Where to Stay in Prague

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Updated: January 2, 2020

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The Best Areas to Stay in Prague

Old Town Square in Prague.

Staré Mesto (Old Town) is the best area for first timers in Prague. Seen here is the Old Town Square with the Astronomical Clock and its apostle statues.

Despite being a city of over 1.3 million people, the central neighborhoods of Prague are in a relatively compact area. This means that while you might choose to stay close to certain attractions or activities, it’s easy to walk or hop on public transport to get to other areas. There is no single best neighborhood for tourists; many (but not all) of the big, historical attractions are concentrated around Malá Strana (Little Quarter) and nearby Prague Castle, Staré Mesto (Old Town), and Nové Mesto (New Town). This is a drinking culture so nightlife is found throughout, with a younger and wilder scene in New and Old Towns. The greatest concentration of hotels is found in these central neighborhoods although there are plenty of choices beyond the main tourist zones as well that can offer a fascinating experience. For romance, the quieter cobblestone streets of Malá Strana are the best bet.

The Malá Strana (Little Quarter) is located on the west bank of the Vltava River. This slightly hilly area holds fairytale-like lanes and stunning sites such as the Baroque St Nicholas Church, but the real hard hitter, the massive complex in and around Prague Castle, is technically tiptoed into the bordering Hradcany neighborhood. In the daytime, especially during the summer, holidays, and weekends, this area gets swarmed by tourists, so try to visit early in the day to avoid the crowds. Despite all this being a very touristy area, there are still a number of very good restaurants and bars here, and it is easy to reach from the east side of the river on foot via the Charles Bridge or by public transport.

Staré Mesto (Old Town) feels like the center of everything when it comes to tourism. Old Town Square with its ancient buildings and famous Astronomical Clock is a hive of activity, especially on the hour from 9 am to 11 pm when apostle statues move mechanically beneath the clock face in a 45-second parade. All manner of museums, shops, pubs, and restaurants fan out from here, with highlights being the Josefov neighborhood, bordering to the north, with its fascinating Jewish history.

To the south and east of Old Town is Nové Mesto (New Town), which despite being around seven centuries old is still newer than Old Town. This is a large and varied neighborhood that is the commercial center of Prague. It centers around Wenceslas Square, where you’ll find big-name stores and busy restaurants under tall and elegant apartment buildings. There are quite a few good museums all around and if you stay here, you’ll probably be walking across the less busy but very beautiful Legions Bridge to reach the west side of the river.

South of Staré Mesto and Nové Mesto are up and coming Smíchov, with lots of new hotels and drinking holes, and Vysehrad, which holds the magnificent Vysehrad Castle (where Prague is said to have been founded). Staying in either of these neighborhoods will put you in areas substantially quieter than the city center without being too far away, along with hiking and biking opportunities, making them great options for athletic or outdoorsy people wanting to be near the action.

The neighborhoods north of Malá Strana are Bubenec and Dejvice, the chicest and most exclusive residential areas in Prague. There are a few good-value yet upscale hotels here as well as some particularly good sights for families, including an aquarium, planetarium, dancing fountain, and Stromova, the city’s largest park. The Nostalgic Tram 41 trip on a cool old streetcar also starts in the Dejvice neighborhood at the Museum of Public Transportation. There are easy transport connections to the town center and this area is close to the airport as well.

This area extends northeast into Letná and Holesovice, a traditionally working-class neighborhood that is getting more hip by the minute. Currently, hotel prices here are great value and nightlife is of the more hip and local variety, but eating options are limited. The C Metro line heads directly into the town center, making it easy to get in and out. The main sight here is Letná park with its fantastic views of Old Town.

You’ll get a local and more industrial feeling from the Karlín and Zizkov neighborhoods, located to the east of the northern part of New Town. This is where you’ll find much of Prague’s better hostels and low-budget accommodations. It’s easy to get into town by Metro or by walking for about 20-30 minutes. Zizkov is known for its raucous pub scene and there are some good (but not fancy) places to eat too, mostly in the form of hip cafes. There are a few things to see over this way, like the strange sight of the massive TV Tower with baby sculptures crawling on it, and the beautiful Art Deco National Monument that houses a museum with objects mostly from the 20th century. This is a great neighborhood for backpackers or younger travelers on a budget.

