Travel is about making memories. After reflecting on our entire European trip, spanning from London to Budapest with 10 cities along the way, I realized that our most memorable food and drink experiences were in Prague. From incredible presentations to creative menu offerings, we were impressed. We loved hopping from place to place, trying to compare each to something we had experienced before, but couldn’t. Best of all, these experiences were not specifically intended to appeal to tourists, but rather the norm of locals themselves who have an obvious passion for elevated cuisine and mixology.
In this guide:
Why I Chose Prague
When I was researching where to go on my Europe trip with my boyfriend, I started with our three “must” cities where we would meet up with friends and family – London, Rotterdam and Budapest. Then, I identified convenient and economical travel options between those cities, and intriguing stops we could make along the way. Prague was a short hour-and-a-half flight away from Amsterdam (the closest airport to Rotterdam), and taking the train from Prague to Budapest with a stop in Vienna are all direct train rides less than four hours each. An alternative route to get to Prague from Amsterdam is by train, with a stop in Berlin. My boyfriend traveled to Berlin recently, so we chose to fly to Prague via Czech Airlines instead. We had never been to any of these Eastern European cities, and after hearing such amazing things about them, we were so excited! We were also enticed by the current exchange rate between the US Dollar and Czech Koruna, which was greatly in our favor. It was an easy choice!
When We Went
We were in Prague from September 24th to September 27th, which turned out to be a great time to visit. The city was not crowded, as you might expect in summer months, and the weather was pleasantly cool, averaging in the upper 50s/low 60s during the day and upper 40s/low 50s at night. Please note that, of course, temperatures are unpredictable and may change year to year.
What To Pack
My top two recommendations for packing for Prague are comfortable shoes and a light jacket. More specifically, I strongly suggest flat shoes that have a thick sole on them. Almost the entire city is cobblestone and it will really wear on your feet/ankles after a couple hours or walking if you aren’t wearing supportive shoes. Even my low-heeled booties I packed were bothering me (and short, chunky heels rarely do), so I switched into my sneakers during the day. A light jacket you can take off and on throughout the day is essential. We often encountered a cool breeze by the river, gusting winds between the buildings, or a quick drop in temperature at night. That said, there are a lot of stairs and walking in the sun around Prague Castle that will warm you up quickly. I suggest planning your outfits accordingly! See everything I packed for my trip and how I packed it in a carry-on only.
Getting Around Prague
Like many other European cities we traveled to, Prague is best explored on foot. More the reason to pack your most supportive shoes! We navigated from place to place using Google Maps on our phones. Fortunately, I found the service to be generally reliable in Prague on my T-Mobile ONE Plus international plan, which boosts your data plan for an extra $15/month while traveling abroad. I highly recommend it! The only thing you get charged extra for is calls (by the minute), which I did not use. Texts and data are unlimited, and you can add or delete the plan as it is on a month-to month basis.
If you do need a ride somewhere after a long day of walking around town, you will find a few cabs around The Palladium shopping mall and large hotels, or you can book an Uber. For any ride, confirm when you get in the car that the driver will they accept your credit card. It’s helpful to have some of the local currency on hand, just in case. For shorter distances, however, walking will likely be faster.
We were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to get around without speaking or being able to read the Czech language. Everyone spoke proficient English! Most restaurants also offered English menus. Some common words/phrases to know are please (prosím), thank you (dekuji), hello/goodbye (ahoj), yes (ano), and no (ne). It can easily be confusing that “ano” sounds like no but means yes. Google Translate is helpful for pronunciations.
Where We Stayed
As you will see in my other European city guides (coming soon!), we always stayed in rental apartments booked through Airbnb. I found the prices to be far more reasonable than hotels with equally central locations and comfortable amenities. This was especially true in Prague. When converted to the U.S. dollar, prices were less than $100/night, yet the private apartment options were modern, spacious and plentiful. I could hardly believe it!
I looked at various areas around Prague to stay in and decided I wanted a location on the east side of the river (not Mala Strana) and also be close to, if not in, Old Town. There were many options south of Old Town in Mustek, so if you choose to stay here, I recommend the northwest area of the neighborhood. As you will see on my map below, more places were near center Old Town.
