Insider’s Prague: Tourist Traps to Avoid, What to Do, Where to Eat

A view of Prague's Old Town.
While we lived in Prague, we were simultaneously awed by its beauty and frustrated by the rapacious tourism development that had swamped its old town. Recently, I’ve read a few blog posts from travelers disappointed by their visits to Prague because of the city’s tourist schlock. Yes, there’s a fair heap of it. But, there are also ways to avoid it.

Many moons ago, during our first month living in Prague, I remember exiting Charles University after a Czech language class and looking up at a night-lit Prague Castle and thinking, “My God, do I actually live here?

It didn’t seem real.

Even after five years of living in Prague, I could still turn a corner, catch the right light and get that feeling. Prague is a Bucket List and “Top 10 Romantic Cities” favorite — for good reason. But frankly, there’s also a lot of crap that can leave a casual visitor tourist-worn.

During my last visit to Prague, I played tourist for a day and forced myself to walk through through its main tourist artery — from the Prague Castle, over the Charles Bridge, down Karlova Street, through Old Town, up to the top of Wenceslas Square. Maybe it had improved since we lived there?

Nope.

But all is not lost. Here are some ideas on how to minimize the tourist schlock, what to replace it with, and what to eat at the end of the day.

Prague: What to Avoid

1. Karlova Street

In tourist hell, right next door to Fisherman’s Wharf and Khao San Road is Prague’s souvenir-engorged Karlova Street. If you only retain one piece of information from this post, it should be this: avoid this street like the plague. Don’t ask why, don’t be tempted. Just avoid it. Your visit will be all the better for it.

What to Avoid in Prague: Karlova Street
Karlova Street in Prague

Alternative: But how am I going to get from Charles Bridge to Old Town Square? Easy. When you come off the Charles Bridge (on the opposite side of the river from Prague Castle), cut through the Clementinum (look for the doorway across the street to the left of Karlova street) and enjoy a peaceful stroll through a 14th century courtyard.

2. Concerts — or anything for that matter – sold by people in period costumes

If classical music’s greatest hits served up in machine-gun style is your thing, by all means head right for the guys in period outfits. If, however, you have a taste for a full symphony and the real, high-quality, accessible classical music Prague is known for, go elsewhere.

Concert Tickets for Sale - Prague, Czech Republic
Not all music concerts are created equal.

Alternative: See #2 below for where to find high quality shows.

3. Wenceslas Square at Night

Where protesters once stood up to Soviet tanks during Prague Spring in 1968, hawkers now stand up for your opportunity to patronize their strip clubs. After dark, Wenceslas Square becomes a central place for strip club touts, prostitutes, their pimps and all manner of the shady and unpleasant. Although it’s not unsafe per se, it’s best avoided.

Cabaret and Strip Club Central - Prague, Czech Republic
Strip Clubs Near Wenceslas Square in Prague

Alternative: After dark, walk any of the streets parallel to Wenceslas Square or take the metro to avoid the area altogether.

4. Astronomical Clock Show on the Hour

I know I’m going to get crap for this one. Don’t get me wrong, the medieval astronomical clock on the side of Old Town City Hall is beautiful and worth a look. But really, don’t worry about fighting with the tourist hordes that gather on the hour to see the “show.” The hourly spectacle features some figures moving around, a rooster call (my personal favorite) and a dancing skeleton (Dan’s personal favorite). However, it’s really not worth the elbowing and unpleasant crowds you have to deal with to watch it.

Prague's Astronomical Clock
Beautiful to admire, also during the hour.

Alternative: Have the clock to yourself to admire at any time outside the top-of-the-hour. If you find yourself tiring of the crowds on Old Town Square, pop up to the rooftop terrace at U Prince hotel, order a cocktail, and enjoy the view from above. It’s particularly nice at sunset.

5. Prague’s Scams and Overcharging at Tourist Restaurants

Unfortunately, some touristy restaurants and taxis still hold a narrowly opportunistic view of tourism and tourists (i.e., they scam anyone who looks like fresh meat).

What to do: Don’t let these places get away with it: be vigilant, mind your bill, count your change, and question or complain if you are being cheated. If you don’t, you’ll be doing yourself — and all other tourists who follow in your footsteps — a disservice. If your restaurant bill arrives with extra service charges or “taxes” that are not specifically called out on the menu, refuse to pay them.

