Are you coming to the Czech Republic soon and still not sure where to stay in Prague? Is the Old Town better than the New Town? Is it safe there? Will you need a taxi or public transport to get to the sights…? If you are overwhelmed by all the information available on the internet and still have questions, please stop browsing for a while. And read this article. It’s honest, personal and written by a local. Not by artificial inteligence or a travel blogger who was here for three days and knows everything best.
Who is writing you this post?
My name is Dana and I know Prague like the back of my hand (maybe even better than artificial inteligence:-) How come? I was born and raised here. And I also work as a local guide. Running my own tiny business called Prague Behind The Scenes – Small Group Tours and Experiences.
Besides guiding, I also enjoy writing this blog; where I am regularly sharing with you my tips for how to avoid local tourist traps. Today we will learn a bit about where to stay in Prague (and where rather not:-)
1) Where to stay in Prague: best hotel areas for Prague first timers
If you are visiting Prague for the first time; let’s say for 2-3 days, you should definitely stay in the Old Town (Staré Město) or Lesser Town (Malá Strana). All the major sights will be within walking distance (Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Jewish Quarter, Kampa Island, Powder Tower, Municipal House, Astronomical Clock…..) and you will not need a taxi or public transport. Just good walking shoes.
2) Where to stay in Old Town and Lesser Town?
Prague Old Town and Lesser Town are very small neighborhoods so you can imagine how crowded areas might get. Especially during the high season (April – October and the whole December).
Many people think that staying right on the Old Town Square or by the Charles Bridge is like winning a jackpot. Not really. I think it’s just a very expensive ticket to the touristy hell and mediocre, overpriced services.
I always recommend my clients a bit more authentic, residential areas that are not so noisy but they are still in the city center. Please check some of them below on this page.
Note: I don´t get any commission for recommending these places. I just researched them myself for my clients who often ask me about where to stay in Prague.
Many of my clients enjoyed staying in the Old Town district called “Haštalská čtvrť” or “Na Františku.” I love these areas. These are secluded, quiet parts of the Old Town where I am often leading my tours, too. If you like picturesque, not crowded back alleys, away from the party hot spots, this could be a great choice for you. All the major sights are 5 – 10 minutes away (walking).
The Lesser Town area is located on the other side of the river. Closer to Prague Castle and it’s truly a lovely part of the city center.
In this neighborhood you will be close to Charles Bridge, John Lennon Wall, Kampa Island, St. Nicolas Church, Petřín Hill, Wallenstein Garden…You will also find here picturesque, secluded streets, back alleys, gardens and parks.
If you consider Lesser Town as your location, make sure you choose your hotel in its lower part. The upper parts (closer to Prague Castle) are uphill!!! For example all the hotels on Nerudova street or Vlašská street are always a little hike! So, the closer to the river, the better.
Many of my clients loved their stay in Hotel Pod Věží. It’s right next to the Charles Bridge which may sound like a big trap but the hotel rooms are located in the back of the house (to reduce the noise from the outside). And it´s really nice!
Another nice hotel is Aria Hotel close to the American Embassy or The Augustine Hotel Prague (former Augustinian monastery where they still brew their own dark beer called St. Thomas. It´s served in a historical refectory.The Refectory Bar is actually open to the public so if you only want to taste the beer, you are welcome to come!
3) Where not to stay in Prague?
Some areas in the Old Town and Lesser Town can be extremely annoying, crowded, noisy at night and surrounded by silly souvenir shops and beggars. Safety is not the issue, Prague is super safe city, it’s just about your personal comfort and authenticity.
As a local, I don’t recommend staying on Karlova street, Nerudova street, Mostecká street, right on the Old Town Square, on Malé Náměstí or on Dlouhá street. These zones are the touristy circus par excellence.
In the New Town, you can avoid Wenceslas Square and areas around the Main Train Station.
4) Maybe you now ask – so what about the Castle district? And the New Town?
CASTLE DISTRICT (HRADČANY)
The Castle district is absolutely beautiful, safe, quiet (especially after 5pm) and rich in history…the only trouble is that it’s located on a hill…so basically everytime you go “home”, you will either have to take a tram / UBER or walk uphill.
It’s not for everyone. So, please just keep this in mind before booking your hotel there. I personally love the Castle district and love guiding there. But it’s a bit tucked away from the good bars, restaurants and life.
The Castle district is almost like a ghost town in the evening. But beautiful if you enjoy peace, stunning sunrises and don´t mind the hill:-)
In the Castle district you can also find a great restaurant with a lovely beer garden (and the best Pilsner Urquell on tap). It’s called Kuchyň. Cheers!
Don´t get confused. New Town is not a new, modern part of the city:-) New Town was founded already in the 14th century.
New Town is a part of the historical city center listed on the UNESCO heritage list. It’s located on the same side of the river as the Old Town and it’s huge. That’s why the distances to various sights might be longer, too.
The most important sights you can find here are: National Theatre, Jerusalem synagogue, National Museum, Wenceslas Square, Lucerna Palace and Dancing House.
New Town is lively and busier. But there are also quiet, residential neighborhoods. For example “Petrská čtvrť” which is simply across the street from the Old Town. My clients usually stay here in Cosmopolitan Hotel or in Innside by Melia Hotel.
Other great hotels in the New Town that are very close to the Old Town:
5) Airbnb or hotel?
I really like the former idea of Airbnb. But, unfortunately this idea is already gone…and Airbnb is a big business here. Not a business of individual owners but a huge business of various companies with unclear structures.
Airbnb is simply a problem here, it’s not regulated and locals are tired and irritated by their temporary neighbors – who often do not behave and only come here to party. Yes, this is a reality especially downtown and many locals are moving away from their homes….
That’s why I am a bigger fan of hotels. Real businesses giving work to locals and paying taxes.
Dana, owner and fully certified guide for Prague Behind The Scenes | Small-Group Tours and Experiences.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want to see Prague with me. With my services I try to support sustainable and respectful tourism, not mass tourism. If this sounds like your style too, I will be happy to hear from you. I am an independent solopreneur, so you will always talk / write directly to me. Thank you for supporting small local businesses.
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