Prague off the beaten path: Bethlehem Square and its surroundings

Prague off the beaten path: Bethlehem Square and its surroundings

Calling an area this central “off the beaten path” can be quite daring, but we think the stretch of the Old Town between the National Theatre and the Charles Bridge can offer a truly authentic, local experience, with many venues frequented more by locals than foreign visitors. You see, most of Prague’s visitors move between the two bridges along the river bank, which surely is beautiful, but sadly bypasses some hidden, shady streets just a block away from the river that can offer some nice culinary and shopping opportunities. 

And on top of that, this area, which takes the total of some 15 to 30 minutes to explore at a leisurely pace, is just utterly beautiful, with a nice, quiet atmosphere that can be enjoyed literally seconds from the madness that is the Charles Bridge. Just a few steps away, you have an area where you can fall in love with Prague all over again, have a breather or contemplate the day in some of the nicest cafes and bars in Prague, and talk to the owners of some of the nicest and cleverest shops in the entire city. What follows are our personal tips for the area.


Prague off the beaten path: Letna district

Prague off the beaten path: Letna district

Letna district is arguably one of the best places to live in Prague. It benefits from its location just across the river from the busy historical centre, which means you’re near it all if you want to, but not in the middle of it all if you don’t. Nestled in between two parks, the Letenský park and the Stromovka, the area is great for families: there’s always somewhere to go or something to do, and far from traffic, too. Also, the people of Letna create a lively, healthy community, as witnessed by the mayor of the entire Prague 7 district, who was voted in as an independent candidate of a purely local movement.

The Letna is spread over a hill and the plain at its top has always been a strategic point for military purposes. It was even used by Soviet helicopters that landed here during the 1968 invasion. Today, it is known for its relative affluence, a Bohemian feel with lots of art-related spots, incl. the National Gallery or the Academy of Fine Arts, and a plethora of independent galleries, and for the splendor of the ubiquitous 1930s Constructivist buildings.

It is also a great place to visit if you want to see something outside of the centre and just browse a few streets with the locals. Last but not least, Letna is the neighborhood of our awesome Prague rental apartment (if you’re reading this from the apartment now - because we set this as the load page on the computer's browser - welcome in Prague!).

Now, we have suggested a cool walk from Letna to the Holesovice district a while ago on this blog, but we thought Letna needed a closer look. Here’s our small guide to the neighborhood.


How not to eat Czech food

How not to eat Czech food

As you might have expected, we eat out a lot when we do research for our Prague food tours, the Prague Foodie Map and this very blog. (Hey, we have an Instagram account and we try to post a picture a day, which means a meal out a day. Yeah, it’s hard to be us.) But in doing so, we often see foreign visitors do things that clearly identify them as foreign visitors and set them apart from the locals.

So we have investigated the phenomenon, asked around some of our favorite restaurants and came up with a list of “Czech food fails”: things done to Czech food by foreign visitors that make the locals either shake their head in disbelief or straight out cringe. Here’s how you don't eat Czech food in Prague restaurants


Best ice-cream in Prague

Best ice-cream in Prague

Summers in Prague can be excruciating, especially in the past few years as Czechia (yup, we’re using the new abbreviated name for the Czech Republic) has been getting more tropical weather from the South. As temperatures reach 30C/85F, the cobblestoned streets heat up, and air-conditioning is hard to find in the Unesco-protected historical centre. Your refuge? Ice-cream. 

But where to go for great ice-cream in Prague? We’ve gathered a few of our favorite ice-cream parlors and a few ice-cream purveyors you should look out for. And a few bonus tips to ensure your summer trip to Prague stays as cool as it should be. Here’s a list of what we think is the best ice-cream in Prague. 


Prague Food Tips and Recommendations by Prague locals. Ep II: Ondra Hurtik

Prague Food Tips and Recommendations by Prague locals. Ep II: Ondra Hurtik

If you like coffee in Prague - and you should, it’s awesome - then Ondra Hurtik needs no introduction. The reigning Czech barista champion and the runner up of the 2015 Coffee in Good Spirits competition, Ondra has been a prominent figure on the Prague coffee scene for years. And as one of the faces of the ubiquitous Doubleshot roasters, he can be mostly seen behind the espresso machine of Kavarna Misto or Muj salek kavy, unless he’s training in Doubleshot’s barista training centre in the Karlin district.

What are his favorite places in Prague? Where does he like to go and - most importantly - what is his favorite cafe in Prague? Our summer intern Nicole has interviewed him a while back, as he was training for the World Barista Championships in Dublin.