If you need a taxi, have the hotel or restaurant call one in advance. I would never pick up a taxi outside the front door of the train station or hotel (these are usually reserved for suckers). If you pick up a taxi on the street, use a company like AAA or ProfiTaxi. Finally, if you’ve been grossly overcharged, pay what you believe is fair and walk away. We’ve done it.

Prague: The Good Stuff

With the unpleasant stuff out of the way, let’s focus on what to visit besides the Prague tourist triad (Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square). The aim: to give you a feel for a living city whose history goes long beyond just a few pretty buildings.

You might be thinking as you read, “But that’s outside the city center.” In some cases, our recommendations are outside of the Old Town City center, but they are not so far. Within a few minutes, you are a tram, metro or a few footsteps away.

1) Vyšehrad: An Alternative Castle

Just down the Vlatava River from Prague Castle is the lesser-known 10th century castle of Vyšehrad. In addition to offering great views of the Vltava River and the city, Vyšehrad features grassy grounds stocked full of locals having picnics with family and friends. The cemetery at Vyšehrad is also home to many of Czech greats of art and music, including Alphonse Mucha and Antonín Dvořák. The Peter and Paul church is also worth a look – neo-gothic on the outside, but Mucha-inspired art nouveau murals on the inside.

Vysehrad Castle - Prague, Czech Republic
View of Vyšehrad Castle from the Vltava River

2. Classical Music Concerts and Operas

Prague’s music scene is one of the things that kept us there so long. Even if you’re not a huge classical music aficionado, it’s still worth trying to see a concert just to experience the venue.

Go directly to ticket offices or a venue’s box office for real performances. Basically, if the concert is associated with a national ensemble, you’re more likely to see a high quality concert at a lower price.

If your visit coincides with Prague Spring, try to book tickets in advance or, for last minute tickets, visit the box office. Prague Spring often features top performers, conductors and orchestras from around the world. I cannot begin to count the $1000s of dollars we would have spent on all the performances we took in had we seen the performers on their home turf. Prices continue to go up, but are still reasonable compared with Western Europe and the United States.

Suggested concert venues: Rudolfinum (our favorite venue and home of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra), National Theatre, State Opera

3. Exploring Prague’s Neighborhoods

Although Prague’s Old Town (Staré Město) and Lesser Town (Malá Strana) often steal the Prague tourist show (for good reason), it’s worth it to spend time poking around some of the surrounding neighborhoods. The architectural stock in Prague’s residential neighborhoods is impressive. Walk, look up and soak it up. Architectural period melange, details, mosaics, statues, paintings, are all standard fare. Not to mention, this is the way you’ll really begin to understand what modern-day living in Prague is all about.

Vinohradska Vodarna - Prague, Czech Republic
Getting out into Prague’s neighborhoods.

Suggested neighborhoods: Vinohrady, Vrsovice (our old neighborhood), Holesovice

4. Beer gardens

When the weather is warm (or at least un-cold), Prague’s beer gardens are the place to while away an afternoon, evening, or possibly even both. Beer gardens are casual affairs with long, simple picnic tables, a food stand or two serving greasy sausages, and — most importantly — an endless supply of freshly pulled Czech beer. Relax with locals of all ages, from the stodgy business guy in a suit to grandpa with his dog to the young punk kids.

Summer Evening at the Beer Garden - Prague, Czech Republic
Riegrovy Sady Beer Garden in Vinohrady

Suggested beer gardens: Letna Park (Prague 7) with views of the city or Riegrovy Sady (Prague 2) for a more grungy, local flavor.

5. Glass of Wine at Grebovka Vineyard

There’s actually a small vineyard within Prague’s city limits. And, there just happens to be a little café (called Altan) with a great gazebo sitting right above it. These are the makings of a perfect spot to enjoy a glass of wine and a cheese plate. For quality, we actually suggest trying the Austrian wine over the local Grebovka wine.

Glass of Wine - Prague, Czech Republic
Glass of Wine at Grebovka Vineyard in Prague

Address: Grebovka park is in Prague 10. Closest tram stop is Krymska on 22, 16, or 4 tram lines. Finding your way here through the windy residential streets is part of the fun; this is not a touristy area at all.

