Fabric of my Life.

Beyond the Old Town.

Prague. A romantic, fairytale city of higgledy-piggledy streets, spires and bridges. And a perfect destination for a mid-Winter city break! 

After a wonderful press trip to Dubrovnik with Jet2 in 2022, I was eager to check out which European City Breaks were on offer with Jet2Holidays, since my first experience travelling with them had been so hassle-free and enjoyable. They have plenty of fantastic destinations you can fly to direct from Manchester (our local airport), including Barcelona, Berlin and Cologne, but it was Prague that most piqued my interest. Luis had visited a few times before, and felt it was a city I’d definitely enjoy discovering, but it was actually my desire to visit a specific Prague-based design store that I’ve followed on Instagram for a long while, that truly tipped the scale for me!

 

Jet2 operate regular flights to Prague from across the UK, including Leeds, Edinburgh, Liverpool and London, so it really is a super accessible city to visit for a long weekend break, with plenty to do, whether you’re interested in historical sights, contemporary art, modern culture —even designer shopping (althought that’s not personally my jam!) 

Photo from Luis' previous (summer time) trip to Prague!

When I started researching our trip it felt as if most of the guides I found online were geared towards the historical sightseeing you can do in Prague, whereas I was far more interested in discovering the contemporary culture of the city; unearthing the city’s evolving food and coffee scenes, modern art installations and contemporary design stores. Stepping away from the fairytale wonder of the Old Town and discovering the newer, hipper neighbourhoods beyond.

 

I only had three days to explore Prague, so this guide is by no means exhaustative, but these are the places I made a beeline for —or had on my list but couldn’t quite squeeze in, but wanted to share anyway because they came highly rated (and I want to remember them myself for a future trip!) 

Stay: Hotel Botanique Prague

We stayed at Botanique Hotel Prague, a hotel I’d chosen from Jet2’s extensive offering because of their recently remodelled modern room designs and focus on sustainability initiatives, including the elimination of single-use plastics and amenities, and wide offering of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian meal options as standard for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

 

Designed by Studio Olgoj Chorchoj, our Executive King room offered a pared-back, minimalistic design —that is definitely not typical of the Prague hotel scene— alongside a Nespresso coffee machine, comfortable Normann Copenhagen armchair, large desk and a modern bath room, equipped with a rainfall shower and powerful hairdryer. There were even additional complimentary amenities including a clothes steamer, bathrobes and slippers to help ensure our stay was as comfortable as possible. 

Although we were relying on public transport during our stay in Prague, it was also good to note that Hotel Botanique offers guests use of electric car chargers in the hotel garage for free, throughout the duration of their stay. Something we definitely wish hotels in the UK offered more! There is also a unique self-service laundry room, equipped with Miele professional washing machine and dryer, for anyone staying long-term, or passing through Prague on a longer European tour. 

 

Hotel Botanique, Sokolovská 11, 186 00 Karlín, Prague

Prague local neighbourhoods.

Karlín

Once an industrial hub, Karlín has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, to emerge as a dynamic residential and working district and earning itself a reputation as the ‘Bushwick of Prague’. Hotel Botanique is nestled on it’s edge, and a quick Google search in our room threw up a whole host of coffee shop options in Karlín’s direction. Naturally that meant we had to set off east to explore the area, discovering numerous art galleries, design studios and showrooms (including Vitra), and co-working spaces along the way; although most were sadly closed throughout the weekend so we didn’t get a chance to really explore them.

 

Sandwiched between Vltava river and the soaring Vítkov hill, Karlín is just four streets wide, but many of the wide, leafy, intersecting streets are lined with colourful 19th century apartment buildings that are home to young professionals and working families. We came across a concert hall and events centre, Forum Karlín, which occupies a former 1908 steam-engine factory, and also spotted many other old industrial buildings which had been converted into offices and premium residential flats. And, down one of those side streets, we also stumbled upon a very unique, 300m long, tiled tunnel —and secret shortcut!— between Karlín and neighbouring Žižkov, who are divided by a towering hill; Vítkov. 

 

Žižkov

Dating from the 1950s, the Žižkovský tunnel connects Thámova street in Karlín with  Tachovské náměstí in Žižkov, creating a 5 minute shortcut between two neighbourhoods that would otherwise take 20+ minutes via public transport. Apparently, one of the doors inside the tunnel leads to a nuclear fallout shelter built into the rock, which was kept in a state of readiness until 1990, with a supply of food, electricity and air that would be sufficient for 1,250 people to survive for 72 hours! 