Ultimately, we booked this exact Airbnb in Old Town, which has over 175 5-star reviews and is hosted by an Airbnb Superhost. The apartment was the perfect size for two of us to settle into for four days, and we were even able to early check-in. I appreciated how much closet space and bathroom counter space there was, which can be tricky to find in historic old towns like this. As you will read below, there were also four great food spots within a block away (and more that we weren’t able to try). For me, that was the icing on the cake. I highly recommend Jiri’s place!
Where We Ate
The restaurants in Prague offered various cuisines, typical of any large city. We enjoyed trying the local Czech cuisine, as well as modern takes on an array of international cuisines we know and love. To view all of the mentioned places on a map, along with a summary of our experience there, scroll to the bottom of this post!
Our first meal in Prague was less than one minute walk away from our Airbnb and recommended by our host. It was one of the most popular places from my research, where locals and tourists alike enjoy a hearty, homemade Czech meal and a fresh Pilsner straight from the tanks. (By the way, be sure you know how to order your Pilsner pour style (Honest Guide on YouTube details this!). Two out of the three ways you can order your pour are mostly foam, and only option on the menu will result in a glass of mostly beer!) For our meal, we loved the beef goulash and beef with mushroom cream sauce. The bread dumplings on the side are a local staple – the perfect leftover sauce dippers. Lokal was the perfect introduction to Prague that I would highly recommend anyone’s first visit to the city.
While major town squares in large European cities tend to be “super-touristy”, this sunlit café located around the corner from Old Town Square felt surprisingly local. You can order take-out coffee/tea and pastries to enjoy as you explore the area (which is notably home to the famous Astronomical Clock). If you’re taking your morning a little slower, you can find a cozy nook for dine-in with table service. The “Egg Cloud” I chose for breakfast was a very creative rendition of a classic Eggs Benedict, something I order often. It is made by whipping the egg whites, shaping them into a nest and baking it with the yolk in the center. The texture was more fluffy, of course, but the flavor profile was delightfully traditional.
Styl & Interier
This hidden, quaint cafe near Wenceslas Square has a charming yesteryear interior dining room, a tranquil garden courtyard, and a closed-in glass house to enjoy the lush garden scenery in the cooler months. We ordered a delicious seasonal pumpkin quiche, the English roast beef with quail eggs, and freshly squeezed lemonades, which (unlike American lemonade) were surprisingly but delightfully sparkling. We were enjoying the peaceful atmosphere so much that we decided to extend our stay and ordered mulled wine and a lush carrot cake. I can’t recommend this spot enough!
After a lot of walking and hundreds of stairs, surrounded by thousands of other tourists around Prague Castle, we landed at this upscale riverfront restaurant right next to the Charles Bridge. They have multiple dining rooms, but we chose the indoor room with floor to ceiling glass windows directly on the water. The wait staff was friendly, knowledgeable and attentive – a noticeable difference from the service we experienced in many of the other restaurants on our trip. We ordered the 32 degree salmon, and the steak tartar with black truffle. The salmon was the stand-out dish – a familiar combination unique in it’s contemporary preparation and presentation.
La Bottega Bistroteka
Around the corner from our Airbnb was this highly-rated bistro. Surprisingly, they did not have a brunch menu, so we opted for an 11:00 am lunch. The Chicken Liver Soup was thogoughly comforting on a cool day, though I would say it (liver) is not for everyone. The ravioli, filled with shrimp and shellfish in a veloute, was heavenly. You could tell the food was high quality, as the majority of fellow diners were locals. They also had a small deli counter with Italian goods that looked tasty for take-out.
This popular butcher shop located between Lokal and La Bottega Bistroteka was always packed with a line out the door. On our last night, we were so intrigued that we decided to try it. We ordered their famous, and very large, smoked meat sandwich. Splitting it was plenty for two of us! There are only a few seats inside the shop, so I recommend planning on takeout. It was definitely scrumptious, and reminded me of Schwartz Deli in Montreal or Katz Deli in NYC. If you plan on cooking during your stay in Prague, I think it would be worthwhile to buy some uniquely Czech, local meats here.
Bahn Mi Bah
If you don’t want to wait in line at Nase Maso but still want a sandwich to-go or a quick bite, this small Vietnamese cafe is right around the corner next to the Airbnb where we stayed. The banh mi we ordered was tasty, but despite the many positive reviews, I won’t say it was the best I’ve ever eaten. There are a few small tables inside and you order at the counter.
