When you come to a crossroads in Prague head in the direction which wanders off the beaten path.
We lived in Prague for nine months, and would live there for nine more without any hesitation. It is a gorgeous city with impressive architecture, laid-back locals, and troves of hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered.
After spending a few weeks in Prague it became clear to us that far too few visitors venture outside of the center of the city. It seems that most tourists stay within Old Town or Malá Strana without ever leaving. This is a true shame, as there is SO much more to the City of a Hundred Spires than what the average visitor experiences.
The Benefits of Getting Off the Beaten Path in Prague
“Prague’s center is too awesome. I’m not leaving”, you might say.
Truth is we wouldn’t really blame you for making that statement. Prague’s Old Town and its nearby surroundings ARE freaking awesome. We have certainly spent a LOT of time exploring and photographing the area. That said, if all you see in Prague is the center, you will be doing yourself a disservice.
By getting off the beaten path in Prague you will be:
- Escaping the crowds of tourists gathering around all the centrally located landmarks.
- Observing how locals live out their lives in this amazing city.
- Discovering all the extremely cool architecture, churches, parks, and landmarks that Prague is filled with.
- Experiencing how laid back Prague actually is. Every city has its share of stress, and assholes, but Prague seems to have…less. Whatever the reason, Prague didn’t squeeze us like most major cities tend to do after awhile. People socialize at wine shops after work, standing outside drinking Czech wine out of glasses they brought from home. Elsewhere, friends gather over amber hued pints in beer gardens and pubs to discuss trivialities. During the summer people make use of all the public grass available in parks, chatting and picnicking. It’s obvious to us that the quality of life in Prague is high…much higher than many of the cities we have had the pleasure of visiting.
- Contributing to the local economy outside of the center. We really can’t emphasize enough how important it is for visitors to spend their money outside the biggest tourist zones. As visitors in a foreign city we have to be aware that we are essentially helping to take the central portions of that city away from the locals who live and work there. Just as Times Square no longer truly belongs to New Yorkers so does Prague’s Old Town cater to mainly tourists. Spending money outside of the center helps distribute some of the wealth directly to locals. If you want to know why we think this is important check out our article on responsible tourism.
With all of the above in mind we crafted a small guide to some of the destinations in Prague that we feel people should attempt to visit and explore. Not only will you experience a side of Prague many miss out on, but you can rub shoulders with locals and get a small taste of everyday life in this wonderful city.
There are, of course, many places that we will be leaving out due to space constraints, or because we ourselves have yet to discover them. Which is why we urge anyone visiting to stray down a less traveled street, explore what is around the furthest corner, and to uncover the lesser known treasures of Prague.
Getting off the Beaten Path in Prague
Situated on a large hill overlooking the city in the neighborhood of Vinohrady, this park was our number one go-to spot on nice weekday evenings. Catch fabulous sunset views from the top of the hill, or chill out in one of the TWO beer gardens just a few meters away.
The neighborhood of Vinohrady is located a short tram or metro ride from the center, and is home to many expats and local professionals. We highly recommend strolling along the leafy streets of Vinohrady during the day to experience a bit of daily local life before visiting Reigrovy Sady and its beer gardens for a Pilsner Urquell infused sunset.
Jiřího z Poděbrad (JZP)
This large square rests just a few streets from Riegrovy Sady, making it a perfect place to visit after seeing the park. JZP (as it is called by some expats) is adorned by one of the funkier churches in Prague, the Most Sacred Heart of our Lord or Kostel nejsvětějšího srdce Pán (try saying that five times real fast, we dare you). Resembling a stern amalgamation of a courthouse and a clock tower the church overlooks a lively and festive park.
There are events and festivities occurring pretty frequently in Jiřího z Poděbrad, and the park is home to a small but awesome farmer’s market four times a week, from Wednesdays to Saturdays.
The area around JZP is filled with rich with cozy cafes, delicious food options, funky bars, and creative local businesses. During our time in Prague we lived a couple of streets away from the square and explored its surroundings extensively. We wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of our favorite businesses within a couple minutes walk from JZP and its metro stop.
Locals Businesses Around JZP That Rock
Forget mass produced “I Love Prague” t-shirts and other tacky souvenirs, THIS is where you go if you want to get someone a thoughtful gift from Prague. We might be a bit biased since we both love to scribble in notebooks, but blanks books make for a great gift. Skoba makes some of the coolest notebooks and diaries that we have ever seen.
The owner, Vaclav Pisoft, quit his desk job a few years ago to follow his passion of bookbinding. Skoba produces custom made, handcrafted, notebooks from upcycled materials.
