What's it really like?
The capital of the Czech Republic is architecturally beautiful, historically fascinating, culturally impressive, and surprisingly gay. A combination of a mostly atheist population with a liberal post-communist society has led to Prague being the best gay destination in Central Europe, with a lively and diverse scene that has attracted a large LGBT community.
When you’re not enjoying the bars, clubs, and saunas that gay Prague has to offer, you will be discovering a city that rivals the greatest European capitals in every way. The landmarks are stunning, the food delicious, and the beer some of the best in the world – all of this for a fraction of the price of a trip to London, Paris, or Berlin.
Most gay travelers stay in the Vinohrady gayborhood near the city’s gay nightlife or in the neighboring historic Old Town. In general, accommodation in Prague is cheap by default, especially if you visit outside of the summer and Christmas peak seasons. The truly high-end 5-star hotels will not cost much less than their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, but once you get to 4-star and mid-range you start seeing a significant drop in prices.
The Czech Republic lags behind Western Europe in terms of certain gay rights, such as marriage and adoption, but is overall quite progressive compared to its Central European neighbors. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal, and public opinion on homosexuality has been steadily improving in past years.
Prague is the epicenter of Czech gay culture, and is overall a tolerant and gay-friendly city. You are unlikely to encounter any issues during your time in Prague.
Prague is known for being one of Europe’s best destinations for nightlife. Great clubs and bars, an easily walkable layout, world-class beer, and incredibly cheap prices combine to make the city a party capital unlike any other. Straight or gay, anyone in Prague is guaranteed a good night out.
However, gay visitors are often surprised by the size and popularity of Prague’s gay scene. It is by far the best in Central and Eastern Europe, and holds up admirably when compared to Europe’s biggest gay hubs like Barcelona, London, and Berlin. Most of the gay Prague nightlife is concentrated in the Vinohrady neighborhood, however, you can find gay bars and clubs across the city – and new ones are opening regularly.
What’s perhaps most surprising about gay Prague is how diversified it is. Outside of large gay international hubs, gay bars and clubs can get relatively samey. However, gay Prague has something to offer for everyone, from hipster cocktail joints like DANDY and The Bourgeois Pig to small cafes like Q Cafe, friendly local pubs like Piano Bar, and sprawling multi-level clubs like TerMAX and OMG Party @ Mecca.
Even when it comes to cruise bars, Prague offers variety: to name just a few, you have Drake’s Club for sheer size (over 400 m2), Factory Club for an industrial vibe, and Garage Club for a modern experience with walls covered in erotic art.
Pub crawls are a popular and effective way to discover some of the city’s nightlife, and are often extremely cost-effective. Prague Pub Crawl is a long-standing institution, with two crawls every night culminating in the biggest club in Central Europe, Karlovy Lazne. However, if it’s the city’s gay nightlife you want to discover, Prague Gay Pub Crawl has you covered, and even includes the option of finishing your night at a gay sauna.
Prague has four gay saunas, each with its unique appeal. The city’s biggest and most popular is Sauna Babylonia. It’s in the Old Town, with a modern and colorful interior thanks to a full 2013 renovation. On the opposite end of the scale, Sauna Bonbon in up-and-coming Vrsovice is small and very local, mainly popular with older Czech guys.
The other two saunas are located close to each other in the Karlin neighborhood. Sauna David is the city’s longest-running, and is mostly frequented by mature men. Sauna Labyrint opened in 2009 and has a more updated feel, with some very good and clean sauna facilities.
Saunas in Prague tend to be frequented by locals, with some of them having regular groups of patrons who know each other. Because of this, they can also be relatively empty during most of the day. Visit a gay sauna during a weekend party for a better chance of meeting a variety of people, or head to one of the city’s many cruise bars for weekday action.
The easiest place to get tested for HIV in Prague is at The Lighthouse, a dedicated center by the Czech AIDS Help Society. They have a free and anonymous HIV testing clinic which runs on Mondays (16:00 – 19:00) and Wednesdays (09:00 – 12:00). The Lighthouse is located in Karlin (Prague 8).
The Czech Republic has one of the lowest HIV prevalence rates in Europe. However, men who have sex with men are by far the most affected group, and most cases in the country are in Prague. Make sure to practice safe sex during all your encounters in the city.
Nowadays, Prague is divided into 56 municipal districts. However, most people still use the old numbering system, which divides the city into 10 numbered districts. Within each of these, there are several distinct neighborhoods, many of which used to be independent towns before their unification in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A handful of these make up the main areas frequented by tourists.
