10.6 million is the number of tourists who visited Czech Republic last year, a record according to the official stats released by the Czech Statistical Office. This data would have been just a sterile number though, if it weren’t for the fact that 10.6 million is also the population of the entire country!
Of course most of the tourist traffic is addressed to the Czech capital, Prague, known also as the city of a hundred spires for the Gothic buildings that distinguish the old town.
Even though the peak season is usually from April until October, freezing temperatures during winter time don’t frighten tourists at all. Long story short, whenever you plan a trip to Prague you’ll literally plunge into the crowd.
What to see? There’s plenty of articles on the web as well as videos with the list of top/most important attractions to see. The easiest thing to start planning the trip is to google “Prague” and you’ll get travel tips and day plans with a short historical introduction of the city, list of things to do based on travelers visits and local insights, a suggested daily plan based on how long you plan to stay, accommodations and travel average costs plus insights on high peak season/low peak season, holiday periods and weather.
How to move in the city? The center of Prague is quite small so it’s definitely good to walk but there are other options that you might want to consider like bike/scooter sharing, public transport and taxi/uber. As in most tourist focused cities around the world, be careful when hailing a cab, especially in old town part, as it can happen that as a tourist who doesn’t speak the local language you might be scammed by taxi drivers and therefore charged more. A small tip to avoid this: max cost per km is 1 euro, before getting out of the cab be sure to get a printed receipt with the driver’s name and exchange course.
Payments in Prague. Despite the massive tourism be sure to change your currency with Czech crowns as in many restaurants and museums it is not possible to pay with credit or debit cards, they’re cash-only. If you prefer to exchange the currency once you’re in Prague here’s few tips again:
- Don’t do that at the airport but rather in the city as the exchange rate is really convenient for the airport exchange office but not for you.
- If you realize that the exchange rate is really bad it might be good to know that you have 3 hours to get your money back from the exchange office (this is written in the receipt you get after the currency exchange).
What to buy as souvenir? Instead of jumping inside mass-tourist shops that sell magnets, sweaters with “Prague” sewing on them, enter in the local wooden, bohemian crystal and puppets/marionettes shops where you will find great gifts ideas in terms of quality and authenticity. You might also see absinthe liquor in lots of stores but be careful as most of it it’s just strong alcohol with green coloring.
Is Prague cheap? The right answer is it depends. Grocery stores and restaurants located in tourist streets are usually unnecessarily expensive but if you walk a few blocks away you can purchase the same products or have a delicious Czech meal for half the price or less. Water is a perfect example, 1.5 l bottle costs 3 euros, which is a lot, so instead of buying every day a new water bottle just re-fill it or even better bring your own flask, that way you don’t produce plastic trash and save money.
Is the Prague Card convenient? Not really as you won’t have time to see all the attractions included in the card. For some of them you just have a discount and not a free pass and public transports are not included. By the way it’s really easy to find out if the card it’s worth it for you or not as on the Prague Card website there is a page called Calculator, with the possibility to create your own itinerary and compare how much money you can save with or without purchasing the Prague card.
Last insight which is also the most important one: how to enjoy the beauty of the city without getting overwhelmed by the crowd? Look up! I mean it literally, look up to admire the beautiful facades of Prague’s old and perfectly preserved buildings… And if you continue to look up, you might stumble across a weird individual hanging on a pole… 😉