When preparing a trip to Prague we usually focus on researching what to see and do in Prague. Undoubtedly, this is the most important aspect, especially in places like the Czech capital, which offers enough attractions to spend several days without stopping to know all its corners.
However, sometimes we forget some practical details that can mark the course of the trip. For that reason, in this article I leave you some simple recommendations so that nothing goes wrong, such as knowing the system to buy public transport tickets or the advantages of acquiring a tourist card to save a little.
1. Try to visit Prague Castle and Charles Bridge during off-peak hours.
The two most visited places in Prague are the city's castle and the Charles Bridge. This means that both monuments are almost always full of people, to the point that sometimes crossing the bridge becomes overwhelming.
To try to avoid crowds, especially in high season, it is important to know the schedules (in the case of the castle) and take advantage of the less crowded hours (if we talk about the bridge).
- Charles Bridge: once you have clear what to see on the Charles Bridge and its surroundings, my advice is to plan well the schedule to visit it. In principle, the most comfortable will be to approach early in the morning or in the evening, when there are not so many people in the area. It is also a good idea to take advantage of the time when most tourists are eating.
- Prague Castle: if you have booked one of these tours to the Prague Castle you will have the advantage of having the explanations of the guide, but the disadvantage that there may be many people. If you want to avoid this I recommend you to study well the opening hours of the Prague Castle and visit it early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Another tip that can help you avoid the crowds is to enter through the east gate, even if this means having to climb many stairs. If this is not possible, the Deer Moat entrance (Jelení příkop) is another good option. In this article on how to get to Prague Castle you can find useful information.
2. Discover Prague by taking a guided tour that includes the castle or a more special one.
If you have decided to travel to Prague it won't be necessary for me to tell you about the history and culture that the city has to offer. However, when you are on the ground it is not easy to have clear information about what you are seeing. In order to have those explanations, it is best to hire one of the guided tours offered in the Czech capital.
The best thing about this option, besides the informative task of the guide, is that you will find tours for all tastes. The most classic ones are those that go through the essential monuments of the city, from the Prague Castle to the Old Town Square, without leaving aside the tours through the Jewish quarter.
On the other hand, you can also join some quite different tours. Among the most striking is one that shows the darkest and most ghostly history of the city. In addition, photography enthusiasts also have a tour specialized in that subject in which the guide is accompanied by a professional photographer.
3. Save with the Prague Card or the Prague City Card
Like other major cities, the Czech capital has made available to its visitors some tourist cards that can mean significant savings when visiting the city, such as the Prague Card or the Prague City Card.
Before purchasing any of them, I advise you to do the math to see if it is worth it. So, compare the price of the card with the discounts and free tickets it offers and decide if it is worth it.
In the case of the Prague Card, for example, you will be able to enter many tourist attractions for free, as well as take public transport as many times as you want.
In the case of the Prague City Card, its main advantage is the discounts on several of the most common tours, as well as the entrance to public museums and several restaurants. Like the previous one, it also includes a pass for public transportation.
Both cards can be purchased with different validity periods, usually for 2, 3 or 4 days.
4. Include gastronomy in your travel plans
A trip to Prague cannot miss the discovery of a very unknown gastronomy outside the borders of the country. To get started, it may be a good idea to hire a gastronomic tour around the city.
In general, almost all dishes include meat and vegetables, in addition to the profuse use of spices. When ordering, keep in mind that the portions are usually very generous.
Although in my article on what to eat in Prague you will be able to see more options, on your trip it is almost mandatory to try dishes such as Koleno (pork knuckle), schnitzel (breaded steaks) or goulash in its Czech version.
Moreover, in the streets of the city you will find numerous stalls and stores selling one of the typical sweets: the trdelnik. In summer, this kind of roll is filled with ice cream of various flavors, while in winter it is common to find them with hot chocolate.
Finally, it is always convenient to know the custom of tipping in the city. In the case of Prague, it is customary to leave between 10 and 15% of the total bill.
In addition to its food, the Czech Republic prides itself on the enormous variety and high quality of its beer. In fact, it is the country that leads the list of consumption of this drink per capita worldwide and in its capital there are many good breweries in Prague where you can taste them.
If you want to go deeper into the subject, you will be able to join a tour organized by the local breweries.
Save by exploring less centrally located restaurants
Avoid restaurants in the historical center so as not to overpay is a tip that obviously does not only apply to Prague. There is nothing to stop you from having a coffee in front of the astronomical clock, for example, but you should be aware that the price will be much higher than if you go a few streets away.
In general, the restaurants whose prices are well above the city average are those located in the Old Town Square. Fortunately, as you can see in this article about restaurants in Prague, you don't have to go too far to find places with a great quality-price ratio.
