Let’s get one thing straight right away: St Valentine’s Day is not something that the Czechs would traditionally celebrate, and is by some seen as an import of the 1990s. (The decorations of many retail shops would indicate otherwise, but that’s an entirely different issue.) Still, many of our guests ask us about romantic things that can be done in Prague ahead of St Valentine’s Day, and truth be told, the week of St Valentine’s Day is a small season by itself in the midst of what is one of the slower months for our tours. That is why we have created a few Prague itineraries that are best enjoyed in two, whether you like St Valentine’s Day or are against the whole idea. We think a romantic itinerary is in season the whole year around.
Thus we bring you our best ideas for a nice St Valentine's Day spent in the company of your significant other. Just like with everything we do, this post is really written for ourselves: we write about the things we would love to do to spend a few nice, romantic hours together. If you're like us, we think you may like these.
Here are our five small St Valentines itineraries:
a walk with a view
Our first itinerary starts in Karlin, a former working class district right next to the centre. The only part of the town with a grid layout, you will not have to stress out about getting lost but can enjoy the laid back atmosphere of the wide streets and parks under the Vitkov hill. Make sure you visit Lyckovo namesti, one of the most beautiful squares in Prague. Once you start getting cold or tired, it's time for a drink: you can have great coffee at Muj salek kavy, a cup of delicious tea at Tea Mountain, or a glass of organic local wine at Veltlin. The choice is yours. You can also do all three: these venues are all located within two blocks of the Krizikova street.
When it's time to go, get the last cup of coffee or tea to take away, and get a bit of thrill by entering the long pedestrian tunnel that connects the Karlin and the Zizkov districts and climb to the Vitkov hill and walk to the top of the National Memorial for one of the best views of the city. This monument is one of the few places that makes Jan want to wave the Czech flag and beat his chest with patriotic pride. Bonus tip: wear an extra layer or a windbreaker - it gets pretty windy out there.
Once you've had enough of the views and vistas, it's time to walk further up to the Zizkov and Vinohrady districts and get something to eat. Finally! Our three choices will make both sexes happy: we recommend you get a burger at The Tavern (the pulled pork marinated in Slivovitz is our favorite) or at the Dish (don't forget to order their fries with smoked chili mayonnaise) or have a lighter meal and some charcuterie and wines at the elegant Gastronomica Italian bistro with a great view of the TV Tower. Finish the night with drinks at the Bar and Books in the Manesova street.
BREAK A SWEAT
The Vysehrad fortress is a majestic, mysterious place that we used to visit when we started dating… and look at us now! It's hard to think of a more romantic place in Prague: great views of the centre and the southern parts of the town walking on the fortified walls, a picturesque church and cemetery of famous Czechs, parks with many benches and hidden spots, and lots of history and parks packed into one fortress.
Walk down to the river and walk on the embankment back to the centre. Feeding the swans is an optional, romantic extra. If you'd like to get intimate… with other people, the river embankment has what you need: the Lazne na lodi spa on a boat. With one side made entirely of glass, there is no better way to sweat with a great view than this. And then if you want to freshen up, there's always the river, right? (Don't worry, there's a small pool there, too, although admittedly, the comfort level is a bit low compared to other spas. But remember: you're there for the experience.)
After the sauna, you'll be thirsty. We think Na brehu Rhony, a nice and intimate French wine bar with a selection of French wines, is the answer. You can have cheeses and charcuterie if you're hungry. Or better, have a romantic dinner at Atelier Red & Wine, a small hidden spot far from the madding crowds. On the way, you’ll walk along the river to the Dancing House, cross the bridge and bask in the view of the Prague Castle. Finish the walk in style with some drinks and music in Jazz Dock, arguably the most popular jazz club in town housed in a boat in one of the Prague's water locks.
ST VALENTINE'S ON ICE
The next route is very short but we’d say it’s classy and, in a way, luxurious.
We start at the Sisters bistro. It will be chilly, so having a bowl of soup will come in handy. If you find soup utterly unromantic, no worries. You can have a cup of their delicious mulled wine to go. We can’t vouch for their claim that they sell the best mulled wine in the Old Town, but it is one of the best versions we have tried and it also gets the blood pumping.
Next stop: culture. The Convent of St Agnes is a beautiful sight that dates back to 1231 and today hosts National Gallery’s collection of Medieval arts. The sight is serene, subdued and out of the main tourist sights. So much so that you might be alone there, and that is not necessarily a bad thing on a St Valentine’s Day.
After a cultural visit, it is high time to share a fun moment together: we always recommend that you do some ice-skating in the centre of Prague right in the shadows of the St Agnes Convent. Don’t have skates? No worries: they rent them right there for a small fee. Going ice-skating on Valentine’s Days is a win-win affair: you can either impress with your Brian Boitano chops, or you can go for the comedy value with your cute clumsiness.
