Traveling to Prague considered one of the most romantic cities in the world is not without a few pitfalls. As you wander through the streets of Prague you are hit with how uniquely beautiful this city is. As aesthetically pleasing it is there are a few things you need to be aware of before you go to insure a good stay.
1. Don’t be caught short Before ordering at a restaurant be sure they accept credit cards especially if you are not carrying cash. You will be surprised how many restaurants do not accept them in Prague.
2. Service is more than a smile When looking for a place to eat always ask if there is a service charge. You could be charged 2 Euros/55 Koruna up to 20 Euro/555 Koruna just to sit there. Especially when dining in Old Town Square its very rare you won’t have a charge. Although as a side note it is worth it just for the experience once.
3. ATM machine rip offs First of all check with your bank at home if your debit card will work in Europe then ask about their fees. Make sure you use an actual Bank machine a lot of the BankOMats or third party ATM’s have heavy fees. Another rip off with non bank ATM’s is giving the incorrect amounts. You may request 500 Koruna’s and end up with a 5000 withdrawal. Really bad if it happens to be on your last day in the Czech Republic plus the extra fee!
4. Begging for more than attention Beggars in the streets can be quite interesting but others can be quite a nuisance. There are those who will drag a small piano into Old Town Square playing songs you know and enjoy, or guitarists who have done their research of old Czech tunes. You will see gold painted men as standing as statues or even a fire dancer twirling their wands to Tahitian music. Then you have people in ratty clothes bowing down in the street like they are praying to Mecca on a rug with their tin can waiting for donations. These are the dangerous ones. Travelers who are enjoying the sights of the city may not even see them, next thing they know they are rolling on the ground after tripping over one.
5. A little music their way Charging for music you thought was free with dinner. Beware of eateries that entice you with a lively jazz band. Most would think they are paid by the establishment and is included with your meal. The surprise when you get your check with an extra 5 Euro to 12 Euro is an annoyance. Make sure you ask before your order to see if there will be a charge for the music.
6. Don’t gimp out Good shoes are a must for those who want to see the city without taking the metro or buses. All Prague streets are cobblestone and although that’s what gives romance to the city it can be hard on your feet, ankles and knees. If you travel short distances its not a problem but if you are walking more than a few blocks make sure you have comfortable shoes. That means no zippered shoes, or tightly laced shoes. You might see some fashionable women trying to maneuver in stilettos which is good for a few laughs but if you don’t want hurting feet don’t try it! Gel insoles are strongly advised.
7. Lost and found Bad hotel directions are a huge annoyance especially if you arrive by rail or bus. Trying to find your hotel dragging your luggage and hand bag is enough to make you want to scream. Be sure to contact your hotel before leaving home to get the best instructions to your hotel. Upon arrival find a good map, not only will you have a better chance to easily find where you are staying but its a good resource when you are out an about in Prague.
8. Don’t be fooled Thinking you are purchasing the Prague Card but ending up with a Prague Transport Pass instead. An easy mistake thinking you can pick one up at the Metro Station, Tobacco shop or Tourist Information. Unfortunately buying a pass there will only give you transportation which happens to be included in the Prague Card. You really want to pick up the Prague Card here are a few reasons why: The Prague Card is good for 2, 3 or 4 days of free access to 50 attractions including Prague Castle, the Jewish Museum, the Astronomical Clock Tower which by the way has an elevator to the top and much more. It also includes free airport transfers, public transportation, a free tour and cruise and a free city guide just to name a few of the benefits. You can find out more information at their website PragueCard.com.
9. Don’t get caught Make sure you validate your transportation pass or ticket before getting on the metro. If taking the bus or tram there will be a validation box when you get on. Penalties for not doing this can be costly up to 800 to 1500 CZK depending on where they catch you. Although its rare that you will be asked to show your ticket there is always that off chance it will happen. In fact last year the city made almost 5 million in fines from not punching your card.
10. It’s getting a little crowded Can Prague get crowded? You bet, especially in Old Town Square, the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. Is there a way to avoid some of them? Of course! If you want to get a feel of the city without having to be on your tiptoes or find something to stand on to see past the crowds, wake up early and get yourself into the city. Its sounds horrible to have to get up before the sun on your trip but its well worth the inconvenience. Wait until you see the reflections off the morning dew on the ground in front of the Astronomical Clock. From Prague Castle catch the sunrise in glorious orange, pinks and yellows as the sun rises up over the city, you will never be the same again. There won’t be many tourists and you will be the first to get into all the sights. Win, win!