Czech desserts you must try

By Emily Monaco & Denisa Valsová. This guide to Prague pastries contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Living in Europe has many perks, but the one that still makes living here seem like a dream, even after eight years, is the fact that other European destinations are so close that you can jump right over for any old reason… like, let’s say, to try out some pastry.

There are many great pastry destinations in Europe, and I live in one of them (Paris).

But sometimes you just need to deviate from macarons and croissants—and sometimes, it’s the most unlikely destinations that offer the tastiest treats.

I was recently in Prague—which may be better known for its bridge, its clock, and its beer—but it’s just as tasty a destination for pastry lovers.

While this may be surprising to some more used to hearing pastry tales from Vienna and Budapest, it is for good reason:

The former Austro-Hungarian Empire was home to many modern Central European countries, including Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, and the recipes for these classic pastries were passed from family to family, town to town.

Prague’s pastries are far from unique, but as I discovered them, I noticed not only how they are linked to those of neighboring countries but also the characteristics that make them stand out.

Note that the first half of this list is written by me, Emily, and the second half is written by Denisa, a Czech native who was born and raised in Prague. We’ve worked hard to bring you a delicious guide to Prague desserts and pastries you won’t want to miss!

Top Prague Pastries You Must Try

1. Trdelnik

Trdelnik cooking over an open flame in the streets of Prague. Photo via Emily Monaco.

Trdelnik is one of the most common pastries to find on Prague’s streets—in fact, three-dimensional invitations to try the rolled pastry hang from storefronts throughout the city, particularly in tourist neighborhoods.

But while Prague is famous for its trdelnik, the pastry was originally known as “kurtsoskalacs” and hailed from Szekely Land, Transylvania—home of the Szekely Hungarians.

According to food historians, Count Josef Gvadanyi, a Hungarian general, settled in the town of Skalica, on what is now the border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic, in the 18th century, bringing with him a Transylvanian cook who had a tasty recipe for kurtsoskalacs in his repertoire.

While trdelnik is now available throughout the former Empire, from Austria to Hungary and everywhere in between, today it’s most famous in Slovakia and the Czech Republic—particularly so in the former, where Skalicky trdelnik became registered in December 2007 as a protected geographical indication (PGI) within the EU.

I tried trdelnik at Krusta (Drazickeho Square 12) where they’re made outside as you watch.

You can snag a seat on the patio overlooking the Charles Bridge and watch as the woman making them goes through what has become, for her, an automatic series of motions: rolling out the dough, wrapping it around the stick (called a trdlo), sprinkling it with a sugar and spice mixture and setting it over the flames to cook.

Trdelnik being cooked outside in Prague. Photo via Emily Monaco.

When I finally dug in, I wasn’t too sure what to expect.

The dough itself isn’t all that sweet, but the outside has a lovely caramelized richness and aromas of burnt sugar that are perfect with mulled wine.

Whether you’re visiting the city for your first time or hundredth, with friends or enjoying solo travel in Prague, don’t miss this tasty experience!

Where to find it: Trdelnik is probably the easiest item on this list to find—small stands selling it freshly made can be found everywhere around the city center. They are a particular feature of Christmas and Easter markets but can be found year-round in the areas around Wenceslas Square, Old Town, and Prague Castle.

2. Strudl

Prague Apple Strudl. Photo via Emily Monaco.

No, that isn’t a typo! Strudel may be famed in Vienna, but strudl is a traditional Czech dessert.

Of course, when you compare the names as well as the pastries themselves, it’s obvious that they both come from the same place. Some food historians believe that the modern strudel and strudl were inspired by early versions of Turkish baklava.

Strudel-like pastries became popular in the 18th century; the first recipe hails from Vienna and dates to 1696.

While this early version was made with parsnips, modern versions are usually filled with apples and spices and can be found in Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Slovenia, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia—and the Czech Republic, of course.

Traditional strudel pastry in the Viennese tradition is very elastic and worked until it’s paper thin before being wrapped in many layers around the filling.

