One Day in Prague Itinerary (From Someone Who Lived There!)

Prague is a truly spectacular city that, personally, I could visit and revisit endlessly.

I spent six months living in Prague studying abroad, and even in those six months, I never found myself running out of places to explore or new hidden gems to uncover.

Returning to the city many years later, I fell in love with it all over again, re-dedicating myself to exploring and finding little hidden corners of the city to fall in love with, and eating as much Czech food as could possibly fill my stomach.

I’m hoping to convey my love to Prague for you in this quick one day Prague itinerary, helping you to see the city through the eyes of someone who lived there, loved it, and will always keep a piece of Prague in their heart.

I hope you enjoy this quick 1 day in Prague itinerary and that it helps you capture a piece of Prague for your own heart, too!

How This One Day in Prague Itinerary Is Structured

Astronomical clock in Prague surrounded by other old buildings with afternoon light shining on it.

This post is your one-stop guide to tackling the best of Prague in one day.

During my six months living in Prague, several friends came to visit, and I had the opportunity to show several visitors around the city in my days there!

As a result, I’ve figured out the best way to route a single day in Prague itinerary without missing any of the highlights, but still adding on a few of Prague’s hidden gems.

This one day in Prague game plan skips the tourist traps and brings you straight to the essential attractions, while also granting you an inside glance at one of of the prettiest cities in Europe and one of my favorite places on the planet.

This Prague mini-itinerary includes a few guided tours where it helps you save time or adds essential historic context, but for the most part, it leaves you free to roam around the city for independent exploration and fortuitous wanderings down beautiful streets.

Is 1 Day in Prague Enough?

The view of the famous Prague church from a high vantange point, people down in the square looking very small, with lots of red roof architecture and pastel building facades surrounding the church in the middle of the photo.

If you ask me, not quite…. but don’t despair just yet! One day in Prague is just the right amount of time to enjoy an introduction to the city and its main attractions.

With only a day in Prague, you won’t quite get a feel for the city outside of its most popular attractions, but it is definitely enough time to snap plenty of beautiful photographs, see the top attractions, and swear up and down that you’ll come back to Prague another day to spend more time in this beautiful, magical city.

On this 24 hour Prague itinerary, we’ll cover some important attractions — Prague Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral, Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock, the Old Town — but we won’t quite get to everywhere. But we’ll do our best!

One Day in Prague Map

Your One Day Prague Itinerary

Morning: Kolaches, the Charles Bridge, & Prague Castle

Start the day with a tasty koláč.

Four different colorful kolache Czech pastries, with black, orange, yellow, and red jams, a great way to start a day in Prague.

Start your day bright and early so you have time to tackle this one day in Prague itinerary properly! I suggest getting a start at 8 AM if you want to be at the Charles Bridge by 10 AM for the tour. But first — breakfast!

If you’ve ever had a kolache in the Midwest or Texas, you may not have known it, but you were eating a traditional Czech pastry!

What is known is Czech as koláč (koláče in plural form) has been transliterated into English as kolache — I guess in default as plural because it’s pretty much impossible to eat just one!

Koláče in Czechia are lightly sweetened pastries similar to a small, handheld pie, consisting of dough baked with a sweet filling or either jam or poppy seeds (my favorite!).

You can find them all over the city, but my favorite are at the cute gingerbread shop Perníčkův sen in the Old Town.

While they specialize in gingerbreads, their other pastries are absolutely delicious as well, as it’s a great place to grab a Prague souvenir for a loved one!

Walk through Old Town to the Kafka Monument.

Bronze statue of a headless, armless man with a man with a hat sitting on top of his shoulders, with a city background behind the sculpture.

Prague is, rightly, proud of one of the city’s most famous writers, Franz Kafka.

As a matter of fact, you’ll find countless Kafka references all around the city, in the form of museums, placards, tongue-in-cheek statues, and more.

As you walk through the Old Town towards the base of the Charles Bridge down, you’ll notice a strange statue: a headless, armless giant man with a man (Franz Kafka) sitting on top of it.

Why a headless man? It’s a tribute to one of Kafka’s strangest and earliest works, “Description of a Struggle.”

It’s located right in front of the Spanish Synagogue in the heart of Jewish Prague — don’t worry, we’ll come back here later in the afternoon for even more sightseeing.

Admire the the Rudolfinum.

Gold-yellow symmetrical music house with two stories and tons of ornate detailing with a statue in front and green hedges and plants.

This stunning pale yellow music hall is home to the Prague Philharmonic. It’s one of my favorite buildings in Prague, a perfect example of the delicate, pastel 19th century architecture that defines the city.

We’ll just stop here briefly to admire the architecture and the views over the Vltava River — it’s onto our next stop on this Prague itinerary. Also while here, don’t miss the statue in tribute to Prague’s most famous composer, Antonín Dvořák.

Side note: If you’re a fan of modern sculpture, you can take a quick detour to the Jan Palach memorial, a two-part memorial featuring The House of Suicide and the House of the Mother of Suicide.

Jan Palach was a Czech student who lit himself on fire in Wenceslas Square to protest the Soviet’s violent repression of the peaceful Prague Spring reforms. His self-immolation shocked Czech society and led to several other such suicide protests in then-Czechoslovakia and other Soviet-occupied countries.

There is another more traditional memorial to Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc in front of the National Museum in Wenceslas Square, but personally, I like the abstract nature of this piece.

Walk across the Charles Bridge to Malá Strana.

Walking across the Charles Bridge towards Mala Strana and the Castle District, buildings with red roofs on the side and observation towers and a basilica dome in the background.

Stroll down Křižovnická to the Charles Bridge (Karlův most), where you’ll cross the bridge over the Vltava. This beautiful river bisects Prague into the Castle side and the Old Town side.

As you cross the Charles Bridge, admire the beauty of this bridge which was begun in the 14th-century (construction finished in the 15th century) and still stands today.

You’ll pass by many statues as you cross the bridge — 15 on each side, 30 in total — all replicas after being replaced due to theft and vandalism.

As you cross the bridge into Malá Strana (Lesser Town) and Hradčany (the Castle District), look back over the bridge to the Old Town — it’s a spectacular sight!

Note: Pickpockets love to lurk on Charles Bridge and other popular tourist destinations, so be sure to have a secure day bag to thwart would-be thieves.

Skip the money belt (you’re not fooling anyone) and opt for a secure bag instead. I’ve carried this PacSafe backpack to 30+ countries with me, and it’s my #1 travel companion. This chic, sleek backpack has double-interlocking zippers, slash-proof construction, and RFID blockers! Pick from one of seven colors — I have and love the classic black one!

Once you get to the other side of Charles Bridge, turn right and walk up U Lužického Semináře through the Lesser Town (Malá Strana), passing the beautiful Vojanovy sady park until the street turns into Klárov, then turning left once you hit the Old Castle Stairs (Staré zámecké schody).

Marvel at the majestic Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral.

Interior landscaped gardens of the Prague Castle, with statues, green low hedges, buildings with interesting tile work, and red roofed architecture.

Welcome to the Prague Castle complex!

The Prague Castle is the number one tourist attraction in all of Czechia, so you’ll definitely want to be strategic about your visit if you only have one day in Prague.

If you just show up at the Prague Castle in the middle of the day without a ticket pre-booked, expect to wait at least an hour, if not more — a lot more in summer, in fact.

I strongly suggest buying a skip-the-line ticket and tour online in advance, so that you can make the most of your time in Prague but also to fully understand the immense amount of history behind the Prague Castle.

While there is some signage and you won’t be totally lost at sea without a tour, having a guide to bring the story of the castle to life and imbue the sights with historical color amps up the experience times ten. Also, skipping the line like a VIP is pretty cool!

Book this skip-the-line tour online in advance!

The interior of a cathedral with stained glass and high arch ceilings with rows of pews

There are so many points of interest in the Prague Castle complex that I’d be doing you a disservice to try to describe them all briefly in this article, which is why I strongly suggest a tour.

If time is really limited and you can’t do a tour, make sure you visit the following main attractions: St. Vitus Cathedral (an absolute must), the Old Royal Palace, and the Story of Prague Castle permanent exhibit which details as much history as possible into a short exhibition.

The Golden Lane is also beautiful and infinitely Instagrammable — and as an added bonus for literature fans, #22 used to be the house of Franz Kafka’ s sister, and where Kafka wrote some of his works!

Afternoon: Lunch, A Walk in Petřín, & the Old Town

Grab lunch and beer at Strahov Monastery.

A view from the side of Strahov monastery, a white monastery with a red tiled roof and two towers, on the top of a small hill.

One of the coolest places to have a meal and a beer near Prague Castle is at Strahov Monastery, a nearly 900-year-old monastery!

While in my American mind, it’s a bit strange to equate monks and beer, in reality, monastery-brewed beer has a long tradition in Europe… and it’s delicious).

Klášterní Pivovar Strahov, the monastery brewery, serves over 25 beers brewed on the monastery premises as well as a selection of food.

Recommended dishes include beef tartare (Prague is famous for it!), goulash with bread dumplings (guláš s knedlícky), and pork schnitzel, but you can check their menu here.

Prices are reasonable given the location, about $10 USD per main dish, though of course, you can find some cheaper meals elsewhere in Prague. However, with only one day in Prague, why skimp?

An ornate library room with a pastel painted ceiling with lots of detailing and rows upon rows of books with wooden shelves and carved wood detail.

Insider Tip: If you have time, be sure to check out the Strahov Library!

A visit to the library (plus photography permission) is 200 CZK, about $9 USD, and it’s well worth it to see one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. An absolute must for bibliophiles. Check here for more details.

Scale up Petřín Tower’s 300 stairs.

View of Prague park and distinctive red tiled roofs from the double-helix staircase of Petrin Tower, between the steel geometrical bars.

For one of the most incredible views in Prague that’s just a little bit off the beaten path that most tourists trod, head to the lovely and underrated Petřín Park.

The walk up to Petřín Tower is a short walk from the monastery, but if you want to cut some corners on the way down, you can take the funicular down.

We’ll explore the park in more detail in a bit, but first, head straight to Petřín Tower. This cool observation tower measures 63.5 meters (208 feet) tall, but its placement on Petřín Hill means the views are even more extraordinary than its height would suggest!

Petřín Tower resembles the Eiffel Tower quite a bit, making it a fantastic photo spot, and the views from the top are spectacular… and well worth the 300 stairs you need to climb for the view. Note that there is no elevator. Admission is 150 CZK (about $7 USD).

Admire the statues and gardens in Petřín Park.

Sculptures of men on a set of stairs, the men appear to be torn or decaying with pieces missing from the sculptures

There a lot more to beautiful Petřín Park than just its tower, though! This park is home to some of Prague’s most beautiful gardens. I particularly love the Kinsky gardens, which is an English-style garden with a fantastic view.

Another interesting thing to see in the park is at the bottom of the hill, the Memorial to the Victims of Communism. This haunting memorial commemorates the losses of thousands of lives while Czechoslovakia was under Communist occupation as well as the hundreds of thousands who fled and emigrated.

