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. 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

  • 4. 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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  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Collegium Marianum

    Staré Mesto | Music

    One of the most well-respected ensembles in town, Collegium Marianum is your best bet if looking to explore baroque music. They often revive...Read More

  • 12. Czech National Symphony Orchestra

    Music

    This major full-size orchestra plays most often at the Rudolfinum. The orchestra has attracted some well-known guest conductors, and performs...Read More

  • 13. Czech Philharmonic

    Staré Mesto | Music

    Antonín Dvořák conducted the orchestra's first performance back in 1896. Guest conductors have included Gustav Mahler and Leonard Bernstein...Read More

  • 14. Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra

    Vinohrady | Music

    As the name implies, this group started playing live on the radio in 1927. Since the 1960s it hasn't been directly associated with the national...Read More

  • 15. Ensemble Martinů

    Music

    Domestic and international radio performances and film scores have kept this piano quartet in the spotlight. Formed in 1978 and re-formed in...Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. Křižíkova fontána

    Holešovice | Music

    Pressurized water and colored lights keep pace with recorded music that ranges from recent film scores to a tribute to Rihanna, and selections...Read More

  • 18. 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

  • 19. Nostitz Quartet

    Music

    Named after a famous 18th-century patron of the arts, this ensemble has won a few prestigious awards. They give excellent performances of works...Read More

  • 20. 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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