Prague, Czech Republic - Travel information, Places of attraction
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About Prague, Czech Republic
The city's historic buildings and narrow, winding streets are testament to its centuries-old role as capital of the historic region of Bohemia. Prague lies on the banks of the beautiful, meandering Vltava River that reflects the city's golden spires and 9th century castle that dominates the skyline.
This historic atmosphere is combined with a certain quirkiness that embraces the entire city. From the Museum of Czech Cubism to the technicolor Jubilee Synagogue; the castle to the river, Prague is a bohemian capital in every sense.
Confusingly, several incompatible district systems are used in Prague. Partially, different systems are from different historic periods, but at least three different systems are used today for different purposes. To make things even worse, a single district name can be used in all the systems, but with different meanings.
For purposes of this guide, the old district system is used. In this old system, Prague is divided into ten numbered districts: Praha 1 through to Praha 10. If you encounter a higher district number, a different system is being used. For example, Praha 13 is part of the old Praha 5 district. The advantage of the old system of ten districts is that it is used on street signs and house numbers throughout the city, so you can always easily determine the old system district you are located in.
Praha 1 is the oldest part of the city, the original 'Town of Prague', and has by far the densest number of attractions. Praha 2 also contains important historic areas. In this central area, the old district system (or any of the newer systems) is too crude to be practical, a finer division is needed. Traditional city quarters provide such a division. Their disadvantage is that they are somewhat incompatible with the modern district systems - although quarters are smaller than the old system districts, a single quarter can belong to two or even more districts. The advantage is that these central quarters are well known and widely used and identical with the homonymous cadastral areas shown on on street and house number signs along the old district designation, allowing easy orientation.
Buildings in big cities in Czech Republic have two numbers, one blue and one red. The blue ones are the orientation numbers - it is the ordinal number of the building on its street. Historically these numbers always started from the end of the street which is closer to a river. As is normal in Europe, odd numbers belong on one side of the street and even numbers on the other. This allows you to find quickly the house you are looking for. The red numbers are related to the house register of the entire quarter (for example, Staré Město), and thus usually correspond to the order the buildings in that district were constructed. Most people do not remember them; if somebody says e.g. the house is in Dlouha str. number 8, they will usually mean the blue number. Red numbers usually have 3 or more digits.
- Castle (Hradčany)mdash; The historic nexus of the city, and the highest point on the left bank. Mostly belongs to Praha 1, although a small part belongs to Praha 6.
- Lesser Town (Malá strana)mdash; The settlement around the castle; location of most governmental authorities, including Czech Parliament. Mostly belongs to Praha 1, although a very small part belongs to Praha 5.
- Old Town (Staré město)mdash; The nucleus of the right bank, the oldest part of Prague. The whole Old Town belongs to Praha 1.
- Jewish Town (Josefov)mdash; A small enclave within Old Town, the old Jewish ghetto. The whole Jewish Town belongs to Praha 1.
- New Town (Nové město)mdash; The district adjacent to Old Town, established in the 14th century. Large parts of the New Town belongs both to Praha 1 and Praha 2. A small part belongs to Praha 8.
- Vysehrad (Vyšehrad)mdash; The site of the old Vyšehrad castle south of the medieval Prague. The whole Vyšehrad belongs to Praha 2.
- North - Praha 7, Praha 8 and Praha 9. Praha 7: The large river peninsula just north of the city center. Includes the districts of Letná, Holešovice, Bubny, Bubeneč, Troja as well as a small part of Liben. Praha 8: Karlin is the small strip of land sandwiched between Zizkov and the river and bordering the old town on the west side. Karlin belongs to Prague 8 and prior to 2002, it was a rather unsavory part of the city. After the flood of 2002, Karlin was revitalised and is fast becoming a somewhat conservative, cosmopolitan, professional-class area. On the north-east side, Prague 8 balloons out and encompasses urban areas, business premises and furniture/homeware shopping districts. This is generally not regarded as a tourist area.
- East - Praha 3, Praha 10, Praha 14 and Praha 15. Žižkov is the name of the district referred to as Prague 3. Previously a working class suburb, Žižkov is home to many expats, short term travelers and university students; and sits on a hill on the right side of the old town. The plentiful array of intriguing and often unusual bars and restaurants, combined with a small but dedicated culture of poets, artists and musicians, gives the area its reputation for being both fun, relaxed and alternative. It is considered one of the more Bohemian districts of Prague.
- South - Praha 2, Praha 4, Praha 11 and Praha 12. A large part of Praha 2 is divided between historic quarters of New Town and Vysehrad described in individual articles. The remaining part includes most of Vinohrady. Praha 4 is the biggest and most modern district in Prague.
- West - Praha 5, Praha 6 and Praha 13.
This city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes, has been mirrored in the surface of the swan-filled Vltava River for more than ten centuries. Almost undamaged by WWII, Prague's compact medieval centre remains a wonderful mixture of cobbled lanes, walled courtyards, cathedrals and countless church spires all in the shadow of her majestic 9th century castle that looks eastward as the sun sets behind her. Prague is also a modern and vibrant city full of energy, music, cultural art, fine dining and special events catering to the independent traveller's thirst for adventure.
It is regarded by many as one of Europe's most charming and beautiful cities, Prague has become the most popular travel destination in Central Europe along with Budapest and Kraków. Millions of tourists visit the city every year.
Prague was founded in the later 9th century, and soon became the seat of Bohemian kings, some of whom ruled as emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. The city thrived under the rule of Charles IV, who ordered the building of the New Town in the 14th century - many of the city's most important attractions date back to that age. The city also went under Habsburg rule and became the capital of a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1918, after World War I, the city became the capital of Czechoslovakia. After 1989 many foreigners, especially young people, moved to Prague. In 1992, its historic centre was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two countries and Prague became capital city of the new Czech Republic.
The Vltava River runs through Prague, which is home to about 1.2 million people. The capital may be beautiful, but pollution often hovers over the city due to its location in the Vltava River basin.
Many Praguers have a small cottage (which can range from a shack barely large enough for garden utensils to an elaborate, multi-story dwelling) outside the city. There they can escape for some fresh air and country pursuits such as mushroom hunting and gardening. These cottages, called chata (plural form chaty, pronunciation of ch as in Bach), are treasured both as getaways and ongoing projects. Each reflects its owners' character, as most of them were built by unorthodox methods. Chata owners used the typically Czech it's who you know chain of supply to scrounge materials and services. This barter system worked extremely well, and still does today. Chaty are also sometimes used as primary residences by Czechs who rent out their city-centre apartments for enormous profit to foreigners who can afford to pay inflated rent.
[Václav Havel Airport Prague], (IATA:PRG), +420 220 111 111, +420 296 661 111. Located 20nbsp;km (12nbsp;mi) northwest of the city centre, it generally takes about 30 minutes to reach the city centre by car. The airport is served by a number of airlines:
- [Wizz Air] is a low cost airline with a significant base in Prague operating to European destinations including London, Barcelona and Milan among others.