 

The iconic communist-era Žižkov Television Tower sits at the heart of the neighbourhood, designed by architect Václav Aulický and structural engineer Jiří Kozák. It’s a Brutalist classic that has apprently been named the ‘second ugliest building in the world,’ but, personally, I was a little bit enamoured with it, especially as we got up closer and began to spot the giant babies crawling up the sides.. (yes, really!)

 

If Brutalist architecture isn’t your thing, you’ll still find plenty in Žižkov to enjoy, from cosy cafés and local markets, to vibrant art galleries, independent theatres and underground music venues.  I’d also recommend a brisk hike up Vítrov to take in the views across Karlín and Žižkov, and to visit the National Monument, which includes the third largest bronze rider statue in the world, of Jan Žižka, who defeated Catholic forces led by King Sigismund in 1420. 

View over Žižkov from Vítkov hilltop
National Monument at Vítkov

Holešovice, Bubeneč & Dejvice

Nestled in the northern reaches of Prague, the neighboring districts of Holešovice, Bubeneč and Dejvice are predominantly local residential areas, catering to young families, local university students, working professionals and foreign diplomats. As a result, you can find plenty of cosy cafés, convenience stores and bistros, as well as galleries, studios and boutiques that showcase the creative talents of local artists and designers. In fact, it was the aforementioned local design store that I follow on Instagram that drew me to venture out as far as Bubeneč in the first place! 

 

Holešovice in particualr is a very up-and-coming neighbourhood, recently named by The Independent as one of the 23 Coolest Neighbourhoods in Europe, coming in at joint 15th (it’s also worth noting that Ancoats in Manchester came 3rd!). You’ll find the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Holešovice, as well as Veverkova street, where, according to the New York Times, the best boutiques can be found, including art and design bookstore Page Five, contemporary clothing boutique Jakoby, and sustainable clothing store Recycle with Love

Holešovice
Bubeneč
Václavkova, Dejvice

Vinohrady

Renowned for its lush green spaces, stunning architecture and cosmopolitan atmosphere, Vinohrady is a local Prague neighbourhood we were recommended by a barista at Kaava lifestyle store in Karlín, as the place to visit for cool coffee shops, bars and lifestyle stores, and a general snapshot of modern life in Prague today. Centred around Korunni, one of the longest streets in the district, a stroll through Vinohrady unveils an architectural tapestry that spans various eras and styles, from the Art Nouveau facades that line Náměstí Míru to the modernist designs of the National House of Vinohrady.  The Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord, with its imposing clock tower, stands as a testament to the neighborhood’s architectural diversity and innovation. The cultural heart of Vinohrady is Riegrovy Sady park, a verdant oasis that hosts open-air cinemas and beer gardens in the summer, and offers a picturesque view of Prague Castle. 

The Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord, Vinohrady
Pekárna Praktika, Karlín

Immerse yourself in Prague’s café culture.

Cafés have long been integral to the social fabric of Prague, playing a multifaceted role in the city’s cultural and intellectual life and helping earn Prague the nickname, ‘Paris of the East’. Since the late 19th century, when cafes emerged as meeting places for writers, artists, intellectuals, and revolutionaries, establishments like Café Louvre and Café Slavia became renowned for their influential discussions around literature, politics, and philosophy. Franz Kafka, the renowned Czech-born writer and author of “The Metamorphosis” and “The Trial” was known to frequent cafes in Prague, including Café Louvre and Café Arco, while celebrated Czech Art Nouveau painter Alfons Mucha is said to have found inspiration in the ornate beauty and romanticism of the cafés of Prague.

 

Today, Prague’s cafés continue to cultivate an atmosphere conducive to creativity and contemplation and are, in my opinion, always the best place to people watch and get a real taste of life in the city. I was only in town for three days, and there are only so many cups of coffee a girl can feasibily consume in that time, but I feel I’d done plenty of homework prior to visiting, and am very happy with the selection of places we a) made a beeline to, and b) stumbled across en route. 

Grounds L4, Malá Strana
Kaava, Karlín
EMA, Karlín

Prague coffee shops.

