Prague travel tips before you arrive: the dos and don'ts of Prague

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The new summer season in Prague is arriving shortly and we think this is a great time to give visiting travelers some Prague advice. We like to travel a lot ourselves and always wish somebody would give us just a handful of first-aid tips for the first few hours before we begin to navigate the place and the culture, because the first few hours really can make or break any trip, and we are here to make sure your arrival in Prague really is trouble free. We often discuss this with the guests of our Prague food tours, so we give you a collection of Prague tips we have gathered over time.  

Prague taxi drivers are not Mother Theresa

Taxi drivers in Prague are notoriously bad. Always try to avoid the urge to wave a cab on the street, especially those parked around train or bus stations. Also, always ask about the price in advance and tell the driver you want a printed receipt at the end of the drive, which means they have to turn the meter on. You can also use Uber, or choose the local service, Liftago. Finally, locals always order a taxi from one of the main taxi operators in Prague by phone. This guarantees a cheaper fare (you'll get a text message indicating the approximate fare) and monitored behavior. The numbers of the two biggest operators are 14014 and 14015. Read more here.

Don't give your money to Gordon Gekko

It seems that virtually all the exchange offices in the touristy areas of Prague are run by Gordon Gekko. The most frequent scam is the use of two rates: one, in big letters, for virtually your entire life savings, and another, much less favorable - and hidden - for amounts that people usually want to convert. Always ask for the final amount ahead ("How many crowns will I get for EUR 200, including commission?"). Then you do your own calculation, and if you like what you see, hand over the money. Once you hand the money over the counter, it's hard to get them back. Alternatively, withdraw cash in CZK from an ATM or use your card wherever you go. Check your bank for the applicable rates. Finally, never exchange money on the street. Bad idea. Read more here.

Buying the ticket is not enough

We always recommend walking as it offers so many opportunities to find many gems (tip: look up or down). That said, the public transportation system in Prague is nothing short of great. Trams, subways, and buses can take you absolutely anywhere and they are cheap, fast, safe, and reliable. You can get tickets at any tobacco shop or newspaper stand, or in subway stops, and your tickets must be validated on entry, otherwise they are invalid.

Spend your money wisely 

There are plenty of shabby shops selling cheap, meaningless souvenirs to Prague’s visitors (Russian dolls, anyone?), especially in the Old Town and around the Charles Bridge. As an alternative to getting an unmemorable present, you can pop into one of the unique design shops and choose an interesting (and quite cheap) gift you or your loved ones back home will appreciate as an original piece of Prague. For a great shopping guide by our friends at Kurator, click here.

Do you like your personal space?

The Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square are not fun in the middle of the day during the high season, unless you love to share your personal space with strangers. Our rule of thumb is: visit the main sights early in the morning or late at night. For the rest of the day, go elsewhere. Trust us: there is nothing better than watching the sunrise over the Charles bridge or the sunset over the Castle. 

The cuckoo is overrated 

Every guide to Prague says the Astronomical Clock is a must. Sure, the clock itself is a masterpiece. But are the fifteen seconds of the hourly "show” worth the wait in the midst of a huge crowd? Yes. If you are in the area. But rushing for it all over the city? Trust us, you will ask: “Is that it?!?” afterwards. Again, if you can’t leave Prague without seeing it, do it in the morning.

Hidden gems can be found off the beaten tracks

You’ll be rewarded by many beautiful sights and experiences if you venture off the center and head over to the districts that surround it, especially during the rush hours of the main tourist sights. Think you can see how the locals live by walking on the Charles Bridge? Think again. Prague is a very safe city, so venturing out of the main tourist zones won’t get you in trouble. Make sure you consider Karlin, Vinohrady and Vrsovice, or the Letna and Holesovice districts. 

There’s life beyond Prague, too 

Prague is great but there are definitely other places in the Czech Republic worth visiting. We always recommend Brno for its cafes and laid back atmosphere, the Moravian wine country, incl. Mikulov, its historic capital, for great wines and beautiful scenery, Kutná Hora for gothic architecture, modern art and, ok, the Bone Chapel, and the Valtice-Lednice site for a relaxing day out.

Czech food and wines can be great 

We know there are many choices in the center when it comes to “traditional” Czech cuisine or “original” Czech restaurants (if they have to advertise it as such, it’s usually a red flag for us). If you want real, delicious Czech food, it can be found, you just have to know where to look. The same applies to wines: hotels may offer Czech wines on their wine lists but if you seek great value for money, head over to a local wine bar.

Wear layers and comfy shoes 

Don’t underestimate the power of weather. Prague is hilly so while you may be fine down in the Old Town, it can get pretty windy at the Prague Castle. Also, weather can change dramatically within minutes. Finally, please do your feet and legs a favor and wear comfortable shoes. The streets in the city center are mostly cobblestoned, which means high heels are a big no-no.

Can I have wifi with that?

Most cafes in Prague do offer free wifi, although there are exceptions. If you need a data plan and roaming is too expensive, buying a local sim card might be a good idea. Despite what they might say, the offers of the three main cell operators (O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone) are nearly identical. The activation process might be tricky to do by yourself, especially if you do not speak the language, though. Alternatively, (warning: a shameless plug ahead) you can rent our rental WiFi hotspot for trouble-free wifi enjoyment in Prague whenever you go. It's great: we use it ourselves all the time. 

Pics by Everbay Co.