There will be nothing clumsy about your choice of restaurant for the evening: La Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise. Yes, the only restaurant focusing on Czech cuisine that has been awarded a Michelin star is the ideal venue for St Valentines. If you have not booked a place already, drop everything and call now. The tasting menus and the wine pairings in the dimly lit room with just the open kitchen shining into the fore like theatre stage have all the makings of a night to remember.
After you’ve dined and wined, it is time for some after dinner drinks. Public Interest, an intimate, minimalist bar that only opened last year, is the ideal location in a small street very near the ice-skating rink. For the maximum effect, combine all the above with a visit to Methamorphis, arguably the best flower shop in the city, for an impromptu flower gift to your beloved one. You’re welcome.
ROMANCE AT AND AROUND THE CASTLE
If you want a calmer walk, but with romance "turned to eleven", you must visit the Prague Castle our way.
Start with great coffee at Café Lounge or a bowl of soup or pastries at Café Savoy, and then take the funicular car up to the Petrin hill and the Petrin Tower. For added cuteness, visit the hall of mirrors nearby that we loved as kids. Walk on the slope to the Strahov Monastery but don't forget: you're not there to take photos of the fantastic views. You're there to celebrate love.
When walking down from the monastery to the Castle, don't make the beginner's mistake of walking straight. Instead, turn left just before the Loretta and head over to the New World area, arguably the most romantic and picturesque part of the Castle District that rarely anyone visits. You can have coffee or tea at the lovely and intimate Novy Svet Cafe.
From there, walk to the Prague Castle and walk the grounds. Ideally, you should arrive around 8pm when the Castle is empty. The only people you'll meet will have probably read this post. Other than that, it will just be you, the Castle, and the stars (not guaranteed).
Once you've had enough, walk down to the river and have some great local wines at the small Vinograf wine bar with the locals. After the wines, seal the deal with a walk across the Charles Bridge nearby. One of our best friends used to take his dates to the Charles Bridge after dark to blow them away, and he swears it worked every single time. Learn something about the statues to add a touch of sophistication. One or two will do.
a walk through the park, animals, shopping and a dinner
Take the tram to the Vystaviste tram stop. For added comfort, take the oldest tram available (the one from the 60s with paper numbers) - all the seats are heated in this one if it's cold. Get off the tram and enter the Stromovka, one of the most popular and the biggest park in Prague. When you reach the "big circle" (you'll know it when you get there), walk under the railway tracks and walk across the river to reach the equestrian centre at the Cisarsky ostrov island. Have a look at the riders training for parkour. Cross the pedestrian bridge and turn left to reach the Troja chateau. Walk through the English park and then cross the street and buy tickets for the Prague ZOO.
When in the ZOO, make sure you take the cable car and walk to the pathway at the top to get a great view of the city. The Prague ZOO is consistently voted one of the top zoos in the world and the atmosphere is lovely. Continue further to reach the Fata Morgana sub-tropical pavilion of the Prague Botanical Garden, and the Svata Klara vineyard. The ZOO and the botanical garden close at 4pm but you can taste the wines until 5pm (the view is great, the wines... less so).
Getting back to the town is easy: just get the 112 bus to the Nadrazi Holesovice stop. From there, we recommend you stop at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art (their design shop carries great jewelry by young Czech designers, the perfect gift for a St Valentine's Day), and then finish the day with a great Asian fusion dinner at SaSaZu.
... AND A BONUS ITINERARY OUTSIDE OF PRAGUE
Gothic is romantic. If you can ascribe to that theory, you should leave town for Kutna Hora, a wonderful gothic town about an hour's ride from Prague. We also happen to think that the train is the most romantic mode of transport (have you taken a commercial flight lately?) and you will find yourself snuggling together in the train… mostly because the heating is broken.
Our day in Kutna Hora would definitely include a visit to the macabre Ossuary (Bone Church) in the Sedlec district, a walk through the town centre to calm down from the experience, a peek into the fantastic St Barbara Cathedral, an exhibition at the GASK museum of modern arts right next door, and coffee and cake at the famous Na kozim placku café. If you like shiny things, you can also visit the Medieval silver mines.
When you're back in Prague, we have two dinner recommendations: the tasting menu at Sansho is one of the best things you can eat in Prague and the minimalist interiors will make you focus on what’s important: your better half. They also serve family-style, so you’ll be sharing everything. Just make sure you get a private table. Alternatively, Grand Cru nearby is less casual and has a fancy, fine dining feel. And the food and wines are great, too.