Guns, Strippers – and other Unusual things to see and do in Prague


I always hear people complain that Prague is too touristy. There’s some truth to that – but most of the “too touristy” problem in Prague is due to tourists going to all of the same (ie. usual) places.

See this post I wrote a few years ago on 50 Things to Do in Prague.

We spent August 2017 in Prague, our 4th time here (Prague is where we come to get our medical/dental stuff done). This time we decided that we’d explore more unusual things, with an emphasis on more ‘doing’ than ‘seeing”. The things we did below were inspired by things we knew existed in Prague but had never tried (the guns and strippers), obscure recommendations from locals we met (the Czech Hockey Hall of Fame, the vineyard in the city, the “jumping elevator”), and from this book highlighting all kinds of off-the-beaten-track sights that even locals don’t know about.

You’ll find sights and activities in this post not covered by any traditional guidebook.

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Some highlights of our month-long visit:

 

Shooting Guns

Neither of us had ever shot a gun in our lives. We knew Prague had ‘gun tours’ and after doing bit of searching online we contacted Outback Prague. We spent an hour with them shooting 10 different types of weapons including a glock pistol, a pump-action shotgun, a Scorpion submachinegun, and an AK47 Kalashnikov (all the weapons we tried are listed here). With each weapon you get between 10-15 shots at a target. IT WAS AWESOME. If you’ve never shot a gun you’ll be surprised by the kickback, the flames that sometimes shoot out of the gun, the smell of gunpowder, and the spent shells flying all over the place. Shooting is a lot messier then you see in the movies.


We’ll probably never shoot a gun again in our lives – but it have to admit we really enjoyed the experience.

Above: look at Lissette with her little hearts on the glasses…but give her a gun and the American comes out.

* Outback Prague gave us a discount as bloggers. It doesn’t change anything – it was an awesome experience. The owner, Vitek, picks you up at your apartment or hotel and brings you to the shooting range. Very well organized (have a look at their Trip Advisor reviews if you don’t believe me).

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Going to a Strip Club

When I turned 50 a few months ago we were in Tokyo where Lissette had suggested we go to a strip club to celebrate my birthday. Tokyo’s popular red light district was unfriendly and unwelcoming (as I wrote about here) and we had ditched the idea and gone to eat sushi instead.

Coming to Prague we decided we’d make up for that experience. Researching which strip club to go to in Prague I read a bunch of reviews which suggested maybe it wasn’t a great idea: 1) most appeal to single guys or groups coming for stag parties, 2) many are ‘sex clubs’ where you’ll be pressured for more (not what we were looking for), 3) some strip clubs are sketchy and I didn’t feel like being shaken down by some big guy named Igor.

I wrote Darling Cabaret, the most famous of strip clubs in Prague and told them we would be coming to Prague. “Are couples welcome to your club?” I asked. “They certainly are!” Darling responded.

In fact, Darling Cabaret is one of the friendliest partners we’ve ever worked with as bloggers. We were warmly welcomed in the club, given VIP seats right next to the stage, and offered free drinks. Sweet.

I’ve read that Darling offers some of the same ‘services’ as other Prague strip joints. Upstairs are private rooms where you can get lap dances or any variety of services you might want (we didn’t do any of that). So you’d think maybe it’s a ‘sketchy’ kind of club. It isn’t. In fact, Darling Cabaret is the most upscale strip club we’ve ever been to *. It’s a beautiful, big club with a large stage on the ground floor with balconies looking down from above.  What really sets Darling Cabaret apart are the shows – yes, you have the usual pole dances, but then you have some really over-the-top shows featuring girls dressed in Egyptian outfits (I counted 15 of them on the stage, dragging around some kind of Sarcophagus), a dancer doing an amazing light show with batons, a couple of gymnasts twirling high above the stage on ropes. As Lissette mentioned sometime during the course of the night, it was like Cirque de Soleil (but with lots less clothing…)

*not that we’ve been to many strip clubs. In fact we’ve been to 3 clubs over 12 years (Montreal, Bangkok and now Prague).