The pastry of the Prague version that I tasted is slightly thicker than that of the Viennese pastry.

As Austrian wives were often judged by the thinness of the pastry, I think it’s safe to deduce that the Czech version is just slightly more rustic…but no less tasty.

The apple strudl at Krusta has several unique characteristics, at least as far as this strudel-taster is concerned.

Its filling is slightly pink from apple skins and stuffed with both apples and raisins. Dusted with a simple layer of powdered sugar as opposed to cream or ice cream, it’s not nearly as rich as other versions I’ve tried.

Where to find it: The apple strudl at Krusta has several unique characteristics, at least as far as this strudel-taster is concerned. Its filling is slightly pink from apple skins and stuffed with both apples and raisins.

Dusted with a simple layer of powdered sugar as opposed to cream or ice cream, it’s not nearly as rich as other versions I’ve tried. For someone who doesn’t want their Prague dessert too sweet, this was a winner.

Chleba a máslo and Cukrkávalimonáda are other authentic options.

3. Makový koláček

Makový koláček
Makový koláček – Poppy Seed Cake. Photo via Emily Monaco.

Makový koláček, also known simply as kolach, is a Czech pastry that has become extremely popular in some parts of the United States.

The original kolach boasts a filling of some sort contained by a rim of brioche-like yeasted dough.

They were originally considered a wedding dessert, but in the States, they are more of a breakfast pastry akin to the Danish, seeing as they’re not overly sweet.

Kolach festivals exist throughout the regions of America that welcomed Czech immigrants, including Prague, Oklahoma, Kewaunee, Wisconsin, and several cities in the part of central Texas known as “the Czech Belt” thanks to 19th-century mass Czech immigration, including Caldwell, Crosby, and Hallettsville.

Montgomery, Minnesota is said to be the “Kolacky Capital of the World,” while Prague, Nebraska claims to be the home of the world’s largest.

Versions in the USA have a certain American appeal to them, with flavors like strawberry-ricotta, cream cheese, and even savory versions with sausage and beer.

Where to find it: In recent years, kolache has been experiencing a major renaissance as the go-to pastry in Prague’s hippest cafés.

You can find excellent, indulgent versions in Kus Koláče (these are so iconic locals queue for them and they usually sell out before noon), Kolacherie, Chleba a máslo, Eska Karlín, Osada, Pekárna Praktika, Vnitroblock…the list goes on.

If you’re happy with a more basic version—that’s also much lighter on the butter load—most small bakeries and supermarket bakery sections sell them as well.

4. Medovnik

Medovnik Honey Cake from Coffee Lovers (Kaprova 9) in Prague. Photo via Emily Monaco.

Honey cakes are very popular in Prague, and there are two in particular that you should be sure to try during your stay.

The first is medovnik—a very complex answer to any American honey cake I’ve ever tried.

Honey cake has been popular in some form or other in this part of the world since the Middle Ages. In Slovakian culture, honey has always been highly honored, and a barrel of it was even given as part of women’s dowries through the Middle Ages.

In Slovakia and the Czech Republic, medovnik is often not homemade but purchased and given as a gift.

Because of its unique preparation, it is a sweet that, like fruit cake, can sit out for months before being eaten.

I sampled the piece shown above at Coffee Lovers, which was made according to a traditional Bohemian recipe.

It has a rather dry, almost savory crumb with very sweet, honey-flavored icing between each layer.

The topping is a powdery crumb layer—basically what would happen if powdered sugar were made of honey. It has a very unique, pronounced flavor of honey but also a slight flavor of caramel.

This was my personal favorite of all of the Czech desserts I tried in Prague.

Where to find it: I sampled the piece shown above at Coffee Lovers, made according to a traditional Bohemian recipe. It is also a staple of tea rooms throughout the city.

5. Marlenka

Marlenka Honey Cake. Photo via Emily Monaco.

Marlenka is another type of honey cake popular in Prague.

