The Worst Flea Markets in Europe: Part One – Prague

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Dear Diva Readers,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>My mother taught me to never say an unkind word and my blog is filled with praises of fabulous people I’ve met, great antique shops and boutiques I’ve discovered on my European travels and gushes about gorgeous European flea markets. In my blog I try to give advice on places that are diva-worthy, where you should stop, shop and drop your dough on fabulous European antiques and vintage items. And it occurred to me that if my objective in writing a blog about European Antique Shopping is to save you time on your travels so you can go straight to the fab places, then shouldn’t it hold true that if someplace is utterly NOT FAB that I should also advise when it’s best to skip the market so you can move on to better and brighter baubles? I for one hate wasting time when I travel – and that’s why I’m revealing what I think are the worst flea markets in Europe. And while this might sound like blasphemy coming from me, there are way too many wonderful things worth doing in Prague to waste time at the main flea market!

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Before traveling to Prague on my most recent trip, I scoured the internet looking for hints and tips on flea markets in Prague and found a great article in the NY Times titled Affordable Prague. While I love champagne and fancy hotels, I also love a bargain (in fact, I need those bargains in order to fuel the champagne obsession) so I was utterly intrigued to visit Prague’s main blesi trh, or flea market, which runs every Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. until 1 p.m. It was a hike from our hotel across town on the Metro line B to Kolbenova, but never one to wimp out when shopping opportunities await I was up for the challenge. Fortunately, my traveling companions (my husband and niece) were equally pumped for the journey.

to 10px; WIDTH: 300px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 400px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Stepping out at Kolbenova I got a similar vibe as I do in Paris at the Porte de Clignancourt in Paris – you know that sensation where you tighten the grip on your purse and try to avoid eye contact with the hoards of suspiciously lingering people. I was non-plused that this market was not in a posh locale – in fact, the less posh the market often the better the bargains found. Furthermore this seemed to be part boot sale, and I love a good garage sale! I was certain that this was where the real Czech bargains were going to be found. A fellow Oklahoman brocanter, owner of the Tulsa-based company French Finds, explained to me in an email recently that her husband describes her French flea marketing tactics this way, “If there are not stacks of used tires and cages of live chickens at the entrance to the flea market, it is too upscale for my wife!” With this same sentiment in mind I was practically salivating over the bargains we were about to discover.

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Smelling a bargain, I skipped around the market, finding the requisite number of used tires and auto parts, an assortment of broken dolls, used clothes and household rubbish. Amidst the rubble, there were a handful of stalls that were diamonds in the rough. I stopped initially to inquire on these charming miniature musical instruments, thinking they had seriously cute decorative display potential.

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />The price per item clocked in at over 200E/$230 each when converted from local currency. Thinking perhaps my currency calculations were off, I plunged ahead. “What about the vintage porcelain pitcher?” I inquired.

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Again the vendor came back with a ridiculously high price. Thinking perhaps that it was all in the negotiation, I came back with a counter offer less than half his original asking price to get the feel of the game. The vendor shrugged and walked away.

At the next vendor I tried a new tactic. His prices were readily marked – the pale blue military hat – an ideal “mantique” – was marked 500 CZK or 20 Euro which is a very reasonable price by Western European standards. I pulled 400 Koruny from my pocket, deciding to take the direct approach – why dicker over prices – I’ll show the vendor the cold hard cash when I make my offer. This time I wasn’t asking for a major discount but in the spirit of flea marketing knew that a discount was in order.

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />The vendor responded with a surprised exclamation, “Clearly the hat has been mispriced” and explained there was no way he could sell the item for this price. It was a steal at 1000 Koruny, he said, which was double the price marked. Now simply curious if the vendor would keep to the originally quoted 500 CZK I reluctantly added 100 Koruny to the pile. “750 CZK” the vendor countered as I walked away from the negotiation.

