Prague’s Lesser Town (known locally as Mala Strana) is one of the prettiest areas in the city. It lies just below Prague Castle, on the banks of the Vltava River, and it’s home to some of the most beautiful buildings you’ll ever see in your life!
While the main streets of Mala Strana are typically packed with tourists, there are quite a few hidden gems in this neighbourhood. These include quiet little cafes and peaceful parks.
In this guide, I share my top recommendations for things to do in Mala Strana, plus the best restaurants and bars in this area (all tried and tested!).
Table of Contents
A bit about Mala Strana
Mala Strana, also known as the Lesser Town, is one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Prague.
Located on the west bank of the Vltava River and just below the castle complex, Mala Strana is characterized by winding cobblestone streets, colorful baroque buildings, and cozy squares.
The neighborhood is also home to several parks, including Petrin Hill, which offers panoramic views of the city and is a popular spot for picnics.
You’ll also find a lot of restaurants and cafes in Mala Strana. Many of them serve traditional Czech food like goulash and pork knuckles.
Overall, Mala Strana is a charming neighborhood and a must-see for any visitor to Prague. It offers a glimpse into the city’s past and is a great place to stroll, take in the sights, and enjoy a meal or drink.
Where to stay in Mala Strana
Mala Strana is the heart of old Prague. It’s the perfect base for anyone who wants to explore the city on foot and be within easy reach of the main attractions.
My husband and I stayed at Three Golden Crown Apartments, right next to St. Nicholas Church.
The apartments are cosy and beautifully furnished, with a large bed, kitchenette, private bathroom, and a small living area. Plus, you’ll get a key to the main door of the building, so you can come and go as you please.
The apartments are surrounded by bars and restaurants. Plus, Charles Bridge is just down the road, and Prague Castle is just a 10-minute walk away!
Where to eat and drink in Mala Strana
When it comes to eating out in Mala Strana, you’re spoilt for choice. Whether you fancy a nice drink with some nibbles or a hearty Czech meal, there are plenty of amazing wine bars and restaurants in the area.
Here are some of the best places to eat and drink in Mala Strana.
Pork’s in Mala Strana is known for its succulent pork dishes and cozy atmosphere. This charming restaurant offers diners a taste of traditional Czech cuisine, with a menu featuring a variety of pork-based specialties.
Make sure you try the pork knuckles and crackling! Also, you’ll want to book a table as the restaurant is quite popular.
U Glaubicu claims to sell the cheapest beer in Prague. This busy pub is located in a historical building with vaulted ceilings and a 700-year-old cellar.
Pilsner Urquell and Velkopopovický Kozel beers are available on tap, and you can enjoy your drink outdoors. They also serve a variety of local dishes.
Three Golden Stars
Three Golden Stars (U Tří zlatých hvězd) is another restaurant in Mala Strana with a lovely rustic interior and delicious meals.
You’ll find a variety of Czech and Italian dishes on the menu, including duck, pork knuckles, and pizzas.
This place can get quite busy, so you might want to book a table.
Pot&to Garden is a newly opened restaurant in a nice little alley. As the name suggests, it specializes in potatoes, using locally grown produce.
You can choose from a variety of baked potatoes, each with a different topping.
The interior is quite cosy, and the staff are super friendly! On nice days, you can enjoy your meal in the outdoor garden.
Ikona Wine Bar
The Czech Republic is known for its beer. But if you’re more of a wine drinker, you don’t need to worry.
There are several nice wine bars in Prague, including a few lovely places in Mala Strana. The Ikona Wine Bar is one of them.
This place forms part of Hotel Ikona and boasts a large selection of local and foreign wines. They also serve a variety of cheeses and cold meats.
Artic Bakehouse is a bakery on Uzejd, close to Petrin Hill. It was recommended to us by the receptionist at Three Golden Crowns, and when we got there the place was teeming with locals!
You can grab some freshly baked bread, or indulge in some delicious pastries.
You’ll find a vast selection of treats available, including muffins and cookies in different flavours. My raspberry and white chocolate cookie was divine!
Best things to do in Mala Strana
Mala Strana is a treasure trove of historical buildings – and a few unusual sites. Here are some of the best things to do in this quirky neighbourhood.
1. Marvel at the Lennon Wall
The Lennon Wall is a colorful mural and a symbol of peace and resistance.
During the tumultuous eighties, young Czechs expressed their grievances with the Communist regime by writing political messages on this wall. They also painted an image of John Lennon and added lyrics from his songs.
Over the last few decades, artists and tourists have added their own graffiti to the wall, resulting in a vibrant mishmash of colors, quotes, and motifs.