- [Czech Airlines] (ČSA) is the national carrier operating to many European and international destinations. They generally do not offer long-haul (intercontinental) flights, but as they are partially owned by Korean Air, they offer a code-shared direct connection to Seoul.
- [easyJet] operates low cost services to European destinations.
- [Jet2.com] low cost services from Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds/Bradford Edinburgh
- SmartWings to Europe, Turkey and Israel
- [Swiss International] flies to Zurich, Basel and Geneva.
- Aer Lingus from the Irish cities of Dublin Cork.
- [Norwegian] from Scandinavia.
- [Delta Air Lines] from New York.
- [KLM Royal Dutch Airlines] 5 direct flights per day from Amsterdam.
- [British Airways] has 4 direct flights from London Heathrow daily.
- [Brussels Airlines] offers 3 flights a day to Brussels.
- [Lufthansa] offers 6 flights a day from Frankfurt and 4 from Munich.
- [TAP] offers daily direct flights from Lisbon and Oporto.
- [Iberia] offers 3 flights daily from Madrid.
- [Germanwings] offers daily flights from Cologne/Bonn.
Getting into the city from the airport
- By bus: The cheapest way to get to the city is by bus, but be sure to have some Czech Crowns ready. Buy a ticket from the kiosk called Public Transport in both the arrivals halls (07:00-21:00, credit cards accepted) or the vending machine, next to the bus stop, for 32 CZK (16 CZK extra for a larger piece of luggage). You can also buy the ticket from the driver, but it is more expensive. No machines or drivers accept foreign currencies. Take bus 119 to its terminus (Dejvická, Metro A) and go downstairs to the metro. Your ticket will continue to be valid in the metro. Alternately, bus 100 takes you to metro station Zličín (Metro B). At night, bus 510 takes you to the Jiráskovo náměstí or I.P.Pavlova stop close to the centre. Remember to validate your ticket as soon as you get on the bus by sticking it into a yellow machine with green glowing arrow. If you fail to do so and an inspector catches you, you'll be fined 800 CZK. Tickets are also available from the DPP kiosk in the arrivals area of Terminal 1. 24-hour, 3-day and 5-day tickets are also available here. Info on the schedules and routes can be obtained here [http://idos.dpp.cz/idos/ConnForm.aspx?tt=pidcl=E5].
- Airport Express (bus operated by Czech Railways): These buses leave the airport every 30 minutes; the first one at 05:46 while the last one at 21:16 at a price of 60 CZK per person (or less, if bought as a part of railway ticket further into Czech Republic). Tickets are available from the driver. They will take you to the railway and metro station Dejvická and Masarykovo nádraží. The last stop will be Prague's main train station (Hlavní nádraží which is commonly abbreviated in Czech as Praha hl.n.). From there the bus operates back to the airport. Schedule: [http://jizdnirady.idnes.cz/praha/spojeni/?f=Terminal+1t=Hlavni+nadrazidirect=Truelng=E] or [http://www.cd.cz/vnitrostatni-cestovani/specialni-nabidky/airport-express-na-letiste-praha-ruzyne/-3679/]
- [Cedaz bus:] (but in fact the owner is AAA taxi) These buses operate from 07:30 to 19:00 every half hour. They will take you into the city centre to the V Celnici street. Fares are 150 CZK per person.
- By shuttle: Various companies run shuttle services to the hotel and back. They can be found at the airport arrival halls. They usually charge around 400 to 500 CZK for trip and in general are a bit cheaper than the taxis.
- By taxi: The most comfortable method to reach the city centre will cost around 650 to 850 CZK with [AAA Taxi]. They have an exclusive contract with Prague airport and taxis waiting outside. For a bargain, call one of their competitors listed in Get around Taxi section or [Prague Airport Transfer] or [Prague Airport Shuttle], an expat owned and operated taxi service or shuttle to the nearest metro station Dejvicka.
- By private cars: Many companies offer private transfers for fixed prices - to the hotel, apartments, etc. and back. This service must be booked in advance because driver will be waiting directly to you. They usually charge around 500 to 600 CZK for trip and in general are a bit cheaper than the taxis. Chosen companies: [Transfer-Service.cz], [Prague Airport Shuttle], [Transfer Prague], [24-ATP].
Prague is well connected to European EC train network, however there is no Czech high speed rail and so the maximum train speed is 120–160nbsp;km/h (75-99nbsp;mph), but usually the speed is much lower at about 70nbsp;km/h. While international and intercity services are generally reliable, assume delays of more than few minutes when using local trains.
- Berlin: 4½h, EC trains every 2 hours
The train line from Berlin to Prague passes through the Erzgebirge mountains, and for a couple of hours the passengers are treated to a series of beautiful alpine river valleys, surrounded by rocky escarpments and mountains.
- Nuremberg/ Munich: 5h/6h, 2 regional expresses a day from each city
Trains from Nuremberg have connection from Munich in Schwandorf a vice versa. The trains are quite slow, so alternatively you can use non-stop bus Nuremberg–Prague operated by German Railways (3¾h, every 2 hours).
- Vienna: 4¾h, EC train roughly every 2 hours
- Bratislava: 4h, EC train every 2 hours; one night train Metropol
- Budapest: 7h, 5 EC trains a day; night train Metropol
- Warsaw: 8¼h, EC Praha; 11h, night train Šírava
All international trains arrive at Praha hlavní nádraží (the central station, abbreviated to Praha hl.n.) which has a connection with Metro Line C. The station has undergone a major refurbishment in 2010.
Beware of the taxi drivers operating from the (official-looking) taxi rank alongside Praha hl.n.; they will attempt to charge a fixed price of CZK1760 for a trip within the city center zone, or more than this if you want to travel further.
The park in front of the main train station is a haunt for some of the city's undesirable elements and should be avoided after dark. If you do have to come through on foot, it's best to avoid coming through the park and approach from the Southeast along Washingtonova. As you get to the corner of the park there's a police station, so the likelihood of running into problems from this direction is minimalised.
The main bus station for international buses in Prague is Florenc, in Praha 8 (metro lines B and C). It is located east of the city centre. In June 2009 a new terminal building was opened.
The second largest bus station is Na Knížecí, located next to Vltava river at west bank, south of city center. It is connected to Anděl metro station (line B). It is used mostly by regional busses.
Other, less frequently used bus stations are at Nádraží Holešovice (metro C), Dejvická (A), Zličín (B) and Černý most (B).
Student Agency operates daily bus service between many large Czech cities (including famous Cesky Krumlov) and Prague for prices between 100 to 300 CZK per adult (reservation needed [http://jizdenky.studentagency.cz/]).
Prague has highway connections from five major directions. Unfortunately, the highway network in the Czech Republic is quite incomplete and some highways are old and in poor condition. Thus, the highway connection from Prague to the border of the Czech Republic is available only in two directions: southeast and southwest.
The southwestern highway (D5; international E50) leads through Plzeň to Germany. The D5 highway continues in Germany as A6. Riding from the state border to Prague takes about an hour and a half (160nbsp;km / 99nbsp;mi).