The piece is particularly interesting when you start looking at it more closely.

“In the upper part of the memorial, you can see 7 persons walking on stairs. The first person seems to be all right, but one can clearly observe that the others are missing something of their anatomy, which should symbolize the suffering of the prisoners, their courage and resilience.”

Prague.eu

Grab a coffee at Café Savoy.

Cup of coffee in a cafe with lit up chandeliers and other lighting in background.

After all that walking around Petřín, it’s a good time to stop and rest those feet for a second in one of Prague’s most beautiful coffee shops.

There are a number of traditional Prague coffee houses to go to, but let’s stop at Café Savoy, a beautiful coffee shop whose wood-carved interior evokes the coffee houses of Vienna after which this café was modeled.

Prices are a little high, but it’s worth it for a coffee and perhaps a slice of cake in one of Prague’s prettiest, most nostalgic cafés.

Cross Legion Bridge.

View of Legion Bridge from the water with a view of some novelty water boats (such as swan boats) in the water. Prague Castle is in the background.

Legion Bridge (Most Legií in Czech) is another bridge connecting the two sides of Prague, and it’s great because it’ll give you a different perspective of the famous Charles Bridge!

Once you reach the other end of Legion Bridge, you’ll notice the beautiful National Theater (Národní divadlo), where you should stop for at least one or two photos!

Walk towards Wenceslas Square, where we’ll learn a bit about the history of this famous place in Prague.

Take in the history of Wenceslas Square.

The National Gallery building with a green dome on the rooftop and sculptures on either side, flowers in the foreground of the photo.

Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí in Czech) is one of the most important places in Prague’s history for a number of reasons, and it’s played a particularly pivotal role in the country’s history in the last century as a place for protest, resistance, and remembrance.

Wencenlas Square is truly massive, capable of holding at least a hundred thousand people (and it often has), which means it’s been the inflection point for several important historical events in Prague, such as the Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution.

It was the site of Jan Palach’s historic self-immolation act of protest mentioned earlier in this article, and you’ll find a memorial to him in front of the National Museum, reopened in 2018 after nearly a decade of renovation.

You’ll also see the famous Statue of Saint Wenceslas in front of the museum, as well as several beautiful Art Nouveau buildings (Hotel Paříž and Hotel Evropa both come to mind) lining Wenceslas Square.

Stroll to the Old Town.

The Old Astronomical Clock with lots of painted detail and on the right side the Our Lady Before Tyn Church with two distinct spires, lots of pastel buildings around the square with cobblestone walkways.

Once you’ve checked out Wenceslas Square, you’ll want to stroll over to the Old Town… luckily, it’s quite a short and pretty walk.

I think the most beautiful way to enter the Old Town past the Mustek metro stop and through Melantrichova. I’m partial to this walk because it was my daily commute when living and studying in Prague, but I think it stands for itself!

Once you arrive in the Old Town, prepare to be amazed: this is one of the most spectacular Old Towns in all of Europe, and I’ve seen enough of them to feel confident making that claim!

Look immediately to your left once entering the Old Town to see one of my favorite buildings in Prague, Dům U Minuty (House at the Minute). This beautiful building dates back to the 15th century and is adorned with exquisitely detailed sgraffito work on the facade. It was also Franz Kafka’s home from 1889 to 1896!

And of course, you can’t miss the Astronomical Clock, which is mounted on the Old Town Hall (Staroměstská radnice). The clock dates back to 1410, making it the oldest still-operational astronomical clock in the world.

Be sure to ascend the tower at the Old Town Hall for stunning views over the Old Town. Save time by prebooking your ticket to the town hall’s observation tower — you can pick it up right at the 3rd floor where you can exchange a mobile voucher for a paper ticket.

Prebook your entrance tower ticket here!

Other places you must see while in the Old Town include the beautiful Church of Our Lady before Týn, with its two Gothic towers that soar 80 meters (260 feet) in the air. St. Nicholas Church is another church in the square, smaller and done in the Baroque style but no less lovely (and a frequent host of organ concerts!).

A few other points of interest in the Old Town Square include a branch of the National Gallery of Prague located in the lovely Kinsky Palace and the enormous Jan Hus monument in the center of the Square.

Arrive at the Jewish Museum.

Gravestones stacked up on top of each other in the Old Jewish Cemetery with greenery growing around it, a small building in the middle of the gravestone with a red roof.

Finally, hurry to the Jewish Museum! Try to arrive no later than 4:30 PM in order to properly have enough time to see this museum, which is more of a complex of buildings, before it closes at 6 PM.

The Jewish Museum consists of four synagogues (the Maisel, Pinkas, Spanish, and Klausen synagogues), the Old Jewish Cemetery, some archives and galleries, and more.

The museum contains over 40,000 exhibits of artifacts and objects related to Jewish life and history, so it can be a bit overwhelming to take in. If you have limited time, prioritize the beautiful Spanish Synagogue as well as the Old Jewish Cemetery, home to over 100,000 graves.

For three centuries, it was the only place Jews could be buried in the city, and it is the oldest existing Jewish burial ground in Europe.

For more information on Prague’s rich Jewish history, read here.

You can buy your tickets online here.

Evening: A Dazzling Dinner Cruise & Exploring Prague by Night

Dine with Vltava views.

Blue hour in Prague with lots of lights on in the city, reflecting in the water, you can see Charles Bridge, a watchtower, and distinctive Prague architecture in the skyline.

Once you’ve wandered all over Prague, you’re probably dying for a little time off your feet!

But if you don’t want the sightseeing to end, a dinner cruise on the Vltava River is a phenomenal way to end your one day in Prague.

You’ll get stellar views of the Castle District, the Old Town, Lesser Town, the waterfront, and more while toasting with a complimentary glass of prosecco and enjoying a traditional Czech meal to the sound of live music.

Dinner cruises last 3 hours, from 7 PM to 10 PM, and they arrive and depart by Čechův Bridge.

Tip: For a romantic option or a special occasion, be sure to request a window seat!

Book your dinner Vltava river cruise here!

Traveling with kids? You may prefer this medieval-themed dinner, which includes swordsmen and jugglers and all manner of performers… while adults can kick back and enjoy unlimited drinks! Book your medieval dinner here.

Walk over to the Dancing House.

The Dancing House building lit up at night: two buildings intertwined together with  a movement that makes them look like they're dancing, with light trails on the street in the foreground.

As your day in Prague draws to an end, make one final stop at the Dancing House (Tančící dům), also known as Fred and Ginger.

This whimsical architectural marvel is a collaboration between the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić and Canadian-American Frank Gehry.

At night, the beautiful building all lit up is even more lovely and magical!

Call it a night or continue exploring Prague nightlife.

A man's hands making a cocktail, which looks to be a whiskey old fashioned, with an orange peel garnish, in a dark bar.

By now, I certainly wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to call it quits and turn in for the night!

However, if you wish to keep the night going, I do have a few suggestions.

If you’d like to a see a quiet, hip side to the city, leave the Old Town and head to Vinohrady, my favorite neighborhood in Prague.

Manesova Bar & Books is a chic cigar bar with a cozy library feel and is a great place for a nightcap if you don’t mind a little smoky ambiance.

If it’s the summer time, join the locals at Riegrovy Sady beer garden. And finally, if you want to check out Czech wine (and you should!), Vínečko Wine Bar is a great place to grab a low-key glass of wine.

If you don’t mind going a little further afield, Holešovice is a super-fun neighborhood off the beaten path in Prague — check out Cross Club for a guaranteed fun night out.

Where to Stay for One Day in Prague

Pastel colored facades in the Old Town as seen through an old stone gate

For tourists, Prague 1 and 2 are the most popular districts. I personally prefer the area around Vinohrady and the Old Town, though some people may prefer to be closer to the Castle District (Malá Strana and Hradčany)

I’ve noted my top picks for each type of traveler – budget, boutique, and luxury travelers – to make the hard choice a little easier!

Budget | Czech Inn

Combining beautifully European architecture and budget prices, this hostel provides affordable luxury to their guests with a fun vibe.

Most of the interiors are designed by Olga Novotná, a beloved Czech designer, and she uses eclectic kinds of materials to create a cozy and warm feeling for guests in the common areas and rooms.

They have private rooms, apartments, shared rooms and premium dorm room, all with huge windows that allow natural lighting inside.

The best part of the hotel is the Czech Inn Bar, which is situated underneath the hotel. It’s a great place if you’re looking for a budget-friendly stay with a social vibe.

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

Boutique | Le Palais Art Hotel

Want to feel like you’re staying in an art museum? That’s Le Palais in a nutshell. Upon entering its main hall, you will see a grand chandelier, matched by exquisite décor and furniture A lot of paintings are also on display in its hallways and rooms, which almost act as if a gallery.

Luxurious Ligne St. Barth toiletries are provided in their ensuite bathrooms. Some rooms even have a tub where you can soak after a long day of sight-seeing!

There’s also a wellness center and fitness center, and several other fantastic 4* amenities to make your stay in Prague both stylish and comfortable.

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

Luxury | Aria Hotel Prague

This beautiful luxury hotel (which has a partner hotel in Budapest) offers 5-star amenities with a tasteful music theme. The rooms are all inspired by the different types of music like opera, jazz, and classical music. They also named each room after famous musicians and music personalities.  

The rooms have a classic, simple, and elegant style taken up a notch with velvet upholstered sofas and seating. The suite-type rooms also have a living area and kitchenette that easily helps you feel right at home.

Inside, Coda Restaurant has an art deco interior located on the rooftop terrace.

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

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What to Eat in Prague: 19 Czech Dishes to Try

I moved to Prague in 2009, when the foodie scene was…. shall we say, in its beginning stages. Heavy stews served with heavier dumplings, fatty cuts of meat swimming in thick stews, and enough beer to fill you up before you even took a bite of food. If you were vegetarian, the answer to ‘what should I eat in Prague?’ was pretty much just a plate of fried cheese (with some fried potatoes and maybe a slice of tomato, if you were lucky).

How dramatically the Prague food scene has changed in the last decade, I can’t even begin to express. While there are plentiful Prague restaurants serving traditional Czech food, the general level of food is far more refined than it used to be. It still uses those traditional flavors and textures that I fell in love with – the savoriness of deep purple cabbage when it’s cooked for ages, the piquant bite of carroway seeds tucked away in a dish, the savoriness and lush green color of pumpkin seed oil drizzled atop a soup, the denseness of a perfectly boiled knedlicky – but with a decidedly modern update.

Part of my goal when re-visiting Prague for the first time in nearly a decade (!) this winter was to create a comprehensive guide to what to eat in Prague for first-timers. I’m not Czech, but I did live there for 6 months (and have the atrociously out-of-practice Czech to prove it). So when I came back to the city, it was my goal to re-discover all the Prague foods I had been missing in my life since I left the city and try to find the most delicious modern updates.

To maximize my short 3 days in Prague, I signed up for a food tour to best taste what the city had to offer. This is the food tour I took; it is 4 hours and encompasses a variety of tastings, savory and sweet, from ultra-traditional to modern takes on Czech favorites.

