The Best Alternative Culture + Leisure Destinations Not to Miss in Prague
Over the past few years, Prague has quickly become one of the most visited destinations in Europe, thanks to its gorgeous architecture, impressive historical sites, and affordable attractions and accommodations. On your next visit, don’t get stuck in the typical tourist traps. Instead, adventure outside of the city center and experience Prague as the locals do at the city’s best art, food, design, and outdoor destinations.
Dox Contemporary Art Museum
This modern art museum is home to Prague’s most fascinating contemporary exhibitions, featuring both Czech artists as well as visionaries from around the world. Here you can find multi-media installations commenting on a variety of political, economic, and social issues. The museum’s name comes from the Greek word doxa, which means a way of understanding things, a stance, or view - embodying the gallery’s ethos for curation. Located in the up-and-coming district of Holesovice, Dox has become a pillar of the neighborhood, and is easily recognizable from the giant wood and steal blimp that is perched on top of the building, called the airspace. One recent installation features a full gym complete with punching bags printed with the faces of world leaders, where patrons can ‘work out’ while watching videos of major world events and controversial news agencies. Dox is the perfect spot for art lovers looking for a taste of modern Czech design while avoiding the lines and congestion in the museums within the tourist center. Be sure to check out their calendar of events, discussions, and workshops before planning your next visit.
Just around the corner from Dox Museum, you’ll find one of Prague’s newest design and cultural venues. This once industrial warehouse has been reimagined as a multifunctional meeting place home to a bar, café, boutique, dance studio, art gallery, and underground cinema. The vast yet cozy brick space is a charming spot to connect with Prague’s creative community of artists and thinkers while participating in discussions, shows, and a variety of pop-ups and cultural programs. Aside from being a must-see arts and shopping venue, VNITROBLOCK is also one of the best public workspaces in the city, featuring high ceilings, large tables, along with strong coffee and wifi. For a bite, head outside to Booze & Food, an old-school yellow school bus converted into a food truck serving juicy burgers, sausages, sandwiches and Belgian style french fries.
Manifesto Market Food and Culture Bazaar
The Czech Republic’s first contemporary food market debuted last summer and is widely considered one of the most impressive contemporary design spaces and culinary destinations in the country, earning attention from the New York Times in its opening year. Straddling the edge of Prague’s New Town and Karlín districts, Manifesto’s 20 rotating food and beverage vendors serve patrons from refurbished shipping containers, contributing to a uniquely modern design aesthetic unlike anywhere else in the city. Here can find a range of international street food delicacies like Vietnamese pho, American barbecue, and of course, plenty of Czech beer.
Aside from being one of the city’s most delicious venues to indulge in flavors from around the world, Manifesto also hosts a jam-packed calendar of cultural events including concerts, discussions, and workshops. During the holiday season, Manifesto offers a festive contemporary Christmas Market, where patrons can enjoy heated igloos, campfires, and indulge in holiday treats while gift shopping.
Sapa Vietnamese Market in Little Hanoi
Thanks to a government-sponsored program bringing Vietnamese workers to the Czech Republic in the early 1970s, Prague is home to the largest Vietnamese population in Europe, and thus some of the best Vietnamese cuisine you can find outside of Southeast Asia. Sapa Market or ‘Little Hanoi’ is a delicious ethnic enclave that also happens to be the biggest distribution center for Asian food goods in the country. Set just outside of the city center in Prague 4, Sapa is meant to be a replica of the famous Sapa market in northern Vietnam. At the center of the compound is a vast flea market selling clothing, purses, shoes, household items, and other knick-knacks. You can spend an entire day shopping and tasting traditional Vietnamese dishes, like the grilled duck from Dũng Liên, bun cha from Hái Hà, and bun bo nam bo from Phuong Lien.
Divoká Šárka Nature Reserve
Take a break from the tours and history lessons and explore a national park that happens to be an easy transfer from the city center. Outdoor recreation is an important tradition in Czech culture, and you’ll find families at this beautiful park every weekend year round. This 50-acre nature reserve may be the most peaceful place in Prague, boasting meadows of blooming flowers in the summer and fairytale-like snow-capped hills in the winter. The gorgeous green space features a public swimming pool and rock climbing areas, as well as clearly marked hiking and biking trails that cross through forests, fields, and valleys. To get there, take the green line (line A) to Nádraží Veleslavín and transfer to the 191 bus that goes straight to Divoka Sarka. Find the trailhead behind the McDonalds. Our tip is to pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and head over in the late morning to enjoy the park in its gusto.
When you're in need of some R&R, take advantage of Prague’s reasonably priced saunas and spas to relax, sooth, and pamper. For a classic sauna experience, head over to Olsanska Sports Center, which features two Finnish-style saunas, steam room, salt room, and aromatherapy as well as an 8 person Jacuzzi, cold pool, and showers. For around 200 crowns, or about $10, you can spend 2 hours indulging in the impeccably clean and well-managed spa.
For something a bit more unusual, check out Lazne Na Lodi, Prague’s sauna boat on the Vltava River. Floor to ceiling windows allows guests to enjoy the boat’s Finnish-style sauna while gazing out onto the river, below the lights of the Prague Castle. After the sauna, guests are encouraged to jump off of the boat’s dock into the Vltava for a truly invigorating cold plunge unlike any other. A large relaxation room is where you can enjoy a beer with friends and locals. Be aware that the sauna is only open during the winter, from 5 pm to 11 pm, and reservations are highly recommended.
Žluté Lázně Recreation Center and Park
This multi-use recreation area is one of Prague’s most popular summer attractions. Complete with a sandy beach, club, bars, table tennis, volleyball courts, and various food and beverage vendors. Pedal boats, bicycles, in-line skates, longboards, and paddleboards are all available to rent. The riverside park can accommodate up to 10,000 visitors at a time and is a popular location for concerts, festivals, and other outdoor entertainment. The park is also one of Prague’s best family-friendly destinations, including a children’s zone with a kid-friendly pool and wide grassy area for lawn games and relaxing.
Hostivař Reservoir Lake and Hiking Area
Prague’s largest lake is one of the best places to swim in the Czech Republic. The lake sits in the center of Hostivař Forest Park and offers hiking and biking trails surrounding the water. Beachgoers can enjoy refreshment stands, sports courts, rowboats, and paddleboard rentals all summer long. Open to all ages, the reservoir is another great option for families visiting Prague in the spring or summer. Getting to the lake is easy, simply take the red line (C Line) to the Haje Metro station, and the lake is just a short walk.
Where can you pair a sweeping view of the city with a creative cocktail? Look no further than Prague’s Cloud 9 Sky Bar & Lounge. Sitting atop the Hilton on the edge of the Karlin district, you’ll find yourself with 180 degree views of Prague and the Vltava river below. The bar is spacious with a lively atmosphere, two large terraces and a menu full of boundary-pushing cocktails served alongside some international bites like tacos, and bao buns, and a signature burger and will truly make you feel like you have hit cloud 9!
This post was originally written for Manifesto Market in Prague, Czech Republic.