Fun Fact: In 1924, the Czechoslovakian Communist Party was founded in a pub in Karlín. The district, which used to be a working class, industrial area, was under a foot of water during the floods sweeping Central Europe in 2002. After the floods, Karlín began to gentrify. Today, it is one of Prague’s ‘up and coming’ neighborhoods filled with trendy cafes, wine bars, and concept shops. An area often unexplored by tourists, Karlín feels local, and is the perfect neighborhood to explore when you grow tired of the crowds in Prague’s Old Town.
We had brunch in Muj Salek Kavy, which is known for having the best coffee in Prague. Afterwards, we wandered around the district, passing by a beautiful primary school (pictured above on the right), the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius (one of the largest churches in the Czech Republic), and Simply Good (their poppyseed pastries are delicious).
The Metronome at Letna Park: This was one of my favorite spots in the city. We headed over to Letna Park, hoping to catch the sunset from the Metronome (literally a giant, functioning metronome). By the time we reached it, the sun had already gone down – but the view was still beautiful.
The area where the Metronome is today used to house the world’s largest statue of Stalin (and later, a smaller statue of Michael Jackson during his world tour in ’96). Today, it’s a popular spot, with a young Czech teenagers hanging out at the skatepark behind the Metronome, and locals and foreigners alike enjoying a beer or two while overlooking the Vltava River and city center.
After the Metronome, we headed to Page Five, a small publisher selling books and zines on art, history, interior design, and everything in between. From beautifully-designed magazines to more offbeat titles, it’s the perfect place to pick up gifts for friends back home (especially if they’re typography nerds, like us).
Page Five is on Vervekova Street, which I’d heard was small hub for creatives with hip cafes, design shops and stores like Garage, which sell both records and sneakers. By the time we had gotten there, many of the stores had closed for the night – so if you’re planning to go, I’d recommend exploring it in the daytime (then heading to the Metronome afterwards to catch the sunset!).
A visit to Prague is incomplete without a visit to Castle District. We walked to the Lennon Wall and wandered around the cobblestone streets of the colorful Malá Strana before making our way to the Strahov Monastery and Prague Castle.
The view from Strahov Monastery was stunning. There was a restaurant at the top, where we had ginger tea and mulled wine, followed by the traditional Czech svickova – sirloin beef in a creamy vegetable sauce, with bread dumplings and cranberry compote. Yum.
BOTAS 66: A store with a cool bit of history. These were the only sneakers that were available under Communism. A few years ago, two Czech design students decided to resurrect the brand. Now, the colorful shoes are making a comeback.
For design and paper stores, we went to Prague 1. Czech Design and Papelote were among our favorites!
EAT + DRINK
VNITROBLOCK: We went to VNITROBLOCK on our first afternoon in the city. We got to our hostel, put down our bags, and met two volunteers who had been staying in Prague for a month. One of them was telling us about this amazing cafe he had just stumbled upon the other day. As he described it, it was at the end of an alleyway lined with abandoned buildings with crumbling facades, and was “the kind of place you’d never find if you weren’t looking for it.” We followed his directions and walked into the unmarked building, which houses a design shop, café and clothing store all in one.
Phill’s Corner: A cafe with a cozy vibe, neon green floors, lovely service, and delicious brunch. Their bowl of sweet cottage cheese and fruit was delicious! There’s also a design shop attached to it.
Other places I’d recommend for eating/drinking include Lokál (a popular spot with traditional Czech food and Pilsner on tap), Paralelní Polis (the world’s first bitcoin-only cafe), and Prague Beer Museum.
While in Prague, I’d definitely also recommend visiting the Museum of Communism, which gives insight into life in the Czech Republic under Communism and the Velvet Revolution. For learning about the Czech Republic’s history through a more personal narrative, we also really enjoyed the alternative walking tour, where we saw the city through the eyes of a local and heard stories about what it was like to grow up under Communism. It also allowed us to learn a lot of interesting tidbits/fun facts – like how Czechs drink 8-9 beers a night on average, and 70-80% of Czechs are agnostic or atheist (to the point that becoming religious has become a form of rebellion for some teenagers).
Until next time, Prague!