Explore Prague

Prague Travel Guide

The Czech Republic's capital and international showpiece, Prague is one of the most popular city-break destinations in Europe. Its attraction lies primarily in the physical beauty of the city, which boasts 600 years of architecture amazingly untouched by time. Prague's UNESCO-listed historic centre is like a colossal outdoor museum which makes travellers feel like they're stepping into a Gothic fairy-tale.<br /><br /> In the 14th century Prague enjoyed the reputation of being one of the most important cities in Europe, but after the Second World War it disappeared completely behind the Iron Curtain. Since the 1989 Velvet Revolution and the end of Communism, Prague has thrown off the years of repression with alacrity and is returning to its earlier grandeur, enticing tourists with its romantic atmosphere. In recent years Prague has also become a popular weekend destination for stag and hen party groups, attracted by the lively nightlife, world-famous beer, and low prices, so that it is now famous among lively young partygoers and refined cultural tourists alike.<br /><br /> The historical centre of the city is compact and its attractions are all within easy reach on foot. The core comprises the Castle District (Hradèany) west of the River Vltava, and the Old and New Town (Staré Mesto and Nové Mesto) to the east, joined by the famous Charles Bridge. The Castle District situated on the hill overlooking the city incorporates the main attractions, including the Castle itself and the Cathedral. The Old Town is a maze of alleyways, cobbled streets and passages winding their way towards the beautiful Old Town Square, <em>Staromestské Namestí</em>. The old Jewish Quarter, <em>Josefov Ghetto</em>, is also enclosed within the Old Town. The New Town, in contrast, is modern and has been laid out in wide boulevards, most famously Wenceslas Square, the fashionable shopping boulevard leading up to the foot of the grand National Gallery.<br /><br /> The city's performing arts scene also features high on the list of things to do in Prague, with world-class classical music concerts, opera and ballet, as well as many art galleries around the city. This beautiful city, a 'symphony in stone', built along the river and on the surrounding hills, has never ceased to capture the hearts and imagination of visitors, painters, photographers and poets.<br /><br />

The Castle District

Address: Prague

Admission: There are a variety of ticket options. Circuit A, which includes most of the main attractions, costs CZK 350. For full pricing information see website listed above. Interiors, daily 9am to 5pm (4pm November to March). Castle grounds, daily 6am to 10pm.

The Castle District stretches across the top of the hill overlooking the city and incorporates the best churches and museums in Prague, set around three courtyards, immaculate gardens, fortifications and state apartments. The dominant feature is St Vitus Cathedral, which occupies most of the third courtyard. The Castle was founded in the 9th century and is still the official residence of the president. The Old Royal Palace was home to the Kings of Bohemia from the 11th to the 17th centuries. The Royal Apartments and Vladislav Hall, where Bohemian knights once jousted, kings were crowned and presidents are sworn into office, can be visited, as well as the little chapel next door. Next to the red façade of the Romanesque Basilica of St George, lies the Benedictine Convent, housing the National Gallery's remarkable collection of old Bohemian art. Behind the gallery is the picturesque cobbled alley known as Golden Lane, a row of 16th-century tradesmen's cottages, brightly coloured and built into the fortifications. Visitors can watch the Changing of the Guard on the hour every hour, with the fanfare and flag ceremony included at noon.<br /><br />

St Vitus Cathedral

Address: Castle District Prague

Admission: Entrance is free. Small amounts are charged for entry to some areas.

Situated within the Castle Complex, the spires of St Vitus Cathedral, an elegant but domineering French Gothic structure, soar above the ramparts. It is the county's largest church, and contains numerous side chapels, frescoes, tombstones and beautiful stained glass windows. It literally sparkles with all the finery inside. The most ornate chapel contains the tomb of St Wenceslas, the 'Good King Wenceslas' of the Christmas carol, which has become something of a pilgrimage site. The Coronation Chamber houses the Bohemian Crown Jewels and the crypt is where most of the kings and queens of Bohemia have their final place of rest. The southern entrance to the cathedral, the Golden Gate, is decorated with a richly gilded coloured mosaic representing the Last Judgement which dates from 1370. The Last Judgement mosaic is one of the artistic treasures found in the Castle District and it is a very impressive work. It is possible to climb the 287 steps of the Cathedral's tower for magnificent views over the city. St Vitus Cathedral is a must-see Prague attraction.<br /><br />

