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Prague is a unique city, and each neighbourhood provides a different, but no less exciting vantage point. The city has been touched by fascinating history, from the Gothic spires that punctuate the skyline, to its fascinating royal complex, to the leftovers of the communist regime. Prague is officially divided into 10 districts (Prague 1-10), with some smaller neighbourhoods therein, and each one offers something else. Find out which one is right for your weekend stay in Prague, from location, price and everything in between.
Where to Stay in Prague
In terms of sheer sightseeing power, the Staré Město, or Old Town, is your best bet for staying in Prague. Sharing the Prague 1 district with the Malá Strana neighbourhood, the Old Town neighbourhood covers the western bend of the Vltava, including Charles Bridge. The majority of Prague’s main sites are in this neighbourhood, including the Jewish Quarter, the Powder Tower, and the eponymous Old Town Square, Prague’s most visited site. The Old Town is a perfect choice for those who want to be as close as possible to the action, or for those who are only staying a short time in the city. It’s easy to get out early and stay out late here, so you can catch many of the city’s sites sans crowds. Some of Prague’s best hotels are also in this neighbourhood, but there’s no need to break the bank. Prague is not a particularly expensive city, and you can still find smaller Old Town guesthouses for under £60 per night.
Sharing the other half of Prague 1, the Mála Strana, or “Lesser Town” occupies the opposite bank of the river. Here is where you’ll find Prague Castle and its delightful surrounding neighborhood. This is a great alternative to the hustle-and-bustle of the Old Town, as the crowds tend to thin out a bit once you get past the neighborhood’s main gate. There’s also cheaper hotel and food options, with a plethora of atmospheric local cafés. Plus, walking across the Charles Bridge everyday isn’t bad for your morning sightseeing commute.
Mainly located in Prague 2, Vinohrady was the former home of the royal vineyards, from which the neighbourhood gets its name. Vinohrady is quite a relaxed neighbourhood, known for its lush parks (including Prague’s largest, Havlíčkovy Sady), and casual cafés and bars. There’s also lesser known historical sites, like the art-nouveau Vinohrady Theatre and the Gothic St. Ludmila’s Church. If you like shopping, Vinohrady is a hotspot for Prague’s local artisans, as well as the Namesti Miru Christmas Market every December. There’s also a wide variety of international establishments, from Vietnamese restaurants to Irish pubs.
Prague’s former hardened lower-class district has now softened up into one of Prague’s trendiest neighborhoods, and is extremely popular with students. This youthful energy has transformed Žižkov, most famous for its controversial TV Tower, into the nightlife capital of Prague. Go bar hopping among the neighborhood’s over 300 pubs, or go pay your respects to its namesake, the undefeated 15th-century warrior Jan Žižka. He’s buried at the National Monument. While ths neighborhood doesn’t offer much in terms of sightseeing, it’s a no-brainer if you’re here for the nightlife. The area mostly has low-range hotels and a variety of hostels.
Although Nové Městois called the “New Town”, it’s really far from it. Incorporated into Prague in the 14th century, the Nové Město actually surrounds the Old Town, and has its own two stretches of riverfront property. If the Old Town is the hub of historic architecture in Prague, the New Town is the hub for museums (although that’s not to say it doesn’t have its fair share of historic sites). Prague’s main museums, like the National Museum, the Museum of Communism, the Mucha and Dvorak Museums, and the Municipal House, are all located within this one neighborhood.
The New Town was also witness to Prague’s recent history. To see that, visit Wenceslas Square, site of the 1968 Soviet Invasion, or the “Dancing House”, designed by Frank Gehry (you can even stay here!). Be sure to enjoy the New Town’s thriving gallery and bar scenes. The riverfront bars offer some of the most vibrant nightlife, with some of the best views. In terms of accomodation, there’s a wide variety of low-to-mid-range options and hostels.
Often called Prague’s coolest neighbourhood, Holešovice is the hub of the city’s alternative culture. Encased in the northern bend of the Vltava, Holešovice was once Prague’s industrial hub. Now, it’s home to the city’s most eccentric artists, and if you have any interest in contemporary art, there’s no better place in Prague. Go gallery-hopping throughout the neighbourhood, and stop at Veletrzni Palace and the Dox Center of Contemporary Art, for glimpses at modern art greats like Warhol, and some of the scene’s up-and-coming talents. It’s also worth stopping at Holešovice’s avant-garde theatres, like Bio OKO’s indie cinema. Holešovice is a great escape from the crowds downtown, and it has some of the city’s most affordable hotels.
Another transformed industrial center, Vršovice is even further off-the-beaten-path than its more popular cousins. Vršovice is quite a bit further away from the main tourist drags (about 30 minutes to the Old Town by tram), but the neighbourhood has quite a different flavor because of it. You won’t find any real sightseeing opportunities, but that’s not really why people come here. The real upside of Vršovice is it’s eclectic mix of cafés, restaurants, and shops. This is the perfect place to relax after a long day of sightseeing. You’ll find retro cafés, local beers, and cuisine ranging from vegan to tapas to sweets. There’s also plenty of shopping around, too. Go thrifting at the area’s vintage stores or explore some of the other quirky independent businesses (just make sure you have enough room in your suitcase when you’re ready to leave). The accommodation is unique, as well, with many family-owned guesthouses and a thriving hostel scene.
Featured Photo by Dmitry Goykolov on Unsplash
Sarah is a college student and avid traveller, who’s cracked the budget travel formula and backpacked solo across 15 European countries