Grounds L4

Tucked away in a beautiful  courtyard around the corner from Lennon Wall in Malá Strana, Lázeňská 4 (aka Grounds L4) is a hidden gem in the centre of historic Prague, close to the tourist-thronged Charles Bridge. Operated by speciality coffee roasters Rusty Nails, this petite coffee shop offers the perfect place to escape the crowds and relax for a while, either inside on their (limited) bench seating or, in the warmer summer months, outside in the elegant courtyard, sipping an expertly crafted espresso, accompanied by a little sweet treat from neighbouring Artic Bakehouse. 

 

Grounds L4, Lázeňská 287/4, 118 00 Malá Strana

 

EMA Espresso Bar

With three locations across Prague, EMA Espresso Bar was one of the coffee shops that popped up most consistantly when I was researching “where to find good coffee” pre-trip. The Karlin location was a ten minute walk from our hotel and, on a Sunday morning, the stylish modern venue was packed full of locals catching up with friends, or grabbing take-out coffees for rambles up nearby Vítkov Hill, or trips across the new Stvanice footbridge (by Blank Architekti) that connects Karlín with Holeševice on the opposite side of the Vltava River. The coffee shop was designed by architects Kristina Magasaniková and Roman Prachař, and features a beautiful wall mural designed by Lumír Kajnar, drawn by students of Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. 

 

EMA Espresso Bar, Palác Karlín Vstup z ulice Křižíkova, Thámova 289 /13, 186 00 Praha 8

 

Pekárna Praktika

Pekárna Praktika is an artisanal bakery and stonemill, and reportedly one of the best places for sourdough bread in the city! Sadly I didn’t get to taste-test for myself, as we’d just finished breakfast when we passed by and were seduced by the beautiful branding out front, but from the looks of their Instagram page their freshly baked pastries are incredible; especially the canelé and perfectly formed cruffins. There are two locations; one in Karlín, one further south in Vinorhady. 

 

Pekárna Praktika, Sokolovská 6/85, 183 00 Praha 8-Karlín  →Bělehradská 66, 120 00 Praha 2-Vinohrady

 

 

Můj šálek kávy

A coffee shop that came to my attention due to the sheer number of locals outside, sipping coffee and catching up on a sunny Monday morning, Můj šálek kávy is a popular coffee hangout in the centre of the Karlín neighbourhood. Operated by Doubleshot, a Prague-based specialty coffee roastery with an established direct trade program with coffee farmers in Latin America and Africa, the rustic-style café puts coffee at the centre of the experience, with a tasting menu that allows you to pick three types of coffee on offer and sample each one.

 

Můj šálek kávy, Křižíkova 386/105, 186 00 Praha 8-Karlín

Grounds L4, Malá Strana
Grounds L4, Malá Strana
Můj šálek kávy, Karlín
Šodó, Dejvice
Takeout coffee from EMA, Karlín
Pekárna Praktika, Karlín

Šodó

Described as a “cosy neighbourhood bistro in Dejvice, where you can drop by for good coffee and a great scone, a hearty breakfast or a pleasant lunch, wine and something good to go with it,” Šodó was high on my list to try, except by the time we arrived it was already lunchtime on a Saturday, and every savvy local had already staked out their spot in the tiny venue! So, if you’re planning a visit over the weekend I would definitely advise booking. Named after the vanilla custard that used to be a staple of Czech school cafeteria lunches, Šodó serves up speciality coffee, and a small tasty menu of breakfast, brunch, and lunch dishes that celebrate local Czech cuisine. 

 

Šodó, Wuchterlova 1, 160 00 Praha 6-Dejvice

 

Urban Café

A coffee shop we spotted on our walks to and from the Old Town from Hotel Botanique, we had to wait until Monday morning to be able to visit Urban Café and see if it was a lovely inside as it looked through the window. Thankfully, it was! We popped here for coffee and delicious breakfast buns on our final morning in Prague, and had a lovely relaxing experience,  surrounded by an abundance of indoor plants and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, from Berlin-based Bonzana Coffee Roasters. 

 

Urban Café, 37, Na Poříčí 1061, Nové Město

 

Cěrná Madona

Černá Madona have two venues in Prague, both situated in beautiful cubist buildings. The original Černá Madona is located in the famous cubist house U Černé Matky Boží (The House of the Black Mother) in Staré Město (Old Town), while the newer venue, Archa, opened in 2022 in Nové Město (New Town). Located in the rondocubist building of Legiobank, designed by architect Josef Gočár, Archa sits on a stretch of road that we walked many times en route from our hotel. It was the stunning display of patisserie desserts that drew our attention, and we knew we couldn’t leave Prague without sampling them —and the Old Town venue was always far too packed every time we passed by to be able to get a table without waiting. A shame really, as The House of the Black Mother is currently the only Cubist structure whose interior is accessible to the public, and it would have been lovely to have experienced it. Still, the cakes we did try at the Archa venue were both delicious, and the venue suitably charming too (and far less busy!), which almost made up for it. 

