If you ask around in Prague, you’ll often hear the claim that the city has the highest concentration of bars per square mile in the world. Whether or not that’s been mathematically proven, it’s definitely hard to walk more than a few yards without passing by a smoky underground tavern, a cavernous, centuries-old pub, or one of the new crop of sleek, sophisticated cocktail bars that have been popping up all over the Old Town. Whether you’re in the mood for a quintessential Czech pilsner or a perfectly-mixed martini, these are the spots in Prague that can’t be missed.
For Brew With a View: Strahov Brewery
Set on a hillside overlooking the iconic Prague castle as well as the picturesque Old Town, you won’t find a bar with a better view. Attached to a monastery founded in the early 12th century, the brewery itself has existed since at least 1400, when it was rented by a nearby town for “three-score of pepper and a fat rabbit,” as the story goes. Now famous for dark lager, it puts out a variety of seasonal bears each year. On a nice day, wander down the well-marked path from the brewery straight into town–you’ll pass some gorgeous vineyards and architecture along the way.
For Craft Cocktails: Hemingway Bar
In many ways, Hemingway Bar is the antithesis of the traditional Czech pub: It has a written list of rules, for one thing. There's also an extensive spirits list that includes mezcal, Old Tom gin, and over 200 kinds of rum. Divided by location, the rum menu offers choices from across the globe like Cuba, Jamaica, and Madagascar, as well as a special reserve list. And don’t miss the signature cocktails. Seriously.
For the Scene: Cross Club
A bit north of the Old Town, the neighborhood of Holešovice is not much of a tourist draw, which means that you’ll find mainly locals and expats at the steampunk-influenced space Cross Club, tripling as an art gallery, music venue, and bar. Find anything from an electroswing dance party to a heavy metal show, all set against a surreal backdrop of cranks, gears, scaffolding, and some of Prague’s most colorful residents. Trust us, you’re going to want photos.
For a Throwback: Tretter’s
A throwback to Prague’s glamorous Art Deco days, Tretter’s New York Bar has been family-owned for 90 years. Located right in the center of the touristy Old Town, Tretter’s is a welcome reprieve from the overpriced and overcrowded restaurants that line the square. Cocktails are the specialty, and the white-jacketed bartenders take great pride in shaking up perfect versions of the classics.
For Fresh Air: Riegrovy Sady Beer Garden
You can’t visit Prague without taking advantage of its many outdoor beer gardens, and this one in Riegrovy Sady is a local favorite. The surrounding Vinohrady neighborhood is a favorite of expats and chic Czechs, many of whom can be found at the park on a Saturday, enjoying a pivo (beer) while watching a football or hockey match on the projector screen. In the evening, walk over to the west side of the hill for the perfect Instagram shot of the sun setting behind the castle.
For the Wine Enthusiast: Bokovka
While off-the-beaten-path wine regions like Slovenia and Georgia have been getting more love recently, Czech wines have stayed relatively under the radar. At Bokovka, though, they’re celebrated: there are dozens of local options from across the wine spectrum, including sparkling, dessert, and even orange. Try a tasting flight with one of their knowledgeable sommeliers, or enjoy a light snack from the on-site fromagerie.
For Locals: U Jelinku
If you really want to experience a Prague pub like a local, then U Jelinku is the place to do it. Said to have the best Pilsner Urquell in Prague (it’s the only beer they serve here), this bar is a no-nonsense neighborhood spot. It’s crowded, smokey, and the bartenders rarely speak English, which is part of the charm. Order a pivo then sit back to enjoy the Prague of yesterday.
For Escapism: Tiki Taky
In a city full of bars, the neighborhood of Žižkov is often said to have the most per capita. While the majority are small neighborhood pubs, the delightful Tiki Taky is a standout. Polynesian-inspired murals cover the walls, and the tiny, thatched hut that houses the bar is draped with all sorts of tiki-related ephemera. All that, plus the real-deal tropical drinks served in kitschy glassware will make you forget, just for a minute, that you’re in the landlocked Czech Republic.
For a Jolt: Cafe Louvre
Vienna may get all the credit for coffee culture, but Prague in the early 20th century was just as brimming with cafes and intellectuals. Cafe Louvre, open since 1902, is less about the menu, which is a well-curated selection of classic spirits, beers, and wines, than it is about the history. The cafe has hosted dozens of philosophers, artists, and writers, including Albert Einstein, who used to come in after his workdays at the Prague German University. Sip on a coffee or a becherovka, a bitter, herbal Czech liqueur, and try to figure out who sitting around you might be next in line for a Nobel Prize.
Lead Image: Sleek cocktail bars cropped up around Prague's Old Town PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER HIRTH, LAIF/REDUX