Prague looks like a fairytale: seemingly all church spires, gothic towers, Rococo façades, astronomical clocks, and laneways once occupied by goldsmiths. A deeper look reveals a dynamic and innovative city that may be drenched in history, but is concurrently dedicated to the future of design, food, art and so much more. While viewing the medieval astronomical clock and visiting the Jewish Quarter are important, there are so many new and exciting treasures in the city—from design stores to wine bars, galleries, and beyond. Here are just some of our favorite places in the glorious Czech capital.
Hidden in a courtyard behind a nondescript entry, Bokovka is only really signposted by patrons sipping wine outside. Inside reveals a cavernous concrete space decorated with minimal furniture and light fixtures, warmed up with sheepskin throws and timber tabletops. With charcuterie-style plates (cured meats, countless cheeses, pate, sardines and more to choose from) and plenty of impressive wines, it’s easy to lose several hours here. Whether guests are selecting a natural Grüner Veltliner by J Novak or a crisp riesling by Gurdau, bartenders are happy to offer help and tastes of anything.
Bright and airy, design store deelive sits right off Most Legií, facing the river. From wooden kids’ toys by Pavla Boháčová for Kutulu, to striking furniture by Linda Vrňáková, and bulbous carafes by Lukáš Houdek for glassmakers HG ATELIER DESIGN, the pieces are by Czech designers almost exclusively. Any item here makes for a sophisticated, stylish souvenir—though they might not all fit in a suitcase. If it’s later in the day, we recommend taking a short walk to Cash Only Bar for a hotdog and a cocktail.
Located steps from Prague Castle, Kuchyň offers a remarkable view of Prague right by the highly frequented site—but it’s not a tourist trap. Rather, Kuchyň a minimally designed restaurant that offers up family-style dining and Czech classics. On any given day, the open kitchen will have at least five main dishes available. Simply follow your server to the kitchen, and various meals are unveiled. Take your pick from anything from guláš to chicken paprika, roast duck and pair with knedlicky, bramboracky, and more. Plus, after the climb up Petřín hill and through the crowds at the castle, a Pilsner or glass of South Moravian wine is well-deserved.
A multi-functional space founded in 2012 by architects Jiří Kučera and Marek Habr, Galerie Kvalitář rotates design, art and architecture shows. Mostly showing contemporary Czech artists, the gallery houses anything from radical sculpture to more traditional mediums. If you’re feeling art fatigue, walk a few blocks to Kantýna for a meal or across the street to the Harddecore design store afterward.
For a contemporary take on a Czech classic, visit Sisters and try a chlebíčky—an open-faced sandwich. The sandwiches here are all made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and are as photogenic as they are flavorful. With versions including goat cheese with beetroot puree, or herring with wasabi, there are also more traditional iterations like ham and potato salad. A five-minute walk from the Old Town Square, it’s worth the wander for their super-refreshing homemade elderberry lemonade too.
Luxurious and incredibly well-located (just a short stroll from Karlův Most), the Mandarin Oriental is tucked away on the corner of two little one-way streets. Housed in a series of buildings that span different eras (one dating back to the 1300s), several of the guest rooms are different: from cosy two-level quarters to palatial suites. With various dining spaces (inside, outdoors and in the private wine cellar) and a bloom-filled courtyard, the hotel offers a lot, but the jewel here is the spa. Located in a separate building, the spa was once a 14th century church whose remnants are visible (and protected) under the glass-tiled lobby floor. With an emphasis on personalized treatments, the service is exquisite and while several massages are occurring at once, guests will feel entirely secluded in this quiet, dimly lit space.
QQ Asian Kitchen
With a thriving Vietnamese community, Prague is home to countless authentic and also fusion-style eateries. One favorite is QQ Asian Kitchen which is helmed by chefs Nyoman Purnata and Lee Chang (who were previously at the still fantastic Sansho in Nové Město). The casual diner-style spot offers up small bites and larger meals—all of which focus on high-quality produce yielding dynamic flavors. From classics like papaya salad to inventive snacks like oyster mini po´boys, the menu changes frequently and is inspired by Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Balinese cooking.