Where to stay in Prague?

Where to stay in Prague?

Sure, we may run what we think are the finest Prague food tours, but that does not mean we don’t get asked about where to stay in Prague. We do our best to help by inviting our guests to send us a shortlist of the hotels or apartments they have chosen and then give them our two cents on each of their choices. We love to travel, so we like to think we’re in a good position to combine our local knowledge with some of our travel know-how.  

With this post, we want to help you understand the different areas of Prague and their pros and cons. When we travel ourselves, we always look for a balance between easy accessibility to the centre of the town and getting a feel for what we think is a local, true, and interesting part of the city that we visit. So, we will be recommending areas along those lines. We will also throw in a few apartments and hotels we ourselves would like to stay in if we travelled to Prague. And yes, some of these recommendations will be based on our personal experience. (Which is gained when you do non-simultaneous house swaps, rent your own rental apartment and have to book a hotel in your own city because you promised someone to stay in your apartment while you're in Prague.) But don’t worry, we will not push our beautiful, awesome and super cool rental apartment in Prague that has no peers too hard. Oops.


Prague Food Tips and Recommendations by Prague locals. Ep I: Julka a.k.a. Maskrtnica

Prague Food Tips and Recommendations by Prague locals. Ep I: Julka a.k.a. Maskrtnica

If you have ever had any good food in Prague, the odds are you may have tasted some of the creations by Julka, otherwise known as Maskrtnica in the blogosphere. Julka has baked the first breads for the open-faced sandwiches in Sisters, and is the woman behind the Prague food phenomenon that are the vanilla custard donuts in Maso a kobliha. She’s also supplying bread to, and consulting breads with, a variety of great restaurants and bistros in Prague, and is one of the forces behind the Pecem Pecen project and the Sourdough Map, which have singlehandedly brought back the tradition of baking sourdough bread at home. So yup, she’s a big deal.

And it shows: we’ve tried to meet her for weeks now, after she’s come back from her 3-month tour of the US where she went through a series of short internships and visits in various artisanal bakeries, and still could not get a proper hour to sit down and have a nice chat. In between pop-ups, festivals and consulting, she’s that busy. And no wonder. If there’s one person that embodies bread in Prague, it is her (and perhaps Tomas at the Praktika bakery). So we’re happy that she at least shared her five favorite places in Prague, and her five favorite social media accounts.


Common mistakes when traveling to Prague, a.k.a. "It's your own fault"

Common mistakes when traveling to Prague, a.k.a. "It's your own fault"

Here at Taste of Prague, we have this secret competition with Vienna: we want all the guests of our food tours, and all the visitors to Prague, enjoy our city more than Vienna. Not that we have anything against Vienna. We actually love that place. But still, when many of our guests visit Prague, Vienna and Budapest within the same trip, we want them to enjoy Prague the best. It’s just the way we are. Competitive.

But some Prague visitors don’t make it easy. Their Prague stays are riddled by what we would see as traveling mistakes. (We wrote about some don'ts of Prague already.) And then they complain about Prague. And we’re sad. And angry. Yup, it’s an emotional rollercoaster here at Taste of Prague whenever someone dares criticize out home town. 

To avoid that, we have put together a short list of what we think are the main mistakes we’ve seen visitors to Prague make, and how and why to avoid them. We hate to be haters, but hey - nobody disses our town on our watch!

So drop that pretzel, push away the pork knuckle, and read on. Here’s what you don’t do during your stay in Prague.


Traditional Czech Food in Prague: What to Have and Where to Have it

Traditional Czech Food in Prague: What to Have and Where to Have it

Let’s be honest here: you did not travel to Prague to eat Italian food. You want traditional Czech cuisine in its best form, and you want it right now.
But what are the classic Czech foods and where do you have them? Well, one way to find out is to book one of our Prague food tours, where we serve Czech classics that are close to achieving the impossible goal of matching the deliciousness that our beloved grandmas used to force us to eat when we were kids. (They did not have to force us though.)  

But if you - for whatever reason - cannot join us for a few hours of serious overeating and fun stories about what these foods mean to us, we still have a few tips on where to go. Here’s our favourite classic Czech dishes and our favourite Prague restaurants for traditional Czech cuisine that remind us of our childhood. But beware: Czech cuisine is delicious and addictive, so make sure you reserve enough time to walk off those calories. Yes, there won’t be many salads - or vegetables for that matter - in the list that follows. But you did not travel to Prague to eat Italian food, right?