 

Černá Madona, Celetná 34/569, 110 00 Staré Město →Černá Madona Archa, Na Poříčí 24, 110 00 Nové Město

Urban Café, Nové Město
Buns from Urban Café, Nové Město
Urban Café, Nové Město
Černá Madona, Staré Město
Černá Madona Archa, Nové Město
Černá Madona Archa, Nové Město

Contemporary art & architecture in Prague. 

Prague’s architecture is a testament to its rich and diverse history, spanning over a millennium of cultural influences and architectural styles. From medieval castles and Gothic cathedrals to Baroque palaces and Art Nouveau buildings, the city’s architectural landscape is a reflection of its storied past and vibrant cultural heritage.

 

While key historical landmarks such as Prague Castle (one of the largest ancient castles in the world, dating from the 9th Century), Charles Bridge (dating from the 14th Century) and the Old Town Square (including the Gothic-style Church of Our Lady before Týn and the Baroque-style St. Nicholas Church) dominate traditional travel guides, there are plenty of exquisite examples of more modern architecture to be found in the city too, all contributing to Prague’s status as one of Europe’s most architecturally rich and visually stunning cities. 

 

The aforementioned Cubist house U Černé Matky Boží (The House of the Black Mother) in Staré Město offers a glimpse into the unique architectural style popular in Prague for a brief spell in the 1910-20’s, built on a playful combination of prisms, cubes and pyramid shapes, and pioneered by the likes of Josef Gočár, Emil Králíček, Pavel Janák and Josef Chochol. As well as the Cěrná Madona café, the building is also home to the Museum of Decorative Arts, which occupies two floors, presenting a cross-section of Czech Cubism centred on furniture and applied arts design primarily from 1911 to the early 1920s. 

New Stage, National Theatre

The New Stage of the National Theatre, inaugurated in 1983, represents a bold departure from traditional Czech architectural styles. Designed by Karel Prager, this modernist masterpiece marries sleek lines, geometric shapes, and minimalist aesthetics to create a striking exterior, characterized by a glass facade and angular forms, and reflecting the avant-garde spirit of contemporary design.

 

Described as the ‘modern sibling to the original Neo-Renaissance building of the National Theatre,’ the Nová scéna has become the seat of the world-renowned Laterna Magica, the world’s first multimedia theatre. It is probably the most well known example of Czech Brutalist architecture, and one of the most distinctive, but at the same time, one of the most controversial buildings in Prague. Personally though, I love it! 

 

New Stage, National Theatre, Národní 1393, 110 00 Nové Město

Heart for Václav Havel
The New Stage, National Theatre
Dancing House

Dancing House

The Dancing House, completed in 1996, was designed by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić, in collaboration with Frank Gehry. The iconic structure is said to be inspired by the fluidity and grace of dance, with its undulating form resembling a pair of dancers mid-twirl, creates a dynamic interplay of light and shadow. With its unconventional design and playful spirit, the Dancing House has become a symbol of Prague’s embrace of contemporary art and architecture, although I have to admit, I personally was left feeling quite underwhelmed, despite usually being a fan of what others might term ‘ugly buildings’….

 

Dancing House, Jiráskovo nám. 1981/6, 120 00 Nové Město

Kampa Museum of Modern Art

Housed in the former Sova Mills in the Lesser Quarter, the Kampa Museum showcases an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art. There is a focus on Central European artists, including the pioneer of abstract art, František Kupka, and Czech Cubist sculptor Otto Gutfreund, as well as the works of prominent artists of the 20th century from the Eastern bloc. The mission of Museum Kampa is to give witness to the difficult times in which the artworks originated, which should not be forgotten.

