One of Europe's top tourist destinations, this beautiful city is a must for gay adventurers.
The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is an architectural gem. With a millennium of history carved in stone, the "City of 100 Spires" is a fairytale-like wonderland on the Vltava River. Originally five separate towns, Prague’s historic center has eye-popping sights around every corner. The grimy faded-glory aspects of post-Communist Prague have now all but disappeared. Restored treasures recall the glorious First Republic pre-war years, when the city enjoyed the highest living standards of Europe. The generation that came of age since 1989, artists, designers and entrepreneurs, have created one of the most modern but liveable cities now found anywhere.
Prague also has by far the largest, most stylish, and most international nightlife for gay people in Eastern Europe, with dozens of gay bars, nightclubs, cafes, sex clubs and saunas, plus some of the world's finest local brews. And make no mistake about it, Czechs of every disposition do like to party. Often as strikingly handsome as the guys in Bel Ami videos, they're an outgoing, uninhibited, and refreshingly forthright people.
Venturing just a bit off the beaten path can lead to some surprisingly exotic encounters. Outside the tourist areas, you'll find fewer places where people speak anything other than Czech. But find a common tongue, or improvise a new one over a few beers, and you'll have some truly engaging experiences.
Sexual conformity is far less common in Prague than elsewhere in the Czech Republic. Straight and gay worlds are more integrated here than in other European cities, so relationships and identity are less likely to be labeled one way or another. While there have been same-sex registered partnerships since 2006, the street celebrations are a more recent affair, with the city's gay pride festivities, including a parade and festival that now take place in mid-August. Rainbow flags are more rarely displayed at other times, but public spaces remain places where people aren’t afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger. With a modicum of courtesy you're unlikely to offend anyone by taking an interest in another person, sexually or otherwise.
Prague's Václav Havel Airport (Ruzyně), the country's main international gateway, is about 10 miles northwest of the city center. Taxis into town can be pricey, around $40, but shuttle buses and municipal buses povide cheaper options. Single trip 90 minutes tickets will get to your destination for just 32 Kč (a buck fifty). A day pass, bought for 110 Kč at the terminal, is good for transit into town and, after validation on the bus, on any city bus, tram or metro train. Look for bus number 119 alongside the terminal, departing every 10-20 minutes, for a 20-minute trip to the Dejvická Metro station, then hop one of the frequent trains into the center.
The Praha hlavní nádraží Main Railway and Metro Station, near Wenceslas Square, has direct service or connections to most major European and large Czech cities. The trip from Berlin takes just under 5 hours. The nearby Masarykovo nádraží railway station, at the náměstí Republiky Metro stop, handles suburban and regional trains. See the Czech Railways or Czech Transport websites for information and online ticket purchases.
Student Agency has modern and inexpensive bus/coach services to/from cities within the Czech Republic, and surrounding countries, often at less than half the price of a train ticket. Personal on-demand movies (in Czech or English), TV, internet access, power plug-ins and free coffee are standard. Passangers under 26 or over 60 get an additional 10% discount. Arrivals and departures are at Florenc Bus Station, next to the Metro station.
The Prague Metro system of 60 km, with three lines and 57 stations, is said, per capita, to be the most-used in the world. Above ground, the tram lines run frequently most everywhere between the Metro stations. Many of the businesses catering to gay travelers are near four Metro stations, all on the green line: Mustek, Muzeum, Namesti Miru, and Jiriho z Podebrad. Summer 2014 note: central tram lines (3, 9, 14, 24) on Jindřišská and Vodičkova streets crossing Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Sq) are down for track work until June 28th. Use metro stations at the center, then walk.
Single-trip or one to five-day pass tickets can be purchased at Metro stations, machines at some larger tram shops, or at nearby tabacco and convenience stores. A half-hour ticket costs 24 Kč (validate in the yellow box at station entrance or on the tram); 32 Kč gives you 90 minutes; and 110 Kč day passes are good for the 24 hours after being stamped. Validate just once, but keep the ticket ready for an inspector, should one ask for it. Separate 16 Kč tickets must be bought for a dog, and for luggage items larger than airline carry-on size (up to 25x45x70 cm). Staying longer? Consider a monthly pass for 670 Kč, on sale at the Florenc Metro Station, which can be shared - one at a time - with others.
