Prague

There's an old saying in the Czech Republic which goes, "Co Čech, to muzikant" (Every Czech is a musician). That might be stretching it a bit, but as visitors to Prague quickly realize, culture and performing arts are right at the heart of this beautiful city and its residents.

Music constantly drifts across the cobbled streets in Old Town; theater shows pop up in parks in the balmy summer months; and the calendar is chockablock with world-beating film festivals. And the best part? The affordable ticket prices. It’s almost criminal to come to this city and not take in a performance, from opera to ballet, when they are so accessible.

Prague’s musical history is a rich and varied one, from hometown composers like Antonín Dvořák or Bedřich Smetana to expats like Mozart, whose Don Giovanni made its debut here in 1787 and is still performed regularly. You can also catch the work of more modern Czech composers like Bohuslav Martinů, or even Vladimir Franz, the head-to-toe tattooed composer who gave more seasoned politicians a run for their money in recent presidential elections.

There’s something particularly lovely about the regular classical music performances that take place in ancient churches dotted around the city too, but do follow the recommendations to ensure you’re getting the best of the bunch.

And it’s not all classical. The avant-garde is alive and kicking in the Czech capital, from its youthful theater troupes, some of which perform in English, to a recent crop of thoughtful filmmakers. Interesting modern dance performances also sit alongside more traditional forms. Both the National Theater and State Opera have their own ballet companies staging a mix of classic and contemporary pieces.

Opera is a major draw in Prague too, both for locals and tourists thanks to the English subtitles on most performances. While the snooty exclusivity of opera found elsewhere is eschewed here, do make sure you still dress up to fit in with the regulars.

Even if you aren’t normally a culture vulture, consider taking in a performance while you are in town. The shows are world-class and many of the concert halls are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Note: big theaters and concert halls go dark in July and August; luckily there are festivals aplenty to keep the "magic" of art alive in Prague year-round.

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  • 1. Divadlo Archa

    Nové Mesto | Dance

    Funky, contemporary, and underground, Archa is the main venue for modern theater, dance, and avant-garde music. Some visiting troupes perform...Read More

  • 2. Kostel sv. Mikuláše

    Malá Strana | Music

    Ballroom scenes in the movie Van Helsing used the interior of this beautiful baroque church, probably the most famous of its kind in Prague...Read More

  • 3. Lucerna

    Nové Mesto | Film

    Easily the city's handsomest old movie palace, this art nouveau venue was designed by former President Václav Havel's grandfather and built...Read More

  • 4. Národní divadlo

    Nové Mesto | Dance

    This is the main stage in the Czech Republic for drama, dance, and opera. The interior, with its ornate and etched ceilings, is worth the visit...Read More

  • 5. Nová Scená

    Nové Mesto | Dance

    The cool glass-block façade of the Nová scena, which opened in 1983, stands out among the ornate 19th-century buildings in the area. Black-light...Read More

  • 6. Prague Symphony Orchestra

    Staré Mesto | Music

    The group's nickname stands for Film-Opera-Koncert. They started in 1934, but it wasn't until 1952 that they became the official city orchestra...Read More

  • 7. Rudolfinum

    Staré Mesto | Music

    Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf lent his name to this neo-Renaissance concert space and exhibition gallery built in 1884; it's only been open to...Read More

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  • 8. Stavovské divadlo

    Nové Mesto | Music

    It's impossible to visit Prague without knowing that Mozart conducted the world premiere of Don Giovanni on this stage way back in 1787. Fittingly...Read More

  • 9. Zrcadlová kaple Klementina

    Staré Mesto | Music

    Now part of the National Library, this ornate little chapel in the middle of the Klementinum complex is worth a peek. Concerts are held almost...Read More

  • 10. 4+4 Days in Motion

    Festivals

    One of the more creative festivals on the Prague circuit, the 4+4 Days in Motion festival offers art projects, installations, performances,...Read More

  • 11. Aero

    Žižkov | Film

    Film junkies make the trek to this out-of-the-way gem of a theater knowing it's worth the trip. The tiny cinema is hidden in the middle of a...Read More

  • 12. All Colours Theater

    Staré Mesto | Theater

    Since 1993 this small theater has been presenting a small repertoire of nonverbal shows. Faust is their main performance, although they...Read More

  • 13. Barokní knihovní sál

    Staré Mesto | Music

    Beautiful 18th-century frescoes and colorful stuccowork in a monastery library hall make for one of the more charming concert halls in a city...Read More

  • 14. Bazilika sv. Jakuba

    Staré Mesto | Music

    This is an excellent venue for organ concerts thanks to the church's organ, which was finished in 1709 and restored in the early 1980s to its...Read More

  • 15. Bazilika sv. Jiří

    Pražský Hrad | Music

    Listen to small ensembles playing well-known Vivaldi and other classical "greatest hits" in a Romanesque setting. Located in Prague Castle,...Read More

  • 16. Bio Oko

    Holešovice | Film

    Bargain ticket prices, live music before the films, and a schedule that offers greater variety and more "big name" films are just a few reasons...Read More

  • 17. Chrám sv. Mikuláše

    Staré Mesto | Music

    The impressive chandelier inside this baroque landmark was a gift from the Russian czar. Private companies rent out the church for concerts...Read More

  • 18. Cinema City Nový Smíchov

    Smíchov | Film

    Cinema City Nový Smíchov feels like your usual multiplex until you try the "4DX" experience, which involves moving seats and special effects...Read More

  • 19. Cinema City Palác Flóra

    Vinohrady | Film

    This venue has "Oskar-IMAX," a large-format theater that shows many short films in 3-D and the occasional feature on a very large screen. Most...Read More

  • 20. Cinema City Slovanský dům

    Nové Mesto | Film

    This is pretty much the only multiplex in the center of town that runs about 10 movies at once, mostly the latest Hollywood films in English...Read More

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