Charles Bridge (Karluv Most)

Address: Prague

The pedestrian Charles Bridge serves as a focal point for tourists in Prague and is the most photographed feature of the city. Construction began in 1357 to replace the earlier Judith Bridge of which the only remaining part is one of the towers at the Malá Strana gate that can be climbed for a view of the city. Up until 1841 this was the only bridge in Prague and the only means of crossing the Vltava River. The bridge was closed to traffic in 1978 and has been a pedestrian bridge ever since. The 30 statues of saints were originally erected between 1683 and 1714 and they create a unique mixture of artistic styles, with the Baroque and the Gothic intermingled.<br /><br /> During the day there is usually a festive crowd on the bridge; throngs of people pick their way through the happy congestion caused by buskers, artists and musicians lining the bridge, positioned between the saintly sandstone statues that make this the most picturesque and lively of attractions. At night, however, the bridge is quiet and visitors should make an effort to see it in this state as well: some beautiful photographs can be taken of the Charles Bridge in the evening and at night once the crowds have dispersed and only the statues stand guard.<br /><br />

Old Town Square

Address: Stare Mesto Prague

The heart of the old city and its marketplace since the 11th century, the Old Town Square is Prague's prettiest and most lively square, with historical facades and a cobbled surface. It still hosts a variety of markets, the favourite being the whimsical annual Christmas market. In the centre is the odd Art Nouveau monument to the religious reformer, Jan Hus, a national symbol for the Czech people. The Old Town Hall features an ornate Gothic astronomical clock showing three different times, in front of which throngs of people gather on the hour to watch the brief mechanical performance of apostles, Christ, a skeleton and a rooster. Tourists can climb the tower for a behind-the-scenes look at the mechanics of this beautiful clock as well as a great view of the city from the top. On opposite sides of the square there are two magnificent churches: Prague's greatest Baroque building, St Nicholas, with its distinctly visible dome; and the even more striking Týn Church, a fabulous Gothic structure with its twin spires a noticeable feature on the Prague skyline. This square and its unparalleled Gothic architecture feature prominently on postcards of the lovely Prague and it's easy to see why. There are also a number of other attractions on the square, or nearby, including the Kafka Museum.<br /><br />

The Jewish Museum

Address: U Staré školy 1 Prague

Admission: CZK 300 (adults), CZK 200 (children 6-15). Daily except Saturdays and Jewish holidays, from 9am to 6pm (27 March to October), 9am to 4.30pm (November to 25 March).

Telephone: 222 749 211

The Jewish Museum is the largest and most authentic of its kind in Central Europe, with one of the most extensive collections of Judaic art in the world. Situated in the old Jewish Quarter, exhibitions are spread over a variety of buildings and synagogues, including the Maisel, Spanish, Klausen and Pinkas Synagogues, the Ceremonial Hall, the Old Jewish Cemetery, the Robert Guttmann Gallery and the Education and Culture Centre. The origins of the collection are astonishing in their atrociousness. Objects from 153 Jewish communities throughout Bohemia and Moravia were brought to Prague by the Nazis in 1942, to be used in a planned 'museum of an extinct people' after their extermination programme was complete.<br /><br /> The Pinkas Synagogue was turned into a Jewish memorial after the Second World War and its walls are covered with the names of the Czech victims, the communities they belonged to and the camps in which they perished. The Old Jewish Cemetery is a significant sight with more than 12,000 tombstones visible, but the number of people buried here is much greater due to the earth layering system carried out to create space. The oldest tombstone dates back to 1439. Together with the Old-New Synagogue, the oldest surviving example of the medieval twin nave style, the cemetery is one of the most important historic sites in the Jewish Quarter.<br /><br />