Many tram lines have night service after midnight, and departure times are listed at the stops. Keep an eye on the tram number displayed up front as detours for track work or special events are announced only in Czech on the PA system. Check passing stations against your map, or risk going out of your way. See the DPP website for full route and fare information in Czech, English and German. The Public Transport Museum is open on weekends April through November, at the old tram depot building in Střešovice, Prague 6.
With cobblestone streets, tram cars and their tracks, and agressive drivers, downtown Prague streets might be a bit daunting for most people. For recreation however, there are some nice trails around town, especially along the Vltava river and out in the countryside. See an expats.cz article on Czech Republic biking. Green Lemon is a rental shop and tour provider near Charles Square (Karlovo nám) with bikes, Gocycles, Segways and E-scooters for rent, along with walking or Segway tours of the city. City Bike Prague, in Old Town, is another bike and Segway rentals option; open daily April through October.
Currency and Money
The local currency is the koruna, or crown, usually represented by the symbol Kč. Plans to adopt the euro in 2015 have been pushed back until 2017 at the earliest (if at all). Until then many shops and restaurants happily accept euros, and bills/receipts often include totals in euros. Check the rate first, as some places can knock up to 20% off the value of your euro cash. ATMs are very common, so you can easily get local cash, but with bad exchange rates and hefty ATM fees you're better off at many of the exchange shops. Ask your home bank if they have a local partner bank, to save on ATM withdrawals. Major credit cards are accepted most everywhere.
When changing money at the many shops around town consult the signs displaying rates for each currency, usually in their front window. Compare rates and commissions at several before making a transaction. Shops just outside the busiest tourist areas usually offer the best deals, and changing larger amounts at one time will sometimes give better overall rates.
One shop with reliably good exchange rates is at Sménárna Jasmin Plus, Politických vězňů 8, opposite Olivova, near the main post office on Jindnsska. There are three others nearby on Politických vězňů, and on Opletalova, just two blocks off Václavské náměstí, (Wenseslas Square) and the Hlavni Nadrazi train station. Take enough crowns if venturing outside the central tourist district, since even busy commercial centers like the one at Anděl Metro station, have no exchange shops --but there are ATMs.
Media, information, resources
Fresh Magazine is a gay lifestyle magazine for Prague and surrounding areas, with events listings and guide, in Czech and Spanish - and English in the works.
The Gay Pride website also has well updated business listings, and a gay map pdf download too.
The Expats.cz English-language website has job classifieds, housing, real estate, restaurant listings and reviews, entertainment (including English-language movie listings), articles and tips on getting about, and a directory database of just about anything else you might need.
The Prague Tourist Office, has a helpful general website for travellers, and two offices with maps etc, at: Na Prikope 20 (between Wenceslas Sq and namesti Republiky), and Staromestska Radnice (Old Town Hall, Old Town Sq).
Antonio Tours are two personable young English-speaking guides, Antonio and Thomas, offering walking or car tours, day and night, that include Prague and the Czech countryside.
The Folklore Association of the Czech Republic has info on 44 festivals and rural celebrations all around the country - with interesting links to a lot of websites, many in English. For the official general public tourism site, see Prague Welcome with online info, and directions to tourist assistance sites at the airport, the main train station and Old Town Hall.
The Prague Post is the weekly English-language newspaper and website, with extensive listings of events and restaurant options. Movies usually screen in their original language here, with Czech subtitles, and the Post lists venues and times. The Prague Daily Monitor is another English-language website for news and events listings.
The Bohemia Bagel cafe, near Old Town Square, offers free phone calls to Canada and the USA for customers, plus internet access --along with American breakfasts, free coffee refills, and bagel sandwiches all day. Local Starbucks and McDonalds, along with Czech cafes and bistros such as the Art Deco gem, the Café Slavia, plus the American-style brunch and Vegetarian lunch spot, Radost FX, Restaurant/Cafe also offers free Wi-Fi. The local Cross Cafe chain of eight Prague locations, and Starbucks with nine, all offer WiFi for guests. Look for the familiar symbol on many more doors around town.