Ambiente Pizza Nuova
Sometimes the best meals are last-minute discoveries, which was definitely the case for Pizza Nuova. They offer an a la carte menu and absolutely insane tasting courses menu where, for a set price, the courses never end until you tell them to stop! I chose the Degustazione Napoletana (for only $21!), which includes nearly all of the Neapolitan pizzas and pastas offered on their menu. They give you a big white plate, and servers come out of the kitchen with the pan each item was cooked in to serve you a small slice of pizza or spoonful of pasta. For someone who wants to try a little bit of everything, I was in heaven. Not to mention, the food was incredibly flavorful and clearly prepared with high-quality ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes. My boyfriend ordered a single menu item and soon regretted it after seeing the variety of courses I was being served for nearly the same price. Molto delizioso!
Try Local Street Food!
Sweet tooth or not, there are plenty of shops and stalls in the markets serving the local street food. Trdelník, also known as chimney cake, is a popular pastry made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix. You can also have it filled with chocolate, whipped cream, berries… the options are endless! We also tried local mead wine, sausages, mulled wine, and fried cheese from local street food vendors.
Where We Drank
Teresa U Prince
This rooftop terrace above Hotel U Prince in Old Town Square is worth going to solely for the incredible views of Prague and Old Town Square (without anything blocking your shot in the way). We went for one drink in the late afternoon and didn’t have a problem getting a table, though it is a bit touristy. I would not go if the weather isn’t clear and enjoyable.
Prague Beer Museum
Unaffiliated with any brewery, this pub offers 30 beers on tap and an extensive menu of craft Czech beers. We opted for one of the seven available pre-set beer flights to try a variety of what they offered. If you go with a large group, they have an “All In” flight with all 30 beers at once for less than $50! I was impressed by the amount of seating available at this pub, mostly indoors with tables and a bar, and a few tables outside. It’s important to note that this bar is cash only!
Gulden Draak Bierhuis
Translating to Golden Dragon in Flemish (Belgian Dutch), this cool Belgian beer bar offers more than 15 beers on draft and hundreds of bottled beers, from more traditional brewers to small craft family breweries. See how big the menu is?! A huge selection to say the least. It had a very local vibe due to its location slightly off the beaten path of Old Town Prague.
John Lennon Pub
A minute walk away from the John Lennon Wall is a pub dedicated to the his legacy. It is filled with photos of the famous musician and memorabilia, but wasn’t as to-theme as anticipated. It’s a casual, comfortable place to meet and chat with other tourists. For a fun picture, there is a red phone booth and “yellow submarine” hallway, though I would opt for a photo in front of the colorful, artistic Lennon Wall if you had to choose between the two. Behind the Lennon Wall is a small, empty courtyard and a cute gift shop that has a surprisingly modern feel – nice for souvenirs or a little gift.
This multi-level restaurant and bar features a rooftop with sweeping views of Wenceslas Square and turns into a nightclub after hours. It has a deceivingly small entrance with a hostess stand and two elevators, but once you arrive upstairs you’ll see the colorful art installations, spiral staircases, and tasty menu.
If you enjoy and appreciate absinthe, this absinthe bar offers a wide variety of both macerated and distilled options from all over the world. If you are hesitant or have never tried absinthe, they also have a cocktail list of mixed absinthe drinks. To be honest, I could barely taste the absinthe in the cocktails I tried – Absinthe Gingerbread Mule and Absinthe Raspberry Bramble. The bar itself is fairly small, but there is additional seating with table service. The presentations of the straight absinthe were unsurprisingly beautiful, and they even sell some tools to take home as a souvenir!
Vinárna U Sudu
This brick-vaulted wine bar and summer outdoor beer garden features four interconnected basements, a foosball table, and a dance floor. They specialize in wines, but of course sell the local Pilsner and a full bar of liquor too. When we visited, I was surprised by how casual it felt during the day!
This cocktail bar is inspired by Ernest Hemingway and his travels around the world where he enjoyed rum, absinthe and champagne. They serve a very large (over 200 rums!) and rare selection of these liquors, including a Hemingway Absinthe that was distilled exclusively for their bar! The bartenders were extremely knowledgable about every single liquor offered, and gave us great suggestions of new things to try. I started with a Game of Thrones inspired cocktail from their cocktail menu, but moved on to Absinthe once I learned more about their impressive selection.