The best way to recognize Marlenka from medovnik in Prague bakery windows is to look at the shape. Medovnik is baked in circles and served in wedges, while Marlenka is baked in rectangles and served in rectangular or square slices.

Marlenka is technically a brand-name cake, which was invented in Prague in 1704 by Armenian Georgius Deodatus Damascenus.

He founded the first coffee lounge in the city and repurposed a traditional Armenian family recipe of honey layer cake, naming it after his wife and daughter: Marlenka. It soon became a local tradition.

Medovnik, meanwhile, is really a word for any honey cake, though it’s usually used for the cake described above in number four; the word medovnik, then, could technically be used to refer to an off-brand Marlenka, which is what you’ll find more often than not in Prague bakeries and pastry shops.

All this to say, it’s not surprising I had such a hard time tracking down this particular Prague treat.

Where to find it: I finally got my piece at a Tesco supermarket, but it was from the bakery case, and it was an exceptional piece of cake. The Albert supermarket also sells it.

You can sometimes also find it in cafés; but since it’s a brand sold by a single supplier, it will come from the same box as the supermarket version.

Prague Pastry Recommendations From A Local

Prague may not be a world-famous pastry destination the likes of Paris but you may be surprised by the many gems to discover once you dig in. After the fall of communism, Western cuisine with all its novelty was all the rage for a time.

But in recent years, the food culture in Prague and the rest of Czechia has been turning towards rediscovering the classics from different periods of our history and giving them an artisanal spin using high-quality ingredients.

With Prague’s rapidly developing food scene, you can now enjoy the best of traditional Czech pastries in the trendiest contemporary cafés.

Here are my all-time favorites, from a Prague native with a life-long committed relationship with sugar.

6. Věneček

Věneček choux pastry on a white plate
Věneček choux pastry. Photo via Denisa Valsova.

Chou pastry with vanilla custard filling and sugar icing, similar to an éclair or profiterole but typically round in shape with a hole in the middle, věneček is a creamy, indulgent treat.

Its elegance is reminiscent of the 1920s and the iconic 1st Republic era, but it was also a big favorite during socialist times, even making appearances in movies at the time.

While the French and Italians have been arguing about who gets to claim the first invention of choux pastry in the 16th century, the exact origin of the later Czech interpretation, featured by 1826 in cookbooks, is unknown.

Baking your own věnečky has traditionally been a rite of passage for any serious hobby baker as the dough is infamously tricky to get right and the process is laborious, with plenty of opportunities for mistakes. My great-grandmother used to make them in the form of perfect, delicate swans; us mere mortals are happy to settle for round-ish.

Due to the generous icing on top, this one is on the sweeter side, so keep this in mind or opt for a mini size if you prefer your Prague desserts less sweet.

Where to find it: Head to Cukrárna Myšák, a confectionary dating back to 1904 on Vodičkova Street right off Wenceslas Square. It features a 1920s ambiance and artisanal věnečky in in regular and mini size.

Or visit Ovocný Světozor for a simpler, socialist era retro interpretation.

If you want a spin on the classic, Grand Café Orient located in the Czech History of Cubism building offers a cubist—or square—version.

7. Větrník

Fresh větrníky at Cukrárna Myšák in Prague
Fresh větrníky at Cukrárna Myšák. Photo via Denisa Valsova.

A more decadent but equally elegant cousin of the věneček, větrník is a choux pastry puff filled with yolk cream and caramel whipped cream, topped with a caramel fondant and the definition of guilty pleasure.

It is a difficult one to conquer as the caramel fondant-covered top usually does not want to yield to your fork and a standard size větrník can be a very sizable undertaking—but it is absolutely worth the fight.

Some confectioneries have also started to offer mini versions.

Větrník choux pastry.
Větrník choux pastry. Photo via Denisa Valsova.

The větrník draws a closer resemblance to its French profiterole ancestor than the similar věneček, but its precise origins and how it became such a staple of Czech pastry cuisine is also unknown.

Its name in Czech means “pinwheel”, derived from the characteristic shape of the chou pastry.

