Sure, we may run what we think are the finest Prague food tours, but that does not mean we don’t get asked about where to stay in Prague. We do our best to help by inviting our guests to send us a shortlist of the hotels or apartments they have chosen and then give them our two cents on each of their choices. We love to travel, so we like to think we’re in a good position to combine our local knowledge with some of our travel know-how.
With this post, we want to help you understand the different areas of Prague and their pros and cons. When we travel ourselves, we always look for a balance between easy accessibility to the centre of the town and getting a feel for what we think is a local, true, and interesting part of the city that we visit. So, we will be recommending areas along those lines. We will also throw in a few apartments and hotels we ourselves would like to stay in if we travelled to Prague. And yes, some of these recommendations will be based on our personal experience. (Which is gained when you do non-simultaneous house swaps, rent your own rental apartment and have to book a hotel in your own city because you promised someone to stay in your apartment while you're in Prague.) But don’t worry, we will not push our beautiful, awesome and super cool rental apartment in Prague that has no peers too hard. Oops.
Where to stay in Prague?
Prague's Old Town
Old Town in Prague is what many people would call the “historical centre”. If proximity to sights is your priority, this is the spot for you. The downside is that Old Town can get incredibly busy during the day and very touristy during the high season from Easter holidays until October. Still, there are ways you can play it right by simply looking for something in the smaller streets off the main routes. Apartments in the Old Town are abundant, but proper grocery stores and basic amenities less so. Let's be honest here: Old Town is not an area where many locals live. The other downside can be the noise at night from the bar-hopping stags.
Our favourite areas? First is the Bethlehem Square and its surroundings that includes great bars and some off-the-radar shopping. The area East of the Old Town Square is also nice, especially around the Rybna and Hastalska streets. It’s near all the sights but quieter and with exposure to great food around the Dlouha street.
Hotels: Josef (for modern design and architecture aficionados), Maximilian (comfortable choice in a great location and spa), Emblem (cool and swanky, inhabited by beautiful people), Residence Agnes (great service and free booze!), Four Seasons (safe choice for demanding guests)
Apartments: This Prague apartment in the Dlouha Palace looks great and has a great location. And this one is very near the Old Town Square and looks cool, too. Finally, Zuzi's former colleague from the law a few apartments in the Old Town with a focus on younger crowds a bit. He's a good guy.
Shopping: Kurator, Ingredients, Debut Gallery, Krehky by Qubus, Botas 66 and more.
Food and drinks: The foodie hub of Dlouha street. Nearly all the good Prague cocktail bars are there, too.
Culture: Rudolfinum, Dvorak Sec.
Fun: Roxy, U Bukanyra.
Prague's New Town
New Town, a slightly more modern part of the centre, is a “tweener” of sorts. It still lies in the “centre” but is slightly off the main Prague sights. New Town can be busy, like the Wenceslas Square, which is the natural epicentre of the area. However, it can also be incredibly calm, especially over the weekends in the areas that are a mix of residential and office spaces. When choosing accommodation in the New Town, be careful where exactly the given hotel is. New Town is a fairly large area and contains anything from the busy Hybernska street and Masaryk railway station to the Vltava riverside and the calmer southern streets.
Our favourite areas? The area around the Senovazne square is a good location. It’s well connected by public transport and within walking distance from the Old Town. On the southern end, the areas near the Dancing House and just south of the National Theatre have a calmer atmosphere and hardly any traffic, yet are located near the busy river banks (read farmers market on Saturday mornings) and the Narodni tried street with all the public transit. We’d avoid the Wenceslas Square, the main train station, and the super-busy Sokolska and Legerova streets if we were you.
Hotels: Icon (Hästens beds. ‘Nuff said.), Miss Sophie's (quirky and cosy with a personal touch), Unic (a reliable, calm choice in a great neighborhood), Boho (cool urban hotel with a bit of swag)
Apartments: This one is nicely designed and in a location slightly off the madness of the touristy centre.
