Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

“Despite Prague’s countless good points, it always felt more like a museum piece than a real city, and I came away disappointed. Prague was evidently built as a sort of magnet for tourists, and everyone wants to extract as much money from them as possible in the shortest possible time. We had this feeling several times over our two days, and though it didn’t detract much from what we saw, it did detract somewhat from how we felt.” (2017)
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“Gorgeous, but unfortunately also a disappointment. It’s very dirty, and as for the crowds… It was my first time in Prague, and people told be to prepare myself for crowds, but I didn’t expect it to be on that level. The whole old town smells of urine.
We were also surprised at how few people speak foreign languages. Staff in downtown restaurants and pubs could barely speak three words of English. Still, we managed to show off a bit, and sometimes solved the communication problems with a word or two of Czech.” (k.n., 2019)
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The good thing about Prague is that most of the important sights are close to one another, so if you find accommodation in the city center, you don’t have to pay for public transport at all.
Though the cobbled streets add a lot to the beauty and atmosphere of the city, people in uncomfortable shoes (and especially women in high heels) shouldn’t expect to keep up with the group for long. It’s important to choose comfortable shoes if you want a pain-free exploration of Prague.
Sometimes the crowds become a bother, and it’s necessary to cut across the hordes of tourists making their way from Old Town Square to the Charles Bridge to find a quieter spot where you can actually enjoy the sights!”

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We have coffee in a historic basement, pass the Karlův bridge with love locks and tourist kiosques, have a goulash-in-bread at Zamedka 2, and reach the Hradčany castle. We climb the steep stairs, see the Sv. Víta cathedral and descend.
From Malostranská we take the metro to Můstek, and have large beers at a Wenceslaw square terrace under refreshing atomization. We walk the Národní and pass Café Louvre (frequented by Einstein) and Reduta Jazz Club (which I visited in 1967 and where Bill Clinton played). Then we take tram 9 via the Seifertova through the whole city; tram 5 to metro Florenc; then back home. After a long pause, we dine at our neighboring restaurant: tortellini and klobásy. We pass the night with ginger beers from the supermarket and with many showers to cool down.

Half-past ten we walk to metro Florenc, have breakfast there, take the metro to Karlovo Square and cross the park to the Moldau river. On the seventh floor of the ‘Dancing building’ (Tančící dům, or Fred & Ginger) we enjoy a splendid panorama. Tram 17 brings us along the river northwards to Josefov. In this Jewish quarter, we meet many US tourists and pass King Salomon, where Michelle Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu dined. We see the Spanish synagogue and the Kafka statue.
On the Staroměstské and Republiky squares, we are refreshed by the sprinklers of the fire brigade. In the pivnice (beer hall) Štupartská we eat klobásy and šopsky salat. Obecní Dům (town hall) is an art deco building with a concert hall and a restaurant. Here the republic was proclaimed in 1918, and Havel replaced the communist government here in 1989. We take tram 8 to the northeast and the northwest; back from Hradčanská we take metro B to Karlovo square and Florenc. After our siesta we have dinner at our neighboring canteen: lasagna with klobásy. The waiter gets our little cloggy
(e.h.)



Prague - z.m. photo

Practicals

Transport

Public transport

Public transport is reliable and will get you pretty much anywhere. Make sure you have a valid ticket. Plainclothes ticket-inspectors are very strict, sometimes aggressive.  They are entitled to take people without a valid ticket to the police station. Even worse, there are fake ticket controllers to scam you for money.

Taxis

Don't hail a taxi as you have an 80% chance of being cheated in one way or another. Call for a cab is likely OK.

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“I don’t like to pay for parking if it’s possible to park for free, but MrParkit’s parking lots are really extremely cheap and very good. If you are in Prague, they’re the best places to park. On their website, you select the car park on the map, enter your phone number and license plate, and pay using PayPal. You will receive a phone number in an SMS, which will open the garage door when you ring it. It cost me €9 to park there for two days, while the average parking fees in Prague for 24 hours are around €12-15. And this is a guarded and covered garage.” (2018)



Prague - tram - g.e. photo

Prague - paddle boats on the Vltava River - r.g. photo

Food

Never pay in euros or dollars in restaurants. Most probably, the exchange rate will be excessive. Try to avoid ‘touristy’ places and ask well-informed people where to eat.

Prague - knedlíky (dumplings) - v.j. photo

Prague - ham sandwich - Šunkové chlebíčky - j.k. photo

Prague - Restaurant&Cafe U Prince with an excellent view - r.g. photo

Fun

“In most places in Prague, beer is cheaper than water. This isn’t just some funny exaggerated figure of speech, it’s true, and such a serious matter that the Czech parliament will pass a law this year that restaurants must offer at least one non-alcoholic drink cheaper than beer. Because right now it's perfectly normal to get a beer for 20 crowns, while the water starts at 25… Of course, we might imagine that at such a price the beer must be terrible, but that's not the case, and in fact, the 8 crown ($35) is at least as good as a mid-range beer back home. Maybe better. Also, cans are not very fashionable here, everything is bottled. I think a thriving glass redemption economy is built on this, adding up to 3% of annual GDP, minimum.

So beer is everywhere, both local and global brands, and you can drink, eat, and bathe in it. The latter is not a lie – there are beer baths, especially for tourists, but even so, it can be a great experience to immerse yourself in this sacred liquid. It is full of vitamins, so it is healthy… It is perfectly normal to have draft beer at lunchtime in the university canteen and to drink it with the other students and the teacher. In the evening the drinking really gets started, so the phrase ‘have a drink or two really doesn’t do it justice.” (2016)



Prague - traditional local pub offering draft beer - j.k. ma photo

Prague - the band - t.p. photo

Prague - privilege table - r.g. photo

Public safety

Be very cautious of people who approach you out of the blue and start a conversation with you. Czechs are discrete and introverted people, so they never come up to strangers to pass the time or be friendly. If that happens to you, the odds are enormous; it’s someone out to get your money – a swindler or decoy whose job is to distract you while his wingman picks your pockets.

