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The thousands of stag and hen parties that descend on the city each year are not the reason why Prague is the beer capital of the world: The Czechs drink more beer per head of the population than any other country in the world, downing a total of about 43 gallons a year for every citizen. Once you sample some of the brews they have to offer, it’s not difficult to see why. Most Prague bars are tucked away beneath the arches of the imposing gothic townhouses, so if you want to keep the party going, there is always some place open.
If you’re coming to Prague as part of a big group (stag, anyone?), you are quite likely to frequent U Vejvodu. Located in the old town, it’s neither sleek nor sophisticated, but it offers a great atmosphere, hearty food, and excellent cheap beer. This historic pub combines beer hall and eatery, serving some of the city’s freshest Pilsner Urquell beer, and it’s spacious enough to accommodate large crowds without feeling claustrophobic.
Just a few hundred yards away from U Vejvodu is U Medvidku, a traditional Czech beer hall that is still reassuringly frequented by locals. It dates from 1466, when it started life as a brewery, and it maintains a microbrewery on-site. There is nothing fancy about U Medvidku, a massive whitewashed hall with several drinking areas, wood furniture, and enough space for several hundred people. Czech beer is cheap here, with Budweiser on tap. For a stronger, dark beer, try Oldgott.
Located in the heart of the old town, Kozicka (“little goat”) appears at first glance like the kind of traditional Czech bar tourists would expect – a cellar-like cavern with exposed brickwork and arched ceilings, serving reasonably-priced local beers in glasses that reach a litre in capacity. Delve deeper, however, and discover a second space that is more sophisticated and offers a wide selection of decent wines, spirits, and cocktails. Both spaces occupy a large basement that fills up late in the evening with a good mix of locals and visitors. Keep an eye out for the statue of a little goat that gave the bar its name.
After a visit to the delightful green space and observatory on Petrin Hill, drop into the Strahov Monastic Brewery (Klasterni Pivovar), Strahovske nadvori 301,for some of the best beer in Prague (and that’s saying something). Order from the delicious menu of hearty Czech food and wash it down with a glass of IPA or some of the excellent seasonal dark beer. With or without the monastic setting, beer lovers will be in heaven.
Hemingway Bar & Restaurant
And now for something completely different. It’s not all about beer halls in Prague, which has a great selection of sophisticated cocktail bars. We like the sleek Hemingway at Karoliny SvEtle 26. It’s tiny, so get here early, relish the library setting and convivial atmosphere, and prepare for the ritual. They take their cocktails seriously here, crafting their signature concoctions to your personal tastes and serving them in artistic and inventive ways. If you order a New Fashioned, for example, you will receive a Hemingway book that opens to reveal a flask containing your drink, which you pour over a large ice cube in a glass.
Aoife O’Carroll is a staff writer for Nova Car Hire, a convenient website for arranging car rental in 26,000 locations worldwide, including car hire in Prague.