Holesovice is one of the best areas in Prague to visit and even stay.
It’s a former industrial suburb, like Karlin across the river, albeit with considerably more Prague sights to see than its neighbour. Many of its old industrial buildings have been re-purposed, turned into art spaces, galleries, restaurants and more.
It’s a classic tale of urban regeneration, the low rents attracting young entrepreneurs who give the place a whole new vibe. Holešovice has some of the best cafes in Prague, and some great bars and music venues to boot.
Holešovice has also recently been named one of the ten coolest city neighbourhoods in Europe by the Guardian. Having spent a lot of time there, it’s not difficult to see why, but there’s more to it than some cool hip hangout. It’s somewhere I meet with friends, but also where I spend a huge amount of my time with my young son.
It’s an area with some of the most fascinating Prague architecture, two of the best parks in Prague, some of the best museums in Prague and some of the best places in Prague for kids. Not bad at all for a post-industrial wasteland.
Holesovice Prague Highlights
Veletrzni Palac – a stupendous art venue
Indulging in a coffee and cake at Cukrarna Erhartova
The Industrial Palace in Vystaviste Holesovice, one of the best-known buildings of Art Nouveau Prague
The view from the Governor’s Summer Palace over Stromovka Park to Troja Castle and Prague Botanical Garden
A beer at the Cross Club, surrounded by the many crazy steampunk-inspired sculptures
Where is Holesovice in Prague?
Holešovice is also referred to as Prague 7, its city district number. It’s located in the bend of a meander in the River Vltava, to the north of and across the river from Old Town Prague, the New Town and Karlin.
How do you get to Holešovice?
Holešovice has excellent transport connections. The red Metro line C stops at two stations, Vltavska and Nádraži Holešovice. The latter, Holešovice Station, is also a departure and arrival point for some mainline and international train services.
Several Prague trams also stop at various points in Holešovice. The 17 runs from the Old Town, along the river to Strossmayerovo náměstí and on to Vystavište Holešovice – some terminate here, others continue across the river to Kobylisy. The 12 is another useful service, passing through Smichov and Mala Strana on its way to Holešovice.
How do you pronounce Holešovice?
Best Things to do in Holesovice Prague
Vystaviste Holesovice – Industrial Palace
Art Nouveau played a big part in the articulation and expression of Czech national identity in the late 19th century, when the nation was still under the Habsburg Imperial yoke.
The Industrial Palace and surrounding buildings were built for the Jubilee Exhibition in 1891, and the main building is still one of the most striking landmarks of Prague.
Dox Contemporary Arts Centre
Dox is one of the most prominent contemporary art museums in Prague, built within the site of a factory in Holesovice.
You can’t miss it from the outside – it looks like a giant Zeppelin airship has landed on the roof. It runs a series of thought-provoking exhibitions, with current examples focusing on subjects as diverse as the late first post-Communist President of Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel, to meeting with remote hill tribes in West Papua and Papua New Guinea.
Prague Markets – Pražska trznice
The Prague Market – also known as the Holesovice Market or Holesovnička trznice – is a complex of late 19th century buildings near the old port of Holesovice.
Hall 22 houses the fruit and vegetable market which I’ve visited something like ten times – it always seems very quiet to me. There are also various shops and restaurants in the other buildings.
Letna Park Prague
Letna Park is one of the most popular parks, and with good reason.
It has one of the best viewpoints in Prague, next to the Art Nouveau Hanavsky Pavilion, looking out over the Vltava River and the bridges of Prague.
A few minutes’ walk away, the Prague Metronome is a relatively recent Prague landmark, installed on the site of an infamous gargantuan statue of ‘Uncle Joe’ Stalin that was blown up in 1962. A little further along the ridge, the Letna beer garden is one of the best in Prague, hugely popular in the warmer months.
Stromovka Park is the former royal hunting ground next to Vystaviste Holesovice.
It’s one of the biggest Prague parks, with many miles of pathways and trails, lakes, several playgrounds, restaurants and more. Head here if you’re visiting Prague in autumn, when it’s especially beautiful.
Head up to the Governor’s Summer Palace for a great view over the Park and across the river to Troja Castle. Near Vystaviste you’ll also find Prague Planetarium and a small historic tramway, close to the current trams’ turning point. The lovely old number 41 tram also departs from here.
I’ve only stopped by for a beer, but have become rather taken with the Cross Club, just down the street from Holesovice station. It’s a music venue and cultural centre, and a good introduction to alternative Prague. When I recently visited they were setting up for an outdoor cinema screening, and also had a benefit gig for an anarchist bookfair, a black metal concert against racism, a lecture on Nepal and various DJ nights. They also have an extraordinary series of wild metallic sculptures made from machines and car parts. And a café and restaurant. Well worth stopping by.