 

Museum Kampa, U Sovových mlýnů 2, 118 00 Malá Strana

DOX Centre for Contemporary Art

DOX is the largest independent institution focused on contemporary art in the Czech Republic, based in a renovated complex of industrial buildings from the 19th century, in Prague’s Holešovice district. Opened in 2008, DOX’s programme “spans genres, where art, literature, theatre, and music transform everyday experience,” addressing topics and issues that shape today’s world. Since 2016, Gulliver Airship, a giant wooden zeppelin, has been perched atop the building, housing an exhibition about airship technology. 

 

Dox Centre for Contemporary Art, Poupětova 1, 170 00 Praha 7-Holešovice

Trade Fair Palace, National Gallery

Originally conceived as a space for trade fairs, the Trade Fair Palace is a gem of Czech Functionalist architecture built between 1925⁠–⁠1928, based on plans by architects Josef Fuchs and Oldřich Tyl. The imposing building was, at the time, the largest edifice of its kind in the world. Renovated throughout the late 70s and 80s following a devastating fire, the current building was completed in the 1990s and now presents pieces from artists including Josef Mánes, Pablo Picasso, Josef Navrátil, Bohumil Kubišta and Antonio Canova, as well as permanent exhibitions on architecture and lifestyle in the Czech Republic between 1956 and 1989. 

Trade Fair Palace, Dukelských Hrdinů 47, 170 00 Praha 7-Holešovice

MeetFactory

Founded by the renowned Czech artist David Černý, MeetFactory is a dynamic multidisciplinary arts space that occupies a sprawling industrial complex in Smíchov district that was once a factory. The space hosts a diverse array of exhibitions, performances, workshops and residencies, providing a platform for artists to push boundaries, challenge conventions and engage with audiences in thought-provoking ways. There is an emphasis on contemporary prose, as well as experimental interdisciplinary projects.

 

MeetFactory, Ke Sklárně 3213/15, 150 00 Praha 5-Smíchov

Yellow Penguins, Cracking Art Group

It certainly is a sight to see, especially on a grey overcast day in Prgaue; 34 yellow penguins standing on a metal beam along the Vltava near Kampa Park. Created by the Milan-based Cracking Art Group, and installed in 2008, the yellow penguins are all made from recycled bottles and are designed to provide a commentary on how the world is becoming increasingly artificial. By using repurposed plastic, the group hope the installation inspires new dialogues surrounding plastic waste and its impact on the environment, including the dangers of climate change. 

Crawling Babies, David Černý

Created by David Černý, a controversial and provocative Czech sculptor known for challenging societal norms and conventions, the Crawling Babies first made their appearance in 2000, shimmying on the side of Žižkov Television Tower. Depicting oversized, faceless infants crawling on all fours, their bodies distorted and contorted in unsettling poses,  the installation sparked controversy and debate, with some praising the artistic innovation and others finding the babies to be disturbing or grotesque. Despite the divisive reactions though, Černý’s Crawling Babies quickly became iconic symbols of Prague’s avant-garde art scene, prompting the artist to create additional installations of the sculptures in the gardens beside the Kampa Museum, and at other locations throughout Prague. Designed to challenge preconceptions and perceptions of innocence, childhood, and societal norms, provoking a range of emotions and interpretations, the Crawling Babies invite reflection on the complexities of human existence and the absurdities of contemporary life.

John Lennon wall

Located in the Lesser Town (Malá Strana) near the Charles Bridge, the John Lennon wall has a fascinating history rooted in the legacy of the legendary musician and peace activist, John Lennon. Following his tragic death in 1980, an anonymous artist painted a portrait of the singer on a section of the wall, along with lyrics from his songs promoting peace and love. Over time, the wall became a spontaneous canvas for graffiti, murals, and messages of hope, protest, and solidarity, with visitors from around the world adding their own contributions. During the communist era, the wall served as a symbol of resistance and defiance against the oppressive regime, with young Czechs using it to express their discontent and aspirations for freedom and democracy. Despite repeated attempts by the authorities to whitewash or suppress the graffiti, the wall continued to be a powerful and resilient symbol of resistance and resilience and is today a popular tourist attraction, and cherished symbol of artistic expression and activism in Prague.  

In August Company, Bubeneč

Contemporary design & lifestyle stores.

In August Company

The whole reason I’d come to Prague (haha, ok, not the whole reason!) was to visit In August Company, an independent Czech homeware label offering handmade crockery, textiles and artwork, run by founders Karolína and Teodorik. I’d fallen in love with their aesthetic via Instagram; the IAC account was one of those whose every post elicited an instant heart from me!  I’d been longing to visit their showroom in Bubeneč for a long time, so when I started planning our trip to Prague, heading out to see them was top of my agenda (much like visiting Marie Bastide in Marrakech, or Luna Zorro in Antigua).

