Let’s establish something straight away: I LOVED Prague. I could happily live there. Alas, I do not live there, so shopping for Prague souvenirs became something of a small obsession when I was there, in order to create my own mini-Prague back home. All I need to do now is import some Czech-speaking people, plus a few barrels of Kofola and goulash, and I’ll be happy.
But until I do that, I’ll content myself with helping you to find some awesome Prague souvenirs! These are all easy to find, whilst still holding a special place in your heart. They’ll remind you of the city and the beautiful places you visited, whilst not breaking the budget.
Best of all, I’ll be telling you where to find them – and as some of them are only available from some of Prague’s most awesome places, you can also use this shopping guide as a tour guide! You’ll be visiting some amazing sites, and have a little reminder of them to keep you warm on those cold, Prague-less nights.
So let’s get shopping in Prague!
1. The Museum of Communism’s T-Shirts
You’re going to see a lot of t-shirts in souvenir shops in Prague. To be fair, the ones I saw were of decent cloth quality, but do you really want to be like all the other tourists wearing a shirt that simply says “Prague”? Or even worse, ones with “Prague Drinking Squad”, which is an immediate way to annoy the city’s residents? No, you do not.
So instead, get yourself to the Museum of Communism on V Celnici. After you pay the 290 crowns entry (which includes a free coffee!), you can enjoy the excellent museum, which was genuinely one of my favourites in Prague. If you want to know more about a huge part of Prague’s history, this is definitely a comprehensive guide, and should be a must-do on your list.
But happily, you also gain access to the Museum’s gloriously sarcastic souvenir shop! What may seem like a tiny store is revealed to be a treasure trove of deliberately skewed Communist propaganda. They have a knack for taking the images they were bombarded with during the Communist era, and turning them into something new, and ever-so trendy. So here’s a t-shirt of Moscow Olympics mascot Misha (who I have an abiding fondness for) toting an AK-47. It’s a good way for the Czechs to poke fun at their former regime, whilst giving you a very unique Prague souvenir, and they’ll certainly be a talking point!
Puppetry has a long history in the Czech Republic, and they’re a great Prague souvenir to take home! They’re certainly plentiful; you’ll see them in just about every souvenir shop in town – if you want a really high-quality one (or even a custom one!), have a look at Czech Marionettes.
Puppets have been a popular form of storytelling in the Czech Republic since the Middle Ages, so they’ve certainly got pedigree. You’ll also see a huge variety of characters available: from the traditional Czech duo of Spejbl and Hurvinek to more topical ones. When I visited Prague, it was nearing Halloween, and there were a good amount of witches and other spooky individuals.
I, however, went for a marionette of fictional character The Good Soldier Švejk, who you’ll probably see a few times as you move around Prague. Especially in pubs! He’s the main character of a satirical novel about the First World War, who’s completely entered the Czech national consciousness, and he’s entirely adorable. I got him from the rather fun Havel market: an emporium of tourist wares it may be, but you’ll generally get decent prices quoted.
Here he is, being modelled by my boyfriend, in the Prague pub mentioned in the book!
Glassware has to be the ultimate in Prague souvenirs. After all, Bohemian glass has rightly been world-famous since the Renaissance.
What makes Bohemian glass so special? Basically, the beautiful Czech countryside itself. Ye olde Czech glassmakers basically discovered that the local potash, mixed with chalk, produced a glass which was much more stable than the then-popular Italian glass. Bohemian glass became top dog; Italian glassmakers cried into their Gucci leather aprons (probably not). And Bohemian glass has stayed at the top of the tree for quality, decorative glass pieces.
You’ll find a lot of places selling glass and crystal in the Old Town, but if you want the really good stuff, check out Moser – their website alone will have you marveling at what can be done with glassware!
I, however, am a mere poor travel blogger. So I settled for this little glass cat keyring from a market stall on U Starého Hrbitova street. I love him just as much.
4. A Golem
Whaaaaaaaat?, I hear you squeak. You want me to buy a huge anthropomorphic being created from mud? How will I get that into my hand luggage? And it’ll get my carpets filthy!
Worry not! This is the Golem of Prague, recreated as little statuettes, and he’ll fit nicely into your handbag!
You’ll see a few around the city, but for ultimate authenticity, buy one from the Jewish Ghetto. You can get them from the market stalls on U Starého Hrbitova street, but I bought mine from the little souvenir shop at the back of the Pinkas Synagogue. This is another site which should be on your must-do list; a large building which has the names of the Prague Jews who were murdered during the Second World War inscribed on the walls. They fill every available piece of space in four large rooms – it’s a deeply moving and important experience.
With this in mind, you can see why the story of the Golem of Prague still resonates. Legend has it that it was created by Rabbi Loew in the 16th century, using mud from the Vltava River, to protect the Jews of the ghetto from anti-Semitic attacks. Some believe that the Golem is still in the attic of the New Synagogue, awaiting activation again.
