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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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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  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Kostel sv. Šimona a Judy

    Josefov | Music

    This decommissioned church with a restored organ and frescoes is used by the Prague Symphony Orchestra for chamber concerts and recitals and...Read More

  • 11. Lichtenštejnský palác

    Malá Strana | Music

    Home to the Czech music academy (HAMU), this baroque palace from the 1790s has the large Martinů Hall for professional concerts and a smaller...Read More

  • 12. O2 Arena

    Vysocany | Music

    Formerly the Sazka Arena (tickets are still sold through Sazka Ticket), this indoor sports venue often hosts big-time rock and pop acts, like...Read More

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  • 13. Velký sál, Lucerna

    Nové Mesto | Festivals

    Part of the fascinating Lucerna complex, the Velký sál is a beautiful art nouveau ballroom with a big main floor and some loges. It hosts medium...Read More

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