The locals’ guide to Prague

Europe’s favourite fairytale city has many faces; we get the inside track on where to go and what to see from three well-versed locals

 

FOR SIGHTSEEING

Pavel Ruml, head concierge at Mandarin Oriental Prague, is a man in the know

With just 24 hours in the city, what are the must-dos?

Prague Castle with the Old Royal Palace and Golden Lane. Also do not miss Lobkowicz Museum, right at the end of Jirska Street. While there, you can enjoy a short classical music concert – it’s on every day at 1pm. Take the Old Castle Steps down to Malostranska and cross Manesuv Bridge, this will lead you directly to the Old Town where you must see the Old Town Square and Old Town Hall with its Astronomical Clock.

Tell us something about Prague that only the locals know.

There is large Vietnamese community in Prague and there’s a small locale known as Sapa on the outskirts of the city. Also called little Hanoi, it’s a place to experience authentic Vietnamese culture and life outside of Vietnam: pick  up bargain electronics or clothes, have a hearty bowl of pho-bo and stock up on fish sauce, green tea, seafood, coriander and fresh tofu.

What’s the most exciting cultural aspect?

Prague is famous for its untouched historical centre which, for the most part, maintains the look of Mediaeval metropolis of the 14th century. Even WWII did not leave many scars on the city centre and it’s why Prague has been inscribed on the list of Unesco heritage sites since 1992.

What’s the best place in the city to see and be seen?

It has to be Vnitroblock. This former industrial space offers a wide range of cultural and artistic experiences. It’s ideal if you’re seeking a shopping spree in a relaxed atmosphere, you can head to the Signature store & café – a gallery space for young designers and a showroom for local and Central European fashion brands. Doubling as a stylish café, it’s a great spot to sip on a coffee and people watch.

Any off-the-beaten track experiences that our readers should check out?

Karlín district is located on the embankment between River Vltava and Vítkov Hill, separated from the New Town by Negrelli viaduct. This former ghetto and industrial area paradoxically flourished since the devastating flood of 2002 and it’s now a vibrant part of the city, attracting hipsters and artists. It’s been compared to London’s Soho and Manhattan’s Meatpacking district. Head here for the trendy cafés and bistros, but also for the cultural venues in former factory halls. The Negreli viaduct hosts pop-up bistros and the occasional concert and is soon to be occupied by cafés and art galleries.

The Estates Theatre
The Estates Theatre

FOR STYLE SEEKERS

Prague-based makeup artist Laura Alondra spills the city’s style secrets

Where’s the best spot for shopping?

For luxury shopping and beautiful boutiques, pay a visit to Parizska Street; it’s a corner of excess with all the luxury names you can think of. If you prefer vintage finds, local designers and a whole collection of local food, then go to Dlouha Street located not too far from the bustle of the Old Town.

What’s a stylish way to spend an evening?

Don your finery and head to The Estates Theatre – the only still-functioning theatre in the world where Mozart conducted not one, but two premieres.

Tell us a bit about the architectural style in the city

Prague’s development is documented in the architectural expression of many historical periods and their styles from Romanesque to Gothic or Renaissance. One of the city’s main sights, Prague Castle, is a fine example with its eclectic style visibly representing all the most important styles of Prague’s architecture.

What’s the most stylish part of the city?

You definitely should not miss Pernerova Street. Once the site of the engineering conglomerate ČKD, these days you’ll find Forum Karlín here, one of the best concert venues in the city. Don’t miss Eska – a popular bakery in the same complex designed by the famed Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill.

Eska housed in water heater factory
Eska housed in water heater factory

FOR FOODIES

Jan Valenta, the man behind one of Prague’s most successful food blogs shares his top tips

Best place for breakfast and why?

Definitely Café Savoy. Its breakfasts are very well made, quite opulent and served in beautiful surroundings inhabited by very elegant staff and guests.

What’s the city’s best-kept foodie secret?

I’d have to say the food on offer at the Story restaurant. Located in a villa district near the end of a tram line, Story has been serving some of the best food in the city for years, easily outcooking many fancy restaurants in the city centre. The chef, formerly employed in various London Michelin-starred places, cooks like an angel.

Must-try local food?

Try fruit dumplings, the best representative of the uniquely Czech category of sweet main dishes. Is it a main? Is it a dessert? It’s both. And it’s delicious.

Hottest foodie-area in  town at the moment?

The Karlin district, just east of the city centre. Whether it’s coffee, food or craft beverages, the hip venues in the up-and-coming neighbourhood will keep you satisfied.

Your personal favourite restaurant in the city?

Eska. From the light and airy environment of the repurposed water heater factory to the modern Czech food made from good and honest local ingredients, this place offers the lot. I could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner here.