A good větrník must be fresh and not overly sweet so that the distinct flavors of the two different fillings can shine through.

Where to find it: Cukrář Skála and Cukrárna Myšák serve up an artisan version in an elegant First Republic environment. Myšák spices up the traditional recipe with salted caramel and has a mini size available.

Visit Ovocný Světozor for a simpler but classic retro version.

Eska Karlín used to have an excellent větrník on the menu; as of December 2023, they are sadly not offering it currently, but do ask if you’re there in case it comes back.

8. Bábovka

slice of bábovka cake with a fork in it
Bábovka cake. Photo via Denisa Valsova.

A peculiarly shaped sponge cake, bábovka has traditionally been the domain of Czech grandmothers but has recently been appearing in hipster cafés in up-and-coming Prague neighborhoods like Holešovice and Karlín.

Widely spread throughout Central Europe, bábovka was served as early as the 15th century at weddings and community events.

The first recipe was recorded in 1581 by Marx Rumpolt, a cook who had worked for nobles in Bohemia (part of today’s Czechia) and Hungary and collected local recipes in a cookbook. It is referred to as “Gugelkupf” or “Kugelhupf” in Austria and South Germany.

Baked in a typical round, ribbed form with a hole in the middle and served in thin slices, a good bábovka is soft and moist, yet fragile and crumbly.

It comes in a variety of flavors with hundreds of local recipes, the most popular being “mramorová” (“marble”, made of light vanilla and dark cacao batter), quark (a thick and sour cream cheese also used in buchty or koláče), or walnut or hazelnut.

Eat it plain, like most locals do, or with a generous dollop of whipped cream on the side.

Where to find it: Café Louvre has a delicious apple and cocoa “marble” version that is soft and moist.

Eska Karlín and Chleba a máslo, both top picks for traditional Czech desserts, offer it as part of their rotating selection; but not necessarily every day, so you might need a bit of luck to find it.

9. Buchty

Buchta bun with walnut filling
Buchta bun with walnut filling. Photo via Denisa Valsova.

Yeast dough buns similar in flavor to the koláč, buchty are as traditional as it gets. If you’re looking for traditional Czech sweets, this one should definitely be on your list.

At home in the Bohemian and Moravian countryside, they come with a variety of fillings like poppy seeds, plum jam, quark, or walnuts, inviting you to try them all and find your personal favorite (mine are quark and plum jam, for instance).

The buns are baked in a deep pan tightly lined next to each other and are then pulled apart once baked, giving them their characteristic appearance with a golden-brown top and light sides.

Buchty is quintessentially Czech. They originated in the Bohemia region in the 1600s and spread throughout Central Europe from there, becoming part of local cuisines as far as South Germany on one end and Slovenia on the other.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, they were commonly eaten on Christmas Eve.

Funny side note: In Czech slang, the word “buchta” can also be used to refer to a girl or a woman in several contexts—as a general word for a woman, as a rough compliment for an attractive one, or on the other hand a derogatory term for a housewife or an unfit woman sitting around at home.

Where to find it: Eska Karlín, Chleba a máslo, and Café Louvre all have excellent, indulgent versions; but if you want something more easygoing and not to necessarily sit down in a café, many small local bakeries will have buchty on offer. Just pop in and take one (or one of each flavor) along for your Old Town stroll.

10. Loupák

woman eating a half-moon shaped loupák at a bakery in Prague
Half-moon shaped loupák. Photo via Denisa Valsova.

This half-moon-shaped bread roll is yet another retro favorite. Its story probably started in Vienna, where half-moon-shaped pastries were baked at the end of the 17th century to celebrate the end of the Ottoman invasion.

The idea then spread through Europe, birthing the croissant in France and the loupák in Czechia; however, the two pastries have little in common aside from their shape.

The loupák is a fluffy, lightly sweet, yeast dough pastry topped with a generous serving of poppy seeds. The dough is rolled instead of folded, as opposed to the sheet dough used to give the characteristic structure to a croissant.

