Prague was the one destination on our trip that took me by surprise – that utterly exceeded expectations. And on so many levels: the sights were like being in a fairy tale, complete with a castle on a hill and rowboats in the river, the coffee culture was growing, and the food (once you know where to go) had me squeezing in more than three meals per day. Though some areas were overwhelming packed with selfie-stick wielding tourists or Korean wedding photo-shoots (hello, Charles Bridge – see if you can spot the veil in one of the photos!), you can avoid them by heading out early in the morning and exploring suburbs outside the square kilometer of Old Town – which usually have much better views, food and coffee anyway. We stayed in a fantastic airbnb on the edge of Old Town – just far enough away on a sleepy street to not feel like tourist-central, yet close enough that everything we needed was in easy walking distance. So without further ado, here is snapshot of our favourite coffee shops, eateries and the best sightseeing tips we picked up along the way.
For more recommendations or if you are looking for a guided tour, I’d highly recommend checking out Taste of Prague.
- Onesip coffee: a tiny little cafe serving up Melbourne-worthy flat whites – the perfect place to start your day.
- EMA espresso bar: packed with locals getting their morning brew, EMA not only does the best coffee we had on the trip, it also does Czeh baked sweets – kolachee cakes, and our favourite buchta buns – like a freshly baked brioche filled with plum jam.
- Super Tramp Coffee: very, very hidden away down an alley and inside an old court yard on the border of New and Old Town, Super Tramp does great coffee and treats – my canele was perfect.
- Muj salek kavy: one of the few coffee shops that also does brunch – worth a trip if you are heading down to Karlin and have already visited Eska.
- Cafe Novy Svet: the best coffee across the bridge in the Prague Castle vicinity, and completely tucked away from the crowds (see below for more tips in this area). Our vanilla bean gelato affogatos here were stellar.
- Eska: my absolute favourite eatery in Prague. A huge, double story space and bakery open all day, focused on seasonal produce and serving up modern interpretations of Czech food. Highlights included our caramelised apple french toast; the famous smoked potatoes in ash with dried egg yolk and kefir and the endless supply of housemade sourdough and churned butter. Worth reserving for dinner – and then going back for brunch the next day!
- Sisters: a tiny lunch spot serving up countless varieties of chlebicek, the Czeh open faced sandwich – from beetroot hummus, goats cheese & walnut to roast beef on celery remoulade with fried shallots.
- Nase maso: just next door to Sisters (and just as small), Nase Maso normally has people spilling out the door. It’s a butchery that doubles as an all-day eatery – with the meatiest menu you can imagine. The dry-aged hamburger and beef tartar are legendary!
- Maso a kobliha: another butchery-turned-restaurant, but a little bigger and fancier this time. Start with the famous scotch eggs and try their vanilla creme patisserie doughnuts and salted burnt caramel tart for dessert.
- Pekarna Praktika: rivaling Eska for the best sourdough in Prague, this small outfit does breakfast well – coffee, fresh jams, bread straight from the oven and cinnamon scrolls. You can buy their sourdough by the loaf too – just check their hours first as they are not open every day.
- Bakeshop: the name says it all – our favourites were the juicy, jammy fruit crostata, complete with buttery pastry, and the apple strudel. There is a larger shop near old town, and a smaller outfit on the other side of Charles Bridge. Perfect for a pitstop.
- Pho Vietnam Tuan & Lan: who knew, but there is a sizable Vietnamese community in Prague – you can probably find better Vietnamese food than in most of Europe. If you are near Jirak Market, the beef vermicelli salad here is huge, cheap, and really freaking good.
- Wine Food Market: a gourmet Italian marketplace and bakery alongside a central food hall – think thin crust pizzas, Italy-worthy pastas served up on bustling long tables.
- Gelato- Creme de la Creme, Angelato and Puro Gelato. For if you also can’t help but eat dessert twice a day while on holiday.
- Charles Bridge & Old Town Square – the ultimate tourist attraction in Prague, Charles Bridge is only worth walking over early in the morning – you might be able to spot the daily throngs of crowds in some of the photos of the bridge from afar. Otherwise, you can walk over parallel bridges to get photos of Charles Bridge itself.
- Prague Castle Complex: the largest ancient castle in the world, it is also worth seeing and again worth going early – the crowds build steadily after the opening time, particularly for the Gothic St Vitus Cathedral.
- From Prague Castle, walk up through the gardens and deer moat behind the castle to Cafe Novy Svet – it’s a quiet area that takes you out of the hustle of the castle entrance. Grab a coffee and wander to the Strahov Monastery – an abbey founded in the 12th century with an ornate, wood-and fresco paneled library straight from Harry Potter. Manuscripts here date back to 860AD.
- Petrin Tower : from the library, you can walk further up the hill to the Petrin observation tower for 360° views over Prague. By the way, it’s much cheaper to walk up the stairs than take the elevator!
- Lennon wall: this stretch of vibrant graffitied wall near the Charles Bridge began following John Lennon’s 1980 assassination, at a time when communist Czechoslovakia was tamping down on Western culture. Lennon became a pacifist hero for youth anti-communist protestors in Prague, and the wall inscribed with political Lennon inspired messages and Beatles lyrics. The original graffiti has been painted over countless times, but it is worth a visit if you are in the area.
- Letna Park and Beer Garden: a peaceful, leafy hilltop with some of the best views over the bridges of Prague – the perfect place to while away a few hours on a summer afternoon. It would also be a wonderful place for a picnic.
- Jirak Farmers Market: near the Pekarna Praktika bakery and Pho Vietnam tuan & lan, this local market is held Wednesday – Saturday mornings, with traditional Czeh food, fresh produce and coffee. It’s located in the residential Vinohrady district, full of colourful, elegant Art Deco houses and wide, tree lined streets – a great way to get off the tourist trail and see another side of Prague.
- Naplavka Farmers Market: I didn’t get to visit this market as it is only held on Saturdays, but by all accounts it is highly recommended if you get a chance to go – serving up coffee, fresh produce and dairy, takeaway meals and Czeh beers and wine.