The Freshest Farmersʼ Markets in Prague
Travelling to central Europe and thinking, “Hmm, how am I going to survive weeks (or months) of consuming this hearty — but not always healthy — cuisine from this corner of the globe? Good question. Traditional Czech (and much of central and eastern European) meals are made up of a fair amount of meat and potatoes, spiced with salt, pepper, and grease (yes, Czechs sometimes consider grease to be a spice). But donʼt worry, you can find a fresh, healthy fare, too, thanks to all the great farmersʼ markets in Prague.
The cityʼs farmersʼ market scene grew from just a few markets, and new ones are now blooming all over Prague. We tip our hat to the legendary Havelʼs Market, which has been going on for many centuries, but for you, travellers, there are many other more authentic and local markets in our beautiful city — ones that are not crowded with tourists, but with locals. (To our delight though, Havelʼs is getting slowly back to selling fresh produce, not just souvenirs.)
So where do the locals go?
During the past year, I have regularly visited (meaning at least once a week) at least one of the many markets, and it has been amazing to witness the development of the market scene. The markets have become like events, where itʼs not just about palate sensory, but the markets offer live bands, DJs, small cafés, benches, and a great atmosphere for socialising with friends and future friends. Best of all, the markets each have their own unique character.
Freshly grinded and roasted coffee, in-season fruits and vegetables, smoked meat, fresh fish, traditional and modern pastries (all homemade), mini-brewery beer stands, Moravian wine, Czech handicrafts, hot wine during autumn/spring season, a variety of fresh juices, tasty pies, homemade pastas, high-quality olive oil, every kind of cheese you can think of (the smoked ones are a Czech specialty), macaron pyramids, olives, herbs, mushrooms, eggs, veggies marinated Czech-style, garlic — you name it, youʼll find it!
All the products are local and fresh, from nearby farms, family bakeries, microbreweries, and so on. As an ex-chef, I have to say that there really is a big difference between the products you buy at markets and those you buy from mass stores. Veggies and fruits can be admittedly a bit more expensive (although, for a Western traveller, nothing is really expensive here), but they are worth the money — and besides, it feels good to support those who produce these products with love! As well, if we want to keep our planet healthy, itʼs not a bad idea to support local and responsibly produced food.
Where to get fresh
Before we go through the markets, one important #localsknow tip: Have cash with you, and be sure to carry and pay with smaller bills. As well, knowing a few Czech words like dobrý den (“hello”) and díky moc (“thank you very much”) will make the friendly stand-keepers smile even more.
This is THE market to visit and, for many of us, the best way to start a Saturday is to go to the Náplavka market. Itʼs right by the river and a great place for breakfast (try their pies and fresh coffee). Iʼve been here well over 10 times but thereʼs always something new to discover. I usually go with my wife and our little one in a stroller, buy items for a picnic, and then head to the lovely Vyšehrad castle area (this is a favourite spot among locals, but is rarely crowded).
Open every Saturday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Jiřák (Jiřího z Poděbrad)
Trhy na Jiřáku, as you will hear the locals call them, are definitely one of the most popular ones in Prague nowadays. Part of the reason for this popularity is the fact that these markets are very environmentally-friendly and, ever since this yearʼs season, also completely plastic-free. And since Prague is a very progressive city, those are exactly the things that make a difference. There is no need to bring your own bags, however, you can just use their decomposable bags made from corn starch as well as BIO cups for drinks.
Open Wednesday to Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Saturdays from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Farmersʼ markets Heřmaňák are located in the picturesque neighbourhood of Letná, which is a place you will want to visit anyway. I suggest you buy your fresh food there and take it for a picnic to Letenské sady, a nearby park with a beautiful view of the city. Once at the market, you should definitely give a try to their unique apple juice and homemade jams!
Open every Saturday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Kubáň is another zero-waste farmerʼs market, this time in the hip neighbourhood of Vršovice. It is a bit off the city center, but I guarantee you won’t meet a single tourist there. It is generally a lot less busy than the markets downtown. A local highlight is the traditional Czech pastry, namely the popular delight called větrník. You might want to share this rather large sugar bomb with another person though! It goes well along the delicious coffee from Kavárna Čekárna.
Open on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Saturday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Speaking of pastry, there is no place like the farmersʼs markets at Vítězné Náměstí in Dejvice (metro station Dejvická). This one received its name from the huge roundabout that locals like to call kulaťák. Apart from all the renowned pastry, fresh fruits and vegetables, BIO cheeses and meats, as well as some of the traditional local hand-made souvenirs, you will have the chance to witness a fun side program for both children and adults. If you happen to be in Prague around June 8, make sure to check out the Festival of the Embassies: Food and Cultures, which takes place there and features food specialties from over 45 countries.
Open every Saturday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.
The most distinguishing feature of this market is a Greek man. Yes, seriously. Why? Because he sells the best olives and olive oil in Prague. (Heʼs also a really nice and helpful man.) Another great thing about this market is that it is close to a beautiful park that is definitely off the beaten path. (If you see a group of tourists there, I will personally come and help them to find their way out, because they are probably lost!) To get to the park, youʼll have to walk to the shopping mall, take the escalator to second floor, look for the sign for Sacre Coeur zahrada (park), follow the sign, walk out of the mall, cross a small wooden bridge, and there you are, in a hidden park on a small hill. Itʼs worth coming here for a picnic even if the farmersʼ market is not open.
Open every Friday from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.
As with all the markets above, this market offers super-quality products. This one differs in that there are not as many inspiring picnic places nearby, but itʼs still a rather good spot for picking up some snacks, maybe a beer (in a cup — itʼs against the law to drink beer from a bottle in the city centre area), some homemade lemonade for a hot summerʼs day, or hot wine for a chilly autumnʼs day. Nearby is the magnificent Municipal House. Or, you can walk to Fransiscan Garden from here, another lesser known spot thatʼs popular among locals for taking a relaxing break.
Open Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Pražská tržnice (Holešovice)
The marketplace called Pražská tržnice is so essential that it even has its own tram stop named after it. It is actually so much more than just a farmersʼ market. You can find there anything you might think of, from fresh food to clothes, electronics, souvenirs as well as numerous stalls with street food. The so-called vegetable market is located in hall number 22 in the northwestern corner of the grounds and it is probably one of the biggest farmersʼ markets in town. You will find even some of the more exotic kinds of vegetables and fruits here.
Open Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm and on Saturdays from 7:30 am to 2:00 pm.
So, will we see you at one of the markets this weekend? (On Saturdays you can be sure that you will find me with my beautiful wife and our lovely daughter having our breakfast at one of them.) And if you canʼt make it to the markets, you can still enjoy some of their treats at one of the Lokál Restaurants — great Czech restaurants that add modern twists to the traditions, serve beer with care, use seasonal local products, and ensure great customer service.
April 1, 2019