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.
Where to stay in Letna?
We’re glad you asked. We have just the right place. Our rental apartment just right next to the Bio Oko cinema is located in a listed Czech constructivist (we call it “functionalist”) building from the late 1930s and the interiors benefit from the light constructivist architects let in their creations: the window panes really go from wall to wall, and the ambiance is airy and light. We have refurbished the apartment last year with the girls of the SMLXL studio to make sure the apartment is welcoming, comfortable and practical at the same time. The bed and sofa/bed are custom made for the apartment and the walls are decorated by a large map of the Letna district by the duo of Tomski & Polanski. The apartment also comes with our curated tips for the neighborhood and Prague in general. Really the best place to stay in Prague in our mind. And we’re very unbiased here.
What to see in Letna?
Letná beer garden
Probably the nicest beer garden in town (but not the biggest - that trophy goes to the Riegrovy sady park) that has a great, neighborly feel. You should see this place on the first nice day of spring: people just flock in to get some beer, catch the first rays of warm sunshine, and let the great view of the Old Town sink in. This is a happy, friendly place where people consume beer behind small communal tables, play Pétanque and just soak in the atmosphere. Are the beers any good? Well, that’s beside the point here, really. There are other places for great beer around the town. This is about relaxing and having fun in a beautiful setting.
Bio Oko is one of the funnest places in Letna, if not the entire town: a 1930s cinema that is now run by the people behind Bio Aero, a network of Prague’s independent cinemas. The bar of the cinema (which doubles as our apartment’s reception desk, really) attracts younger locals for a drink, coffee and some snacks, and the party often spills into the street outside of the cinema. They do have a surprisingly good selection of mostly natural wines supplied by Marko, a.k.a. Winegeek, one of the wine scene personalities who were choosing their favorites wines in Prague for our blog a while ago. And their selection of movies is not bad either, and if the original audio is English, just disregard the subtitles. You can sit in the regular chairs in the back, or in the beach chairs in the front. Either way it’s fine with us.
National Technical Museum, National Agricultural Museum
Getting into the National Technical Museum is like getting back in time to our childhood: we absolutely adored that place when we were kids. But the exhibition is a testament to the wealth and the technical prowess of the Czechs and Slovaks in the First Republic: we really did build just about anything back then. The building itself is a fantastic structure finished in the 1940s. The staff can act like they run a concentration camp at times, though. Don’t let them spoil the fun. Just like many locals, we’ve been to the National Agricultural Museum in the twin building next door much less often than the National Technical Museum. That said, it is a fantastic institution that shows some amazing exhibitions. Make sure you visit the small zoo of farm animals behind the building! Cuteness turned to eleven. Yay!
They say Le Corbusier was fuming when he saw the pictures of the Trade Fair Palace completed in 1928: while he was designing on paper, Czechs were actually building things. Today, in its form after the 1974 fire, it is home to the National Gallery’s collection of modern arts that includes works by Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh and others. The place is stunning in its simplicity and discipline. We like especially the small patio to the right of the entry that connects all the floors. Kafe Jedna on the ground floor is not a bad place to spend a few minutes, either. Too bad the roof still remains inaccessible with some exceptions.
A hub for young creative types, the Orco Building (known as Bubenska 1) just off the Vltavska subway stop is a fun and fascinating space at the same time. Orco, a local developer, bought this Constructivist building a while back but, hit by the financial and real estate market crisis, it now rents the offices to young artists and designers at very cheap prices. The place is wonderfully run down but hosts a number of galleries, like the Chemistry Gallery, showrooms and offices of start ups and design companies. You have to walk past a guard, but just fake it. Say you're visiting Artbureau in room 412. Because you should. It hosts Pausa 412, a small improvised cafe: just check their website and if the color is green, you can knock and they’ll make you coffee. Enjoy.
Prague 7 Municipal Council
Nothing special there, unless you walk to the fourth floor to see how a local tax office looks like here in the Czech Republic, or you want to see some uninspired canteens on the ground floor. What we come here for is the paternoster elevators we wrote about a while ago on our blog. Take a ride for free, and if you’re brave enough, take the bottom loop, too!