Vinohrady (Prague 2) – Vinohrady is one of Prague’s coolest neighborhoods, sitting in between the old-world beauty of the historical center and the non-stop nightlife of Žižkov. Vinohrady is where you’ll find Prague’s best coffee shops, trendiest bars, most delicious food spots and, of course, gay nightlife. Several of gay Prague’s best and most beloved venues are here, including DANDY, Club TerMAX, and The Saints Bar.
Žižkov (Prague 3) – Zizkov is known for having a staggering number of bars and pubs, making it one of the main nightlife hotspots around the city. Not much of this is gay, with the exception of Piano Bar, a longstanding institution with older Czech gay men. Still, the area is hard to beat for a bohemian, rebellious vibe popular with young students and old Prague locals alike.
Staré Město (Prague 1) – Prague’s Old Town is its historical center, known for landmarks like the Old Town square and the Charles Bridge. For this reason, it is a must-see in any tourist’s itinerary. Despite its traditional appearance, the Old Town also has some exciting gay drink and play options such as Friends, Cafe Bar Flirt, and Sauna Babylonia.
Nové Město (Prague 1) – The name of this district translates to New Town, in opposition to Stare Mesto. It surrounds the Old Town, providing an effective transition between the charms of medieval Prague to the trendy post-Communist vibes in Vinohrady and Zizkov. Gay highlights in Nove Mesto include The Bourgeois Pig, an alternative vinyl cafe and cocktail bar, and Alcatraz cruising club, which is particularly popular with gay Prague’s bear and leather crowd.
Malá Strana (Prague 1) – Across the Vltava from the Old Town, Mala Strana is an equally historical and picturesque neighborhood. With a quieter nightlife than the Old and New Towns across the river, Mala Strana is a particularly popular place to stay for many tourists.
Letná & Holešovice (Prague 7) – Two adjacent industrial districts going through a modern revival, with plenty of brand-new galleries, bars, and restaurants to explore. Holesovice is home to Mecca, whose regular OMG Party is Prague’s hottest gay club night.
Karlin (Prague 8) – Karlin is an often-ignored district of Prague, despite being right next to both the Old and New Town. It is also quite up-and-coming and is seeing a steady influx of trendy and modern cafes, restaurants and bars. Two of the city’s s gay saunas, Sauna Labyrint and Sauna David, are here.
Vršovice (Prague 10) – A similar district to Vinohrady, but a little further removed from the center. As a result, it feels slightly more authentic and local, although the area does have its fair share of polished coffee shops, vintage stores, and craft beer bars. It is home to Patra, a gay cafe/bar/art gallery/community space, as well as to Sauna Bonbon, a small gay sauna popular with locals.
Prague is generally a very walkable city, with pleasant streets and boulevards and most key landmarks and neighborhoods packed closely together. However, there are extensive and convenient public transport options for those looking to save time and energy. A full-price ticket for any mode of public transport in the city is 32 CZK (about $1.50), and you may have to purchase an additional half-fare if traveling with a large suitcase.
From Václav Havel Airport – The more convenient way to get to the center is the Airport Express bus service, which goes straight to the main train station. However, if you are going to another area altogether, your best option is to take bus 119 to Nádraží Veleslavín station, from which you can take Metro A to downtown. Both options cost the standard public transport fare. A taxi to the city center will cost about 400-600 CZK ($18-$27).
Metro – Prague has an excellent Metro system with three lines. Most landmarks and popular neighborhoods are served by the network, meaning it will probably be your main way of getting around in the city. However, the service runs until midnight, so getting back from the bar will probably involve either walking or taking a taxi.
Bus – Buses supplement the areas not covered by the Metro, but these tend to be of little interest to tourists. You probably won’t have to take a bus, but if you do the Journey Planner function of the Public Transport Authority will come in handy.
Tram – Trams are a good way to view the city from street level, so it’s a good idea to take one instead of the Metro where convenient. The network isn’t too big, but is particularly useful for crossing the river – for instance, to go see the Castle. Trams are often canceled, delayed, or rerouted entirely due to construction, which can sometimes be confusing for tourists.
Taxi – Taxis are cheap for European standards and easy to find throughout the city. Flagfall is 40 CZK and then it’s 28 CZK per kilometer. Scams are quite common, so make sure you only use official taxis (yellow, TAXI sign on the roof, and the driver’s ID in the window) and that you check the meter is on. It is also a good idea to get your driver to commit to an approximate fare before setting off – trips within the touristy city center shouldn’t usually cost more than 200 CZK.
Bicycle – There is a relatively extensive network of cycle paths, but the city’s cobbled streets and pedestrian paths don’t necessarily make for easy cycling.
Car Rental – There would be no benefit to renting a car in Prague, as driving around the city is difficult and time-consuming.
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