The Ultimate Guide To Kolbenova In Prague, Europe’s Weirdest Flea Market

I’ve been doing some research on the (in)famous Kolbenova flea market in Prague recently, the results of which couldn’t have been more diverse. Depending on where you land, you learn that Kolbenova is the biggest flea market in Europe, the best flea market in the world or the worst flea market in the history of mankind.

I decided to go back and check. Spoiler alert: Kolbenova is neither the best nor the worst – maybe it’s not even a flea market per se, but a strange exhibition of human weirdness…but let’s not get into this just yet.

If you are one of the people depicted on this info screen: Don't come. You are basically a persona non grata because people are reminded to be alert (pozor=attention) because you are a robber (zlodej) or a pickpocket (kapsar)

If you are one of the people depicted on this info screen: Don’t come. You are basically a persona non grata because people are reminded to be alert (pozor=attention) because you are a robber (zlodej) or a pickpocket (kapsar)

How to get to Kolbenova flea market:

Take the Metro there (yellow line / B). Get off at “Kolbenova”…simple as that. For additional pleasure, get on Tram lines 8 or 16. The advantage here is that you are traveling overground and get to see how the scenery gets more and more odd the further away you get from the city center. It is almost like Kolbenova casts a shadow of adventure over its surrounding. And just when you think, “this is a strange journey, is this really the right route” you arrive at “Kolbenova”.

Kolbenova facts & figures:

  • “it” happens every Saturday and Sunday from 7 A.M. to 14 P.m:
  • right next to the Metro/Tram-Station “Kolbenova” (yellow line/B; Trams 8&16)
  • over 50.000sqm of shopping opportunities
  • the entry fee is 20 crowns which is $ 1 or € 0,75. Totally worth it!
kolbenova prague flea market europe

Visitors are reminded at the entrance that – although it doesn’t really look and feel this way sometimes – Kolbenova is technically still part of the European Union…and has a certain set of rules.

Kolbenova history according to the official homepage:

In January, 2003 the „grandfather“ of nowadays FLEA MARKETS arisen. It was an commodity exchange called OBZOR in the Novodvorská street whose area was half-length. Unfortunately, this place was hard to stay in, too. Eventually, they managed to rent a great space in former area of ČKD Kolbenova. Since October 2004 all of you have the possibility to visit the biggest flea markets in Czech Republic and probably in Europe. At the area of 50 000 square meters you will find not only curiosities or second-hand goods, which you can find useful, but you can also make a bargain and buy new goods here – for unmatched low prices! You won´t find the goods that you buy at the flea market at any supermarket!

You won´t find the goods that you buy at the flea market at any supermarket!...yeah right. Old meat products and real Louis Vuitton suitcases...

You won´t find the goods that you buy at the flea market at any supermarket!…yeah right. Old meat products and real Louis Vuitton suitcases…

What to expect from a visit to Kolbenova:

I once went to Kolbenova when it was cold and rainy. If the weather sucks, so will your Kolbenova experience. The ground – which isn’t the cleanest or most convenient surface to start with – gets super ugly, wet and icky. With all the potholes it might even be dangerous to browse without watching every stop carefully.

Accordingly not a lot of people seem to enjoy the venue on rainy days. And of course from there on, it’s just free market 101: No customers –> only the weirdest and most desperate vendors. Kolbenova on a rainy day? Easy pass!

On a sunny day though, the whole experience is quite enjoyable. Even though you will not encounter any super cool young hipster parents, sipping on coffee2go and talking about the latest trends in social media and vegan nutrition, you will still encounter pretty interesting specimens of humanity. Let me put it this way:

80% of people look like they have run away from the sets of the following series and movies without changing their clothes:

  • The Wire, season 2: Horse Face, f*in’ Ziggy, the whole Sobotka bunch and the other low-lifes from the port.
  • Breaking Bad / True Detective / Fargo
  • every Russian soap opera…this is a wild guess of course because I have never seen one. But the tiny overgeneralizing and stereotype-spoilt part in me tells me that it must be true…

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There are two videos on Youtube that kind of show the Kolbenova Flea Market, although one is just a slideshow. So check out this little gem of documentary film making and appreciate the super tasteful portraits:

My verdict? Don’t include Kolbenova in your 1-2,5-day-itinerary for Prague. If you do have more than 2 or three days to spend I guess it’s worth paying Kolbenova a visit. To have a similarly Eastern European experience I guess you’d have to travel a lot further east.