Prague was justifiably widespread with guests earlier than the pandemic, however life right here typically felt barely out of whack earlier than 2020. As a small counterbalance to an immense tragedy, the pandemic supplied the town an opportunity for a much-needed reset. Residents had time to rediscover websites and neighborhoods that they’d lengthy since deserted to vacationers. The sudden lack of overseas company compelled restaurant house owners to refocus on prospects who really reside right here. Historic sights underwent renovations. And new initiatives that went forward with openings in 2020 and 2021 have made the town much more enjoyable than earlier than.
Because of this, Prague now looks like a spot with much less touristic gimcrackery and extra native taste. It additionally has a youthful vibe than many guests may count on, explains Jan Valenta, who blogs about native eating places and affords meals excursions by means of his firm, Taste of Prague.
“The biggest difference, I think, between a Western country like the U.S. and a post-communist country like us is the distribution of wealth among generations,” Mr. Valenta stated. “The older generation here doesn’t have the money to spend in these restaurants that young people go to.”
Mr. Valenta, 44, notes that he defines younger “very generously.” However by any definition, the town sports activities younger vibrancy than in earlier years, which could account for the newfound recognition of public areas, together with the embankments alongside the Vltava River, in addition to islands and parks.
“There’s more of a sense of community than there used to be five years ago,” Mr. Valenta stated. “People are more willing to meet and spend time together outside. That’s a very new development, I think, and it’s great.”
A few of these new areas embody Čapadlo, a scenic however neglected spot on the Previous City embankment that debuted as an open-air live performance venue and multipurpose hangout in mid-2021. Even sights with a little bit of historical past, like the favored promenade on the Rašín embankment often known as Náplavka, gained new options in the course of the pandemic, together with new cafes and pop-up bars within the former ice-storage vaults within the retaining wall alongside the riverside walkway.
Much less intellectual, however extra instant when it comes to native reminiscence: Retro Muzeum, an exhibition of on a regular basis gadgets from Czechoslovakia’s Normalization Period of the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties, which opened inside Previous City’s Kotva division retailer earlier this 12 months (adults, 220 koruny, or about $10). The commie-kitsch assortment of clothes, furnishings, inside design, packaging and collectibles suits completely with the setting, a renovated however nonetheless weird Brutalist constructing from 1975.
Barbecue, beer and bakeries
A lot of the massive new attracts are on this planet of meals — and plenty of are away from the central districts of Previous City and Malá Strana. That may sound daunting, however Prague’s metro and extensive tram network make crosstown journey straightforward, as Melissa Joulwan, a Prague resident and co-host of the Strong Sense of Place literary journey podcast, typically tells guests.
“People who are not used to public transportation might not understand that it’s so easy to get around, and places that might seem far away are really not far away at all,” she says. “It’s so much fun to look at the architecture in other neighborhoods — there’s always something beautiful or interesting to see.”
With a 72-hour ticket that prices 330 koruny, or a 30-minute ticket for 30 koruny, it’s straightforward to succeed in up-and-coming neighborhoods like Holešovice, the place Big Smokers began serving its spot-on, Austin, Texas-style barbecue to a relaxed crowd on the finish of 2019 (the Large Style platter serves 4 sorts of smoked meat and 4 sides, sufficient for 3 diners, for 765 koruny), not removed from a well-liked smashburger takeout window that opened underneath an unprintable name in 2021. Take one other metro and in a couple of minutes you possibly can try the brand new arrivals within the as soon as run-down Smíchov district, just like the globe-spanning meals court docket Manifesto Market. Its stylish Anděl branch opened in September 2021, shortly earlier than it shuttered its original location close to the Florenc metro station; highlights embody tacos, Italian seafood sandwiches and Brazilian barbecue. Simply across the nook is one other 2021 arrival, Bon Ramen, the third outpost of a neighborhood micro-chain.
Even neighborhoods with an already enviable listing of eating places bought some enjoyable new arrivals. The Karlín district was already cool half a decade in the past, however with the arrival of informal eating spots like 2021’s home-cooking-inspired Kro Bistro & Bar, serving rotisserie hen, roasted cauliflower and housemade kimchi, it has solely gotten cooler. The in depth improvement initiatives reworking the close by embankment are ongoing, however they already host a handful of recent cafes, bars and eating places, like Ye’s Kafe Wine — a day cafe with nice vino, housemade lemonades, artistic brunch dishes, desserts and easy-sipping cocktails.
One pattern runs citywide: higher bakeries and pastry outlets. With the 2020 opening of its latest, sixth department in Smíchov, it’s straightforward to seek out an Antonínovo Pekařství (or Antonin’s Bakery) in Prague, even when the title isn’t straightforward to pronounce; an espresso with a poppyseed-covered loupák roll or a gingerbread-like perník makes a great midafternoon pick-me-up.
There are actually three branches of the Icelandic-owned Artic Bakehouse — a supply for super-flaky almond croissants and Iceland’s cardamom-scented kleina pastries — together with a Smíchov department that opened in 2021. And also you’ll discover Cronut-style “crobliha” pastries, a cross between a Czech kobliha pastry and a French croissant (round 110 koruny), throughout the town on the 4 branches of Oh Deer Bakery, three of which opened in 2020 or later. Extra conventional sweets, together with the small pies generally referred to as kolache in English, may be discovered within the Vinohrady district at Kus Koláče, which launched in mid-2020 to rave critiques.
Due to social distancing and different public well being restrictions, Prague’s famed consuming tradition noticed much less progress than in earlier eras. That stated, a handful of vital watering holes have opened, together with this 12 months’s grand reopening of the vintage-1912 American Bar contained in the landmark Obecní Dům, or Municipal Home, on Republic Sq., after an extended closure. Different new arrivals embody Pult, a specialty beer bar specializing in expertly tapped, foam-capped Czech lagers, and Oh My Yalta, a cocktail bar run in partnership with the cult Czech distiller Martin Žufánek, maker of nice absinthes, uncommon fruit distillates and a treasured native gin often known as OMG.
The place to put your head
The latest cancellation of just about all coronavirus restrictions and a extreme, resident-pleasing discount in short-term condo leases have solely heightened the sense of a metropolis in full bloom.
Whereas a number of lodges did shut for good in the course of the lockdown, they have been outweighed by a number of lovely new arrivals, like 2021’s Hotel Cube, a up to date boutique resort housed in a former cinema from the Nineteen Twenties (in August, doubles begin round 149 euros, or about $157). Well-known for Viennese espresso and gourmand groceries, Austria’s Julius Meinl group opened its first Prague resort, the Julius, this summer time; most of the 168 rooms and suites have full kitchens or kitchenettes (in August, doubles begin round 145 euros). On that very same New City sq., Senovážné Náměstí, the Hyatt’s new Andaz Prague opened its 176 luxuriously appointed rooms earlier this 12 months; the landmark neoclassical constructing, Cukrovarnický Palác, which the resort interprets as Sugar Palace, dates from 1916 (in August, doubles begin round 342 euros).
That looks as if sufficient to justify a go to. However to sweeten the deal, the town simply launched a brand new vacationer card, Prague Visitor Pass (1,800 koruny for a 48-hour model). Along with limitless journey on public transportation, it affords free entry to dozens of museums, galleries, gardens, towers and historic websites.