11 Can’t Miss Prague Hidden Gems

Since the tearing down of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become a tourist destination that should be on everyone’s European bucket list. Visitors come for the for its world-renowned beer and untouched medieval architecture, but like every culturally rich city, there are many hidden gems in Prague.

Prague looks like a fairytale. But like every magical story, everything is not as it seems. Modernity is hidden within the Gothic architecture. You can exit the National Theater and spin into a Millennial communist bar in minutes. Or walk down the quaint cobblestone streets and dip into a techno club in what used to be a church. This is a city where all contemporary activities feel anachronistic, and you are the one who is misplaced.

So, here is a list of the best Prague hidden gems worth finding. If you’re visiting during peak season you’ll find these hidden gems a relaxing find.

If you aren’t up for long walks into the different districts, there are plenty of surprises within walking distance from Old Town Square.

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Entrance to the Marionette theater in Prague

1. Puppet Show in Prague

Puppetry was imported to Czechoslovakia around the 17th century and was performed in every small village and large city.  It was cheaper to make marionettes and put on puppet shows than full-on operas or plays with human actors ( because puppets don’t need healthcare or can question your artistic direction). Puppeteers would still perform classical opera or historical plays, typically with one person doing all the voices.

The shows were originally an adult form of entertainment, performed in pubs and bars, but today Prague mainly puts on shows for children. You can see children’s shows on Saturdays + Sundays performed by The Marionette Kingdom (Říše loutek) theatre, which has been performing since the 1920s.

The Prague puppet show is in the Prague Municipal Library building in Old Town, around the corner from the Staroměstská metro station.

There are a few quaint puppet shops in Prague you can stroll into if you are feeling so inspired to have your own or just want to be slightly weirded out for a few minutes.

Due to its long-standing history with the craft, Czech marionettes are some of the best in the world. They are created with more complexity and require more skills to manipulate subtleties, but I won’t bore you with the details. The intricacy of the craft still doesn’t put you at ease as you walk through a room with hundreds of lifeless eyes staring at you.

The puppet comes in every possible body imaginable from the real to the fantisfal. These would be great gifts for any of your friends who love folk art or collect unique art from abroad.

Best Puppet Shops in Prague

Some of the best puppet shops in Prague to purchase a unique souvenir from Prague.

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Prague Puppet Museum

There are a ton of museums in Prague but the Prague puppet museum is definitely one of Prague’s hidden gems worth finding.

 

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2. Visit The Unique Underground Bars in Prague

Black Angel’s Bar

Since winter feels like an eternity in Prague, the Czechs have gotten great at turning underground spaces into, well you guessed it, bars. And no underground bar in Prague does it better than Black Angel.  It is the quintessential image you have when you dream of from Prague as you sit at your desk, surrounded by spreadsheets and modernity.

What was once a medieval palace? Dungeon? Torture center? Who knows. Regardless, this underground brick layer has been transformed into one of the top cocktail bars in Prague. The owners have collaborated with local glass blowers to manufacture perfect glasses for each cocktail.

But their attention to detail is only half the story because some mystery still harbors here from years ago. During the reconstruction of the Black Angel’s Bar, the owners found a hidden chest filled with cocktail recipes from the original owner untouched since the beginning of the century- like serious magic. Divine intervention genuinely handed them the recipes to make this one of the best cocktail bars in the city.

Takes you back in time where magic was still and might be, part of reality. Drinks range from $6-9 USD. If you want to ensure a seat make sure to make a reservation online here on their website.

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3. Globe Bookstore And Cafe

The Globe Bookstore is the first English based bookstore that offers more than just great stories. Every inch of the high ceiling walls are stacked with books, and you may find yourself covering your mouth so you don’t belt out Beauty and the Beast songs in public (because you’re an adult, right?). But that is only half the fun.

Towards the back of the room lies a curtain that leads to a restaurant + cafe. This cozy cafe hosts several events throughout the week: readings, live music, and movie showings. This is a fantastic center to meet other travelers, local artists, or expats who have forgone their homeland.

4. Prague Tea houses

Prague has a surprising amount of tea houses to relax and recuperate in, especially if you are looking to detox and hydrate from the disgusting amount of beers you most likely consumed the night before.

The tea houses in Prague have more of an Asian flair than the lionized tea houses of London and Paris. You are more likely to find students writing poetry in corners or discussing the direction of socialism in the 21st century. These aren’t ideal places to have a spot of tea with your grandmother (unless she is interested in upending the patriarchy, and in that case, go granny).

They are quiet, dimly lit places that are typically tucked away from the main streets, perfect to get the ringing out of your ears from partying the night before. Most of them have menus the size of the Bible with a detailed description of the origin of the tea and nuances in each flavor.

With are over 150 tea houses in Prague you are sure to find your perfect spot, but here are some of our favorites.

Best Tea Houses in Prague

5. Vietnamese Food in Prague

I know you came to Prague for the beer and fried food, so why am I recommending a cuisine that is based around vegetables?

Although Prague is thousands of miles away from year-round humidity, access to salt water, and mountain air, Vietnamese food in Prague still does not disappoint in the Golden City. The Vietnamese were invited to Czechoslovakia during Soviet rule as guest workers and is one of the largest minority populations in the Czech Republic today.

The cuisine may seem more exotic because of their wide usage of greens, Vietnamese food has thrived in Prague because they still take every opportunity to fry their food, regardless of how healthy it might have been in its original form.