My guide Vladimir was amazing and so was the food I tried, so I highly recommend it as a way to get to know Prague’s food culture and maximize your time by getting to taste things in small portions along the way.

You can book your tour online easily by clicking here!

As a general tip, I always recommend doing a food tour on the first day of your travels – that way, you know what you like, what you don’t, and what you haven’t sampled yet so that you can best maximize that precious stomach space while also getting to know a local’s point of view on the best food in Prague and where to find it.

Anything that is covered on this food tour I will mark with an asterisk, so that you’ll know what’s on the Prague food tour I took so you can see if the food tour is up your alley or, if you’re taking the food tour a few days into your trip, to avoid eating at these places before your tour so you don’t double up and end up disappointed.

I accidentally went to Café Louvre for the delightful svíčková the night before my tour, which was on the menu for the following day. While they were easily able to swap it out for a goulash, they can’t promise any substitutions. Therefore I’ve marked it clearly so you can be prepared!

Here is a brief guide of my favorite foods in Prague. I did my absolute best with only 3 days in the city to re-taste all of my favorites so I’d have up-to-date restaurant recommendations for you.

Unfortunately, I’m less of a bottomless pit than I hoped, so there are a few foods that I know are traditional can’t-miss Prague foods that I didn’t sample on this most recent trip. When that’s the case, I’ll do my best to recommend a restaurant from my guide’s recommendations or other locals’ tips.

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Clueless about traditional Czech food and what to eat in Prague? I got you! I used to live in Prague, and I'm here to take you on a mini Prague food tour through my favorite Czech dishes. Full of tips of where to eat in Prague, what to order, what is traditional (hint: bread dumplings) and what is not (hint: trdelnik). Full of local advice and favorites to help you skip the tourist traps and eat well on your trip to Prague!
Clueless about traditional Czech food and what to eat in Prague? I got you! I used to live in Prague, and I'm here to take you on a mini Prague food tour through my favorite Czech dishes. Full of tips of where to eat in Prague, what to order, what is traditional (hint: bread dumplings) and what is not (hint: trdelnik). Full of local advice and favorites to help you skip the tourist traps and eat well on your trip to Prague!

Traditional Czech Dishes to Eat in Prague

Soups

Kulajda – mushroom & potato soup

One of the first Czech dishes I had when returning to Prague, kuladja polévka (polévka just means soup) was one of my must-eats.

This traditional Czech soup is like an even more decadent cream of mushroom soup. It has a slightly sour, slightly sweet taste from the sour cream and mushrooms which make up most of the dish. There are also potatoes, a generous portion of dill (so not suitable for members of DILLWATCH), and a poached egg, often a quail egg. Sometimes, a drizzle of thick green sunflower oil will be served on top to add richness – not that this dish needs it.

I ordered this as a starter, but it easily could have been my main meal, especially with the tasty dark beer I ordered to accompany it.

I ate this at the excellent Hospoda Hajnakova and highly recommend this restaurant for an offbeat place to try traditional Czech dishes without the tourists. It’s located well outside the Old Town in the leafy, lovely neighborhood of Vinohrady, one of my favorite places in Prague.

Zelňačka – sauerkraut soup *

If you asked me if one of the Prague dishes I’d fall in love with on my return was sauerkraut soup, I’d probably have laughed. I’m not a huge fan of sauerkraut like… at all. A bit on a hot dog or as a side to a sausage, sure. But an entire soup based of it? That’s a little much for me.

Well, turns out I ate my words (and they were delicious.)

Kyselica is made of a base of a ton of of saeurkraut, as well as sour cream, potatoes, smoked sausage, and often mushrooms. Similar to the kulajda I had the day prior, there was a drizzle of green pumpkinseed oil on top. Whereas I’d expect a cabbage-based soup to be a bit ‘stringy’, it was actually soft and lush like a chowder.

We ate this at a restaurant that I would have never expected to have fabulous food, Zvonice. It’s located on the 8th floor of a medieval belltower, which to me screams tourist trap – but I can attest, the food is traditional, tasty, and well-worth the stop (the views don’t hurt).

Česnečka – garlic ‘hangover’ soup

Full disclosure… I may have returned to Prague simply to eat this soup. This is the soup I associate with the city.

Unfortunately, it’s fallen out of vogue quite a bit, and it’s hard to find it on menus. I guess “garlic soup” isn’t a big seller. And that is quite literally what is it. You may also see it named “hangover soup,” as it’s often ‘prescribed’ for hangovers (and is remarkably curative – trust me, as a 19-year-old living alone in Prague, I tested this hypothesis quite a bit).

There are two main versions. One is a thin, beef broth packed with garlic, topped with toasty rye bread cubes to soak it up and a smattering of delicious, slightly spicy carroway seeds. This is the česnečka I loved and missed.

There is another version, a creamy version sometimes loaded with cheese as well. This is something I ate frequently during my time studying in Prague, but it doesn’t have the same saudade that traditional thin, brothy česnečka has for me.

I searched for a new restaurant to try česnečka in, having heard that the beloved upstart Lokal has a fantastic version, but alas – it wasn’t on the menu that day. I went back to my old standard for garlic soup, U Provaznice – aka the “Ropemaker’s Wife” – but unfortunately, I found the standard had fallen quite a bit in the years since I frequented it. I went for lunch, and it seemed that basically the only people who come here are now are large tour groups and the care they used to take in their dishes is lacking. My česnečka was good, but not great. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect česnečka, but it seems I may have to try to make it myself.

I wouldn’t seek it out at U Provaznice, but promise me that if you do see it on a menu, you’ll order this must-try Prague dish.

Starters & Beer Snacks

Vuřty na černém pivu – sausages in dark beer

I was recommended to visit U Pinkasů by my lovely Prague food tour guide, Vladimir, and I was so happy I took him up on his recommendation. Simply put, the sausages in dark beer were one of the most delightful surprises of my trip. Surprisingly spicy (Czech food is generally rather mild), this brought me back to an true Texas-style chile con carne, but with rich, juicy sausages instead of chunks of beef. It was absolutely fabulous.

But I loved the restaurant of U Pinkasů for its place in history as well. This is the first-ever pub to pour a Pilsner Urquell from the tank. In fact, the tap is still marked in the basement level – it’s a bit of shrine, really.

Naturally, they pour a perfect Pilsner – far more foam (well over a third of the beer) than you undoubtedly are used to drinking, but trust me, it’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

Bramboráky – potato pancakes

Czech-style potato pancakes are one of my favorite traditional dishes to eat in Prague, and I always make sure to add it to my order whenever possible. I had the bramboráky alongside my sausages at U Pinkasů and it was perfect. I’ve also in the past loved the bramboráky at U Provaznice, but given the overall decline in quality of the restaurant, I’m not sure they’d still be up to par. Frankly, though, this is a dish you can get at virtually every Czech restaurant in Prague, so I wouldn’t seek it out too frantically.

I also saw fantastic looking bramboráky on sale at the farmer’s market in Jiřího z Poděbrad, but I stopped myself as I was about to start my food tour and didn’t want to fill up too much in advance of my tour – which ended up being a smart move, as I was stuffed to the metaphorical gills afterwards.

Tatarák – steak tartare

File this under foods that I, at 19, was too unadventurous to try my first time living in Prague. I always saw Czech people ordering this at restaurants, but never could muster up the courage (growing up in the 90s seeing panicked news of mad cow disease every time my turned on the TV as a child may have had something to do with it).

I was extremely excited to try steak tartare, or tatarák, this time around. I mean, where else in the world can you eat some of the best beef tartare for under 200 CZK, about $8 USD? I opted for it at one of the most-raved about butcher shops in the city, Naše Maso. (Note: the food tour does go here, but you do not try the tartar) Tip: You can skip the intimidating line for the butcher if you are just ordering prepared food, rather than cuts of meat from the butcher.

It’s an enormous portion as well, probably better suited to be shared between two people or eaten as the main meal. I had this as a “snack” (note to self, 200 grams of raw meat served atop a giant piece of bread is not really a “snack” at all).

You can order steak tartar at nearly every Czech restaurants. While I love the version at Naše Maso – fresh, perfectly minced, flecked with onion and greens, atop a perfectly toasted garlicky slab of bread- standing up trying desperately to find a place to eat your steak tartare kind of ruins the fanciness you feel, y’know, when you order steak tartare. Instead, I’d recommend seeking it out at Kantyna, a restaurant I unfortunately didn’t have a chance to check out but heard raving reviews about. It’s a sit-down, unpretentious restaurant run by some of the butchers from Naše Maso so you can have the same high-quality meat without the often standing-room-only vibe.

Chlebíčky – open-faced mini sandwiches *

A Czech institution dating back to the early 20th century, chlebíčky are one of the few examples of Prague food that can truly be considered ‘street food’ – the others being the kielbasa and smažený sýr sandwiches that are the mainstay of drunken late nights.

These small sandwiches are designed to be a snack or, if you order several, a meal. We got to try three sandwiches on our Prague food tour. One was made with beetroot, fresh goat cheese, and walnut. Predictably, it was absolutely delicious. Another was made with celery root, remoulade, and tomato. I loved it, but it didn’t hold a candle to the first or last one. The last and final chlebíčky was far more delicious than I could have ever imagined: half a perfectly boiled egg slathered in remoulade with a slice of Prague ham underneath. I could eat it every day and be happy, though admittedly my heart would not be.

We had them at Sisters, which is right next to Naše Maso. It’s quite busy with locals and tourists, but the lines seem to move quickly as everything is ready-made.

Pražská šunka & maso – Prague ham & other meats *

Of course, virtually every country in Europe has its own slant on the charcuterie board. At Naše Maso, we tried the famous Prague ham (pražská šunka), which is a delicious brined and beechwood-smoked ham you can only find in Prague. Delicious.

We also tried a beef ‘Prague ham’ that has its roots in the Jewish community, who kept kosher and naturally wanted a develop a version of their own Prague ham, sans the pork. It was tasty, but come on – can you ever really hope to beat ham?

We also tried a kielbasa-style sausage as well as a ‘tourist’ sausage, so named for the fact that Czechs would take them on road trips to the few countries they were allowed to visit during Communist times – Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and a handful of others – and the sausages would keep well without being refrigerated. Tasty and certainly interesting from a food-history perspective, but not my favorite (that honor would go to Prague ham).

Smažený sýr – fried cheese

I struggled with whether to put this in snacks or main courses, but as it’s typically on ‘bar food’ menus I thought it belonged best here. It’s also the most popular main course for vegetarians in Prague, so if you don’t eat meat, you may find yourself eating quite a bit of smaž over the course of your trip.

Smažený sýr is a deep fried cheese often served with a tartar sauce or something quite similar – and if that’s not unhealthy enough, often with some French fries to boot. I had it over some beers with my new friend Amos at Potrefená Husa Resslova just a few steps from the Dancing House and it was delicious, though I’ve also heard rave reviews about the smaž at – where else? – Lokal.