Although the shop has hundreds of prepared notebooks on hand, Vaclav also works with clients to create custom one-off orders and breathe new life into sentimental belongings. Bring him a piece of old clothing that holds sentimental value, comic books or personal sketches, classic movie posters, or whatever else you can think of and Skoba can turn it into a notebook for you.
So go to Skoba, buy yourself or a loved one the gift of a handcrafted notebook, and spend your money in a truly unique local business.
Not many people leave school with a plan for a full fledged business. But Jan Kloss and Jakub Korouš, the founders of Botas66, are one of the few exceptions.
The design school duo chose Botas, a traditional Czech shoe brand that dates back to 1949, as the centerpiece for a school project. The goal: redesign a traditional Czech product and its packaging. Well, they straight up aced the assignment because in 2009 the Botas company agreed to work in cooperation with them on a new line of designer sneakers.
And thus, Botas66 was born.
Now, seven years later, Botas66 is thriving. They company has two shops located in Prague, one in Žižkov and the Old Town, and an e-shop online. The brand produces funky designs in small, limited edition batches. The shoes are all made within two hours of Prague, and they even offer certified Vegan editions for those who wish to maintain a cruelty-free lifestyle.
So, if you are looking to upgrade your footwear to something unique, hip, and stylish while in Prague head to BOTAS 66 and try on a pair of kicks.
Moment Cafe and Bistro
You might be surprised to learn that Prague is one of the most vegan friendly destinations in the world. There are over 25 vegan restaurants in the city to choose from, and our favorite is Moment Vegan Bistro & Cafe.
Located just a few blocks from JZP, Moment is a quaint and cozy restaurant that serves up a fully vegan menu of dishes like scrambled “eggs”, vegan burgers, and falafel. During weekdays Moment also has a fantastic and affordable two course lunch menu that changes daily.
What we love most about Moment though, is the dessert. It’s out of this world and you’d probably be shocked that it is vegan if you didn’t know better. We highly recommend the Dessert Cup, a crumbled chocolate cake, layered with whipped vegan cream. Absolutely freakin’ delicious!
Vyšehrad – Prague’s Second Castle
Sitting high atop a lofty hill overlooking the south of Prague, Vysehrad towers over the city. Visit this ancient compound to check out it truly massive walls, the beautiful park contained within which surrounds a gorgeous cathedral.
Vysehrad affords many vantage points for photographers and dreamers by providing commanding views of the River Vltava, its bridges, and Prague Castle.
Vsyehrad’s beauty does not wane with the seasons. In warmer weather enjoy a frothy pint at one of the beer gardens, and catch a lazy sunset. In the fall come for the turning foliage and a matching red rooftop view of the city.
While you’re there be sure to explore the lovely and tranquil grounds and don’t miss the impressive Romanesque Rotunda of St Martin, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, and the small, but beautiful Slavín cemetery.
Getting off the beaten path in Prague: Naplavka River Walk
Located along a stretch of the Vltava River just south of Prague Castle, Naplavka is just a few steps away from many tourist hot spots. And yet it is often overlooked by visitors who don’t think to stroll the river away from the Castle in the evenings.
When the weather is warm this stretch of stone walkway comes alive with the sounds of music, revelry, clinking mugs, and gently lapping waves. We recommend having a visit during one of your evenings in Prague between April and October.
On Saturday mornings a portion of Naplavka turns into a lively farmers market that you should try to visit. Just make sure to be there before 2 PM, or you’ll miss out.
Five: Eat (or Gorge On) Vietnamese Food in Prague
Did you know that there are almost 85,000 Vietnamese people living in the Czech Republic? As the third largest ethnic group in the country the Vietnamese have had a huge cultural impact on Prague. Especiall on the food scene. So much so that people in Prague sometimes refer to Vietnamese food as “Prague’s Second Cuisine”.
If you love a hearty bowl of Pho, or a mouth watering Bánh mì, you are going to do very, very well for yourself in Prague. Stray outside of the center towards to Vinohrady and check out restaurants like Pho Family or Madame Lyn for a steamy bowl of taste bud pleasing Pho.
To get a crunchy Vietnamese sandwich head over to a Mr. Bánh mì sandwich shop. There are two locations within easy access of the center that serve up cheap and delicious Banh mi. They even have two vegan banh mi sandwiches on the menu, tofu or mushroom. Score another point for all the vegans out there!
Off the BeatenPath in Prague: Have a Night Out in Žižkov
Situated off the sloping side of the Vinohrady hilltop, Zizkov is a cobblestone maze of looming apartment buildings. No two of the red roofed buildings are the same, differing in facade and color. If you want to play a little game venture into Zizkov and try to find two identical buildings. Send us photo proof of your accomplishment and we will reward you with a Special Prize. Read the super fine print at the bottom of this article for all the rules and regulations.