There are a number of Vietnamese restaurants in Prague to visit if you are looking to spice up your palate with fried vegetables instead of potatoes.

Best Prague Vietnamese Restaurants

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tunnel of books in the Municipal Library in Prague

6. Municipal Library in Prague

Ok, I know what you are thinking. What socialist noncess am I spouting to spend some of your two-weeks vacation in a library? But I promise you the Municipal Library in Prague is that good. The building is filled with multiple forms of architecture: art deco, modern, to Hogwarts (that’s an official engineering term, yes?)

The building’s entrance is adorned with giant statues, reminiscent of Greek gods + muses, each anthropomorphizing an area of the arts and literature. In the entrance is entering is a wall to ceiling cylinder tunnel made of books. You will see people sticking their heads down into it to stare at the sculptures manipulation with light and mirrors.

From inside, it looks like it is an infinity tunnel of books that just goes on and on and on. Possibly representing the existential crises we get when we enter libraries: the feeling we may never have time to read them all. If you have the time, wander through the study halls and bring that book you were supposed to read on the plane with you.

Things to do in Prague - Czech Republic - Visit the John Lennon Law-1
Standing in front of the John Lennon Wall in Prague

7. Lennon Wall

The Lennon Wall has become an iconic spot in Prague in remembrance of John Lennon and all he sang for. The wall is layered with professional street art, lyrics of Beatles songs, and amateur tags in every color imaginable.

The wall was first tagged by an anonymous artist who painted the singer-songwriter in on a tucked away street in Mala Strana after he died. Others tagged along and on the wall, and it eventually became an open space of self-expression and peace messages.

The wall is always changing with new ideas from younger generations but still maintains the original message of peace. It has been painted over several times, but you can bring a pen and add your own tag to the beautiful chaos.

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mask at the sex toys museum in Prague
“Sex Machines Museum – Prague” by Barbara – Flickr Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

8. Sex Machine Museum

No this is not a gallery dedicated to the James Brown song (though I wish it was playing in the background) but an impressive collection of sex devices through time and from around the world.

Fun facts: Prague is one of the sex capitals in the world. Which may be surprising if you have spent any time here. Unlike more affectionate cultures who cannot keep their hands to each other on public transportation (looking at you Italy and Mexico), you would not assume that the Czechs have a particularly active sex life. But the beer is cheap, and it is cold most of the year. So, prostitution is legal to certain degrees (no brothels) and the porn industry is huge (it’s hard to avoid the double entendres here, folks).

The Prague Sex Machine museum is the only museum dedicated to the objects used to explore more of human sexuality. The three floored building has over 200 items from as early as the 16th century and from a wide variety of cultures.

It ranges from Greek slippers worn by OG prostitutes, 1920s anti-masturbation gadgets, to Asian “magic boxes” (you can fill in your own blanks there). The walls are covered with images, instructions, dummies, and early pornography videos. It’s a space to feel openly curious with the nuances of what happens behind closed doors.

glassblowing in Prague

9. Glassblowing

Another unique area of their artistic expertise in Prague is glass blowing ( and you thought they were just masters at drinking games). The Czech Republic has a long-standing relationship with glass, and their prominence in the field is almost as impressive as their beer ( tbh some of the beer steins you will be starting into all night are a work of art).

It is a craft that has not faulted throughout Czech history. The countryside has a wealth of natural resources that have allowed the craft to be cultivated since the Renaissance. Even during the Soviet regime, when most forms of art + entertainment were prohibited, the flame was not blown out on glass work.

Since the pieces were abstract and considered “ideologically innocuous” ( basically unable to be interpreted as anti-communist) the world of glass blowing still flourished because people were able to have a creative outlet and wouldn’t be exiled to a Siberian working camp for it.

Glassblowing is still a huge industry and export for the Czech Republic, and visitors will see wide windows displaying glittering, prismatic glass in all sizes, from ostentatious vases to the tiniest spiral beads. Just be sure to grab enough bubble wrap for the flight back.

Glassblowing Shops in Prague

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10. Museum of Communism

The Museum of Communism is an exhibition about the hidden world that laid behind the Iron Curtain. This space displays photographs, documents, art, and interviews of a country and a time that was caught between ideology and a rationed reality. The walls of the museum are laden with text and follow the historical evolution of the country in a post World War II political state.

The space includes information of the police state that all of Czechoslovakia was in but with a heavy focus on Prague, the home of self-immolation resistance, student protests, and Velvet Revolution. It is a space that reminds us the importance of history, so we don’t make the same mistakes.

Things to do in Prague - Czech Republic - Original Pilsner Urquell Tasting Room Church-1

11. Escape To A Beer Garden

There are a ton of beer gardens in Prague, but the best-hidden beer garden one is U Kunštátů.  U Kunštátů is a quaint beer garden walled off inside of Old Town Square. It is perfect if you need cure your hangover with more beer some fresh air but can’t muster the strength to make it to Letna beer garden across the river.

Tucked away in a cobblestone cul-de-sac, U Kunštátů is on top of on what once was the Former palace of King George of Podebrady from the 14th century. You can explore the preserved underground chambers of kings and balances and reenact your favorite Game of Thrones episode( but please, don’t touch anything).

They are the first craft beer bars in the Czech Republic and they offer around 100 craft beers. The beer menu is constantly changing with the beer season and new Czech breweries. Make sure to stop in for a pint and snack.


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