One of our favorite buildings in Prague, the Expo 58 looks like a secret layer from a 60s Bond movie or North by Northwest. Originally the restaurant for the Czechoslovak exhibition at the 58 World Expo in Brussels, this Mid-Century Modern building was de-assembled, transported to Prague and built again at the bottom of the Letna park, where it served as a luxury restaurant and bar. It was abandoned up until the 1990s when it was refurbished and became a seat of an advertising agency. It still is one of the coolest buildings in Prague, and the terrace in front of it is one of the nicest places to enjoy the view of the city.
The top of the hill above the Cechuv most bridge has a rich history: originally supposed to be dug out for an extension of the Parizska street, it later housed an enormous statue of Stalin, and a slightly less enormous statue of Michael Jackson. (Really. Google it.) Today it is known as the “Metronome”, based on the red mechanical metronome built for the 1991 State Fair. It is also one of the most popular skate parks in Prague and the perfect place to bask in the view of the Old Town and to enter the Letna park, one of the most popular parks here, and one of our favorite jogging destinations in Prague.
Alfred ve dvore
Fancy a modern theatre performance? Alfred ve dvore in the Frantiska Krizka street, just a block away from the Bio Oko cinema, is a must-visit then. The stage invites modern artists to show of their newest performances or site-specific shows. Definitely worth checking their program during your stay.
The tiniest gallery in the city is home to some occasional exhibitions of young Czech and foreign visual artists, but Berlínskej model also focuses on site-specific installations tailored specifically to the size of this gallery. And often it is just a nice visual surprise when you walk by on your way to the subway stop.
Polansky Gallery tries to bring the best modern arts to an art gallery in the courtyard of a building near one of the busiest streets of Prague. A piece of calm right next to hundreds of cars daily creates a nice contrast and backdrop to the art inside.
Where to eat and drink in Letna?
The breakfast place of choice for our apartment guests. Bistro 8 serves food all day to all the hungry creative people surrounded around the Veverkova street scene. The food is like eating at home: one time it’s great, another time… ahem… it’s okay. But the people behind the counter and behind the whole operation are so friendly and nice, it is easy to forgive the few shortcomings you’ll find. And we’re sure you’ll feel a part of the scene after a few visits.
Ristorantino Da Matteo
Opened quite recently, this tiny Italian restaurant in the Jirickova street does Italian food really well and has gained quite a following among the locals. No, the atmosphere and the ambiance of the room are less than perfect, but Matteo and his staff are very friendly and helpful, and the food is solid: on our recent visit, we had great mushroom tagliatelle and one of the best-prepared octopus we had in Prague. And the tiramisu that "people talk about" was not bad either.
Lokál Nad Stromovkou
Another location of the Lokal pub has turned a classic local pub into another well-oiled machine of a Czech establishment. Great Pilsner from the tank and classic Czech pub dishes go really well together. The atmosphere can get very lively and even spill on to the street and the park on a hot summer night.
Pho u Letné
Now, is Pho u Letne beautiful or atmospheric? No. A first date place? Get out of here. But do they serve some decent Pho, along with other Vietnamese and Thai dishes? You bet. This is not something you will probably write home about, but for a quick fix of some Asian flavors, this will absolutely do.
Mr Hot Dog
One of the forerunners of the recent hot dog craze, Mr Hot Dog in the Kamenicka street has quickly become one of the local favorites. The interiors of this rather small hot dog place are reminiscent of similar venues in London, and the hot dogs are actually solid. We’d skip the sliders, though. A great stop on your way from one park to the other.
Probably the most beautiful eatery at Letna, Love Kidó will win top marks for style with the Turkish tiles and custom-made bar and tables. The menu is simple and focuses on vegetarian fare with some lunch specials and good ice-cream. When the weather is nice, you can sit in the urban garden in the backyard.
The Farm, opened on what used to be on one of the busiest streets in Prague, is a bistro that has created a loyal following for its Sunday brunches and simple meals over the weekdays. The place has a relaxed atmosphere and a fun vibe. It is quite admirable that such a small team can do so much on such a small layout.