Suggested Prague Restaurants

1. Grosseto Marina

This is the place you come for a view of the Prague castle, Vltava river and Malá strana – it would be hard to find a better one in the city. The food here is basic Italian pizzas and pasta, but the view from and the atmosphere in this boat-restaurant make it all a perfectly good value.

Prague Castle Lit Up at Night - Czech Republic
View from Grosseto Marina at night. Not bad, huh?

Address: Alšovo nábřeží in Old Town. Our suggestion is to call ahead to reserve a table on the deck or by a window so you can enjoy the view (+420 605 454 020).

2. Osteria Da Clara

This little Italian restaurant combines high quality Italian food (the chef once lived in Tuscany) with a friendly ambience in a great local neighborhood. We know because we used to live around the corner. The menu changes regularly and features daily and weekly specials. Prices are reasonable.
Address: Mexicka 7, Vrsovice (Prague 10), tel: +420 271726548

3. Masala

It might sound odd to come to Prague and eat at an Indian restaurant, but the food here is really exceptional. The lunch thalis – meat (120 CZK/$6) or vegetarian (100 CZK/$5) – are authentic and flavorful. The menu also features some unusual dishes like idly, vada and chaats.

A Great Indian Thali for Lunch in Prague, Czech Republic
Lunch Thali at Masala Restaurant in Prague

Address: Pod Karlovem 12/1574, Prague 2 (the Manesova location doesn’t have lunch thalis)

4. Mozaika

Long one of our favorite restaurants, Mozaika features a list of continental and fusion regulars plus fresh weekly specials. Relaxed atmosphere and reasonably priced for the quality.
Address: Nitranska 13, Prague 3 (right near Jiriho z Podebrad Metro and square)

5. Czech Pubs

You’re probably asking by now: “That’s all great, but what about Czech food?

There is definitely no shortage of hospodas (pubs) serving Czech fare throughout the city with varying levels of quality and grease content.

If you want something with a little better meat quality and less grease, give one of the following places a try. In addition to good Czech food, they usually serve tank beer (unpasteurized), making the Czech beer drinking experience all the more enjoyable.

Czech Food, Stuffed Potato Balls - Prague, Czech Republic
Hearty Czech food. Perfect with a freshly poured pilsner beer.

  • Lokál: One of the newer additions to the Ambiante Restaurant empire. This place serves up quality Czech food at reasonable prices. Address: Dlouhá 33, Prague 1.
  • Bredovsky Dvur: Just a block away from popular Wenceslas Square, but with a different feel from the high-traffic tourist areas. Try to go during lunch as there are inexpensive lunch menus and you’ll be enjoying your meal with locals on their lunch break. Address: Politických vězňů 13 (parallel street to Wenceslas Square), Prague 1
  • Na Verandach: This restaurant is right at the Staropramen brewery, so you know the beer is fresh. Hearty food, too. Address: Nadrazni 84, Prague 5 (Smichov)
  • Olympia: Nice Czech pub serving both Czech and continental specialties. Address: Vítězná 7, Praha 1 (Ujezd)

Honorable mentions of the Czech beer variety:

The Best of Czech Beer
Light and dark Bernard beer, one of our favorites.

Prague Beer Museum: It’s not a restaurant and it’s really not a museum, but it does serve close to 30 different beers on tap from small to medium breweries across Czech Republic. This is the place to learn about Czech beer the old fashion way — by drinking it. The owner is meticulous about buying only small kegs, keeping the keg lines clean and changing the beer menu every three months. Just be careful and pace yourself — mixing heavy beers can have a devastating effect the next day.
Address: Dlouha 46, Prague 1

Update: A second Prague Beer Museum pub has opened up at Náměstí Míru (Americká 341/43, Prague 2) that is bigger and has a full menu. So you can have your fill of hearty Czech food to go with all those great beers.