Heading south from here, you’ll reach the higher-end and quite fashionable Vinohrady and Vrsovice neighborhoods. With some good hotel choices and some very good internationally-inspired places to eat, the streets and parks are great for wandering around, far from the tourist crowds. That said, this is still quite close to the city center, with the Metro or tram getting you in within 20-30 minutes.

The Best Places to Stay in Prague

Best Areas in Prague for…

  • Best Area in Prague for Sightseeing: Malá Strana
    Sightseeing in Malá Strana is a matter of simply turning the corner to admire more cobblestone lanes, towering churches, baroque gardens, world-class museums, and, of course, the grand Prague Castle. Start at Charles Bridge with its brooding statues and gorgeous views over the river, then wander to St Nicholas Church, window-shop along fairy-tale streets, and wind your up to Prague Castle’s museums, churches, and more – this will take up at least a day.
  • Best Area in Prague for Nightlife: Nové Mesto (New Town)
    Beer is said to be cheaper than water in Prague and hordes of people come from around the world to drink here. Clubs, beer gardens, breweries, cocktail bars, jazz lounges – you name it, no matter how you want to spend a night out, you can find your happiness here.
  • Best Area in Prague for Food and Restaurants: Staré Mesto (Old Town)
    There are so many great restaurants in this neighborhood that you could literally close your eyes and still stumble into somewhere serving something delicious. The range is vast as well. Try everything from fine modern European dining overlooking the river to excellent American-style steaks at George Prime Steak. New Town is an easy walk away and has even more options.
  • Best Areas in Prague for Families: Bubenec & Dejvice
    Basing yourself in these neighborhoods puts you in a quiet area near the aquarium, planetarium, dancing fountain, and Stromova, the city’s largest park. The Nostalgic Tram 41 trip on a cool old streetcar also starts in the Dejvice neighborhood at the Museum of Public Transportation. Public transport is easy and it takes around 15-20 minutes to reach Old Town, and about a 10 to 15-minute walk to reach Prague Castle.
  • Best Area in Prague to Stay for First Timers: Staré Mesto (Old Town)
    You can’t go wrong if you base yourself in Old Town – it’s pretty, central, packed with restaurants and sights, and yet easy to wander over the Charles Bridge to Malá Strana for more sightseeing. You can also find accommodations to suit most budgets.
  • Most Romantic Area in Prague: Malá Strana
    Malá Strana looks like something out of a dream with its old stone lanes, centuries-old houses, the Gothic spires of St Nicholas Church, and Prague Castle rising above it all. Many eating options here are bistro-style, perfect for a table for two with a white tablecloth and a bottle of wine. Then there are the views across the river to Old Town – or walk there across the insanely scenic Charles Bridge.
  • Best Areas in Prague for a Local Vibe: Karlin & Zizkov
    Staying in this more industrial neighborhood outside the city center gets you away from the tourists and into a more hip and local scene. Stroll down the architecturally beautiful street, hang out in city parks, check out the wonderfully weird TV Tower, sip coffee in tiny cafes, or discover young and fun pubs. And great news, it’s about 15 minutes by public transport or a 30-minute walk to downtown.
  • Best Area in Prague for Walking: Malá Strana
    Really any neighborhood in Prague is great for walking but Malá Strana has less busy lanes, a huge array of parks, some hills to get you in shape, and exquisite views over the river and town. Sights and historic architecture are everywhere.
  • Safest Areas of Prague
    Anywhere in central Prague in the daytime tends to be very safe. That said, take the standard precautions of not walking alone inebriated late at night and being aware of your surroundings.
  • Unsafe Areas of Prague
    Drinking and drugs are usually involved in some form or another in a large percentage of Prague’s crimes that are targeted at tourists. Staying out late, drinking heavily and/or buying/using drugs will (like anywhere) put you at greater risk of theft and violence.