I know strip clubs are not for everyone. But Darling Cabaret was great and Lissette was made to feel very comfortable. 

 

 

Going to a Vineyard in the middle of the city

A Canadian expat living in Prague told us about this vineyard. A vineyard In the center of Prague? Yes. And it happens to be in Havlíčkovy Sady, one of the city’s prettiest parks (and a 10 minute walk from our apartment in District 10).
You’ll see the vineyard stretching up the hill in the park. Near the top, you’ll see a wooden building. That’s where you go. They don’t speak much English but tell them you want to do some wine tasting – there are 2 whites and a red for tasting and you can tell them if you want a quarter liter or half liter. We ended up trying them all and they were pretty good. But the highlight is being in this weird wooden structure (which reminded us of the Jim Thompson house in Bangkok) with views over the vineyard and city.

 

 

Visiting the Czech Hockey Hall of Fame

I had walked into a hockey equipment store and struck up a conversation with the owner. He recommended a visit to the Czech Hall of Fame in the Harfa Mall (right next to the O2 Arena). He said the interactive displays are a lot of fun.

We went. The Czech Hockey Hall of Fame itself was ok (English signage isn’t great and the displays could have been made more exciting). BUT – the interactive displays ARE great. We had the place almost to ourselves and I spent a lot of time shooting on a dummy goalie (video further below). It was also a great spot to buy hockey t-shirts and other hockey memorabilia. It’s not for everyone, but if you are a big hockey fan (which I am) or a kid you might enjoy it.

You might get a kick out of this video:

 

 

Weird modes of transport

Public transport in Prague is fantastic and I’m a huge fan of trams. But there are some other, more unusual, modes of transport as well:
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Trams

Nothing weird or unusual here. But I love Prague’s trams and made a video highlighting trams passing through some of the more scenic spots In Prague.

Note: if you want to experience more trams, go to the 1) Prague Public Transport Museum and 2) take the Historic Tram 91 (both were covered in this post).

 

Ferry

Many people don’t know that they can take a small ferry across the Vltava river – AND it’s included in your public transport ticket (it’s part of the public transport system).
There are several ferry stops. We took the one on the river bank not far from Andel metro. Lots of fun – we just crossed the river (2 minutes) but other people that had gotten on with us continued on down the river.  

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Cable Car

Another finding from the book I mentioned containing all those off-the-beaten-track sights. The Cable Car at the NH Prague City Hotel (close to Andel metro) is weird and is a cross between an elevator and a funicular.

The cable car brings you from the bottom of the hotel to the top (which is up a hill). There’s no driver – you press the ‘elevator’ button, you get in, and chances are you have the cable car all to yourself for the 1 minute ride to the top. Here’s a video I made:

 

Jumping Elevator

Jeff at Nofech café told us about “Jumping elevators”. I had no idea what he was talking about.
Built in the 1860’s a paternoster (or jumping elevator) were common in central Europe. They can be described as a non-stop elevator that does a loop. You just get in and get out, no buttons involved. They were used mostly in public buildings (like government buildings). Today you’ll find the largest remaining number of paternosters in Germany and the Czech Republic. The EU doesn’t permit the building of new ones because of safety concerns (a few people have fallen and been killed in them) and excessive energy consumption.
We visited the paternoster in City Hall, right across from the Klementinum. Another video:

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Soviet Memories

Soviet times were bad for the Czechs and you won’t see too many Communist-era monuments remaining around Prague. But if you’re curious and have a fascination for Soviet architecture here are a few things we saw that you might find interesting.
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Anděl metro

Anděl metro was built between 1977 and 1985 and was originally named Moskevská metro, after the city of Moscow. It was a collaboration and dedicated to Czech-Soviet friendship: in return a metro station in Moscow was built and named Prazhskaya that same year.


After Communism fell the plaques commemorating the friendship were removed. Then, at some point, they were put back in place. If you go now you’ll see a large plaque at one of the entrances to the metro and, if you go down into the metro, you’ll see a series of large bronze Communist-era plaques.