5. Don't leave a visit to the Jewish quarter for a Saturday
One of the most interesting areas of Prague is its Jewish quarter. To visit it you can hire one of the tours that go through the area and learn about its importance for the life of the city from your guide. However, there is one thing you should keep in mind, especially if you go on your own: don't go on a Saturday.
Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath, is the day of rest in that religion, so the synagogues are closed, as well as many stores in the neighborhood. So, if you go on that day, you will miss, for example, all that the Jewish cemetery has to offer.
6. Take advantage of Prague public transportation
The best way to get around Prague, at least in the areas where the main attractions are concentrated, is on foot. However, you may need public transport to get to your hotel or to visit a more distant location.
Prague has a good public transport network (consisting of buses, streetcars and the metro) with very affordable prices. In addition to single-trip tickets, you can choose between day, two-day or 3-day passes, depending on how much you will use it.
Tickets and passes can be purchased at Relay stores, tobacconists or at the machines located next to almost every stop and are valid for any means of public transport in the city, including the boat that leaves from Náplavka Smichov.
One thing to remember if you are going to buy a ticket at the machines is that they only accept coins, so keep a few in case you need them.
To see the timetables of each line you will only have to look at the signs placed at the stops and at the entrance to the metro stations.
Don't forget to validate your ticket
The system for using the streetcar and bus differs quite a bit from the Spanish one. So, you have to enter through any of the doors of the vehicle and validate the ticket in the validator inside.
It is very important that you do not forget to validate your pass or ticket, as there are usually many ticket inspectors and, many times, they seem to focus on tourists. Only by validating your ticket will you be sure to avoid a hefty fine that can ruin your vacation.
7. Don't miss a visit to the interior of the Prague Town Hall
Interestingly, despite the fact that Prague' s city hall is right in the center of the city, many don't get to make this visit and focus only on the castle, Charles Bridge and the Jewish quarter. However, I advise you to enter this monument to discover one of the secrets of the city.
Thus, under the ancient medieval city were excavated numerous tunnels, rooms and dungeons that today can be visited by entering from the town hall of Prague. This subway visit is almost always done with a guide and allows access to this subway world invisible to the naked eye.
Just to see this unknown part of Prague is worth paying the entrance fee to the town hall, but this value is increased because with the same ticket you can visit one of the symbols of the city: the astronomical clock.
8.Adapt to Prague's timetable
One of the challenges for Spaniards when traveling to other European countries is adapting to meal and shopping hours. In Prague, although there are differences, this adaptation is easier, since being a very touristy city you can find places open almost at any time.
Although Czechs tend to eat, at the latest, around 13:00, many restaurants in Prague keep their kitchens open until later. In fact, it is not uncommon to be very late and want to eat something around 16:00 and find locals already starting to dine.
This ease at lunch time does not correspond to dinner time. In that case, the most appropriate time is no later than 20:30 and after 21: 30 you may find many kitchens closed.
This does not prevent, however, that the restaurant hours in the old area are later, but outside it you may have trouble finding a place to dine.
Be careful, on the other hand, if you decide to do one of these excursions around Prague, especially if you do it on your own and want to stay overnight. Outside the capital the timetables are even more restricted.
9. Where to change money without losing out on fees
Although the Czech Republic belongs to the European Union, the country was never part of the euro zone. Its currency is the Czech koruna, so you will have to exchange money during your trip.
In the country you will find coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 crowns, as well as bills of 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 crowns
My first advice is to do it already at your destination, but never at the Prague airport. In the center there are many exchange offices and I recommend that you compare what each of them offers to choose the one that suits you best. If you can get close, the best rates are in the Jewish quarter.
Card or cash
Another way to have kroner in cash is to use one of the many ATMs in the city. However, the commissions for withdrawing money are usually high (although I recommend that you check with your bank before traveling), so it is better to pay with the card than to withdraw money with it.
In the tourist area of Prague you will not find problems to pay with card, either in restaurants, bars or stores. In more distant areas I advise you to ask first to make sure.
10. Buy your souvenirs at the flea markets
If you want to take a souvenir of Prague or bring a gift to someone you will not find a better place than the markets of Prague. In addition, these places are also very interesting to visit and allow you to get a (brief) glimpse of how the locals live and what they usually buy. The most prominent are the following:
- Havelská THR Market: located in Havelská, this market displays a wide variety of goods, from vegetables and other foods to handicrafts made of wood and other materials. As a highlight, here you will be able to find the best wooden puppets in the city. Moreover, the market is the oldest in Prague and is worth a visit just to see it.
- River Town Market: at 306 Bubenské nabrezi is one of the most popular markets in the city. In this case you will not find too many things to give as gifts, since the most common products are food and clothes, most of the time imitation.
- Flea market: this market is located in Kolbenova, in a large old courtyard. In addition to food, you will find antiques, clothes and some exotic objects, almost always second hand. To enter you must pay a small entrance fee, less than one euro per person.