Main Courses

Svíčková – beef in a root vegetable purée with dumplings *

The mac-daddy of Czech cuisine, you simply can’t go to Prague as a foodie and miss the delicious, unique svíčková. And where better to enjoy it than the beloved Café Louvre, over a hundred years old and a favorite haunt of famous visitors ranging from Kafka to Einstein to Havel. If it’s good enough for the former Czech president, it’s likely good enough for me.

This dish may seem simple, but it’s actually rather complex, often taking hours to complete. It’s made of perfectly boiled thin slices of beef tenderloin resting in a slightly sweet sauce made of carrots and parsnips, smooth to perfection. It’s served with a slice of lemon, a few cranberries, and a dollop of lightly sweetened cream so that you can mix it in or leave it out.

I generally don’t love sweet with my savory, but I loved the flavor combination and went for my cream and cranberries several times during the meal. Of course, it’s served with several of the ubiquitous hearty boiled bread dumplings called knedlíky so you can better sop up all that delicious parsnippy root vegetable saucy goodness at the end.

Drooling over Czech food yet? Make the most of your time and schedule a tasty food tour in advance – I recommend doing it the first day you arrive, so you can get local tips on where to eat next!

Guláš – slightly spicy beef goulash with dumplings

Sorry, Budapest – I love you dearly, but Prague clearly has the edge on delivering a stellar goulash. Whereas Hungarian goulash is thin and soupy, Czech goulash is thick, hearty, and properly stew-y. While which version is better is certainly subject to debate – and likely influenced at least a wee bit by where your roots are – I will defend Czech goulash to the death.

Czech-style goulash is a thick, paprika-laced stew with chunks of braised beef. You’ll often find it spiced with carroway and marjoram, two Czech additions that are rather welcome here, and topped with some thin slices of raw onion. Of course, the bread dumpling is welcome here as well, and is just as essential a part of the meal as the goulash itself.

I’ve eaten this dish in countless restaurants around the city and never find it disappointing – it’s always satisfying. I had a fantastic version at Café Louvre, but I am sure it’s not hard to find a good goulash nearly anywhere that is not a blatant tourist trap.

Pečená kachna se zelím – duck with red cabbage and dumplings *

A food so nice, I tried it twice. First, I had this on the food tour at a modern Czech tapas-style restaurant called Špejle which means skewer. Basically, you order from a selection of pre-made Czech-inspired tapas and pay by the skewer at the end. Their version was quite different than the standard: a thin slice of duck breast served alongside a red cabbage stuffed dumpling. It was really tasty, but honestly, it wasn’t one of my favorites on the tour. Perhaps I’m a purist and prefer the original too much!

Instead (or, more like, in addition) I recommend you go for the duck at Hospoda Hajnakova where you’ll eat a massive confited duck leg served with perfectly melty-sweet red cabbage and as many boiled bread dumplings as you can stand. Served with dark beer, it’s one of the best possible foods to eat in Prague. It’s as good as it gets.

Řízek – schnitzel (generally pork)

The influence of Austrian and German culture is strong in Bohemia, the Western part of the Czech Republic which includes Prague. And one lasting culinary ramification of that legacy is the schnitzel that is now ubiquitous on nearly every Czech menu.

Whereas the Viennese prefer a veal schnitzel, in Prague, pork is far more common. However, you can also sometimes find beef or chicken. It’s often served with potatoes or potato salad. I had it at U Provaznice and was deeply unimpressed – I’d recommend trying it at Lokal or Kantýna instead, or perhaps at Café Louvre

Koleno – pork knuckle

I’ll be honest, I’ve yet to try koleno (Vladimir, if you’re reading this, I feel you shuddering in shame!). The first time I lived in Prague I was too squeamish to order a pork knuckle. Coming back and eating my way through the city, I was too full to try it, especially as most pork knuckles are freaking enormous, nearly a kilogram of meat and bone, and often best enjoyed between two… or three… people. As a solo traveler, I had to give it a pass this time around.

It’s generally served with horseradish, mustard, and pickles. The best places that I’ve heard for koleno include Klášterní šenk in Břevnov (part of the monastery grounds) and Pivovarský Klub in Karlin.

Halušky – Slovakian dumplings

While technically a Slovak food – please don’t crucify me, Czechs, for including it here – you’ll find halušky all over Prague and it’s a food I think you shouldn’t miss when you’re here.

I had it at Zapomenutý Čas in lovely Vinohrady and highly recommend it. It was served with Prague ham and tons of fried shallots – a dream. However, their lunch specials often change, so you may not see halušky on the menu.

Vepřo-knedlo-zelo – roast pork with cabbage and dumplings

While Czechs rave about svíčková, if you had to ask their what their national dish is, I’m certain most people will answer “vepřo-knedlozelo” – aka, pork-dumpling-cabbage. The cabbage is usually sauerkraut, but occasionally it’ll be red cabbage. Also abbreviated lovingly to VKZ, this dish is as Czech as it gets and it’s truly a can’t-miss while in Prague.

Again, I’ll recommend Lokal for this, although U Pinkasů supposedly has a delightful version as well. I didn’t have a chance to try it on my most recent trip but it was a staple of my Prague eats when I lived there.

Sweets

Kremrole – cream-stuffed puff pastry

What do you mean, I’m not going to put trdelník on this list? Well, for one, it’s not traditionally Czech. At all. It came from Hungary (likely by way of Transylvania) as a Christmas snack at the markets. Once Czech entrepreneurs caught onto how much tourists loved eating (and photographing) these sugary pastries, they started making them all year round everywhere, claiming all up and down that these are traditional Czech desserts when that is patently false. Czechs get a little bit testy when you say trdelník is Czech – and especially testy when you do something silly like fill it with ice cream.

What Czechs do love, however, is the decidedly less popular but vastly superior kremrole. This crispy puff pastry is stuffed with meringue or flavored cream (I tried salted caramel and OMG, it was dreamy). I tried it at Lukáš Skála Cukrář and I can’t imagine a better kremrole so I won’t even try. It’s right next to Sisters and Naše Maso, so it’s a natural stop to make if you have a sweet tooth. I don’t – I love savory food and am lukewarm towards sweets – and I adored it.

Ovocné knedlíky – boiled fruit dumplings

One of the most traditional Czech desserts you can find, don’t miss sampling these if you have a sweet tooth! They’re filled with fruit – traditionally strawberry or plum – and served with some butter and sometimes some curd cheese. However, you’ll also sometimes see them with a vanilla cream sauce or cinnamon and sugar.

The lovely Café Savoy is my top pick (although a tiny bit pricy, but the atmosphere is worth it!), but you’ll see them on the menus of most restaurants that serve traditional Czech food.

Jablečný štrůdl – apple strudel with warm vanilla sauce *

I’ve eaten apple strudel in Austria, Germany, and Northern Italy – and this one in Prague at the exquisite Café Louvre exceeded them all.

My favorite thing is that the strudel itself is not that sweet, but you can add some of the warm vanilla sauce or the whipped cream (or both) to sweeten it to your perfect taste.

The combination of the flaky layers of strudel, the cinnamon-flecked apple, the warm vanilla sauce and the cool dollops of cream. It’s a truly dreamy dish, and one of the top Prague desserts you simply must try.

Koláče (kolache) – sweet rolls with fruits or poppy seed *

Funny enough, the first place I heard of kolache wasn’t Prague but actually Brooklyn, where Brooklyn Kolache Co. swept up the Fort Greene foodie scene in a storm. Returning to Prague years later, I was finally able to taste the original kolache. And guys, is it ever tasty!

I tried it first at the Jiřího z Poděbrad Farmer’s Market and then had another one (no complaints) hours laters at the first stop on our Eating Prague food tour. I liked the poppy seed variety even better than the plum one I bought at the market. At the first stop we also tried traditional gingerbread and a flaky shortbread-style cookie that reminded me of a Mexican Wedding Cake – also delicious!

Note: A big thank you to Eating Prague for hosting me on the food tour! All opinions expressed and stubborn pounds gained are entirely my own.

Prague Off the Beaten Path: 15 Ways to Experience Alternative Prague

When I lived in Prague in 2009, it felt like I was in on a little secret. While all my other classmates were studying in more “traditional” places like London (yawn) and Paris (zzz), I was exploring the lesser-known corners of a city I had barely heard of before I decided to study there.

Well, it’s nearly 2019 and let’s just say that the secret is out — if there ever was one, and I wasn’t just living under a rock the whole time.

Even when I lived there in 2009, it wasn’t undiscovered at all – there were hoards of people in the Old Town cluttering up the streets every time the astronomical clock neared its hourly, disappointing show. Tourist restaurants and museums had already started to pop up and clutter the streets with gimmicky shops shilling absinthe and endless variations of the tired “Czech me out” pun-emblazoned souvenirs.

But it was never hard to get off the beaten path in Prague, just by getting off the Old Town – Charles Bridge – Prague Castle circuit. 

Well, 10 years have come and gone since I called this city home and while it is a little harder to find the alternative Prague I once found rather easily, it is by no means impossible. 

Here are my favorite ways to get off the beaten path in Prague and experience the hidden, local side of the city.

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Planning to visit Prague and want to find a non-touristy side of the city? Prague can be crowded but I lived there for six months and can give you local tips on how to get off the beaten path in Prague. Full of TRUE Prague hidden gems, this guide will show you a secret, alternative side to Prague that will have you avoiding all the lines.
Planning to visit Prague and want to find a non-touristy side of the city? Prague can be crowded but I lived there for six months and can give you local tips on how to get off the beaten path in Prague. Full of TRUE Prague hidden gems, this guide will show you a secret, alternative side to Prague that will have you avoiding all the lines.

Explore the sprawl of Vyšehrad

It’s kind of hard to believe that a fortress offering sweeping city views can make the list of hidden gems in Prague… but truly, so few tourists make it to Vyšehrad that this place surely deserves a place of its own on this list. In fact, even though I lived in Prague for six months, I never made it there until my most recent visit.

Despite being located within the city of Prague and not a far walk from a metro line, Vyšehrad enjoys relative tourist-free peacefulness. Meaning “upper castle” in Czech, this fortress is on the right bank of the gorgeous Vltava River, offering views of Prague’s bridges and the famous Prague Castle.

While the views alone would be enough to convince someone it’s worth a visit, there are several interesting places within Vyšehrad that shouldn’t be missed.

The most obvious of which is the beautiful Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, which is far less crowded than the tourist-packed St. Vitus yet, in my opinion, similarly awe-inspiring. And at a mere 50 crowns to enter (about $2 USD), it’s well worth the price of admission.

The Vyšehrad Cemetery just outside the Basilica is also interesting to visit, as you’ll find the resting places of several famous Czechs, including the famous classical musician Antonín Dvořák, the playwright and inventor of the word ‘robot’ Karel Čapek, and Art Deco darling Alphonse Mucha.

Another thing not to miss is the Rotunda of St. Martin, one of the oldest existant pieces of architectural history in Prague, dating back to the 11th century.