Avoid the following Prague locations at night:

Vrchlického sady (a park, nicknamed as Sherwood of Prague): The homeless people are not dangerous, but there are some men with an evil air  

Ve Smečkách street:  This is one of the streets that leads to Wenceslas Square. It a kind of red-light district with muscle-bound pimps and doormen.

Around the Anděl metro station: The shops and bars here are open late into the night, which attracts many drunk people. They are not particularly dangerous but mostly annoying.

Around the nonstop bars and gaming-rooms in Žižkov district: hardly any decent people move around here at night.


Have your documents and valuables on your body, and keep an eye on your belongings at all times. When you need to use a restaurant or pub restroom, take your handbag with you; when you need to take your phone out of your pocket, make sure there is no one near you, etc. Maintain situational awareness to be able to avoid sketchy people and potentially dangerous situations timely. They don’t call Prague “Českozlodějsko” (“Czechothieveria”) for nothing.

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Prague - to be on the safe side - m.s. photo

Prague - in single file - t.p. photo

Health

In Prague, smoking is prohibited in all public spaces.

Others

1. Be cautious about the currency exchange scams; there are many of them! Some places claim they have zero commission when they offer horrible rates (they’re usually written in small font somewhere inside). Always check the exchange rate carefully and seek advice from trusted people to exchange money.

2. Avoid tourist traps:

The Museum of Torture and torture instruments in Old Town is of low quality, plus the entry is expensive. Forget it!

3. It's no use to contact a street police officer for asking directions. They're mostly stupid, not helpful, and almost certainly don't speak a foreign language.

4. We recommend you take a self-guided city tour on the 22 Tram. Hop on a westbound tram and take it past the Castle area out of town until the end of the suburban Bilá Hora line. After that, take an eastbound tram from Bilá Hora to the end of the line in Nádraží Hostivař. When you get there, turn around and come back downtown.

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“The sights are arranged more or less logically. Starting from Wenceslas Square, you can walk around all the sights of the city in a loop, from the famous clock tower across the Charles Bridge to the Castle District. The good thing about Prague is that the monuments and sights are all relatively concentrated. You don't have to travel for hours between two important points, so you can spend more time here, and there are plenty of museums, exhibitions, and artistic performances for art lovers to choose from.”


Prague - Wenceslas Square - i.v. photo

Background

Prague - city center - z.m. photo

Destination in brief

Prague lies in the north-west of the country on the sides of Vltava river.

Population (in 2020): 1.2 million

1.8 million tourists visit per year

7 million foreign tourists per year!

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 1300 USD (Czech Republic average: 1100 USD)

Prague locals like to tell to Western Europeans that Prague is farther to the West than Vienna.

Unlike most of the German and Polish cities, Prague was not ruined during WW2. The only primary structure destroyed was a church (accidentally dropped bombs by a US Bombardier on his way to Dresden).

Climate

Wettest month: May

Driest month: February

Coldest month: January

Warmest month:July

Prague - a rainy day in April - g.z. photo

History

Prague was founded in the 7th century A.D. In the 14th century, it had around 40,000 inhabitants, 1 million reached in the 1930s.

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Prague was not gravely damaged during WW2. Thanks to that we can see so many beautiful medieval buildings in their original condition. The German army did not destroy Prague, allegedly because this city was one of Hitler’s favorites. He planned to make Prague the cultural and artistic center of the German Empire.
When the Nazis destroyed other cities, Hitler did not allow to do the same with Prague, while the Allies had no interest in bombing Prague.

Prague - Velvet Revolution - 17. November 1989 - s.r. photo

Nowadays

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Prague - Chinese tourists - j.k. photo

Prague - traffic - c.a. photo

People

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Prague - wedding - k.g. photo

Prague - locals have low-key fun - r.g. photo

Prague - beer drinking local girls - Ata photo

Tourist etiquette

1. Do try to be quiet on public transportation. You will experience that most of the locals use their museum voices on the metros and trams. Plus: stand on the right when using metro escalators.

2. It seems locals don't like to call their country Czechia. You can very seldom meet a Czech person using this name.

Prague - Peeing men sculpture in front of the Franz Kafka Museum - You better not follow their example in any streets of Prague, especially not in front of so many people - t.p. photo

Attractions

Charles Bridge

Prague - Charles Bridge - v.g. photo

Prague - Charles Bridge - the crowd - k.g. photo

Prague - Charles Bridge from a bird’s-eye view - k.k. photo

Prague - Charles Bridge by night - t.s. photo

Prague Castle

Prague - Castle - g.i. ma photo

Prague Castle - the ceremonial changing of the guard - f.m. photo

Prague - Golden Lane within the Castle area - k.r. ma photo

Old Town Hall (Staroměstská radnice)

Prague - Old Town Hall - j.k. photo

Prague - Old Town Hall - medieval astronomical clock - j.k. photo

Old Town Square with its churches 

Prague - Old Town Square with the Tyn Church - h.p. ma photo

St. Vitus Cathedral

Prague - St. Vitus Cathedral - s.a. photo


Public, open-air sculptures, art installations

Prague - 5 Charvátova - The mirrored, kinetic sculpture of Franz Kafka - r.g. photo

Petrin Tower

Prague - Petrin Tower - j.i. photo

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