Zizkov – Getting Off the Beaten Path in Prague
Anyone looking to explore off the beaten path in Prague needs to start with the neighborhood of Zizkov.
Not exactly the first words that come to mind when you think of Prague, right? Certainly not if you’re referring to the city’s pristine historical center. Well, that’s because we’re not talking about the Prague you’ve read about in your freshly printed travel guides. Rather, we are getting off the beaten path in Prague and exploring city life beyond the trdelníks and tourist-traps.
In this edition of our Prague neighborhood guide, we’re talking a stroll through the uniquely bohemian, slightly off-center neighborhood of Žižkov.
Zizkov, otherwise known as the “Free Republic of Žižkov”, is located in Prague 3 and is only a stone’s throw away from the crowded city center. Once a primarily working-class neighborhood, it is infamous for its steep hills and abundance of local watering holes. Even today, its rough edges are still obvious, though they have been softened over time by a growing number of expats, students, young artists and trendy local businesses.
Now, Zizkov thrives as one of Prague’s most popular neighborhoods and is well worth exploring if you need an escape from the crowds. So let’s get started exploring one of the coolest neighborhoods in Prague!
If you guys are looking for a hotel or hostel to stay in make sure to check out our guide to the best places to stay in Prague!
Quench your thirst after exploring all of Prague’s top attractions with this guide on 10 places to drink delicious beer in Prague!
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Off the Beaten Path in Prague – Exploring Zizkov
Jiřího z Poděbrad Square (JZP)
It’s not fair to talk about Žižkov without first mentioning one of its most influential and arguably most popular location, Jiřího z Poděbrad. Jiřího z Poděbrad, or “JZP” for short, is a point of convergence among the residents Žižkov and is the perpetual beating heart of the community.
Established in 1896, the square is mostly city park while its most cultural monument, the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord, stands proudly in the center.
On any given day, expect to find the square buzzing with chilled-out locals grabbing lunch or a glass of wine after work from one of the many surrounding eateries, wine shops, bakeries, and cafes. It is also a central transport hub due to its tram stop and the Metro station, Jiřího z Poděbrad (Line A, Green), which directly connects to Prague’s city center.
Exploring Zizkov – Jiřák Farmers’ Market
From early spring to late summer, the square at Jiřího z Poděbrad is home to one of the best farmers’ markets in Prague. Every Wednesday to Saturday, locals meander through the stalls of fresh Czech produce, flowers and heavenly homemade baked goods.
On Friday and Saturday afternoons, it is a popular place to grab lunch from one of the street food vendors, wash it down with a cold beer and people watch on the lawn in front of one of Žižkov’s most prominent cultural monuments, The Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord.
Exploring Zizkov – Riegrovy Sady
When getting off the beaten path in Prague, Riegrovy Sady is a must visit. It is the largest park in Žižkov and arguably home to Prague’s best beer gardens. Every day you can find a unique mix of locals, expats, and tourists relaxing on the grassy hillsides and soaking in stunning views of the city center.
If you’re looking to cool off, hang out under the shade in Riegrovy’s massive beer garden (or the smaller more intimate one) and knock back a few delicious Czech beers.
UPDATE – As of winter 2019 the Riegrovy Sady beer garden appears to have been closed. We hope to updayte this article in the spring with news that it has re-opened, but it doesn’t look good right now.
Exploring Zizkov – Aero Kino
In a neighborhood as unorthodox as Žižkov, it’s no surprise that its most beloved cinema happily gives a big middle-finger to most mainstream blockbusters and shines a light on all things indie and alternative. Aero is one of several independent cinemas in Prague and is a favorite among students and expats. Its reasonable prices and laid back atmosphere are perfect for a Sunday afternoon or evening with friends.
And did we mention you can enjoy a beer or glass of wine during the film? We’ll take that over popcorn any day.
Prague Sightseeing – TV Tower
No, that’s not an alien spaceship hovering over Prague. That is the infamous Žižkov TV Tower. Built during the communist era, the TV Tower is considered by many locals to be a total eyesore. In fact, one surveyed named it the “second ugliest building in the world”.
