Letná – Historical, Yet Hipster
The unmissable hill between Holešovice and Hradčany remains one of the largest undeveloped spaces in the centre of Prague and is partly covered by one of the city’s largest parks. But today’s Letná offers more than just a pleasant walk through urban greenery. The district has its own distinct character, a place through which history literally walked and left a number of interesting traces behind. It’s also one of the fastest developing neighbourhoods in Prague, with a plethora of cosy cafés, distinctive shops, and other spots worth visiting. Over the past decade, “bohemians” and other artistically-minded people have settled in amongst the long-term residents, adding a healthy dose of hipster charm and creativity to the neighbourhood’s atmosphere.
To get to Letná, head from the Royal Summer Palace through the Chotek Gardens (Chotkovy sady), cross the bridge over the road, and you’re in Letná.
The tiny yet significant Hanavský Pavilion catches the eye when looking up at Letná from the river. The pavilion, a neo-Baroque metal structure, was conceived as a representative example of cast-iron construction for the Prague Jubilee Exhibition in 1891 and was later relocated to its current site. Today, the pavilion functions as a restaurant with a panoramic terrace that offers an amazing view of Prague’s bridges. Carry on to Letná Plain, one of the most important Prague gathering and recreational spaces – here you’ll find runners, cyclists, inline skaters, and skateboarders by the dozens; and the many playgrounds and sports fields are remembered by many as the site of military parades, while Communist leaders looked down on Labour Day parades from the nearby Sparta Football Stadium.
The dominating feature of Letná is undoubtedly the paved platform on which at one time stood a gargantuan monument featuring a statue of Stalin that gazed down at the city, along with representatives of the Soviet and Czechoslovak peoples. The monument earned the nickname “the meat queue”; it was demolished in 1962, nine long years after the death of the Soviet Generalissimo. In 1991, after the fall of Communism, a gigantic Metronome by sculptor Vratislav Novák was installed on the site, offering a warning reminder of the past as well as symbolizing a new era.
A few minutes’ walk from the Metronome is Letenský Chateau, now used as a restaurant. But the spot’s real attraction is one of the largest and most popular beer gardens in Prague with a fantastic view of the city – the Letna Park beer garden, laid out right in front of the chateau. Evening spent here is an iconic Prague experience.
At this end of the park you’ll find several imposing buildings. The National Technical Museum is highly recommended to all who are even slightly interested in science and technology; its biggest attractions include amazing historical automobiles and airplanes, but even cooler are the ore and coal mines in the museum’s underground spaces – accessible only by booking in advance. For those who seeking more experiential or interactive exhibitions, we recommend visiting the National Agriculture Museum next door, where you can learn more about hunting, fishing, and agricultural technology. This summer, they’re opening a “picnic café” for the first time on the museum’s grassy roof.
Heading through the park towards the east, you enjoy more breathtaking views of Prague, as well as the gorgeous glass curves of the Expo 58 Pavilion. The pavilion was built to represent Czechoslovakia at the Expo 58 World’s Fair in Brussels in 1958, where it won many awards including the Grand Prix; today it’s the seat of an advertising agency. And right from here, you can plan your excursions to other parts of Prague.
Tip: If you’d like to explore Letná in more detail, we recommend the walk in our brochure Five Prague Walks 2 or the brochure Prague:neighbourhoods Holešovice & Letná. Pick up a free copy at our information and visitor centres, download it from the web www.prague.eu or order a copy from our e-shop (eshop.prague.eu).
COFFEE AND A LITTLE SOMETHING
Cukrárna Alchymista (Jana Zajíce 7)
Alchymista’s quiet garden with a little pond is perfect for a rest stop after a long walk. The stylish retro café-patisserie is connected to the adjacent Scarabeus Gallery and the Coffee Museum.
Kavárna Pod Lipami (Café Under the Lindens, Čechova 1)
An oasis hiding within the busy streets of Letná is probably the most accurate description of this minimalist café. Enjoy fair-trade coffee from the Prague roasters Mamacoffee or join a regular knitting workshop.
Café Letka (Letohradská 44)
If only the walls could talk at this café hidden away near the National Technical Museum. Come sit and enjoy a glass of Matuška beer or coffee from the Five Elephant roasters in Berlin.
Erhartova Cukrárna (Milady Horákové 56)
This functionalist café dating back to 1937 has a surprisingly unique atmosphere and wide selection of homemade desserts and cakes.
FOR LUNCH OR DINNER
The Farm (Korunovační 17)
Step away from bustling Korunovační Street and enjoy a coffee from Doubleshot and food prepared with fresh ingredients directly from the farmers. And if you feel the need to burn off a hearty meal, you can also rent a bike here.
Bistro Milada (Šmeralova 22)
If you’re searching for unusual culinary experiences, you shouldn’t pass up a visit to this bistro. One of its co-owners is the renowned Michelin chef Oldřich Sahajdák.
Peperoncino (Letohradská 34)
A great destination for Mediterranean specialities; the garden is a lovely place to eat.
Creperie U Slepé kočičky (Milady Horákové 38)
Whether you prefer sweet crepes or savoury galettes, they really know how to make them here.
FOR A GLASS OF WINE (OR SOMETHING A BIT STRONGER)
Koštovna U Počtů (Milady Horákové 47)
The wines at Koštovna are Moravian, Italian, or South African, always high-quality, always good – and it’s always busy here.
Bar Cobra (Milady Horákové 8)
Things are hopping after midnight in Letná, come see for yourself.
Kuráž (Veletržní 48)
Want to stand out from the crowd? Do you like things with a soul and a story? You’ll find what you’re looking for in this tiny shop.
Papírna (Františka Křížka 8)
Papírna is the first Czech eco-friendly stationery shop – everything here is made from recycled paper.
Bio OKO (Františka Křížka 15)
The best cinema in Prague 7! In operation since 1940, its programme features primarily offbeat and art films. Try their Sunday film brunch.
Alfred ve dvoře (Františka Křížka 36)
Experimental theatre that lends its premises to alternative groups and untraditional productions.
HOW TO GET THERE
Metro A – Hradčanská
Trams 1, 8, 12, 25, 26 (night lines 51 and 56)