St Anthony of Padua Church
You could be forgiven for doing a double-take when you first pass Strossmayerovo náměstí. St Anthony’s Church is practically a replica of the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, one of the most recognisable churches in Prague, over the river in Old Town Square. The neo-Gothic spires and pinnacles are an impressive sight, though the interior is rather dark and gloomy. The church is often open during the daytime.
Holešovice has some of the most interesting architecture in Prague from the 19th and early 20th century.
I’ve walked most of the streets of the district, and come across some wonderful surprises along the way. Most of these are in the form of apartment buildings, and range from Art Nouveau to Cubist and Rondocubist. One of our favourites is the orange and yellow building on Ortenovo namesti, a totally underrated and exquisite Art Nouveau façade above a glass repair shop.
The Trade Fair Palace on Dukelskych Hrdinu is a landmark functionalist building that is part of the National Gallery Prague portfolio.
It looks like an enormous office building from the outside, but it has some very large spaces that were originally used to host trade fairs. This part of the National Gallery in Prague has three permanent exhibitions, spanning from 1796 to the present.
The National Agriculture Museum in Prague is one of several branches around the Czech Republic The Prague branch, just around the corner from Letna Park, covers a vast range of subjects. It’s very informative, covering pretty much aspect of how produce goes from field – and fish – to food. Our son wasn’t so impressed with animals meeting their end during the process, preferring to hang out with the chickens outside for a while. There’s also a great view of Prague Castle from the Roof Terrace.
National Technical Museum
One of the best Prague Museums, the National Technical Museum could easily keep you engrossed for several hours. It has a series of permanent exhibitions, focusing on things as diverse as transport, architecture, technology in the home and mining. The latter includes mock-ups of coal and ore mines, which can be visited as part of a guided tour.
The huge Holesovice brewery complex has also undergone a big transformation in recent years. The gleaming white buildings are now given over to restaurants, cafes, bars, shops and businesses, and it’s at its best and busiest on weekends.
Cukrarna U Veletrhu
This is a lovely old neighbourhood bakery and cake shop just across the street from Veletržni Palac, where my son and I have popped in several times for naughty sweet takeaways. According to their facebook page they’ve been there since 1956, but the picture they have on there suggests it’s considerably older.
The Hole Point is a beer garden hidden away behind a very colourful painted wall on Plynarni.
There are two bars – the one I bought a beer from served Budvar and Brewdog Punk IPA – and one of the pop-ups there also serves food. A very pleasant spot for a beer.
Vnitroblock is a classic Holešovice story of reinvention, turning former industrial space into a burgeoning arts centre. The ground floor café, Signature, serves up excellent coffee, and there’s also a huge sneakers store next door. I loved the tiny downstairs cinema, and the art gallery is also well worth a look. It reminded me of the wonderful Chapter Arts Centre in my hometown, Cardiff.
There’s a more than fair chance you’ll come across some of the best coffee in Prague while exploring Holešovice. There’s also a strong chance you’ll come across some of the best cakes in Prague at the Erhart Patisserie, near the top of Milady Horakove near Letna Park. They also have a branch in U Novaku, an arcade off Vodičkova in Prague New Town.
The Lapidarium is part of the National Museum in Prague. The Museum’s collection of stonework and statues is housed in a beautiful Baroque-Art Nouveau building facing the main square at Vystaviste. It includes several statues rescued from Charles Bridge after a flood, and other stonework – some dating back over 800 years – saved from buildings all around the Czech Republic. It’s one of the best small museums in Prague.
Prague Crocodile Zoo
The Crocodile Zoo is one of the smaller attractions in Prague for kids, a large room full of tanks with scaly killing machines from all over the globe. You can get very close to most of them – they tend to remain static, often for hours at a time. Just stay well back from the tank containing Martha and Bertha, as Martha is prone to giving a demonstration of the lightning speed with which they strike. The crocs live in very confined spaces, so it’s hardly surprising that they lash out.
Sea World Prague Aquarium
The Prague Aquarium – Morsky Svet – is in a building between Vystaviste Holešovice and the seasonal funfair. It’s one of the top things to see in Prague for kids, and the highlight for many will be the shark tank. They’re around 1.5 metres long (around 5 feet), sleek and fearsome creatures. We found some of the beautiful tiny fish, particularly the yellow fellow pictured, just as captivating. The Aquarium is smaller than others we have been too, and possibly a bit overpriced.