36 Hours in Prague: If you can’t get enough music

Music played in Prague isn’t indigenous to the Czech Republic. Much like the country’s history, outside influences created a rich and diverse music culture in the Czech Republic’s capitol city.  The live music scene in Prague consists of many new and old genres that are performed in varying venues across the city. The genres themselves are amalgamations of the past and present cultures that have inhabited the lands now called the Czech Republic. By touring some of the finest music venues in Prague, a person spending only a short period of time in the city can get a sense of the varied culture and history in Prague, even though there is no singular Czech influence on the music they will hear.

Photo by Drew Beveridge

1) Street Performers

The Charles Bridge is an enormous structure stretching across the Vltava River. Made of cobblestone and dotted with statues, the bridge is a hotspot for art vendors and musicians. They set up early in the morning to prepare for the crowds that cross the bridge at nearly all hours of the day and night. There is a great diversity of music on the bridge. You can stop to listen to the violinist Karel Jakoubek, the Charles Bridge Swing Band and the Bridge Band. In the Old Town Square, you will find the duo Emil & Jakub, who play their own version of techno music using buckets, pots and pans. If you decide to eat lunch in the Old Town Square, chances are you’ll hear musicians playing while you enjoy your meal in one of the many outdoor cafés.

Bridge Band
The Charles Bridge Swing Band playing on the Charles Bridge. Photo by Drew Beveridge

Emil & Jakub live in Old Town Square: https://youtu.be/e4xiFh0Xs2k
Where to find Old Town Square: https://goo.gl/maps/xrfUH
Where to find Charles Bridge: https://goo.gl/maps/LFA6l

2) The John Lennon Wall

The John Lennon wall is a stretch of concrete wall standing 20 feet high and covered in graffiti, murals and signatures, some dating back to the early 1980s. The shaded area around the wall is a serene place to sit and admire the art after your meal in Old Town Square. A singer/acoustic guitarist is common at the wall. The musicians there tend to cover folk and rock hits from the 1960s and 1970s.

JL Walll
Singer/Acoustic Guitarist performing at the John Lennon Wall. Photo by Drew Beveridge

Where to find it: https://goo.gl/maps/TJmRf

3) Classical Music

Rendition of Don Giovanni. Photo by Drew Beveridge
Puppet used in the marionette rendition of Don Giovanni. Photo by Drew Beveridge
Puppet used in the marionette rendition of Don Giovanni. Photo by Drew Beveridge

Head back across the bridge to Prague in time for the classical and opera shows that are often playing in one of the churches of Prague 1. The pricing of these shows will vary widely depending on which venue you attend. Venues like the Estates Theatre will be more expensive as opposed to shows produced in the churches. The performances in the churches are generally less expensive because they are recitals of popular composers’ work from the Renaissance or Baroque period. Don Giovanni by Mozart is a favorite in Prague — Mozart chose to hold its debut performance in Prague’s Estate Theatre in 1789. Higher-end classical performances and operas usually open later in the evening closer to 20:00 and generally will cost up to 1000 czk, or $50 .

Attend a marionette show at the National Marionette Theatre for a less expensive alternative. The National Marionette theatre is a well-respected puppetry venue and has been performing hits like Don Giovanni and the Magic Flute since 1991. Shows at the National Marionette Theatre typically cost 500 czk, or $25.

For venue and ticket Information: www.classictic.com/en/special/prague-concert/201

4) Music Stores
If you can’t find something to do in between performances but want to keep the music train rollin’, there are a few music stores in Prague that are worth checking out. Bontonland is a music emporium of several floors containing vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, and enough pop-culture memorabilia to make your grandmother feel hip. Agharta is another, smaller, record store that opens at 19:00 to sell vinyl and CDs for two hours and then features live jazz music until midnight.

Photo by Drew Beveridge

Where to find Bontonland: https://goo.gl/maps/7fsld
Hours: 8:30-16:30

5) Jazz Clubs

People head to jazz clubs starting at 19:00. This is an alternative to a classical performance but since the the jazz clubs are open until midnight you can attend both. If you enjoy nightlife and partying into the early morning hours, the jazz scene in Prague is an excellent way to begin your night.
Jazz Dock is a jazz and blues club situated on the banks of the Vltava River. It has the ambiance fitting for a date and is more upscale compared to the rest of the jazz clubs. Make a reservation and bring your wallet. There is a cover charge that’s usually around 100 czk ($4.17) most nights and their cocktails are priced around 200 czk ($8.33). On Fridays and Saturdays, call well ahead of when you plan to arrive.

Jazz Dock
The Jazz Dock with the Vltava River behind it. Photo by Drew Beveridge

Ponk playing live at The Jazz Dock: https://youtu.be/S8J1Gae9jsA

Where to find Jazz Dock: https://goo.gl/maps/ZVE1m
Jazz Dock’s Website: http://www.jazzdock.cz/en

The Jazz Republic is a more laid back club and is ideal if you have other plans for later in the evening. It’s located conveniently off of the line A and B connection of the Mustek train stop and doesn’t typically charge a cover fee. According to a member of its wait-staff, most of the musicians who perform there sing in English. The Jazz Republic is the place to go if you’re interested in how western culture has worked its way into the music scene in the Czech Republic.

Inside of the Jazz Republic. Photo by Drew Beveridge

Roman Polansky live at Jazz Republic: https://youtu.be/2eM7xTeIyTQ
Where to find Jazz Republic: https://goo.gl/maps/IG0jq

6) Rock Venues
A favored spot by the students of Charles University is Rock Café. Their schedule consists mostly of live performances that lean towards the grunge side of rock, and sometimes include stand-up comedy acts.
Where to find Rock Café: https://goo.gl/maps/97Wn2

Other rock venues like Klub 007 feature more mainstream rock bands often from English speaking countries. Klub 007 is opposite the Vltava River of Prague 1 and is one of the largest rock venues in Prague. The shows will generally end close to 23:30 which is a great time to head back into Prague 1 to experience the electric European nightlife that you were daydreaming about on your flight over.
Where to find Klub 007: https://goo.gl/maps/cAFyr

7) Night Clubs
Many nightclubs in Prague aren’t restricted to a single dance floor. The clubs play a variety of dance music in different rooms. Taste in a particular genre doesn’t follow people onto crowded dance floors lit by the occasional tinted spotlight and fueled by electro-rave beats.
A popular night club for many tourists coming to Prague is Karlovy lázně, better known as the five-story night club. It has a huge variety of music, a genre per floor, and its basement is an ice lounge with a room temperature is -7 celcius or about 20 Farenheit. There is a 135 czk ($5.65) charge to get into the ice lounge.
Where to find Karlovy lázně: https://goo.gl/maps/yo1cE

Chapeau Rouge is a night club where you’re more likely to run into locals. They play salsa-techno music on one floor and rave music on the bottom floor.
Where to find Chapeau Rouge: https://goo.gl/maps/BKsWP

If you decide to keep the party going until 5:30, when most night clubs close, then  return to the Charles Bridge to see the sunrise over the Vltava River. Don’t miss this if you manage to stay out that late, and trust me, you won’t be the only person there.

Whichever venues you decide to attend during your time in Prague you’re sure to have an experience unlike any other. Music is a universal language that can remove the barriers even when you don’t understand the spoken language. In this case, music is one way to immerse yourself in Czech culture and get a taste of its rich and varied history.