Prague is a city of culture and contrasts. After entering the European Union in 2004, the Czech capital became one of the top destinations on the continent. Its modernist architecture, turbulent history and competitive prices ensure its spot as the perfect getaway city. While it does have a reputation as a tourist hotspot—especially for bachelor parties—Prague offers myriad hidden delights that make it feel as if it’s an under-the-radar town.
We visited the birthplace of Kafka when COVID-19 was just a conversation topic and strolled down its cobblestone streets, taking note of the new and the cool. Here’s your guide to discovering the city—and its thriving food scene—in 72 hours.
In addition to being a very walkable city, Prague has an excellent transport network, with three subway lines, multiple buses and enchanting old trams.
Start your three-day escapade with breakfast at Tricafe in picturesque Staré Město. Tricafe is a cozy space featuring Mid-Century Modern bookshelves filled with tomes in several languages as well as local art for purchase. Grab a coffee and some avocado toast and sit at one of the coveted window seats for a dose of people watching. Besides the coffee and other hot beverages, Tricafe offers fluffy Pavlova cakes topped with Chantilly cream and strawberry bits.
After your morning fuel, head to the Jewish quarter, Josefov, which is just minutes away by foot. Despite its tumultuous history, the area offers a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of Old Town, with well-maintained Art Deco buildings and high-end fashion stores. Visit the Old-New Synagogue, which dates back to the 13th century and is rumored to contain the remains of the fabled Golem of Prague.
Feeling hungry again? Head to Pho Bar, a trendy fast food Vietnamese restaurant with wooden accents, sleek black plates and abundant portions. The limited lunch menu features family recipes all lovingly overseen by owner Nguyen Huong Giang.
Walk off that pho on your way to Žižkov, a quarter that is young at heart and teeming with bars and cafes. After a little stroll, head over to the imposing, eerie monument to Jan Žižka, a Czech general and national hero. Don’t be shy to chat with the security guard who loves to offer facts about the structure, all while listening to 1980s Czech pop music on his portable radio. Take in the breathtaking city view from beside the monument.
Head down the hill and you’ll invariably find your way to Café Imperial, an awe-inspiring, 100-year-old restaurant and hotel with a rich history and equally rich interior. Consistency is key at Café Imperial, which boasts Czech classics done “the best way you can.” Opt for the Wiener Schnitzel with mashed potatoes, famous even amongst their German and Austrian clientele.
Wake up and smell the coffee at the spectacular Café Louvre in Nové Město, an area in the city center. Opened in 1902, it hosted the likes of Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein, and still boasts red Modernist interiors and expansive windows. Enjoy the Czech breakfast, which consists of fresh-pressed orange juice, ham, Czech cheeses and boiled eggs.
Time to cross world-famous Charles Bridge, built in the 1300s on sandstone blocks. Across the bridge, Malá Strana, which literally translates to “small-town,” is a quaint area, offering a lavish mishmash of tiny houses with red rooftops and Baroque palaces. It’s a great place to grab lunch, too. Lokál U Bílé kuželky is a pub-cum-restaurant offering some of the most authentic Czech food in town. Expect long, rustic wooden tables and an open kitchen featuring an all-white interior. The daily menu is varied, but we recommend the goulash with bread dumplings, a classic for a rainy day.
Now for some culture: The Klementinum complex boasts an astonishing, preserved Baroque library. Built by the Jesuits in the 18th century, the massive homage to books features only first editions, no paperbacks. It’s a bibliophile’s dream, with dusty tomes that smell of history and ancient learning. For a deeper foray, take a 50-minute tour with Pavel, the gregarious guide.
For dinner and drinks, don’t miss L’Fleur, the hottest cocktail bar in town. Vítězslav Cirok and Miloš Danihelka opened the boite in 2015 to offer a collection of the finest Champagne and craft cocktails. Inspired by French absinthe houses of the late 19th century, the interior features tufted leather banquettes and exposed brick. After a pre-dinner cocktail, opt for a light repast of pulled pork in BBQ sauce.
Coffee seems like a perfect way to start your third day, doesn’t it? Urban Café is a small but spacious venue near Florenc station, with soft lighting and walls covered with plants. Specialties include Medovník (honey cake), Bábovka (a type of Bundt cake) or Buchty (homemade buns). If you’re in the mood to switch things up, try their chai coffee instead of an espresso.
Letná is an undiscovered quarter on Prague’s left bank, a green space with one of the biggest parks in town and plenty of life and culture. You could walk to Letná but this being your third day on the go, we understand if you’d rather not. Take tram line 8 and start your tour at Letná Park, from which you’ll get the best view of Prague’s historical center. You won’t be able to miss the massive red Metronome, built in 1991 to replace the Stalin statue that was demolished in 1962. It’s a symbol of the post-Communist Czech Republic.
Salt’n’Pepa is a Letná staple, although it began as a food truck. Radovan Tlstovič owns the joint, which features a halloumi burger so popular, rival eateries have tried to copy it to no avail. For an after-lunch drink, there’s Bio Oko. This too-cool-for-school cinema/bar is a local favorite, showing the latest international and Czech films and documentaries. Sip on a zingy gin fizz or a homemade lemonade at the steel bar while you wait for your movie to start.
For your last supper, get ready for the full gastronomic experience at The Eatery. Chef Pavel Býček believes food should be experienced with all five senses, which is why he placed the white-tiled kitchen in the middle of his famed restaurant. The space is industrial in nature—think concrete columns and pendant lighting, all in soothing grays. The Eatery uses local organic products to bring traditional Czech classics to the 21st century. Try the fallow deer or the bullhead catfish.
Looking for a place to stay in Prague? Moods Boutique Hotel is a hell of an option! Situated in the center of town, Moods boasts an array of comfortable rooms decorated with literary quotes, and neon lights that change color according to your mood. The four-star hotel offers a complimentary buffet breakfast and complies with the Czech government’s COVID-19 security measures.