Travelling without laptop, tablet or smart phone? Four places for getting online and making cheap international phone calls at the center include: Call Point Vodičkova 20, between Václavské náměstí and Karlovo náměstí; Internet & Call Shop V Cipu 5, between Václavské náměstí and náměstí Republiky; Click Internet Cafe, Malé náměstí 13, in Old Town; and Prague Call Shop, Celetná 25, downstairs at Bolzano Passage, near náměstí Republiky. The last three also offer fax, scan, CD burn, printing, and copy services.
The main Post Office, a block from Václavské náměstí (where the trams cross the square), is open 22 hours every day, from 2am until midnight at the intersection of Jindřišská and Politických vězňů. Postage stamps can also be bought at some bookstores and card shops - just ask as you pay.
Bars, Cafes, Restaurants
Many bars are open until 4 or 5am. When handed a drink ticket be sure not to lose it, or there's a stiff penalty charge.
Cafe Cafe (Rytířská 10), sidewalk tables along Old City pedestrian street attracts gay couples for tasty afternoon pastries and coffee, by walls with celebrity photos.
Cafe Faux Pas (Vinohradska 31) open weekdays from 8am for hearty breakfasts, and until 10pm with Czech fare. Near the dance clubs, with bar, WiFi.
Cafe Flirt (Martinská 5), two-level gay/mixed breakfast and lunch cafe, music bar, and dance club until 2am.
Café Muzeum (Mezibranska 19), just above Wenceslas Square, small and casual, good conversation place to meet locals around cafe tables, inexpensive beer.
Celebrity Cafe (Vinohradska 40), panini and burgers to full-meal menu restaurant and bar, breakfast 8-11am weekdays, 10am-4pm on weekends; one of few afternoon gay meeting places on this side of town, next to On dance club.
Erra (Konviktska 11), popular, inexpensive cafe-bar-restaurant on two levels in Old Prague, open 10am to midnight.
Fan Fan Club (Dittrichova 5) stylish cocktail bar and karaoke lounge for meeting friends before the dance clubs open from 5pm nightly; open bar in front, booth seating in rear bar.
Follow Me Cafe/Bar (Dlouhá 20), open Friday/Saturday 8am-2am (weekdays until 10pm), pleasant mixed crowd cafe; breakfast, lunch, sandwiches, popular nightclub warm-up spot.
Friends (Bartolomejska 11), in narrow Old Town street, must-visit cocktail bar favorite of tourists and young locals. Periodic parties fill their dance floor, karaoke nights, DJs. Open from 7pm to 6am nightly.
JampaDampa (V Tunich 10) bar and dance club, most popular with younger women.
Kafirna U Ceskeho Pana (Kozi 13), one of Prague's oldest and most Czech gay bars, vistor-friendly, cozy with early-hours crowd.
Klub 21 (Rimska 21) stylish cafe cellar bar on gated alley. Laid back, cool place to meet new Czech friends over inexpensive beers, open early from 4pm, also has art exhibitions.
Latimerie Club Cafe (Slezska 74), chic crowd, nicely designed bar with cafe.
Lehka Hlava (Borsov 2), or "Clear Head," innovative veggie/vegan restaurant in Old City, menu online.
Little Temple Bar (Seifertova 26), former Monty's, small bar, lounge with inexpensive beer, wine, coffee and snacks next to Temple Hotel. Many dancers and other freelancers hang out and flirt here casually in the afternoons and early evenings, before the nearby Temple Club opens. For 300 Kč you can rent their "relax room."
Piano Bar (Milesevska 10), mostly older Czech crowd, relaxed where everyone is made to feel welcome.
Qcafé (Opatovická 166/12), small hip queer cafe, young crowd, two floors - one for smokers, cocktails, wines, Italian coffee, traditional Kofola, and raspberry lemonade; snacks, soups, munchies and homemade desserts. Also with info center and queer reading library.
