Prague is packed with global brand names and glitzy shopping malls, designer fashin boutiques, big bookshops and commercial art galleries. Outside the capital, retail therapy is mainly confined to souvenir shops and traditional Czech products such as Bohemian crystal, garnet jewellery and handicrafts.
Glass & Crystal
One of the Czech Republic's favourite buys is Bohemian crystal (sklo) – anything from simple glassware to stupendous works of art, sold in tourist towns all over the country. Prices aren't radically different from shop to shop, though they are highest in Prague's city centre.
Karlovy Vary is the spiritual home of Bohemian crystal – the famous Moser glass-making company opened its first shop there in 1857, and still operates a glass-making factory in the town.
In the main tourist centres, many shops – notably Manufaktura, which has branches all over the country – stock quality craft items made of wood, ceramic, straw, textiles and other materials, handmade in traditional styles. Things to look for include painted Easter eggs, wooden utensils, ceramics with traditional designs, linen with traditional stitching, and Bohemian lacework. Notably popular are figures of Krtek (Little Mole), a Czech cartoon character dating from the 1950s.
Traditional wooden marionettes (and more delicate and lifelike ones made of plaster) are also available in many shops.
Amber (jantar) from the Baltic and gemstones mined in the Czech Republic are good value, and popular as souvenirs or gifts, especially in Karlovy Vary. Amber is better value here than over the border in Germany. This fossilised tree resin is usually honey-yellow in colour, although it can be white, orange, red or brown. Czech garnets (český granát) – sometimes called 'Czech rubies' – are usually dark red but can be many other colours, or even colourless.