 

Karolína hand-paints every IAC mug, bowl and plate, and also illustrates all their motifs (e.g. Face and Moon collections) and posters. Together with Teodorik, they pour their heart and soul into the IAC brand, and it really shows. Their little chocolate box of a store on a leafy residential side street feels both warm and cosy, yet light and airy, offering the perfect backdrop to displaying their signature blue and cream colour palette —also one of my faves, which probably explains why I feel such affinity for the brand. It’s a space that invites you to linger awhile, perusing every inch of the store and examining each of the individual crockery pieces to choose a favourite. In the end I was super restrained, choosing a small coffee cup from the ‘Faces’ collection and a canvas market tote in khaki green to remember my visit by, but only because otherwise I would have ended up with the whole store! 

 

In August Company, Dr. Zikmunda Wintra 791/17, 160 00 Praha 6-Bubeneč

In August Company, Bubeneč

Qubus Design Studio

The Qubus brand was founded in 2002 by Jakub Berdych Karpelis and Maxim Velčovský, based on a desire to design, produce and present Czech contemporary and conceptual design with wit and unconventionality. Since then Qubus has become one of the most popular design studios in the Czech Republic, working with traditional Czech materials —typically glass or porcelain— and playing with morphology and function. Responding to modern lifestyle, and reflecting cultural and social prejudices, Qubus’ design philosophy is “Central European sarcasm meets the comments of the world around us.”  

 

Qubus Design Studio, Rámová 1071/3, 110 00 Staré Město

Artisème

Offering a peaceful oasis in the busy heart of Prague, right next to the John Lennon Wall, the garden of Artisème is descibed as “a perfect retreat for those who want to reconnect with their aesthetic intuition.” The stylish and serene lifestyle store celebrates the bohemian spirit by “taking a step back from what the trends say we should find beautiful and  —instead— searching for a definition of our own.” It’s certainly a philosophy I can get behind and, perusing the beautiful collection of pieces presented in the gallery-like store, you could certainly see just how much care and attention had gone into curating the refined edit of homeware and lifestyle objects, that felt at once both timeless and very now. 

 

Artisème, Velkopřevorské nám. 4, 118 00 Malá Strana

Artisème​, Malá Strana
Kaava, Karlín
Nila, Karlín

Kaava

A little lifestyle store slash coffee shop in the heart of Karlín, Kaava offers a carefully edited selection of clothing, jewellery and coffee paraphernalia alongside good coffee. You can also grab a cuppa in store, to enjoy in their spacious window seat (perfect for people watching, or striking up a conversation with the barista, as we did), or one of the tables outside on the pavement to survey the neighbourhood.

 

Kaava, Sokolovská 101, 186 00 Karlín

Nila

With three locations in Prague (Karlín, Vinohrady and Letná) Nila is a beautifully curated fashion, lifestyle and accessories store that brings together carefully considered brands and designers from across the world. When we stumbled upon their Karlín store it seemed small and unassuming from the outside but, stepping inside, it opened up like a tardis, spread over three floors, each one beautifully merchandised and full of wonderful surprises. I discovered plenty of new-to-me brands, each offering a clean modern aesthetic, with a focus on quality and functionality.  

 

Nila, Šaldova 388/5, 180 00 Praha 8-Karlín 

Nila, Karlín
Kantýna, Nové Město

Contemporary dining spots.

Prague’s contemporary dining scene has been flourishing in recent years, with a diverse array of innovative restaurants, cafés and bistros offering exciting culinary experiences throughout the city. Many restaurants offer modern interpretations of traditional Czech dishes, incorporating innovative techniques and creative presentations, and using locally sourced ingredients to put a contemporary twist on classic recipes.  As in many European cities, Prague has seen a rise in vegetarian and vegan dining in recent years, and you can find plenty of places that cater to both plant-based lifestyles, and other specific dietary requirements. 

Kantýna

Not one for the veggies though, Kantýna is a unique dining destination that seamlessly blends butchers shop with a modern steakhouse concept, revolving around high-quality meats sourced from local Czech farms. Located inside an opulent 19th century former bank building, the backdrop to the canteen-style dining hall is completed with original murals and figurative sculptures by Czech Art Nouveau sculptor Jan Štursa, alongside custom-designed furniture and copper lighting by architect Rudolf Netík. 

