Prague

Shopping in Prague still feels like an adventure. Around one corner, you’ll find a crumbling shop front and a glimpse of a stooped jeweler hard at work restoring an ancient pocket watch. Around the next, a cutting-edge design boutique selling witty Czech-made home accessories.

In recent years Czech fashion and design has come of age. While it’s no Paris, there’s a funky, even punky, edge to many of the clothes and objects on offer that will stand out anywhere in the world.

But traditional pleasures still abound. Endearing traditional crafts are available on every cobblestoned street. Each region of the Czech Republic has its own specialty, and many are represented in Prague. Intricate, world-renowned hand-blown glassware, wooden toys and carvings, ceramic dishes, and delicate lace all make perfect "I got it in Prague" gifts. The Czechs are also masterful herbalists, and put plants to good use in fragrant soaps and bath products made on local farms.

That said, every city has its kitsch, and Prague is no different. Marionettes have been a favorite Czech handicraft and storytelling vehicle since the late 18th century, and they are ubiquitous here. The trick is avoiding mass-produced versions at tourist kiosks and getting your hands on the real puppet deal.

There are plenty of real deals in the city’s antique shops, art galleries and antikvariats—secondhand book and print stores. Some are vast, dusty caverns, some look like an elderly aunty has tipped out her entire attic willy-nilly, while still others are pristine, prissy, and pricey. Either way the unpredictable jumbles of merchandise offer a fun day of flea market–like spelunking—you may pick through communist-era buttons in one shop and find cubist office chairs or ancient Czech manuscripts in the next.

If you like your souvenirs to sparkle, garnet peddlers abound. But take heed: all that glitters isn’t garnet—many are not the real deal. True Czech garnets are intensely dark red. Also known as pyrope or Bohemian garnet, these precious stones have been mined here for centuries. Tight clusters of garnets are found on antique pieces, while modern baubles are often sleeker and set in gold or silver. Stick to our recommended shops for quality gems, and inquire about the setting—if a low-priced bauble seems too good to be true, it could be set in low-quality pot metal.

The international jet set isn’t forgotten either. If you crave big luxury labels, the aptly named Paris Street (aka Pařížská ulice) will give you your dose of runway glam. Do not expect any steals here, although they are available elsewhere in the city’s impressive selection of European chain stores.

Most of Prague’s shops are open from 10 am until 6 or 7 pm, and malls tend to stay open until 9 or 10 pm.

If shopkeepers in Prague seem aloof, don’t be dissuaded—try greeting them with a friendly "dobrý den" when entering a store, and you may be surprised by their warmth.

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  • 1. Antique Újezd

    Malá Strana | Jewelry & Watches

    This dimly lit antiques shop fills bureau drawers with vintage accessories and trinkets, as well as a selection of dainty 1930s pocketbooks...Read More

  • 2. Belda Shop

    Nové Mesto | Jewelry & Watches

    This jewelry shop feels more like a gallery than a shop, with its statement pieces gleaming in the light. But don't be put off; it's a family...Read More

  • 3. Česky Granát

    Staré Mesto | Jewelry & Watches

    This shop's friendly staff are eager to answer any questions about their stock of gorgeous garnets and amber jewelry. Delicate necklaces and...Read More

  • 4. Coccinelle Accessories

    Staré Mesto | Jewelry & Watches

    Soft leather and shades of rose and blue abound in this expensive-looking Italian handbag store. Window displays coordinate bags and wallets...Read More

  • 5. Granát Turnov

    Staré Mesto | Jewelry & Watches

    This store is part of the Granát Co-op, the world's most prolific producer of Bohemian garnet jewelry. The elegant Dlouhá branch has two separate...Read More

  • 6. Halada

    Staré Mesto | Jewelry & Watches

    This classy German jewelry company supplys trinkets by carefully chosen brands. Stunning pearls in different shades, as well as gold, silver...Read More

  • 7. Hermès

    Staré Mesto | Jewelry & Watches

    Those iconic silk scarves that embody Parisian chic can be found here arranged in perfect rows in a glass display case among other equestrian...Read More

  • 8. Louis Vuitton

    Staré Mesto | Jewelry & Watches

    Bling watches and well-heeled patrons abound at this luxurious boutique on the corner of Pařížská and Siroka. Here you'll find a fleet of scarves...Read More

  • 9. Swarovksi Bohemia

    Staré Mesto | Jewelry & Watches

    There's no avoiding the allure of this brand's crystal, and the store itself is an attractive complement, outfitted with some spectacular crystal...Read More

  • 10. Zlatnictví Miloslav Ráž

    Staré Mesto | Jewelry & Watches

    The real treat at this old-school jewelry store is getting a glimpse of the jeweler at work—he may even give you a wave if you're lucky. The...Read More

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