Stroll down Náplavka Riverbank

Not a far walk from Vyšehrad, it’s a great idea to combine a trip to Prague’s offbeat fortress and the lovely Náplavka Riverbank.

While it was a bit quiet when I visited recently in winter, I’ve been told that it’s bustling in spring and summer, when it becomes the closest thing you can get to a beach party in a landlocked country like the Czech Republic.

You can drink on boats tied up to the boardwalk, explore the Saturday morning farmer’s market (one of the best in the city), or just sit with a beer enjoying Prague’s drinking in public laws.

In the winter, you can actually hang out on a floating sauna at Lázně na Lodi, part of the (A)Void Floating Gallery which is one part bar, one place music venue, one part cultural center – all floating on a boat in the Vltava River!

Check out the DOX Center for Contemporary Art

Now that Prague’s National Gallery is open for the first time in nearly a decade, there are lines to match. My guide on my Prague food tour estimated that the lines to get in take over an hour, maybe even two.

While I love visiting a museum or two on my travels, I certainly am not about to wait in line for hours just to enter. So I made it a point to go out to Prague 7 during my time to explore the DOX Center for Contemporary Art. This museum is relatively new, having opened in 2008, and since it’s far from the major tourist sights in the city it’s more popular with locals than tourists.

There were a handful of excellent exhibits while I was there. My two favorite were Welcome to Hard Times, a take on today’s bizarre nonstop political news cycle, set in an interactive gym. The most impactful piece to me was the rock-climbing wall, on which a map was printed, identifying a handful of the border walls all over the world.

To me, this piece is about the futility of walls in the face of people’s determination to climb them.

The other exhibit I really enjoyed was #DATAMAZE. There were quite a few interesting projects as part of this exhibit, the most interesting of which was one where someone created a bot to randomly purchase items off the dark web, bringing up questions of whether or not a robot can commit a crime.

Meta.

There were also commentaries on oversharing in social media, data privacy, consent in image-sharing, and many other topics. In my opinion, it was contemporary art at its best, bringing up intriguing topics in a way that is accessible to the public rather than deliberately inscrutable.

Exhibits are subject to change, obviously, so check DOX’s program here.

Explore the fantastically unique Cross Club

Cross Club is a short walk from the DOX Center for Contemporary Art. You’re bound to pass it on your way to DOX if you take the metro there, so I recommend bundling the two together.

So, what is Cross Club? It’s hard to describe properly, but basically, it is a multipurpose art center, club, café, bar, and restaurant at the heart of Holešovice, one of Prague’s alternative neighborhoods.

Whether you stop in for a cup of freshly-roasted coffee, a beer, or a meal during day hours or come in the evening for live music or to dance into the wee hours, Cross Club is the beating heart of a more local side to Prague.

If you want to truly experience Prague at night, head to Cross Club. Skip the tourist traps like Karlovy Lázně, which may be the biggest nightclub in Central Europe but is also basically just filled with backpackers and tourists, serving drinks at twice the price and half the quality of other clubs and bars in the city.

Eat authentic Vietnamese food

Nowadays, Prague has plenty of international dining options, but while most of these restaurants are relatively new phenomena, the Vietnamese food scene in Prague has been vibrant for a while. That’s because the Vietnamese make up the 3rd largest minority group in the Czech Republic, since many Vietnamese immigrated to then-Czechoslovakia under an agreement made between Czechoslovakia and Vietnam during communism.

As a result, there are countless great Vietnamese restaurants around the city and even a neighborhood called “Little Hanoi” on the outskirts of Prague. The ones I hear the best praise for are Mr. Banh Mi (Rumunská 30) in Prague 1 for Vietnamese sandwiches, Pho Vietnam Tuan & Lan (Slavíkova 1) in Vinohrady for pho, and the massive Sapa market complex in Prague 4.

I haven’t had a chance to explore Sapa yet, but my friend Crystal (who is of Vietnamese descent) did when she was in Prague recently and she gave it two thumbs up! Check out her video below.

Eat like a local

One of my favorite traditions when traveling is to do a food tour that takes me to the nooks and crannies of a city that I may not have explored independently.

I joined Eating Europe for their Eating Prague tour and loved it. Despite having lived in the Czech Republic for six months, most of the dishes were actually new to me, and I had only visited one of the locations on the tour previously. I especially loved our final stop, Cafe Louvre, where we had delicious Czech svíčková (beef tenderloin in a slightly sweet root vegetable purée with cranberries and cream) and the best apple strudel I’ve ever tasted.

I recommend joining a food tour on the first day of your trip so that you can know what you like, what you didn’t get to try, and get tips from a local food-obsessed guide, and so you can prioritize the rest of your meals. Check out the tours here.

Shop and snack at Jiřího z Podebrad Farmer’s Market

The Jiřího z Podebrad square (often mercifully abbreviated to Jirák) near the metro stop of the same name is one of my favorite hidden gems in Prague. At the meeting point of two of my favorite Prague neighborhoods, Žižkov and Vinohrady, this square is one of the best local neighborhoods in Prague. I used to live just a few blocks away on Slezská Street, so I feel a huge affinity to this area. Somehow, this market is not at all that far from the Old Town, yet it has an entirely local vibe.

My top tips? Get a plum and poppyseed filled koláč from one of the bakers or a drool-inducing sandwich or burger from Kaiser Franz if you’re feeling especially hungry (or hungover).

There are also stands selling fresh produce, baked goods, excellent espresso, and plenty of other farmer’s market staples.

Luckily, whereas most farmer’s markets are a once-weekly, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair, the Jiřího z Podebrad Farmer’s Market runs four days a week. Wednesdays through Saturdays. I’m not sure exactly when it closes, but I wouldn’t get there too much later than 1 or 2 PM if you want prime selection.

Drink your way through Vinohrady’s cool bars

Ahh Vinohrady, my favorite neighborhood in Prague! Yes, it’s a bit more upscale than other Prague neighborhoods but there are so many wonderful places to go for a drink.

My favorite bar in all of Prague is Bar & Books (Mánesova 64), where you can enjoy being surrounded by books and cigar smoke and feel yourself transported to another decade. Another newer bar that I love in Vinohrady is BeerGeek, which focuses on craft beer in a casual and unpretentious setting (Vinohradská 62).

For a totally different scene and for a more active night, I love Radost FX (Bělehradská 120) for dancing – or at least, I did when I still went out dancing (I’m old now). Radost FX was literally Prague’s first electronic music club in the post-communist era, and despite the years of popularity it’s still quite a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike. The vegetarian brunch on weekends is also a local favorite!

Hang out in Letná

Letná is best known for its park of the same name, home to one of Prague’s most beloved beer gardens thanks to its lovely views. But what is there to do in Letná besides its beloved beer garden?

I had the chance to find out, seeing as I went in December – hardly beer garden weather in Prague. Letná has a ton of great coffee shops worth exploring and spending some time in when you want to get off the beaten path in Prague.

Letná is home to a handful of great museums, including the National Technical Museum (which comes highly recommended) and the contemporary branch of the National Gallery. There’s also a lovely café in the ground floor of the National Gallery, Café Jedna, which is lovely to sit in with a coffee.

Don’t miss grabbing a pastry at one of Prague’s most beloved cukrarnas (bakeries), Erhartova. If you have time and want to have a lazy day in Letná, see if there’s a movie on at Bio Oko, a casual yet artsy cinema house filled with bean bags and lounge chairs in addition to your standard movie seats.

A short walk from Letná but technically (I think) in Holešovice, you’ll find some other lovely coffee shops including the book-filled Ouky Douky and the cozy Kavárna Liberál. You can also do alternative bar crawl of Letná if you prefer some guidance or want to meet up with fellow travelers.


Explore beer history

Prague is synonymous with beer for many, and if you’re a beer lover there are a handful of historical places you should visit that are well-known but not too crowded.

Be sure to check out U Pinkasů to pay a pilgrimage to the first ever tank of Pilsner Urquell ever tapped in Prague! Easily one of the most famous beers of all time, eating a meal with a perfectly poured glass of Pilsner Urquell is a Czech must. Don’t miss the delicious and surprisingly spicy sausages in dark beer – it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever eaten in Prague.

The monastery at Strahov, Klásterní Pivovar, has a fantastic brewery making old-style and new beers – 3 permanent offerings and several rotating taps. The monastery itself dates back to 1140 but the brewery is a newer development, but still quite an interesting piece of beer history.

Why it’s by no means off the beaten path, the oldest brewery in Prague is also worth visiting as well, U Fleků, though check your bill carefully as I’ve heard they can be a bit… unmeticulous, shall we say… with their bills.

If you prefer a little guidance and context, I recommend this 3-hour beer and microbrewery guided tour or this beer & Baroque tour that takes you to some beautiful monasteries and lets you try out their homemade beers.

Hang out in trendy Žižkov

Best known for its concentration of bars and nightlife, Žižkov has been called “up and coming” for the better part of a decade and yet it’s never quite gotten that popular with tourists.

There is one main reason why travelers come to Žižkov – namely, the absurd but interesting communist TV Tower slash art installation by David Černý comprising of several giant babies crawling up the tower. The other reason why travelers may come to Žižkov is the New Jewish cemetery, where Franz Kafka is buried.

There are several places worth visiting in Žižkov, but it really depends on what your “scene” is. If you’re a fan of live music or want a late night out, check out who’s on at Palác Akropolis – this huge complex similar to Cross Club in terms of multifunctionality has a restaurant, multiple bars, a concert venue, and a nightclub. For a more casual vibe, check out Pivo a Párek, beloved for its beer and sausages (hence the name).

There’s also an arthouse cinema – Kino Aero – and several great coffee shops. I recommend just reserving some time to stroll around the area on a free day and popping into whatever catches your eye.

If you prefer to explore the neighborhood with some guidance, this bar crawl of Žižkov run by Bohemian Alternative Bar Tours is well-reviewed.

Check out the St. Cyril & Methodius Crypt and Church

This benign-looking church has a remarkably interesting history. It was home to the final chapter in a story of one of the most daring attempts to overthrow the Nazi occupation.

In short, two Czech soldiers trained by the British RAF parachuted into the Czech Republic and entered Prague by stealth. They attempted to execute the Nazi leader, Heydrich, who was overseeing the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia (now the Czech Republic). They succeeded in hitting him, but he wouldn’t succumb to his wounds until the next week.

They went into hiding, and the Nazis responded with characteristic vengeance, completely massacring the population of the village of Lidice and steamrolling the town. In total, some 5,000 or so were killed in Lidice and other villages around Prague in retaliation for the assassination.

Eventually, the Nazis closed in on them, and under pressure of torture a 17-year-old boy gave up their locations in the St. Cyril & Methodius Church. They were hiding in the crypt, and as the Nazis flooded the crypt, they committed suicide to avoid being taken alive.

You can see a plaque and memorial to their daring sacrifices at the church in which they met their end.

PS – Thanks to Amos for sharing this bit of hidden Prague history with me on my recent visit!

For more WWII and Communist history, I recommend taking a 20th century history walking tour or e-bike tour to learn more and add some context to your sightseeing.