Who can say? But in the meantime, you can get our own little Golem – one of your Prague souvenirs, and a reminder of the tragic history, but ultimate hardiness, of the city’s Jewish population.
5. A bottle of water from the Museum of Communism
A bottle of water may seem like a strange souvenir, especially considering that you’ll need to drink it before you take it through airport security! But there is a good reason, and we like our Prague souvenirs quirky anyway, right?
Yes, we’re back to our old friend, the Museum of Communism! Remember above, where I told you that you get a free coffee with your ticket? Well here’s where you want to put it to use.
Pop upstairs to the shop, and you’ll find the cafe alongside it. Use your free coffee ticket (or do what I did and give it to your boyfriend, ensuring that he remains caffeinated for the day), but make sure to buy one of the bottles of water that you’ll see on the counter, because they’re quietly awesome.
We all need to use less plastic. Fact. So instead of buying a new one every day, how about getting one and re-using it? And how about getting one which is going to be totally unique once you get it home?
Well, the Museum of Communism’s cafe has you covered. The bottle’s design is gloriously plain, a mischievous nod to the goods available during the city’s days under Communist rule, which were plain white and simply marked with “TEA” or “CANNED MEAT” (except in the Czech language, obvs). But for the traveller, it’s actually an awesome bottle to take around the city with you: it’s really slim (much like the Glaceau SmartWater bottles beloved of backpackers), and so fits smoothly and snugly into a backpack pocket.
Keep it washed and kept clean, and it’ll serve you well. Remember to recycle it!
6. The Little Mole (Krtek) goodies
This is my absolute favourite, because I LOVE The Little Mole. I have a Little Mole shrine in my room. I’m not even joking.
I fell in love with The Little Mole as soon as I saw him, as I walked past a shop in Arrivals at Prague airport. Look at him. Look into that happy little face – how can you not love him?? And I’m not alone in my adoration – you’ll see him a lot in Prague, because he’s utterly beloved by the Czech population.
He first appeared in 1956, thanks to a filmmaker wanting to explain to children how flax is made (TIL Czech cartoons are very educational), and every generation of Czech children have grown up with him ever since. In the same way that the fiercely independent Czech Republic loves Kofola over Coca-Cola, The Little Mole is seen way more than any Disney character. He’s truly a symbol of the city – a plushie of him has even gone into space. Beat that, Mickey Mouse.
Appropriately, you’ll see a wide range of Little Mole merchandise – everything from party balloons and paper plates, to wooden toys, to huge plushies – and you’ll see it just about everywhere! Pop into any souvenir shop in the Old Town, and you’ll see him. You can also get a small selection of Mole goodies (including the books in English) from Amazon if you want your own collection.
And remember, he’s not just for kids; everyone’s allowed to adore the Little Mole!
This might sound like a bizarre choice – what’s so special about postcards? – but I do have a sound reasoning for it.
Prague is a very tricky city to photograph. That’s not due to a lack of sights to capture; indeed, Prague is practically overflowing with them, and you’ll have a hard time fitting in everything you want to do! But because it’s full of tourists, at all times of day, at all times of year.
That’s not a criticism – after all, you’re a tourist yourself when you visit, and the large numbers of visitors is wonderful for the city’s economy. It does mean, however, that you’ll have a few people in your photos! If you want that beautiful shot of the Charles Bridge with no people to distract the eye, you’re going to have to get up awfully early.
Or, you can cheat a bit, and buy postcards! I was constantly frustrated by an inability to get my camera to take a good shot of Prague Castle lit up at night, so I bought a postcard of it instead which I’ll pop into a frame. Postcards can be ridiculously cheap, too – I was picking them up for 10 crowns each. That’s 34p in British pounds, or 45 US cents. You really can’t buy a lot back home for that sort of money.
Still want to get your own photos? Have a watch of this video, which will show you exactly how to get those people-free shots! You can also watch a few more videos on the same channel for awesome Prague content (including one on Prague souvenirs!); I highly recommend it!
8. Czech garnets
Garnets should be near the top of everyone’s list of Prague souvenirs to take home.
Czech garnets – or more accurately, Bohemian garnets – have been popular since the 17th century, when Emperor Rudolf II set up an Imperial Mill to fully make the most of the region’s natural resource. They’re of a particularly high quality, and generally regarded as the best in the world. Basically, going to the Czech Republic and not taking at least a passing interest in acquiring some garnets would be like not sampling the beer, i.e. scandalous.
If you’re the type who drips in jewels and has private jets and yachts, and all that sort of stuff I’m totally not jealous of, you can have a look at Granat-Turnov who have branches in the city. They have some truly beautiful pieces covered in garnets (have a look at those garnet flowers with pearls!), but they certainly won’t come cheap. So what do you do if you’re on a bit of a budget?
