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Shopping in Czech Republic

Souvenirs include Bohemian glass and crystal, pottery, porcelain, wooden folk carvings, hand-embroidered clothing, and food items. There are a number of excellent shops specialising in glass and crystal, while various associations of regional artists and craftspeople run their own retail outlets.

Fine crystal has been produced in the Bohemian countryside since the 14th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it became the preferred glass of the world's elite, drawing royals and the rich to Karlovy Vary to buy straight from the source. Bohemian factories are responsible for artistic advances in gilding, cutting, and colouring. Today, the quality remains high, and you can still purchase contemporary glass for prices that are much lower than those in the West.

Blood-red garnets are the official Czech national gem, and the ones that you can buy here are among the world's finest, as well as one of the country's top exports. Most garnets are mined near Teplice, about 63 km (39 miles) northwest of Prague. There are at least five specific kinds.

Other special purchases include pottery (particularly from Kolovec and Stráýnice); china ornaments and geyser-stone carvings from Karlovy Vary; delicate lace and needle embroidery from many Moravian towns; and blood-red garnets and semi-precious stones from Bohemia.

Shopping hours are generally Monday to Saturday, 9 am-6 pm. Some stores, especially in smaller towns and rural areas, close at noon on Saturdays, while others in larger towns and cities also open 10 am-4 pm on Sundays. Supermarkets and food shops in large towns and cities are open from 7 am and often stay open until late.


The rapid influx of visitors, the wage growth, and a new consumer economy fuelled by the shopping habits of the Czech nouveau riche have resulted in expensive boutiques and speciality shops popping up like mushrooms in Prague. Shopping malls now offer everything from designer baby clothes to Bruno Magli shoes. The selection of world-renowned labels is beginning to rival that of many western European cities, though shops tend to have a tiny inventory compared with the same outlets in Paris or London. Still, since labour and rent make operations cheaper here, you might find a bargain for the same items offered at points farther west.

For those looking for a piece of Czech handiwork, you can find some of the world's best crystal and glass, often at shockingly low prices. Antiques shops and booksellers abound, and the selection of classical, trendy, and offbeat art is immense at the numerous private galleries. Throughout the city centre you'll find quaint, obscure shops, some without phones or advertising.

The L-shaped half-mile running from the middle of Wenceslas Square around the corner to the right on Na Prikope and to the Myslbek Centre has become Prague's principal shopping hub. In this short distance you'll find three multilevel shopping gallerias, with foreign chains like H&M, Next, Kenvelo, Pierre Cardin, Adidas and Zara. Between the centres is a wide array of boutiques and antiques shops; in high season there's also a crafts market at the low end of the square.

A handful of fine private art galleries is concentrated on the stretch of Narodni Trida running from just east of the National Theatre to Wenceslas Square. The wide tree-lined Parizska, from Old Town Square to the Hotel Inter-Continental, is flanked with top-level boutiques, travel agencies and airline offices, as well as eclectic local shops.

In the streets surrounding Old Town Square, you'll find a wide variety of expensive shops like Mapin & Webb jewellers, with quirky nooks offering woodcarvings, garnets, handmade toys, and typical Czech glass and porcelain.

In Mala Strana, you'll find artists and craftspeople selling their jewellery, prints, handicrafts, and faux Red Army surplus on Charles Bridge and the Old Castle Steps (Stare Zamecke Schody).

On the short, wide street perpendicular to Melantrichova, between Staromestske Namesti and Vaclavske Namesti, Havel's Market (Havelsky trh), Havelska Ulice, (named well before Havel became president), features dozens of private vendors selling seasonal home-grown fruits and vegetables at the best prices in the city centre. Open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm.





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