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Famous cafés in Prague: a timeless pleasure

The Czech capital has a special love for the world of coffee, so it comes as no surprise to discover that there are many excellent famous cafés in Prague.

This won’t be the first time lovers of literature, intellectual debate, science and political thought will have heard talk of Prague’s coffee houses and many people will already know them like the back of their hand: they’re emblematic across Europe.

Many of Prague’s famous cafés have succeeded in keeping their original essence alive for over a century. New establishments have also sprung up that bring together a passion for this aromatic drink with the latest twenty-first century artistic, technological and social trends.

Coffee in Prague

The reason why there are so many well-known cafés in Prague is definitely the weather. The city is normally shrouded in damp and the cold months of winter justify the existence of lovely warm and sheltered spots where you can spend time with others and retreat from the inclement weather.

And if you can also enjoy a delicious cup of coffee with one of Prague’s typical pastries, then so much the better.

 

 

If that weren’t enough of a draw, for several decades during the twentieth century many of Prague’s famous cafés played an important role as a meeting place for the greatest artistic and intellectual minds in Czech society.

Important Czech figures took part in social gatherings in the most famous coffee houses in Prague and this is where the history of the nation was forged, through social and artistic movements.

Cafeterías en Praga

Cafeterias in Prague

Regrettably, this tradition was interrupted between 1948 and the end of the 1980s when the Communist authorities decided to shut down most of these historic cafés. Luckily, several of Prague’s famous cafés have now been restored. Many others have also emerged, encouraged by the arrival of foreign visitors who are keen to discover the essence of the city and its tradition of cafés and intellectual debate.

Below is a brief list of the best cafés in Prague.

Café Imperial

Of all Prague’s famous cafés, Café Imperial (Na Poříčí 1072/15) is perhaps the café that best reflects the Modernist wave the city experienced at the beginning of the twentieth century. A truly luxurious establishment, it’s legendary for its square tiles with low reliefs, use of wood and allegorical sculptures.

These features make it rather exclusive (prices are higher than those in other famous Prague cafés) but when you sit at one of its tables you’ll feel as though you’re instantly transported to the age of splendour of the First Czechoslovak Republic at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Café imperial en Praga

Exclusive Prague café

It’s obviously worth ordering any of their coffees—there is a wide variety of different types and styles. But don’t forget to take a look at the cakes and pastries menu to accompany your coffee with something sweet.

You can also order many of Prague’s typical hearty dishes here, which are prepared in a truly delicious way.

Savoy Café

The Savoy (Vítězná 124/5) is one of the most spectacular cafés in Prague. It’s also one of the oldest of those that survived the communist era: it first opened its doors in 1893.

Located right in the heart of Prague’s Old Town, its Belle Époque atmosphere is perfectly preserved with elaborately decorated, seven-metre-high ceilings and vast chandeliers.

It’s definitely worth taking your time here, not just because it’s usually very busy (especially during the middle of the day), but because the waiters work with a lack of haste that befits a place created for social gatherings and get-togethers. It is worlds apart from the fast food joints that have been slowly creeping into the city.

Slavia Café

Slavia (Národní 1) is perhaps the most famous of all Prague’s coffee houses. One thing is certain: since it opened in 1884 it has been one of the establishments that has had the greatest influence on the recent history of the Czech Republic. During the 1960s it was the meeting place for dissidents who were fighting against communism and the Soviet occupation, with Václav Havel at their head.

Although it closed in 1992 for legal reasons, it reopened just five years later. Since then it has been an essential stop for anyone interested in learning about how and why the current Czech Republic was formed.

In addition to trying their different types of coffee, it’s wonderful to sit here and watch the world go by as you gaze through its huge windows. You’ll also have one of the best panoramas of Prague Castle and its surrounding neighbourhood.

Other cafés in Prague: Louvre, Orient, Letka…

Another ace up Prague’s sleeve is the Café Louvre (Národní, 22). This historic café opened in 1902 and has seen none other than Frank Kafka and Albert Einstein sit at its tables, among other celebrated figures.

El mejor café en Praga

The best coffee in Prague

Café Louvre was closed for many years and the original decoration has not yet been fully restored, but even so it still manages to recreate the period atmosphere.

But, as we mentioned, there are many more famous cafés in Prague. Here are some others that also deserve a mention:

  • Grand Café Orient (Ovocný trh 19): Thought to be the only Cubist café in the world. Everything here, from the furniture to the tableware, aims to recreate this artistic style.
  • V Lese (Krymská 12): Its name means Forest Café and it’s one of the most modern and activist of Prague’s famous cafés. In fact, its owners run various activities to encourage customers to chat to one another.
  • Café Letka (Letenské náměstí): The brickwork in this establishment may be intentionally exposed but its walls are still steeped in history. And that’s despite the fact that this café is one of the ‘newest’ in town. Its coffee is sent from Berlin and it has an exceptional selection of pastries.

 

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