Prague neighbourhood guide: Venturing through Vinohrady

Prague neighbourhood guide: Venturing through Vinohrady

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With a name that literally translates to the word “vineyards” in English, it’s no surprise that Vinohrady was once a wine hot spot before it became incorporated into the metropolis of Prague. In fact, since the 14th century the area was primarily occupied by vineyards, and the wine-producing fruit was so prominent that the area was called Viničné hory, or the “Vineyard Mountains” for a time. Since then, the primary formal name has been Královské Vinohrady, aka, the Royal Vineyards in homage to Vinohrady’s wino past (and present) as well as a nod to its historically separate status from the rest of Prague.

These days, Vinohrady is slightly smaller than it once was (at one point, it even incorporated much of what is now our up and coming Žižkov quarter) thanks to modern urban administration, but that doesn’t mean the area is any less charming. Located an easily walkable distance from Prague 1/New Town, Vinohrady is a sleek, hip, international place to wine and dine your way through Prague’s more established modern hot spots. More well-known and gentrified than neighbourhoods like Vršovice, Karlín, or even little sister ‘hood Žižkov, Vinohrady is Prague’s answer to all of those looking for a charming, European neighbourhood with an artsy international side. But just which spots are worth seeking out? Sit back, relax, and read on to see our top picks.

Calling all café lovers

Interior of a cafe in Vinohrady

Exploring a new part of the city is great, but if you’re anything like me, then first thing’s first, and that first thing is always a great cup of coffee. Whether you worship at the altar of the brewed bean, or would prefer to relax with a warm, soothing cup of tea, Vinohrady is home to some of the city’s coolest cafés. No trip through the neighbourhood would be complete without stopping in at least one of these places and getting a proper feel for the local clientele.

Prague may not be a traditional coffee destination, but an entirely new generation of baristas and coffee connoisseurs has taken it upon themselves to change this, causing the city of a hundred spires to experience something of a coffee boom in the past few years. If you’re in search of a great brew anywhere in the Vinohrady area, then stopping at La Boheme is a must. Located close to most of the main landmarks in the area, La Boheme is the home to a collective group of coffee lovers who pride themselves on finding some of the best coffees in the world. Meant to be a meeting place for people to chat while sipping on their káva, as we say, or even a selection of great teas, don’t expect to find wi-fi here. Given out with a purchase for only a few minutes at a time, you’ll be forced to talk to your companions or, at the very least, pick up your latest read to accompany your caffeination session. With a specialty menu and award-winning décor, you’ll feel like you could spend hours here just relaxing even without even wanting to check your Instagram feed.

Looking for something more internet-friendly? Located a bit deeper into Vinohrady than La Boheme, Coffee Room is the place to be when you want a whole lot of chill, a great neighbourhood feel, and of course, some fantastic coffee. Serving up drinks, lemonades, ciders, and cakes, this place is a café staple, though if you’re really hungry, I’d be remiss not to mention their awesome breakfasts, which last until noon every day. As one of the city’s conscious coffee shops, Coffee Room makes sure they use coffee beans from reliable sources, meaning you can feel good about the caffeine you’re about to consume. This café also always has vegetarian and vegan options on their menu.

No café in the area can transition from day to evening quite like Le Caveau. Serving up fresh French baked goods and baguettes from the attached bakery next door, Le Caveau has an impressive and tasty menu, whether you’re in the mood for a light snack or something more substantial. Decorated with a 1920s art deco vibe, you’ll lose track of time while sipping coffee or one of their amazing lemonades. Le Caveau is exactly the sort of place you’ll walk into for a relaxing pick-me-up and never want to leave. Believe me, I know from experience. The café transitions seamlessly from afternoon to evening as it also doubles as one of the hippest wine bars in town. Their menu contains a fantastic selection of both French wines and some great local ones as well. Ask any of the waitstaff for their recommendations — they’re among some of the friendliest wine connoisseurs you’ll meet. Don’t feel like staying long? One of my favorite local neighbourhood hacks is to head there and grab a fresh baguette still warm from the oven and a bottle of whichever Bordeaux they have on hand to bring to a park.

To market, to market

Flowers at a market in Vinohrady

Here in Prague, we love our outdoor time, come sun or clouds. It’s not uncommon to see people heading to an open-air market in the dead of winter even if it’s snowing, and in the case of Christmas markets, especially if it’s snowing. While the age-old practice of buying goods directly from farmers on market days may not be wholly essential anymore, that doesn’t mean we Praguers are willing to let this ancient way of life fall by the wayside. In fact, for a lot of us, these markets are our favorite way to shop and wouldn’t you know it, Vinohrady just happens to be in the middle of some prime market space.

