Although Prague in recent years has developed a reputation for catering to the seedier side of male entertainment, the discerning man about town can also enjoy plenty of other pursuits that are slightly more wholesome.
Here’s a quick pick of five things a guy can do in Prague that don’t involve drinking or strip clubs:
1. Poker, Black Jack
OK, the Czech capital is not exactly Vegas, but gambling laws here are a lot more relaxed than many European cities, which means that there is no shortage of casinos and gaming halls that are happy to take your money off you. Serious players tend to gravitate towards swanky hotel casinos like those run by the Hilton or the President.
Although these are tightly-run establishments catering for seasoned gamblers, they are a bit slick and soulless for my taste. If you fancy a more localized card-playing experience, there are plenty of Czech-owned establishments offering regular cash games as well as tournaments with very reasonable buy-ins.
If you simply fancy a friendly game of poker, then you should also check out some of Prague’s late-night “herna” bars. These places are often not the most salubrious of establishments, so you might have to check out plenty of dives with a motley collection of grungy alcoholics and game-machine addicts before you find a place that you like.
Personally, I’m pretty fond of the unassuming Royale Pershing beside the Jiřího z Poděbrad metro station. If you ignore the girl dancing with a pole at the front of the bar and make your way to the smoky back room, you’ll usually find a friendly poker game in full swing on Tuesdays and Fridays from around 20:00.
The clientele are a mixture of expats and locals whose preferred game is Texas Hold’em, although Black Jack is not unknown. The atmosphere is relaxed, while the waitresses and dealers are all extremely friendly.
It’s usually decided by agreement among the players whether to play a cash game or a tournament, but the latter tends to be more popular. The tournament buy-in is 300 CZK and the stakes get gradually higher every fifteen minutes or so, which means that you can get cleaned out pretty quickly, even though you are allowed buy in again at least once.
Despite the fact that the money on the table can sometimes be quite sizable, the game here is usually a very sociable event with plenty of idle chatter that can often go on until the wee hours…
It’s not terribly well known outside equestrian circles, but the Czech Republic has a thriving horseracing scene that has been around for centuries.
Perhaps the best known meeting is the Grand National steeplechase in Pardubice, which in many ways puts its much more vaunted English and Irish counterparts to shame.
This is one of the most grueling and demanding point-to-point horse races on the planet, which is why many British and Irish horse aficionados flock to it every October.
If this annual blue ribbon event is not enough to quench your thirst for the gee-gees, there’s also plenty of horseracing action to enjoy at local meets.
If you live in Prague, the Velká Chuchle racecourse is perhaps the most accessible place to go. Starting in April and running through till October, this flat course offers pretty decent family-friendly race events on most Sundays.
These meets give you the same thrills and spills as horse races on the British Isles and they also have the occasional novelty of horse-and-cart races.
If you’re intent on having a flutter, make sure that you become at least a little acquainted with the Czech betting system, which will be completely alien to many Anglophone racegoers.
Entry to Velká Chuchle race meetings is a very reasonable 120 CZK. You can drive there from the center in less than half an hour, or you can take bus 172 from Smíchovské nádráží with a 32 CZK ticket.
3. Arcade Games
If you’re of a certain age, then you’ve probably (mis)spent a large portion of your youth in the 1980s in a video arcade.
Besides the heady nostalgia anyone over the age of 35 will feel in this place, it’s also a pleasant surprise to discover that most of the games are still fiendishly addictive. I’m sure even Wii-generationers will spend hours playing them once they’ve finished laughing at the primitive electronic sound effects and clunky graphics.
Despite the museum’s efforts to meticulously bring the past to life, you thankfully won’t have to carry bags of loose change on your person like it you did way back in 1983. You simply pay a single fee of 99 CZK to play as many games as you want for as long as you want.
Located in the village of Červený Újezd, the arcade is just a short drive from Prague; you can also take bus 307 there from the Zličín metro station.
Be sure to check with the owner (+420 602 323 112) before heading out there, however, as the museum is usually closed in cold weather because it has no heating.
4. Guns and Military Hardware
Regular visitors to these pages are probably aware that the Czech Republic has a proud tradition of shooting and gun sports.
Naturally, this means that there are plenty of places around Prague where you can fire off a couple of live rounds. I particularly enjoyed being able to try out a number of serious weapons ranging from a pump action shotgun to a classic .357 Magnum at the AVIM shooting range, near the Florenc metro station, for just 1300 CZK.
That’s usually enough for people who have only a passing interest in guns, but if you’re a total weapons nut and want to take things up a notch, then the Offroad Action facility in Prague 6 is probably the place for you.
As you would expect from an operation as polished and professional as this, there are plenty of standard “stag-party” events on offer here, including paintballing, quad-biking and even clay-pigeon shooting.
What really catches the eye, though, is their tank museum. These guys have a pretty decent selection of heavy-duty military vehicles on display, including the legendary Soviet-era T34 tank.
Some of their tanks can even be taken out for a spin on offroad terrain, although it won’t come cheap. Deals for driving a battle-standard tank start at a cool 22,000 CZK.
If that’s a bit steep, however, you can still enjoy an offroad jaunt on a BPM armored car for as little as 800 CZK per person.
Besides stag parties and corporate events, individuals and small groups are also catered for.
5. Spas and Massages
Of course, if all of the above seems a bit full-on for your tastes, Prague also offers plenty of more sedate forms of relaxation.
The easiest way to chill out in this city is to treat yourself to a bit of high-end pampering, and there is no shortage of outlets that now offer soothing spa, massage, and beauty treatments for both men and women.
The Hoffmeister is a particularly impressive outlet, which offers everything from a steam bath in a magnificent fifteenth century cave to special facial treatments for men and a variety of exotic massages using hot lava stones, Fijian seashells, and even chocolate.
At 2,400 CZK for complete 90-minute relaxing massage, this service doesn’t come cheap, but chances are you’ll be too chilled out at the end to care.
Are you a single guy in Prague? What do you do for fun & relaxation?