Prague is a city packed full of culture and well-deserved historic attractions. But outside the busy city center, there are numerous neighborhoods that will enrich your travels, expand your historical appreciation, and lead you to offbeat sights, experiences, and memories.
In the northwest corner of the city you’ll find Prague’s largest neighborhood: Dejvice. This place has been shaped and influenced by an international community due to the many universities and expats that have settled there in the past decades.
Dejvice is also home to Prague’s first preserved archaeologist site: a pit that dates back to the Roman Era. This ancient history and beautiful early 20th century architecture is combined with easy access to one of the city’s largest green spaces, Stromovka Park, which is filled with trails, ponds, and plenty of places for picnics.
Across the Vltava and a bit north, you’ll find Holešovice, an area rich with culture and decorated with plenty of green space. Similar to Karlín, Hoešovice offers another escape from the more populated districts and presents visitors the opportunity to view Prague’s cityscape from a different angle. Recently voted one of the best neighborhood in Europe by the Independent, visitors will be hard pressed to find a flaw among the picturesque architecture, colorful streets, and quaint shops and restaurants serving cuisine from around the world.
Hit particularly hard by the infamous flood of 2002, Karlín is a neighborhood still very much in the process of resurgence. New restaurants, cafes, and art galleries make a trip to Karlín a fun urban adventure — as well as one that may help you avoid the crawling crowds that always inhabit the Old and New Towns.
In the neighborhood’s center, you’ll find Kasárna Karlín, a multi-purpose cultural center that features art installments, outdoor movies, and a sculpture garden. Additionally, there are a handful of monuments, squares, and markets, undoubtedly making Karlín a neighborhood to keep in mind for your next visit to Prague.
New Town and Vinohrady
Older than its name might suggest, Prague’s New Town was added to the city center during the 1300s. Dazzling with shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, and transit stops, this is both one of the busiest neighborhoods in the city and a popular area for accomodations (if your budget allows). New Town is also home to three notable squares: Charles Square, Wenceslas Square, and Republic Square.
Paired with the Vinohrady neighborhood, which translates to “Royal Vineyards,” the area intertwines the historic sites with lush green parks (as seen in Havlíčkovy Sady, the second largest park in the city) and countless places to grab a coffee or cocktail.
Old Town and Lesser Town
Dating back to the ninth century, the epicenter of Prague is both elegant and historical, an illustration of its nickname: “the City of a Hundred Spires.” The area, which is split into two sections — Staré Mĕsto (Old Town) and Mála Strana (Lesser Town) — by the winding Vltava River is famous for its Old Town Square, Prague Castle, winding cobblestoned streets, and impressive views of the Charles Bridge. These beautiful landmarks are easily experienced via public transportation, as Prague boasts one of the best transit systems in all of Europe with its interwoven collection of metro, tram, and bus lines. If traveling during peak seasons, try to visit these areas early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid large crowds.
Once an industrial hub filled with factories, Smíchov is now a thriving center for shopping and business. Located on the western side of the Vltava, Smíchov is one of the best places to stay due to its close proximity to public transport. Despite the density of buildings and shops — especially in the neighborhood center, Anděl — it’s easy to find green space to take a break from the bustle, most notably in Petřín Park and at the Imperial Meadow. Additionally, there are a handful of food festivals and pop-up pubs that can be found on the riverbank during the spring that are well worth exploring.
Located outside the city’s center is Vršovice, laidback in contrast to the congregation of tourists that continually surround Prague’s most famous landmarks. Although getting there requires a little bit of time and patience compared to other neighborhoods, the communal atmosphere quickly draws visitors in and makes them want to stay. Within Vršovice you’ll find funky brunch stops, retro cafes, and vintage shops that are unlike any others inside the historic city limits.
Vyšehrad is a small neighborhood within walking distance of the river, renowned for Náplavka, its Saturday market. This part of the city is the perfect place to explore while also walking along the cobblestoned river bank. You’ll find the Rotunda of St. Martin, one of the city’s oldest buildings, in Vyšehrad, as well as the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul. Another popular and nearby destination is the Vyšehrad Cemetery, where famous Czech writers such as Jan Neruda and Karel Čapek are buried.
Named after 15th century military leader, Jan Zižkov, this neighborhood boasts roughly 300 pubs, the highest number of pubs per capita, a fact that is much appreciated by the local students.
Over the years, Zižkov has been known as a working-class area with some rough edges, but increased tourism and a large student population seem to be smoothing those edges out. Like most other neighborhoods in Prague, it’s becoming home to more coffee shops and socioeconomic diversity. And while it may be known as the perfect place to grab a cocktail, it’s also the location of popular sites such as the Zižkov TV Tower and the National Monument (where you can find a statue of none other than Jan Zižkov himself).
Photo by Stepanov Alexey