Despite its faults, the TV Tower has become the unexpected landmark and symbol of Žižkov (and in our opinion, isn’t all that bad once you get used to it). Today, it is complete with a restaurant and observatory offering a 360-degree view of the Prague. Beneath the 216 meter tower, guests can enjoy a round of mini-golf during warmer weather and outdoor ice skating in the winter.
Off the Beaten Path in Prague – Palác Akropolis
Despite its tough, blue-collar exterior, Žižkov has always been a refuge for starving artists, performers, and the arts. Since its construction in 1928, Palac Akropolis has remained the neighborhood’s main theater for nearly a century. Redesigned by famous Czech artist, František Skála, Akropolis’ historical interior falls perfectly in sync with a modern, eclectic mix of music, theater, and exhibitions.
As part of our Prague neighborhood guide, we recommend kicking back with a cocktail from Cafe Akropolis and catching a weeknight show.
Off the Beaten Path in Prague – Lower Žižkov
We’ve mentioned several times that Žižkov is notoriously hilly. As a result, the neighbrohood is largely divided into an upper (Jiřího z Poděbrad) and lower district. Lower Žižkov, which roughly divided by Olšanská street, is slightly grittier than its more trendy counterpart. Although there is no direct Metro to this part of Žižkov, it is compensated by broad system of trams and buses which connect directly to the city center and Prague Main Train Station (Praha hlavní nádraží).
On its opposite side, Lower Žižkov is bordered by Vitkov Hill, which divides Žižkov and the neighboring district of Karlín. The two are connected by a long, underground walking-tunnel which cuts directly through Vitkov Hill.
Off the Beaten Path in Prague – FK Viktoria Žižkov
Sports fan? Rest assured that in a country where football and ice hockey reign king, the Czechs are no stranger to getting rowdy and rooting on their favorite teams. FK
Viktoria Žižkov Stadium is a short distance from Prague Main Station, Praha hlavní nádraží, and home to one of the oldest football leagues in the city, FK Viktoria Žižkov. The football club was founded in 1903 and is part of the Czech National Football League. Put down your guidebooks and enjoy an evening game cheering alongside local fans!
Off the Beaten Path in Prague – Vitkov National Monument
High above the twisted streets of Žižkov is the Czech National Memorial of Vitkov Hill. The National Memorial is dedicated to the Czechoslovak soldiers who gave their lives during WWI.
Visitors can pay admission to tour the memorial’s military exhibition, read up on the turbulent history Czechoslovakia and soak in spectacular views of Žižkov from the large roof deck. You will also find the King of Žižkov himself, Jan Žižka. Mounted on his trusty steed, Žižka’s massive statue loyally watches over his beloved neighborhood.
Exploring Zizkov – Zizkov Cemetaries
We know that a cemetery might not be at the top of your bucket list, but Žižkov’s New Jewish Cemetery is worth noting in our Prague neighborhood guide. Located directly across from the Želivského metro stop, it is the final resting place of the famous Bohemian-Jewish author, Franz Kafka, as well as many other prominent scholars and rabbis.
Want more historical cemeteries to explore? Just cross the street and you’ll find yourself wandering through Olšanské Hřbitovy, the largest graveyard in Prague.
Exporing Zizkov – Parukářka Park and Beer Garden
Spend five minutes in Žižkov and you’ll see that the Czechs really love dogs. Like a lot. Parukářka Park is located on top of one of many hills and is a hot-spot for locals to relax and for their hairy companions to blow off some steam. Climb to the top of the park and you will find an excellent view of Žižkov and Olšanské Hřbitovy.
And what’s a Prague park without some Czech beer? Grab a fresh Pilsner Urquell from Parukářka’s beer garden and have a seat. No seats available? Bing a blanket and enjoy your beer on the grass of this park, as the locals do.
