According to an old Czech saying, “every Czech is a musician.” Indeed, the country and especially Prague has long revered music, from classical to jazz and just about everything in between. While authoritarian rule by Nazis and communists doesn’t seem like it would be very inspiring for musical expression—Nazi law actually forbid jazz music specifically—Prague has a rich history of music clubs and international jazz stars have always been fond of the city. The best jazz clubs in Prague rival those in larger cities around the world.
In the 1960s, jazz greats Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald both played at Lucerna, a club just off Wenceslas Square that still exists today, though it favors rap and hip hop. During communism, the United States promoted jazz as the music of freedom and actually sponsored tours of musicians and bands behind the Iron Curtain. They also founded jazz programs on radio stations that could be clandestinely broadcast in communist countries.
Today the city remains dedicated to jazz. Prague still attracts world-class jazz musicians and boasts several generations of local jazz masters. Here are the best jazz clubs in Prague.
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Centrally located near Old Town Square, Agharta hosts some of the best local jazz musicians every night of the week. Robert Balzar, one of the most famous jazz bassists in the country, plays here regularly with his group. The emphasis is on fusion and modern jazz, and the club even hosts its own jazz festival each summer.
Address: Železná 491/16
2. Jazz Dock
One of the newest and best jazz clubs in Prague, Jazz Dock is ideally located on the river in the Smichov neighborhood. Large glass panels give atmospheric views of the passing boats and let the breeze in, making this the ideal club during the warmer months. The club attracts both young up and comers and jazz legends, and hosts a variety of music from nu-jazz to funky noise to minimalism.
Address: Janáčkovo nábř. 2
Reduta has a history that stretches back to 1957, when a group of local performers created it as a space for music and theater. Now located just around the corner from Wenceslas Square, Reduta is a Prague original. There’s a great bar here where you can watch the performances on a screen if you don’t feel like getting closer to the music. You can even enjoy a beer poured from a saxophone tap!
Address: Národní 116/20
4. U Maleho Glena
The name of this cozy underground club means “At Little Glen’s,” referring to the diminutive American owner. This is one of the original post-Velvet Revolution jazz clubs in Prague. The bar upstairs serves good beer and wine and tasty Tex Mex, Czech cuisine and American pub food. Downstairs is the intimate club. Since the seating is limited, it’s best to purchase tickets in advance on their website or at the bar.
Address: Karmelitská 374/23
5. The White Horse
A restaurant and jazz club combined, The White Horse is conveniently located on Old Town Square, just steps away from the most popular tourist sites in the city. The location means the prices are higher, of course, but an evening here really can be atmospheric. The program features jazz, blues and folk, mostly soloists and small combos.
Address: Staroměstské nám. 20
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Stephan Delbos is an internationally published writer and editor. Born in the US, he has lived, worked and traveled in Europe for a decade. He’s fond of oysters and arid martinis.