The 8 Best Neighborhoods in Prague for Tourists

Alchymist Prague Castle Suites in Prague.

The Alchymist Prague Castle Suites in Malá Strana, Prague.

1. Malá Strana

Historic Malá Strana encompasses the eastern area of the Vltava River and sits just under Prague Castle. Hradcany, where Prague Castle is located, is technically another district, but we’re including it here as part of the same neighborhood for simplicity’s sake since most people will take both in at the same time when visiting. This is an extremely scenic area of cobblestone streets, lanes lined with ancient houses, and views over the river to Old Town. Start at Charles Bridge and then wind your way through ancient streets to magnificent churches, cute shops, fun bars, and some good restaurants, some with the best views in the city. Up the hill is Prague Castle, arguably Prague’s top sight and filled with so many museums, churches, and even a monastery, that you’ll want to schedule a full day there.

2. Staré Mesto (Old Town)

Old Town is simply jam-packed with sights and often people as well. Everything is centered around Old Town Square that holds one of the city’s biggest attractions, the Astronomical Clock. Roads and lanes spread from here, with churches, museums, cafes, restaurants, and some great beer-drinking holes. North of the square are ancient synagogues and the Jewish Cemetery and Museum that are a must-visit for understanding the city’s history. It’s easy to walk across the Charles Bridge from this area to reach Mala Strana or go east or south into the more commercial and urban feeling Nové Mesto (New Town).

3. Nové Mesto (New Town)

New Town feels new in the sense that this is where you’ll find the most shopping, clubs, and commercial activity in Prague, but the buildings are still grand and can sometimes be up to seven centuries old. Come here to shop, drink, dine, and visit museums like the Mucha Museum and the National Museum. Charles Square is the biggest in the city, although Wenceslas gets more tourist traffic and feels like a grand boulevard.

4. Vinohrady & Vrsovice

This neighborhood was once home to a vineyard but today it’s fashionably urban and away from the central tourist area. While they aren’t filled with sights, these are wonderful areas to wander around and you can enjoy some truly elegant architecture alongside the many parks and views out to Prague Castle. There’s also an international influence here that shows mostly in the great restaurant offerings from Mexican to Vietnamese. You can get here via the Metro or tram in around 20-30 minutes from Old Town.

5. Smichov & Vysehrad

Vysehrad Castle is a large park complex up a hill with a handful of museums, an ancient cemetery, and the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul, which is a masterpiece of Art Nouveau. The views here over the river are spectacular and you’ll find more local families enjoying the area than tourists, especially on weekends. Smíchov is more industrial and is one of the grittier neighborhoods of Prague, but it’s up and coming and is a great hunting ground for hip coffee houses, breweries, and cafes.

6. Bubenec & Dejvice

These neighborhoods north of Malá Strana are chic (Bubenec more so) and a great location for families. Sights include an aquarium, planetarium, a dancing fountain, the huge Stromova Park, and the Museum of Public Transportation that marks the start of a pleasant sightseeing trip on Nostalgic Tram 41. Dejvice is great in particular for Communist-era architecture and this is most exemplified at the Hotel International.

7. Letna & Holecovice

Locals cite Holecovice as the coolest area of Prague although tourists looking for sights won’t find much over this way. The cool factor comes more from the nightlife and cafes. The green spaces, Letna Park in particular, are a big draw and the neighborhoods are as safe as they are clean and pretty. It’s also easy to get here with the C Metro line running directly into downtown.

8. Karlin & Zizkov

There aren’t tons of sights out here but these neighborhoods are popular, especially with backpackers, for their lively nightlife and inexpensive lodging. It’s an industrial area with some older buildings and more graffiti than you’ll see closer to the city center. Wander here to find cool cafes and cheap eats and to gawk at the weird yet fascinating TV Tower. The main sight here is the National Monument, an Art Deco building holding a museum dedicated mostly to the 20th century.

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