This speakeasy cocktail bar was based on the V for Vendetta movie with its interior mimicking the hideout of V. I ordered Valerie’s Rose with London dry gin, white wine, chartreuse elixir, fresh lemon and rose petals. For less than $9, it was an excellent and well-made cocktail that I would happily order again. Instead, I asked to see their secret menu, something I had read about online but didn’t know what to expect. You can see a sneak peek of the menu below and its awesome presentation – so much fun! The servers are fantastic and really put on a show – sometimes with the infamous masks, and other times with a fire show where they turn off all the lights inside to engage everyone. Make sure you see the movie before you go – it’s a requirement!
Black Angel’s Bar
Identified as one of the Top 10 Best Hotel Bars in the World, this 1930s style speakeasy cocktail bar is located in a gothic cellar within U Prince Hotel in Old Town Square, the same hotel as Teresa U Prince Rooftop. It had a few small rooms and a bar area with a live pianist, all of which shared the same dark and dim decor. The seating is tight, or “cozy” as one might say, but I preferred the atmosphere at the bar. You can also watch the bartenders from an interesting perspective – in front of you and behind the scenes thanks to the oversized mirror up above. Photos were unfortunately not allowed in the entire bar, which is something to keep in mind if that’s your purpose in going, but the drinks are amazing. The menu is expansive and truly offers something for everyone.
What We Did
Besides walking everywhere and taking in the sights at every block, there were some attractions I would highly recommend based on our experiences.
Original Beer Spa
Instead of limiting yourself to sitting at a bar to drink the local beer, why not enjoy it at a spa where you can soak in the skin benefits of the hops, malt and barley at the same time? We booked an hour at the Original Beer Spa down the street from our Airbnb, but there are multiple locations available. Thirty minutes are spent in the tub, 20 minutes in the wheat bed, and 10 minutes for changing. It’s so worth it! The hour does go by fast, per many reviews I read, but it’s enough time to take in the experience, relax, and drink the unlimited beer (available in light or dark). We got in a lot of laughs, too! The room is private, suitable for any occasion. No, you won’t smell like beer after. Yes, your skin will be very soft!
Old Town Square
It wouldn’t be a visit to Prague without going to Old Town Square, most famous for the Astronomical Clock. Unfortunately when we were there, it was under construction, but it is supposed to be pretty cool and worth checking out if you time it right.
Given our Airbnb was nearby, we also walked through the square at night. There’s something so magical about the way European city landmarks light up at night!
For interrupted views of the square and a more comfortable/less crowded setting, I highly recommend the Teresa U Prince rooftop mentioned above.
Also known as the Powder Gate, this gothic tower is one of the original city gates that separates Old Town from New Town. In fact, it was one of thirteen entrances to to Old Town in the 11th century! Having once served as a gunpowder store, you will see where the name comes from. To this day, it has served as the starting point for the Coronation of Czech kings to Prague Castle.
In addition to seeing it from the ground, there is a viewing gallery open to the public that is about 144 ft. high (186 steps!). While I would not go out of your way to see this monument, it is a short 5 minute walk away from Old Town Square if you are nearby!
Even if you don’t walk across, I highly recommend seeing the view of the famous Charles Bridge that crosses the Vltava River. Although we missed it, it’s supposed to be stunning at sunset! You can also see it from Kampa Park restaurant, mentioned above.
Pařížská Street in the Jewish Quarter is the most prestigious boulevard in Prague lined with many of the world’s most prominent, high-end fashion stores. Beyond the glamorous window shopping, you will also notice the architecture that combines the old with the new. Nearby, you will also find the Moorish revival-style Spanish Synagogue, and a memorial statue of famous Prague writer, Franz Kafka.
Head of Franz Kafka
For modern art enthusiasts, the 36 ft. high statue of the great Czech writer Franz Kafka is a 21st-century technical marvel of Prague. Forty-two moving panels form the face of Kafka outside of the Quadrio shopping center. The statue was created by controversial Czech Artist David Cerny and combines art with modern technologies and the traditional “golden hands” of Czech craftsmen. Watch the metamorphosis happen in front of your eyes as the face of Kafka transforms and changes direction. Once all the panels have aligned, you’ll clearly see the face appear. For more of David Cerny’s work in Prague, check out the odd “Pissing” sculpture in the courtyard of the Franz Kafka Museum in Mala Strana near Kampa Park and John Lennon Pub. We personally missed that one.
