With fewer tourists and a frosted skyline of Baroque domes and soaring Gothic spires, Prague in winter can be the stuff of snow-filled fairytales.
But even the most resilient travelers will need a few breaks to relax and defrost frozen fingers and toes, ideally with a tasty drink or warm meal to enjoy. With the average temperature between December to February hovering around 0°C (32°F), winter visitors to Prague are well advised to pack their thermals. The required jumble of layers are well worth it, though: Prague’s Christmas markets rank as some of the most beautiful in Europe. Then, January and February bring an uncharacteristic hush – you may even get the normally thronging Charles Bridge to yourself.
Here’s our pick of the best cafes and bars in Prague, where you can snuggle up with a hot drink and take shelter from the elements.
1. Café Savoy
Best for breakfast
With its art nouveau interiors and chandelier-studded ceiling, Café Savoy is a Prague institution. Here you’ll find white-aproned staff serving up piping hot eggs and decadent French toast to well-dressed locals, alongside tourists who’ve been astute enough to make a reservation. It isn’t the size that brings the coziness. Rather, by sitting at a table for two, you can’t help but feel cocooned by old-world charm. Sipping a rich Savoy hot chocolate on the small internal balcony will set you up for a day clip-clopping over cobblestones in winter boots.
2. Oliver’s Coffee Cup
Gaze down upon the hustle and bustle of Prague’s main Wenceslas Square through the enormous windows of this snug cafe. Hidden in an otherwise unassuming shopping center, Oliver’s Coffee Cup feels like a friend’s living room, with chic mid-century decor and plenty of books to browse. Order from the extensive coffee menu, select a slice of homemade cake and settle down in one of the ample armchairs.
3. Globe Bookstore & Café
Best bookstore cafe
A popular hang-out for the city’s expats, the Globe Bookstore & Café has wooden shelves chocked full of new and second-hand English-language novels, travel guides and newspapers. The adjoining cafe, with its ruby-red walls, has plenty of nooks where you can pore over your purchase with a flat white or warming mulled wine. Reserve a table for weekend brunch if you like a bookshop with a friendly buzz.
4. Jídelna Kuchařek bez domova
This bistro will warm your heart as well as your stomach: Jídelna Kuchařek bez domova is a project that employs homeless women to cook tasty vegan food. The space is tiny and popular, so even arriving at noon doesn’t guarantee a seat for lunch, but if you’re willing to wait, you’re in for a treat. The dishes are inexpensive – a lunch and a drink cost 129Kč – and by tucking into a meal or slice of homemade cake, you’re contributing to a worthwhile social enterprise.
5. Choco Café
Best for hot chocolate
Steamy windows are usually a sign of something warm inside and that’s certainly the case here. On a quiet street just off the Old Town Square, Choco Café has become a meeting spot for local chocolate addicts and travelers alike. Go for the rich, thick hot chocolate, carefully crafted in the gourmet chocolaterie. The Hořické trubičky – a light, rolled wafer filled with cream – makes the perfect dipping accompaniment.
6. Lokál U Bílé Kuželky
Good Czech beer is ubiquitous in Prague; the trick in winter is hunting down a cozy bar where you can savor it. If you have a thirst while in Malá Strana (Little Quarter), Lokál U Bílé Kuželky serves up fresh Pilsner Urquell alongside hearty Czech classics such as beef goulash and bread dumplings. The central location means the upstairs pub can be a squeeze; follow the locals’ example and head to the atmospheric stonewall cellar.
Best cocktail bar
A discreet door on a very average street in Prague’s New Town leads to this tiny yet exceptional cocktail bar. Don’t arrive at Parlour with preconceived ideas of what to order. Instead of a menu, the skillful bartenders mix drinks based on their clientele’s preferences and mood. The fact it only accepts reservations for groups of up to four keeps the atmosphere intimate and snug.
8. Black Angel’s Bar
Best underground cocktail bar
Old Town Square’s lively clamor melts away as you make your way down to this award-winning cocktail bar in the vaulted cellar of Hotel U Prince. With a live jazz soundtrack, moody low lighting and classic cocktails served in vintage glasses, Black Angel’s Bar has the feel of a sophisticated 1930s speakeasy (best take off your woolly hat at the door).
9. Lucerna Palace
Travelers who duck into Lucerna Palace, in Prague’s New Town, usually do so with the plan of getting hot and sweaty while dancing at the subterranean Lucerna Music Bar. However, there are other good reasons to seek out this glamorous 1920s arcade. Kino Lucerna, the oldest permanent cinema in Bohemia, is a beautiful shelter to wait out a storm and has frequent English-language screenings. Arrive early for coffee and cake in Kavárna Lucerna. Through the arch-windows of this dimly-lit art nouveau cafe you can enjoy the sight of shoppers scurrying beneath David Černý’s surprising suspended sculpture.
10. Manifesto Market Anděl
Opting for a street food market amid a European winter may sound foolhardy, but Manifesto Market Anděl knows how to wrap up warm. Come the frosty months, a temporary roof, windbreakers and efficient infrared heaters make this cashless market a sanctuary for enjoying steamy bowls of ramen or spicy nachos. The hot spiced sangria from the onsite bar will help you warm up from the inside out.
11. Mánesova Bar and Books
Part of the classy New York chain of cigar bars, which originated over 25 years ago, the Mánesova offshoot of Bar and Books provides a casual environment where you can lounge in red leather banquettes while sipping on a delicious cocktail or whiskey. Top-quality cigars are also on offer, and live music and burlesque shows appear on the program regularly.
Prosecco aficionados rave about Prosekárna. The main room in the Letná branch has the air of an elegant mountain cabin, with its warm fireplace and generous, upholstered chairs. The owners are often on hand to chat with guests about their favorite topic: prosecco. If you’re new to the world of sparkling Italian wine, rest assured the staff will introduce you to a variety of options. It’s wise to book ahead.