Cafés and coffeehouses in Prague 1
(work in progress, as of 12 August 2023): a brief (personal) history and eleven recommendations
After — back in May 2000 — I secured my monthly Metro pass, moved into my crash-pad, and got all of the visa, residence, and working permit paperwork half-way done, the real problem started: Where to get a coffee that actually deserves its name? Plus, what café or coffeehouse in good old Praha 1 (roughly) can you sit in comfortably and read, write, watch people, and/or chat? Back then, Prague didn’t have much that compared favorably to the coffeehouses in Vienna, or even some Starbucks outlet.
Things have seriously changed since then. It started around 2002 with a series of CoffeeHeaven outlets, a Polish coffee and sandwich chain that modeled itself after Starbucks but which had to sell years back all its outlets to London-based Costa Coffee. These days it seems that Costa Coffee has at least one shop on every downtown block. I still have my CoffeeHeaven bonus card, and Costa Coffee honor it, and I feel very smug every time I use it.
Around 2007–8, Starbucks finally invaded Prague with a couple of strategically located outlets and has since added a number of outlets, mostly in downtown. Google Starbucks in Prague. You can have your first SBUX fix at the airport. There are outlets for example at Václavské nám. 40 (corner Štěpánská), Jungmannova 34, Spálená 74/18 (near metro station Národní třída), and a couple of them near Old Town Square and so on. Can’t really miss them. The offerings are standard, as is the coffee and the food-stuff they offer. I have come to appreciate them because many of them are spacious (e.g., second level at Václavské nám. or the yuuuge Jungmannova outlet), they have free and reasonably good wifi (and no one cares whether you sit there for hours and hammer away), and the staff tends to be friendly and know what they are doing. Unfortunately that is often not true for many of the Costa Coffee places which can be claustrophobic, are run by staff that occasionally seems in over its head, and just seem less well-trained and efficient than their SBUX counterparts. That said, the Costa Coffee outlet in the Václavské nám. (“Rokoko”) pasáž remains one of my fav meeting places, increasingly though due to its centrality and short walking distance from my Praha workplace.
There are, of course, a huge number of nice stand-alone places (or minor chains such as mamacoffee, about which more in a sec) where you can have a good kava and read, write, chat comfortably, and/or dream. In short, places that fulfil the Rubinstein criterion, i.e., a place “where you can … think!” (I note parenthetically that for Ariel — who drinks strongly watered down instant coffee — it is all about the ambiance, while for me it is about both the environs and the quality of the coffee!)
In the neighborhood where I live (Prague 10, Vršovice), there were — before the pandemic — about a dozen cafes (no less than three within 20 meters of the Ruská tram stop) of which many were quite nice. Unfortunately half of them have shut down. But this write-up is about cafes and coffee houses in Praha 1 anyways. So there. Talking about places that don’t exist any longer but that nurtured my coffee addiction while living in Prague: a shout-out to now defunct Ebel Coffee House, Kawa Kawa Kawa, and the Tonkin café!
Prague is still not quite comparable to the coffee culture that exists in Sydney or Melbourne but getting a good coffee in Prague is no longer the very real problem it was back in May 2000. Tripadvisor, under Restaurants in Prague, subsection Coffee & Tea, currently lists 360 places.
Below are the results of my recent, and very diligent, research in matters kava in Prague 1 (downtown). Suggestions for places I missed, or even dissenting opinions, are always welcome. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment below if you like.
I take responsibility for all errors in judgement.
My current favorites follow presently (places I don’t much like have their own section at the end); note that none of my eleven nominations has made it to the top ten in the Tripadvisor ranking of best 10 cafés in Praha 1 (City Center). I am sure that those in the Tripadvisor top ten fail the Rubinstein test (Coffee Places where you can … think!)
Divadelini kavarna, attached to STUDIO DVA DIVADLO, Wenceslas Square 56, nestled away in a pasaz (Fenix palace)
Located in a pasaz off Vaclavske namesti but hidden enough to normally not being discovered by tourists, this has been one of my favorites for years.
You can sit inside and outside (in the pasaz that is), they offer coffee and wine and some fine food stuff such as omelettes, pancakes, hommos and avocado sandwiches, cheesecake with raspberry sauce, chocolate curd cake, etc.
A great place to have conversations while sipping a coffee, or a glass of wine for that matter. Note the pictures on the wall — portraits of less or more famous Czech actors. Don’t be surprised if you see one of these folks at the table next to you. That’s because this is the place where the actors go, after the show and before, and before and after practices, too.
The restaurant/kavarna is open from 9:00 am to 23:00 on weekdays and open at 11:00 on weekends or holidays; breakfast is served until 11 only. So no omelettes on the weekend.
They do have free wifi.
I can’t find them on Tripadvisor or Facebook.
Warning: There’s a bunch of divadelini kavarnas out there, so make sure you go to right one.