Best Cafes in Žižkov:
If students and hipsters come, the coffee will follow. It’s physics. As a result, Žižkov has become a hotspot for laidback cafes and caffeinated beverages. When in the neighborhood, check one of the best cafes in Žižkov.
Located a few doors down from Palac Akropolis, Žižkavárna Cafe is a neighborhood favorite and always bustling with students and freelancers. Enjoy a creamy cappuccino or chai latte, and pick from a daily selection of fresh, homemade sandwiches, soup, and cake. Come in the evening for a glass of wine or pilsner from the local brewery, Vinohradsky Pivovar.
Calling all cat lovers! Unless you’ve been too busy playing with your dog, you probably know cat cafes are all the rage these days. Žižkov’s Freya Kočkafé is the answer to all of your caffeine and feline desires. Sip a cup of coffee or tea and experience the healing power of petting a cute, fluffy friend.
BOHO Café & Store
It is only natural that the most bohemian neighborhood in Prague has a cafe whose name fits the bill. BOHO Café & Store is a short walk from the Žižkov TV Tower and doubles as a vintage retail store. Guests can relax under the moody lighting and browse through some retro garb.
Prague is known to have some of the best Vietnamese food in Europe. Popular takeaway spot, Pho Vietnam Tuan & Lan, decided to take things a step further and open up a Vietnamese fusion cafe right off the square at Jiřího z Poděbrad. Try their signature matcha latte and a traditional Vietnamese Bánh mì sandwich served in a fresh baguette.
Cafe Pavlac is known for dishing out some of the best breakfast in the neighborhood. Their quiet courtyard is a great place to relax and put your feet up after conquering Žižkov’s many hills. After a bite to eat, check out the 35M2 gallery of modern art next door.
Best Bars in Žižkov:
Legend has it that Žižkov has more pubs per square kilometer than any other neighborhood in Europe. Whether this is true or not, there is no denying that Žižkov has an impressive number of drinkeries, ranging from the upscale craft beer and cocktail bar to the seedy, underground pub. Wet your whistle and check out the best bars in Žižkov.
Craving a cocktail? Malkovich Bar is rumored to serve up some of the tastiest and most unique mixed drinks in Žižkov. Just a short walk from Riegrovy Sady, its chill vibe and interior are great for a late-night round with friends.
If you think it’s sacrilege to drink anything but Pilsner Urquell in Prague, think again. Beer Geek Bar is home to over 32 taps and features craft beer from microbreweries all around the Czech Republic and abroad. For an even larger selection of international brews, check out their neighboring Beer Geek Bottle Shop.
The Tavern is really more than just a bar. Known for the heart attack of a menu, this local, American-style restaurant grills up one of the best burgers in Prague and can make any hangover disappear with their grease-laden “Žižkov Hangover Fries”. They also make a mean Bloody Mary and offer a selection Czech craft beer. For a more traditional Czech-feel, head over to their sister location, U Kurelu.
We can’t think of a better place to drink than a bar named “Unfortunately”. Bohuzel Bar is the definition of a crusty, punk bar and is a staple in Žižkov. Enjoy cheap drinks, loud music, and even have your hand at a game of darts.
To have a truly local experience, grab a pint at U Sadu. Choose from a selection of beers on tap and enjoy your glass of sweet nectar with a bite to eat from their traditional Czech menu. If you like what you see (and taste), we recommend checking out the “Oldest Pub in Žižkov”, U Slovanské Lípy, and its sister pub, Hostinec U Vodoucha.
In closing on Zizkov
We love this slightly off the beaten path neighborhood in Prague, despite the ugly graffiti and the unfortunate dog poop pile we seem to step in every few months. There is gritty a character and a flavor to Zizkov that permeates the neighborhood, harking back to days of yore. Zizkov is gritty, but safe. Quiet, but filled with excitement if you know where to find it.
And it is developing quickly, so if you want to experience this neighborhood before it is over-run with hipster coffee and 3 Euro donuts do so now!
As always, happy travels, and we’ll see you guys on the road!
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