 

International Hotel

The International Hotel was built in the 1950’s in Stalinist style, resembling many buildings found in Moscow. But it is the largest Stalinist style building in Prague. 


Interesting fact – the star was glazed in ruby-red glass when constructed. After communism fell in 1989, Holiday Inn bought the hotel and painted the star green to mirror the color of the hotel chain (really, how tacky is that? Shame on you Holiday Inn). It was later sold and the star was repainted in gold.

It’s a beautiful, old-style hotel with a very warm atmosphere – in complete contrast to its cold, austere outside appearance. There’s a large ballroom that used to hold large annual balls for the political elite at the time. Near the bar is a wall tapestry depicting Prague, with (the since removed) statue of Stalin – it used to be the largest Stalin monument in the world (over 15 m tall).

Note: for more Communist in Prague, visit the Museum of Communism

 

 

Viewpoints

I love viewpoints and Prague has some of the best viewpoints of any city (I previously wrote this post featuring the best tower views in Prague).  We discovered a few other great viewpoints on this latest trip:

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U Prince restaurant

This hotel/restaurant is directly on the Old Town Square and is known for its great views – some of the best in the city. We went up to the rooftop restaurant (just take the elevator to the 4th floor) and had a coffee. Some photos:

Above: unfortunately, the Old Town Hall Tower was undergoing some restorations on this last visit.

 

The New Town Hall Tower

A new tower to add to my list. This tower is most famous as the site of the First Defenestration of Prague in 1419 (defenestration is the fancy word for throwing people out of windows. Prague has a history of it). In this case, an angry mob of Hussites stormed the New Town Hall and threw government officials out of the building windows, killing them.

The New Town Hall Tower is located across the park from Karlovo náměstí metro station. It’s a bit of a strenuous hike but the staircase is wide most of the way up. Nice views over the old town and the castle beyond.

 

Mary in Exile Statue

This marble statue of the Virgin Mary is a replica of the Virgin Mary statue that was on the Marian Column in the Old Town Square (which had been built to celebrate the conquest of Swedish invaders in 1648). In 1918 the original statue was broken by an excited crowd celebrating the creation of the new, independent Czechoslovakia. So in 1954 a replica was made in Rome (out of pure white marble). It was sanctified by the Czech Papal College and, after sitting for a long time in an abbey, was moved to the present spot right behind the Strahov Monastery. 

We read about this statue (and its excellent viewpoint) in our book. But it wasn’t easy to find, we spent almost 2 hours trying to find it. We finally found it. Here is how: just below the Strahov Monastery is a paved path. You’ll see a sign pointing right towards the Petrin tower. Walk a bit on the path, you’ll see green fields below and the Old Town in the distance. You don’t have to walk far – they’ll be a dirt path off to your right (looking up, you’ll see the monastery above you). Follow that path. It’s a bit of a loop but it will bring you up – and to the back – of the monastery. There you will find an opening with great views of the city as well as the marble statue of the Virgin Mary .

 

Garden Café Taussig                                  

This café was one of our most interesting finds. It is located just down the hill from the above Mary in Exile statue on a quiet lane. You’re in the heart of Prague but could think yourself wandering around the countryside.

Walk in and you’ll see a café serving drinks. No big deal. But walk further in and you’re presented with a garden with tables and benches. There are trees and gardens all around. Its a huge space – before becoming a garden this piece of land on a hill was actually a vineyard. You can get your coffee, walk up a path, and find yourself a secluded spot with some of the best views of Prague castle in the city.

 

 

Other Sites

We visited some lesser-known Prague attractions on this visit that many people are unfamiliar with:

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The Ukrainian Orthodox Church

A small wooden Orthodox church brought to Prague from the Ukraine? Finding this place was another treasure hunt.

