The Charles Bridge in Prague is mentioned in every single tourist guide. It is, however, much more difficult to discover the “cool” places that are popular among locals. The following list, including tips for smartphone apps, is intended for those who won’t settle for the traditional tourist recommendations and want to find out about the “cool” Czech Republic.
Cool Prague: From Hipster Cafés to the Buzzing RiverbankWhile Berlin has its Kreuzberg and Paris has the bohemian Montmartre, alternative life in Prague has lately been synonymous with Krymská Street in the Vršovice district. It has many stylish cafés and art spaces. One of the most important places involved in the lightning-fast development of this locality is the café and activist centre Café V Lese. Its owner Ondřej Kobza is also trying to liven up Prague’s public space with various creative projects such as Street Pianos – there are several pianos scattered across Prague and you can sit down and play anytime you pass by. You also should not miss out on Sladkovský Café, designed in the style of the First Czechoslovak Republic, Canape Café or other retro cafés and bars.
On sunny days, the riverbank (commonly referred to as Náplavka) comes alive with crowds of locals, a theatre boat, cafés and bars, an open-air cinema or a farmers’ market. You can simply sit down by the river and take in the city with all senses. Another great tip to enjoy a relaxed afternoon is to visit some of Prague’s parks. They provide a perfect environment for picnics as well as various activities such as frisbee games, slacklining or pétanque. In the Stromovka Park, one of Prague’s coolest parks, you can enjoy a barbecue among the trees, have a dance in its summer dance hall or just kick back on a comfortable deckchair and relax to the sounds of chill-out music. Also popular among young travellers is the “pub district” Žižkov or the industrial Holešovice, where you can visit the alternative techno club Cross or the new multicultural space Jatka 78, which regularly hosts independent theatre and music projects.
Enter the Lives of Plzeň’s Citizens with the Hidden City Smartphone AppThis year, the West Bohemian city, famous for its beer, became the European Cultural Capital and it offers a rich programme of entertainment for young people from all over the world. The coolest tips for activities include seeing a performance of contemporary circus, which merges acrobatics with visual art, or visiting the unconventional exposition in the Fresh Air Gallery. If you want to get to know the city from a different perspective, download the Hidden City app. It is an alternative guide through various places and experiences connected with the beer capital’s history as well as its present life. This smartphone app will allow you to discover the lives of five different citizens of Plzeň and to walk through the city in their shoes. There is, for example, the war veteran Tomy, who will reflect on the period of the Second World War and the liberation of Plzeň by the US army, while the artist Veronika will present her city as a cultural element.
Small cafés with a distinctive feel and a wide selection of food and drink have made the South Moravian city famous far beyond the borders of the Czech Republic. There is a new trend that has been flourishing in Brno in the recent years – original bars that focus on unique drinks and on quality in general. Andrej Vališ and Honza Vlachynský are two of the many young pioneers of Brno’s bar culture. When travelling in Alaska, they decided they would open a bar, which would be closing when the last customer leaves. After they came back, they started the preparations for opening the “Bar, Which Does Not Exist”, inspired by clandestine speakeasy bars from the American prohibition era. Their offer is being complemented by the Super Panda Cirkus bar, which started last summer. Its unique atmosphere will transfer you into a magical circus tent that is intended only for real connoisseurs. Do you feel like sampling traditional Czech cuisine instead? Visit the Soul Bistro, which focuses on traditional and local meals. If you want to discover the secrets of Brno’s cafés, bars or restaurants, go out for one of the authentic “Feel Local” tours, which will show you around the best places on Pilsen’s menu.
Modern Café and Bar Culture in Brno
The energy and enthusiasm of young people can be also felt in the city of Ostrava, located in the northeast of the Czech Republic. In this city, all music lovers are guaranteed to find a venue that caters to their taste, whether it is the punk club Plan B or the multi-genre club Barrák. You can leave your signature in the half-private absinthe club Les – its walls are covered in papers with handprints and footprints (as well as backside prints) of its customers.
Discover Alternative Spaces in the Industrial Ostrava
Ostrava has recently become famous abroad for its Colours of Ostrava festival, which takes place in the industrial setting of Dolní Vítkovice. The former mine structures of the Hlubina mine, which were still used by miners only a quarter-century ago, are currently turning into a new art centre. Soon there will be photographic, film-making, painting and video mapping studios, but also clubs and cinemas. In August, this inspirational space will hold the first year of the new festival 3ArtBeat, which merges music with other forms of art.
Can a historic city, full of tourist sites, be still cool? With its active student community, Olomouc is a proof that it can! What really stands out among its many successful projects is the largest European festival of films focusing on popular science, which has been held in Olomouc for the past 50 years – the Academia Film Olomouc. Its visitors have a chance to enter an open academic environment and meet world-famous popularisers of science such as the producer of the exclusive BBC series Life Martha Holmes or the respected biologist Steve Jones. Every year, the festival presents renowned films by BBC, Discovery Channel or National Geographic.
Olomouc: Film festival, small breweries and above all the traditional tvarůžky cheese
You can spice up your trip to Olomouc by visiting the local small breweries. Do not forget to order the traditional Olomouc tvarůžky with your beer! The manufacture of this Czech soft-ripened cheese with a typical pungent scent dates back to 15th century. You can even buy it in Olomouc’s tourist information centre in a unique vending machine.
Experience and share your stories from the cool Czech Republic with its unmistakable atmosphere. You can find more information about cool places in the Czech Republic at www.coolczechguide.cz, where you can also download a smartphone app (available for iPhone and Android).