With fewer tourists along with a frosted skyline of Baroque domes and soaring Gothic spires, Prague in winter can be the stuff of snow-filled fairytales. But even the most resilient travelers will need several breaks to warm up, relax and defrost frozen fingers and toes.
With the typical temperature between December to February hovering around freezing, winter people to Prague are well advised to bring along their thermals. The necessary jumble of layers are well worthwhile, though: Prague's Christmas markets rank as probably the most beautiful in Europe (when they're not closed due to Covid-19). Then, January and February bring an uncharacteristic hush – watch out the normally thronging Charles Bridge to yourself. Here's our pick of the greatest places to find snug shelter from the elements while navigating around the sights.
Best for breakfast
With its Art Nouveau interiors and chandelier-studded ceiling, Café Savoy is really a Prague institution. Here you will find white-aproned staff serving up piping hot eggs and decadent French toast to well-dressed locals, alongside tourists who had been astute enough to make a reservation. It isn't the dimensions that brings the coziness. Rather, by sitting at a table for 2, you cannot help but feel cocooned by old-world charm. Sipping an abundant Savoy hot chocolate around the small internal balcony sets you up for any day clip-clopping over cobblestones in the winter months boots.
Oliver's Coffee Cup
Gaze down upon the hubbub of Prague's main Wenceslas Square with the enormous windows of this snug cafe. Hidden within an otherwise unassuming shopping mall, Oliver's Coffee Cup seems like a friend's living room, with chic mid-century decor and plenty of books to browse. Order in the extensive coffee menu, pick a slice of homemade cake and subside in one of the ample armchairs.
Globe Bookstore & Cafe
Best bookstore café
A popular hang-out for that city's expats, the world Bookstore & Café has wooden shelves chocked full of new and second-hand English-language novels, travel guides, and newspapers. The adjoining café, with its ruby-red walls, has lots of nooks where you can pore over your purchase having a flat white or warming mulled wine. Reserve a table for weekend brunch if you want a bookshop with a friendly buzz.
Jídelna Kucharek bez domova
This bistro will warm your heart as well as your stomach: Jídelna Kucharek bez domova is a project which uses homeless women to prepare tasty vegan food. The area is tiny and popular, so even arriving at noon doesn't guarantee a seat for lunch, but if you're prepared to wait, you're in for a treat. The dishes are inexpensive – a soup along with a main cost 129Kc (around $6) – and by tucking into a meal or slice of homemade cake, you're adding to a worthwhile social enterprise.
Best for warm chocolate
Steamy windows are usually a sign of something warm inside and that is certainly the situation here. On a serene street near that old Town Square, Choco Café has become a meeting location for local chocolate addicts and travelers alike. Choose their rich, thick hot cocoa, carefully crafted in their gourmet chocolaterie. Their Horické trubicky – a light, rolled wafer filled with cream – are the ideal dipping accompaniment.
Lokál U Bílé Kuzelky
Good Czech beer is ubiquitous in Prague; the trick in winter is seeking out a comfortable bar where one can savor it. If you have a thirst while in Malá Strana (Little Quarter), Lokál U Bílé Kuzelky serves up fresh Pilsner Urquell alongside hearty Czech classics such as beef goulash and bread dumplings. The convenient location means the upstairs pub can be a squeeze; follow the locals' example and head to the atmospheric stonewall cellar.
Best cocktail bar
A discreet door on the very average street in Prague's New Town results in this tiny yet exceptional cocktail bar. Don't get to Parlour with preconceived ideas of the items to order. Instead of a menu, the skillful bartenders mix drinks based on their clientele's preferences and mood. The very fact they merely accept reservations for groups of as much as four keeps the climate intimate and snug.
Black Angel's Bar
Best underground cocktail bar
Old Town Square's lively clamor burns up as you go down to this award-winning cocktail bar in the vaulted cellar of Hotel U Prince. Having a live jazz soundtrack, moody low lighting and classic cocktails served in vintage glasses, Black Angel's Bar has got the feel of the sophisticated 1930s speakeasy (best go without your woolly hat at the door).
Travelers who duck into Lucerna Palace, in Prague's New Town, usually achieve this using the plan of getting hot and sweaty while dancing in the subterranean Lucerna Music Bar. However, there are other good reasons to seek out this glamorous 1920s arcade. Kino Lucerna, the oldest permanent cinema in Bohemia, is a beautiful shelter to wait out a storm and it has frequent English-language screenings. Arrive early for coffee and cake in Kavárna Lucerna. Through the arch-windows of the dimly-lit Art Nouveau café you may enjoy the view of shoppers scurrying beneath David Cern'y's surprising suspended sculpture.
Mánesova Bar and Books
Part of the classy New York chain of cigar bars, which originated over 25 years ago, the Mánesova offshoot of Bar and Books provides a casual environment where one can lounge in red leather banquettes while sipping on a tasty cocktail or whiskey. Top-quality cigars will also be available, and live music and burlesque shows appear on this program regularly.
Prosecco aficionados rave about Prosekárna. The primary room within the Letná branch has the air of an elegant mountain cabin, with its warm fireplace and generous, upholstered chairs. Owners are often available to chat with guests about their favorite topic: prosecco. If you are a new comer to the field of sparkling Italian wine, be assured the staff will introduce you to a number of options. It makes sense to reserve ahead.
Manifesto Market Anděl
Opting for any street grocery store amid a European winter may seem foolhardy – but Manifesto Market Anděl knows how to wrap up warm. Come the frosty months, a brief roof, windbreakers and efficient infrared heaters get this to cashless market a sanctuary for enjoying steamy bowls of ramen or spicy nachos. The hot spiced sangria from the onsite bar can help you warm-up internally.