Loupáky is traditionally eaten for breakfast, with butter or plain, and with an (almost obligatory) cup of hot cocoa on the side.

Due to its poppy seed coating, you can also find it under the name “makovka”.

Where to find it: Since the loupák is a breakfast classic, you can find it in most bakeries and even supermarket bakery sections to grab one on the go.

If you’d like to sample an artisan version, head to Etapa Karlín, Eska Karlín, or Chleba a máslo and try it for breakfast just plain with butter, or on the side of some organic scrambled eggs.

Loupák sweet bread roll
Loupák sweet bread roll. Photo via Denisa Valsova.

Where To Find Vegan & Gluten-Free Prague Pastries

Czech cuisine is traditionally heavy both on gluten and animal products, so can you indulge in delicious Czech pastries without them? The answer is: somewhat.

Veganism is picking up only slowly in Prague, with the current trend more focused on organic quality animal products. Gluten-free is a more known concept but not necessarily more widespread.

However, there are a few options in Prague for those craving Czech Republic desserts and pastries:

Gluten-free options:

Babiččina spíž gluten-free bakery sells a wide range of gluten-free breads, pastries, and cakes, including some items from this list, like štrůdl or several flavors of bábovka.

Vegan options:

Head to the fabulous Kolacherie for various flavors of authentic vegan koláče. Try rhubarb, poppy seeds, or blueberry.

Kin & K and Krafin are bakeries offering vegan pastries, the selection is quite international but includes some Czech pastries.

For sit-down cafés and restaurants, MyRawCafe, Palo Verde Bistro, and Herbivore all have a cake selection with international and Czech options.

Any other Prague pastries you recommend?

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The Best Pastries in Prague

About The Authors

Emily Monaco is a born-and-raised New Yorker based in Paris. After pursuing a master’s degree in 19th-century French literature, she devoted herself full-time to writing about food, drink, and culture shock in France, a topic she discusses extensively on her blog, Tomato Kumato. Emily is always on the lookout for an excellent cup of coffee, a good beer, and fantastic cheese.

Denisa Valsova was born and raised in Prague, Czechia, and has since lived in Germany and the Netherlands. After working as a management consultant in Germany for several years, she put her business career on pause, packed her backpack, and set off on a world trip together with her partner Thomas. Follow as they share their adventures from five continents and top travel tips on their blog, Two Far Away (launching soon), and on Instagram at @twofaraway_.

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Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is a born-and-raised New Yorker based in Paris. After pursuing a Masters degree in 19th century French literature, she devoted herself full-time to writing about food, drink and culture shock in France, a topic she discusses extensively on her blog, Tomato Kumato. Emily is always on the lookout for an excellent cup of coffee, a good beer, and fantastic cheese.

Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is a born-and-raised New Yorker based in Paris. After pursuing a Masters degree in 19th century French literature, she devoted herself full-time to writing about food, drink and culture shock in France, a topic she discusses extensively on her blog, Tomato Kumato. Emily is always on the lookout for an excellent cup of coffee, a good beer, and fantastic cheese.

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  1. Thanks for this post – We are actually off to Prague on Wednesday so will definitely be using your recommendations. They all look very tasty!

  2. Out of all of these, the Medovnik is definitely number 1 on my list to try as I am a very huge fan of honey. I have been so busy lately, so I haven’t been to travel nearly as much as I would like. I’ll have to see if I can buy African food like this online!

    1. @VioletSullivan: Hmmm, honey is magic!

  3. The NPR (National Public Radio) just today had a report from Prague on trdelnik. You can find the audio under “Prague’s Franken-Cone Finds A Way To Bring Ice Cream And Doughnuts Together” here:

  4. I just left Prague this morning. OMG we found a restaurant at the bottom of an alley stairs so narrow it has a traffic light. It’s sort of under the bridge on the Mala Strana side. We ordered something called Old Prague Dessert and I’m not exaggerating-It’s the best dessert I’ve ever eaten in my 50 years of life! I’ve traveled extensively. This is magical.

    1. @Christy: Yum! What was in it?

