What to do and not to do while in Prague.
Prague is a beautiful city full of amazing people and wonderful places to see. It’s good to know, however, what to avoid so you won’t spend more or get cheated.
Where to change money?
The Czech Republic is a member of the European Union since 2004. Yet, the country is still using its currency called “česká koruna” (the Czech crown, CZK).
Fortunately, being a touristic city, it is possible to pay with Euros in most places downtown. But if you would like to use Czech crowns (which is far better since the exchange rates in shops and restaurants are not the best) you could pay with your card or exchange some cash. Some useful tips:
- Do not exchange your money in random exchange offices you’ll come across with! No kidding! This is the worst (or rather risky) thing you can do. Unfortunately, not everyone is honest and especially not the exchange blokes. Majority of them would like to rip you off. The exchange rate you see might not be the same you’ll exchange money for, and it’s quite common that you won’t even get the Czech crowns back.
- Go to the regular bank. You shall most likely pay a commission, but it’s much better to chip some 3-5 % off than half of your money.
- One of the best places (that most Czechs use as well) is situated just around the corner from Old Town Square. Bearing a simple name “Exchange” (https://www.exchange.cz/en, Kaprova street) the office provides the best exchange rate and no commission. Result? No worries and more spare for you.
Which ATMs to use in Prague?
Many people prefer to use ATMs to withdraw local money. It is a good thing to do unless you know what ATM to use. Not all of them are safe.
To be sure, walk again to the regular bank that you can find all over the city (KB, UniCredit, Česká spořitelna…).
Once you find ATM as the one on this picture, just walk away. It belongs to the private company Euronet and charges big commission. You can recognise it easily, with big letters “ATM” and yellow-blue colour. Every local knows that this is a rip-off.
Taxi in Prague
Before hunting down the famous Golem, you would probably need to surpass another Prague’s urban legend – the taxi drivers. There are so many scary stories connected with them, that even locals feel embarrassed. Most taxi drivers are nice people, charging you fair prices, though there are still some black sheep trying to take advantage of tourists. Well then, how to swim the sea of those smelly tin chariots unharmed and perhaps even enjoy it?.
- From airport to city centre: Once you leave the airport, there are many yellow (or white) taxi cars waiting for you. All of them have pretty the same prices to get you to your hotel, so do not worry about taking it. The price should be about 600-700 CZK (or approx. 25-30 €). While more expensive, it is more comfortable than public transport.
- Do not take taxis from the Main Railway Station (Hlavní nádraží). The price they charge you is about 40-60 € for just a few minutes (and few kilometres) in the car. Why? Because the railway station is situated right in the historical centre, so it’s only a few minutes to get to most of the hotels. Before you arrive in Prague, just have a look on the map – it might be possible to walk (or take subway/metro) to your hotel. Moreover, many hotels and travel agencies offer airport pick-ups or shuttles, so just ask them. It will be much cheaper than you might think!
- How much to pay? Do ask your driver the price before you board. In the historical centre itself, the price should not be more than 200-300 CZK (10-15 €). Or even less. If he wants you to pay more, just walk away.
- Take only cars marked as “taxi“. It means, there is the driver’s name, license number and prices printed or displayed on/in the car. It’s not a good idea to take one of those yellow cabs without any printing, only with taxi lamp on the top.
Or… use UBER 🙂 It is officially allowed and “not illegal” though.
Prague public transport
Prague public transport system is one of the best in Europe (it is also actually the 6th fastest in the world). Tickets are very cheap as well, comparing to other world cities. Every day, around 1,2 million people use the underground metro system, plus there are trams and buses. I recommend you to use the Prague transport system, as it is very reasonable and effective to get you around the city centre. You can buy a ticket in the newspaper stands or in the yellow machines that are mostly at every stop.
Is Prague public transport free? Yes, once you are over 70. All you need is your passport or any ID.
How much is public transport? One way ticket costs 24CZK (30 minutes) or 32 CZK (90 minutes), 24-hour ticket is for 110Czk. It is quite cheap.
How bad are pickpockets in Prague?
Yes, there are pickpockets – like in any other city with the streams of tourists. Mostly it’s quite simple – just take care of all your belongings. Especially when you’re admiring the vast beauty of old buildings, taking lovely pictures or trying to familiarize with the squiggles on your map.
For example, the best sockets for pickpockets to pickpocket your locket pocket is tucket of Prague Castle, an exquisite panorama of statues on Charles Bridge or rather crowded Old Town Square with picturesque historical sights. Simply, places with lots of people. They dress like you, so it is very difficult also for officers to spot them.
What is the best walking tour?
Unfortunately, the tour guides in Prague are not obliged to be licensed anymore! That means, that anyone can work as a tour guide. So, once you walk through the city, you will see a lot of tours almost everywhere. Some of them are better, some worse. It can be really difficult to find out which to choose. The best way is the recommendation from the internet or your friends who have been to Prague before. You just probably want to choose a good guide. Double-check if your guide has the license and the guide badge, provided by the city after they complete a special tour-guiding course. Only then you can be sure that the information you get is credible and reliable. You want to get the best for your money, right? And remember, albeit there are plenty of free tours, nothing is really for free in real life.
Which is the best free walking tour? Well, there is nothing for free in real life. Even you can find some tours that claim to be “free”, you will pay, eventually. Your “ticket” is actually a tip for the guide. Many of these tours are funny, of course, just sometimes the facts that are presented are not really facts. Many of the guides who work for free walking tours are locals, but foreign students.
Just support the licensed guides, please. 🙂
One more thing… Toilets in Prague 🙂
Finally, a tip that might save your life – do have always some coins with you. Really, a simple coin of 10 CZK might change everything. For it is your ticket to every toilet in the city! 😉
Now you know all the essentials to survive in the city. Do you feel for a walking tour?