Vysehrad

Address: V Pevnosti 159/5b, Prague 2 Prague

Admission: Vysehrad Gallery: CZK 20; the Brick Gate and Casement: CZK 60 (including guide); Gothic Cellar: CZK 50. Concessions available. Entrance to the grounds is free. Daily 9.30am to 6pm (April to October), 9.30am to 5pm (November to March)

Telephone: 241 410 247 or 241 410 348

Vysehrad, a hill fort perched on a rock above the river, is an integral part of the Prague skyline. The castle is thought to date back as far as the 10th century and it is thought that Vysehrad was the first inhabited area of Prague, though these claims have not yet been fully proven. The twin spires of the Neo-Gothic Saints Peter and Paul Church are visible from afar and the façade has beautiful carvings. No other site in the city has as much distinction attached to it. Behind the church is the Slavin Cemetery where many distinguished Czech artists, scientists and academics are buried. The hill also boasts the oldest surviving building in Prague, the Rotunda of St Martin, from the 11th century. From the battlements the view of the Vltava Valley is superb, and many tourists in Prague come to Vysehrad simply to take pictures of the impressive vista.<br /><br />

Ceský Krumlov

Address: Prague

A small medieval town in Southern Bohemia, Ceský Krumlov is one of the most picturesque in the Czech Republic, nestled in the S-bend of the River Vltava and dominated by the fairy-tale chateau on the ridge overlooking the town. Its appearance has remained almost unchanged since the 18th century and it is a delight to wander through the traffic-free old town with its cobbled lanes, ramshackle red-tiled roofs and colourful houses providing many picture-perfect photo opportunities. It only takes about two and a half hours to reach this charming town from Prague, making it a wonderful weekend trip or overnight excursion. However, it could easily occupy visitors for many days and the surrounding countryside is also very beautiful.<br /><br /> The castle on the hill, greatly enriched by the Italian Renaissance style, has fine views of the town setting with covered walkways, courtyards and terraced gardens where theatre and music productions are held. Apart from the incredible architecture, tourist attractions in Cesky Krumlov include the Egon Schiele Art Centre, the Eggenberg Pivovary (brewery), and the Czech Marionettes Museum. Since the town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, the summer months have become somewhat crowded; it is now a buzzing tourist haven instead of a sleepy secret spot, but its charm is not diminished.<br /><br />

Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad)

Address: Prague

The town of Karlovy Vary, also known as Karlsbad, is the queen of the Czech Republic's many spa resort towns. It is a pretty Victorian place with elegant boulevards, elaborate colonnades and brightly coloured buildings lining the picturesque river valley. For those who enjoy a stroll in the countryside, the surrounding forested hillsides are a peaceful and therapeutic place in which to walk.<br /><br /> The main focus of the town is health, and at the centre of attention are the 12 hot springs containing a mineral content rich in restorative and healing properties. The drinking fountains in the colonnades were once the haunt of the European aristocracy, and today the local people gather to fill their quaint little drinking cups, sipping and strolling in the fresh air, encouraging the water to work its magic on their digestive tracts and metabolic disorders. If that doesn't work the locally made Becherovka liqueur is hailed as the 13th spring. Although most of the spa pools and sanatoriums are reserved for people undergoing treatment, visitors can still swim in the heated pool above the Thermal Sanatorium. There is plenty of excellent accommodation in Karlovy Vary, unique souvenirs from the area and myriad relaxing activities to be enjoyed.<br /><br />

Museum of Communism

Address: Na prikope 10 Prague

Admission: CZK 190 (adults). Concessions available. Daily from 9am to 9pm including holidays, except Christmas.

