I once saw someone describe Prague as a “medieval metropolis”, and that was exactly what is is. Capitals around the world sport glass buildings and well-connected roads, but not the capital of Czech Republic. Its 18th and 19th century architecture is so well-preserved that stepping into Prague is almost akin to stepping into a time machine.
It is no wonder why Prague captivates so many visitors yearly. Yet, from my earlier visit to Prague, I should warn you that visiting this city comes with caution. There are certain unspoken rules and culture shock which I experienced when I first stepped in here for the first time – which, could have been avoided had I read up about it more.
Here are 16 things you should know before you visit this beautiful and rustic city.
- What to know before going to Prague, Czech Republic
- 1. The currency used in Prague is the Czech Crown (not Euro!)
- 2. Most tourist landmarks are within walking distance of each other
- 3. The public transportation is well-connected and affordable
- 4. Avoid cabs and taxis
- 5. Beware of pickpockets
- 6. Beer is cheaper than water
- 7. Lunch is the Czech’s main dish of the day
- 8. Tipping is a norm
- 9. Czechs do not have the friendliest faces
- 10. Smoking is allowed indoors and in dining areas.
- 11. Most museums are closed on Mondays. Many shops are closed on Sundays.
- 12. Billa, Tesco, Albert, Zabka
- 13. Don’t use ‘Czechoslovakia’
- 14. Trdelnik is not a local dessert
- 15. Russian dolls are not local either
- 16. Czech marionettes and puppets
- Get more travel tips & hacks for your favourite destinations!
What to know before going to Prague, Czech Republic
1. The currency used in Prague is the Czech Crown (not Euro!)
Beware of currency exchange tellers which promise rates that are too good to be true – they will charge exorbitant exchange fees.
2. Most tourist landmarks are within walking distance of each other
Be sure to plan your route properly and efficiently to avoid incurring extra transport costs! That being said, do put on some comfortable shoes as there will be tons of walking.
3. The public transportation is well-connected and affordable
At 24 CZK (valid for 30 min) or 32 CZK (valid for 90 min), it is actually cheaper to buy a ticket at newsstands/ yellow vending machines than from the bus driver. 1-day tickets costs 110 CZK & 3-day tickets costs 310 CZK.
4. Avoid cabs and taxis
If you do need to get to a further destination or have heavy luggages in tow, use Uber, local app Liftago, or ask the hotel concierge to call you a cab. Avoid flagging the taxi on your own because they do scam tourists.
5. Beware of pickpockets
Here’s an honest guide to Prague: even though the situation has improved vastly since the 90’s, do still beware of pickpockets. In my entire 6 months travelling in Europe, I personally experienced 2 pickpocketing incidents, and both occurred in Prague. Thankfully, these pickpockets left empty handed. It pays to be a little more careful with your belongings and never place your wallet and phones in your back pocket.
6. Beer is cheaper than water
So why sip on expensive water when you can grab a cheap pint? Prague actually has the highest beer consumption in the world- more than 156 litres of beer per capita per year. This includes the old, newborns and dogs. Imagine that! And I thought the Germans clinched the top spot.
7. Lunch is the Czech’s main dish of the day
Soup is usually eaten, followed by a main course. For typical Czech meals, order vepro-knedlo-zelo, gulas or svickova. You may also come across restaurants serving Czech dumplings, and if you come from Asia like me, don’t be surprised when they serve you a plate of meat and bread, doused in a savoury sauce!
Otherwise, pamper your palate by sampling some delicious Czech snacks: nakladany hermelin (pickled camembert cheese), utopenec (small fat pickled sausage), tatarak (raw shaved beef).
8. Tipping is a norm
You should tip at around 10% of the total bill. Otherwise, simply round the bill up to the nearest 10.
9. Czechs do not have the friendliest faces
And they do not always provide the best service. It makes window-shopping a little intimidating, and waiting for food to be served a restaurants a little frustrating.
10. Smoking is allowed indoors and in dining areas.
I had to endure second-hand smoke while dining in Prague several times which is real bothersome for non-smokers like myself.
11. Most museums are closed on Mondays. Many shops are closed on Sundays.
Most restaurants serve meals until 21:00. If you’re lucky, you can catch some that serve until 22:00. Beyond that, you can hunt for fast food.
12. Billa, Tesco, Albert, Zabka
These are the common supermarkets that can be easily found on every street.
13. Don’t use ‘Czechoslovakia’
The locals don’t like it when you use ‘Czechoslovakia’. The state ceased to exist in 1993 with the peaceful dissolution of the communist regime in favour of peaceful “Czech Republic”.
14. Trdelnik is not a local dessert
Even though there are many street stands selling this snack, it actually originated from Slovakia. It was apparently only popularised in 2010 when street vendors marketed it as a local snack to tourists.
15. Russian dolls are not local either
Many souvenir shops sell these Russian dolls, often misleading tourists into thinking they’re local souvenirs. I mean, they are Russian dolls, not Czech dolls.
16. Czech marionettes and puppets
If you’re looking for local souvenirs, get the local Czech marionettes and puppets instead.
Prague is easily one of my favourite European cities just because it is so different from the rest. Its gorgeous medieval architecture not only make for good pictures, they are also remnants of the rich and flavourful history left behind in this ancient city of Prague.
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- 3 Days in Prague, Czech Republic; A No-Frill Prague Itinerary
- Prague, Czech Republic- Family Edition
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