This Orthodox church (known as The Carpathian Church of St. Michael the Archangel ) was original built in Mukachevo in the Western Ukraine, 900 km away. In 1929 it was packed up and railed by train on 4 wagons to Prague where it was reassembled in Kinsky Garden (at the bottom end of Petrin Park).  Why was it moved?  It marked the 10th anniversary of the annexation of Carpathian Ruthenia (the Subcarpathian region) into Czechoslovakia after WWI. Today St. Michael’s Church is used by the Orthodox Church of Bohemia and Slovakia and religious services are held twice weekly.

How to find it? Not easy to describe but I’ll try my best. Enter Kinsky Garden on Holečkova street and follow the path to your left. Continue about 10 minutes until the park ends at a big building that looks like a museum. Turn right, following a path up the hill. You’ll get to a waterfall with a statue. You might see the spires of the church behind the trees. Go around and up on the left. You’ll get to a path. Go left and up. It will take you to the church. You’ll feel like you’re in the Ukrainian forest somewhere, not in the heart of one of Europe’s most popular cities.

                              

Troja Palace

In any other city than Prague this palace would be a top attraction. Only because Prague is so spectacular is it almost unknown.

The palace was built between 1679 and 1691. It has pretty gardens, impressive baroque architecture, magnificent art in every room including in the Chinese chambers (everything Chinese was “in” at the time). But the highlight is the Grand Emperor’s Hall which is covered in colourful paintings, the main theme being the celebration of the Holy Roman Empire’s victory over the Turks in Vienna in 1683. It is an incredible room, one of the most impressive we’ve seen anywhere. This alone is reason to visit the palace.

Troja Palace is right across the street from the Prague Zoo (which we visited a few years ago, not knowing about the palace). Very much recommended.

 

Česká spořitelna (Czech Savings Bank)

Česká spořitelna is the largest Czech bank. But this branch, at the edge of the old town near Wenceslas Square (exact address: Rytířská 536/29) is one of the most beautiful banks you’ll see in your life. For a long time (1732 to 1890) is was actually a theatre. In 1890 it was decided that it would be converted into a bank and was redesigned in neo-renaissance style. From the outside, it is just another beautiful Prague building. But the inside is incredible. You enter a lobby – impressive enough with statues and arched ceilings – and ascend a wide stairwell into a huge, opulent lobby with more arches, red granite pillars, statues, Parisian-style lamps…it is spectacular and it’s hard to imagine that this is just a regular branch (Note: they have ATMs in there which is a good excuse to visit. The only thing you can’t do is take photographs).

Photo Credit: Česká spořitelna

 

 

Tips, Recommendations and Resources

Every time we come to Prague we stay in a different section of the city. This time we stayed in this Airbnb apartment in Prague 10 (If you haven’t signed up for Airbnb you can do it using this link. You’ll save $45 CAD or about $37 US on your first apartment). We really liked the apartment as well as the neighborhood and would recommend it to anyone.

Below: views from the apartment.

 

Prague 10 has some great restaurants and cafes. Some of our favorites:
Nofech Patisserie. Israeli/Mediterranean food. We were introduced to Harissa and Schug (two spicy hot sauces), and came here regularly to pick up hummus and stuffed grape leaves. Amazing stuff and the friendliest owners – if you have a chance you should visit them (tell them Bbqboy and Spanky sent you).
Jen’s café has excellent breakfast and is a popular café in Prague 10.
Buddha Café makes very good Thai food. Too expensive in the evening – but come here at lunch time and they have a much more affordable lunch menu.
Estrella restaurant is one of the best vegetarian restaurants we’ve gone to anywhere. They’re not in Prague 10 though, they are situated near the Narodni Trida metro.

Above: Avi and Jeff from Nofech Patisserie

 

I’ve mentioned the book  (111 Places in Prague that you shouldn’t miss). Most of the places I’ve covered above were found through this book. I’ve only highlighted some of our favorites – the book guided us to some interesting fountains, lamps and weird buildings, all with interesting histories. It made discovering fun and we’ll be using it again on our next visit. There’s tons in there. Very much recommended.

