By Megan Schwartz, ISA Prague Site Specialist
Two of my favorite things about a city’s culture (and about life in general) are coffee and desserts. So naturally, when I visited Prague I was on a constant search for two things:
With the recommendations of the ISA Prague on-site staff, I was able to find some of the best local coffee and ice cream spots in the city. In case you’re on the same page as I am when it comes to espresso and sweet treats, I’ve gone ahead and compiled a list for you to use of my favorite places to get coffee and ice cream during your study abroad program in Prague.
Tucked on a side street right near Old Town, this cute little shop was the perfect place to be on a cold December morning. The brushed white walls were decorated with Polaroids (part of their local artist exhibit at the time), and the soothing tunes, community tables, and small vases with tiny flowers and branches in them made Original Coffee feel like a great spot to curl up with a book and a cozy cappuccino while watching the snow fall through their big windows.
In terms of off-the-beaten-path coffee spots, this is the place to go. Finding the small hipster-y shop is nearly impossible if you don’t get directions from a local, but trust me, it’s worth the adventure to find it. The shop is located off of the busy street in the courtyard of a decommissioned printing house, and once you get there the space immediately feels peaceful and relaxed. During the summer, the picnic tables in the front yard are the perfect place to lounge or study while sipping one of the shop’s unique flavored lemonades (pine, grape, or basil flavored, for example). The coffee was awesome – one of the best cappuccinos I had during my entire time in Europe – and the pastries (made in-house) were another highlight. Make sure you try one of their macrons, scones, or a slice of pie!
As soon as I sat down in the plush leather lounge chair at Globe Bookstore & Café, I realized there was a very real chance I would never find the willpower to leave. I snuggled up and used the light of the conveniently placed lamp to read my book while enjoying a cappuccino and an incredible, decadent, enormous piece of carrot cake. The half-English-language-bookstore/half-café that is Globe immediately felt like my home in Prague, and had I stayed in the city long enough, I know this place would have become a regular spot on my list. The cake was incredible, the service was friendly, and the dark, cozy, library-esque interior made this place a quick favorite. The café also serves a handful of non-Czech dishes, so if you ever need to get your burger, pancake, or quesadilla fix, they’ve got you covered.
SmetanaQ was the perfect spot for my first breakfast in Prague. The waterfront space is lovely, with natural lighting, modern furniture and decor, and big windows that allow for a beautiful view of Petrin Hill and Strelecky Island. Since it was winter and the trees were bare, I was able to see past the branches to a spectacular panorama of the Prague Castle. I read my book next to the window as I nibbled on a freshly baked piece of vegetable quiche, sipped a hot cappuccino, and enjoyed people watching.
If I could design my perfect living space, it would be Cafefin. Everything from the exposed brick walls to mismatched chairs, hanging old-fashioned light bulbs, farmhouse tables and tastefully placed greenery made it seem like my “Dream Home” Pinterest board had actually come to life. I ordered a cappuccino (surprise, surprise), and it was without a doubt one of the best I had on my trip. I drank it slowly at one of the counters along the window and people watched. The food in this busy café is Vietnamese inspired (think bánh mì, noodle bowls, Vietnamese coffee, etc.) and everything looked delicious. I settled on a warm bowl of their black cháo, which is a sweet rice porridge with black rice, coconut milk, apples, almonds, and sesame seeds, which I still dream about today. It was like a hug in a bowl – warm, cozy, with just the right amount of sweetness. Next time I visit Prague, going to Cafefin for that rice porridge will be my very first stop.
The staff at EMA Espresso Bar knows their coffee. The modern and brightly-lit espresso bar is a favorite of local coffee aficionados, and the baristas are knowledgeable and quick. I stopped by late one night and enjoyed some hot fresh ginger tea. At the late hour, I was able to find a place to sit, but apparently during the day the popular espresso shop is known to get so busy that the queue goes out the door. If you can snag a seat, EMA is a great place to catch up with friends, study, or read a book, as their no-wifi policy means the distractions are minimal.
If there is one thing on planet earth I can confidently say I know, and I know well, it is ice cream. My family is dedicated to ice cream in a way that is both impressive and concerning. We don’t eat it every day, but when we eat it, we eat it with commitment, in multiple flavors, and in very large quantities. We are true believers of the quote that hangs in my father’s office; “Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.”
Therefore, it is a big, I mean BIG deal that I am saying that the ice cream at Crème de la Crème might be the best ice cream I have ever had. The shop itself is adorable – located right around the corner from Old Town, the space is roomy and cozy with couches, café tables, and embellishments of yellow stripes and red polka dots. And the ice cream, the ice cream… I dream about it! I had to exercise extreme self-control and ordered only two scoops – one of lavender (hands down the best lavender ice cream I have ever had) and one of salty peanut. I didn’t care for one second about the looks I got from the other shop patrons as I licked every drop of the sweet treat from the bottom of my ice cream cup.
Take a 360 interior view of Crème de le Crème.
The night before my last morning in Prague, my colleague told me that I couldn’t leave the city without trying the gelato from Puro Gelato. As previously discussed, my love for all things ice cream runs deep, so naturally I found myself standing outside the small café at 7:45am the next morning waiting for the shop to open. The man at the counter was an Italian gentleman who clearly knew his stuff. We chatted for a bit about where he came from in Italy (right outside of Rome), where I was from, what we were both doing in Prague, and so on. He clearly could sense my dedication to gelato (considering I was the only person there, and I was eating frozen dessert at 8:00am in 30°F weather), so he let me sample every single flavor. It was like a dream come true. I settled on a scoop of decedent vanilla and a scoop of the seasonal apple strudel flavor, and enjoyed my gelato out front in the chilly Prague morning.
This one isn’t as much of a location/specific shop as much as it is a treat you can find all over the city. A trdelník (yeah… try pronouncing that one…) is a super sweet pastry made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a metal pole, baked over a flame, and then dipped in sugar and filled with a variety of toppings such as whipped cream or ice cream.
Obviously, I opted for ice cream.
My crispy-yet-gooey trdelník came straight off of the fire at the Old Town Christmas Market. It was still hot and the ice cream filling immediately began to melt. The combination between the piping hot pastry and the cool soft serve was amazing, and I ate the entire thing… and then I got another one.
Still can’t get enough coffee or ice cream? The ISA Prague staff can help! Ask our amazing team for some tips, and they will be more than happy to give you the local scoop on where to find your next dessert or cup of joe.
Want to try some of these treats in person?
The ISA Prague Fall program applications are still open! Check out studiesabroad.com/prague to learn more, or reach out to ISA Prague Site Specialist Megan (email@example.com) for more information.