That’s not the only thing that makes this neighborhood dope, though.
You see, Zizkov has more bars in a square kilometer than any other areas in Prague, which is no small task if you stop to think about it. The Czech Republic consumes more beer per capita than just about any country on the planet. and it is home to a lot of bars. And nowhere more so than in Zizkov.
If you’re a fan of Charles Bukowski then this bar’s name is probably all the convincing you need to go pay a visit. Bukowski’s dimly lit smokiness feels like its from another era, and the cocktails are deliciously (and fairly priced). Try the Naked Lunch. Trust us.
Malcovich bar is an ideal if you’re looking for an intimate drinking experience, or if you don’t want to smell like an ashtray at the end of the night. This non-smoking bar serves up inexpensive wine, beer, and cocktails in a super relaxed and cozy setting. It’s the perfect place to meet friends for a chat or for a first date.
There are literally a ton of other great bars and local hang outs in Zizkov including an indoor rock climbing bar and two bowling alleys. Just hit the streets and walk around a bit to explore for yourself. You’re bound to find some place that strikes your fancy.
We know that including a cemetery on a list of things to do and see in Prague might seem a bit strange. But seriously, this one is totally worth visiting.
Olšany Cemetery exudes a dreamlike ambiance as you first enter and pass by aged gravestones, crooked and over-grown with lush green ivy; speckled with moss. A thick canopy of trees, their roots gently twisting into the dark earth, blot out all signs and most sounds of the outside world. Walking deeper into the hushed profundity of the cemetery, among the worn stones and sloped icons, you can get lost in weight of all the lives once lived by its inhabitants. Thousands of stories lay all around you, each one unique.
If you are interested in exploring a slightly off the beaten path aspect of Prague’s past, head to Olsany Cemetery. If you are looking to get away from the city for a hour, and have a quite contemplative stroll, consider heading to Olsany Cemetery as well. History buffs might be interested to know that the cemetery is the final resting place of Franz Kafka and Jan Palach.
To say Vršovice has changed recently would be an understatement. Once a quiet working class neighborhood it now attracts more of an artist and hipster crowd. There are a myriad of cool cafes, bars, shops, and restaurants; many of which are located on Krymska street.
To get a taste of Vršovice and all its glory, we suggest the following establishments:
- BAR v Krymský: Quiet bar with a local vibe and nice music.
- Bad Flash Bar: Craft Beer Bar
- Plevel Restaurant: Vegan Restaurant
- Café V lese: Coffee Shop
- Zenit Cafe: Cafe and Internet Bar
- InCider Bar: Cider Bar
- Czech Inn Bar: Craft beers, events, and live music
Do fancy the above photo? If so head to Letna Park, and take one yourself.
The sprawling park is situated high above Prague Castle, and offers stunning views of the entire city. Even without the panoramic beauty Letna is a great place to have a quite stroll. Or a picnic, weather permitting.
Since you’re in Prague there is obviously going to be a sweet pub or awesome beer garden in the vicinity. Letna Park is host of one of the largest beer gardens in Prague. You can sit at one of the many tables overlooking the river and sip yet another delicious beer in yet another beautiful location in Prague.
Vegan Food in Prague
Prague is something of a vegan paradise. While visiting a traditional Czech restaurant as a vegan will likely to leave with a grumbling belly since it’s almost guaranteed the only safe option on the menu is beer. So, at first glance it might not seem so, but being a vegan in Prague is surprisingly easy.
If you stick to the Old Town and other highly touristic parts of the city you won’t find too many vegan restaurants, so getting off the beaten path is necessary to fully embrace the vegan experience in Prague. And once you do, you’ll find a cornucopia of options including restaurants, health food shops, cafes, and bakeries. Additionally, many of the city’s Vietnamese restaurants offer delicious vegan options.
Here are some of our favorite vegan spots in Prague:
- Moment (see above, in the “JZP” section)
- Pastva: incredible, gourmet style vegan restaurant in the Andel neighborhood.
- Sweet Secret of Raw: Raw Vegan Dessert…need we say more?
- Loving Hut Vinohrady: Vegan buffet and delicious vegan pho.
The Unbeaten Path Continues
So, there you have it guys. A starter’s guide to getting off the beaten path in Prague. We hope this helps you explore a bit more of the city than you might have seen. And we hope you find some hidden treasures of your own. If you do feel free to leave us a comment below!
As always, safe travels everyone!
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