Always an upscale, mostly residential address, which managed to cling on to its genteel reputation despite communist suspicion and ridicule for “bourgeois” aspirations, Vinohrady has thrived since 1989. Fanning out east and south from behind the National Museum, occasional clusters of sleek interwar villas mingle with elegant historicist tenement blocs, on a gridiron plan.
But despite its long-established reputation for continuity and tradition, major changes are sweeping through Vinohrady. Property prices have soared in recent years, and the neighborhood typifies the gastro revolution hitting Prague. Now is the perfect time to take stock and look at the pros and cons of living here:
- Quality of life – You won’t be surprised to find that Vinohrady regularly tops the Prague desirability charts. Other prestigious areas, such as Hanspaulka in Prague 6, naturally score well too, e.g. quality housing, but they aren’t quite as accessible or offer such a variety of amenities.
- Unbeatable accessibility – With excellent metro, tram, and bus connections, Vinohrady enjoys one of the most convenient locations to set up home in Prague. And even the furthest reaches of the neighborhood lie no more than a 30-minute walk away from Wenceslas Square.
- Lush green space – Riegrovy sady affords superb views of Prague Castle, plenty of space for informal football matches, or sloping lawns for just lazing around. On the other side of Vino–hrady, bordering Vršovice, Havlíčkovy sady boasts vineyards, wide views over the city, and the Grébovka Pavilion. Smaller parks Sady Svatopluka Čecha and Bezručovy sady, as well as the peaceful Olšany cemeteries, have a particular beauty.
- Tight-knit community – Given the relatively small size of Vinohrady and its popularity among expats, it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter fellow internationals at restaurants, schools, markets, etc. “Prague has become a real home, and our neighborhood is a village,” said one resident who lives close by several other long-term internationals and regularly bumps into them.
- Best of the gastro-revolution – Friendly haunts like Bistro 8 Vinohrady, Martin’s Bistro, Kofein, and Peter’s Apartment offer excellent value internationally-oriented menus and attract loyal crowds. And if you want to go on a culinary wander around the world, try Korunní street, where among others you can find Lasagneria, scheduled to open in February, Arepas DeLyna Venezuelan restaurant, and Sandokan vegan bistro.
- Fantastic coffee – If you’re a coffee buff, Korunní has become a focal point for connoisseurs, who can choose from a long list, including Coffee Room and Spižírna 1902. Try also Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad, where among others you’ll find Mama Coffee or Antonínovo pekářství bakery, just off the square.
- Lively market squares – Vinohrady is home to two of Prague’s most impressive suburban squares: Náměstí Míru and Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad. Christmas and Easter markets take place at both; the popular farmers’ markets at Jiřího z Poděbrad runs for most of the year, and vinobrání (wine harvest) in early autumn, Zažit město jinak, a Prague-wide street festival held in September, as well as the Signal Light Festival make for a calendar packed with festive events.
- Rents on the rise – Vinohrady offers some of the best housing in Prague, think facades fizzing with details, high ceilings, plasterwork, spacious rooms, and parquet floors. But thanks to very low-interest rates and housing shortages, prices have risen dramatically over the last five years. In 2017, prices per square meter for new and old flats in Prague 2 were CZK 124,576 and CZK 101,113 respectively, the second highest after Prague 1. For renting, a 3+1 could cost around CZK 30,000 or higher, or a 4+1 around 40,000 or higher.
- Parking and car theft – A serious lack of off-street parking, with all the security implications, continues to be a problem, and even though crime is generally low when compared to that of other European cities, car theft and auto break-ins are a problem, and recovery is rare. The last five years have shown car theft rates at between 10 and 15% of total recorded crime in Vinohrady.
- Not Prague’s most dynamic district – If you’re younger, you might prefer more dynamic areas like Letná, Holešovice, or Smíchov. Vinohrady tends to attract more families, or older couples and the high rents can also be discouraging for younger people, making sharing essential.
- The expat bubble effect – It’s the age-old question among foreign residents who haven’t “gone native”. Many don’t have time to learn Czech or work and socialize with internationals. But if you want to integrate and have concerns about living in a bubble, Vinohrady can make doing so all too easy.
- Dog poo city – Often, the simple exercise of getting from A to B becomes a tortuous rigmarole for pedestrians, as they swerve yet again to avoid another canine creation. And despite the dog waste bags positioned on street corners, many residents prefer to use them as sandwich receptacles.
- Pollution and noise – The high concentration of traffic along arteries such as Vinohradská and Korunní and the D1, which skirts the edge of the district, means Vinohrady suffers from high levels of pollution. Noise from traffic is high, especially on these streets, while busy tram routes are another source of racket.
Many of the drawbacks internationals encounter in Vinohrady can be found Prague-wide. Although housing prices look set to rise and the neighborhood will continue to be expensive, the new dynamism of this district is exhilarating.