Shopping: Papelote, Hugo chodi bos
Food & drinks: Naplavka farmers market, Parlour, Sansho, Maso a kobliha, EMA Espresso Bar
Culture: Ponrepo cinema, Dancing House, Leica Gallery, Svetozor movie theatre, Archa theatre
Fun: Naplavka, Lazne na lodi
Lesser Town and the Castle District are second only to the Old Town when it comes to direct access to sights. You’d actually be staying among them in the Lesser Town. On the positive side, you won’t have to go far if you want to see the castle and some of the most beautiful churches in Prague. On the negative side, you will be doing so with hoards of tourists that flood the Lesser Town without end on a daily basis. If you want solitude, you’ll find it in the evening and in the early morning. For the rest of the day, forget it.
Another downside of the Lesser Town is the scarcity of night life, or good local restaurants for that matter. For clubs and a choice of things to do in the evening you’ll have to go to the other side of the bank. If you decide to stay on the hill behind the castle, you’ll find yourself commuting to your hotel and back by public transport more than you may have thought.
Our favorite areas? Anything near the beautiful Kampa Park and its vicinity to the New World for solitude and quiet, romantic walks in the evening. Stay away from places near the Charles Bridge: they may have a great location, but you’ll be sick of the crowds before you know it.
Hotels: Three Storks (where modern design meets old architecture), Mandarin Oriental (the ultimate comfort and luxury), Augustine (secluded luxury with an awesome spa)
Apartments: Many apartments can be found on Prague Stay, which btw offers many apartments in the centre.
Shopping: Cihelna, Shakespeare and sons, Artel
Food & drinks: Cafe Savoy, Cafe Lounge, Angelato, Lokal, Vinograf, Spices
Culture: Atelier Josefa Sudka, Kampa Museum.
Fun: Kampa park, New World, Jeleni prikop, Jazz Dock, Containall, Vojanovy sady
It’s no secret that the Karlin district is one of our favourite places in Prague. It’s very close well connected to the centre, and it’s an area where things are really happening right now. It’s also a place with good restaurants, which means you can have a nice breakfast without having to stray far. Lastly, it’s easy to navigate. Karlin is the only one of Prague’s district on a grid, so you won’t get lost, either. Getting to the centre only takes a matter of minutes: two stops by subway or four by tram, and the connection to the Zizkov district via the pedestrian tunnel is a nice, local (if a bit intimidating) bonus. If there’s a negative it may be that the courtyards of the buildings could be a bit run down. if you are looking at an AirBnB and demand nice common premises in the building make sure to ask for additional pictures.
Our favorite parts? Anything around the Karlinske namesti is great, as well as the stretch of Krizikova street between Lyckovo namesti square and Thamova street, i.e. the leafy part of the district, which is the ultimate location in terms of environment, food, and drinks.
Hotels: Pentahotel (affordable, young and with a lounge that connects to the neighborhood)
Apartments: This one looks nice and is well appointed. And this loft is super cool, too.
Shopping: Thun, Warehouse No 1, Rony Plesl studio
Food & drinks: Veltlin, Eska, Muj salek kavy, Tea Mountain, Kafe Karlin, Mozaika Krystal Bistro,
Culture: Atelier Josefa Sudka, Kampa Museum.
Fun: Vitkov, Lyckovo namesti
(For details, please see the link to our Karlin district post above)
The Vinohrady district is yet another fantastic place to stay in Prague. Historically a district of vineyards (which is what “Vinohrady” means) under Charles IV and a separate town until 1922, Vinohrady, favored by many expats, eventually became an affluent district with some stunning Art Deco houses stretching on a hill over the centre. It is also a district with a highly developed food and coffee scene. It even includes its own farmers market that opens every Wednesday to Saturday. You can easily spend hours walking through the leafy streets lined with beautiful buildings, and then spend even more time drinking beer in the Riegrovy sady beer garden.
