Letna district is arguably one of the sought after 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, 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 who care about their neighbourhood, having, for instance, voted an entirely independent candidate of a purely local movement the Mayor of the 7th district.
The Letna is spread over a hill and the plain at its top, overlooking the city centre, has always been a valuable and strategic space. Today, Letna 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. It is also a living gallery of the ubiquitous 1930s Constructivist buildings, bearing witness to the district’s boom in the 1930s.
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 a 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 so glad you asked. We know a 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 so generously 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 in 2014 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.
Okay, it’s only fair to mention another great place to stay in Letná, and we’ll allow it if our apartment is booked. The Mamashelter opened its Prague location in late summer 2018 right next to the National Gallery’s Trade Palace. And you know what? We like Mamashelter - they tend to have nice rooftop bars, although not in Prague. (The one in LA is great, and Jan honestly looked at Google Earth to see if they planned one in Prague, too.) And they are fun, inexpensive and in interesting locations. Bonus points: the Prague Mamashelter occupies a beautiful Brutalist building of the former Parkhotel and the remodeling has been quite respectful of the original, while still retaining that playfulness of the Mamashelter concept. Zuzi’s brother stayed there over the Christmas holidays and loved it. We footed the bill and did not go bankrupt. Good job.
What to see in Letna?
Letná beer garden
Probably the nicest beer garden in town (although 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 craft beers and mostly natural wines supplied by Marko, a.k.a. Winegeek, one of the wine scene personalities who were choosing their favorite 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 strict and smile-less staff can act like they run a work 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.
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. Make sure you check out the program of the very popular Stalin Containall space nested right in front of it (think pop-ups, DJs and so on).
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 it’s easy to forget the imperfections in a friendly and open atmosphere and an interior that is inspired, cheap but fun. This is the kind of place where you feel like a regular after only a few visits.
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.
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 favourites. The interiors are reminiscent of similar venues in London, and the hot dogs are actually solid. But the real hidden gem is their beef slider with bacon (btw, since when did we start calling small burgers “sliders”, and why?), one of the best bites of Letna for sure. A great stop on your way from one park to the other.
Occupying the awesome place of the former Love Kidó, Milada wins instant points for interior decor, but that’s just beginning. Trying to merry some Czech local and seasonal fare with a Nouvelle Bistro concept, Milada, run by the wife of Chef Sahajdak of La Degustation, doesn’t disappoint on the food front, either, with a streamlined menu of five dishes and two wines per day. Sit in the herbs garden in the back in the summer.
Rotisserie chicken was the new black of 2018, and Pipca (still not sure whether it should be pronounced “piptcha” or “pipka”) was opened just weeks after the hyped Grils in the Karlin district. The place caused a fairly substantial online discussion whether your hipster chicken should be organic (Pipca’s is not) but that should not steer your attention from the fact that Pipca’s offerings are actually quite tasty and the interiors are relaxed and nice. We hereby declare Pipca, Mr Hot Dog and Salt’n’Peppa kitchen the “Letna Triangle of Fast Food”. Finish all three in one day and… you should have a good look in the mirror. Something’s wrong with you, man. Who eats like that?
San Carlo pizzeria
In a surprising turn of events, the Capua pizzeria that has occupied the corner of Milady Horákové and Veverkova gave in to another location of our favorite pizza Napoletana in town, San Carlo. The fact that they tore up the old pizza oven (it was a brick oven built into the room) and replaced it with a different one just goes to show how serious they are about the pizza. Have nothing else on the menu, though.
One of the most favorite food trucks in Prague has finally opened a permanent location, and we are happy to announce it’s in the same block as out rental apartment. Come for the food truck classics like the duck confit burger, stay for the halusky s brindzou, the Slovak answer to the mac’n’cheese. This is a fun, low-key place that perfectly reflects why the food truck was popular in the first place.
Letná, a dry land when it came to specialty coffee a few years ago, has now so much choice when it comes good coffee it would take days to go through them. But the first true hipster coffee shop (think refurbished coffee machine, vegan menu, events with DJs and so on) was undoubtedly Ye’s Kafe/Studio. Located on the Letenske namesti sq, this one is hard to miss.
Coffee shops don’t come much more beautiful than Cafe Letka, a beautifully run-down space attached to the Pidivadlo theatre in the shadow of the National Technical Museum. The run-down yet colourful interiors and the old wooden tables scream Instagram likes. The menu includes espresso, breakfasts, sandwiches, small snacks and cakes. 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 has become so popular since its 2016 opening that the night crowds spilling onto the street have caused the owners to distribute apology leaflets to mailboxes within two blocks. The interiors of the former sleazy slot machine bar are fantastic: 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) sport a system of large windows that open to the street, which is a godsend on a summer day. This is a place that will make you happy all day with hearty breakfasts, good coffee and cocktails in the evening.
As if Milady Horákové did not have enough specialty coffee shops (we’re thinking Sólista, Dos Mundos and Bar Cobra), the last block of the street that did not have a coffee shop was chosen by Republica Coffee, the Carlsbad-based specialty coffee powerhouse, as their first location in Prague. Expect what made them popular elsewhere - solid coffee and cool, hip interiors that clearly target the younger audience.
Letec Espresso Bar
It’s funny that a little espresso bar that reminds us of Berlin (given the atmosphere and the choice of coffee beans by the Berlin-based Five Elephant) should be located in an area known as… Little Berlin. This is a fun, little espresso that does one thing and one thing well: coffee. The only question is whether it can still count as Letná. Just a two-minute walk from Mamashelter, it can in our book.
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 discreet 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. Just grab some tea and enjoy the vibe and the space.
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!
SÓLISTA AND DOS MUNDOS
Boy, you don’t need to go far these days to get your coffee fix. Just the Milady Horakove street is filled with at least three specialty coffee places within the span of a few street blocks. Dos Mundos serves coffee by the eponymous roaster located in the Vinohrady district, along with a few snacks. Extra points for cute suspended seats, if you’re into that thing. Solista, the youngest of the bunch, sells specialty coffee in the format of a true small espresso bar. The perfect mix with pastries from Erhart Cafe nearly next door.
The concept of Waf Waf is destined to succeed: take-away or sit-down waffles and crepes with toppings of your own choosing? Cannot fail. The execution? Heck, it’s waffles and crepes and you can put heaps of Nutella and M&Ms on it, so who cares?
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.
LETNA BEER GARDEN
You know the spring has arrived when the Letna beer garden gets full for the first time with people craving some sunshine, a nice walk through the park, and a cold beer. Offering some of the best views of the the Old Town, the beer garden is a popular meeting spot among both locals who sit cheerfully at the communal tables. The beer is your standard Gambrinus in a plastic cup but hey, nobody comes here to discuss hops and fermentation, okay?
Arguably the cutest place to eat in Letna, the recently opened Kostelni 16 (the name is the address) serves Mediterranean fare (think Iberico ham, burratinas and seafood) along with grilled meats and fish. The interiors mirror the food: nice, clean, elegant but still fun. A great place to get a copita and some Mediterranean charcuterie to go with it.
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.
Beautiful things for the mind, soul, and home chores. This one-room shop really nicely reflects the owner - calm and serene, with a focus on beautiful things in our daily live. If you've been to Shoreditch, London, this is like Labour and Wait... without all the beards.
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.