Pivovarsky Klub: Features hundreds of beers (Czech and international) on the menu. Ask the waiter for advice if you get paralyzed on what to order. This place also has good and reasonably priced Czech food, too.
Address: Krizikova 17, Praha 8 – Karlin

Kavárna Mlýnská: This isn’t so much a pub as it is a mill that has been turned into a café near Kampa Park. It’s quite close to the touristy areas, but is a local place that serves wonderful unfiltered Bernard beer.
Address: Všehrdova 449, Prague 1

For more Prague restaurant recommendations, check out: Eating Ethnic in Prague

More Prague Resources:

A Different Kind of Prague Guidebook: If you’re looking for a quirky and personal guidebook for Prague, check out Karen Feldman’s Prague: Artel Style. In full disclosure, Karen is one of our friends. Regardless, her book is nothing short of a work of art, collector’s item. She knows the city very well. It’s hard to beat her eye for design, quirk and the finer pleasures that Prague has to offer.

A Different Kind of Prague Vacation: If you’d like to use your time in Prague to explore your creative side while digging deeper into Prague’s art and cultural scene, check out Artbreak. Their programs combine hands-on art classes with visits to art exhibitions and music concerts. In full disclosure, we have not availed ourselves of Artbreak’s programs, but we know one of its founders. It’s because of his integrity that we recommend it here.

More advice on Prague, podcast-style: If you’re still curious about what else we recommend to see, do and eat in Prague, listen to this podcast interview on Prague we did with Chris Christensen of Amateur Traveler.

Interested in more Prague tips? We’ve partnered with Jennie Zeiner of Zeiner Images and taken the best of our Prague advice from over a decade of living there to bring you what to see, do, eat, and drink in one nifty pdf guide! Click on the image to buy and download!
Prague Tips

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Comments

  1. says

    LOVE Prague. The dumplings are fantastic and one of my favorite spots is the Natural History museum where they have the bones of a whale on view – SUSPENDED from the CEILING!

  2. says

    Hi! Thanks for your article. It’s interesting to read your perspective of the city. I’ve been living right in the city center (just off the Wenceslass Square) for over 10 year’s now. I think this area is ok during a night, I never faced a problem or anything that you describe (well, probably 10 year’s ago yes, but last few years, Prague is a very safe town indeed, especially the Wencesslas Square). Policemen are literary everywhere….Just for your information, I work as a professional tour guide and I run FB page Praga Caput Regni, where I write not only about famous sights, but also little hidden gems…You might find there an inspiration for further discoveries in Prague: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Praga-Caput-Regni/296474234892?v=wall
    I enjoy reading your posts, especially from European countries. Fingers crossed for your travels! Marketa

  3. says

    I loved Prague when I visited for a mere 3 days a few years ago. It is the only super-touristy place I have ever fallen in love with, but I know I probably would have hated it if I dealt with the tourists much longer. I will definitely be saving this guide for my eventual return to the amazing city.

  4. says

    @AcceleratedStall: So glad to hear you had a positive experience in Prague and loved it! I used to work right next to the National Museum – know that place well! And those dumplings are great…especially with a freshly pulled beer.

    @Northern Nomad: Each time we return to Prague (every 1-2 years) we are repeatedly surprised by how great the beer is. For pilsners, I can’t think of a better place in the world. Still inexpensive compared to Western Europe, too.

    @Marketa: Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts from a local living near Wenceslas square! As I wrote, the area is not unsafe. But, it can be unpleasant to walk down in the evenings, especially as a foreign-looking man on his own. Sometimes if I want to play a trick on Dan, I get behind him so he’s walking by himself and then I watch the different strip club touts (for some reason, most come from West Africa – can’t figure out why) come up to him one by one offering him a free drink and a great “show.” He finds it less amusing than me :)

    I just wish that the zoning of the city was such that the strip clubs were moved to another part of the city or that the touts were not as “active” on Wenceslas Square at night. Otherwise, it would be a really lovely place to walk at night as there are some beautiful buildings in that area.

    @Stephanie: Prague is a wonderful city, but the tourist crowds and schlock can really be annoying. There’s a reason why locals essentially avoid the old town area in the summer months. Glad to hear you had a good visit and hope this guide helps when you return!

  5. says

    I visited Prague in 2006 when I was studying abroad in London. It was mid-November, freezing, rainy, touristy and I just got a general bad impression, particularly compared to elegant Budapest which I loved. Still, some moments- the Charles Bridge at dusk for example, have still stuck with me to this day.
    I’ve always known I didn’t give Prague a completely fair shake and I do want to return for a shot at it.