Telephone: 224 212 966

Ironically located next door to a casino and above a McDonald's, the Museum of Communism is dedicated to presenting an account of the post-World War Two communist regime in Czechoslovakia, and Prague in particular. The museum covers the totalitarian regime from its inception in 1948 until its collapse in 1989. It offers an eye-opening look at life behind the Iron Curtain and gives visitors insight into the experiences of the Czech people during the times of the Soviet Union. With genuine artefacts on display, informative text, multimedia presentations and even a reconstructed classroom, interrogation room and soviet-era factory, the museum makes sure the memory is kept alive of what it brands 'Communism - the Dream, the Reality, and the Nightmare'. The museum covers all aspects of the totalitarian regime including daily life, the army, education, sport, politics, economics, propaganda, censorship, and art. All in all, this little museum is very informative, offering information which enriches an exploration of Prague with historical background and a sense of all the city has been through.<br /><br />

Prague Astronomical Clock

Address: Old Town City Hall Prague

This medieval astronomical clock, also known as the Prague Orloj, is mounted on the southern wall of the Old Town City Hall and is popular with tourists eager to watch the clock's show every hour. It comprises three main components, namely the astronomical dial, which represents the position of the sun and the moon in the sky, 'The Walk of the Apostles' showing moving sculptures, and a calendar dial with medallions representing the 12 months.<br /><br /> The show begins with Death, represented by a skeleton, pulling the bell cord with one hand while holding a Clessidra (hourglass) in the other. The Apostles then come out of the windows in a procession and return back inside. Once the windows close, a cockerel flaps and crows in an alcove followed by the chimes of the hour. The parody is accompanied by the Turk shaking his head, the Miser watching his bag and Vanity admiring himself in a mirror and makes a wonderful spectacle for visitors to Prague. All in all the hourly show lasts about three minutes. You can climb the tower and see the clock mechanisms from the interior - there are also great views of the Old Town Square from the top.<br /><br />

Miluniæ and Gehrys Dancing House

Address: Rasinovo nabrezi 80 Prague

This unique building is so famous it even had a coin issued with its likeness printed on it, celebrating ten years of architecture in the Czech Republic. Designed by Croatian-born Czech architect Vlado Miluniæ together with renowned Canadian architect Frank Gehry, it was originally named 'Fred and Ginger', as it looked like a woman and a man (Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair) dancing together. The building was designed in 1992 and completed in 1996. Construction is from 99 concrete panels each of different shape and dimension, each therefore requiring a unique wooden form. The building is a popular tourist photo opportunity, though there is nothing of interest to see inside.<br /><br /> When it was first built it was controversial because its modern and unusual design was thought by some to contrast too starkly with the Gothic architecture for which Prague is so famous; however, over the years it has become a well-loved and supported landmark in the city and it has been praised worldwide for its innovative design and originality. The Dancing House was built on a significant site: the building that was there previously was destroyed by bombing during World War Two. The design is meant to be symbolic of the changes undergone by the Czech Republic from communist regime to parliamentary democracy.<br /><br />

Kutna Hora

Address: Prague

In the 14th century Kutna Hora was the second biggest town in Bohemia (after Prague) due to the discovery of silver. Today visitors come to appreciate the history of a once booming town where the Royal Mint was founded, and to marvel at the architecture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its greatest monument is the exquisite church of Santa Barbara, built to rival Prague's St Vitus Cathedral. It is a pinnacled Gothic achievement financed by the miners and dedicated to their patron saint, Barbara.<br /><br /> Among the town's many churches and attractions is the Hrádek Mining Museum, popular for its medieval mineshaft tours (not for the claustrophobic or anyone afraid of the dark!). The bizarre but fascinating Gothic ossuary, decorated with the bones of about 40,000 people and arranged into shapes, notably a chandelier, a coat of arms and pyramids, is a macabre but popular attraction.<br /><br /> Although the town is small, there are also a number of shops, cafes, and bars that make it an interesting place to visit. Kutna Hora is only about an hour away from Prague by road and it makes the perfect excursion or weekend away as there is just enough to see in this charming town to captivate visitors for a day or two.<br /><br />

