A fascinating mixture of storied European history, Communist culture, and rapid modernization, Prague is a rich tapestry of the old and new. While most don’t think of this Eastern European city as a go-to for shopping, anyone lucky enough to visit should take advantage of its retail hotspots – especially those destinations that offer more eccentric experiences. To help guide your shopping in Prague, then, we’ve highlighted 5 musts; try to visit these the next time you’re in the Czech Republic.
Best for Indie Fashion: Mint Design Market
Surprising to some, Prague is an indie fashion mecca, showcasing local and global talents who are rethinking our traditional sartorial sensibilities. Mint Market is a showcase of this in action, featuring a coterie of designers and fashionistas far off the threaded path. Here you can find dresses designed with a pointillist-inspired “dot art” technique, discover the allure of almond magnets, or doll up in reflective cotton tees. Mint Design Market truly is a playground for creatives, and if you’re looking to reinvigorate your wardrobe, this is where you should go.
There are several locations of Mint Design Market across Prague, making it easy to dig into its whimsical fashion fun. Keep in mind, however, that sellers must apply to be a part of the market, which means vendors listed on their website may not actually be available onsite if/when you arrive. In other words, don’t get buried in expectations.
Best Outlet Mall: Fashion Arena
Who doesn’t love shopping in Prague … at a good outlet mall? If you’re keen on browsing the brands you know and love, then Fashion Arena is where you should go. The good news is, you’ll also find a trove of Eastern European brands as well. For example, Claire’s is a beloved western touchpoint, but Bohemia Crystal is a regional standout. You’ll also find a nice spread of prices at the Fashion Arena, ensuring you don’t have to spend a fortune on your retail getaway.
Oh, and we should mention: While the vast majority of shops here are apparel-oriented, you can also find stops for housewares and décor, accessories (bags, purses, and the like), and culinary fascinations. As a matter of fact, if you need a break between, say, Armani and Karl Lagerfeld, grab a bite at the eccentric Cervené jablko where Asian flavors comingle and sushi is a must.
Best for Creatives: Vnitroblock
You know the warehouse shopping center phenomenon in the U.S. – the kind where old, historic buildings are gutted then outfitted with mini-stores as far as the eye can see? That’s Vnitroblock – sort of. There is actually only a handful of stops here – including a small cinema, a cozy “hipster” coffeehouse, and a dance studio – and most are designed to give the public an opportunity to be creative.
For example: A gallery with a multifunctional open space allows for art shows as well as art classes, while a “musician factory” gives budding and veteran musicians alike the opportunity to toot, strum, and wail. Lectures are common at Vnitroblock, designed to open up art in all forms to the interested public.
As an odd departure from this communal education and creation, shoe hawker Footshop anchors one of Vnitroblock’s spaces. It has quite the following – thanks to its wide array of classic sneakers, limited editions stompers, and off-the-wall creations. Drop by and pick up a pair of high-tops on your way to a string section gig or impressionist art class.
Best for Sports Lovers: El Nino Snow and Skate Shop
It started small with only a single level. Then it grew, with devotees swarming from around the country, eager for the latest sports gear. Now, El Nino’s three stories are brimming with shirts, pants, shoes, and walls upon walls of boards – snowboards, skateboards, longboards, and shortboards. Each one sports a unique, artistic design that either makes a statement or mesmerizes with color and flourish.
Not everything is so “flamboyant,” however; sporty types can get smart khaki shorts in muted colors, two-color sneakers with just enough personality to catch an eye, and t-shirts with a mixture of floral prints, branded designs, and single-color simplicity. Oh, and did we mention they have fanny packs? Our dads would be so proud.
Best for Bibliophiles: Shakespeare and Sons
Part of the joy of shopping in Prague is happening into shops you’d never seek out ordinarily. Shakespeare and Sons is just such a destination – a book-lover’s dream, no matter what language you speak. Fortunately, Shakespeare and Sons is brimming with English lit, so we had plenty to enthrall us – from shelves of Eastern European history to corners devoted to fringe philosophy. If you’re more of a character-first fiction aficionado, there’s a wall just for you. And yes, much of modern pop lit is on offer, including works from Margaret Atwood; this weaves through high-profile classic lit from grandes dames like Louisa May Alcott and maestros like, um, Shakespeare. Appropriately, the shop also boasts a collection of local titles, giving you a sense of what Prague natives enjoy.
Another feather in Shakespeare’s cap: The bookstore regularly offers lectures, panel discussions, book talks, and historical reviews. Keep an eye out for what might interest you if you’re in town.
Do you have your own favorite picks for shopping in Prague? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add your faves to our list!