Though it’s not home to any regular, weekly market, you can’t go wrong with visiting Náměstí Míru, or Peace Square, as the name translates. In many people’s minds, this charming oasis in the centre of urban busyness serves as the heart of Vinohrady, with St. Ludmila’s Church standing tall above the tree-lined streets. Some of Vinohrady’s coolest places and prettiest sights can be seen on these streets, but the real star of the show in terms of shopping has got to be the square. At any given time, you can find a seasonal market set up there, selling festive and locally made souvenirs and trinkets. One of the best things about the markets taking place here is that they’re just far enough from the Old Town tourist rush to not be thronged with visitors.

For a more regular and modern market experience, there’s no better place to go than the weekly market on Jiřák. Held from Wednesday to Saturday each week, the market has all the staples like produce, fresh meat, baked goods, wine and beer, and even a few cool extras like food trucks, local restaurants, coffee shops, and live music depending on the day. On a sunny afternoon, it’s a favorite lunch spot for anyone working in the area, and we at Prague Urban Adventures have been known to take a few afternoon picnics on the surrounding green space. The market is easily navigable, set up in a straight line on the square with the architecturally unique Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord and its massive clock looking down from the top. The market is held regulary throughout the year, although to make sure it’s still going strong during your visit, you can check out dates, times, and even special events on the Prague Farmers Markets main site.

Good eats and sweet treats

Restaurant in Vinohrady

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Vinohrady is the place to be for foodies. Home to some of Prague’s best loved and varied culinary scene, there are things to eat around every corner and down just about every street.

One thing you must know about Prague if you plan to explore is that lately, we’re crazy about our burgers — and not just any old burgers. Thanks to the burgeoning foodie scene, we’re a bit obsessed with burgers of awesome quality and gourmet twists. One of the best Prague burger joints calls Vinohrady home. Located close to the border of Vinohrady and New Town, Salt’n’Pepa Kitchen & Shop is the bricks and mortar location of Salt’n’Pepa Foodtruck, which you can find making its way about town and traversing the cooler food fests. While plain old beef burgers may not be the standard here, their duck confit, pulled pork, and butterball fried chicken variations on the classic are more than tasty enough to satisfy even the strongest burger craving. I even have good news for any vegetarians out thereL Salt’n’Pepa makes one mean halloumi burger.

If you’re looking for a menu a bit more varied than just burgers, then Café Monolok is the place for you. Though the name says café, Monolok has enough delicious options on their menu to earn it a spot in our things to eat section. I would recommend stopping here in the late afternoon or early evening and enjoying its airy, modern interior in the front of the house, or even the garden. Start off with a coffee and then slowly work your way through the menu, taking some time to enjoy the changing beers on tap. Another idea is to head to Monolok for one of their awesome breakfasts and take a slow, tasty approach to the coming day.

Bowl of pho

This next recommendation also happens to be one of my all-time favorite places to eat. Pho Vietnam Tuan & Lan serves some amazing Vietnamese cuisine, and while Vietnamese food is enjoying a major international moment these days, our Vietnamese cuisine here in Prague isn’t so much a recent attempt to cater towards modern tastes as it is a reflection of the sizable and well-established Vietnamese community that’s called the Czech Republic home for years now. Pho Vietnam, in my opinion, brings the very best of the city’s Vietnamese food offerings to the centre of the city with two different Vinohrady locations. While I’m sure the more formal, sit-down locale is a treat, my favourite has got to be their small shop just off of Jiřák on Slavíkova. It’s so popular with locals at lunchtime that you may find a line leading out the door. As there’s no seating (just a few standing tables), the line moves relatively quickly, so you’ll be in possession of some amazing food after just a few quick minutes of waiting. Everything on the menu is great, especially their pho, but the spring rolls are also excellent. Whether you try the fresh or the fried, you won’t regret your decision.

If we’re talking food to eat in Vinohrady, then there’s no way I can skip over another Prague Urban Adventures favorite, Vinohradský Pivovar, aka, Vinohrady Brewery. There are a lot of great beer and Czech food joints here in Prague, but without a doubt, this is one of the best places to chow down in the city. With awesome staff, a changing menu of traditional Czech specialties to reflect the season, great drinks, and, of course, some of the best beer in Prague, it’s pretty much everything you could ever want out of a typical Czech meal. This relatively new brewery has become popular with locals, so if you plan on heading there on a weekend evening, it’s probably best to make a reservation. Even if you don’t quite feel like heading there for a full meal, the airy spaces both upstairs and down are the perfect places to hang out, have some drinks, and sample some Czech beer food, or as we say, local tapas. They’ve even got great wine and spirits on hand for any non-beer drinkers out there, as well as a supply of awesome teas and homemade lemonades.