One option is to look around the Old Town, and the jewelry shops you’ll find there. BUT you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting them from a reputable source, because there’s an awful lot of fakes out there – be sure to inquire with the staff if you have your doubts, and they’ll undoubtedly show you the correct documentation.
What if you still want some garnet jewelry, but you’re on a budget? Is there anywhere you can get them for the right price, and rest assured that they’re real? Well, I’m going to share a tip so good, that I feel I should look over my shoulder and whisper it at you.
Shhh… if you want garnet jewelry which comes with a certificate of authenticity, but for a reasonable price, you go to the people who absolutely won’t rip you off. Go to the little souvenir shop in the church of Our Lady Victorious, and you’ll find some really beautiful garnet pendants for 650 crowns – that’s £22/$28. You won’t find prices much better than that. Keep this info between us – you ain’t seen me, right?
And whilst we’re of the subject on some holy Prague souvenirs…
9. Christian souvenirs
Fun fact! 72 percent of Czechs describe themselves as “irreligious” – that includes atheists, agnostics, and those who describe their beliefs as “nothing in particular”. As I also fit somewhere into this particular group, I was completely down with this.
But there is 26 percent of the population who identify as Christian, and if you or your folks back home appreciate some religion-based goodies, then Prague is actually a surprisingly good place to get them some souvenirs. Again, my top tip is the little souvenir shop in the church of Our Lady Victorious. Everything in there is reasonably priced, and you’ll easily find some nice reminders of the church, which is absolutely beautiful in its own right, to take home.
The one thing that isn’t reasonably priced is a reproduction of the church’s most famous aspect. This is the Infant Jesus of Prague, a wax-coated wooden statue of the Baby Jesus who was donated to the church in 1628. However, wax clothing is boring, right? Baby Jesus will getting chilly! So rather adorably, a tradition started up of making little robes in beautifully embroidered fabric, and dressing the statue in them.
I know what you’re wondering. Yes, you can indeed buy your own Baby Jesus statue (a faithful recreation), and the robes to dress it in! Only you can expect to spend some serious cash on them, so I just bought a rosary instead. 🙂
10. Wooden souvenirs
There are an awful lot of Prague souvenirs you can buy which are wooden. I saw everything from bookmarks to postcards (fully postable) made from wood, not to mention the plethora of marionettes, adorable wooden Little Mole toys, and statuettes.
Looking for something that’ll particularly remind you of Prague, though? It may be the ultimate in tourist-ware, but consider a clock. Not just any clock, but a little reproduction of the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square. Yeah it’s hokey, but it’s fun! Plus it allows you to fully recreate a mini-Prague in your own home! You’ll find them in nearly every souvenir shop in town, but head to the Havel Market for decently priced ones.
Bear in mind though that the clock doesn’t act quite like the Astronomical Clock, so there won’t be a procession of disciples nodding at you on the hour. Bah.
11. A book of Czech fairytales
Sometimes, there’s no better way to get to know a nation than reading its fairy tales, its myths, its legends. They somehow get to the psyche of a nation – Sherwood Forest in England is a major tourist attraction, despite having very tenuous evidence of any famous inhabitants, and the forest itself being a fraction of the size it used to be. People still go there for the Robin Hood connection though; an excellent example of a myth translating itself for modern visitors.
One of the first Prague souvenirs I bought was a book of Czech fairy tales, and I can’t wait to read it! It’ll be the perfect base for the Czech history I also bought – a look into the culture of the country. That’s what the best souvenirs are about, really. Yes, it’s cool to have t-shirts or jewelry, but really learning about the country you’ve visited is surely the greatest souvenir of all.
I highly recommend getting the same one I bought; it’s a lovely hardback book with good substance to it, and beautifully illustrated. It has stories with princesses and peasants, fire birds and foxes. Even better, you can buy it from a truly special location: although I saw a couple of copies in the New National Museum shop, treat yourself instead to a trip to Prague Castle. When you’re there head for the Golden Lane, and you’ll see a little bookshop just by where you enter.
What makes this bookshop special? Simple: it used to be the house of Franz Kafka, probably one of the Czech Republic’s most celebrated authors. So whilst you’re buying the book of Czech fairy tales, which is available in a good number of languages, you can also help yourself to some Kafka. As a fan of the fantastic, he’d almost certainly approve.
See something you like the look of? Zoom in on the below map to see where to buy your goodies!
So there we have it! 11 Prague souvenirs which are easy to find, won’t break the bank, and really will remind you of your trip. We can’t recreate Prague at home, despite our mini Astronomical Clocks, but finding souvenirs which bring back memories of some of the wonderful sights of the city – from castles to markets – mean that we can forever be there in our memories.
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Looking for more souvenir guides? Check out my guide to the best things to buy in Italy’s Amalfi Coast!