In terms of access to the centre, the sloped district offers some great views, parks, and nice walks when walking to the centre and back (but we won’t lie to you: it’s a climb coming back). Vinohrady is also easily accessible by foot or public transport, being some two or three subway stops away. Any downsides? Vinohrady is a notoriously hard place to find a parking spot - most of them are residential parking only, so keep that in mind if you’re visiting Prague by car.
Our favorite area? We’d skip the busy and uninspired Vinohradska street and the equally busy Anglicka street. But anything else is fine, really.
Hotels: Le Palais hotel is located in a beautiful, secluded spot that invites for walks in the neighbothood.
Shopping: Shit happens, Lazy Eye, Nila, Zilka, Vinohradsky pavilion
Food & drinks: Jirak farmers market, Dish, Coffee Room, Praktika, Pho Vietnam, Beergeek
Culture: Kostel holiest.
Fun: Riegrovy sady beer garden
(For details, please see the link to our Vinohrady district post above)
Just below the Vinohrady district, Vrsovice is a mixed bag. While the upper part bordering with Vinohrady offers picturesque views and some of the most opulent residential buildings and grandiose villas in town, the lower, southern part is a place that still awaits its own gentrification and is harder to access from the centre. The benefits of the district include the Grebovka vineyard and the hipster heaven that is the Krymska street with cool and unique cafes, bistros, and shops.
Our favorite areas? Anything near the Krymska street and the Grebovka vineyard, as well as the area around the Kodanska and Ruska streets.
Hotels: Czech Inn (cool hostel with owners and staff that care)
Shopping: Boho Vintage, Baobab,
Food & drinks: Osteria da Clara, Cafe Jen, Cafe v Lese
Culture: St Wenceslas church,
(For details, please see the link to our Vrsovice district post above)
The Zizkov district is, in a sense, a city within a city. With its own Bohemian spirit the beautifully run down “Montmartre of Prague” is a haven for students and freethinking bonvivants. Not to mention down-right drunks, considering it boasts probably the highest pub-to-inhabitant density anywhere. On the other hand, it can be incredibly photogenic, with its beautiful vistas, parks, and little corners that mix old and new, shabby and glossy. Getting to the centre is fairly easy; just take the 26 or 9 tram, or climb to Vinohrady to catch a subway. Walking down to the city is also an option, although you’ll eventually hit one of the busiest intersections in town.
The best place to stay Prague’s Zizkov district? Avoid the Konevova street and its immediate surroundings at all cost, unless you like heavy traffic, pollution, and run-down streets littered with sleazy slot machine parlors. The nearer you can be to the Vinohrady district the better. The “Zizkohrady” area between the Borivojova and Vinohradska street and especially around the TV Tower is one of the best places to experience local Prague at its best.
Apartments: This one looks great. This one looks amazing, too.
Shopping: Playbag, Botas 66, Hanil, Polagraph, Musictown
Food & drinks: The Tavern, U Kurelu, Zizkov pubs,
Culture: Nakladove nadrazi Zizkov, TV Tower
Fun: Akropolis, Kino Aero
(For details, please see the link to our Zizkov district post above)
Towering over the centre across the river, the Letná hill has always been an aspirational district since its boom of beautiful Constructivist buildings in the 1930s and 1940s. Just a 15-minute walk or a 5-minute tram ride, the location and access to the centre is ideal. The biggest assets of the Letna district are the two parks that surround it. The Letna park has a great beer garden and a view of the centre on the south, while the relaxing Stromovka park lies on the north side. This is the district to be at in Prague if you demand some jogging routes in the morning. The district is also a hub of creative energy from the shops in the Veverkova street, the crowds filling the Bio Oko independent cinema, the galleries and designers in the Orco building, and the established artists in the National Gallery or the Academy of Fine Arts.
Downsides? While the district does have some good cafes and bistros, its restaurant options are rather limited. The best place to stay? You’re kidding, right? Our beautiful and awesome Prague rental apartment oversees the Bio Oka cinema and is a minute walk from the nearest tram stop or a 15-minute walk to the centre. It was designed by the architects of SMLXL to have everything a traveller would need, ensuring that nothing would be in the way. It also includes all the curated tips we provide to the guests of our Taste of Prague food tours, and so much more!
