Some people travel on a budget. Some people live on a budget. I’m an actor and a freelance writer, so invariably I do both. But no worries, there’s always free or nearly free stuff to do if you know where to look. So for the sake of your wallet, we’ve put together this list of a few of things to help you have a good time while you’re here without going broke. Obviously, one of the first thing of the free things to do in Prague is to go on a Prague Extravaganza Free Tour, happening seven days a week twice daily. After that, try out some of the following suggestions…
1. Live Music with free entry
The Swan Divadelní Klub in the Old Town has a concert every Saturday night at 7:30 with a varied line-up of artists playing blues, balkan, rock, jazz, country and folk. There’s no cover charge, but they’ll pass a hat to collect money for the musicians. The drinks and limited food offerings are neighborhood-pub priced which means that a beer costs around 30 kc, not easy to find that cheap in the center. The atmosphere is laid back, and it’s a hangout for students, actors and technical staff from the two adjoining theaters. The bar is a little hard to find as there’s no outdoor signage. It’s located in the cellar of Kolowrat Theater on Ovocný Trh right nextdoor to the Estates Theater (you know, the Mozart place with the creepy statue). Just go into the lobby of Kolowrat and look for the big Swan sign that points you to the stairs.
Also in the center, the Roxy on Dlouha has Free Mondays where they present a weekly line-up of great local and international touring bands starting at 8:00, followed by DJs playing from 11:00 until the wee hours of the morning. The place is a bit more trendy and the drinks are more expensive but not too bad.
2. Karaoke with free entry
The Globe Cafe and English-language bookstore hosts karaoke every Saturday night. They have inexpensive drinks and great food, and they’re conveniently located near most of Prague’s most popular hostels.
3. National Gallery free days
The six venues of the National Gallery in Prague have several days a year where they waive their admission fee and you can visit the exhibitions for free. Still in 2016 you can take advantage of this on 17 and 28 September, and again on 28 October. Additionally, the galleries are normally free to all students up to age 26 with a valid student ID card, and free to children and youth up to age 18. One of the amazing exhibitions that I would recommend is the Slav Epic by Alfons Mucha, the godfather of art nouveau, on display at the Trade Fair Palace in Holešovice. The enormous, highly detailed canvasses are mind-blowing, to say the least.
4. City Parks with phenomenal views of Prague
Vitkov is the name of the huge hill with the marble monument and giant statue of warrior Jan Žižka on horseback that you can see from anywhere in Prague. The view from the top is breathtaking, overlooking the entire city. If you’re feeling energetic, you can climb the stairs that begin next to the Czech Army Museum near bus station Florenc. Or if you don’t feel up to the cardio workout, you can take bus 207 from Náměstí Republiky to stop Ohrada in Žižkov and find the backside of Vitkov with no hill to climb. At the bus stop, look across the street for beer garden Zahradky Žižkov, and behind the beer garden you’ll find the access road that leads to the horse statue and overlook, a 15-minute walk.
Vyšehrad is an ancient fortress with modern cathedral towering above the east bank of the river a little ways south of the city center. You can walk around the entire perimeter on the top of the fortress walls and get great views both up and down the river. If you get thirsty from the walk, there’s a freaky beer garden called Na Hradbach there with really inexpensive drinks and grill food. To get there take the red metro line C to stop Vyšehrad, walk up the short flight of stairs into the wide open stone-paved area, and then follow the signs for 10-15 minutes by foot to enter the fortress through the Leopold Gate.
5. Funky local hangouts with lots of cultural stuff happening
Visit A Maze In Tchaiovna, a tea house and hand-crafted beer bar at tram and metro stop Hradčanska. They have live theatre and storytelling events, improv comedy nights, book swaps, clothes swaps, a chess club, a knitting club, free language lessons, and tea talks and workshops on a variety of diverse alternative subjects. Everything they do is free entry. At performance and workshop-type events, they pass a hat to collect donations for the performers or organizers.
Go to Cross Club in Holešovice and hang around outside in front on the multi-leveled steam punk apocalypse terrace and… just stare at stuff. It’s like no other terrace in this world or the others. It’s a twisted light and metal sculpture welded together with alien blood and the hair of gorgons. It’s like being inside an H.R. Geiger painting with moving parts and a beer bar.
Photos by Mélanie Rada
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