Petrin Hill

Address: Lesser Town, Prague 1 Prague

Petrin is a hill in the centre of Prague, perfectly located to offer all-round stunning views of the picturesque city. The hill rises 427 feet (130m) above the Vltava River and is almost entirely covered by recreational areas and parks. Petrin Hill offers many attractions for children and adults on holiday in Prague. To start, the funicular ride up the hill is fun for kids, and when they get there, a climb up the miniature TV tower is also exciting. The tower is a small version of Paris's Eiffel Tower, called the Petrin Observation Tower, and although it may not sound tall at 197 feet (60 metres) it is a vantage point from which to see the whole of Prague. With breath-taking views, it is well worth the climb of 299 steps and on a clear day it is possible to see Snezka, the highest peak in the Czech Republic. Kids love finding each other in the (mirror maze) hall, and pony rides on the hill are also a popular activity. The observatory is a fascinating attraction for older kids.<br /><br /> The parks are also just wonderful for a bit of time outdoors, away from the imposing buildings of the city which can get a bit daunting, especially in the crowded tourist season. Head to the hill for a walk or a run in beautiful surroundings, and take the children with, if you're travelling in Prague with kids, so that they can blow off some steam with all the fun activities and fresh air. There are even some impressive rose gardens to meander through.<br /><br />

Prague Toy Museum

Address: Jioská 4, Prague 1 Prague

Admission: CZK 70. Concessions available. Open daily 9.30am to 5.30pm

Telephone: +420 224 372 294

Housed in the Old Count's Chambers of Prague Castle, the Toy Museum is a wonderful attraction for kids, but it is also endlessly captivating for adults. The museum contains several exhibition rooms and takes up two floors; it is said to be the second biggest collection of its kind in the world. There are displays of playthings from across the globe and across the centuries, with some of the artefacts dating as far back as ancient Greece. The museum's comprehensive Barbie collection is chronological and displays the changes in fashion that Barbie has undergone over the generations. Unsurprisingly, the Barbie collection is a favourite with little girls. Other highlights include the mechanical toy trains and the huge collection of teddy bears, which can't help but make one smile. There are also traditional Czech dolls and toys which offer some fun insight into the culture. This is a great attraction for the whole family and it is consistently popular with visitors to Prague.<br /><br />

Kostnice Ossuary

Address: Prague

The Kostnice Ossuary, also known as the Sedlec Ossuary or the Church of Bones, is a unique experience for intrepid travellers. The medieval Gothic chapel is decorated with the remains of about 40,000 human skeletons, including an immense chandelier. While it is considered macabre by some, the skeletons belonged to people who wished to be buried in the Ossuary, which they considered a holy place; they were all victims of the plague, according to the displays. The famous chandelier contains at least one example of every bone in the human body and, despite its somewhat gruesome building material, is a truly impressive work of art. There are other sculptures and decorations pieced together intricately with bones and the effect is remarkably artistic. Having said that, the Ossuary is a sacred place and the atmosphere is one of worship and peace. The effect of death turned into art is triumphant as well as a little spooky and it is a fascinating example of religious devotion and faith as well as a unique work of art. It is worth reading up on the history of the Ossuary and the area before visiting the chapel as the experience is greatly enriched by some background knowledge.<br /><br />

Šumava National Park

Address: Prague

The name Šumava translates as the 'Whispering Forest' which perfectly sums up the magical nature of this natural jewel in the heart of Europe. The Šumava, along with the Bohmerwald which it adjoins on its southern border, forms the largest forest in central Europe: 'Europe's Green Lung'.<br /><br /> For forty years, during the Communist era, Šumava flora and fauna flourished relatively undisturbed by human activity, as the area fell within the Iron Curtain exclusion zone. Now the watchtowers and minefields have gone and visitors are encouraged, but Šumava is still protected and is thriving; the once-rare lynx is now regularly seen. In addition to the whispering trees of the Šumava Forest, visitors can explore the park's marshes (with peat-loving plants), rushing streams (home to otters, kingfishers and other animals), glacial lakes and mountains.<br /><br /> The park is criss-crossed with well-marked footpaths and cycle routes, which become cross-country ski paths in the winter. The area is popular with Czechs for winter sports, with several good skiing resorts. Lake Lipno on the edge of the park offers a variety of watersports in the summer. Although summer is the peak holiday season, the Šumava is beautiful all year round. The winter sports season is December to March. Spring is popular with nature lovers, as this is probably the best time for seeing flowers and birds. And the Autumn colours of the Šumava Forest can be spectacular.<br /><br /> Visitors can opt to stay in a hotel or cottage in the park itself or in one of the historic towns on its edge, including Prachatice, Cesky Krumlov, and Kasperske Hory.<br /><br />