Now, this is a cold hard fact of flea marketing in foreign countries – sometimes, but not always, having an American accent can be a negative when it comes to negotiations. Americans have a bit of a reputation of spending money and being willing to pay higher prices, which is why I often shop with a local when flea marketing in foreign countries. I let them speak on my behalf, doing the negotiation for me! Having lived in Europe over a decade and having flea marketed in over 30 countries, I consider myself a Flea Marketing Expert, plundering literally thousands of flea markets across the globe. But at Prague’s main blesi trh I had met my match. The Antiques Diva™ faced defeat in Prague and I walked out of the market empty handed. In retrospect, I would have rather spent my tourist time visiting the Royal Palace.

to 10px; WIDTH: 300px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 400px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />If the quality of the inventory had been better, the locale slightly less depressing – apparently this flea market didn’t get the news bulletin that the cold war was over – or even if the food vendors had seemed remotely hygienic, I would not be writing today’s review listing the Prague Flea Market as among the Worst Flea Markets in Europe.

On a score of 1 to 10 – 10 being the best flea markets in Europe and 1 being the worst – Prague’s blesi trh scored a 2.5. Why so high you ask? I gave them an extra point for having a few booths with potential at the market and I believe had I not been American or had I had a Czech scout with me I might have come home with something special – a beautiful souvenir of my journey.

But all’s well that ends well. As it was, the net result of my day was delicious discovery… While you know me by my nom de plume, The Antiques Diva™, my first name is Toma and it just so happens that while popping into a grocery store opposite the market I discovered the Czech’s have an orange juice named after me! The brand name? Toma!

To see a fabulous place to shop for Czech antiques and vintage items in Prague instead of this flea market, visit “Bric a Brac” in Prague!


The Antiques Diva™

P.S. On my next trip to Prague I’ll be visiting a much larger market, Bustehrad Antik which the NY Times explains, “takes place every two weeks in a village 12 miles northwest of the city, with direct buses leaving from metro stations Dejvicka and Zlicin.” If anyone has any information and photos on this market write to me. I’d love a scout to shop with on my Prague Flea Marketing Journey in the Spring!
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Author: Toma Clark Haines

Toma Clark Haines is a Global Tastemaker, Speaker, Writer & Entrepreneur; and founder and CEO The Antiques Diva® & Co, Europe, Asia and America's largest Antiques Sourcing & Touring Company.

  • Hello,
    If You want to visit . bustehrad antik. you most be there very soon, it is at 6 oclock in the morning. I use to sell there frequently there , but for me it is the ” fastest fleamarket ofthe world” . The first dealers are packing their stock at 8.30. It is maybe, because they sell stolen goods. Now, in 2019 there practically no private visitors , because this market finishes in about 9 am.

    • Pavel,
      Thanks for your feedback on the market – it’s been years since I’ve been there (as this post is quite old ) and would love to try it again next time I’m in town.
      Great tips! Thanks!

  • I go to Prague in December…
    Will you go there again in near future?
    I would like to meet with you there…

    Gultekin (man,55, Amsterdam)

  • Hi Toma,

    I am an avid collector and look for antique/flea markets all over the world.

    We are planning to go to Praque, Scotland and possibly Malta and would love your ” flea market feedback”.

    Also I would appreciate it if you could share your list of the best places to go for”collectors” as we plan our trips around that as we spend a lot of time antiquing.

    Thanks so much fir any help you can offer.


  • I agree with your description of this place; I especially hate dodging the puddles when wet and the ice when cold.
    Yet, I go back each time I am in Prague because the treasures can be found and the lowest prices on essentials such as toasters, which our furnished apartments never seem to include.
    Low end markets are essential to our global nomad lifestyle and Prague has several.

  • Hello Toma and evrybody,

    I am very glad to read your article, it is here a good subject of discussion.