The southeastern highway (D1) is the Czech Republic's oldest and most used highway but is in a rather poor condition. It leads through Brno to Bratislava in Slovakia. It offers a good connection to Vienna, Budapest and all traffic from the east. It runs for 250nbsp;km (155nbsp;mi), and usually takes over two hours.
To the northwest, you can take highway D8 (E55), but it is not complete to the German border. It ends now at Lovosice (about 60nbsp;km (37nbsp;mi) from Prague and starts again in Usti nad Labem and continues to the northern Germany via A17 ( Dresden, Berlin, Leipzig).
To the northeast, you can take highway R10 (E65). It is strictly speaking a motorway, not a highway, but it has four lanes and differs little from a highway. It leads from Liberec to Turnov. It is not regarded as an important access route, as there are no major cities in this direction (Zittau in Germany, some cities in Poland), but it offers a good connection to the Czech mountains Jizerské hory and Krkonoše (Riesengebirge) with the best Czech skiing resorts.
To the east, you can take the newly completed D11 (E67), which goes to Hradec Kralove. It leads to Poland.
Czech highways are under development (D8 and D11 are being extended, D3 to České Budějovice and Linz is supposed to be completed in 2020) so things will get better. Unless there are road works, there are only seldom traffic jams on Czech highways, with the exception of D1 near Prague (and near Mirosovice (direction to České Budějovice and Linz, and Brno, too)).
Prague suffers from heavy traffic and on week days the main streets are one big traffic jam. Moreover, Prague doesn't have a complete highway outer ring yet. It is a really good idea to use the P+R (park and ride) parking places, where you can park your car for a very small fee and use public transport.
The P+Rs are situated near all highways and are well marked. Note that traffic wardens are rife and parking in most residential streets in and around Prague city centre (even after dark) without a valid permit will result in a parking fine. In particular, avoid blue-marked areas which are parking-restricted area if you don't want your car to get towed away within the hour.
Public transportation is very convenient in most of the areas visitors are likely to frequent. One key thing to note if you are staying outside of the city centre is that public transport buses do not enter the historic districts (Old Town, New Town, Lower Town, etc.), so as to prevent air and noise pollution. One must transfer to a cleaner and quieter electric-powered tram or a metro before reaching historic areas.
Prague is renowned as a very walkable city. For those who enjoy seeing the old and new city by foot, one can easily walk from Wenceslas Square to the Old Town Square, or from the Old Town to Charles Bridge and the Castle District. However almost all of the streets are cobbled, rendering it very difficult for disabled or elderly travellers to get around effectively. Also, pedestrians should enter crosswalks carefully in Prague, as drivers are not as likely to yield as they are in other European cities.
Remember that in the Czech Republic, it is illegal to cross at a pedestrian crossing on a red man, and if caught this incurs a fine of 1000CZK.
The public transit around Prague consists of three metro lines (green line A, yellow line B and red line C), over twenty tram lines (numbered using 1- or 2-digit numbers), buses (3-digit numbers), ferries, a few train lines (numbered S1 to S9), and even one funicular, all using the same tickets.
The tram and bus schedules are posted on the stops, and the metro (its schedule is posted in station) operates from early in the morning (around 05:00) until approximately midnight. Buses (lines no. 100-299) and trams (lines no. 1-26) start earlier and end later to connect to metro. Between 11PM and 1AM, be aware that some trams carrying passengers take different routes to get to their garage. When travelling at night, always check schedules on-line beforehand, and you may even find a shorter route to your destination than normally available.
When planning a journey, if you know the names of your stops, you can use the official journey planner at [http://spojeni.dpp.cz/ConnForm.aspx?tt=PIDcl=E5], or a smartphone app (Two good ones for Android are [Pubtran], which is free of charge but uses your data plan to find connections, or [CG transit], which allows you to download the timetables into your phone for a small charge and then use them offline).
If you don't know the name of your stop, you can plan your journey either using Google Maps or with the map at [http://mapy.jizdnirady.idnes.cz/pid/?lng=E]. You can also look at several public transport maps at [http://www.ropid.cz/info/maps__s219x901.html] and [http://www.dpp.cz/en/transport-around%20prague/transit-schematics/], but be aware that at any given moment there are several lines closed for renovations, which is refflected by the online planners but may not always be included in the static maps.
Prague public transport is fast and efficient when you know how to use it. Sometimes you have to change a few times - the schedule website [http://pid.idos.cz/spojeni/?lng=e] is the best way to plan your trip. If you get lost, you can take any bus / tram, all lines pass through a metro station where you can orient yourself.
These tickets may be of interest to visitors (prices valid from July 2011):
- 24 CZK – full ticket: 30 minutes (transfers allowed), children get 50% discount
- 32 CZK – full ticket: 90 minutes (transfers allowed), children get 50% discount
- 110 CZK - 24-hour ticket, children get 50% discount
- 310 CZK - 3-day ticket (72 hours), you can take one child free of charge with you
Children under 15 years get the discount. Children under 10 years travel free of charge. (But must have an id card with age and photo if older than 6.)
As you can see, the 24-hour or 3-day tickets are not economical unless you plan to travel more than 4 times a day for 90 minutes (6 hours).
Tickets can be bought at various places:
- ticket machines - sell 24, 32, 110 CZK tickets (take coins only but do return change)
- tobacco shops, convenience stores - usually 24 and 32 CZK tickets only
- Prague Public Transit offices - usually located at Metro stations (and the airport), sell all kinds of tickets
- bus (but not tram) drivers - sell the 32 CZK tickets for a higher price of 40 CZK
- all Czech Railways ticket offices - sell the 110 CZK tickets (validity is printed on the ticket, so ask them to set it to the date and time you need)
- EC/IC trains - sometimes the conductors of these trains offer the 110 CZK tickets for sale before arrival to Prague
- via SMS - service is available only for the Czech GSM operator customers Validate your ticket by slipping it into one of the yellow boxes in the tram, bus or ferry, as soon as you board. In the metro, on the S-trains and on the funicular, the validators are in stations instead of the vehicles. After having changed the tram/bus, there is no need to validate it again. Be sure to keep it handy until it expires.
Tickets are not checked upon boarding, but uniformed or plain-clothed ticket inspectors often make the rounds asking to see your ticket. One problem is false inspectors who most often ride the trams between Malostranske Namesti and Prague Castle - these deceivers can be detected by asking for the identity card and badge which should be possessed by every inspector. An unstamped ticket is invalid - it will be confiscated, and you will incur a 700 CZK fine. Even though riding black seems easy in Prague, you should invest in the cheap ticket for the simple reason that Prague's transportation works perfectly and it functions on the honor system - help it stay that way.
Be aware that some buses (number 300 to 499) and all S-trains go out of the city, so they work a little differently, because normal tickets are valid only within the city limits. You have to show your ticket to the bus driver or train conductor and possibly buy another ticket from them, if you plan to go out of the city. The most popular site reachable this way is the Karlštejn castle (train S7, leaving the main station every 30 minutes).
