There’s much more to Prague than its medieval cobblestone center (yes, really!).
In fact, time spent discovering the Czech capital’s interconnected neighborhoods can reveal the city’s freewheeling spirit, as well as some of its best restaurants, museums, beer gardens and parks.
Prague’s excellent public transportation system makes zipping around a handful of districts doable in one trip. From the best areas for family travelers to those with the greatest nightlife, plan your trip with this guide to Prague's best neighborhoods.
1. Staré Město (Old Town)
Best neighborhood for sightseeing
It’s no coincidence that Staré Město (Old Town) teems with visitors: Prague’s medieval heart is home to the city’s must-see attractions. Staroměstské náměstí (Old Town Square) is fringed by some of Europe’s finest buildings, including the Old Town Hall with its Astronomical Clock. Moments north, there’s the Prague Jewish Museum. Stroll east, and you’ll soon be afoot the ancient stone arches of Charles Bridge.
Although Staré Město is obligatory for first-time visitors, there’s plenty to lure Prague aficionados and locals too. Amid elegant shopping streets and timeworn alleys, there’s a swell of eclectic places to eat, including the city’s two Michelin-star restaurants, Field and La Degustation. Galerie Rudolfinum, Kinsky Palace, and Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace, on the other hand, present striking art exhibitions in gilt-edged surroundings.
The high ratio of attractions to cobblestone square footage might suggest staying in Staré Město is top dollar – and sure enough, there are luxury hotels here offering high-end sanctuary. International chains aside, though, you’ll find some affordable home-grown hotels and hostels. Staying in Staré Město puts you bang in the hubbub, but it also affords early risers a contemplative stroll around the sights before the throngs arrive.
2. Malá Strana (Little Quarter)
Best neighborhood for couples
Baroque domes and spires rise from a sea of terracotta rooftops in Malá Strana (Little Quarter), creating an ideal setting for couples seeking a fairy-tale escape. Watched over by the Gothic grandeur of Prague Castle, the neighborhood brims with pretty boutique hotels; its winding lanes lead to ancient walled gardens and courtyard cafes.
Malá Strana is connected to Staré Město by Charles Bridge. During the busy summer months, the main route down to the river can rather lose its romantic minibreak charm. Although, by ducking onto the grassy island of Kampa, couples can reclaim a sense of care-free ease and pause for dreamy views across the Vltava.
As you would want and expect from Prague, Malá Strana isn’t without its maverick side. Offbeat sculptures by David Černý, the enfant terrible of Czech contemporary art, lurk outside both the Kampa Museum and the Franz Kafka Museum. Then there’s the graffiti-clad John Lennon Wall and the Eiffel tower inspired lookout atop Petřín.
3. Nové Město (New Town)
Best neighborhood for museums
With its busy shopping streets full of international brands, at first glance, Nové Město (New Town) hardly screams culture. However, by exploring the passageways around the main Wenceslas Square, you’ll soon discover a secret world of arcades which hints at the neighborhood’s more interesting, autonomous side.
The big cultural hitter here is the National Museum, with its impressive natural history collection and grand Neo-Renaissance interiors. Close by are some smaller spots worth finding: notably the Prague City Museum, the Museum of Communism, and the interactive National Film Museum.
From opulent art deco hotels to ultra-modern holiday lets, there’s a crowd-pleasing choice of accommodations in Nové Město. On a Saturday, rise for the Naplavka Farmers’ Market and sample generous plates of Czech street food.
Best neighborhood for cafes and restaurants
In 2002, floods swept through this once sketchy neighborhood. Phoenix-like, Karlín emerged renewed, and its grid of dusky-colored mansion blocks and slick office buildings is now a key food destination.
Arguably leading the pack of inventive restaurants in Karlín is Eska, although many of the eateries clustered around Karlínské Square would have grounds to quibble. Coffee connoisseurs will find themselves in slow-roast heaven, with the likes of Můj šálek kávy serving flat whites to a young crowd. Make time to visit cultural hub Kasárna Karlín in a reimagined army barracks.
Well connected to the center by tram and metro, Karlín’s independent hotels and modern serviced apartments make a convenient Prague base, especially if you’re looking for unfussy, affordable options close to some relaxed bars serving craft beer.
5. Vinohrady and Žižkov
Best neighborhoods for nightlife
The leafy streets of Vinohrady begin to get more bohemian and graffiti-daubed as they bleed into the district of Žižkov. For those keen to party in Prague away from the tourist-dominated city center, flitting between these two districts makes for a fun night out.
Vinohrady was once covered with vineyards. Nowadays, its collection of gastropubs, microbreweries, and wine bars still make it a go-to for a tipple. On a blithe summer’s evening, head to local park Riegrovy sady. Not only will you find Prague’s biggest beer garden, but from its grassy slopes, you can watch the sun drop behind the city spires.
Then northwards, to hilly Žižkov: where low rental prices attract a mishmash of young commuters, students and artists. The lights on the futuristic TV Tower will help you get your bearings when hunting down the next dive cocktail bar. Palác Akropolis is the place to catch live acts among a local crowd.
Best neighborhood for families
Families flock to Holešovice for its two large, playground-studded parks: Stromovka and Letná Gardens. Stromovka, for sure, is the more handsome of the two. That said, Letná’s proximity to the kid-pleasing exhibits at the National Technical Museum and the National Museum of Agriculture, along with its beer garden with views down over Staré Město, is conducive to happy children and parents.
Only a 10-minute tram ride away from central Prague, staying close to Letná Gardens is a smart choice if you’re traveling with children. The neighborhood’s mix of art nouveau and functionalist blocks contain some well-equipped holiday apartments. There’s also a glut of cool yet family-friendly cafes and restaurants, with Mr Hot Dog proving to be a sure-fire winner.