This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic)
- 1 City Information
- 2 Welcome to Prague
- 3 Highlights of Prague
- 4 Where to Stay in Prague
- 5 Czech Language
- 6 Location of Prague
- 7 Religion in the Czech Republic
Prague is the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Central Europe and tourism has played an important role in its economic development in recent years. Read our guide to the highlights of Prague, which includes information on the layout of the city and what to visit.
Welcome to Prague
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic (Czechia), a country located at the heart of Central Europe, bordered by Austria, Germany, Poland and Slovakia. In the Middle Ages, Prague became the capital of Charles IV’s Bohemian Kingdom, with Prague Castle the seat of the empire. And the city has played a pivotal role in the region ever since. Prague’s epic history has produced a city full of beauty, of stunning Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque era buildings, and of majestic squares.
In modern times, the statist communist era of the mid-20th century has given way to dynamic capitalism. Tourism has helped drive the city’s regeneration, transforming grey run-down buildings into bright elegant restaurants, vibrant bars and swish hotels. In 1992 the historical Centre of Prague, all 866 hectares, was listed in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Register.
Old Town Square in Prague
Highlights of Prague
The city center is compact and the finest areas are mostly pedestrianized, so Prague is best explored on foot; from Wenceslas Square on one side of the city to Prague Castle on the other is just a 30-minute stroll (walking via the Old Town, across the river and through the Lesser Town).
The first thing to do in Prague, therefore, is simply to wander through the streets and magnificent squares, to revel in the atmosphere and to admire the stunning architecture all around.
A sightseeing tour led by a local guide can provide a good introduction to the city, as they will be able to explain the history and significance of the sights and attractions. But equally, allow time in your schedule to do your own exploring.
Prague is a city to walk around, immerse yourself in, discover places, and to eventually find somewhere nice to stop off for a drink at; all the time letting the worries of the world dissipate.
On your travels you will soon come across the Vltava River, which runs through the heart of the city. Walk over Charles Bridge and along the banks of the river to enjoy wide panoramic views across the water.
Prague River Cruises
A river cruise is the most relaxing way to take in the riverside attractions. And there are lunch, afternoon and evening dinner cruises to choose from. You can also admire the river scene from above by taking a trip up to Prague Castle or a ride on the Funicular Railway to the top of Petrin Hill.
Estates Theater in Prague
With regards to entertainment, opera, ballet and classical concerts are a true highlight. Prague is a city of music, with performances to enjoy all year round in its grand opera houses, magnificent concert halls, ancient churches and other historic buildings.
For a typically Czech experience, black light theatre is a unique feature of the city. The shows are fast moving and highly visual, so appeal to all ages and nationalities.
Turning to food, the city’s restaurants enjoy a reputation for serving good, often excellent cuisine. Pub style restaurants offer hearty food and fast flowing cheap drinks, while at the top end visitors can experience fine dining in beautiful settings, such as by the river or with a view over the city.
The world-famous Czech beer is deeply embedded in the national physique, and is enthusiastically consumed in pubs and beer halls everywhere; the Czechs are the largest consumers of beer per capita in the world!
Concert Hall at Municipal House
Old Town Square at Night
On sunny days the action moves outside. At one of the cafés, take a seat on the terrace and watch the world go by. You will find the time just slips away! join the locals at one of Prague’s elegant traditional cafés, where a coffee and cake or a deluxe hot chocolate is the order of the day.
Tourism and increased business investment have lifted the Czech economy, which in turn has led to more consumerism – shopping is now a national pastime. Prague has its fair share of stores selling the latest international brands, and the largest shopping mall in the city Centre is Palladium Shopping Centre.
In terms of locally produced goods, aside from Škoda cars the most well-known product is Bohemia Crystal. The finest Czech glassware is sold in a number of shops in Prague. Alternatively, visitors can take a tour to a glass factory, such as to Moser Glass. The city centre of Prague is divided into five areas, which span both banks of the Vltava River.
On one side of the river: the New Town (Nové Město), with Wenceslas Square at its heart; the Old Town (Staré Město), with the Old Town Square at its heart; and the Jewish Quarter (Josefov).
Across the water: the Lesser Town (Malá Strana); and above this the Castle District (Hradčany), which is the area around Prague Castle.
Charles Bridge is the main pedestrian route linking the two sides of Prague. The sights and attractions in Prague are spread across all areas of the city Centre.
Where to Stay in Prague
The best location to stay is Prague 1, the district covering the five areas that make up the city Centre (New Town, Old Town, Jewish Quarter, Lesser Town and Castle District).
A hotel or apartment anywhere in Prague 1 will suit most people, as it is possible to explore the entire city Centre on foot from any of the five areas.
Prague is made up of 22 administrative districts. The areas offering easy access to the city centre by tram and metro include Vinohrady and Vysehrad in Prague 2, Smichov in Prague 5, Holešovice in Prague 7 and Karlin in Prague 8.
View from Old Town Hall Tower
Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) is the number one tourist attraction in Prague. Set on a hill, it affords visitors exceptional views over the whole city. For the ultimate view, climb The Great South Tower at St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle.
There are many other towers to climb around Prague, including the Petrin Observation Tower, Old Town Hall Tower, Old Town Bridge Tower, Lesser Town Bridge Tower, Powder Tower, the belfry tower at St. Nicholas Church at Lesser Town Square and Jindrisska Tower.
To dine with a view, browse restaurants with city views or riverside restaurants.
Sights and Tourist Attractions
Some travel guides use English names for the Prague sights, but maps and street signs are normally in Czech. The following translations should be useful:
Prague = Praha
Old Town = Staré Město
New Town = Nové Město
Charles Bridge = Karlův most
Prague Castle = Pražský hrad
Wenceslas Square = Václavské náměstí
Old Town Square = Staroměstské náměstí
Lesser Town/Lesser Quarter = Malá Strana
National Theatre = Národní divadlo.
Czech is a consonant-rich Slavic language. It is considered to be one of the most difficult European languages to learn by speakers of Latin and Germanic based languages. Native English speakers can find certain sounds very hard to pronounce.
The requirements of tourism and globalisation ensure that many Czechs speak English, particularly the younger generation.
Czech Phrases & Pronunciation
Good day / Hello = Dobrý den (Dobree den)
Good evening = Dobrý večer (Dobree ve-chair)
Goodbye = na shledanou (Naskledanou)
Hi / Bye = Ahoj (Ahoy)
Yes = Ano (Ano)
No = Ne (Neh)
Thank you = Děkuji (Dyekooyih)
Cheers = Na zdraví (Na-zdra-vee)
Where’s the toilet? = Kde je záchod (kdeh-yeh zaakhot)?
Location of Prague
is located in central Bohemia, which is the largest region in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is located in Central Europe. It covers 78,864 square kilometers (30,449 square miles).
The country’s highest mountain is Snezka (1604m). Its longest river is the Vltava (434km).
The population of Prague is 1.26 million. The population of the Czech Republic is 10.5 million.
Czech Republic in Europe, Czechs belong to the West Slavic group of peoples, along with Poles, Slovaks and Lusatians. Romanies (or Gypsies) form the most conspicuous minority in the country, and are thought to descend from Indian migrants in the 15th century.
People from other Central and Eastern European countries, including former Soviet Union states such as Ukraine, have migrated to Prague in recent years to work in tourism and construction.
Over 7 million tourists visit every year.
St. Nicholas Church
Religion in the Czech Republic
Christianity is the country’s dominant religion. The Roman Catholic Church is by far the most prominent church, followed by various Protestant denominations, such as the Evangelical and Hussite churches.