    I am French, leaving in Praha for 4 years, flea market hunter… I like Kolbenova’s flea market, we can find many little things at a very reasonable prices… then i guess it is for me in the tchec culture that they are not negociating so much, with communism ending there in 1989 they didn’t had there own buisness and were not so pleased with the customers… we can see it also now at the restaurant, the expression “customer is king” (le client est roi) is still not in the minds.

    I am now able to go there and negociate, speeking czech as i can… first word to know : how much ? : kolik ?

    As i love antiques, i am now mounting a project to have people communicating better all around the world, i would be very glad to collaborate with you and all the ones who want to participate.

    For exemple, tell me what you are looking for, i will look for it in Praha, if i find it i tell you and we can start negociate…. with the seller in Czech 😉

    Have a nice day !

    • Please don’t visit all of those places in such a short time. Depending on the psuropes of your trip, you should decide if you’d like to cut any of your proposed destinations. In my experience, it is better to spend a four days in a country trying to see all there is to see, then rushing through frantically in two days. I’ve been to London and Rome. You should go to London. The reason to go to Rome is so you can go to Vatican City. There is absolutely nothing like seeing the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and St. Peter’s Square. Rome is a true gem. I haven’t been to Venice, but I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about the city. Try to visit Berlin if you can, especially if you are interested in German history and culture. There is so much to see here. I still haven’t seen everything I visited four times before moving here in December.Go to Amsterdam and Paris. The rest save for your next trip.

  • Thanks so much for yr info. I am just planning to go to Berlin flea market or Prague to find a flea market, now seems I should choose Berlin 🙂

    In yr experience, any good flea market in Berlin, have a good bragain?


    • The market we visited in Prague was at U Elektry. Similarly “bad” as the one you described with the tires and new refrigerators mixed in with communist “dreck.” I happily scored a bunch of Art Deco necklace clasps and was able to negotiate in American English! 500k down to 400k, since I was buying a bunch of these little darlings. I was hoping to find Czech crystal…beads or decantors…from Granny’s attic, but Granny’s stuff must have been stolen by the damned Nazis as there was next to nil.

      In Berlin we visited a market that was 1000x nicer, with some discounted designer clothing and safe to eat food. I found nothing in the way of Art Deco, which is my personal passion.

  • I am sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience at this flea market. I, on the other hand, would consider this as one of the best flea markets I have been to in Europe – not the the sence that it is nice and clean, cause it certaintly was one of the dirtier flea markets I have been to. But I managed to get some wonderful old neck ties for 25c each, an old soviet clock for the wall for 3 usd, old christmas tree decorations for less than 1 dollar each + a few other things. Maybe it wasn´t an antique market in that sence, but I would definately call it a flea markets where it was possible to make real bargains and buy various items from the 1950s and 1960s for almost nothing. I didnt speak any czech, but with a mix of Scandinavian, German, Russian, English and body language, bargaining went just fine.

  • OMG, did you miss the mark on this place. You must have been having some bad karma. While it certainly doesn’t rival the flea markets of Paris, Madrid and Naples, I had such a good time indeed. There is an awful lot of junk to sift through, but treasures are to be found. I didn’t take much money after reading your blog and I wish I had, since I spent all that I had and left a beauty of a treasure behind (1880s commemorative bohemian glass vase of the Russian Czar Alexander II). I did manage to find a great early 1900s antique picture brooch surrounded by high quality Czech garnets, a great Czech mid-century glass vase, and an early 1900s aesthetic style Czech hand-carved oak picture frame (weighted about 15 pounds). The vendors were both friendly and willing to bargain and I spoke no Czech. I got at least a third knocked off each item from the initial asking price. By all means hit this place up and take a positive attitude.

  • Thank you for this information. I was considering going to Prague bargain hunting on our next visit to Europe next spring. now it is off the list for sure.

  • A juice named Toma! Well, I have all those canned goods named "Libby", for which I was endlessly teased in school!
    Any kind of flea market is a gamble, I think, but thank you for being so honest about this one…