Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Dos and Don'ts of Prague

Travelling to Prague and want some advice from an expat who lives in Prague? You're welcome...

DO buy a transport ticket from the arrivals hall at Prague Airport. I find the ticket office in Terminal 2 is open longer than the one in Terminal 1, so if Terminal 1 is closed, it's a 3 minute short walk to the next terminal. Transport is cheap in the Czech Republic. A single ticket will cost you 24Kc for 30 minutes or 32Kc for 90 minutes. 1 day is 110Kc and there are various other lengths available (Please note that prices are subject to change. Prices are correct as of January 2014).

Public transport is cheap, efficient and the best way to get around Prague.

DON'T be an idiot and use the transport without a valid ticket. There are plenty of inspectors and fines aren't that cheap anymore (800Kc, reduced to 400Kc if you pay on the spot), plus, if caught, everyone will know what a cheap ass you are. It's not cool and if I see you, rest assured I will be the first to point and laugh at you! And don't forget if you have luggage there is a 13Kc fee to be paid (If you're caught not paying this, the fine is 200Kc).

DO use public transport for the duration of your stay, it is by far the cheapest and best way of getting around the city. Trams, buses and metros are frequent, quick and reliable.

DON'T waste your money on taxis. Even if they don't try ripping you off, it's still a waste of money in my opinion, unless you have money to burn, in which case, go ahead.

DO drink Czech beer. Not only is is it good, it's also cheaper than bottled water! Now, I must say, I have never liked beer until I moved here. If you really like it, go visit one of the many breweries!

DON'T pay more than 45kc for a Czech beer, in fact, I haven't paid more than 35Kc. Either you're right in the centre or you're being ripped off.

DO travel outside of Prague if you are staying for more than a weekend or have been here several times and seen most of it. Karlstejn and Kutna Hora are both cheap to get to and stunning to see. Both will cost you around 4/5 GBP for a train ticket.


Kutna Hora

DON'T just stick to Prague 1 (the very centre) for the duration of your stay. It's the most expensive part of the city geared towards tourists and relieving them of their money. Pubs and restaurants outside Prague 1 are cheaper and just as good.

DO drink in a beer garden if it's warm weather (Letna park and Riegrovy park are both good and offer great views). If it's cold and there is snow, consider going to the mountains for a day or 2 and check out the skiing.

The view from Letna Park on a cold winters day.

DON'T be ripped off in restaurants and pubs. ALWAYS check your receipt and mentally count what you have had to drink. I've had many an argument with waiters who like to add extra things I didn't consume onto my bill.

DO stand there and make a big fuss if more is added to your bill than it should. Czechs are not ones for arguments and in my experience, back down quickly. I'm not trying to scare you off here, but it can happen, not just here but anywhere. It happened to me in London 2 weeks ago, we threatened to call the police, they backed down, simples. I know a lot of people don't like making a fuss, but I refuse to pay for things I haven't had, period. If you do it to me, bang goes your tip too, so be warned!

DON'T miss out on Prague's less popular sights, such as Troja. In my opinion, this is the nicest part of Prague, situated in the hills to the North West of Prague. Not only is there a really nice zoo, there's a Palace, botanical gardens and a vineyard with a cafe where you can sample the produce. On a nice sunny day, it is perfect and there is a great view over the river, Stromovka park and the rest of Prague. This is my little gem, where I go to chill out.

Troja Palace, Prague.

The vineyard in Troja, and St Claire's Chapel.

DO use your legs and walk. Prague is a very walkable city. Most of the main sights are within walking distance of each other, the new town, old town, Charles Bridge, the castle etc. If you do struggle to walk, the tram number 22 covers most of these sights to some degree.

DO be careful. Whilst Prague is a safe city compared to some European countries, there is still some petty crime about. Pick pocketing if rife, and they're increasingly sneaky about it. Just don't get too drunk and be aware of dodgy looking people being overly friendly towards you. If you're a guy and a girl in a skimpy clothes decides to publicly show you affection, she probably has her hand in your back pocket at the same time, sad but true.

DON'T be taken in by scams. If you're a group of guys, possibly on a stag weekend, I can tell you now, you're likely to be targeted. Listen to your instincts and the old adage 'If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is'. Oh, and if someone offers you drugs on Wenceslas Square, it's likely to contain not much more than paracetamol crushed up or some clippings from a bush in their garden! And no, the police can't do anything about it because they can't exactly arrest them for paracetamol or hedgerow dealing! Usually if someone approaches me I tell them bluntly to F off or some Czech equivalent (straight to the point and usually effective!).

The view from Petrin, the castle can be seen to the left.

Again, I'm not trying to scare anyone off, Prague is a very safe city. I have lived here for 3 and a half years and encountered no problems whatsoever, mainly because I have just used my common sense. I come from Manchester, it's much worse there so I know all the tricks of the trade. I keep an eye on my bag, and if I'm alone at night (which I do regularly without problems) and someone approaches me that I don't like the look of, I just tell them straight to go away, no one will argue with you or try to start a fight like they do in England. Stand up to anyone here and they will back down.

1 comment:

  1. Very useful tips & lovely photos, Lauren!
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