If you want to enjoy the sites and culture of Prague but are worried about your environmental impact as a tourist, pick up a few tips to keep your carbon footprint low. In Prague, you will find many opportunities to decrease your impact on the environment. If you prefer biking instead of taking a taxi, food that has been locally produced, ethical coffee that has been locally roasted, beer that has been locally brewed, authentic souvenirs that haven’t been shipped from overseas, and solar energy for charging electronics, read the suggestions below.
Before you leave for Prague, book your accommodations at Mosaic House to get a head start on reducing your environmental impact. Located near the Dancing House, this hotel has space for varying budgets with a choice of private hotel rooms, shared hostel rooms, or long-term apartments available to rent. BREEAM (the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method for buildings) awarded Mosaic House its first rating of excellence to a hotel in the Czech Republic, largely due to its grey water recycling system and use of solar collectors. Rooms feature glossy hardwood floors and large windows that let in plenty of natural light. If you book a private room, you may find yourself in a bed made by a local Czech designer or under the modern artwork of a local artist.
Location: Odborů 278/4, Prague 2-New Town
For breakfast or a quick coffee break, try Mamacoffee, a local Czech chain with five locations around the city. With the tagline “coffee with a story,” Mamacoffee is described as the “first Czech Bio Fair Trade coffee roaster.” Upon request, consumers are provided with detailed information on the journey of each kind of coffee served, starting from the plantation in which the beans are grown and ending with the roasting process in Mamacoffee’s local roaster. At the checkout counter, you will find bags of beans for purchase from different countries around the world that have entered into the fair trade agreement, including Guatemala and Ethiopia. Stop at the glass cases piled high with freshly baked brownies, dense and sugary pound cakes, savory quiches and other baked goods made with no artificial flavors or coloring. Look for the Mama Coffee brand at other coffee shops in the city, as the coffee chain has expanded into a wholesale program with several other restaurants and cafes.
Second Hand Market
If you’re not interested in sifting through the standard, mass-produced tourist souvenirs that line the streets in the Old Town Square, try Second Hand Market for cheap and uniquely Czech souvenirs. Inside, you will find a random assortment of clothing and trinkets, all priced by weight at the counter. The store has two stories, though it is relatively small when compared to the inventory of items inside. Mobility may feel limited while trying to move through the overcrowded racks and wall-to-wall shelves strewn with piles of old board games and VHS tapes. Plan to spend some time sifting through the items. However, with a constantly rotating collection of items for men, women and children of all sizes, there is always the possibility of a good find.
Location: Vinohradská 148, Prague 2
If you’re looking for more upscale finds, try Bohemian Retro, which has higher prices, higher quality and low environmental impact. In the neighborhood of Zizkov, the shop’s cave-like exterior is hard to miss, with spray-painted stones encircling the entrance. Inside, the store may seem as hectic as Secondhand Market, with clothing covering every possible surface of the small space. However, the inventory in Bohemian Retro has been carefully selected by the store’s owner, Becky. Chairs and sofas are draped with sequined dresses and leather jackets, walls are plastered with floor-to-ceiling displays of sparkling flapper jewelry and tortoise-shell glasses, and tables are meticulously displayed with silver hand mirrors and crystal perfume bottles. You can buy a variety of second-hand bohemian glass, a popular souvenir from the Czech Republic.
Location: Chvalova 8, Prague 3
Only nine months old, this microbrewery took over the space of its predecessor — an abandoned brewery that, according to the owner, was founded in 1893 but was forced to cease production during wartime in the 1920s. On draught, you will find a small selection of local craft beers that were brewed on site. The seating area is narrow but long, with large windows, sloping ceilings and heavy wood tables that accommodate large groups. One window looks directly into the brewing room, where steam rises from the large brass boil kettle as the hops are infused. If you ask nicely, the owner may give you a tour. The menu also offers snacks and traditional Czech meals. If you plan to visit at night, make reservations ahead of time because this small space fills up quickly.
Location: Crown 2506/106, Praha 10
Letenske Sady and Stromovka Park
Biking around the city center is difficult due to sidewalk and traffic congestion. However, Letenske Sady offers bike-lovers a peaceful and expansive place to ride. You can rent a bike at City Bike (which also offers biking tours of the city), located about 500 feet away from the Old Town Square. Once outside of the square, bike lanes become noticeable and easy to use, and the park is fully accessible by bike with clearly delineated lanes leading toward it. Located on the edge of the river, this park offers a sweeping view of the city skyline that sits on the other side of the river. Park your bike at one of the designated bike racks and order a beer at the park’s beer garden to enjoy the view. Then ride along the long sidewalks that border vibrant gardens, a contrast to the often loud and crowded inner-city.
Next, follow the bike lanes for a change of scenery in Stromovka Park. More secluded than Letenske Sady, this park feels completely isolated from the city life with grass fields that extend for miles. The park is so large that it is difficult to see entirely by foot. In the summer, stages are set up to play live music and events, and large screens are hauled in to show sports events. Biking paths also extend beyond the park, where you can ride along the river to different pubs and restaurants.
For dinner, try Bio Zharada, located near the Namesti Miru metro stop. The menu offers a selection of single-origin coffees and organic, locally-sourced ingredients. Meal options are limited and change daily, so check the menu online before you arrive. The food is based on in-season produce, creating meals as an authentic reflection of the Czech landscape. The restaurant is small with only a few available tables. In good weather, however, diners and drinkers can sit under a canopy of trees in the large outdoor patio surrounded by vegetable gardens. Bio Zharada also features a small organic shop with snacks, organic cosmetics, cleaning products, and local meat and produce. On Wednesdays, register beforehand on the restaurant’s website to reserve a “veggie box.” The Czech farmers who grow the restaurant’s ingredients fill these boxes with a variety of organic vegetables, meats, dairy products and wines for you to purchase and take home.
Location: Belgická 33, Praha 2