne Airport (PRG), you can take the number 119 bus to Dejvická metro station, followed by the Green metro line (line A) to the city center. You could also spring for a taxi -- previous travelers have spent anywhere between 700Kc and 800 CZKKc (or approximately $37 to $42 USD) on a trip from the airport.Getting Around Prague»