With a reputation for producing some of the world’s most exquisite glassware and porcelain, the Czech Republic is home to some seriously covetable treasures. Happily, those scouting for precious keepsakes in its capital will find plenty to fill a suitcase or two. Shoppers are spoilt for choice with Prague’s gifts and souvenirs, from wooden puppets to jewellery set with gleaming garnets. Take a little piece of Bohemia home with you with our shopper’s guide.
Czech puppetry dates to the Middle Ages and locals take this naïve art very seriously. Up to the 18th century, puppeteers toured across Europe depicting tales of folklore and legend with the help of troupes of exquisitely handcrafted wooden marionettes. From gnarled witches and goblins to glittering harlequins and mischievous dwarves, the magic of puppetry endures in Prague. You’ll spot characters galore dangling enticingly in shop windows around the Charles Bridge in Old Town. For the best selection, browse Pohádka in Old Town and Marionette Shop on Golden Lane.
Just as Murano is famous for its colourful glassware, Prague is renowned for its gorgeous Bohemian crystal. From hand-cut Champagne flutes to vast, twinkling chandeliers, Bohemian crystal rose to fame for its craftsmanship and beauty during the Renaissance. In the 16th century, Bohemian glass workers discovered that potash combined with chalk created a clear, colourless glass that was more stable than the glass from Italy. Shop for some of the most spectacular Prague gifts and souvenirs, including gold-rimmed goblets and ornately engraved vases, at Moser and ARTĚL Design Store.
Czech spa wafers are a classic snack and make a fun Prague souvenir. Originally sprinkled with sugar and served with tea to spa guests in the 1800s, Czech spa wafers are paper thin and shaped like a sizable cookie. So beloved are the melt-in-your-mouth snacks, you’ll find them hot and fresh at street vendor stalls. Pick up a pretty ornamental tin to take home from grocery stores, delis or the charming Havelská Market in Old Town.
A rich, blood-red colour, garnets are the official Czech gem. This striking semi-precious stone has been mined since imperial times when it was used in everything from sparkling jewellery to furniture and cutlery. Today, garnet’s presence is in every Prague gift and souvenir shop in the shape of pendants and necklaces inlaid with the deep claret stones. When shopping, be vigilant about authenticity. True Czech garnets are small in size and come with a certificate of origin. For a good guarantee, try Garnet Prague Center and Granát Jewellery Czech Garnet Turnov.
Playthings of the past that have endured into the 21st century, Kovap toys have been delighting Czech children since 1946. Heirloom-quality tin toys crafted using traditional methods, each mechanical Kovap toy is a micro-miracle of engineering. Wind-up vehicles come with rubber tyres, working gears and functional steering. Look out for the retro charm of Kovap tractors, steamrollers vintage circus wagons at toy shops across Prague. Hugo Goes Barefoot and Rocking Horse Toy Shop are great places to start.
Dubbed the ‘capital of porcelain’, Czech spa town Karlovy Vary, two hours from Prague, is legendary for this most fragile and delicate of chinaware. Its most notable types are the elegant blue onion porcelain—evocative of Chinese Willow pattern—and the ultra-fine, pink-tinged rose porcelain. Shop for teapots adorned with dainty floral motifs and gilded with 24-carat gold and smart dining sets at Český Porcelán and Dana Bohemia.