Monkey Coffee House Opletalova 922/8 Praha 1 (and also Pod Harfou 995/23)
A somewhat Spartan coffee house although they also have wine on offer it seems. They (and I’m talking about the Opletalova site which opened early in 2023) have some unimpressive sweet stuff (brownies, banana bread) but various kinds of excellent coffees (including hand brews) and it’s a great place to have conversations while sipping a coffee.
The Opletalova site opens at 8 am and closes at 6 pm, all week including weekends (as of now) when they currently start at 10 am.
They do have free wifi.
Bonus: Across the street from them is a place that offers a well-stocked assortment of Italian food imports, from coffee capsules, to chocolate, to grappa. Also, a few meters to the right there’s a cafe with lots of fabulous cakes etc. and next to that is a bakery with incredibly good bread.
Cafe Academia Vaclavske Namesti 792/34
This is in the middle of the city and Tourist Central. But you won’t know because the cafe is clearly frequented mostly by locals, last but not least (older) ladies reading in the books from the bookstore. ;-)
The cafe is nestled away on the second floor, in the back, of the Academia bookstore (which in fact is where you find the academic books). The coffee is surprisingly good. (Not quite of Monkey Coffee House quality but then what is ?!) They also have some sweet and tempting stuff (and even a cheese or ham&cheese toast, with salad) and a few house wines, in case you want to ease into winetime. ;-)
The bookstore of which the cafe is a part of is, incidentally, large and one of the better ones in Prague. (They have a sizable section of English language books downstairs.)
While the cafe is quite nice — real flowers and comfy chairs and all, with service that has some upside potential— , there is also balcony overlooking Václavské náměstí on the other side of the second floor. Great view!
They are open from 9–19:30 on weekdays and 10–18:30/17:30 on weekends.
They do not have free wifi but my eduroam connected automatically and just fine. (There is also free wifi in much of downtown Prague, so you should be able to log in from pretty much everywhere.)
Spell Jindřišská 939/20, nestled away in a yard, entrance next to the (awful) Green Tomato restaurant, and attached to a hair studio
You can sit inside and outside, they offer coffee (not bad, but not of Monkey Coffee House quality) and some nice sweet stuff including a bowl with tvarok and fruit that is excellent. They have wine, too.
Another great place to have conversations while sipping a coffee, or a glass of wine or two.
They are open from 7:00 am to 20:00 on weekdays and open at 8:00 and 10:00 on weekends when they close earlier (14:00 and 18:00 it seems).
They do have free wifi.
Sicily café Senovážné nám. 994/2 Praha 1
It is both a kavarna and restaurant. You can find their offerings here (in Czech and English); lots of nice stuff (lots of veg(etari)an options).
It’s a good place to work, shoot the breeze, or have conversations although it does get quite crowded around lunch time, so if you like to work there, it is best to go there in off-peak hours.
They open at 8:30 on weekdays and 9:30 on the weekend and close at 22:00 (except Sunday when they close at 21:00).
Breakfast weekdays until 12:00 and weekends all day.
They do have free wifi.
Mama café Vodičkova 10 Praha 1 (about 5 minutes leisurely walk from Václavské náměstí, follow the tram tracks)
It’s part of a chain that has other branches in Prahe 2, 3, 4, and Praha 7. There is apparently another related café in Praha 1 (Café NEZISK at Pohořelec 2). A trust-worthy informant tells me that the Vinohrady (also Praha 2) site is even better than the Vodičkova site.
The Vodičkova site is both a kavarna and restaurant that has daily menus of brekkie (scrambled eggs, curd pancakes, granola), various hummus related dishes (e.g., hummus with pita, hummus bowl, mezze plate), and sandwiches (e.g with egg spread or green pea spread); lots of veg(etari)an options. You can substitute the pita with veggie sticks if you so desire. Plus plenty of sweet stuff (cakes!) of tempting quality. You can find their offerings here (in Czech and English and several other languages). The food is really quite good and relatively inexpensive. Say, simple scrambled eggs are 145 koruns and come with a lovely serving of coleslaw, or some other salad du jour. The espresso is on the bitter side for my taste though; the latte, even if strong, is on the weak side.
It’s a great place to work though, shoot the breeze, or have conversations although it does get quite crowded around lunch time, so if you like to work there, it is best to go there in off-peak hours.
They open at 8:00 on weekdays and 9:00 on the weekend and close at 22:00 (except weekends when they close at 20:00). Service tends to be exceptionally nice.
They do have free wifi (and it works best on the upper floor which is also much more spacious than the ground floor.)
Prague Bakeshop Kozi 1
This place existed when I moved to Prague in 2000. It was under different ownership then and has been a bit modernized but it is basically the same configuration and many of the same goodies and the same coffee cups etc.
