There is no question that Prague is a beautiful city, and I will recommend it to anyone until my dying day. However, just as with any other foreign place, there are things that you should try and others that should be outright avoided.
Don’t: Book on a weekend
Prague is one of the most visited cities on Earth (the whole place is practically a UNESCO Heritage Site), even more so during the summer. Timing is key as it could spell the difference between this:
It’s going to be hard to pull of that sweet landscape shot of Old Town Square without a drunk tourist or an annoying tour group blocking your view. Try to schedule your trip on a weekday, preferably Monday to Thursday. Just pray that your boss is in a good mood.
Do: Book an apartment instead of a hotel
Apartments are far cheaper, generally bigger (up to 92 sqm) while practically offering the same level of cleanliness and comfort. Sure, it doesn’t have a gym or a pool, but why pay extra for these fancy-schmancy facilities when you’ll be spending 90% of your stay outside anyway?
If trade offs such as slow WiFi or no buffet breakfasts are deal breakers, then an apartment may not be for you. I recommend shifting through Booking.com and TripAdvisor. Don’t forget to read the reviews!
Don’t: Take a taxi
So you’ve just arrived at Václav Havel Airport Prague. Congratulations! You’re knee-jerk reaction is to then get a cab. It’ll be easier to navigate throughout the city right? Wrong!
Prague is notorious for its bad taxis who won’t hesitate to pounce on unsuspecting tourists. If possible, do use the public transport instead. It’s cheap, efficient, reliable and easy. Just remember to plan your routes in advance as the tickets are only valid for a certain period of time.
If you really must take a taxi, refrain from hailing those that are parked or on the road. Instead, book through one of the transport services recommended at the airport or by your hotel/apartment. Or use Uber. It’s cheaper than a taxi.
ALWAYS scan your travel tickets (you only have to do it once). You never know when you’ll bump into a grumpy ticket inspector (yes, they really are grumpy)
Do: Wake up early OR Go out late
As the old saying goes, “the early bird gets to avoid the huge crowds at Prague Castle and Old Town”. If you aren’t a morning person, you can opt to tour in the evening instead. Trust me, the sights are a thousand times better when there aren’t a million heads blocking your view.
Do: Have mobile data
Maps are a tourist’s best friend, and nothing’s as accurate as the one on your phone. Getting lost is part of the adventure, but when you’re tummy is rumbling and your feet are starting to ache, it becomes a bit of a bummer. Plus, you can look up nearby restaurants, plan your route or… look…it’s 2017. You get the idea.
Sometimes, locals trump Google. Try asking them for directions, legit souvenir shops, budget tips and more. They are more than willing to help.
Do: Explore other food options
Old Town has a lot of restaurants situated along the square. However, most are ridiculously expensive (understandably so). If you’re on a tight budget, opt for eateries found inside the alleyways instead. They are mostly cheaper and are generally as delicious, if not better. Here’s one we can recommend located at Týnská ulička 2, Staré Město, Praha 1. The staff is friendly and the food is delicious (at a small price).
Don’t: Readily accept “freebies”
Prague restaurants aren’t exactly Mother Teresa. Always assume that everything handed to you isn’t free. We made a mistake dining at a pizzeria where everything – and I mean everything – had a price, from the supposedly “complimentary” bread basket to the Parmesan that we used for our pasta.
Also, you are only required to tip at least 10% of the total amount on your bill. The same restaurant tried to outright charge us 15% without consulting us first. Luckily, we knew our rights and we were more than happy to leave a place that had no intention of playing fair with tourists.
Do: Bring layers and comfy shoes.
Always bring a jacket. It can either get scorching hot, or cold and windy. Bottom line, you’ll need to protect yourself from the unpredictable weather. Also, cobblestones are the Lego versions of roads, and you’ll find plenty of them in Prague. Take pity on your poor sole (haha, get it?), ditch the heels and opt for some comfy shoes instead.
The best way to explore Prague is to take a walk. There are a lot of hidden beautiful buildings waiting to be found. Just remember to “look up”.
Do: Mind where you exchange your money.
Another notable tourist trap in Prague are its currency exchange stores. Sad to say, most of them aren’t any good (yes, even the one at the airport) with the worst giving you only half of the correct rate. Get some Czech Koruna BEFORE the trip OR click here to visit the best one we found.
Do: Bring cash (lots of it)
I still find it mind-boggling that Vyšehrad – a famous tourist spot outside of Old Town Square – has literally no restaurants or souvenir shops that accept credit cards. They don’t even accept Euros! Tickets to the metro are also restricted to cash-only transactions.
So always bring a handful of the local currency. Don’t rely on Euros and credit cards alone, especially when venturing further out of Old Town; unless you’d like to search the whole neighborhood for a place to eat on an empty stomach under the scorching midday sun…which…you know…totally didn’t happen to me.
Follow The Reader’s Buffet for more articles on travel tips, places to visit and more. All referrals are genuine and sponsor-free.