Prague, like other capitals, has a wide selection of restaurants but finding a good place to eat and drink isn’t always easy. A few grand Habsburg-era cafés survive on the main junctions of the city centre, but for the most part, the best cafés and restaurants are hidden away in the backstreets. There’s a particularly acute dearth of decent places in and around Prague Castle and Hradčany, while expensive restaurants predominate in Lesser Town (Malá Strana) and Josefov. For a much wider choice of cafés, and cuisine, head to Old Town (Staré Město) and the streets of New Town (Nové Město) just south of Národní. Off the city centre district of Vinohrady and Žižkov offers much more reasonably priced food. The residential area of Dejvice – popular among ex-pats – is also a good choice.
Given that the Czechs top the world league table of beer consumption, it comes as a little surprise to find that Prague is a drinker’s paradise. Wherever you are in the city, you’re never very far from a pub or bar where you can quench your thirst. Old Town (Staré Město) has the highest concentration of pubs and bars. Still, if you’re looking for one of the city’s new microbreweries or a traditional Czech pub (pivnice), you’ll need to explore the residential streets of Nové Město, Vinohrady or Holešovice. Look out, too, for the many alfresco drinking spots beside the river, on one of the islands, or in one of the city’s many public parks.
Prague’s often excellent theatre and concert venues are all very centrally located in Old Town (Staré Město) and New Town (Nové Město); the same is true for most small and medium-scale jazz and rock venues. Žižkov has more late-night pubs and bars than anywhere else, plus a smattering of gay and lesbian venues. One area that’s up-and-coming for nightlife is Holešovice, particularly the old industrial and market area to the east of the metro line – the warehouse spaces here already house several of the city’s newest clubs and venues. Wenceslas Square remains the traditional centre of Prague’s seedier side.
Pařížská, in Josefov, is home to the city’s swankiest stores, among the branches of the international fashion houses. Celetná in Old Town (Staré Město), and Na příkopě on the border of New Town (Nové Město), also specialize in luxury goods. The city’s most modern department store is the multistorey Tesco My národní on Národní. Czechs have had their own small malls inside arcades passages since the 1920s, and new ones continue to sprout up. The biggest of all malls is Palladium, on náměstí Republiky, housed in a castellated former army barracks. Another very popular mall is Nový Smíchov at Anděl. For more off-beat, independent shops, you need to explore the cobbled side streets of Old Town (Staré Město) and New Town (Nové Město).