Aaah, the beautiful city of Prague, also known as Praha. I visited Prague in Czech Republic for the first time and was surprised at how much I loved this city, albeit touristy. These are just 10 of my best tips on how to fully enjoy this beautiful city.
1. Watch @HonestGuide videos
I chanced upon @HonestGuide on YouTube while researching on Prague, and soon enough I was hooked… with their series of videos exposing scammers in Prague. Even if you’re not planning a trip to Prague, just go and watch the series; it’s truly fascinating. Their “mute” woman expose is one of my all-time faves.
I had to refocus back on their travel guide videos, which are bite-sized, extremely helpful little snippets. They cover money changing, where to eat, what to see, public transportation, and everything else you might need to know about travelling Prague – except for hotels, which they honestly, say that they can’t help with since they don’t stay in hotels in Prague.
Host Janek is also a charming pleasure to watch and the hero image for this post could have been a selfie with him. True story. I was strolling Old Town one evening and a bunch of policemen were walking towards me. They stopped this tall man walking ahead of me, and I remembered thinking jokingly, “oooh you in trouble luckily honest guide is not around lol.” They had a quick conversation, and then as Tall Man walked away, he glanced back and guess who it was: Mr Janek Honest Guide himself. I tried to catch up but alas. Dude walks fast. With a backpack and AirPods stuck in his ears.
2. When changing money, ask for the final value on a calculator.
Czech Republic has its own currency, and you typically can only change it when in the country itself. Unfortunately, Prague has a lot of scammy money changers, even at the airport. Honest Guide covers a lot of these places in their videos but the money changers would either charge a commission, or be “0%” commission, but have terrible exchange rates. It’s a lot to take in for a first-timer in Prague.
My fool-proof technique: Google the exchange rate first at the hotel first, then go to money changers and ask them to type out their final Czech Koruna value on a calculator. Basically, do not take what’s displayed on face value.
Alternatively, you can ask your hotel for recommendations. It’s how I found my first money changer. And only money changer actually. I didn’t have to change that much because…
3. You can pay with a credit card almost anywhere
Within the Prague city centre, I was able to pay for meals, admission tickets to attractions, even my public transportation ticket with my credit card. I was so pleasantly surprised that I could even pay by simply tapping my card onto the machine. Not all restaurants accept card; ask first before dining in if cards are accepted.
4. For people-less shots, explore before 9am
Prague is crowded. If it’s a peaceful walk you’re looking for, explore before 9am. I was out between 6 to 7am every single day – though this was more due to jet lag than pure discipline – and got a lot of great shots without crowds.
If you’re expecting a completely empty Prague, you’re out of luck. Even at 6am, there were always a couple other tourists out to catch the proverbial worm. I preferred it this way – “do you mind taking my photo?”
Seriously though, exploring calm Prague before the crowds was refreshing.
5. Stay in the City Centre
Especially if you only have a couple days in Prague, like I did. I stayed in New Prague, along Wenceslas Square and it was a good call. I could walk everywhere from there, and when I need a break, I could just nip back to my hotel and rest a bit/charge my batteries. Then head back out when I feel like it.
I stayed at Pytloun Hotel and I loved it. After staying at these… “business” hotels in Europe – looking at you, Mr Basic and Old ibis – I was so elated to have a nicer, more modern hotel for a few days. My room had a bathtub right by the bed, which is quite frankly a genius idea and one that I took advantage of a couple of times. The hotel had snacks all day long. FOR FREE. I took advantage of it one evening: “snacks” were delicious, ate too much, skipped dinner altogether.
Pytloun Hotel was also close to Mustek metro station, which was on the direct line on the metro from where the bus stopped. I was pleased to find out that the path from the metro to my hotel was not a cobblestone path, which made rolling my luggage along less of a noisy affair.
6. Save locations on Google Maps so you can walk everywhere
Prague is extremely walkable. I got to all of these places (save for Vysehrad) by foot. Since it’s such a compact city, I like to route my exploring on Google Maps, so I don’t backtrack to any missed sights. Although that’s not such a bad thing. Prague was one of the most enjoyable cities to get lost in due to the fairytale city setting.
7. Join a Walking Tour
Not just to learn about the history of this city, but to also get a better bearing. As beautiful as the architecture is in Prague, having them in succession while on narrow paths can really disorient. Going on a walking tour will also help you to figure out what’s worth taking a second look, and which areas to skirt.
8. Tip 10-15% at restaurants
Tip for tipping (:D) Prague is one of the more affordable places in Europe to have a meal. I could get a really good meal with drinks for under 10 Euros. There is a tipping culture here, the general rule is 10% if served.
9. Avoid cabs – public transportation is great and there’s also Uber
Honest Guide has a series on cab scammers in Prague, and it’s quite an intimidating thing to watch. There’s a mafia-like organisation for cabs targeting tourists and are not ashamed of it at all.
I took public transportation, even to and from the airport. It was extremely easy, fuss-free and so much more affordable. I was also traveling with luggage, and taking a bus and a subway, again, absolutely not issues. There are escalators, lifts and slopes along the way for all your luggage needs. I was planning to take an Uber on the way back to the airport, but I decided to take the public transport because it would have taken me the same time either way. Taking public transport meant I had just enough Korunas leftover to get a (very expensive) smoothie at the airport.
10. Learn some basic Czech
Now, other people would give you a whole list of basic words… but dang, Czech is a hard language to learn, man.
I was told that I really only needed to learn two phrased on my trip:
“Dobrý den!” – Hello or good day.
“Děkuji” – Thank you.
The Czechs warm up to you quicker when you open with these words. Even if you mess them up or combine the two together. All those times I confidently said “DEKUDEN!!!”…
And those are my top tips based on my travels to Prague, Czech Republic. If this seemed like a fan letter to Honest Guide, I’m sorry, but it’s a dope channel. I think a lot of touristy cities in the world could use a Honest Guide.