Havel, who'd had a history of heart and lung problems, died Sunday with his wife, Dagmar, at his side, his secretary told the Czech CTK news agency.
Admirers left candles and flowers in the streets of Prague in memory of the ardent anti-communist who spent five years in Soviet-era prisons for his views, CNN reported.
"Like millions around the world, I was inspired by his words and leadership. ... Vaclav Havel was a friend to America and to all who strive for freedom and dignity, and his words will echo through the ages," U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush said Havel was a "dignified, charming, humble, determined man" who "suffered much in the cause of freedom and became one of its greatest heroes."
Havel was elected president in the wake of the 18-day Velvet Revolution in December 1989 that ousted Communists. He was elected again in 1993 and held that post for 10 years.
A funeral is scheduled for Friday, CNN reported.