Queens Music Club (Žitná 41), gay/straight 6pm-5am mixed party bar, DJs, theme parties.
Radost FX (Belehradska 120) vegetarian restaurant, wide variety, heaping-plate American-style weekend brunch. Relaxed Bohemian atmosphere, comfortable mis-matched furniture, English spoken, free WiFi access. Basement dance club, monthly gay Lollypop parties.
Ryby & Chips (Myslíkova 18, Karlovo náměstí), British-style fish and chips (yes, malt vinegar!); burgers, hot dogs, chicken and nuggets, baked/jacket potatoes, fish cakes, mushy peas, onion rings, meat pies and pasties, pickled eggs, and more.
Saints (Polska 32) cozy bar to start the night near the dance clubs. Comfy couches, friendly Engllish-speaking staff and clientel, free WiFi. Expats, tourists, and some Czechs who come to practice their English.
Srdce a Kamen (Trojicka 10) or Heart and Stone, cabaret club with star Vaclav Glazer, who keeps the old songs alive.
Strelec (Anglická 616/2) from 5pm, gay Czech beer pub, Czech food, popular with a fun crowd of middle-age guys, including bears and their friends.
U Rudolfa (Mezibranska 3), locals' favorite beer pub, mostly men of mixed ages, genial crowd, no English spoken.
TerMax (Vinohradska 40), new Friday/Saturday gay dance club, 10pm-6am, young 18+ dance crowd. Basement of old Valentino and On clubs, now associated with TerMix Club.
TerMix (Trebizskeho 4), popular gay dance club, lounge, small disco, darkroom off the men's room. Younger guys are sometimes casually 'commerical.' Wednesday to Sunday until 5am. Big night Wednesdays for Czech dance music.
Radost FX (Belehradska 120) mostly-straight basement dance club. Monthly Lollipop gay disco night, drag and/or strip shows -- ten years running, famous, international guest DJs, and design influences of Czech fashion designer, Jakub Chovanec.
Stage Club (Štěpánská 23), large gay dance club, Czech and International restaurant lunch and dinner, intenet cafe/ bar, dark/ backroom, male strip shows, former Valentino's management.
Valentino (Vinohradska 40), the former On Club upper level dance floor and cafe, using previous name but not associated with old owners. 18+ dancing, cruise labyrinth darkrooms, theme nights, boys-only nights.
Big dance clubs, usually straight, but with gay-friendly events from time to time include: SaSaZu (Bubenske nabrezi 360), and Studio 54 (Hybernska 38). See the websites for the Decandance promotions group, and OMG for their dance party nights.
Saunas & sex clubs
Sex work is legal for those over 18 in the Czech Republic, and Prague has two comfortable nightclubs in which to meet young entrepreneurs, often students or young workers looking for extra cash, but sometimes new arrivals from countries further east. You could meet guys with drug or alcohol problems who sleep rough in the park, but others may range from playful novices in disco back rooms who just need the price of taxi fare home, to experienced and professionally attentive service providers who never drink on the job. Longer-term escort arrangements can often be arranged if you find someone you particularly like.
Clubs filter out the most troublesome types, but agree on sexual preferences and prices upfront, and keep valuables and wits about you so everyone stays happy. Prague also has saunas, and sex clubs, and big gay dance clubs usually have dark rooms or a cruise labyrinth. Expect to pay anywhere from 500-3000 Kč ($25-150) for services. A surcharge of 1000 Kč ($50) gets a dancer out of Escape Club, but Temple charges no more than their 50 Kč ($2.50) minimum drinks consumption fee. See our map and listings section for links to all of them.
Alcatraz S&M Club (Borivojova 58) has a gay pub above their leather/uniform/rubber sex club, open daily. Dark rooms, video cabins, fetish areas, sling, cage, and showers. Thursday naked parties to 5am.
Drake's (Zborovska 50) across the river, large cellar bar and sex club, video booths, play rooms, stripper and live-sex shows, porn videos. Cover charges (free 18-25) good for 24 hours. They never close.
