With fewer tourists and a frosted skyline of Baroque domes and soaring Gothic spires, Prague in winter can be the stuff of snow-filled fairy tales.
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 and February hovering around 0°C (32°F), winter visitors to Prague are well advised to pack their thermals. The required jumble of layers is 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 cozy cafes and bars in Prague, where you can snuggle up with a hot drink and take shelter from the elements.
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.
Gaze down upon the hustle and bustle of Prague’s main Wenceslas Square through the enormous windows of this 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 – it has some of the best coffee in Prague – select a slice of homemade cake and settle down in one of the ample armchairs.
A popular hangout for the city’s ex-pats, 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.
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.
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Travelers often overlook Belgium in favor of neighbors like France and the Netherlands, but it’s one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Because of its history, Belgium is linguistically and culturally diverse; it’s also small and compact, so visitors can travel to multiple destinations with ease.
In a groundbreaking triumph, Haute Retreats, renowned for curating unparalleled luxury travel experiences, has been crowned the winner of the Best Luxury Villa Rental and Accommodation Service in Europe for the year 2023 by Luxury Lifestyle Awards.
LVMH luxury travel company Belmond is expanding its presence on the rails from Scotland to Singapore and South America with more lavish accommodations, top chefs and new itineraries ahead of rival Accor’s launch of a competing product in 2024. The moves are designed to take advantage of well-heeled travelers' desires for unique experiences, according to Belmond executives speaking to the media during the International Luxury Travel Mart.
“He’s in here, in the kitchen every night and he’s smiling. He’s so happy to be doing this,” explains one of the managers of Café Carmellini. He is chef Andrew Carmellini, well known around New York the past 15 years for his respected but more casual restaurants Locanda Verde, Lafayette, The Dutch, Carne Mare and Bar Primi. This restaurant, which opened November 1st in the new Fifth Avenue Hotel, marks his return to fine dining with reinterpretations of French and Italian classics and as his most personal restaurant is the first one that bears his name. It’s been packed since opening night and looking around the Gilded Age style dining room with its oversized bronze and seeded glass chandeliers suspended from double height ceilings, plush blue banquettes and sculpted trees in the middle of the floor, the chef isn’t the only one smiling.
In Britain, the Sunday roast is sacrosanct. Gathering together around a beautifully cooked joint of meat, with lashings of gravy, vegetables and billowing Yorkshire puddings, is, for many, the weekend’s social highlight. And where better to do to this than the pub? Not only do you avoid the washing-up but, centuries after the French dubbed Brits les rosbifs, you get to enjoy the roast at its most modern. In recent decades, Britain’s best pub chefs have, by focusing on seasonal ingredients, rare-breed meats and painstaking preparations of roast potatoes or root vegetables, brought a fresh glamour to this Sunday afternoon ritual.
Of the key Alpine ski destinations, Italy offers the best value for money. Here, an espresso can cost €1.50 (£1.30) a shot, and a piste-side plate of pasta €10-15 (£9-13), items that are often 70-100% dearer in the A-list ski areas of France. And a peak-week, February half-term holiday in a three-star hotel can come in less than €1,745 (£1,500) per person half board, including flights and transfers. And that’s not taking some back-of-beyond resort as a point of comparison, either: all these prices are available in or around Canazei in Val di Fassa, part of the vast Dolomiti Superski area. On its doorstep, more than 300 miles of perfectly groomed pistes spin off the central Sella Ronda circuit; explore the area’s outer limits and that total hits 745 miles.
Hybrid events and virtual components of in-person events are here to stay as they can reach more attendees and the recorded content can live on long after the event is over. But the truth is that no one can overlook the power of live contact. And for that, the city of Prague says “I’m ready”.
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16200, Na okraji 381/41, Veleslavín, 162 00 Praha 6