Explore the Výstaviště Praha (Prague Exhibition Grounds)

I had no idea that this place even existed until I was wandering through Holešovice one day on my recent trip. There are several gorgeous buildings in this complex that would make an Instagrammer go nuts, but luckily the secret isn’t out with these types (and I’m not going to write an Instagram guide to Prague, so these places can remain Prague hidden gems).

Located on the edge of Prague’s biggest part, Stromovka, these exhibition grounds are composed of several interesting buildings. My favorite building in the complex is the Industrial Palace, which looks a bit like an abandoned Art Nouveau train station.

You can also find a planetarium, the Lapidarium of the National Museum (which hosts some of the original statues from the Charles Bridge) and just a bunch of other really cool buildings with zero other people around, save for a few families making their way to the aquarium on the grounds.

Try a communist-themed escape room

Escape rooms aren’t my thing because I’m super anxious and slightly claustrophobic, but I know many people who love them! Prague is well-known for its variety of escape rooms and their creative themes.

One interesting looking escape room is the Communist Czechoslovakia themed escape room. You play as Vaclav Havel, the Czech dissident playwright turned first president of Czechslovakia, who masterfully guided the Czech Republic out of the dark years of communism. To check out this escape room (and others), click here.

Check out the House of Black Madonna

Czech Cubism is one of the most distinct architectural contributions of Prague and the House of Black Madonna is a great example of this.

Close to Ovocny Trh, the House of Black Madonna is at once uniquely Cubist and blends into the Baroque architecture of the Old Town it’s set in.

You can stop for a coffee at the Grand Café Orient, the only Cubist interior in the world still in existence, or you can stop at the two floors dedicated to cubist art which make up part of Czech Museum of Fine Arts.

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Do you have any other favorite off the beaten path places in Prague? Share your hidden gem favorites!

Note: I was a guest of Eating Europe on my most recent trip to Prague, but all of the opinions expressed are my own.

13 Ways to Fall in Love With Prague in Winter

Prague will always hold a special place in my heart, since I lived in Prague for six months while studying abroad in my junior year of college. I dove enthusiastically into life in Prague, learning (slash butchering) Czech, eating ridiculous amounts of česnečka, and confirming the propaganda that Prague is, indeed, a place where beer is cheaper than water.

I didn’t know it at the time, but living in Prague that semester would change my life. It was the kernel that brought me to Europe, time and again, and sparked my love in particular for post-communist Central and Eastern European countries. It got me deeply interested in Slavic languages, which would later be convenient when I moved to Bulgaria eight years later.

Still, it wasn’t all roses. I fell in love with summer beer gardens and fall young wine harvests, but winter took me a while to come around on. While I loved living in Prague, I was taken aback by how insanely cold Prague was in winter, even after having survived my first two winters in New York. If it weren’t for svařák (hot mulled wine) sold on the street corners, I likely never would have left my Prague dorm in winter.

While I think Prague is a magical city any time of year, I eventually came to think of Prague in winter as Prague at its best, despite being a pansy Californian who reaches for a thick jacket any time the mercury dips below 50°F / 10°C.

Gone were the hordes of tourists who clustered around the Astronomical Clock like –  well, clockwork – at the turning of every hour. The tour groups that clustered in the Old Town and around Charles Bridge magically got smaller day by day as the temperature dropped. And the snow that once captivated me and quickly became abhorred in New York (you’d understand if you ever saw the horror that is a NYC slush puddle on the first warm day after a blizzard) was actually magical again in Prague.

Note: While I know the Czech Republic has officially adopted the name Czechia, I’ve been told by Czechs that calling the country the Czech Republic is still very much acceptable.

In fact, many Czechs feel lukewarm or even don’t like the name change to Czechia and still call their country Česká republika when speaking.

I’ve chosen to call it the Czech Republic, as that’s how I think of the country having lived there during a time when that was its unequivocal name. In terms of how I think of it in the future, only time will tell whether the Czechia name catches on! 

What to Wear in Prague in Winter

In the winter, Prague is cold, cold, cold! The average high in December through February is around 36-40 °F (2-4 °C), and the average low is 29-32 °F (-2-0 °C). So, you’ll definitely want to bundle up – this is not the time to try to look cute in a peacoat, guys. (Trust me, I tried and it was miserable.)

If you’re coming from a cold climate (Canada, the Midwest, the East Coast) you will likely be decently equipped to dress for Prague in winter. But if you live somewhere where winter temperatures are a lot more pleasant, you’ll want to be sure to pack properly.

I have a full winter in Europe packing list here, but I’ll list a few essential things to pack for Prague in winter here.

A down jacket: In my (perhaps slightly California-stunted) opinion, a parka is a must in the winter. I’ve owned my North Face parka for seven years and I’m absolutely obsessed. It’s pricy to be sure, but it comes with a lifetime guarantee (which I’ve tested by sending in my zipper to be fixed after four years of use and abuse cycling in it all winter long – my jacket came back looking like new!). If you are on a budget, you can substitute a down jacket liner underneath the warmest jacket you own, but this won’t be nearly as warm as a parka.

Warm boots: Despite the picture of a snow-covered Prague you may have in your head, winter is not typically super snowy. For this reason you can get away with a stylish pair of waterproof leather boots, which are warm and comfortable yet sleek and stylish. I’m obsessed with these Blondo waterproof leather boots and have owned them for literally decade. This is the exact style I own – a classic equestrian boot in a waterproof, insulated, well-tractioned shoe.

Fleece-lined knit hat: I live in several different colors of knit hats in the winter. Since your jacket is likely a dark or neutral color, it’s fun to liven up your look (and photos) with a colorful hat or two. I like a snug knit hat lined in fleece and with a pom pom that does nothing to add warmth but tons to add cuteness.

Warm leggings: You have two options for ultra-warm leggings in winter – fleece-lined for people with sensitive skin like me, and merino wool for people who don’t find wool itchy like I do. I own several pairs of these fleece-lined leggings in a variety of colors (I have black, gray, and maroon). If it’s really cold I may wear these layered underneath some jeans. For people who like wool, merino wool leggings are the way to go – the absolute warmest you can get.

Thermal tops: Again, this’ll depend on if you like wool or not. I don’t, so I go for thin performance thermals like this Heat Plus layer from 32 Degrees. However, if you’re a fan of wool, a merino wool base layer will keep you insanely warm.

An enormously wrappable scarf: The bigger and thicker the scarf, the better. I tend to opt for bright, bold colors to liven up my look.

Touchscreen friendly globes: Taking off your gloves to use your phone when navigating on Google Maps, looking up something you’ve bookmarked, etc. is so annoying. Most gloves these days tend to be touchscreen friendly, but check before you buy. These gloves are adorable, touchscreen-compatible, and affordable.

Things to Do in Prague in Winter

Browse the Prague Christmas Markets

If your Prague winter trip happens to overlap with the Christmas markets, you’re in luck – this is one of the best times of year to visit Prague! However, keep in mind that you’ll also be among several thousand of your closest tourist friends, as Prague in December and early January is peak winter season (Prague empties out again in mid January and Feburary).

Despite the crowds in winter, Prague’s atmosphere – already charming and lovely – becomes even more festive as Czech meals and drinks are doled out by market vendors and craftspeople sell their Christmas-themed ornaments and trinkets, clustered around an enormous, insanely blinged-out Christmas tree.

On weekends, visiting the Old Town of Prague is especially chaotic. While I found the main Christmas market area tolerable during the weekdays, it had me running for safe haven in a craft beer bar on the only Saturday I spent there, due to my fear of crowds (which can seemingly only be cured by beer).

If you have a few days in Prague around Christmas and want to see the markets, I recommend spending your weekdays around the Old Town area, and visit off the beaten path Prague on the weekends or at the least visit the less crowded Christmas markets.

I’d recommend the area around Jiřího z Poděbrad, Náměstí Míru, the markets just to the left when you cross the Charles Bridge in Malá Strana, and the area around Palladium Shopping Mall – none are totally “offbeat,” but they won’t be nearly as crowded as the Old Town.

If you’re visiting Prague in January, one added bonus is that the Christmas markets in Prague have one of the longer runs of all the Christmas markets in Europe, staying open weeks after Christmas and well into the New Year in order to coincide with Eastern Orthodox Christmas, which falls on January 7th. The crowds will be reduced as many people don’t realize the markets run past Christmas!

One word of warning: Be very careful when visiting crowded Christmas Markets, especially on weekends when everyone from nearby cities comes in to enjoy the magic! Unfortunately, it creates an atmosphere where pickpockets can work their magic easily, so keep aware of your belongings and make sure thieves can’t get you — that’s a sure way to ruin the Christmas spirit!

While travel in Europe is safe, pickpocketing is a major issue. Thwart would-be pickpocketers with a chic, sleek backpack with double-interlocking zippers, slash-proof construction, & RFID blockers! I’ve carried this PacSafe backpack to 30+ countries with me, and it’s my #1 travel companion. Pick from one of seven colors — I have and love the classic black one!

The main Christmas market is in Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí). There are also smaller markets in Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí), Republic Square (Náměstí Republiky), and Peace Square (Náměstí Míru), as well as a few others around the city.

Fun fact – the escalator at Náměstí Míru is the longest escalator in Europe, and takes a whopping 3 minutes to go up, even though the elevator goes crazy-fast. Definitely worth a visit!

Note: The trdelník you see everywhere on Instagram is not traditional to Prague, but rather an import from Hungary, where they are called kürtőskalács– and ice cream is definitely not traditionally served with either! If you’d like to taste a true Czech dessert, be sure to try fruit-filled dumplings, called ovocné knedlíky. It’s one of my favorite Czech treats and it’s ultra-traditional!

Explore the magical Prague Castle

Ahh, Prague Castle. This place is a straightup fairy tale every day of the year, even despite the insane crush of tourists. But in the winter, Prague Castle is even more ridiculously gorgeous, especially if you’re lucky enough to see the city with a dusting of snow. One of the biggest and most-loved castles in the world, Prague Castle is home to an enormous amount of history, secrets, and treasures, making it a worthwhile stop despite the crowds and price.

While visiting Prague Castle, you can’t miss the St. Vitus Cathedral, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world, with gorgeous paintings and stained glass windows.

It’s truly majestic to visit, with an air that inspires an air of awe and silence, even as people around you photograph away madly. The Old Palace Hall and Vladislav Hall, with its cheery yellow facade, are both lovely to visit and great places to take photos of the castle complex.

Finally, while you have your ticket for Prague Castle, don’t miss Golden Lane, a 16th-century row of houses owned by goldsmiths back several centuries ago.

Around 70 years ago they were painted in colorful hues, making it a much-loved photo spot for Instagrammers from around the world now. Fun fact: house number 22 used to be the home of Franz Kafka’s sister, and he lived and wrote here for two years. So if you’re a fan of his work, you should stop by here.

Pro tip: The Prague Castle has insane lines pretty much all day long, which grow to hellacious proportions if you visit Prague in December. Save hours by booking a skip-the-line ticket for just a few dollars more, which you can present on your mobile (no need to print!).

