13 things to know before going to Prague

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Prague is a city that knows how to surprise. Wander through its beautiful medieval core and you’ll soon stumble upon fairy-tale vistas and provocative street art. At night, small, dimly lit doorways can lead to sprawling, convivial beer halls, while riotous music clubs lurk behind grand Art Deco facades. No matter what brings you to the eclectic Czech capital, you better not be completely caught off guard.

Of course, one of the key decisions you’ll need to make is when to visit – but whatever the season, prepare with these insider tips and make the most of a trip to Prague.

Plan your trip to Prague

Choose where (and where not) to stay

With its abundance of soaring spiers and must-see attractions, Staré Město (Old Town) is an attractive and convenient base, but don’t overlook Prague’s other neighborhoods. The center is compact and the neighboring districts of Malá Strana and Nové Město are also convenient for sights and have their own hoard of pubs, bars and clubs. Just be aware that Wenceslas Square transforms from a respectable shopping destination into a party hub after dark, and its glut of strip joints can attract traveling bachelor parties.

For those wishing to see where the locals hang out, head to the outlying districts. Cosmopolitan Vinohrady and trendy Holešovice offer value-for-money stays, fun nightlife and top-notch transport links.

Bring comfortable shoes and layers

The antiquated streets and alleys of central Prague are best explored on foot. Pack comfortable shoes ready for the cobblestones; high heels can lead to unfortunate falls.

Besides dressing up for high-end restaurants or a night out at the theater, Czechs are pretty laid back. Comfy layers – which can be stripped off in an underground pub and then restored on a windy walk back home – will help you blend in. Whatever the season, never overlook the risk of a downpour.

How to get to Prague from the airport by public transport?

Prague has an excellent affordable public transport system. Its main pitfall is that the metro does not quite extend to the airport. The cheapest route to Prague’s Old Town is to take the often busy 119 bus to Nádraží Veleslavín station, then change to metro line A. Tickets can be purchased either at the Visitor Center or at terminal vending machines, which usually accept debit/contactless debit cards. credit card payments. If you are staying near Prague Central Station, consider taking the slightly more expensive but direct train Airport express bus.

Many accommodations are near the old town where many major sites are located © agustavop / Getty Images

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What about the trip from the airport by taxi?

Opportunistic taxi drivers can be a problem. If you want to avoid having bulky suitcases on and off the buses, it’s best to arrange a transfer in advance rather than getting into a taxi outside the airport (or main train station in ‘somewhere else). At the very least, find out the price before you go and let the driver know you’ll want a receipt. Uber, Lockand local business Liftago are popular carpooling apps.

Remember to validate your public transport ticket

Transit tickets lasting from 30 minutes to three days can be purchased at most newsstands, convenience stores, and all subway stations. The trams are also equipped with orange contactless debit/credit ticket machines on board. Alternatively, you can use the Litačka PID App. Just be sure to validate your ticket at the start of your journey. This involves spawning it in the yellow machine inside buses and trams or at the top of metro escalators (or by clicking the app button); forgetting can cost you a hefty fine.

It’s not as cheap as it used to be (but still good value)

Although prices have risen in recent years, Prague remains a good destination for budget-conscious travelers compared to many European capitals. The currency you will be spending is known as Czech Koruna and Czech Koruna. The beer is still refreshing and cheap, and a 500ml tanker will only cost you around 50 Kč ($2.20). A cappuccino costs around 60 Kč ($2.70) and a good traditional Czech meal costs around 200 Kč ($9). It is customary to tip around 10% for table service.

Buy it Prague City Pass Where Prague Cool Pass means free and discounted entry to some key attractions and sightseeing tours, though you’ll have to work hard to make the investment worth it. If you’re on a budget, it makes more sense to pay for a few key attractions and make the most of free Prague diversions.

Along the graffiti "John Lennon Wall"Mala Strana, Prague, Czech Republic
English is widely spoken in Prague, but learning a bit of Czech is always appreciated by locals ©Getty Images

Etiquette in Prague

Small talk ain’t big

If you come from a culture where discussing the weather is the obligatory warm-up to every interaction, you might find the Czech approach more, well… abrupt. Czechs (like everyone else) can be very warm and funny, but being reserved with foreigners is common. Be polite, but it’s fine to cut to the chase.

English is widely spoken, but some Czech is welcome

It is common for people who live or work in the tourist hotspots of Prague to speak English. Museum menus and information boards will usually also be translated into English. For those rare occasions when you struggle to make yourself understood, it’s worth having the Google Translate app ready on your phone.

Despite the omnipresence of English in the center of Prague, some notions of Czech are appreciated. Greet people by saying “Dobrý den” (Have a good day) or “Dobrý večer” (Good evening). The most informal “Ahoj!” (Hello/Goodbye!) is best reserved for close friends and family.

portrait of smiling young woman eating food in prague
Tasting traditional Czech pastries is one of those must-do experiences © You Ji Zi Hé Tián / EyeEm / Getty Images

Try traditional Czech pastries

Chimney-shaped cakes called trdelnik are sold at stalls at most tourist attractions, and they’re an Instagram favorite. The thing is that they are not Czech, but rather Slovak or maybe Hungarian. So, of course, devour one of these sugar-encrusted towers (they’re delicious), but it’s also worth browsing the local bakeries for more traditional Czech treats. Keep a hungry eye out for kolash – palm-sized discs of sweetbreads filled with poppy seeds or fruit jam.

Avoid crowds

Prague can get hectic, especially in late spring and summer. To escape the hubbub, venture beyond the tourist triad of Charles Bridge, Old Town Square and Prague Castle. For example, instead of jostling through selfie sticks, admire Charles Bridge from the river islands of Kampa or Střelecký ostrov. Also consider replacing the carnival atmosphere of Golden Lane with a romantic stroll through the peaceful castle district of Nový Svět. And if it all gets too much, take a seat in the shade in one of Prague’s beautiful parks (some with outdoor cafes and panoramic city views).

Health and safety in Prague

Beware of exchange rates that seem too good to be true

Some unscrupulous money changers promise shiny deals and then charge hidden fees. When changing money, ask for the final amount in writing before handing over your money and be sure to get a receipt. If you think you got a bad deal and you changed less than €1,000, you have three hours to reverse the transaction. A more scam-proof alternative is to have a bank account that offers reasonable rates and low fees for international withdrawals, and to use an ATM (cash machine).

Tourists at Old Town Square, Prague
Keep your mind sharp in crowded tourist hotspots as pickpockets target these areas © Pauline Lewis/Getty Images

Use common sense

Prague is generally a safe city: violent crime rates are low, traffic rules are obeyed, and tap water is clean. Take the same precautions as you would in your home country and be particularly vigilant about your belongings; pickpockets have been known to target crowded tourist areas, trains and trams. If you need emergency help, calling 112 guarantees an English-speaking operator.

Get travel insurance

The Czech Republic has high quality healthcare. If you need a Schengen visa to enter, it is mandatory to have medical insurance. EU and UK visitors can get free emergency care in Prague by presenting their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). It is still advisable to take out travel insurance, as the cards do not cover all costs, such as medical repatriation.

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