Eating Out

Though Prague is better known for its beauty and history than its restaurant scene, visitors will be surprised by the quality of cuisine on offer. Foodies should begin their trip at a gastro-pub, where hearty roast meat dishes complement the country's renowned beer. The most common meat is pork, as it pairs perfectly with an ice-cold Pilsner Urquell. Knedliky (boilee, sliced dumplings) are a common accompaniment to meals.

Travellers with a sweet tooth can sample the many pastries in Prague, such as Kolache, a type of yeast pastry filled with anything from fruits to cheeses, or poppy seed doughnuts, and many street vendors selling local Czech-style hot dogs and mulled wine.

International options range from Indian to Indonesian and Uruguayan cuisine. The most popular dining areas in the city are the Stare Mesto (Old Town), Nove Mesto (New Town) and Vinohrady, and it is customary to tip waiters 10 to 15 percent, though some restaurants in popular tourist areas will add a gratuity.

Shopping

While shopping in Prague isn't quite on a par with some other top cities in Europe, many hypermarkets and shopping malls have popped up in recent years, offering an ever-wider selection of products. The growing competition has led to better prices for customers, making shopping in Prague refreshingly budget friendly by European standards.

The main shopping area in Prague extends from Wenceslas Square, past Na Prikope and into Republic Square. The Parizska area has some international fashion brand boutiques, while Mala Strana and the Old Town Square are home to small shops and art galleries. The Old Town Square also has a permanent market selling arts, crafts and souvenirs. Much of what you'll find on the thoroughfare between Charles Bridge and Old Town Square is mass-produced and overpriced, though the souvenir shopping along this stretch is fun.

There are several shopping malls in Prague, including the upscale Palladium in the centre of the city; Metropole Zlicin, which has cinemas and fast-food eateries near the bus station; and the huge OC Novy Smichov.

Local products include crystal ware and accessories, puppets, hand-painted eggs, wooden toys, folk art and memorabilia from the communist era (army surplus hats, knives and badges). Many artists sell pen-and-ink drawings on the street and, of course, visitors will find many Prague souvenirs bearing the face of native son and renowned author, Franz Kafka. Locally mined Czech garnets are also popular, but shoppers should make sure they get a certificate of authenticity, as it can be hard to identify fakes.

Most shops are open from 9am to 7pm, with some large supermarkets staying open till 10pm or even 24 hours a day. Shops in the city centre and tourist destinations are generally open on weekends. Some sales tax refunds are available to non-EU citizens.

Nightlife

Prague's nightlife offers something for everyone, from casual pubs and bars to sophisticated lounges, live music venues and famous dance clubs. The capital's most popular nightclubs are situated right in the heart of Old Town.

Visitors should note that the custom in Prague is to share tables with strangers if things get crowded. Tourists can also go on organised pub crawls that start each night around 9pm, with partygoers meeting at landmarks such as the clock tower, and other central venues around Prague. The city has also become a popular European stag- and hen-party destination, further fuelling the already lively club and bar scene. Generally speaking, dance clubs in Prague charge admission fees on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but are usually free between Sunday and Wednesday.

For a more relaxed evening, the National Marionette Theatre is renowned for performances of Mozart operas, and classical music lovers will enjoy attending other top-class venues and experiencing wonderful performances. If their passion for classical runs especially deep, they should ensure that they visit Prague during the Prague Spring International Music Festival, or its counterpart in autumn, when the city comes alive with world-class classical-music performances.