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 provided 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 friends pressured restaurant house owners to refocus on prospects who really reside right here. Historic sights underwent renovations. And new tasks that went forward with openings in 2020 and 2021 have made town much more enjoyable than earlier than.
In consequence, Prague now appears like a spot with much less touristic gimcrackery and extra native taste. It additionally has a youthful vibe than many guests would possibly anticipate, explains Jan Valenta, who blogs about native eating places and provides meals excursions by means of his firm, Style of Prague.
“The largest distinction, I believe, between a Western nation just like the U.S. and a post-communist nation like us is the distribution of wealth amongst generations,” Mr. Valenta mentioned. “The older technology right here doesn’t have the cash to spend in these eating places that younger individuals go to.”
Mr. Valenta, 44, notes that he defines younger “very generously.” However by any definition, 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 extra of a way of neighborhood than there was 5 years in the past,” Mr. Valenta mentioned. “Persons are extra prepared to satisfy and spend time collectively outdoors. That’s a really new growth, I believe, and it’s nice.”
A few of these new areas embrace Čapadlo, a scenic however neglected spot on the Outdated City embankment that debuted as an open-air live performance venue and multipurpose hangout in mid-2021.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 called 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 speedy by way of 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 Outdated City’s Kotva division retailer earlier this yr (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
Many of the huge new attracts are on the earth of meals — and plenty of are away from the central districts of Outdated City and Malá Strana. Which may sound daunting, however Prague’s metro and intensive tram community make crosstown journey simple, as Melissa Joulwan, a Prague resident and co-host of the Sturdy Sense of Place literary journey podcast, typically tells guests.
“People who find themselves not used to public transportation may not perceive that it’s really easy to get round, and locations which may appear far-off are actually not far-off in any respect,” she says. “It’s a lot enjoyable to take a look at the structure in different neighborhoods — there’s at all times one thing lovely or fascinating to see.”
With a 72-hour ticket that prices 330 koruny, or a 30-minute ticket for 30 koruny, it’s simple to achieve up-and-coming neighborhoods like Holešovice, the place Large People who smoke 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 beneath an unprintable identify in 2021. Take one other metro and in a couple of minutes you may try the brand new arrivals within the as soon as run-down Smíchov district, just like the globe-spanning meals courtroom Manifesto Market. Its fashionable Anděl department opened in September 2021, shortly earlier than it shuttered its authentic location close to the Florenc metro station; highlights embrace 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 acquired 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 intensive growth tasks remodeling 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, inventive brunch dishes, desserts and easy-sipping cocktails.
One pattern runs citywide: higher bakeries and pastry retailers. With the 2020 opening of its latest, sixth department in Smíchov, it’s simple to search out an Antonínovo Pekařství (or Antonin’s Bakery) in Prague, even when the identify isn’t simple to pronounce; an espresso with a poppyseed-covered loupák roll or a gingerbread-like perník makes a really perfect midafternoon pick-me-up.
There at the moment are 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 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, could 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 development than in earlier eras. That mentioned, a handful of vital watering holes have opened, together with this yr’s grand reopening of the vintage-1912 American Bar contained in the landmark Obecní Dům, or Municipal Home, on Republic Sq., after a protracted closure. Different new arrivals embrace 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 called OMG.
The place to put your head
The latest cancellation of nearly all coronavirus restrictions and a extreme, resident-pleasing discount in short-term residence leases have solely heightened the sense of a metropolis in full bloom.
Whereas a couple of accommodations did shut for good in the course of the lockdown, they have been outweighed by a number of lovely new arrivals, like 2021’s Resort Dice, a recent boutique lodge housed in a former cinema from the 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 lodge, the Julius, this summer season; lots 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 yr; the landmark neoclassical constructing, Cukrovarnický Palác, which the lodge 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, town simply launched a brand new vacationer card, Prague Customer Cross (1,800 koruny for a 48-hour model). Along with limitless journey on public transportation, it provides free entry to dozens of museums, galleries, gardens, towers and historic websites.