Home to Prague Castle, one of the city's most visited sights, Hradcany is a relatively quiet neighborhood and a true gem. That said, accommodation here is somewhat limited. If you're not prepared to spend big, plan on going basic. But basic isn't all bad, particularly if you choose to sleep in the Novy Svet, an area which looks like a picture-perfect old-school Czech village.
In addition to the castle, Hradcany's hills house the Strahov Monastery, the high-baroque Loreto church and the Renaissance splendor of Schwarzenberg Palace. There's really no nightlife to speak of here, but easy tram access keeps the rest of Prague accessible.
Sitting in the shadows of Prague Castle and just across the river from Stare Mesto. Mala Strana (meaning "little" or "lesser quarter")is filled with steep and winding, cobblestone streets, ornate churches and splendid vistas. Slightly less crowded than its neighbor across the Charles Bridge, this area still keeps busy with visitors from dawn until dusk.
The neighborhood's shady Kampa Park provides relief from the crowds. Those who want to rub shoulders with the neighborhood's many embassy workers will be happy here. Not surprisingly, rooms in this coveted neighborhood tend to be pricey.
Prague's business district, which surrounds Stare Mesto on its eastern and southern borders, is the best place to find a bargain hotel in the city center. Nove Mesto means "new town" in Czech. However, it could only really be recognized as "new" by those who pooh-pooh anything built after the 14th century. The area was rebuilt in the 1800s, so it doesn't have the Gothic grandeur of Prague's other central neighborhoods.
Still, it's got plenty of its own sightseeing draws. Home to the famed Wenceslas Square, the kitschy National Museum and some wonderful art nouveau architecture, most hotels here are less than 20 minutes away from Old Town Square by subway or tram.
A former industrial hub, modern Smichov is a quaint residential neighborhood on the Ultava's left bank, just a jaunt away from the city center (off the Andel metro stop).
In this little niche south of the Prague Castle, travelers can find cheap digs, shopping, and a fun bar scene. Smichov is also the proud home to Bertramka, the elegant villa that was once the temporary residence of Mozart and now houses a museum devoted to the great composer. But the neighborhood's real claim to fame is Staropramen, Prague's largest brewery, complete with visitor center and (more importantly) taste-testing opportunities.
If you're looking for the center of town, this is it. Staré Mesto (Old Town) is situated around Staromestské namesti (Old Town Square). Most tourists spend the bulk of their time in this neighborhood, which is bordered by the Vltava River to the north and east and Nové Mesto to the south and west.
Josefov, the city's former Jewish enclave, is located entirely inside Staré Mesto. Filled with winding cobblestone streets, delightful handicraft shops, grand gothic architecture and bustling nightlife, this is Prague's tourist bulls-eye. Hotel rates are high and the streets are downright packed during high season.
Just east of Nove Mesto, this hip neighborhood is dotted with stunning churches, cozy cafes, hip clubs and cheap sleeps to boot. Once (as its name implies) a land of vineyards, and later the site of brutal Warsaw Pact battles in 1968, Vinohrady today is crammed with beautiful architecture. From the stoic, modern Church of the Sacred Heart to stunning Neo-Gothic and Art-nouveau buildings (many of which have now been turned into budget accommodations), the area is a favorite haunt of locals.
Replete with inexpensive domestic wine and a lively nightlife scene, Vinohrady offers a little bit of everything—and it's only about a 15 minute metro ride from the city center.