Travelling to central Europe and thinking, “Hmm, how am I going to survive weeks (or months) of consuming this hearty — but not always healthy — cuisine from this corner of the globe? Good question. Traditional Czech (and much of central and eastern European) meals are made up of a fair amount of meat and potatoes, spiced with salt, pepper, and grease (yes, Czechs sometimes consider grease to be a spice). But don’t worry, you can find fresh, healthy fare, too, thanks to all the great farmers’ markets in prague.
The city’s farmers’ market scene grew from just a few markets, and new ones are now blooming all over Prague. We tip our hat to the legendary Havel’s Market, which has been going on for many centuries, but for you travellers, there are many other more authentic and local markets in our beautiful city — ones that are not crowded with tourists, but with locals. (To our delight though, Havel’s is getting slowly back to selling fresh produce, not just souvenirs.)
So where do the locals go?
During the past year, I have regularly visited (meaning at least once a week) at least one of the many markets, and it has been amazing to witness the development of the market scene. The markets have become like events, where it’s not just about palate sensory, but the markets offer live bands, DJs, small cafés, benches, and a great atmosphere for socialising with friends and future friends. Best of all, the markets each have their own unique character.
Freshly grinded and roasted coffee, in-season fruits and vegetables, smoked meat, fresh fish, traditional and modern pastries (all homemade), mini-brewery beer stands, Moravian wine, Czech handicrafts, hot wine during autumn/spring season, a variety of fresh juices, tasty pies, homemade pastas, high-quality olive oil, every kind of cheese you can think of (the smoked ones are a Czech specialty), macaron pyramids, olives, herbs, mushrooms, eggs, veggies marinated Czech-style, garlic — you name it, you’ll find it!
All the products are local and fresh, from nearby farms, family bakeries, microbreweries, and so on. As an ex-chef, I have to say that there really is a big difference between the products you buy at markets and those you buy from mass stores. Veggies and fruits can be admittedly a bit more expensive (although, for a Western traveller, nothing is really expensive here), but they are worth the money — and besides, it feels good to support those who produce these products with love! As well, if we want to keep our planet healthy, it’s not a bad idea to support local and responsibly produced food.
Where to get fresh
Before we go through the markets, one important #localsknow tip: Have cash with you, and be sure to carry and pay with smaller bills. As well, knowing a few Czech words like dobry den (“hello”) and diky moc (“thank you very much”) will make the friendly stand-keepers smile even more.
This is THE market to visit and, for many of us, the best way to start a Saturday is to go to the Naplavka market. It’s right by the river and a great place for breakfast (try their pies and fresh coffee). I’ve been here well over 10 times, but there’s always something new to discover. I usually go with my wife and our little one in a stroller, buy items for a picnic, and then head to the lovely Vysehrad castle area (this is a favourite spot among locals, but is rarely crowded).
Open every Saturday from March to November from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.
This market is a bit funkier and sits in the pub paradise of Prague: Zizkov. Great atmosphere, quality products, mostly local crowd, and the smallest market — at the moment. (It’s also near a beer shop for picking up those picnic supplies). Also right by are sites such as the Zizkov Television Tower (complete with David Cerny’s alien-like babies) and a beautiful modern church. Take the metro from Muzeum to Jiriho Z Podebrad and follow our map (it’s really only 100 metres from the station).
Open during summer season Wednesday to Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, and on Saturdays from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.
The most distinguishing feature of this market is a Greek man. Yes, seriously. Why? Because he sells the best olives and olive oil in Prague. (He’s also a really nice and helpful man.) Another great thing about this market is that it is close to a beautiful park that is definitely off the beaten path. (If you see a group of tourists there, I will personally come and help them to find their way out, because they are probably lost!) To get to the park, you’ll have to walk to the shopping mall, take the escalator to second floor, look for the sign for Sacre Coeur zahrada (park), follow the sign, walk out of the mall, cross a small wooden bridge, and there you are, in a hidden park on a small hill. It’s worth coming here for a picnic even if the farmers’ market is not open.
Open every Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm from March to November.
As with all the markets above, this market offers super-quality products. This one differs in that there are not as many inspiring picnic places nearby, but it’s still a rather good spot for picking up some snacks, maybe a beer (in a cup — it’s against the law to drink beer from a bottle in the city centre area), some homemade lemonade for a hot summer’s day, or hot wine for a chilly autumn’s day. Nearby is the magnificent Municipal House. Or, you can walk to Fransiscan Garden from here, another lesser known spot that’s popular among locals for taking a relaxing break.
Open from March to October, Tuesday to Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Some may call this market a square, but it’s really a small street between trees and bushes — but with really tasty veggie snacks, and an excellent place to start your Prague 2/Vinohrady adventure (a hip area among locals, full of hidden gems for you to find).
Open (weather permitting) from Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 am to 2:00pm.
So, will we see you at one of the markets this weekend? (On Saturdays you can be sure that you will find me with my beautiful wife and our lovely daughter having our breakfast at one of them.) And if you can’t make it to the markets, you can still enjoy some of their treats at Lokal Restaurants — great Czech restaurants that add modern twists to the traditions, serve beer with care, use seasonal local products, and ensure great customer service.
Ready to hit the markets of Prague? We can help you out (and show you much more!) on our locally led Prague city tours!