    2. What was the name of the restaurant? Going to Prague next week and looking for restaurant/cafe suggestions. Thanks!

  5. just tried Trdelnik yesterday at praha christmas market. yummyyy

  6. Please. I’ve lived in Prague for 18 years. I never heard of this or saw one until about 6 years ago or so. I don’t know one Czech that remembers them from before that time. It is NOT a Czech tradition, and there are many, many other cakes and deserts here that are far better than this over-hyped garbage.

    1. @Paul: Thanks for your opinion! Would love to hear any desserts you’d like to add to the list.

  7. My husband and I had a tunnel cake in Prague and he said it was the best pastry he’s ever had!

  8. My husband and I bought croissants which were whole wheat with seeds inside. They were so delicious, the best we have ever had! Does anyone know what they are?

  9. In the grocery stores in Prague there were 10 inch twist pastries. One was a sweet choco twist and another was a savory basil pesto twist. The choco twist has a small amount of a creamy inside with chocolate pieces. The savory had a cheesy inside with basil pesto. We lived there 2.5 years so tasted them many times along with the others in this article.

  10. As Paul writes, Trdelník is neither Czech nor traditional. It has appeared as a tourist trap because its production price is about 5 CZK. It sells for 80 CZK 😀 I like native Czech I recommend to your list: Sweet cottage cheese dumplings (, Bábovka ( wiki / Gugelhupf), Větrník ( and Buchta (https: // cs.

    1. Yes! I do agree with Jan that fruit dumplings are quite wonderful, too. The most commonly made are strawberry and prune plum dumplings. Such fruit knedliky are also eaten elsewhere outside of the Czech Republic, but often made with a potato-based dough. The “cottage cheese” (or farmer’s cheese) dough version is my favorite, though. In Czech Republic, it is a specific type of cheese called “tvaroh”. In Czech stores, there are even different types of tvaroh, most specifically relating to hard/softness. This type of cheese is available in some places in the US. I came from New Jersey, and since there is a large Polish population there (and some Amish influence), some stores sell this cheese. Again, some softer than others. It should not be mistaken for American cottage cheese, nor for other types of American farmer’s cheeses. In some other European countries they call it “quark”, but again, that can sometimes be too soft of a version for Czech fruit dumplings. The right hardness should be almost the texture of feta cheese, that can be grated. My Czech husband’s family always serves these fruit dumplings (knedliky) topped with lots of melted butter, more grated tvaroh, and some confectioner’s sugar.

  11. My husband is a native of Prague, but now we live in Brno, after over 20 years together in the US. My husband left Czechoslovakia in the 1980s for the US. He said that he had never seen a trdelnik until after the Velvet Revolution. Never heard of them! Of course now they are all over the place as a touristy type street sweet.

    Living in Brno (Moravian region) I would say my favorite sweet is the good-ole koblihy, which is pretty much a jelly donut, but I think the ones in Czech Republic are even better than ones in the US. They are extra fluffy in a most desirable way. Beyond that, I must say that Czech Christmas cookies are particularly delicious, and many Czech home bakers make a variety of them, a nicer group than most Americans make.

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  13. Well, as a native of Prague I would like to say a few things. Only 1 item from this list is actually from the Czech Republic.
    1. The true origin of Medovník is unknown it most likely is from Russia or Armenia.
    2. Marlenka… Yes, the company was founded in 2003 in the Czech republic but the origin of the recipe goes to Armenia again, that’s why the tase difference between medovník and marlenka is vrey small.
    3. Trdelník……well you can watch it on find an honest guide and find like 10 episodes about how trdelník is not from the Czech Republic.
    4. Strudel is very popular in Austria….well, yeah, because strudel is from Vienna
    Please, next time, do your proper research. If something is somewhere very common, it doesn´t mean that it is traditional. I could also say that doner kebab is a very common food in Berlin, so it is traditional German food..

    List of traditional Czech desserts
    Mazanec – Traditional Easter pastry
    Koláče – (yes it was the only one correct in the article)

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