Secret City: Prague Off The Beaten Track

Once the party capital of bachelors across the globe, Prague has had something of a makeover in recent years. While the city’s party scene is still alive and well, Prague has been enjoying an identity shift, and now it is bringing in crowds from all over the world. Steeped in history and brimming with culture, the capital of the Czech Republic is well worth seeing in the flesh; if you’re looking for a place for a European jaunt, Prague is up there with the best. Beyond the tourist traps, however, there’s a whole other world to be discovered in the city. Throw your guidebooks to the curb; we’re going underground on this one.

While Prague’s castle is always worth a visit, there’s no getting around the fact that the crowds are simply impossible to navigate. What’s an adventurer to do? With a little insight at your fingertips, feasting your eyes on the city’s pride and glory need no longer be a subject of stress. Rather than queueing up with hundreds of other tourists for a peek at the historical site, try nipping over to Novy Svet instead. A quiet area tucked just next to the castle, Novy Svet goes overlooked by most tourists and will offer you a prime view into the old way of life in Prague. Problem solved.

When industry dies out, buildings often go overlooked, gathering nothing but dust and mice over the course of time. In Prague, however, it’s a different story. Once the main hub of the city’s electric company, Bubenska 1 has been given a very creative makeover, and now it’s one of the city’s cultural meeting points. The space, occupied by architecture studios, startups, and art galleries, attracts the city’s best and brightest, giving the most exciting minds room to really experiment. Want to take a closer look? Take a trip to Forbidden Spot, a gallery, shop, and tasting atelier that’s bound to leave you wanting more.

Underground establishments were once a very real part of life in Prague, and while things have changed a whole lot over the years, the spirit of the era can still be felt. Take the Black Angel’s Bar, for example. Located in the basement of the U Prince hotel, the bar is a speakeasy affair, inspired by all things ‘30s. Kitted out with original Gothic masonry, glass vitrines, and a cocktail menu to be envied, the spot is the perfect place in which to while the night away.

Museums abound in Prague, but if you’re on the hunt for something a little out of the ordinary, you would do well to venture off the tourist trail. The Arthouse Hejtmanek is a gem in the city’s cultural scene. Set in a 17th century house, the museum includes collections of fine art, antiques, graphic design, and historical curiosities. Set aside an afternoon and take your time exploring every nook and cranny.

Need a little R&R? Head to a café! While Prague is brimming with any number of must-try spots, few are quite as unique as the Café Louvre. Dating back to 1902, the historical site has hosted figures such as Einstein and Kafka over the years. Looking for something a little less mainstream? The Grand Café Orient will serve up exactly what you need. The only Cubist café in the world, it is a designer’s delight from the inside out; just pull up a pew and drink it all in. 

Photo: Jan Prerovsky

Photo: Jan Prerovsky

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.