Additionally, if you buy a Prague City Card, admission is free, though it won’t include a skip-the-line ticket.

See some of the city’s best museums

While in summer it’s hard for me to drag myself to museums, in the winter it’s a whole different story! I love visiting museums in the winter because my California ass can’t handle the cold, and I don’t like to go more than a few hours walking around if temperatures are below freezing

The National Museum (Národní muzeum) in upper Wenceslas Square partially re-opened after a 7-year-long closure literally just a few months ago, so it’s well-worth checking out the museum now that it’s back in action. However, lines have been insane since reopening – according to my food tour guide, up to two hours at peak times. So be prepared to abandon ship and check out one of the other museums instead. Instead, visit another one of Prague’s excellent museums. One of my favorite museums in Prague, and a must for any literature enthusiast, is the Franz Kafka Museum in Malá Strana.

Finally, if you’re into weird and quirky museums, Prague seems to specialize in them. There’s a Museum of Alchemists and Magicians, a Museum of Historical Chamber Pots and Toilets, and an Apple Museum – for whatever reason. If you’re into finding the weirder side of a city, I recommend checking out the Atlas Obscura for Prague, which does not disappoint.

Prague also has some excellent contemporary art museums. I visited the DOX Museum of Contemporary Art recently and absolutely loved it. It was incredibly thought provoking – I especially loved their exhibition on data and privacy.

Skip the tourist trap museums: Museum of Senses, Museum of Sex Machines, Museum of Torture – they’re kitschy (but not in a good way), not worth the money, and filled with other tourists.

Catch a surprisingly affordable show

Note: The Prague State Opera is currently closed for renovations, but you can still see an opera at the Karlin in Prague! I haven’t visited this theater personally, but it is the second largest in Prague and over 100 years old and is supposed to be beautifully done in the traditional Baroque style.

If you had told 17-year-old me that 19-year-old me would be going to the opera in Prague, I’d definitely have snort-laughed in your face.

The reality is that going to an opera in Prague feels like going to an insanely luxe event that you’re definitely underdressed for, when in fact it is perfectly affordable, even on a student budget. While I’d reckon a guess that the opera has gotten a bit pricier since I attended a performance of Carmen a decade ago, it’s not by much (and I paid less than $10 USD for my floor-level ticket).

While I’m not necessarily an opera enthusiast, there’s no denying that it’s a magical atmosphere, both in terms of the wonder in the air that accompanies every live performance but also the adornments of the opera house that surround you. While currently closed for renovations, the Prague Opera House is truly stunning, ornate with the kind of grandeur that made my American self go slack-jawed taking in all the traditionally grand European details and flourishes.

If you’re worried about not understanding the opera, don’t worry – even back in 2009, the Prague Opera was ridiculously modern and had subtitles in three different languages (I believe English, Czech, and German) so that you could follow along. The current theater where all the operas are now taking place, the Karlin Theater, also has subtitles for their performances.

Since Prague is so cold in the winter, it’s great to have affordable (indoors) arts at your fingertips. Finally, I should mention that an opera isn’t the only performance worth visiting in Prague to escape the winter weather. Here are a few other recommendations!

  • The Lobkowicz Palace in Prague Castle has a 1-hour classical museum performance every day at noon. Pre-book tickets here as availability is limited. Be sure to book it on the day you are visiting the Prague Castle so you don’t have to pay for admission twice (admission to the castle is not included in the concert ticket).
  • The Hybernia Theater near Namesti Republika has several performances of Swan Lake a week from November through March. Be sure to book in advance as some days have already started selling out this winter.
  • You can pair a 1-hour opera performance with a 3-course dinner at the Boccaccio Ballroom, part of the Grand Hotel Bohemia. Again, I recommend pre-booking your ticket as it is a popular option.

Warm up with a perfectly poured Czech beer

While in the summer, you’ll find Prague locals practically glued to their seats in the outdoor beer gardens throughout the city, Prague in winter is definitely more indoor-oriented — though generally with just as much beer.

Yes, for better or worse, the Czech Republic is synonymous with beer. While this brings an abundance of the infamous “lads on tour” who just want a cheap drinking holiday, beer is also an inextricable part of most Czechs daily lives, so indulge away – it’s just part of getting cultured, right?

The Czech Republic is best known for creating pilsener, a pale lager which is now one of the most common types of beer you’ll find around the world, just done not nearly as well. There’s nothing like drinking Pilsner Urquell (the original pilsener) straight from the tank less than 100 kilometers from where it was brewed!

Note that a properly poured Pilsner has a lot more foam than you’re probably used to – about 3 fingers or 2 inches of foam. This is the mark of a correctly poured beer so don’t make a fool of yourself by complaining! Just try it – it’s absolutely delicious.

There are countless bars and taprooms you can go to experience about Czech beer firsthand – my favorite is U Pinkasu, where the first Pilsner Urquell was tapped. If you want to understand the history of beer brewing in the Czech Republic, I recommend a visit to the Czech Beer Museum. Honestly, it’s not a huge or particularly amazing museum, but it is entertaining and informative, and you get four 0.2 liter samples of beer at the end included in the price of admission (for research, of course.)

And for the truly extra amongst us, you can actually leave the museum with your own personally customized beer bottle – which also makes a great souvenir for a beer fan back home.

This tour includes museum entry, a guided tour, 4 samples, and your own custom bottle to take home. Book your online ticket here (no need to print – you can present it on mobile!)

Taste Czech wines at a local wine bar

Yes, I’m aware that putting two alcohol-related things so close to each other on this guide may make me out to be a bit of an alcoholic, but I truly can’t help myself in Prague – the beer and wine are just so good!

While many people know about the vibrant Czech beer scene, few people know just how delicious Czech wine is. Even fewer people know that a huge swath of central Prague used to be vineyards – Vinohrady, the neighborhood I lived in when I lived in Prague.

I have a huge soft spot for burčák, the Czech young wine that tastes almost like apple cider and according to local lore, continues to ferment in your stomach (resulting in surprise hangovers). Unfortunately you won’t be able to find this in Prague in winter. It is, however, 100% worth planning a return trip in autumn for!

Still, Prague still has a ton of wine options that are better suited for the season. While the Czech Republic is best known for its excellent white wines, you can find some great red wines as well, if that is more your speed. I tend to prefer Welschriesling (ryzlink vlašský) or regular riesling (ryzlink rýnský) for whites, and Blaufränkisch (frankovka) for red, but that’s just me personally.

If you’re familiar with German and Austrian wines, Czech wines use a lot of similar grapes but to me, a Czech wine still is very different than its neighbors. There are several wine bars in Prague worth visiting, and luckily, wine by the glass – while not as cheap as beer – is quite affordable in Prague as it’s not considered a luxury to have a good glass of wine. Czech wines are rarely exported outside the county, so you might as well try it while you’re in Prague this winter if you’re a fan of wine!

My favorite neighborhoods to drink in are lovely Vinohrady and trendy Žižkov, which are a nice blend of catering to their local communities while still being centrally located. Prices are more affordable here than in the area around Old Town, and it’s a lot less touristic. My favorites are Vinotéka U Jiřího z Poděbrad on Přemyslovská 4 and U Posledního Soudu on Jagellonská 8.

Scale the Petřín Lookout Tower

There are several places you can go in Prague to get fairytale-worthy views over the entire city but I have a soft spot for Petřín Hill and its lookout tower as it’s a little quieter than some of the other popular lookout spots, like the Old Town Bridge Tower which is swarmed with people wanting that Instagram-perfect shot over Prague.

More than a hundred years ago, the Petřín Lookout Tower was conceived to be a replica of the Eiffel Tower, only smaller, at 63.5 meters tall. It’s one step shy of 300 steps to the lookout point, but it’s well worth it (though I definitely don’t recommend going to Petrin right after a lot of beer, as those 299 steps will feel like quite a bit more… not that I speak from experience…)

You can walk to the Petřín Lookout Tower from the Castle, which takes about half an hour, but it’s more popular to take the Petřín funicular. At the top, you’re immediately rewarded with some of the most impressive sweeping views of Prague over the Castle District, Malá Strana, and the Old Town.

Stay warm while you sightsee in a vintage car tour

While there is no shortage of affordable or even free walking tours in Prague, in winter you probably want to be indoors as much as possible. So, compromise on a city tour of Prague with a specialized tour by a vintage car (don’t worry, the cars have heating, blankets, and even removable flap windows to keep out the cold in the winter!)

You can ride around the city in classic vintage cars, which fit up a group up to five people, in cozy comfort – all the while getting insight from a local on their city on a your 1.5 hour drive through the city.

If the car tour is for a special occasion, you can even add certain romantic touches like roses and champagne – fancy. Book a private tour here.

Stroll the Charles’ Bridge

From the Old Town side of Charles’ Bridge to Prague Castle is a quick 30-minute walk among some of the most charming buildings in the city, making the Charles Bridge an indispensable part of any Prague winter itinerary.

I have a soft spot for the Charles’ Bridge as it made quite an impact on my life – literally, as my boat captain (who I assume must had a few too many Pilsners) rammed into this historic bridge not once but twice while on a tour. Luckily, the bridge seems to have taken this hit in stride as it’s still standing, still as beautiful as ever.

Also known by its local name (Karlov Most), this medieval bridge is one of Prague’s most unique landmarks and has seen a lot throughout the centuries. Its central position connecting Prague’s Old Town with the castle district means that Charles’ Bridge is nearly impossible to avoid during your stay and given how beautiful it is, why would you want to avoid it? Yes, it’s crowded, and yes, it’s touristy, but it’s also one of the most beautiful places in Prague, in winter or summer.

My top tip for seeing Charles’ Bridge in winter is to walk across it with a steaming hot cup of mulled wine, called svařák, or if you want something sweeter some medovina (honey wine).

There’s nothing quite like holding a warm drink in your be-gloved hands as you gaze over the unparalleled Vltava River. Merely crossing this bridge over the Vltava River among all the statues covered in snow was so magical I barely even noticed the cold… though that might have been all the medovina.

Eat traditional Czech food

Czech food is often written off as heavy and dull, and I’m here with an impassioned plea to reconsider! I absolutely adore Czech food, although I will readily admit that it is not the healthiest nor the most vegetarian or vegan-friendly cuisine. It is, however, a fantastic way to warm up in the Prague winter!

A few of my favorite traditional Czech dishes include guláš s knedlíky (Czech-style goulash stew with handmade sliced bread dumplings), vepřo-knedlozelo (roast pork with cabbage and bread dumplings), and česnečka, a delicious garlicky broth laced with caraway seeds and topped with rye bread croutons.

One of my favorite restaurants in the Old Town for traditional food is U Provaznice, which is often also called “The Ropemaker’s Wife,” located just a tiny bit away from the Old Town near Wenceslas Square. Local lore say it’s haunted and the space supposedly has a grim history. Let’s just say the Ropemaker’s Wife met her end in an unsavory way, and there’s a noose in the bar as a reminder.