Public transport continues at night and it's fairly extensive [http://www.ropid.cz/download.php?idg=97i=3id=693Lang=en]. Night trams or night buses (00:00 to 05:00; lines beginning with the number 5 and 6 for the bus going out of city) usually come every 30 minutes. Every 15 minutes during this time, trams leave the central exchange stop of Lazarská in the centre of Prague. All night trams go through this stop. You can easily change tram lines here if nowhere else. At all night exchange stops, trams and buses wait for the connecting tram/bus.
Do not underestimate how close to the footpath the trams will be when they reach the stop. It's safer to take a few steps back before the tram arrives, as wing mirrors could cause injury for taller people. In Metro, you should stay behind the dashed safety line on the floor about half a meter from the edge of the platform. On an escalator, it is customary to stand on the right side and walk up on the left side. When you use public transport in Prague, keep in mind that it is good etiquette to let elderly people, pregnant women or disabled people sit down.
Shared minibus airport service is cheaper alternative to regular door-to-door private transfers. One can find easy-to-follow website at various websites.
Try to avoid getting taxi on the street (public transportation is always the better option in Prague) and if you have to, try to negotiate the price in advance. If you take taxi on the street, you should know that maximum price designated by city council per kilometre is 28 CZK/km (approx €1,3).
It's advisable to call one of the major Prague Taxi services:
- AAA Radiotaxi, +420 222 333 222 [http://www.aaa-taxi.cz]. (26 CZK/km)
- City Taxi, +420 257 257 257 [http://www.citytaxi.cz]. (24 CZK/km)
- Halo Taxi, +420 244 114 411 [http://www.halotaxi.cz/]. (24 CZK/km)
- Kuryr Taxi, +420 241 090 090 [http://www.kuryr-taxi.cz/]. (26 CZK/km)
- Modrý anděl, +420 737 222 333 [http://www.modryandel.cz/].(19 CZK/km)
- PAT Taxi, +420 800 870 888 [http://www.prague-airport-transfers.co.uk/]
- PRG Taxi, +420 773 066 880 [http://www.bohemia-prague-airport-transfers.com]
- Profi Taxi, +420 844 700 800 [http://www.profitaxi.cz/]. (26 CZK/km)
- Sedop, +420 841 666 333 [http://www.sedop.cz/]. (23 CZK/km)
- Speedcars, +420 224 234 234 [http://www.speedcars.cz]. (19 CZK/km)
- Taxi Praha, +420 222 111 000 [http://taxi-praha.cz/]. (24 CZK/km)
- Taxi Premier, +420 777 092 045 [http://www.taxipremier.com/]
Deceptive taxi drivers are another trap that can badly surprise a tourist. Mostly they charge more than they should. The municipal council has been trying to solve this problem since the Prague mayor dressed up as an Italian tourist and was repeatedly overcharged. The most frequent cases of cheating happen between the railway station or airport and hotel. If you must take a taxi, and cannot call one directly or call your hotel for a referral, the best way to find a reputable one may be to look for a hotel and ask them to call a taxi. (Most hotels in Prague have a deal with taxi services or they have their own hotel taxi which usually charges you 50% or more than the taxi companies listed above.)
Taxi drivers at the railway station may show you a printed card that details the fixed fares for travel within the city. This is completely false. Don't fall for it.
Always insist on having the taxi-meter turned on and ask for a printed receipt once you leave the taxi. The receipt should have the driver's name, address and tax identification number included. Even though you ask for a receipt the taxi-meter could be tampered with using the so-called turbo, which will cause the taxi-meter price to go sky high.
If you decide to flag down a taxi on the street make sure you stop a car with the logo of one of the major companies. It's not a bullet proof solution, but at least you have some chance to get some satisfaction from the taxi dispatching company.
About two years ago, an information desk was set up on most taxi stands in the city, with orientation prices to most popular destinations from that stand. But there is a flaw in the local law, which actually allows some of the taxi companies renting the taxi stands (specifically around Old Town square) to charge VERY high prices (about 99CZK/Km). There is an ongoing lawsuit regarding this, however the practice still hasn't stopped. The most infamous company in this regard is a recently created AAA Taxi s.r.o. deliberately creating its name to resemble regulated and popular AAA Radiotaxi Praha, however AAA Taxi cabs charge up to four times more for a ride, they even do not provide services to Czech customers [http://www.praguepost.com/news/1903-taxi-ruling-could-take-years.html]. Visitors are advised to use the services of proved phone-order taxis, as they are even reports of robberies with street cruising taxis [http://www.sedazona.cz/2009/09/neznamy-svet-taxikarske-mafie/].
If you don't speak Czech, then be prepared: There is about a 50% chance you will be cheated by the driver, if you hail a taxi in the city center. So be always on watch as that is a standard warning in any guide book about Prague.
If you are convinced you got overcharged by the taxi driver, mark the car ID numbers (license plate, taxi license number on the car door, driver name, etc.) and contact the company which the driver is working for (if any) or police. The problem is that you have to testify against the driver, which is kind of hard when you're on the other side of the world. Try to avoid suspicious taxis and when in doubt, walk away and catch another taxi.
Another alternative is to use some of the chauffeured services companies like [Prague Airport Transfers s.r.o.] or [FEBA Trade Limousine Car Service] or even cheaper but as reliable HFS s.r.o. - [123-Prague-Airport-Transfer.com], or [Transfer-Prague.com].
Some hotels offer taxi services. Make sure to compare the price with other companies. Some hotel taxis are cheap but others are more than twice the price and the car is not always identified as being a taxi. (Most of hotels in Prague have deal with taxi services or they have own hotel taxi and usually charge you by 50% or more than companies written above)
You can travel down the famous Vltava River (Moldau, in German), which inspired writers and composers such as Smetana and Dvorak.
The [Prague Steamboat Company] offers sight seeing cruises as well as trips to the Prague ZOO or the Slapy River Dam.
There also few small passenger ferries across the river [http://www.ropid.cz/cestujeme/privozy-v-pid-%28od-1.1.2012%29__s191x694.html], integrated to the Prague's public transport tariff.
Or you can enjoy travel by boat in historic centre of Prague. Nice surroundings, which include Pražské Benátky, is very amazing to visit it. Try to travel with [Pražské Benátky Company] and enjoy historic cruises as well as way to visit Charles Bridge Museum (in Czech language - Muzeum Karlova Mostu).
- [Prague Castle]. This, the biggest ancient castle in the world according to Guinness World Records, rises like a dream above the city offering beautiful views of the areas below. Also on site is the St. Vitus Cathedral with its lookout tower, the [Castle Picture Gallery], several palaces and museums and the beautiful Royal Garden, among others. You can also watch the Presidential Guard, and the changeover of the guards on duty on the hour. A Prague castle ticket is 350 CZK and an audio guide costs a further 350 CZK.