 

We visited on recommendation from my friend Dave, of Man vs. Globe, and it turned out to be the culinary highlight of the trip! The open kitchen allows you to watch the chefs at work, adding an extra element of excitement and energy to the overall dining experience. I’d highly recommend the dry-aged beef tartare and pork schnitzel dishes we ordered —and definitely don’t snooze on the garlic potato pancake or pickled veggies either because both were absolutely delicious too! The venue is understandably very popular, so I’d recommend visiting for an early lunch on a weekday. We went on a Monday at 1pm and managed to snag a table in the busy dining hall; by 2pm there were crowds thronged around the central communal standing table.

 

Kantýna, Politických vězňů 1511/5, 110 00 Nové Město

Eska, Karlín
Kantýna, Nové Město

Eska

Located inside a converted fabric factory (and part of the Forum events venue), Eska offers a modern take on traditional Czech breakfast and lunch dishes using locally sourced ingredients and innovative cooking techniques. Breakfast options include egg-fried bread with grilled vegetables (or ham), crepes with pear baked jam and curd cheese, and semolina porridge with brown butter and lavender. Lunch options include roasted rabbit and potatoes in ash, which is apparently the one dish you absolutely must order to the menu. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to try them but if you do, let me know! 

 

Eska, Pernerova 49, 186 00 Praha 8-Karlín

Sansho

Sansho is a stylish modern eatery in Nové Město offering a menu of modern Asian dishes made from ethically-sourced ingredients. The chefs are  apparently “crazy about strong flavours, and pairing food with funky drinks,” and the menu boasts lunchtime dishes including hand-pulled ‘Biang Biang’ noodles, pineapple kimchi rolls, and shiitake and black truffle open dumplings. For dinner they offer 3 degustation menu options (classic & vegetarian), which include the likes of soft shell crab sliders, Orange Sambal curry, and brioche with almond ice cream for dessert. This place was pretty close to our hotel, so I’m gutted we didn’t make it over in the end,  but its high on my list for a return trip! 

 

Sansho, Petrská 1170/25, 110 00 Nové Město

Mr. HotDoG

I really wish we’d been in the Holešovice district at lunchtime because both Mr. HotDoG and neighbouring Sandwich Rodeo looked like absolute winners (with pretty good reviews, based on my pre-trip research too). We passed by prior to opening time in the end, but still spotted the chefs inside hard at work preparing ingredients for their 11.30am opening time. Apparently it is advisable to arrive early (or reserve a table) since its an incredibly popular venue, offering pork and beef sausage options as well as tofu, on request. Looking at their Instagram I think the Bacon Jam & Cheese Dog would be my order, with a sharing side of ‘beautiful fries’; bacon jam, monterey jack cheese and louisiana remoulade. Oh, and a frozen Margarita ;) 

 

Mr. HotDoG, Kamenická 24, 170 00 Praha 7-Holešovice

Sandwich Rodeo

Next to Mr. HotDoG, on the corner of M. Horákové, is Sandwich Rodeo. A place I only clocked because of its beautiful menu outside (the layout, the font!), but on further research is actually a very highly rated American diner style eatery too. Looking at the menu its actually really difficult to decide which I’d want to order first (and would no doubt persuade Luis to share with me, so we can try two options), but I think those would probably be the hot fried chicken with dill pickle and buttermilk mayo, plus the shrimp roll with Mary’s cocktail sauce… 

 

Sandwich Rodeo, Kamenická 602/24, 170 00 Praha 7-Holešovice

Sandwich Rodeo (with Mr. HotDog in background)
Kus Koláče

Kus Koláče

A place recommended to us by the barista at Kaava, Kus Koláče is apparently the place in Prague to sample kolache; a sweet pastry that holds a portion of fruit surrounded by puffy yeast dough. Epic queues form whenever the bakery announce a new batch fresh out of the oven, and they often sell out within the hour, so you have to be super quick! 

 

Kus Koláče, Korunní 90, 101 00 Vinohrady

Trdelník, aka 'chimney cake'

If you don’t manage to snag yourself a freshly baked kolache then you can console yourself with a trdelník, aka ‘chimney cake,’ which you’ll be able to find baking all over Staré Město and Nové Město. Made from a light sweet dough, which is wrapped around a stick and baked on a spit, the cake is then typically rolled in sugar, cinnamon and chopped nuts. You’ll find plenty of variants on offer though, with many of these cylindrical treats being filled with sweet cream and dipped in Nutella, pistachio or white chocolate.

