The capital of Czech Republic offers some interesting and unusual products at attractive prices. We present you recommendations for great typical products for gifts and some useful addresses for shopping in Prague.
Prague is a city renowned for centuries for handicrafts – see below. It is also one of the largest gemstone markets in Europe, offering quite unique style of jewellery.
Main Shopping Areas in Prague
There are multiple shopping centres in Prague, most of the best shops are located in the city centre in three avenues: Příkopy, Pařížská and Národní Trída.
The part of the city with the greatest concentration of souvenir shops is along Karlova street – between Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) and Charles Bridge (Karlův most), a place where surely every tourist passes by. However, be aware that these are often kitsch and unauthentic souvenirs.
Small souvenir shops, where you can buy all kinds of handicrafts, are distributed throughout the city centre in other areas, too.
In the quarter around Kafka Museum you can visit jewellers and antique stores, as well as traditional bookstores for lovers of Czech literature.
Guide to Specialized Shops with Typical Czech Products
In Jan Paukert gourmet store and bistro (Address: Rohanské nábř. 671/15, 186 00 Praha 8-Karlín) you can continue with gourmet purchases. This delicatessen is one of the most popular in Prague and has almost a century of history, as it was founded in 1919 and is one of the oldest in the Czech Republic. In this store you can buy all the local culinary specialties in perfect condition for packing for travel, such as cheeses, delicious Prague ham, Moravian wines, wafers from Karlovy Vary and many other products that will delight a real foodie.
Art Deco Gallery (Address: Michalská 21; 110 00 Praha 1- Staré Město) is a craft shop located in the heart of the city where you can buy all kinds of decorative objects made and painted by hand, beautiful art pieces and design product.
Moser (Address: Na Příkopě 12, 11000 Praha) is a traditional elegant shop that offers some of the finest items of Bohemia crystal.
Manufaktura is a Czech brand of cosmetics and some traditional handicrafts with a network of shops scattered around Prague.
Parazit Fashion Store (Address: Karlova 25, Praha 1) is the oldest fashion and design shop in Prague, with a cool and alternative vibe.
Harddecore (Address: Senovážné náměstí, Praha 1) is a modern and innovative design shop with original home accessories, porcelain, glass, jewellery and clothes.
NanoAntik (Address: Kubelikova 25, Praha 3 – Žižkov) is a great “antikvariát” – antique shop, packed with vintage objects like clocks, toys, furniture, sketches, porcelain, lamps; some elegant and refined, other with definitely Communist feel, but all unique and “with soul”.
Both shopping centres and small shops are usually open between 8 am until 9 pm from Monday to Saturday, although some shops only open on Saturday morning.
Guide to the Best Gifts & Souvenirs from Prague
1. Bohemia Crystal
Czech glassmaking craft has been the great pride of the country since the 13th century. The famous Bohemia crystal is considered the finest type of glass in the world. There are many varieties: cut crystal, blown glass, engraved glass and painted glass, often with golden brim. There are numerous specialized and souvenir shops selling it throughout Prague. Some of the best include the famous manufacturer Moser (Address: Na Příkopě 12, 11000 Praha).
Absinthe is the ideal gift for lovers of sophisticated liquors. It is a high-grade (45–74%) spirit made of herbs: wormwood, anise and fennel. The drink, also known as Green Fairy, has gained great fame throughout Europe in the 19th and 20th century, becoming en vogue among writers and artists, especially during the Belle Époque. Its association with artists and decadence has always surrounded this liquor with air of mystery and sin – it was regarded a hallucinogen and psychoactive drug. However, it’s just a legend – the truth is it’s perfectly safe to drink, so don’t hesitate to try this poison-looking spirit.
Along with a bottle of absinthe itself come the accessory – a special magically-looking slotted spoon for burning sugar.
Prague has a long and well-established tradition of puppet shows that goes back to the 18th century and continues to this day, with numerous theatres in which traditional spectacles – very attractive to tourists – are held. Thus, it boasts real art of manufacturing hand-made marionettes. These creative and highly original puppets are one of the typical gifts that tourists acquire when travelling to Prague. They are sold in handicraft and puppet shops that are quite numerous in the city.