- Old Town ( Staré město); Prague's historic centre includes numerous historic buildings and monuments, most notably the famed Astronomical Clock ( Orloj), the pure Gothic Týn Church, the mural-covered Storch building, and the Jan Hus monument. Nearby, the Estate Theatre is a neoclassical theatre where Mozart's opera Don Giovanni was first performed. Old Town features many historical churches (St. James Church, Church of Our Lady before Týn among others) and some other interesting historical buildings like the Old Town Hall.
- Josefov; this historic Jewish ghetto is interesting for its well preserved synagogues. The Old New Synagogue (Czech: Staronová synagoga) is Europe's oldest active synagogue and it is rumoured to be the resting place of the famed Prague Golem. Another interesting synagogue is the Spanish Synagogue, a highly ornamental building of Moorish style. Other attractions include the Old Jewish Cemetery, which is the oldest in Europe, and Kafka's house. The Old New Synagogue is NOT a part of the Jewish museum, so if you wish to see everything, it is recommended that you buy a combined pass to all of the Jewish attractions [http://www.jewishmuseum.cz] for 480 CZK.
- New Town ( Nové město); New Town was established as an extension of Old Town in the 14th century, though much of the area has now been reconstructed. The main attraction here is Wenceslas Square, a rectangular commercial square with many stalls, shops and restaurants. At the top of the square is the National Museum which is well worth a look (see below). Midway down this historic boulevard, one finds trendy discos and Art Nouveau hotels, as well as quaint parks and arcades, while just off the beaten path are some wonderful panoramic views (Henry Tower), romantic restaurants and the dazzling, Disney-colored Jubilee Synagogue.
- Lesser Town ( Malá strana); Across the Vltava River from the city centre and leading to the castle, this quarter also offers beautiful streets and churches (of which St. Nicholas Church is the most renowned). The Lennon Wall, which used to be a source of irritation to the communist regime, is also found here, near a Venetian-like canal with water wheel and close to the Charles Bridge.
- Prague Dancing House (Fred and Ginger Building); one of the most fascinating architectural expressions of Prague co-designed by Frank Gehry. Accessible from Karlovo náměstí metro station.
- Prague Giant Metronomemdash; A huge monument erected to replace the Stalinist monument that preceded it.
- Memorial to the 1989 Velvet Revolutionmdash; A simple brass plaque at 20 Narodni. From Cafe Louvre, walk toward the river. You will enter an archway, and after just a few meters, look at the wall on the left.
- [Prague Zoo]. To get there, take Metro C to Nadrazi Holesovice, then bus 112 which terminates at the Zoo. Nearby is the Troja Chateau ( Trojský Zámek) with a large garden displaying various sculptures and a [Botanic Garden] ( Botanická zahrada Troja) with a tropical greenhouse.
- Charles Bridge
Connects Old Town with Lesser Town. Its construction started in the 14th century and it is one of Prague's most beautiful structures. During the day, it is a bustling place of trade and entertainment, as musicians busk and artists sell their paintings and jewelry.
- Infant of Prague
This famous statue of Christ, known also as the Holy Infant of Prague, is among the most widespread religious images in the world. The original statue can be seen in the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Lesser Town.
A beautiful Baroque convent in the Lesser Town.
- Strahov Monastery
A monastery on the mountain. Worth a visit for both its picture gallery and its notable Renaissance library.
A nice castle well worth a visit.
- Petřínská rozhledna
A smaller version of the Eiffel Tower on the top of Petrin Hill overlooking Prague. Climbing the tower costs 105 CZK for a standard ticket or 55 CZK for discounts. Paid lift available.
- There are plenty of smaller museums. Among them are the Miniature Museum at the Stahnov Monastery, Toys Museum and Musical Automata Museum at the Prague Castle, Wax Museum, Torture Museum, Postal Museum and Brewery Museum at the Old Town and the Aviation Museum at Kbely.
- Czech National Gallery (Národní galerie)
Its most important collections are in the Sternberg Palace (up to the Baroque), St George Convent (Czech Baroque and Mannerism) and Veletržní Palace (19th century and modern art). The first two are located near and in the castle respectively. Do not confuse them with the Castle Picture Gallery (see above) which is worth visiting on its own right. Also interesting is the Museum of Czech Cubism at the House of the Black Madonna in the Old Town.
- Czech National Museum (Národní muzeum)
An association of various museums. The main building is at the Wenceslas Square and is dedicated to natural history. Other branches include museums of the Czech composers Dvořák and Smetana, Czech Music Museum, Historical Pharmacy Museum, Prince Lobkovicz' Collection at the Prague Castle, Czech Ethnographical Museum and Naprstek Anthropological Museum.
- Prague City Gallery
A museum of modern Czech arts divided between several sites most of which are in the old town. Its main building is the House of the Golden Ring at the Old Town Square featuring 20th Century Czech art in a beautiful medieval edifice. 19th Century Czech art is exhibited at the Troja Castle.
- Czech Museum of Fine Arts
20th Century Czech art and changing exhibitions.
- Museum of Decorative Arts
This 17th century palazzo-style building houses examples of historical and contemporary crafts, as well as applied arts and design.
- National Technical Museum
Amazing collection of motorcycles, cars, aircraft and commercial vehicles, plus many examples of communist-era technological engineering. Reopened in February 2011 after extensive renovation works.
- Military Museum
Showcases the uniforms, artifacts and maps relating to the Czechoslovak armed forces during World Wars I and II.
- Jewish Museum
This covers six separate places (four synagogues, the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Memorial Hall) but does not include the Old-New Synagogue, although entrance tickets can either include or exclude the last named. The Old-New Synagogue is expensive in relation to the museum but in view of its age, it's worth including it. The Memorial Hall is particularly moving with exhibits of the writings of children in death camps.
- Mozart and Dušek Museum
Dedicated to the works of Mozart. The Museum of W. A. Mozart and the Dušeks is closed from November 1, 2009 until further notice.
- Prague City Museum
An absolute must-see for the incredibly detailed cardboard model of nineteenth century Prague by Anton Langweil. The detail is amazing, even down to the colour of the doorways and the design of the windowsills.
- Mucha Museum
A museum of the Czech artist Alfons Mucha.
- Kafka Museum
There is also a permanent exhibition at Kafka's house.
- The Pedagogical Comenius Museum
A museum documenting the writings of the Czech Renaissance erudite.
- The Mueller Villa
A work of art of the well known Viennese architect Adolf Loos from the beginning of the 20th Century.
- Museum of Communism
Interesting exhibits on how Communism changed Czechoslovakia, but skewed toward a particular view of history.
- Lobkowicz Palace
Art museum near Prague Castle
- [DOX - Centre for Contemporary Art]. Newly opened gallery for modern arts, modern EU gallery style. Huge white building with lot of exhibitions, installations and interesting objects to see. Located at Poupětova 1, Praha 7 near industrial district Holešovice (metro red line C) is quite long way from the centre but definitely worth to see. You can check the exhibitions during day (around 1-2 hr) and on the trip back to Holešovice visit the legendary underground grown up [Cross Club].
- Museum Kampa
A museum of modern Central European art.