Franz Kafka Museum

Address: Hergetova Cihelna, Malá Strana Prague

Admission: CZK 200 (adults). Concessions available. Daily 10am to 6pm.

One of Prague's most famous citizens, renowned author Franz Kafka, was born in the city in 1883 in a house on the Old Town Square, next to the Church of St Nicholas. That house is now a museum devoted to the author, containing original manuscripts, photos and diaries, and delves in depth into Prague's influence on the man and his most famous works, including "The Metamorphosis" and "The Trial". Kafka referred to Prague as his 'dear little mother with claws' and the Prague that is introduced through him is a dark, magical place, mysterious, Gothic and complex. There are 3D installations and audio-visual exhibitions, as well as detailed biographical information on Kafka himself. Possibly the most interesting thing for literati is the extensive personal correspondence on display which allows great insight into Kafka and his life.<br /><br /> This is a wonderful, interesting museum but it is not generally appealing to children as it mostly involves a lot of reading and the atmosphere, designed to reflect the mood of Kafka's fiction, is intellectual, dark and somewhat existential. If you are travelling with kids in Prague find a diversion for them while you explore this attraction.<br /><br />

Pilsen

Address: Prague

This small town in Bohemia claims to be the birthplace of beer, with a brewing tradition going back centuries. The town was founded in 1295 and granted coveted brewing rights, spawning more than 200 microbreweries that developed the famous Pilsner brewing methods that create some of the best beer in the world even today. The Pilsner Urquell Brewery, opened in 1842, is still Pilsen's main attraction. It actually houses two separate breweries that make Pilsner Urquell and Gambrinus respectively. Visitors can tour both breweries and can learn about the history of beer at the museum.<br /><br /> Aside from its beer, Pilsen tends to be overlooked as a travel destination, but visitors can enjoy exploring a variety of museums dedicated to everything from ethnography and history to ghosts and puppets. The town itself is pleasant to walk through and has some beautiful buildings to see, including the 16th-century Town Hall, the Cathedral of St Bartholomew, and the Great Synagogue. Just as you would expect in a town famous for its beer, Pilsen has a lot to offer in restaurants and pubs. There are many places to try local Czech cuisine, and bars serve coveted unfiltered beers, which are considered far superior to the filtered exports.<br /><br />

Prague Spring International Music Festival

Where: ,Prague

When: 11 May - 2 June 2017

Prague Spring has become one of the most prestigious classical music festivals in Europe, presenting exceptional artists, orchestras and chamber music ensembles of international acclaim as the summer concert season opens in Europe. Every year the festival is traditionally opened and closed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra. The festival showcases the best of contemporary classical music but also remembers important anniversaries in the music world by including works by the composers concerned. Only artists and orchestras of the highest quality are invited to perform in the Prague Spring and it is considered a great honour to perform on this platform. Famous artists that have appeared at the festival include Sviatoslav Richter, Herbert von Karajan, Boris Pergamenschikow, Julian Lloyd Webber, Lucia Popp, Kim Borg, Sir Colin Davis, Lorin Maazel, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, and Leonid Kogan, among many others.<br /><br /> The Prague Spring Festival's traditional venue is the Rudolfinum concert hall, a venerable Neo-Renaissance building with an excellent auditorium, situated on the bank of the Vltava River. Prague's ornate Municipal House, is also a popular venue, and has a larger seating capacity. However, performances take place in various venues throughout Prague.<br /><br />