Probably THE place to go for specialty coffee in Letna, Ye’s Kafe/Studio was recently opened by the people behind Holesovice’s Bitcoin Coffee, which means they’ll probably have beans from Berlin-based Bonanza Coffee Heroes. This is not a place to spend hours working, with just a few seats and no real tables to talk of. But as an espresso bar or for a quick take-away, Ye’s Kafe will satisfy. Make sure you check out their events, though. They can be really fun.
Opened recently, Cafe Letka is a beautiful space attached to the Pidivadlo theatre in the shadow of the National Technical Museum with coffee that gives Ye's Kafe / Studio run for its money. The menu includes espresso, breakfasts, sandwiches, small snacks and cakes, but they promise to do filters in the future. The worn wooden tables and atmospheric walls make for fantastic Instagram pictures. On a sunny day, this is a place where you could spend hours working or just hanging around. Insane hours means this is your place if you crave an espresso just before midnight.
Bar Cobra, opened in the summer of 2016, is due to become the place where you build the craving for the burrito: a long bar with a nice selection of spirits and cocktails and a fantastic vibe built by the architects of the Edit! studio (responsible for some of the coolest restaurant designs in Prague). The former canteen (Jan still remembers eating here back in the day) and later a sleazy slot machine bar has a system of large windows that open to the street, which is a godsend on a summer day. Good coffee (by former barista of Praktika bakery) and snacks coming soon!
Cukrárna Alchymista near the Sparta football stadium boasts arguably the most beautiful backyards of any cafe in Prague, the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee and some cheesecake, which they can do really well. (The cheesecake. The coffee, while very well prepared, is a wee bit too dark for us still.)
Kavárna Pod Lipami
The Pod Lipami café is probably the most beautiful of all the cafes falling into the Mama Coffee empire. The single room is simple and dominated by art on the walls. A quiet, serene place that is great for a long read, although we prefer their cold drinks over the coffee. Also, it does not hurt that the cafe is located in one of the most beautiful streets in Prague, the leafy Cechova street.
A small place, Kumbal in the Hermanova street is a local favorite that serves breakfasts and smaller meals during the day. It is a cosy, non-smoking place with a very laid-back, bohemian vibe, that attracts young moms and creative locals from near and afar. We can’t help but thing of this place as motherly: there is something caring and warming about the service and the atmosphere of the place.
If you get the craving for something sweet while roaming the streets of the Letna district, Erhart Café is probably your best choice. Refurbished to its original 1930s splendor, the rather small pastry shop tries to follow on the tradition of the First Republic original, including the selection of classic pastries you should try: laskonka, kokoska, Sacher torte are all good. The 1930s atmosphere extends to manners: check out the booth for mobile phone calls inside!
This fairly recent opening in the Kamenicka street has become one of our favorite ice-creams in Prague. No, the interiors of Gelateria Amato are not inspiring, super modern or design-focused, but the ice-cream is solid and will definitely turn that frown upside down. A great supplement to a hot dog, in our view.
The café in the National Gallery’s Trade Fair Palace is the lightest cafe in town with the highest ceiling of any eatery in the city you will find. The atmosphere of the place with large windows overlooking the street in front of the gallery is truly unique. Though we may not be fans of the coffee here, Café Jedna is a good place to rest after a visit to the National Gallery.
Okay, so this 24/7 Mexican burrito joint is not a place where no self-respecting person would take their loved one for a date but hey, if it’s 2am in the morning and your (probably drunk) body craves something salty and greasy and bold in flavor, this is your best - and only - option. Yup, this is your standard burrito and taco joint - love it or hate it. (We’d lean towards loving it.) Vegan options available!
Nestled in the Orco building (see above), Forbidden Spot is a few things in one: a modern arts gallery, a showroom of a modern streat wear brand, and - last but not least - the permanent kitchen of the Forbidden Taste pop-ups that bring fine dining cuisine to visually interesting places. They cook nearly every working day so they're worth checking out!
Wine and oysters. Mostly organic. ’Nuff said. If you like both, head over to Brut in the Letohradska street for a fresh new wine bar that serves... you guessed it... oysters.
Where to shop in Letná?
A small gallery in the Hermanova street that shows and - more importantly - sells some fantastic and unique jewelry designs by young and independent jewelry designers from the Czech Republic and some neighboring countries. Be careful: a visit to Galerie Zari may cost you dearly. It’s easy to fall in love here.
