Intriguing history, vibrant culture or buzzing nightlife: whatever you’re hoping to find in Prague, it's hidden somewhere among the Old Town and New Town districts. Before you jet off to the ancient capital of Bohemia, there are a few things you should know about these popular neighborhoods - and a few misconceptions it’s time to clear up.
Expectation: The New Town will be packed with modern architecture.
Reality: The New Town dates back to the 14th century.
It might seem a bit strange that a nearly 700-year-old neighborhood is still called 'new', but the title of Prague's Old Town was claimed back in the 9th century - so the New Town is a bit of a spring chicken by comparison. Records show that by 1100, a bustling market town thrived where the Old Town now stands, while the New Town was gradually added from 1348. Although it has its fair share of beautifully preserved historic architecture, one of the main attractions really is new - relatively speaking, anyway. The famed Wenceslas Square traces its origins back to the early 19th century.
Expectation: Czech cuisine isn't exactly internationally renowned.
Reality: There are two Michelin-starred restaurants in Prague.
Neatly nestled close to each other, you'll find Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise and The Field. Degustation is celebrated for its six- or eleven-course tasting menus, with seasonal highlights including tender smoked beef tongue with yellow pea purée, while The Field combines a casual atmosphere with innovative and modern menu with local ingredients. There are also four Bib Gourmands restaurants in the city, noted for offering great food for reasonable prices - and if that’s not enough to tickle your taste buds, the city also has a museum dedicated to gastronomy.
Expectation: You’ll need to use public transport to see all the sights.
Reality: You can walk everywhere.
Prague’s city center is very compact and easily navigable on foot, so it's entirely possible to see your fill of famous sights without purchasing a transit pass. Most of the city's best-known attractions, including the Charles Bridge, the Old Town Square, the Jewish Quarter and Wenceslas Square, are within 30 minutes of each other. The only landmark beyond the Old and New Towns is Prague Castle, but even that’s only half an hour from Charles Bridge. Just remember to pack your walking shoes.
Expectation: The bars will sell one thing: beer.
Reality: You’re never far from a good cocktail in Prague.
There’s no avoiding Prague's cheap and abundant pilsner, but don’t worry if you’re not a fan of 'liquid bread', as locals lovingly call their signature brew. The Old Town and New Town both boast excellent cocktail bars. Tretter’s is known as a great spot for people-watching (it's a favored hangout of local celebrities), Hemingway might be the best place in town to sample absinthe, and the atmospheric Black Angel’s was recently named one of the top bars in the world.
Of course, when it comes to a dynamic city like Prague, there are sure to be plenty more surprises in store. There’s no time like the present to pay a visit to the Old and New Towns to discover them for yourself.
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