- Jaroslav Fragner Gallery
Contemporary architecture. You can find here profiles of influential people and groups, retrospective exhibitions, thematic exhibitions, recent movement in architecture. Gallery provides lectures, seminars and publishing, regarding central Prague the JFG became a centre for architects, professional and general public, students of architecture and construction companies.
If you are visiting multiple attractions, you may be able to save money by buying a tourist card. Be discerning, as the passes often list as inclusions destinations that are free to visit anyway, and include lesser attractions. Make sure you will save money on the places you want to visit.
- Prague Card
Valid for 4 days and grants free entry to over 50 attractions in the Prague area. You will receive a book with information on all the included attractions and many discounts (Prague Walks excursions, airport transfer, shopping, Mucha and Kafka museum etc.) and a voucher for each attraction. You can only enter the attraction with a valid card and a voucher. The card does not include public transport. You can visit Prague Castle (350 CZK), Old Town, Malá Strana and Charles Bridge historical towers and other attractions, Observatory (20 CZK), small copy of Eiffel Tour (100 CZK) and Mirror Maze at Petrin Hill, Vysehrad all castle including his casemates and gallery, many New Town Museums and Galleries and several castles outside centre of Prague. You will not save much with this card.
- Welcome Card TVCzechia®
Grants admission to all the Prague Castle short tour, which normally costs 250CZK. Many of the town's museums and galleries—including all branches of the National Gallery and the National Museum—are also included, and over four days you can easily see 3 times the card's value. As such, this is an excellent choice if you're planning on visiting a lot of museums. The only major attraction that is not included is the Old New Synagogue and Jewish Museum.
There are many opera and Black Light Theatre companies in Prague. There are several performance groups that cater to tourists. They aren't strictly to be avoided, but common sense should tell you that the opera advertised by costumed pamphleteers is not going to be up to truly professional standards.
- Prague Folklore Days, [Advent and Christmas Music].
List of Concerts, Theatres, Museums, Galleries, Monasteries, Antiques, Trade Fairs, History in Prague:
River cruises are both popular and varied, from one hour cruises to long evening cruises with dinner or music.
The streets around Old Town are full of gift shops geared towards tourists, selling Bohemian crystal, soccer shirts and other mass-produced memorabilia. The thoroughfare between Charles Bridge and Old Town Square is particularly bad, turning off into one of the laneways you can find exactly the same merchandise for half the price. If you are looking for some decent souvenirs, try to get off the beaten path. Street vendors can have some unexpected treasures and there are plenty in the Charles Bridge area. Prints of paintings and good quality photos are very popular, and a really good way to remember Prague. Don't bother buying overpriced furry hats and Matryoshka dolls, though, because they have nothing to do with Prague - they are Russian in origin, and their sellers are just trying to capitalize on unknowing tourists.
In December, the squares host Christmas Markets selling a mix of arts, craft, food, drink and Prague memorabilia. The markets are an attraction in their own right and a great place to pick up a more unique memento of the city.
There are several large shopping malls in Prague, you should take Na Prikope street - the 18th most expensive street in the world (measured by the price of property), with famous shopping arcades Cerna ruze (Black rose) and Palac Myslbek and many shops. If you are looking for souvenir shops, you will find them in the city's historical centre - mostly around Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and Prague Castle.
There are many other shops offering Bohemian crystal - especially in the centre near the lower end of Wenceslas Square.
The other typical (if rather expensive) Czech goods is the garnet jewellery - typical Czech garnet stones (gathered near the town of Turnov) are dark red and nowadays are produced by a single company - Granat Turnov - and if you buy genuine traditional Czech garnet, you should get a certificate of authenticity.
Pařížská street goes from Old Town Square towards the river - and includes some of the most luxurious (and expensive) boutiques in Prague.
Popular shopping malls
[Palladium] - situated directly in the city centre, it's the newest and perhaps most luxurious shopping mall. No cheap options to eat, unless you buy some food in Albert supermarket on the lowest floor (-2). On the top level (+2) are some moderate to expensive restaurants. Tram/metro station Namesti Republiky.
OC Chodov - a huge shopping mall with hypermarket located slightly further away from the centre at metro station Chodov.
Šestka - new shopping mall just 1 station from the Prague Airport. Very far away from the centre but ideal for last minute shopping before your departure. Take bus 119 from Dejvicka metro station.
Palác Flora - medium-sized shopping mall with IMAX cinema in the top floor. Tram/metro station Flora.
OC Nový Smíchov - big shopping mall with 2-floor Tesco hypermarket, a cinema, a number fast food restaurants on the top floor and very close to metro/tram station Anděl.
Metropole Zličín - medium-sized mall with a cinema, hypermarket Interspar, fast foods, huge parking lot and near the metro/bus station Zličín. If you are hungry after your flight, take a bus 100 from the airport to Zličín and then just walk few metres to this mall and buy something to eat.
The official currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech Crown (koruna), abbreviated as Kč, with the international abbreviation CZK.
The current exchange rate can be found at the official website of the [Czech National Bank]
Sometimes it is also possible to pay with Euros (Hotels in the centre of Prague, McDonalds, KFC, Marks Spencer - also accepts British pounds, Albert and Billa supermarkets, etc.), but the exchange rate may be slightly unfavourable and change is almost always given only in Kč. Dm-drogerie markt (cosmetics and health food) and New Yorker (clothing) stores accept euros at good rates, while souvenir stores take both euros and US dollars at poor rates.
In Prague, especially around tourist sights, there are plenty of Exchange offices with very bad rates and misleading advertisements. Banks such as Česká spořitelna have acceptable rates but charge a commission. Best rates are found around Main Railway Station (Hlavní nádraží) - exit the station, left across the park, to street Politických vězňů. There are about 5 offices, mostly Arab-owned, and offer very good rates even for smaller amounts, and even better or negotiable for higher (over 1000 EUR, USD or such). Make sure you do not exchange money with strangers offering good rates on the street. You are likely to end up with a different currency, such as Hungarian forint, and no way of getting your money back.
Lunch is traditionally the main meal in Prague. Czech cuisine is typically based around pork or beef with starchy side dishes such as dumplings, potatoes, or fries. Fish is not as popular, though these days it is widely available. Popular Czech desserts include fruit dumplings (ovocné knedlíky), crêpes or ice cream. Most restaurants become very crowded during lunch and dinner, so consider making a reservation or eating earlier than the locals.
The tip should be about 10 to 15% - in cheaper restaurants or pubs you can get away with rounding up the note or leaving a few extra coins. Otherwise it's customary to leave at least 20-40CZK or €1-2. Taxes are always included in the price by law. Many restaurants in heavily-touristed areas (along the river, or with views near the castle) will charge a cover or kovert in addition to your meal charge. If this is printed in the menu, you have no recourse. But a restaurant will often add this charge to your bill in a less up-front manner, sometimes after printing in the menu that there is no cover. Anything brought to your table will have a charge associated with it (bread, ketchup, etc.) If you are presented with a hand-scrawled bill at the end of the meal, it is suggested that you take a moment to clarify the charges with your server. This sort of questioning will usually shame the server into removing anything that was incorrectly added. It should be noted that some waiters are impolite especially to people from the eastern part of Europe. Pay no attention to this, and simply find another restaurant.
