Included on many “world’s ugliest buildings” lists, this unusual tower might not be the prettiest but it has a special place in the hearts of many Prague residents. Like it or not, it’s definitely part of the Zizkov area’s charm – along with the unusual church, tree-lined streets, and beautiful pastel-coloured houses.
Today the tower has become an attraction for visitors curious about Prague’s communist-era architecture and history. And, lit up in the colours of the national flag every night, it has been a loyal friend to countless students and expats needing a bit of help finding their way home late at night after a few beers too many. Not that I would know from personal experience or anything.
Anyway, the tower, and the Zizkov area itself, is definitely worth a visit once you’ve seen the castle and Charles Bridge. Take the metro (Green line) a couple of stops to the unpronouncable stop ‘Jiriho z Podebrad’ and check out the tower, Riegrovy Sady park, and the cool, quirky surrounding streets – all very different from the polished Disneyland streets of the Old Town, but this area has tons more charm. I think.
The view from the top of the tower is great – Prague Castle looks like a tiny speck in the distance – and since it became a tourist attraction the tower’s owners installed a one-bedroom hotel and a restaurant at the top. I wasn’t impressed by the restaurant myself – I thought it was yet another Prague ‘restaurant with a view’ where the food is an afterthought – but friends have told me they enjoyed it, and it is definitely unique.
There’s another restaurant/cafe at the foot of the tower called Miminoo which is nice for a glass of wine or a coffee, but I wouldn’t bother with the food.
Luckily this area has loads of good pubs, cafes and restaurants catering for its residents and office workers (not so much for tourists, meaning they’re cheaper than anything found in the Old Town.)
The legendary Tavern is a short walk from the tower, and you’ll find it packed with hipster Czechs and expats elbow to elbow, demolishing messy burgers and strong cocktails at all hours of the day. Or try its sister pub-restaurant U Kurelu, serving much the same food in a revamped old Zizkov pub.
If you want an upscale Italian brunch or lunch right by the TV tower, check out La Bottega Gastronomica. Not cheap but great for a treat, this restaurant is more tables in a posh deli, meaning the atmosphere is relaxed and everything is fresh and delicious. For more flavours of the Med there’s also Sardinian restaurant Bisos.
Prague is big on Vietnamese food and if you’ve never tried it, now’s the time. Pick up a few fried spring rolls or a great big bowl of pho to take out from the hugely popular Tuan & Lan Vietnam. Service can be abrupt or just bizarre at times, but don’t worry about it.
For a real Czech pub experience, go for lunch at U Vodoucha. Brave the unwelcoming exterior (it always looks closed) and inside you’ll find a rustic-looking pub serving simple but delicious Czech classics, and an ever-changing list of local beers which they take quite seriously. Prices are tiny, tourists are few, and I regularly dream about their super-garlicky fried chicken potato pancakes. Drool.
Don’t forget to check out the farmer’s market at Jiriho z Podebrad square (where you’ll come out of the metro station.) it’s on Weds-Sat at the moment but check exact opening times for your visit here.
And in summer, don’t miss the beer garden at Riegrovy Sady park. It’s marked on here as Park Cafe but I don’t really recommend the restaurant. It’s just average. I prefer sitting in the huge beer garden eating Hermelin cheese (kind of a Czech answer to Camembert) and grilled sausages.
There are plenty of other options on the map, all of which I love and visit regularly.
This list isn’t comprehensive and isn’t meant to be. But please do leave your recommendations in the comments and let me know what you think of these places if you’ve been.