2. Pop into the Church of St. Nicholas
The Church of St. Nicholas is a baroque-style church located in the heart of Mala Strana. It is one of the most notable churches in Prague, known for its stunning baroque architecture, beautiful frescoes, and impressive green dome.
The church was built in the 18th century and is dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors. Its exterior is adorned with intricate sculptures, including a large statue of St. Nicholas on the front facade.
Inside, the church is decorated with elaborate frescoes and paintings, including a large altarpiece depicting St. Nicholas. The church also boasts a magnificent organ and several chapels.
3. Visit the Kafka Museum
The Kafka Museum in Mala Strana is dedicated to the life and works of the famous Czech writer Franz Kafka. It features interactive exhibits that explore Kafka’s life and the cultural and political context of his time.
Here, you can see original manuscripts, personal letters, and photographs. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and events related to Kafka and his works, like lectures and discussions.
4. Meet the peacocks in Vojan Gardens
The Vojan Gardens are a hidden gem. They’re some of the oldest preserved gardens in Prague, and home to a large family of peacocks!
You can go for a romantic stroll through the gardens, or just head there for some peace and quiet.
While you’re there, make sure to check out the grotto-like chapel of St. Elijah. Its facade is decorated with black stalactites and looks rather sinister!
5. Catch some sun at Kampa Park
Kampa Park is a lovely green area on the banks of the Vltava. It’s a popular place among local joggers and dog walkers, and on beautiful days, you can just sit on the grass and soak up some sun.
The park is home to Museum Kampa, a modern art gallery that houses works by Central European artists. Next to the building, you can see a few creepy baby sculptures by Czech artist David Černý, as well as a row of yellow penguins standing over the river.
6. Check out the pretty houses on Janska
Mala Strana is typically busy with tourists making their way up to the castle or heading down towards Charles Bridge.
However, if you get off the main streets and venture into the alleys, you’ll find some respite from the crowds – and a lot of hidden gems!
If you want to see some pretty and unusual houses, look for Janska Street.
The surrounding streets are also worth exploring. Plus, you’re never too far from the heart of the city – if you get tired, you can just make your way back to the main streets and find a nice cafe.
7. Go for a stroll through Wallenstein Garden
The Wallenstein Palace Garden is a beautiful garden situated just below Prague Castle. It was built in the early 17th century by Albrecht von Wallenstein, a powerful Czech nobleman, and it was designed in the French baroque style.
The garden features a central pond, which is surrounded by a series of symmetrical paths, formal parterres, and a terrace with statues of Roman gods.
It’s also home to several sculptures and a number of notable buildings, including the Wallenstein Palace, which now houses the Czech Senate.
Here, you’ll also find a unique astronomical observatory, the Wallenstein Palace Observatory, which was built in the early 17th century and is considered one of the oldest in Central Europe.
You can take guided tours of the garden and observatory to learn about the history and architecture of the place.
8. Climb Petrin Hill
The streets of Mala Strana can get a little clogged in the busy summer months. Climbing Petrin Hill is one of the easiest ways to escape the crowds in Prague.
The hill offers a great view of the city and the surrounding area. You can reach the top by taking the Petrin Funicular, or walking up one of the many paths on the hill.
Once you reach the summit, you can explore the many attractions on the hill. Some of the highlights include Petrin Tower, which is a replica of the Eiffel Tower, and the Mirror Maze, which is a popular attraction for children and adults.
9. Browse through the books at Shakespeare & Sons
If you’re an avid reader, make sure you visit Shakespeare and Sons. This bookstore houses works by local and foreign authors, and you can browse through a large selection of categories.
The shop isn’t very big, though it’s packed to the rafters with books. Downstairs, you’ll find a couple of armchairs where you can sit and read.
10. See the Water Mill
The Water Mill in Mala Strana is a beautiful example of industrial architecture. It was as built in the 19th century as a means of harnessing the energy of the river to power a sawmill, which was used for cutting wood for construction.
While the mill is no longer in operation, but you can still see it motion. Head to Lovers Bridge for a view of the wheel (and the gremlin accompanying it).
11. Visit the Maltese Square
Nestled within the pretty streets of Mala Strana you’ll find the Maltese Square. It’s named after the Knights of Malta, who came to the city in the 12th century and founded a monastery.
The square is surrounded by cosy little cafes and restaurants. There’s also the 12th-century Church of Our Lady beneath the Chain. While the church is only open for bi-weekly masses, you can peek inside through the door grille.
12. Spot the coypus
Park Cihelna in the Lesser Town boasts some of the best views in Prague. In fact, many newlyweds come here for beautiful wedding shots.
However, there’s another reason why this place is so popular. Roaming the riverbanks you’ll find a large rodent with orange teeth: the coypu.
These creatures can be very friendly and they’ll probably walk up to you for food. They’re also super cute (though some people may disagree!).
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