Prague Autumn Festival

Where: Prague State Opera Municipal House Rudolfinum,Prague

When: 12 September 2017 - 1 October 2017

The Prague Autumn International Music Festival, usually just known as the Autumn Festival, is the companion to the Prague Spring International Music Festival; the Autumn Festival marks the end of the European summer music festival season, just as the Spring Festival marks the beginning. This internationally acclaimed classical music festival has gained renown for its programme of celebrated musicians. The programme combines famous old music with the best of contemporary classical music. Of course, Prague has a rich musical heritage and is proud of its prominence in classical music and its history of embracing the arts. The Autumn Festival is held at various venues around Prague, although many of the concerts take place at the Rudolfinium, which is a very special, and very beautiful building. If you are a classical music fanatic then you will be richly rewarded by booking your trip to the Czech Republic to coincide with either of these music festivals; even the uninitiated will be delighted by the performances on offer.<br /><br />

Prague Christmas Markets

Where: Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square,Prague

When: 2 December 2017 to 6 January 2018

Christmas in Prague is a delightful season made special by the traditional Christmas markets that sparkle with lights and colourful decorations, resound with Christmas music and tempt anybody nearby with the scent of hot mulled wine, sausages, and gingerbread. Brightly decorated wooden huts sell Czech handicrafts such as puppets, candles, wooden toys and jewellery, alongside traditional food and drinks. In Old Town Square, local and international choirs and musical ensembles sing Christmas songs, and a wooden stable recreates the Bethlehem manger scene with live animals. Other festive attractions include an open-air ice rink and an enormous Christmas tree ablaze with colourful lights. While the winter months are far from being the peak tourist season in Prague, as they are often snowy and always cold, the festive fun and traditional charm of Prague's Christmas celebrations more than make up for the weather and give significant motivation to travellers considering a winter holiday in the Czech Republic. As the markets are open for the whole of December they are the perfect place to buy gifts and souvenirs, even if you aren't going to enjoy a Prague Christmas.<br /><br />

Bellevue

Address: Smetanova nábrezi 18, Stare Mesto Prague

Food Type: International

Visitors who enjoy the finer things in life will revel in Prague's premier restaurant, the Bellevue. Every dish on the menu is a masterpiece of modern Czech cuisine, which can be enjoyed together with a stunning view of Prague's castle and piano playing in the classically elegant surroundings. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended.<br /><br />

Francouzská Restaurant Municipal House

Address: Námìstí Republiky 5 Prague

Food Type: French

The beauty of the French Restaurant inside the famous art nouveau Municipal House building will take your breath away with the light of ten crystal chandeliers shimmering in the mirrors and embellishing the wall panelling. Although the name suggests French cuisine, the fare includes international and Czech specialities as good as the décor. A dazzling dining experience is guaranteed.<br /><br />

U Fleku

Address: Kremencova 11 Prague

Food Type: Gastropubs

The world's oldest pub and brewery and Prague's most famous tavern, U Fleku has been in the heart of Prague for 500 years and offers the chance to soak up some history along with the tasty brew and hearty Czech meals on offer. Tours of the brewery are available, and there is often cabaret entertainment. Those wanting to dine should make a reservation. Recommended are the house goulash and beer-flavoured cheese on toast. Open daily from 10am to 11pm.<br /><br />

King Solomon Strictly Kosher Restaurant

Address: Siroká 8 Prague

Food Type: Kosher

One of Prague's only truly Kosher restaurants, King Solomon runs under the supervision of the Orthodox Council of Kaschrus with dining hours that strictly adhere to the Sabbath. With booths huddled under an industrial-looking atrium, this restaurant is not big on ambience, but the authentic Kosher food is a must. Diners can choose from a variety of fresh vegetable and meat dishes such as vegetable béchamel and stuffed roast quail. Selections of Israeli, American, and Moravian kosher wines are on offer and the restaurant prides itself on a Frankovka red from the Aaron Günsberger Moravian cellars in Rakvice. Open Sunday to Thursday for lunch and dinner. Friday dinners and Saturday lunch by arrangement only. Bookings advisable.<br /><br />