 

It’s important to note though, that while Trdelník can now be found all over Prague, their origins actually lie in a Hungarian-speaking region of Transylvania, today part of Romania. It seems that the touristic Chimney Cake shops you find all over the Old Town were actually introduced in the early 2000’s so, while they’re certainly a delicious treat to experience when you’re in the area, if you’re looking to sample traditional Czech pastries you are far better heading to one of the more residential neighbourhoods and trying buchty, bublanina, koblihy (Czech doughnuts), or the afforementioned kolache, at a local bakery.

Tourist hotspots worth visiting (if you have time)

Národní Muzeum

The historical building of the National Museum sits at the head of Wenceslas Square in Nové Město, and was declared a national cultural monument in 1962. It’s an impressive and imposing building, designed by prominent Czech neo-renaissance architect Josef Schulz, that is definitely worth seeing from an archiectural perspective even if you don’t intend on heading inside to visit the exhibits. If you do though, you’ll discover Miracles of Evolution (a natural sciences exhibition), Hall of Minerals, Windows in Prehistory (an exposition of life from Protozoic era to Quaternary era), and a History Wing dedicated to the history of the Czech lands from 8th century to World War I. The New Building of the National Museum, located in the former Prague Stock Exchange, sits adjacent to the main building, and houses the permanent History of the 20th Century exhibition. 

 

Národní Muzeum, Václavské nám. 68, 110 00 Nové Město

 

Old Town Square

If it’s your first time visiting Prague you’d be remiss not to at least saunter your way through the Old Town Square to take in the majestic atmosphere of the space, and the various architectural styles, including the Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn, which has been the main church of Staré Město since the 14th century. Legend has it, it was Týn’s twin towers and turrets that inspired Walt Disney —and walking through the square you can easily see the resemblance to Sleeping Beauty’s castle. 

 

Mounted on the southern side of the Old Town Hall wall you’ll find Prague Orloj, a medieval astronomical clock that was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world, and the oldest still in operation. When the clock strikes the hour (between 9am-11pm), the procession of the Twelve Apostles is set in motion, with crowds gathering below to eagerly await the show from at least 10 minutes to the hour. Super touristy, yes, but still a wonderful sight to behold! 

How to get around Prague.

One of the biggest things that impressed me about Prague was how quick, efficient and well connected the local transport network is. There are tram lines running up and down most of the major streets, an underground Metro with three colour-coded lines, as well as an extensive bus service for reaching the more residential areas of the city. 

 

Ticket validity is based on journey time (30 min, 90 min, 24hr, 72hr), and the number of transfers within that does not matter; you can even switch between transport modes with a single timed ticket. We used the Metro to transfer from the airport to our hotel at the start of our trip (and back again, of course), but otherwise we found the tram network was completely sufficient for all journeys we needed to make around the city —although we did primarily walk, since this is always my favourite way to get to know a new area!

 

Still, when the heavens opened on us whilst in Mala Srána on a late Saturday afternoon, we simply hopped aboard the tram back to our hotel, using Google Maps to suggest the quickest route to take. All the tram timings were clearly listed out and, surprise, actually turned up at the exact time stated online. London Transport could never! 

 

We were both also completely enamoured by the vintage trams that run along route 42; a hop-on-hop-off service that scoots around some of the city’s favourite streets and landmarks. Running in a loop every 40 minutes from Dlabacov to Dlabacov at weekends, Tram 42 takes you past Prague Castle and the Belvedere summer palace, down Mala Strana and past the National Theatre, across Wenceslas Square, and along the waterfront. It costs just 250Kr for the day (around £10). 

So, all-in-all, it’s safe to say that I highly recommend booking yourself a Jet2CityBreaks to Prague! We had a wonderful time exploring some of the lesser-known areas of the city, and had such a great experience travelling with Jet2 that I’ve already started to plan which of their Winter City Breaks to book next…

 

Vienna? Budapest? Bergen? Or perhaps some Winter sunshine in Marrakech again! 

 

Where would you go? 

This post is in partnership with Jet2, who covered our return flights from Manchester to Prague and accomodation. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Our travel itinerary was entirely planned ourselves. All photography © Kate Baxter & Luis Leiva. 
 

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