4. Wooden Toys
Apart from marionettes, Czech carpenters have achieved throughout history an impressive level in producing wooden toys of all kinds and in all shapes. These exquisitely traditional and old-fashioned toys have a great appeal in today’s world of soulless plastic made-in-China objects. Wooden vehicles and trains with moving parts, or castles and houses to construct from pieces, will be a great gift stimulating imagination of little engineers. You’ll find also wooden dinosaurs, various animals and miniatures of everyday objects.
5. Red Garnet Stone
Red garnet is a semiprecious stone which used to be one of the main elements of Czech jewellery throughout centuries, since the country had rich deposits of this treasure. Nowadays it’s much more difficult to obtain, but you will still find quite a lot of jewellery pieces and accessories with garnet, or more often with beryl. Look for it at jewellers in the city centre.
6. Ceramic Beer Mug
Beer lovers may buy in Prague a classic, old-fashioned ceramic beer mug, called stein, with a metal lid attached to it. It’s not easy to find it in a shop, but you may buy it in some pubs – we have a specific address for you: try in Pub “U Medvidku” (Address: Na Perstyne 345/7, 110 00 Praha), it has a selection of very pleasant ceramic beer steins with a metal lid. Otherwise, look for cool vintage mugs in antique shops.
7. Czech Spirits
The most famous Czech spirit is Becherovka. It’s a strong, 38% digestive herbal bitters with an intense and vaguely cinnamon taste. The typical way of serving it is in a cocktail called Beton (Becherovka + Tonic), which means “concrete” in Czech and other Slavic languages.
One of the national spirits most highly regarded by Czechs is Slivovice – in other words a moonshine or plum brandy with up to 50% alcohol. It has a pleasant, somewhat perfumed aroma, and a very strong, pungent taste.
However, the national spirit is definitely beer. Beer is such a strong part of the Czech culture and cuisine, that often it’s cheaper in restaurants and bars than mineral water! It’s just an obvious default drink to any meal except breakfast.
Some advice on the most popular and tasty Czech beers:
Staropramen – a beer from Prague, different types are available, the most popular are pale lagers, but there are also dark lagers from the brand. The classic one is Staropramen Ležák (Premium).
Gambrinus offers a selection of pale lagers, very popular in Czech Republic, especially Gambrinus Original 10.
Kozel is a an award-winning and the best-selling Czech beer brand in the Word, producing pale and semi-dark lagers and dark dunkel. The classic is Kozel Premium.
Pilsner Urquell is the biggest Czech brewery and the producer of the first pilsner in the world. This type of beer has become so popular, that actually two-thirds of the world’s beers today are pilsners – or in other words – pale lagers of the similar kind.
8. Krtek (Mole)
The cute smiling mole – in Czech Krtek – is a character of the favourite cartoon of Czech kids. It was “born” in the Soviet times in then-Czechoslovakia. The Communist party wanted an animal which doesn’t make any reference to Disney’s or any other Western characters, and so the mole was created and the cartoon series soon became very popular in the Communist countries. You will find Krtek in many forms and objects: as a puppet, on mugs, as a wooden toy, on a hat. It’s available in most souvenir shops.
9. Oplatky Spa wafers & Popular Czech Snacks
A real Czech speciality: crispy, big, round, delicate wafers in different flavours. They are called “spa” wafers, as they became popular in the spa town of Karlovy Vary. One of the best brands is Kolonada. Czech sweets are very tasty, especially various types of wafers and chocolate bars. You can buy them easily in any supermarket.
What not to buy? A Matryoshka
One last souvenir to mention are Matryoshka dolls, which are extremely typical, but for Russia, not Czech Republic. They are also sold in Prague, out of the tradition coming from the Soviet times, but just be aware that they don’t really belong to the place. However, if you don’t care, they are a nice object. Matryoshkas are made of varnished wood and their particularity is that they are hollow inside and sold in sets of five or six very similar dolls of different sizes to keep one inside the other. In Prague you can find not only traditional female dolls, but also all kinds of famous and infamous politicians and celebrities, from Putin to… Stalin, from Che Guevara to Ronaldo.
One of the main commercial attractions of the city are the Christmas markets for those who are going to visit Prague at this time of the year. They open every day from the 29th of November, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and are located in Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square.