08 Apr Up and Under – Prague’s Cellar Bars
Before electricity and the modern conveniences of iceboxes and refrigerators, cellars were to way to go for keeping perishable goods cool and secure during hot summers, and a great place to keep fermenting wine from spoiling. While most cellars are built intentionally with these uses in mind, the cellars of Prague arose from more preventative measures: flood aversion.
Built along the Vltava River, Prague sits in a beautiful river valley, though one that’s prone to aggressive flooding. During Prague’s settlement and construction during the 9th and 10th centuries, the threat of losing the ground floor of your home to water every few months was a very prominent threat. So prominent that over the course of a few decades, the citizens of Prague raised the street levels over 4 meters, converting what used to be ground-level rooms and halls into makeshift cellars! While most cellars conjure images of self-contained units without connecting rooms or much variety, the cellars throughout Prague are interconnected and massive: remnants of the original floors plans, unintended as underground havens.
So what makes the cellars of Prague even more memorable? The fact that many have been turned into quiet, cozy bars where you can duck out of the sun and into the cool, cavernous interiors. Each cellar bar in Prague offers it’s own charm, and it’d be a shame to leave Prague without having descended into at least one of these wonderful cellar bars. And so, in no particular order, we’d like to present some of our favorite cellar bars and pubs in Prague!
Arguable one of the most famous cellar bars, Vinárna U Sudu is located just off St. Wenceslas Square. Wine is the drink of specialty here, though you’ll find plenty of variety in other drinks as well. While there is a ground-level bar, we suggest heading down to the medieval cellars, which feature dozens of interconnected rooms and unique, oblique table arrangements, making for some interesting browsing and milling. And with two additional bars spaced downstairs, you’ll have a blast exploring the entire establishment.
Located a little further off the beaten path, in Malá Strana near Prague Castle, is U Sedmi Svabu, affectionately known as the medieval pub, and for good reason. As you descend to the cellar, you’ll be greeted by a roaring fire, stone walls, gothic décor, candlelit tables, and, most importantly, suits of armor! Enjoy a quiet evening chatting amidst the plated metal, and you’ll find their formidable stances a bit more jovial after an hour or two.
A fixture among locals, Kozicka Bar is very easy to miss, even though it’s right along the Old Town Square. After entering the quiet, unremarkable entrance, you’ll be led down into the cellar, which boasts long, winding hallways with alcoves for tables and benches in adjoining pockets. You’ll find plenty of Praguers and a few foreigners in the know, along with great atmosphere and even better prices.
Although there’s a wonderful beer garden on the exterior of the bar, when it’s too hot, or too cold, head downstairs to the cozy cellar. Instead of winding corridors and dark passages, this cellar feels more like a living room, complete with bright lighting and old-fashioned posters and trinkets to make you feel even more at home while away.
If your preferred drink is beer, we absolutely suggest all the above bars. However, if you fashion your palate as a bit more “refined” (whether that be the case or not), U Staré Studny is the place to go for wine and cognacs, where you’ll find excellent pours of local and regional fares. U Staré Studny also offers tasting classes, particularly for cognacs, so if you’re looking to develop a taste for brandy, this is the place to go.
Technically a movie theatre, Kino Svetozor also offers a cellar bar beneath the main lobby. However, you won’t need a ticket in order to get a drink! The cellar bar is also a local exhibition hall for local and upcoming photographers from Prague. If you’re looking for fine art and friendly company, look no further.
And finally, arguably Prague’s most well-known cellar bar: Double Trouble Bar & Club. As the name suggests, the Double Trouble caters to international guests and features a large club in addition to a more relaxed drinking area. The entire cellar area has been beautifully restored, so you’ll get a taste of traditional Prague mixed with international chic. If you’re looking to have a night out on the town, you’ll find locals and visitors alike, all raving under one roof.