Apartments: You're joking, right? Our rental apartment, of course!
Shopping: Veverkova street shops: Page Five, Zorya, Galerie Září, Koncept Story
Food & drinks: Lokal, Bistro 8, Cafe Letka, Ye’s Kafe / Studio
Culture: National Gallery, National Technical Museum, Expo 58, Bio Oko
Fun: Stromovka and Letensky park parks, Letna beer garden, Orco
(For details, please see the link to our Letna district post above)
"Holesovice is the new Karlin” is a common wisdom shared among the locals for the past few years. The district, which shares some qualities with Karlin that include the industrial feel and a nearly grid-based layout, has been undergoing a slow process of gentrification, too. It has now come to its own as a unique and interesting area. The pros are easy: great access to the centre via the dense tram network, the Holesovice market with the only permanent farmers market in town with some interesting food options, the river marina that is now in it’s final stages of remodeling, and the Dox Centre for Contemporary Arts is a reason alone to visit.
The downsides are also easy to list: the place virtually lacks any major greenery and can feel a bit rough around the edges. The Argentinska street, which connects to the Dresden highway, is a place to avoid due to high traffic. If we were you, we’d choose a place near the Holesovice market or the Prague Marina development projects: both are calmer, well connected, and offer some nice places to shop or eat.
Apartments: This one is absolutely gorgeous. And for something completely different, the Port X boat house in the docks.
Shopping: Hall 22, Megapixel camera store, Dox by Qubus,
Food & drinks: Bottega Tusarova, SaSaZu, Alza Cafe, Bitcoin Coffee, Home Kitchen, Trang An
Culture: Dox Centre for Contemporary Arts
Fun: Cross Club, SaSaZu club
(For details, please see the link to our Holesovice district post above)
Smíchov, the district directly south of the Lesser Town, has always been a bit of a working-class neighborhood, especially the parts around the Smichovske nadrazi railway station and the Staropramen brewery, but that does not mean it does not have charm. The residential parts just off the Lesser Town along the river and the Children's Island have a beauty that can be matched by only a few other residential districts in Prague.
What plays in Smichov's favor is easy accessibility to the centre: either by tram to the Lesser Town and the Castle District, or by subway to the Old Town and the New Town (if you stay around Andel). And if you're staying in the northern parts of the district, you can walk it. The Novy Smichov mall at Andel can be a dealmaker or a dealbreaker depending on where you stand on big malls and international brands. That said, they do have two cinemas and movies in English are just subtitled. We'd avoid the areas in the southern parts of the district around the train station and the Staropramen brewery: the traffic can be heavy and the area is not that nice.
Apartments: This one looks very nice. And this loft is super cool, too.
Shopping: Wine Food Market
Food & drinks: Wine Food Market, Home Kitchen, Kavarna co hleda jmeno, Manu, La Boucherie and Bistrot M
Culture: Futurum gallery, Meetfactory
Fun: Radlicka kulturni sportovna, Meetfactory, Kinski garden
Bonus question: Hotel or apartment in Prague?
You can answer this question better than us. Prague has some nice, affordable hotels that provide great bang for your buck, especially when compared to big cities like London, Paris or NYC. That said, they are clearly connected to the tourism industry, and you should bear in mind that trusting the receptionist or concierge with tips is one of the common mistakes when traveling to Prague. Sure, there are exceptions, but that’s not something you want to count on.
Prague also boasts a wide selection of apartments for rent through AirBnB and other services. Surprisingly even more than in London according to some sources. They tend to be well maintained and most of them have been recently refurbished. The tips provided by their owners are mostly legit, and they are sometimes better connected to their districts. On the other hand, you lose some comforts, of course. So really, both options are available and neither is better than the other, so it’s up to you when you’re choosing where to stay in Prague.