If you're on the look out for fast food, you won't be able to move without tripping over street vendors serving Czech style hot dogs and mulled wine in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square in New Town. If you're after Western-style fast food, the major chains also have a large presence in Wenceslas Square and the area immediately around it. Most beer halls also serve light snacks or meals. Definitely try the hot dogs (párek v rohlíku) - they're far superior to the greasy, messy version you get in the West. Small, hollowed-out French baguettes are used for the bread, filled with mustard and ketchup, and then the frankfurter is inserted afterwards. This turns the bread into a convenient carry-case and means you don't get ketchup all over your hands. Make sure you get mustard, even if you don't normally like it - unfortunately the hot dogs are somewhat flavorless and need that extra bit of kick. Prices range from around 15 crowns for a small one to 45 crowns for the terrifying-looking 'gigant'. Note that size of hot dog relates to girth rather than length. Try the trdelnik, a traditional tube-shaped pastry, which can be found at street vendors in Old Town for 50 crowns.
Czech is the official language of Prague and the Czech Republic. Simple words and phrases in other Slavic languages (for example Serbian/ Croatian/ Bosnian, Bulgarian and Polish) are also commonly understood. Slovak and Czech are very similar and mutually intelligible.
Most young people speak English very well, you will also have no problem speaking English at restaurants and bars. Many restaurants have English menus. Russian is widely understood by people who were attending school before the Velvet Revolution in 1989, but the language is too different from Czech to be understood without study. In addition, some people may dislike using Russian even if they know it because of the Soviet occupation of the Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Communist history in general. Many Czechs also have some knowledge of German. People studying after 1989 and even some older people can speak English. However, learning Czech will surely endear you to the locals.
See the Czech phrasebook.
Pubs (in Czech hospoda) abound throughout Prague, and indeed are an important part of local culture. The exact brand of beer usually vary from pub to pub, and recommendations are difficult to give as natives are usually willing to argue at lengths about their preferences. The most internationally recognized beers are Pilsner Urquell ( Plzeňský Prazdroj) and Budweiser Budvar ( Budějovický Budvar). There are other brands famous among Czechs like Gambrinus. If you are looking for a beer brewed in Prague, go for Staropramen. Usual prices for a half-liter glass are between 20 and 35 CZK, based on the brand and locality, while certain restaurants at tourist areas like the Old Town Square are known to charge more than 100 CZK for a euro-sized glass. Don't be afraid to experiment with different beer brands, even if they are not mentioned in this article.
In Prague it is customary, especially at beer halls, to sit with a group of people if there are no free tables, so go ahead and ask if you can join. Prague has also many excellent tearooms (in Czech čajovna) which serve different kinds of teas from around the world.
Save your money and find the bars yourself - you might be surprised at the discoveries you make away from the tourist circus.
- Prague Pub Crawl
http://www.pubcrawl.cz/, phone: +1 420-731-067-775
20:00 -22:30 join The Crawl at 24 Dlouha St, in the courtyard. Price=490CZK or €20
- The Prague Underground Bar Crawl
U Milosrdnych 4, http://www.thepragueunderground.com, phone: 608803314
Meets in front of the Astronomical Clock at 21:45 every night but Sunday. Power hour from 22:00-23:30 at The Drunken Monkey bar with unlimited beer, wine and vodka shooters. 3 tables are set up for Beer Pong and Flip Cup. Crawlers also receive a welcome shot at every bar and VIP entry to a different club every night. Free t-shirt included!
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It is quite easy and cheap to buy a local SIM card with 3G access. Packages vary so check before purchasing.
Many hostels and hotels offer free internet on shared computers or over a wireless network, so ask before you shell out extra at one of Prague's many internet cafes.
Almost all McDonald's and KFC fast food restaurants offer unsecured, free WiFi networks to paying customers. Most other restaurants and cafes offers free WiFi as well, often without advertising - check for network with name of the establishment and ask the personnel for password.
An internet cafe located at Spálená 49 (Metro B Tram: Národní třída) is open until midnight every day and offers printing facilities.
- Grial Internet Cafe
http://www.grial.cz, email: email@example.com, phone: +420 222 516 033
Belgická 31, Vinohrady, Prague 2. The nearest metro station is Náměstí Míru on the A line. M-F 09:00-23:00, Sa Su 11:00-23:00. Grial Cafe serves hot and cold drinks, including alcohol, and scanning, printing and CD/DVD burning are available. Internet access is 40CZK per hour.
- Internet Cafe Interlogic
http://cafe.interlogic.cz/index.php?page=intro, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +420 241 734 617
Budějovická 13, Praha 4. 10:00-22:00 daily. 12Mbit/second internet connections, couches and drinks. 1CZK/min.
- Blue Mail
http://www.cz99.cz/, email: email@example.com, phone: +420 222 521 279
Konviktská 8, Praha 1, (Old Town). M-F 10:00-22:00, Sa Su 10:00-23:00. The first five minutes is free and an hour of access will set you back 81CZK.
- Jazz Republic
http://www.jazzrepublic.cz, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +420 224 282 235
28 října 1, Prague 1 (Old Town). The nearest metro station is Můstek on the A and B lines. Everyday 15:00-0:00. Jazz Republic offers two MacBooks and internet access for free use by guests. Concerts start at 21:00, and the MacBooks are usually taken away by 20:00. Wi-Fi stays on until the place closes at around 1:00.
The most common crimes in Prague by far are car theft and pickpocketing: the prevalence of car theft and vandalism pushes up the crime statistics of Prague. But it even if you do not drive any cars, pickpocketing is common in Prague, and some violent crimes do occur in this city. You are seriously warned not to provoke drunken people as it will pose yourself in extreme danger. Overall Prague is a relatively safe city and with normal common sense one should be able to avoid problems; even at night a woman can walk alone. There are no no go areas. The only area with a high concentration of homeless is in front of the central station.
Begging occurs at the city's top tourist attractions and in some of the main public transport hubs. Don't carry a wallet or purse in the back pocket of your pants; always keep an eye on your items; don't put all your money in one place; don't show your money or valuable things to anybody. Better safe than sorry so take enough precautions for yourself.
Possession of drugs has been historically a grey area under the Czech jurisdiction. Since early 2010, though, the dubious term an amount less than small has been finally transformed into absolute values based on the actual judicial practice and it is no longer an offense to carry less than 15 g of marijuana, 5 patches of LSD, 1 g of cocaine, etc. [http://ireadculture.com/2011/07/news/the-next-amsterdam/] It is still a criminal offense to posses more than the allowed amount of drugs. Bear in mind that for possession of lesser amount you might be still fined by public authorities as it is an offence (even though not criminal one). Please also note that most bars will expect you to go outside if you intend to smoke a joint.
