The capital of Czechia, Prague is one of Europe’s best-preserved pre-Medieval cities with a range of architecture spanning the ages. Design nerds and history buffs alike will revel in its 1,000-year-old historical sites like castles and gothic cathedrals, renaissance townhouses, and the world-famous, longest-running astronomical clock, which is an astounding 600-years-old.
Of course, there’s more than just beautiful buildings in the city that Mozart made the ‘new Vienna’ with his riveting operatic performances, and a rich culture and appreciation of the arts has grown up around the famous names that have passed through the city. More modern interests —like the Sex Toy Museum, novelty bars, and beer crawls — have made Prague synonymous today not just with elevated culture, but low-brow fun that attracts stag-dos and solo backpackers seeking a good time.
I visited in May, just off-peak and mid-week for four days. My sister and I had intended to do the more cultural activities, but invariably ended up with a mixed bag of hangovers and high-step counts from traversing the quaint streets of Prague’s stunning old town time and time again. It was a brief, first-time visit to a city that I’ll undoubtedly return to, to explore more in-depth, but these three things are on my list should I head back again…
Brunch: Bistro Monk
This little old-town bistro saved us on our last morning in Prague: a little tender from the night before and looking for something light, fresh and tasty. Czech food tends to be on the heavy side of things, with generous portions of meat, potato and rich sauces that meant we were averaging 1.5 meals a day just because we were so constantly full the whole time.
Bistro Monk was different, and if I return to Prague I’ll be back in a heartbeat for another brunch. Light and modern with outdoor seating in a quiet cobbled street, the chic restaurant serves up a selection of classic brunch dishes like smoked salmon with smashed avocado on toast, eggs benedict, pancakes and granola bowls. Their menu changes through the day from lunch to dinner, with delicious desserts available all afternoon for coffee and cake.
The selection of hot drinks was perfect for both me and my sister as, both lactose-intolerant, we had the option of soy, almond, oat, or lactose-free milk with our coffees. They serve up matcha, turmeric and beetroot lattes for the wellness crowd, and mimosas for those looking to continue where they left off the night before. Beyond the great food and chilled vibes, the staff were great — polite, friendly and helpful, which you’ll find out isn’t as common as you’d think in Prague’s city centre.
Shop: Shakespeare & Sonnes Bookstore
While we only spent about 45 minutes in this store because we were on a tight schedule, I loved this little bookshop in the castle district. Chock-full of books new and second-hand, Shakespeare & Sonnes is a bibliophile’s dream.
Most importantly for tourists, most of the texts are in English, with a wide French selection and a scattering of other languages, as well as a comprehensive selection of Czech authors and books about Prague’s history and culture. While my sister and I stuck to the fiction section, picking out books for the flight home, next time I’ll be leaving room in my suitcase to restock the bookshelf at home.
Drink: The Alchemist
On our second night, we decided to go on a bar crawl and, still bloated from beer in the afternoon, we opted to start out with cocktails and Bohemian Sekt, the local Czech version of Cava (top tip: it’s delicious and a cheap alternative while you’re in the city to prosecco or champagne).
The Alchemist was our second stop, a quirky bar hidden on the second floor of a building just off Wenceslas Square (we walked past it about four times before seeing the sign). Designed in the style of chic renaissance salon, the dimly-lit bar channelled the old-world through its elegant French dining chairs and petite marble tables, with heavy velvet curtains softening the look.
The theme extended to the menu, where drinks were designed around the theme of medieval Europe. We chose the ‘Choose Your Fate’ drink, which was selected by picking a tarot card from a Black Death plague doctor – aka, the barman in a black cloak wearing a hideous hooked-nose middle-ages mask.
The theatrical nature of the whole thing was funny and charming rather than tacky, as many novelty bars can be: the creepy costume, the smoking box, and the tarot cards which can then be used in a kind of game with The Alchemist’s sister bars. While I’m not rushing back now that I’ve been—though, the drinks were delicious and the service excellent—it’s a fun concept that if you haven’t been should be on your list.
Follow more of Rebecca’s travel and wellness adventures on Instagram @jetsetcreate