Escape Club (V Jame 8), non-stop strippers from 10pm, some fully naked, solo, double, sometimes oiled. Dancers will snuggle (drinks on you) on comfy couches, as you watch the show, or entertain privately at your hotel.
Factory Club (Vinohradská 63), industrial-style club on three floors, bar, dungeon, darkroom, private cabins with videos, showers, cage, slings and glory holes, sex shop and WiFi; deep house minimal ambient music.
Heaven (Gorazdova 11), the country's widest selection of DVDs for sale and rent, sex shop, darkrooms, naked parties, cinema, video cabins, on-site apartments, and bar.
Sauna Babylonia (Martinska 6), open daily 2pm to 3am, 5am on Friday/Saturday. Prague's newly renovated and largest gay sauna with steam, whirlpool, gay cinema, cubicles, fitness room, bar and massage options. Now with WiFi.
Sauna BonBon (Černomořská 6), small men's sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, private cabins, naked nights, youth discounts.
Sauna David (Sokolovska 44), somewhat older crowd, sauna, steam, whirlpool, internet, WiFi, movies, cafe, workout area, hot food cafe, private rooms, solarium, and SM-fist room.
Sauna Labyrint (Pernerova 4), large new men's club on 3 floors, sauna, steamroom, mazes, dark rooms, TV rooms, labyrinth of steam, dark room, glory holes, private rooms, video loung, bar, Wednesday naked parties. Former Tom's Bar location.
Sauna Marco (Lublanska 17), mainly Czech patrons, wide age range, steam and dry saunas, whirlpool, bar.
Temple Club (Seifertova 32/3) basement bar, booth tables, plush couches, candle-lit lounge retreat. No-pressure atmosphere, guys take cues from eye contact or greetings. Naked dancer shows from 11pm, guys also available for off-site pleasure, or for play in their overnight/ short term hotel rooms. Their next door Little Temple bar, open from noon daily, attracts flirty freelancers and offers relax room rentals.
Villa Mansland (Stepnicna 9-11) gay resort hotel outside city center, restaurant, bar, sauna, whirlpool, garden. Massage services and various "relaxation" options with easy-to-meet young freelancer locals.
Accommodations and tours
Guesthouses listed have gay British, American, or German management. All speak English, and have staff who speak most major European languages. All can be counted on to help you find your way around the city, or the region. See these and over 30 more hotels and guesthouses in our map pages.
Absolute Prague (various locations; 420-777-944-781), variety of modern, centrally-located, full-services year-round apartments; cable TV, WiFi, full kitchens, laundry facilities; English expat Andy gets you booked, settled in, oriented with Prague information and referrals.
Gay Hotel Prague (Londynska 12; 420-602-455-127), 25 guestrooms with bathroom near náměstí Míru, rooms with kitchens; WiFi throughout, airport transfers, parking.
Prague Center Guest Residences, four central apartments, 1- 3 bedrooms, most with free Wifi Internet; walk to tourist attractions and gay venues; helpful English-speaking gay hosts. Open all year.
Prague Saints (Polska 32) private apartments in and around the gay districts of Vinohrady and Zizkov, plus airport transfers and private gay tours around Prague and other destinations, day or night.
Ron's Rainbow Guest House (Bulharska 4; 420-271-725-664), six-room guest house near the center, comfortable, clean, moderately priced rooms. Long-time American expat provides welcoming introduction to all of his guests.
Temple Hotel (Seifertova 32/3) has rooms and suite for rent above Temple Club (separate entrance). Many Temple dancers live here sharing communal showers with guests, but private showers are available too. Their Little Temple Bar is open to all, daily from noon.
Villa Mansland (Stepnicna 9-11; 00420 774 239 807) gay resort hotel outside center with restaurant, bar, summer terrace, sauna, whirlpool, green tranquil garden, massage. Easy-to-meet young locals often hanging about.
On a tight budget, or travelling in groups? HostelBookers lists of dozens of hostels with beds as low as €8 per night in 4 to 10-man dorms, private single rooms from around €20 (higher on weekends), and private doubles for a bit more.
Life is a Cabaret by Mircea Ticudean, from an article in Guide Magazine, for another perspective on Prague.