Some of the coolest porcelain designs right now can be found in the showroom of Tablo, formerly known as de-sign.cz. The association of young porcelain designers have a showroom in the Havanska street, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you are in the market for a cool homeware souvenir.
This tip is accessible by appointment only, but oh boy, is it so worth it! Zdenek Vacek and Daniel Posta, the two young designers behind the Zorya brand, create some of the most original and beautiful pieces of jewelry on the Czech designer jewelry market, and are staples of any design competition or event here in Prague. Their studio and showroom in the Jana Zajice street is a must if you are in the market for some unique jewelry.
Among the cool and hip stores around Veverkova street, the boudoir of Helena Darbujanova seems like from a different time and space: feminine and tender, the designs of the furniture and accessories refer to a time long past where people had time to appreciate better things. Sure, you may not buy the sofa to take back home, but one of the smaller pieces could be just the right thing.
If you’re like us, you like a souvenir that packs well, does not cost much and brings nice memories back. And a designer book fits all these categories. Page Five is a showroom of a small local publisher, basically a couple, that sells books it has produced itself, as well as other beautifully crafted, modern books, magazines and posters. And their dog is one of the nicest in town and likes to pose for pictures.
Garage / Sneaker Barber
Czech Republic is a true global superpower when it comes to vinyl records and turntables, and the Garage store right opposite Page Five sells both - either used or new vinyls, and older hi-fi turntables refurbished by the owner, a DJ by night, himself. And what better companion to a great beat than a pair of spanking new sneakers? You have to tap your foot to the beat, don’t you? Who knows? Sneaker Barber may be just the place where you'll find the pair of limited edition sneakers you were looking for so hard.
If you’re in for “the find” of your trip, the Koncept Story shop might be just that. Opened as a showroom of ten very young and promising Czech designers, the shop sells items that are beautiful and functional and vary from anything between illustration, home accessories, fashion design, designer jewelry, or really cool eyewear. A must if you’re in the area and looking for
Finding cool, hip menswear in Prague can be a chore. Lab 24 showroom tries to change that, bringing a few cool brands of men’s clothing and accessories to the Letna district. Notables include the Alexmonhart backpacks that have been gaining lots of traction recently, Kaibosh eyewear or HyperGrand watches.
Kristina Javurkova’s fashion pieces maybe simple at first sight but behind them is a simple, elegant sophistication and more than meets the eye. Just touch them: soft, organic cotton, wool, silk or linen. The clothing defies any current trends and - according to the designer - gender divides. See for yourself.
Kdo to kdy slysel
None of the fashion pieces in Letna’s showroom have scratched that fashion itch you had? Then it’s time to create your own, preferably with the cloth and fabrics sold in this tiny little shop in the Veverkova street. From Japanese to European organic fabrics, you’re sure to find the pattern and feel you’ll fall in love with in Kdo to kdy slysel.
Foot Shop is a hip sneaker shop in the Orco building has a large selection of really the coolest sneakers around, which can be inspected in the large display windows as Wu Tang blasts on the stereo and the hip-hop-clad shop assistants search the web for the coolest basketball caps.
You know a place is going to be special when their firs Foursquare review says “The hash I bought there was not that great.” But Basecamp sells LOTS of beers (nearly 300 we think) from both Czech Republic and abroad. The owner probably lives in the shop, and the regulars… well, they look a lot like the dictionary definition of alcoholics. So we’d stop there on the way to the Stromovka or Letna parks just to get some beers for that picnic you’ve prepared.
And how about a souvenir that will last just for a few weeks? Why not a haircut from Prague? Hairkat is a tiny hair salon with a big attitude. Katerina Heincova, the owner and hairdresser, is a quite famous figure on the Prague streets and her cuts are fun, just as the owner.
U krále zeleznic
The time has stopped in this general hardware shop some 30 years ago: while modern DIY shops serve everything sterile and prepackaged: here everything - including the shop assistant - is still well lubricated and covered in grease, which truly permeates the dusty air. No touching, no self-service: this is still strictly over-the-counter shopping, just like the grandpa liked it. Little screws are sold in small paper bags and the bills are written with pencils on little scraps of paper.