St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle
This stunning gothic cathedral in Mala Strana is of great spiritual importance to the Czech Republic, and is also the largest cathedral in the country. From the very detailed architecture to the vibrant stained glass windows, it’s a sight worth seeing on your visit to Prague. On a sunny day in particular, I was in awe of the beauty of the reflection on the walls from the stained glass windows. Photographers – take note! Overall, I found the cathedral to be the most impressive attraction on the Prague Castle property. Evident by the number of tourists, I wasn’t the only one. It is located on the south side so you can visit the Castle’s other attractions on your way to or from. For security purposes, the property has one entrance and exit with guards checking bags, but there were no tickets or charges.
As we made the hike up to Prague Castle, we stopped at the beautiful 17th-century gardens located at the Senate Palace. It is open to the public from April through October.
The Narrowest Street
If you’re in the area, this silly attraction was admittedly fun. It’s one of those 2-minute experiences that you’ll refer back to for years. It’s so narrow at only 19.6 inches wide that two people cannot walk through it at the same time. Because of this, there were traffic lights installed on each side to avoid people colliding into each other. Ha!
Other Places To Consider
With any trip, it’s nearly impossible to make it to everywhere on your list. Based on my extensive research, I wanted to include some other places to consider for your trip. If you go, I’d love to know what you thought…for next time!
- Letna neighborhood – Located just north of Old Town is Letna. It’s home to Letna Beer Garden in the park, which looked like a fun outdoor spot with picnic tables and expansive views over the river. Nearby, Bar Cobra looked like a nice bistro, or Cafe Letka for a more casual cafe vibe.
- Florenc & Karlin neighborhoods – East of Old Town are two small, local neighborhoods that would be nice to visit on a second trip to Prague, or when you have a little more time. On my list, I had Eska (which is apparently great for breakfast), Krystal Mozaika Bistro (combines French & Czech cuisine), Sansho (seasonal Asian dishes using local ingredients from Prague’s Vietnamese markets), and Pivovarsky Klub (a beer bar with over 240 bottled beers).
- Vinohrady neighborhood – What looked to me like the Brooklyn of Prague is an area I would go to on a future trip to Prague but didn’t have time this trip. Some places on my list include Momoichi Coffetearia, Choco Loves Coffee, Martin’s Bistro, and Mozzarellart
- Grand Cafes – Major European cities have a few popular historical grand cafes that are worth a visit, or at least a look! In Prague, Cafe Louvre, Cafe Savoy and Cafe Lounge seem to be the most popular.
- Wine Bars – If you’re interested in learning more about Czech wines, there are some great wine bars in the city including Den Noc, Vinograf and Na Brehu Rhony.
- Butcher Shop Dinners – Both Nase Maso and Kantyna butcher shops offer intimate pre-fixe dinners for 9-12 people a few times a week by reservation only.
- Upscale Restaurants – For special occasions, some of the nicer restaurants I had on my list were Bellevue, a Modern European restaurant that overlooks Prague Castle, and La Finestra, an Italian restaurant with a fantastic wine list.
- Pernickuv Sen Gingerbread – A small local pastry shop that specializes in gingerbread – yummy!
- T-Anker Rooftop – Similar to Teresa U Prince, this is another popular rooftop spot with sweeping views of the city.
- Prague Municipal Library – Inside the front entrance of the library is an installation called Idiom. It’s a tunnel made of 8000 books that’s over 5 meters high and 2 meters wide. There are mirrors on each end which make the tunnel appear infinite when you peak inside. It looks awesome from photos I’ve seen!
- St. Wenceslas Vineyard and Villa Richter – The oldest vineyard in Bohemia, St. Wenceslas, has been restored and is open to the public on the Prague Castle grounds. At the vineyard is a restaurant, Villa Richter, that is open to the public.
- The Alchemist Bar – High on my list was this cocktail bar recommended to me by a couple friends that is also very highly rated online. With many other cocktail bars on our list, this is the one we didn’t make it to.
- Havelska Street Market – If you are looking for souvenirs, this daily street market near Old Town is popular, and has food too!
- Sisters – In the gourmet alley home to Nase Maso and other small specialty food shops is this cafe serving Obložené chlebíčky (“garnished breads”), which is an open sandwich in Czech, Polish and Slovak cuisines, or more commonly known as a tartine.
I hope this travel guide to Prague was a useful resource in planning your upcoming trip!