Click the link below to buy the book (we get a small commission)

 

 

– our Canadian Expat friend living in Prague told us about the Honest Guide: Prague. It’s all on youtube. Some excellent content for anyone going to Prague and it’s delivered in entertaining fashion. 
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My point with this post? Prague doesn’t have to be touristy. We spent a month in Prague. Guess how many times we crossed the Charles bridge? Once. I’ll never tell anyone that they shouldn’t see the highlights…but when you get tired of walking with the crowds just know that there are a ton of interesting sites where you won’t be shoulder to shoulder with the tourist hordes. That’s the great thing about Prague – there’s lots to see and there’s something for everyone.

 

Thanks for reading!

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Comments

  1. Crikey Frank! That was a hilarious read. Was it intended to be quite so funny too? Te jumping elevators are incredible… I will add a link to my Prague with Kids page!
    Jane recently posted…Queensland Theme Park Holiday – Dream WorldMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Jane, glad you enjoyed and thought it was funny. We try to make it light but sometimes it all depends on circumstances – we had been standing in front of that elevator for 5 minutes with nobody in sight and once we started filming everyone shows up including the guy with the curly hair. Just luck 😉

  2. Gun and Hookers! I’m really liking Prague 🙂
    Amazing work guys, the Czech tourist authority owes you two huge props for this wonderful summary!
    It’s official now, Prague is on my todo list!
    Thanks
    cheers!!!
    ron:)

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks so much Ron! Actually I said strippers (not hookers). But you won’t have any problems finding them if looking 😉

  3. This post made me want to go back to Prague and spend another month exploring all the parts I didn’t see! I probably would skip the strippers club and hockey Hall of Fame (although the speeded up video cracked me up) but I fell in love with the Troja Palace, the Ukranian Orthodox Church and the views from various places all around Prague. I loved the Paternoster and the Cable Car and your first photo in the gun club with the goofy hearing protectors was great. (BTW – There is now a bill introduced in the US Congress called “The Hearing Protection Act” which wants to legalize silencers if you can believe it.) If (hopefully when) we go back to Prague, I’ll have to refer back to this post and the book, “111 Places …” that you mentioned. Fun post!
    Anita recently posted…Boot Sales, Hippie Markets and Chinese StoresMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      No strippers for you Anita? But you could probably go for the gun shooting, right? Did you guys have guns in Texas, I know Texans love their weapons.
      That is crazy what you are telling me about silencers. Who in their right mind would support such a bill? That is totally f***ed up.

      • I know – legalizing silencers is bat-sh*t crazy, right? But the gun lobby is hugely powerful in the US. I used to go to target practice with my grandfather and, in one of my careers before I became a pharmacist, I worked as a sheriff, ambulance and fire dispatcher in a Montana county and was sworn in as a reserve deputy. (I know, I can’t believe it and am almost embarrassed to admit it now!) However, by the time we got to Texas, I was a tried and true left-leaning liberal, a rare breed in that state. No guns for me! 🙂
        Anita recently posted…Boot Sales, Hippie Markets and Chinese StoresMy Profile

  4. Cool collection of offbeat things to do in Prague. My favorite l think is the shooting range. I’ve never handled a gun. Federico used to be a security guard and carried one so he would love, love it and l might surprise him when we make it over there. That hotel looks like Stalin’s penis in Krakow..Haha! Look at Spanky all badass 🙂 :-). Love it!!!!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Spanky actually got really nervous and almost emotional going to the shooting range. She didn’t want to pick up a gun at first. But when she did she loved it and was just blasting away at the targets. She just told me last night that she wants to do it again. So you just never know…
      I think you’d love it Kemkem.

  5. well sir perhaps the most interesting… no DEFINITELY the most interesting post I’ve ever read on Prague. One day I’ll go back. but probably a few years yet. I hope I can find this post because I really want to try the elevator and cable car and visit the vinyard and so much else youve shown us here looks simply amazing! and not the snoozy usual tourist stuff!

