When it comes to Prague, most short-time visitors stick to Old Town, where they can explore classic attractions like the Charles Bridge. However, Prague has much to offer to those who dare explore a bit and take in some of the city’s vibrant neighbourhoods.
Once a working-class neighbourhood with a somewhat sketchy reputation, Žižkov has reinvented itself in the last few years. Today, the area is vibrant, full of boutiques, bars and cafés – in fact, rumour goes that there are more pubs per square kilometre in Žižkov than anywhere else in Europe.
For a unique artsy vibe, stop by Nákladového nádraží Žižkov, a reclaimed old train depot that has been converted into an outdoor café, exhibition space and outdoor summer cinema. Café Pavlač is a favourite hangout for artists and students, and it’s the go-to place to find out about art events in the area, while Bajkazyl is a bike repair shop and a pub in one.
An elegant residential district with plenty of magnificent Art Nouveau and Neo-Gothic architecture, Vinohrady is also home to one of Prague’s most popular beer gardens, Riegrovy sady. Vinohrady is also the most popular neighbourhood for expats and home to one of the most popular farmers’ markets in town, located at Jiriho z Podebrad Square – where you can get not only food but also artsy crafts, as well as enjoy live music and even join the yearly Masopust celebration.
Eateries in Vinohrady are a mix of elegance and international culture, which places with high-end Italian cuisine – like Aromi – and Prague’s very popular Mexican restaurant, Las Adelitas, leading the pack. Stop by the Vinohradský pivovar brewery for a refreshing drink before you check out a performance at the Vinohrady Theatre, a smaller sister of the magnificent National Theater.
Staré Město is home to Pařížská Street, where luxury retailers such as Louis Vuitton and Cartier have set up shop. If you’re searching for high-end Bohemian crystal, luxurious cocktail dresses or maybe a few diamonds, you can’t do better than Pařížská. Staré Město is also home to boutiques belonging to some of Czechia’s most unique designers, including Parazit and Leeda, two Czech-born labels.
There are plenty of options here for those who want to explore the artsy and quirky side of Prague, with shops like Egoist Royal Parfums, where you can mix and create your own perfumes, or Kurator, which is both an art gallery and clothing boutique. For good eats, try Cafe-Cafe, a very stylish place with modern art on the wall; Cafe-Cafe is a favourite among local celebrities and a perfect place to spot fashionistas at their best.
Smíchov is another district that has undergone a remarkable transformation in just a few years. Once an industrial area with just a couple of shopping centres (Prague’s largest shopping centre, Palladium, is located here), Smíchov is now full of shiny buildings, top eateries and great entertainment options. Art lovers congregate at Meet Factory, a warehouse turned art centre where you can catch live shows, exhibitions, workshops and more.
There are other performance and art spaces here, such as Švanda Theatre and Tribo, which is technically a tattoo shop but also sells an impressive collection of handmade crafts, handmade paper, and urban streetwear. Smíchov is rich in beer gardens and pubs serving unusual choices, such as U Buldoka, which serves the rare Zlata Labut beer, and Zahradní Restaurace Klamovka, which features a very large outdoor garden, traditional Czech food and a choice of beers.
Nové Město is the shopping, theatre and club district of Prague. This is where Prague’s main museum, the National Museum, is located. Right across the street, Wenceslas Square and the boulevard extending down from it are flanked by tons of great shopping boutiques. A few steps to the side you’ll find Lucerna, Prague’s most famous cinema, theatre and music bar, where international DJs spin 80s music every weekend. Lucerna is also home to one of Prague’s most popular sculptures – a hanging upside down horse – a cheeky response to the giant horse sitting on Wenceslas Square.
One of Nové Město’s most famous eateries is Mlýnec, which sits against the water and offers some of the most private, close-up views of Charles Bridge you can hope for. Or you can stop by Café Imperial, which hasn’t changed much since Franz Kafka used to come here.