Ice cream cones

Ready for something sweet? Zmrzlinář is a classic ice cream shop serving up the best ice cream in the city. The shop makes their tasty treats sans preservatives and chemicals, employing recipes from the First Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1938), and using creative ideas. The result: some truly mouthwatering goodness in the frozen dessert department. They also serve a fantastic selection of sorbets made with the same love and principles that are perfect for vegans and anyone with lactose or gluten intolerance. Even if you’re stuffed from your previous Prague foodie encounters, you can’t help jumping on the bandwagon and screaming for ice cream while you’re out. Besides, all of your exploring has definitely earned you a scoop or two anyway.

Evening hangs

Group of friends with beer

Prague during an afternoon is a great place to be, but sometimes even the most popular places are a bit dead while their regulars are bringing home the bacon with their nine to fives. Even though you may see a lunch rush, there’s nothing like the after work/evening drinks culture in the Czech Republic. Toward the end of the day, don’t be surprised to see people seemingly coming out of the woodwork to take in some of the city’s coolest hangouts. The following are some of our favorite places to while the evening hours away and perhaps even take in a sunset or two.

If you’re looking to spend the evening like a local, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the laidback bohemian culture than hanging out in a pub and sampling some of the fresh, local lagers they have on tap. Come rain or shine, a great pub is always a fun place to hang out and absorb some of the local colour, and though I’ve mentioned it before, there’s no better place in Vinohrady for this than Vinohradský Pivovar. The food, like I said, is great, but what’s even better is there selection of beer flowing from the taps. It’s good, pure Czech stuff, meaning that the flavours are as pure as possible. For those who want something a little harder, they even have traditional spirits like slivovice (a regional plum brandy) and all its variations from the small, family-run distillery in the Czech Republic known as Žufánek.

Vinohradský Pivovar is great, don’t get me wrong, but if you want to watch the sunset, you’re going to have to go elsewhere. Luckily, there’s lots of nearby options for watching the sun go down. The first spot on our list is Havlíčkovy Sady, located in on the borders of Vinohrady, close to the grungier, but still hip Vršovice neighborhood. Not only is a it a picturesque location with some cool landscaping (mostly inspired by the Italian Renaissance), but this green space offers the opportunity to get closer to the historic spirit of the neighbourhood, and by that, I mean the wine producing parts. While Havlíčkovy Sady is full of prime green space to explore, have a picnic on, walk through, or even go for a calm jog, locals know it more as a space to grab a great glass of wine, steps away from the vineyard. What’s even better is that the wine is served on top of a hill where the view throughout the day and into the evening is nothing short of stunning.

Set on the border between Žižkov and Vinohrady, Riegrovy Sady is practically a Prague sunset-viewing institution. Originally established in the early 1900s as an English-style public park, Riegrovy Sady is one of the city’s most popular destinations on a sunny day. The sprawling green space is perfect for a stroll, and you’ll find that the coverage from so many leafy trees blocks out the hustle and bustle of the city beyond its borders. Once there, you can choose to sit wherever you please, although the popular spots include the beer garden or the area affectionately known as “the hill,” which is, unsurprisingly, a large, sloping hill. Perfect for winter sledding, the hill also offers a fantastic view of Old Town and Prague Castle across the river. While I love the beer garden, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as grabbing a bottle of wine or stopping for beer at the nearby pub halfway up the hill, setting up a blanket, and whiling the daylight hours away with friends. Pretty much any location on the hill guarantees some awesome sunsets, a great atmosphere of people relaxing, laughing, picnicking, and even playing live music, as well as a cool view of the Lesser Town lights turning on one by one after the sun sinks below the horizon. It’s by far my favorite Vinohrady place.

Inspired to see Vinohrady with a local by the side to show you the best spots in the ‘hood? Hop on our Bohemian State of Mind tour for a visit to Vinohrady.

Bohemian State Of Mind

Time to discover the Bohemian in you! Our Bohemia tour of Prague starts, appropriately, at the statue of the Duke of Bohemia, martyr, and patron saint Wenceslas. Throughout the tour, you’ll learn about various influences on Prague, including architectural, art, and political influences.

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Travis Cahill

Tour Guide @ Prague Urban Adventures. Brewer of beer and lover of food, culture, history, wine, and every combination of those one can imagine.

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