U Vejvodu

Address: Jilská 4, Prague 1 Prague

Food Type: Gastropubs

This traditional beer hall is a great place for late pub eats and even later beers. With a restaurant downstairs and a pub on the second floor balcony, the whole place hums well into the night. Traditional Czech food is available on an extensive menu but most come for the renowned beer, which can be a meal in itself.<br /><br />

Radostfx

Address: Bìlehradská 120 00 Praha 2 Prague

Food Type: Vegetarian

This is vegetarian dining with an edge. Diners can enjoy a café, lounge and restaurant, all of which are decorated in a modern cavernous style. An adjacent art gallery for local artists and a late night club further let diners know they are in the trendiest of vegetarian restaurants. The food is a bit less exciting than the ambiance but that doesn't stop a loyal patronage.<br /><br />

La Degustation

Address: Hastalská 18 Prague

Food Type: International

Located in the Old Town quarter, this is arguably one of Prague's best eateries. The dining room is minimalistic yet at least two different seven-course meals await you with the chance to sample both food and wine. The menu provides a spin on classic European food, while the often draws inspiration from old Czech cookbooks and raises the bar on the level of classic Czech cuisine. It is a bit pricey, but well worth it. Open Monday to Saturday for dinner only. Closed Sundays. Reservations essential.<br /><br />

Prague's nightlife offers casual pubs and bars, sophisticated lounges, live music venues and famous dance clubs - something for everyone. Be sure to have a few pints of Czech Pilsner for those at home! Prague's most popular nightclubs are situated right in the heart of Old Town, including Karlovy Lazne, which is one of the largest clubs in Europe. Travellers should note that it is customary to share tables with strangers if things get crowded.<br /><br /> For those bent on partying, Prague has several organised pub crawls that start each night around 9pm, meeting at landmarks like the clock tower, the Pub Crawl Bar or Prague Underground Backpackers. The city has become a popular European stag party destination, further fuelling the already riotous club and bar scene. Generally speaking, dance clubs in Prague charge admission fees on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but are usually free between Sunday and Wednesday.<br /><br /> For a more relaxed evening, the National Marionette Theatre is renowned for performances of Mozart operas. Classical music lovers will enjoy hearing music from local icon Anton Dvorak at venues like Smetana Hall, and real fanatics should ensure that they visit Prague during the Prague Spring International Music Festival or its counterpart in autumn, when the city comes alive with world-class classical music performances.<br /><br />
While shopping in Prague isn't quite on a par with some other top cities in Europe, many hypermarkets and shopping malls have popped up in recent years, offering an ever wider selection of products as the memory of communism fades. The growing competition has led to better prices for customers, making shopping in Prague refreshingly budget-friendly by European standards.<br /><br /> The main shopping area in Prague extends from Wenceslas Square, past Na Prikope and into Republic Square; large stores such as Marks and Spencer and Debenhams are all located here. The Parizska area has some international fashion brand boutiques, while Mala Strana and the Old Town Square are home to small shops and art galleries. The Old Town Square also has a permanent market selling arts, crafts and souvenirs. Much of what you'll find on the thoroughfare between Charles Bridge and Old Town Square is mass-produced and overpriced but the souvenir shopping along this stretch is fun.<br /><br /> There are several shopping malls in Prague, including the upscale Palladium in the centre of the city; Metropole Zlièín, which has cinemas and fast food eateries near the bus station; and the huge OC Nový Smíchov.<br /><br /> Local products include crystal ware and accessories, puppets, hand painted eggs, wooden toys, folk art and memorabilia from the communist era (army surplus hats, knives and badges). Many artists sell pen-and-ink drawings on the street, and of course you'll find many Prague souvenirs bearing the face of native son Franz Kafka. Locally-mined Czech garnets are also popular, but make sure you get a certificate of authenticity as it can be hard to identify fakes.<br /><br /> Most shops are open from 9am to 7pm, with some large supermarkets staying open till 10pm or even staying open 24 hours a day. Most shops in the city centre and tourist destinations are open on weekends. Some sales tax refunds are available to non-EU citizens.<br /><br />
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