  6. Very interesting post, very different than anything that I’ve ever read about Prague. I’m sure you haven’t made friends with the feminists and the anti-gun people but glad you didn’t censor yourself. And the videos are funny. Really enjoyed.

  7. Very interesting post. Prague has been on my wishlist for ages, even more reasons to go now. Lots of great info here. I will probably want to see the highlights first or even mix it up with some of your suggestions. Firing a gun would be fun. Brian and I often talk about doing clay pigeon shooting which we can do here in Dorset. I imagine Prague should be avoided in the Summer? What area would you recommend as a base for a first visit? Thanks for a great read:)

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Prague I think is always busy. We’ve visited in March and it was just as busy as in August. The thing is that all the tourists go to the same spots, there’s an unofficial tourist route from the Powder Gate through the Old Town Square to the Charles Bridge to the Castle. But the old town is quite big and you can easily get away from it.
      Where you want to be depends on how long you have. For a longer stay like ours district 10 was perfect. It was a 10 minute tram ride to the center. For a shorter time I would stay right in the center – last time we stayed right next to the savoy cafe (you can look that up). Easy walking everywhere, you’re in the center but not center-center if you know what I mean. This apartment https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/3390821 was right there and one of the nicest apartments we’ve ever stayed in.

  8. Well now you’ve just given me all the more reason to return to Prague one day.

    I loathe guns, want nothing to do with them and wouldn’t let our son have any toy guns when he was a child. But, I will admit that 30 years ago we were staying at a guest ranch in Arizona and there was skeet shooting. Somehow I got talked in to trying it. I fired once and that was it. The kickback was so intense my shoulder ached for days. But, although I don’t have the appreciation for the gun range, I have to say that jumping elevator is just too much fun! I have never ever seen one and now I desperately want to jump on and off. Which was easier, jumping on or off?

    We haven’t been to a strip club, but we’ve been to several casino shows in Vegas in which the dancers were topless. You know, the big production numbers with the giant headresses? There’s so much going on you tend to forget they’re topless.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks for the comment Patti.
      The guns and strippers were a curiosity, things we wanted to try at least once while in Prague. But we really enjoyed doing/seeing these unusual things like the elevators (on and off both easy but off probably comes more naturally). One could do post after post on unusual, non-touristy sights in Prague…I think we’ll get that book again on our next visit and check off more of the items in there. It was like a treasure hunt finding them which added to the fun.

  9. From the photos, Prague looks like a very beautiful place to visit. It seems very colourful, peaceful, and the wide variety of landscapes is very scenic. The post is also very enlightening as what activities one can take part in while in Prague. For example, most tourists would simply go for sightseeing and ignore other exciting activities such as shooting guns, and visiting vineyards. The authors seem like a very adventurous pair, seeing as they are okay with visiting activities that are out of the ordinary, such as going to a strip club. Overall, the people in Prague sound very hospitable.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Richard. Yes, we’ve been to Prague I think 4 times now for a combined 6 months time spent there – so we’ve exhausted most of the usual sights. Seeing and doing more unusual activities was a lot of fun and we probably enjoyed Prague more than ever doing so. There’s always something to do in Prague.
      Natives of Prague actually get a rap as not very friendly. We met some Canadians there who mentioned having to put their “bitch face ” on to go out in public. I think they just take a bit of getting used to, on our first trip we were there 3 months and didn’t find them friendly at all. Coming back and being more accustomed to them they’re actually ok. There’s no pretense. and they’ll never wine prizes for friendliness. But they’re ok generally – although you’ll always meet some incredible people as we did this time around!
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Split to Makarska by bike. And why Croatia has made me fall in love with biking againMy Profile

  10. Hey Frank,

    Prague is such a beautiful country! Your gun tour (shooting guns- glad you wore hearing protection there) and strip club (Darling Cabaret) experience truly deserve to be highlighted! 😉 Adding Prague to our bucket list. Thanks for sharing, like the photos, too!

Thanks for reading! Feedback is always appreciated!

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