It’s not a place where you could work; too crowded especially during peak hours. (Beware of pocket thiefs then in particular.) The saving grace are the wooden benches outside. In fact, that’s where you find me many Saturday and Sunday mornings. That’s because it’s the best place in downtown Prague to get a good coffee at 7 a.m. every day of the week. (Yes, that includes Saturdays and Sundays.) Plus, the area in which the Prague Bakeshop is located (very very close to Old Town Square), is absolutely peaceful and gorgeous that early in the morning. (Well, mostly, if you can ignore the drunkards that spill out of the bars across the street. Most of them are fun to watch.)
A great way to start the day. In fact, I can’t think of a much better way to start it. Try their croissants, dorty (cakes), kolaces (tarts, tortes, pies), sandwiches, or quiches. Or their coffee (which for my taste is on the weak side).
Open every day 7–21.
They now have (free) wifi. Took them a long time to get there!
You can study their menu here, in both Czech and English.
Head Shot Coffee Palackého 720/5, located in the Franciscan Gardens, in the corner furthest away from the entrances
A fairly small space with a lovely outside, where you can sit and write. And have conversations. It’s not the kind of place that a tourist would easily find; it seems indeed frequented by locals mostly.
HSC offers various kinds of coffee and an inviting selection of deliciously looking cakes etc. A few sandwiches and hummus, too.
Open every day except Sunday from 8:00 to 18:30 except for Saturday when they start at noon.
They have free wifi.
Café Truhlárna Františkánská zahrada, Jungmannovo nám. 751/19 (when you enter the Gardens from Jungmanova namesti, 50 meters to the left)
A fairly small space with a lovely outside, where you can sit and write. And have conversations. It’s not the kind of place that a tourist would easily find but they do occasionally, although the Truhlarna folks advertise themselves and their wares on a blackboard outside in Czech only; it seems frequented by locals mostly.
The cafe offers various kinds of coffee and an inviting selection of deliciously looking cakes etc. A few sandwiches, too. Very friendly staff.
Open every day except Sunday from 8:30 to 20:00 except for Saturday and Sunday when they start at 10:00.
They have free wifi and their network is called zahrahda; password is posted at the counter.
Goodlok café Jungmannovo namEsti 18 (next to the entrance to Francescan Gardens, near the SBUX on Jungmannovo namEsti)
A wide open space, where you can sit and write. And have conversations. Although I suspect, it being in Tourist Central neighborhood, the staff would not look at you too kindly if you sit there for hours at a time. Or for that matter, potential visitors.
Goodlok offers various kinds of coffee and an inviting selection of fruit juices and kombuchas. They also have omelettes (very good indeed, I had), kimchi-toasts, and other offerings. Food is served until 15:00 Personnel is friendly.
Open every weekday 8:00 to 18:00; not open on weekends it seems.
They have free wifi.
Kavarna Adria formally, Národní 40, but adjacent to Jungmannovo namEsti (on the second floor of the massive Palác Adria building
This is an amazing space (including a very large terrasse), where you can sit and write. And have conversations. It is still to some extent Tourist Central neighborhood (last but not least since the place is written up in many a tourist guide), alas … my experiences have been mostly good. But then I rarely get anything complicated. Mostly caffe lattes (strong) or double espressos, occasionally the cheese omelette, very occasionally a poppy seed cake, etc. I should mention that the dozen or so cakes Adria has on offer are superb and if you are sweet-tooth, you definitely want to try a couple at least.
Service runs the gamut and I am not surprised to see service on Tripadvisor rated a dismal 3.5. With some reporting pretty bad experiences.
Open weekdays 8:00 to 23:00, and weekends from 9:00 to 22:00.
They have free wifi.
You can study their (lunch) menu here, in Czech and English.
Coffee Cube Black Jungmannovo nám. 6/767 (Thanks, Michael!)
Fantova kavarna Wilsonova 300/8
Tynska Literarni Kavarna Tynska 630/6
Kavarna Kampus Hybernská Hybernská 4 (Thanks, Sebastian!)
Super Tramp Coffee Opatovická 160 (Thanks, Elisaveta!)
So these are my favorite places right now, most of them not well-known but I am confident you will not be disappointed. There are many more well-known cafes and coffeehouses in Prague such as Café Louvre (not bad actually but failing the Rubinstein test), Café Slavia, Café Savoy (all on the tram 22 line, within a kilometer), Cerna Madona/Grand Café Orient, BISTRO, Café Boulevard (currently an astonishing 1.5 on TripadVisor! Avoid!), etc.
 As Lenka Reinerova — may she rest in peace — put it, “Where, so I ask myself often when I wander through my Prague, have all the coffeehouses gone; those coffeehouses where, over a cup of good black coffee, you could spend much of the day discussing, making plans, hearing the latest gossip, watching — or getting to know — interesting people, making friends, or even falling in love.” (Das Traumcafé einer Pragerin [my café in the sky, 1996; my translation.)