I recently came back from my first ever solo adventure to the Czech Republic and I cannot begin to tell you how incredible Prague truly is. To make sure you have the time of your life, here are my top Prague tips that will make your journey a smooth sailing one.
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Prague Tips for First-Time Visitors
In addition to being the country’s capital, Prague is also the largest city in the Czech Republic.
It is known for its rich history, Gothic churches, cobblestoned alleyways, and colorful Baroque buildings just to name a few. With over 2 to 8 million visitors per year, it is the number one most visited tourist destination in Czechia.
But enough on that because you’re obviously not here for a statistics class. Here’s what to know about Prague if you have never been before.
Note: Since the majority of my readers are Americans/Canadians, I will not be going over visa requirements, as both countries are visa-exempt for up to 90 days. If you are visiting from elsewhere, I recommend familiarizing yourself with Czech Republic’s entry regulations.
Best Time to Visit Prague
In order to plan your itinerary, you need to first determine the optimal time for visiting Prague.
If you’re looking for warm weather and longer days, July and August are your best bet.
However, we all know that summer is peak season when it comes to travelling. If you wish to avoid crowds, opt for spring or fall months, such as April and May or September and October.
My trip took place around mid-September. While iconic sights like Charles Bridge were still pretty busy (thanks to revenge travel resulting from the pandemic), I was able to enjoy the majority of them all to myself early in the morning.
Now weather was unfortunately a hit or miss. A few days were nice and sunny. Others were cloudy and rainy. Luckily, the rain in Prague doesn’t last long this time of year. It usually drizzles for a bit then stops. Not to mention, the average rainfall is 6 to 7 days in September. As usual, I simply landed on the unlucky side of things with weather.
How Many Days to Spend in Prague
What’s great about Prague is that most attraction sights are lumped together in the Prague 1 neighborhood.
That said, 3 days is more than plenty – in my opinion. If you prefer slow travel or want to explore beyond typical guidebook recommendations, plan to spend 5 to 6 days for a more leisurely trip.
Is There a Language Barrier
The official language of Czech Republic is, of course, Czech. Nonetheless, English is commonly taught in schools.
I had no trouble communicating with my hotel concierge, waiters, ticket booth sales, or security guards at Prague Castle. Regardless, a simple please and thank you can go a long way.
Here are a few basic phrases to keep in your back pocket:
- Dobre rano (dobreh rahno) – good morning
- Dobry den (dobree den) – good day/how do you do
- Prosim (proseem) – please
- You can use this when ordering. _____ (dish you want) prosim.
- You will also hear waiters say this when you tell them thank you. In this case, it means you’re welcome/please enjoy.
- Dekuji (dyekuyi) – thank you
- Ano (ano) – yes
- Ne (neh) – no
- Mluvite anglicky? (Mluveete anglitsky?) – Do you speak English?
Despite being a European Union member, the Czech Republic uses Czech crowns (korunas), not euros.
For reference, a meal in Prague typically costs around 2-300 CZK, which is no more than $15 USD/$20 CAD. You can use this determine how much cash to exchange for. Alternatively, most establishments take cards too as well as Apple Pay.
How to Get Around
Again, Prague’s main attractions are all located within Prague 1. Everything is relatively close or within walking distance. And if you’ve ever been anywhere in Europe, you’ll know that a 30-minute walk is considered “close.”
With that in mind, the cheapest way to explore Prague is by foot. (I walked as much as 32,268 steps one day, which was honestly probably more than what I walked in a year during the pandemic lol!)
Public transportation is also easily accessible and affordable. I suggest downloading PID Lítačka on your phone. You can purchase transit tickets online and not have to worry about losing a physical ticket. (More on this in the “Other Mistakes to Avoid in Prague” section below.)
Uber is another fantastic option, as taxis aren’t as reliable unless ordered by your hotel. I paid as little as $10 CAD for a 10-minute ride from my hotel to the bus station. Unless you are commuting to/from the airport, or catching an early train or night bus, you really don’t need to take an Uber.
Where to Stay in Prague
We’ve already established that Prague 1 is where all the action is. Naturally, you’ll want to stay in this area.
I highly recommend Asten Hotels. They have a collection of luxury boutique hotels all across the Czech Republic with three being conveniently located right in central Prague.
Junior Suite at Hotel Golden Key
I split my time in the city between Hotel Golden Key and Rezidence Dvořák. The former is situated right beneath Prague Castle, whereas the latter is adjacent to Charles Bridge.
Hotel Golden Key offers free airport transfers in addition to complimentary daily breakfasts. On the contrary, Rezidence Dvořák’s suites are brand new and perfect for families or if you’re travelling in a group of 3-4 friends.
The third Asten Hotels property in Prague is Old Town’s Hotel Klárov. I haven’t stayed there, but I can say that my experiences with the other two have been nothing short of amazing. You really can’t beat their locations, and they’re great value for the money.
Other Mistakes to Avoid in Prague
1. Wear comfortable walking shoes.
This is perhaps one of the most important Prague tips.
Streets in Prague are lined in cobblestones and as stated above, walking is the best way to get around the city.
You can expect to be on your feet lots, which is why a pair of well-fitting walking shoes is a must. Leave the stilettos at home and pack comfy sneakers instead.
2. Don’t assume you have the right of way.
This may come as a culture shock, but even if you are at a pedestrian crosswalk, trams always have the right of way.
You are expected to let them go first, and it’s your responsibility to move if a stopped tram is suddenly in motion and headed towards you.
Pst! They are super quiet and can thus sneak up on ya so be careful!
3. Remember to validate your ticket(s) for public transportation.
Public transit in Prague is fairly cheap compared to other capital cities in the world. However, the fines are hefty if you are caught without a properly validated ticket.
If you purchased your ticket from a ticket machine, the tourist information center, on the bus, or at a shop, you need to validate it before/upon boarding. (Look for a yellow machine on the tram or at the metro station. Put your ticket inside the ticket slot and the machine will stamp it to validate your ride.)
If you purchased your ticket from PID Lítačka, you have the option of activating (validating) your ticket immediately after purchase, at a set time, or later manually on your own.
4. Skip the chimney cakes!
You’ll see chimney cakes all over Old Town, but guess what? They are not traditional Czech desserts! They are technically Hungarian and are a massive tourist trap.
If you’re craving something sweet, treat yourself to a gingerbread cookie instead!
A local favorite is Perníkový panáček near Park Cihelná. They can get a little pricey with some costing as much as an actual meal, but understandable given their intricate designs.
And there you have it! My complete guide to Prague.
Prior to my trip, I didn’t know a lot of these. I’m hoping that I can share this newfound knowledge with you to help relieve some of that travel anxiety because trust me, I totally get the jitters every time I visit a new country.
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