While I never saw anything supernatural, I am still haunted by memories of česnečka and bramborák (Czech potato pancakes), so I guess the locals are half-right.

If you want a stick-to-your-ribs winter meal, go for a medieval-themed dinner, drinks, and show. You can opt between 3 and 5 courses, and it comes with – of course, this being the check republic – unlimited beer (or wine should you choose), and hours of entertainment!

It also has plenty of medieval-themed entertainment – from swordsmen to jugglers and more – which makes it perfect for families or those looking to have a really immersive and unique dinner experience. It also has vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, and gluten-free options (in addition to meat and poultry) so it has options to suit just about every dietary requirement.

The medieval dinner is one of the most popular things to do in Prague in winter, so I strongly suggest pre-booking if it’s on your Prague bucket list! Check menu options and make a booking here.

Eat alllll the food on a Czech food tour

Another fantastic thing to do in Prague in the winter is go on a food tour!

I did a food tour when I visited Prague in December and I absolutely loved it. Even though I was quite familiar with Czech food, having lived there a decade ago, it was delightful to see all the best of Czech food represented in a filling, well-paced 4-hour tour: a perfect introduction to Czech cuisine to those who have a limited time to discover it.

On the tour, we tried 3 traditional pastries, a selection of meats, a selection of mini open-faced sandwiches called chlebíčky, an appetizer, a soup, a main dish, and an apple strudel for dessert.

I don’t want to spoil what all the delicious things we tried were, but trust me when I tell you that you should definitely skip lunch and you’ll be hard-pressed to find room after dinner. Spots are limited so check out and book your tour here.

Pro Tip: I always schedule my food tour for the first day I arrive in a city — that way, every dish is new to me, I know what my favorites are when I go to a restaurant afterwards, and the best part – I can badger the tour guide for more restaurant recommendations! This is the tour I took, which I highly recommend – my guide was fantastic!

Go ice skating in Ovocný  Trh

Is it even a European winter trip if you don’t go ice skating? Ice skating is one of the most-loved winter pastimes, and when you combine it with the historic spot of Ovocný Trh it becomes even better.

This ice rink is found behind the Czech Estates, and even though it’s open for a relatively short time, it’s free for everyone during that time – though in practice, since you will likely have to rent skates unless you’re the kind of person that has ice skates in their suitcase (weird flex, but okay). However, even skate rental is rather affordable – about 100 CZK per hour, less than $5 USD.

Despite the prime location, it was never crowded when I walked past it, even on the weekend – so it’s a great place to while away some time (and if you need to warm up, it being Prague in winter, there’s a mulled wine booth just a few meters away from the rink).

Take a cruise on the Vltava River

While generally I try to avoid most touristy things, I’m a huge fan of doing river cruises and make it a point to do one whenever possible, no matter the season. There’s something magical about cities built on water and seeing it from water level adds a new dimension to a place you’ve traversed several times on foot. Just as my boat trip on the Danube was a highlight of my Budapest trip, a cruise on the Vltava river is a must on any Prague winter trip.

The boats are fitted with glass so you don’t have to worry about being too cold as you zip up and down the Vltava river, passing views such as the Prague Castle and passing underneath (and hopefully not into) the Charles Bridge. If you’re cold, you can warm up while holding a drink and taking in the information presented by your guide, who will explain the current function of the historic buildings as well as their unique pasts.

The best option would be the 3-hour cruise, including a buffet dinner of tasty Czech food, all with a background of lovely live music, which you can book here. The boat cruise departs at 7 PM during the winter months and cruises for 3 hours, so you can see Prague beautifully lit up at night.

Money-Saving Tip: If you’re trying to visit Prague on a budget, or you simply want a quicker cruise to save more time for sightseeing, you can opt for a 45-minute cruise as well.

Take a sauna on the river

If you want to get a bit away from the Christmas market crowds and warm up in an unconditional manner, head to the Naplavka Riverbank under the shadow of the Vysehrad fortifications. This river walkway is lively and often likened to a beach party in the summer, but it’s extremely quiet and peaceful in the winter.

Since Prague’s weather in winter is rather arctic, just walking along the water is a bit chilly. Instead, take advantage of the genius sauna-on-a-boat concept at Lázně na Lodi. Here, for about $6 per hour (140 CZK) you can enjoy a peaceful sauna and even go for a dip in the freezing cold Vltava if you’re brave (or Finnish). I recommend reserving a place if you really want to visit as it can get crowded at times.

An important note: this is an all-gender nude sauna, though people wear sheets to cover themselves, so if you’re shy this isn’t the place for you!

Want an even quirkier spa experience? Check out the beer spa featuring a beer bath and all you can drink beer! It’s not cheap – prices are about 110 euro for a group of two – but it’s one of the most unique things you can do in Prague. Check it out and book here!

Bonus: Escape on a day trip to Český Krumlov or Kutná Hora

Photo: Our Escape Clause

If Prague in winter just simply isn’t enough fairy-tale magic for you, you diva you, then hightail it to one of the most beautiful cities in the Czech Republic: Český Krumlov!

I have only been here in the fall but I can certify that it is absolutely delightful any time of year – and likely doubly so under a layer of snow! Český Krumlov in winter is a delight, and it’s well worth saving one day of your Prague trip for it.

While you can certainly get there independently by train, you can also book a day tour from Prague which makes transportation a little easier – especially if you’re nervous about navigating public transit in a foreign country. This is the day tour I recommend, with over 300 positive reviews!

A cool but more macabre option is to visit Kutná Hora, a picturesque Czech town with a bit of a dark side at its famous “Bone Chapel,” a.k.a. the Sedlec Ossuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Composed of the bones of over

The tour also includes Saint Barbara’s Church, Sankturin House, a beautiful Cistercian Monastery, the Italian Court, the Stone House, and the Plague Column — so you’ll really get quite an overview of this unique and historic town about 1 hour outside of Prague. This is the tour I recommend for Kutná Hora and its bone chapel.

Is a Prague City Card worth it?

One thing many readers ask me is if the Prague City Card is worth it. It’s available in 2, 3, and 4 day intervals, which allows for unlimited free public transit and included attractions.

If you plan to see the major sites in Prague – Prague Castle, the Jewish Museum and Old Jewish Cemetary, and the National Museum and Gallery – as well as do a river cruise, you will save money.

The Prague City Card offers the following options: a 2-day pass is about 60 euro, a 3-day pass is about 70 euro, and a 4-day pass is about 80 euro.

Considering that the Prague Castle entrance is about 14 euro, the Jewish Museum is about 14 euro, the Gallery is about 8 and the Museum is about 10, and a river cruise is minimum 15 euros, you’ve already saved money if you buy a Prague City Card (plus you get free transit, discounts on other attractions, and free access to at more than 50 other attractions.

I don’t always think city passes are worth it – but in Prague’s case, if you plan on doing the main sights, it 100% is.

To make it even easier, you can pre-book here and pick up the card and activate it whenever you arrive in Prague, picking up at one of three central points: Charles Bridge, Wenceslas Square, or the Florenc bus station.

Where to Stay in Prague

For tourists, Prague 1 and 2 are the most popular districts. I personally prefer the area around Vinohrady and the Old Town, though some people may prefer to be closer to the Castle District (Mala Strana)

I’ve noted my top picks for each type of traveler – budget, boutique, and luxury travelers – to make the hard choice a little easier!

Budget | Czech Inn

Combining beautifully European architecture and budget prices, this hostel provides affordable luxury to their guests with a fun vibe. Most of their spaces and facilities are specially designed for the younger guests – and the young at heart.

Most of the interiors are designed by Olga Novotná, a beloved Czech designer, and she used eclectic kinds of materials to create a cozy and warm feeling for guests in the common areas and rooms.

They have private rooms, apartments, shared rooms and premium dorm rooms (not your average dormitory room). All of their beds are made from brushed steel with a minimalist frame. The rooms have huge windows that allow natural lighting inside.

The best part of the hotel is the Czech Inn Bar, which is situated underneath the hotel. Happy hour runs from 6 PM to 8 PM. There are regular events like quiz nights, beer tasting (hooray!) and live music. Sometimes they even have stand-up comic events! It’s a great place if you’re looking for a budget-friendly stay with a social vibe.

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

Boutique | Le Palais Art Hotel

Want to feel like you’re staying in an art museum? That’s Le Palais in a nutshell. Upon entering its main hall, you will see a grand chandelier, matched by exquisite décor and furniture A lot of paintings are also on display in its hallways and rooms, which almost act as if a gallery.

Luxurious Ligne St. Barth toiletries are provided in their ensuite bathrooms. Some rooms even have a tub where you can soak after a long day of sight-seeing! The bed linens, curtains and floor carpets use warm colors to make everyone feel cozy and comfortable.

It has Artista Restaurant, which serves modern European cuisine (for breakfast, lunch or dinner) and they also source their ingredients locally. You can also check their wine selections to pair with your meal! If you want to have a few drinks, then the Lobby Bar has a nice selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, pastry and desserts.

There’s also a wellness center and fitness center, and several other fantastic 4* amenities to make your stay in Prague both stylish and comfortable.

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

Luxury | Aria Hotel Prague

This grand luxury hotel (which has a partner hotel in Budapest) offers 5-star amenities with a tasteful music theme. The rooms are all inspired by the different types of music like opera, jazz, and classical music. They also named each room after famous musicians and music personalities.  

The rooms have a classic, simple, and elegant style taken up a notch with velvet upholstered sofas and seating. The suite-type rooms also have a living area and kitchenette that easily helps you feel right at home. Their luxurious bathrooms are equipped with Molton Brown toiletries and all the lovely amenities you’d expect – like plush bathrobes and slippers – from a hotel of this caliber.

Inside, Coda Restaurant has an art deco interior located on the rooftop terrace. If you eat meat, you must try their meat dishes; the meat comes from local farms to guarantee freshness and taste! You’re given a welcome drink upon arrival, and they have daily snack and drinks complimentary for guests.

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

Getting to Prague

Getting to Prague is quite easy, whether you get in by train, bus, or plane!

Many people will arrive by train from another European city – usually Vienna, Bratislava, or Budapest. Luckily, the main train station (Hlavní Nádraží) is connected to the metro (line C) and is also easily within walking distance of many accommodations in Prague 2.

If arriving by bus, most people arrive at the Florenc bus stop or at Hlavní Nádraží (I took a DE bus from Nuremberg which dropped me off here). It’s easily connected by metro as well by lines B and C.

If arriving by the airport, note that there is no direct metro connection. You will have to take bus 119 to Nadrazi Veleslavin, then transfer to the Green line (A), where you can continue on to the city center.

Many people prefer to take a shared shuttle transfer or a private transfer – I recommend this company for shared transfers (cheap at about 10 euro per person and less in small groups) and this one for private transfers (about 25 euros for a group of 4 or fewer).

I don’t recommend taking a taxi from the airport in Prague. Prague is known for its scammy taxis, so go with a pre-booked transfer service or take the bus and metro.

Have you visited Prague in winter? Do you have any more recommendations for what to see in the colder months?