Be aware of teams of pickpockets [http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=103article=28287archive=true] that lurk outside metro stations, overcrowded trams, Charles Bridge, Wenceslas Square and the Old Town Square. They usually work in teams of 3-5 and look for lost or distracted tourists. Backpacks are especially interesting to them. Many of those groups use underage children as pickpockets because they are not liable according to Czech criminal law.
Due to the low incidence of violent crime, the threat of pickpockets has been played up as a great problem. However, common sense and basic precautions can keep most people safe from pickpockets. If you have a camera, try not to wear it openly. Always close and secure your backpack and try to keep an eye on it. Be especially careful not to fall asleep in tram or metro. Wear your wallet in a safe place (like inner pocket of your coat), never put it into your rear pocket or any other place where it can be easily stolen.
Be astute on sleeper trains, as bag robberies are on the increase between major stations. Ask for ID from anyone who asks to take your ticket or passport, and lock backpacks to the luggage racks. Keep valuables on you and maintain common sense.
If you enter the metro (usually at night), you may find a team of con artists at the stations, saying that they are metro clerks and, after examining your ticket for some time, that it's invalid so you'll have to pay a fine of 500 CZK (1000 CZK if you argue with them). So if you happen to see them and you're sure that your ticket is valid, tell them to call the police, or call them yourself. Remember that Prague Metro ticket inspectors have to produce their badge in order to check your ticket and issue a fine; if they don't do this as soon as they approach you then, they are almost certainly fakes.
Be careful with taxi drivers, particularly from the train station. Taxis that are legally registered may still be mafia-run affairs that do their best to overcharge. It is illegal for a taxi driver to refuse you a receipt in Prague, so agree to a price before putting yourself or your luggage in the taxi. The risk of overcharging is greatly overplayed but just take the usual sensible precautions of only using taxi firms affiliated with the station or your hotel, or call a reputable company and wait. Finally, if presented with an incorrect bill from a taxi driver, call the police on your mobile phone: the driver will quickly change his tune. You can of course always ask reception, restaurant etc. to call taxi on the number you give them.
If you can't afford to haggle with cab drivers, you can always use public mass transit. The network is extensive and can take you almost anywhere in Prague 24 hours every day.
Be careful with money exchanges. Exchange your money in banks or official tourist informations and rather avoid exchange offices. Never deal with a street money-dealer: they offer better rates but frequently try to swindle you by giving you money from another country, such as Russian rubles or old Bulgarian leva.
Most of the exchange offices are fair, but some, especially at the busiest tourist sites, may try to cheat customers with various tricks. One of the them is offering favourable exchange rates, but with fine print below such as if you exchange more than €1000. Another trick is putting a huge board with we sell exchange rates to the shop window, which makes an impression of good rates, whereas the actual rate for buying CZK is much more unfavourable.
When the customer finds this out at the counter and wants to cancel the transaction, the money-dealer refuses with an excuse I have already printed the bill, implying it is too late. The police won't help you, typically referring you to the Czech National Bank, which supervises exchange offices, to file a complaint (which does not help you either).
Credit cards are widely accepted at all supermarkets, hotels and also in most tourist places. As in most countries you can find cards for ATM withdrawals with low or 0% fee and often for payment with Visa or MasterCard exchange rate only (which is same as rate of best exchange offices), there is no need to use exchange offices anymore in 21st century.
Czech law is weak and orders exchange offices only to display the actual rates, which you might find somewhere in the office in small print. Therefore, if you decide to use an exchange office always ask for the actual rate you will pay before making the transaction before releasing any money out of your hand.
If you find yourself in emergency, dial 158 for police, 155 for ambulance or 150 for firefighters. You can also dial 112 for a general emergency call.
If you need medication at weekends or evenings, you can go to Lékárna Palackého, (Tel +420 224 946 982) the 24-hour pharmacy on Palackého 5 in the new town.
Local foreign language media
- The Prague Post (weekly newspaper, in English) [http://www.praguepost.com]
- Prague Daily Monitor (website in English) [http://www.praguemonitor.com]
- Radio Prague (multilingual radio station, website) [http://www.radio.cz/en]
- Czech Position (business news website, in English) [http://www.ceskapozice.cz/en]
Buses and trains are frequent and quite inexpensive and can get you to even the smallest village.
Practically every major European city can be reached by bus or train from Prague.
Regular buses are available to the following Czech towns, travel times in brackets:
- Brno (210nbsp;km; 02h05 in car)
- České Budějovice (152nbsp;km; 02h14 in car)
- Český Krumlov (179nbsp;km; 02h40 in car)
- Frýdek Místek (373nbsp;km; 03h37 in car)
- Hradec Králové (117nbsp;km; 01h28 in car)
- Jihlava (132nbsp;km; 01h25 in car)
- Karlovy Vary (127nbsp;km; 01h55 in car)
- Kroměříž (272nbsp;km; 02h34 in car)
- Liberec (112nbsp;km; 01h20 in car)
- Nový Jičín (346nbsp;km; 03h12 in car)
- Olomouc (284nbsp;km; 02h43 in car) mdash; 284nbsp;km from Prague, but with a good train connection, former capital of Moravia, beautiful old city, famous medieval astronomical clock.
- Ostrava (377nbsp;km; 03h31 in car)
- Písek (107nbsp;km; 01h35 in car) mdash; Beautiful South Bohemian town with the country's oldest bridge
- Pilsen (94nbsp;km; 01h18 in car) mdash; Home of the world-famous Pilsener brewery
- Uherské Hradiště (283nbsp;km; 03h01 in car)
- Zlín (301nbsp;km; 03h08 in car)
For just a small selection of further places off the beaten path:
- Kutná Hora (84nbsp;km; 01h24 in car) mdash; A once prosperous silver mining town in the 14th and 15th centuries with the fantastic Saint Barbara church, and the Sedlec Ossuary located in the suburbs, decorated with the remains of 40,000 human skeletons who were largely plague victims.
- Novosedly na Moravě (248nbsp;km; 02h30 in car) mdash; Take a horseback trip through the vineyards of Moravia
- Vyšší Brod (205nbsp;km; 02h59 in car) mdash; Three day canoe trip from the Sumava mountains through Český Krumlov
- Bohemian-Moravian Highlands (155nbsp;km; 02h04 in car) mdash; Great mountain area for hiking, located halfway between Prague and Brno
- Beroun (36nbsp;km; 00h42 in car) mdash; Small city located on the way to Plzeň, follow the Beroun river north to some beautiful villages
- Karlštejn castle and the holy cave monastery (47nbsp;km; 00h54 in car) mdash; Hiking trip to the famous castle as well as an off the beaten track monastery
- Konopiště (50nbsp;km; 00h44 in car) mdash; Archduke Franz Ferdinand's Castle located 40nbsp;km south of Prague
- Český Ráj (89nbsp;km; 01h09 in car) mdash; Hike through forests and valleys filled with giant sandstone columns and cliffs in this park near Jičín.
- Orlík (85nbsp;km; 01h14 in car) mdash; Orlík castle about 70nbsp;km from Prague. Near the Orlík dam and Zvíkov castle.
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