There are a couple of things you have to do as a tourist in Prague. But after exploring the beautiful old town square, Charles Bridge and Prague Castle (the three essentials), what we enjoyed the most was actually a little beyond the typical recommendations and off the beaten track. That’s all thanks to guidance from our local friends!
I was also lucky to explore food and drinks in Lisbon with local friends, so do also check out Eat and Drink with Locals in Lisbon, for a similar guide.
Here are some relatively unconventional and truly local things to do in Prague after you’ve checked off the key sights.
First, The Essential Things-to-Do and Eat
There are many useful articles out there to make sure you cover all the “musts”. Here’s a quick recap:
3 Must-Sees in Prague
- Walk around the Old Town Square
- Walk across Charles Bridge and along the river on the side to get beautiful shots
- Visit Prague Castle
3 Must-Eats in Prague
- Trdelník “chimney” cakes: These are available almost every other corner of Prague 1 (the centre). My one advice would be to try one which is freshly made over charcoal.
- Svíčková: Don’t confuse this with “Beef Goulash”. This traditional Czech dish is made with braised beef in a very unique, intriguing and delicious cranberry sauce.
- Smažený Sýr: Deep fried cheese is another landmark dish in Prague. But for some reason restaurants were not serving this on New Year’s Day… Does anyone know why?
After we did all the tourist “musts”, we had time to meet up with a local friend for a couple of beers. These were some of the less typical spots recommended by locals, and we enjoyed them more!
1. Větrník Pastry from Upscale Cafe Savoy
I loved the simplicity and chewy dough of the Trdelník (Chimney Cakes) pastries. But I was even more impressed by the refined Větrník from Cafe Savoy.
Větrník is another local sweet pastry – it’s similar to a choux pastry puff, filled with light vanilla cream and topped with caramel.
Cafe Savoy looks like a bit of an institution. You can tell from streets away that it’s definitely more upscale. But no matter what you feel about beautiful tea rooms, the pastry was honestly impressive. We also ordered a slow roasted duck leg and felt the hot dishes also lived up to high expectations.
No wonder Cafe Savoy is constantly attracting a small crowd at the door. We arrived early in the afternoon (around 12:30pm) and it wasn’t difficult to grab a table for two.
2. Get Seriously Local at U Zlatého Tygra
But if Cafe Savoy seems a little fancy and not grungyly local enough, you need to read about U Zlatého Tygra. Our local friend brought us here, and indeed, I was personally a whee bit overwhelmed.
Lokal is the typical recommendation as a great place for excellent beers and a good local meal. But it’s probably “over-recommended” as a place where locals go because it felt pretty touristy to us.
If you’re looking for an almost intimidatingly local pub experience, I dare you to try U Zlateho Tygra.
It was jam packed but we luckily got a seat for four. You probably have to share your table. About 20 seconds after we took our coats off and shuffled ourselves into our tight seats, four large beers were almost dropped onto our table top.
“Did you order already?” Dario asked our local friend hosting us. “Nope”.
Pro tip: You probably shouldn’t finish your beer completely, unless you’re ready for your next to arrive seamlessly and immediately.
And if you like beer, you’ve got to visit Belgium – we sampled 15 different beers on our trip and they were all so interesting and delicious. Read about the 5 Highlights for Foodies in Belgium.
Could you handle Pivní Sýr “beer cheese” dish?
We then tried Pivní Sýr – a local cheese dish that is definitely not for the faint hearted. There’s cheese, onion, paprika, mustard on the plate, you mix it up and pour a little beer over it. It sounds innocent enough, but the cheese was intensely pungent, and this comes from someone who actually loves blue cheese.
But in any case, it’s definitely not as weird as some of these really weird dishes around Europe.
3. Sample Czech wine at the Cozy and Local Vinograf
33rd in the world by wine production (source: Winefolly, 2015), Czech Republic is not the most well known place for good wine. But once you’ve unavoidably had 3-4 pints over the afternoon, you might be tempted to switch to wine.
While we were generally not too impressed by the red wine from the country, wine enthusiasts might be curious to try it nonetheless. We (too tardily) hear the white wines in Czech are better than the red though.
For any wine lovers out there, or anyone who enjoys a quiet cozy night, Vinograf is a non-touristy and extremely charming spot for the evening.The owner was also extremely enthusiastic in recommending a range of small taster portions.
We also ordered some delicious cheese, charcuterie and homemade small bites to go with our wine. These were all delicious.
4. Vyšehard and T-Anker for the best and less crowded views of Prague
Apart from being the largest castle complex in the world, Prague Castle is also base for some very impressive views of the beautiful city – probably still the best. The problem is that it’s so tourist-y and crowded. I got a few quick shots on my camera… but it was no place to enjoy the view.
Vyšehrad: quiet spot for beautiful views
Instead, we were actually able to sit and quietly enjoy the almost equally beautiful views from Vyšehrad. It was a very pleasant place to have a short walk.
T-Anker: Restaurant/Bar for panoramic city views
T-Anker is another place with great views, overlooking the old town square. It’s essentially a roof-top restaurant, and we went there for a quick drink.
5. Italian Food at Aromi – Break from Heavy Local Cuisine
We found traditional Czech food extremely heavy, since most dishes revolved around a lot of meat and bread. It was impossible to have Czech food every meal. So we were happy to take a little break from the local cuisine and enjoy a nice, slightly fancier and top-notch Italian dinner at Aromi.
The dishes here were all very refined and the handmade pasta with truffle was so simple, yet perfectly executed.
Other Excellent Food and Drink Recommendations in Prague
Apart from those five recommendations, we also loved the more modernised and refined local dishes at Next Door by Imperial, which is run by the renowned Chef Zdenek Pohlreich.
While three nights felt sufficiently long to explore the main tourist attractions of Prague, there were still a couple of spots we didn’t manage to hit. Naše Maso for their meats and Sisters for the chlebíčky were two lunch spots we’re still dying to visit. Let me know if you’ve been!
Have you been to Prague? Where was your favourite meal?