Prague is well known for its breath-taking scenery and charm, but many people aren't aware that it's also a city renowned for its jazz scene!
Travel blogger Emma Knock goes on a musical tour of Prague and highlights her best jazz spots in the city.
Since the 1920s Prague has been famous for its first-class jazz scene, but it was following World War II that jazz really secured itself as an integral part of the city’s culture.
Today, the city’s historic centre boasts a variety of clubs, featuring both international and local talent, which lure tourists from all over the globe who are looking to get a taste of Prague’s bustling live music scene. On top of that, from March through to June, jazz club AghaRTA hosts a festival as well as their usual series of on-going shows.
Prague’s Old Town is home to most of the city’s jazz clubs and I would recommend spending at least one night hopping around several of the jazz venues in the area, particularly if you are only in Prague for a short time.
If you’re in Prague with a special someone or celebrating an occasion, you should start your evening at Bily Konicek, a 12th Century restaurant based in a cellar in Old Town Square. The cellar setting takes you back in time and is very reminiscent of Prague’s traditional nightlife scene. Live jazz bands play from 9pm through to midnight and the restaurant serves both traditional Czech food as well as international cuisine. However, do be warned that this is not somewhere to go if you are on a budget! In keeping with the underground theme, just off of Old Town Square is cellar club Agharta. This club is popular with both tourists and locals and plays not only jazz music, but also swing and blues.
U Stare Pani is commonly considered to be one of the best jazz clubs in the capital and is another effortlessly cool cellar club that gets very crowded, very quickly! My personal favourite venue is Jazz Republic, just off of Rijna. With a relaxed vibe and an impressive selection of musicians as well as a long absinthe menu, you can easily lose yourself for an evening in this charming venue. Music ranges from jazz to funk, soul and more. Entry is also free, but the bar does shut around midnight.
New Town / Lesser Town
While it’s true that the Old Town really is home to most of the city’s best-loved live music venues, there are a few establishments outside of the historic centre that I feel are definitely worth checking out on your trip to Prague. Reduta Jazz Club, for example, is just a short walk from New Town’s famous Wenceslas Square and is actually one of the oldest jazz spots in Prague.
Also, over in Lesser Town, not far from Charles Bridge is U Maleho Glena Bar. Every night different musicians hit the stage and play from 9.30pm until late. Out of all the places mentioned in this post this is undoubtedly more of a local’s spot, but don’t let that put you off as this tiny venue allows you to have a really intimate experience with some fantastic jazz bands. The language need not be a barrier either, as I found the staff to be very friendly and accommodating to those not overly comfortable with the city’s native tongue.
Prague’s jazz scene is, in my opinion, unparalleled anywhere else in Europe and with flights, accommodation and cost of living being so reasonable there really is no excuse not to start planning your trip now. For true lovers of jazz, this really is a must-visit city.