  6. says

    Great post Audrey! I’m sharing it on arttrav facebook page… I recently visited Barcelona and skipped the Sagrada Familia; i’m all for totally missing the tourist areas, it just makes for frustration and disappointment. I’m not going to say that avoiding them makes for an “authentic experience” given the much debated term in relation to travel, but at least I didn’t get pickpocketed nor get the same photos everyone else did.

  7. says

    These are really great suggestions, and I love that you include some specific places to eat, have a beer, etc. I will use this info. when I go back there. I spent a lot of time in Prague from 1996-2000 and then went back almost 4 years ago. It was crowded, and I hit the touristy places because I was with my husband, who hadn’t been there before and wanted to see the main sights. I still think they’re all worth visiting, except that awful Karlova. I love wandering the smaller streets on both sides of the river. Vysehrad is wonderful, but I also love the quaint areas beyond the castle, including Novy Svet.

  8. says

    @Steph: November is a pretty dreary time to visit Prague – the locals are just entering into their winter depression, but you still have the tourist crowds around. Prague and Budapest have such different styles and feel. If you do return to Prague and spend more time in the neighborhoods, you’ll probably get a bit of that laid back feeling that you like.

    @Alexandra: The more we travel, the more we make decisions not to visit certain places on “must see” lists. Sometimes when we do decide to go to a certain site, the journey there is often more interesting that the final destination. That said, there are certain big sites that are really stunning. But, it’s almost like you have to go zen about the visit to not allow the crowds and tourist schlock to get you down in the process.

    Thanks for posting this to the ArtTrav Facebook page!

    @Jenna: Glad you agree with us on Karlova street! Hope this round up becomes useful for your next visit! Prague restaurants do change a lot, but we’ve been visiting many of these for years and the quality has stayed the same.

    Yes, Novy Svet is another lovely area. I was also tempted to put Petrin down a well – the walk from Petrin to the castle through the fields can be quite peaceful as well. Lots of great places in the city away from the big crowds!

    @Sarah: We just discovered Masala on this last visit to Prague and I really, really, really hope the quality doesn’t change or that they “Czechify” the food (as happens with a lot of ethnic restaurants in Prague). Love that place as well!

  9. says

    Excellent, detailed post! We last visited Prague 11 years ago and the tourist stuff wasn’t too bad then. I’m sure it has changed a lot.

    I’m always amazed by how easy it is to escape tourist traps, often just by walking a few streets away.

  10. says

    @Erin: While Prague still was rather touristy 11 years ago, the tourism machine has been ramped up quite a bit more since then. But, as you said, it’s often easy to avoid tourist traps by just walking a few blocks one direction or another to a local neighborhood.

  11. says

    @Dave: Restaurant recommendations are tough – always hard to fit everything in. Oliva is a great restaurant in Prague – perfect for special occasions. Remember especially good duck there…

  12. says

    Thanks for an awesome list. I only have a few days in Praga because I’ve been staying too long in places and have to move a bit faster as my 90days visa is running out and i’m still on my 3rd country :D

  13. says

    @Wanderlass: Even in a few days you can get a feel for the city, don’t worry. Just be sure not to spend all your time in the tourist center, but get out to the neighborhoods, parks and other areas. If you have any specific questions we can help with, just ask!

  14. says

    I spent a month in Prague 3 years ago and had a blast, I hit all the places to avoid then got off the main street and hit the small pubs and restaurants and a few side trips to smaller towns where I had a blast.

  15. says

    @Bob: So glad you had a good time during your visit to Prague a few years ago. You’re right – you usually don’t have to go very far off the tourist trail to find a quiet street with local places. Makes such a difference in one’s experience of the place.

  16. Frank Regan says

    roaming your wonderful site and my heart leaps anytime Prague is mentioned..two trips to date, ’91 and ’05, both late March,fewer tourists…just mad about that place on Earth…did the usual stops but with some resheduling was able to discover the outskirts, just staying on the trolley for hours circling the town and as luck would have it, stumbled upon Kobylisy, where we decided to stay for a few days…quaint, colorful, with friendly locals…had the two best meals there EVER..at Hoffman u Penzion and at the restaurant atop the Kobylisy subway station, Plzensky Restaurant Kobyla…salivating now remembering…sooo looking forward to seeing you on your visit to Scranton this month…really hope time permits a few rounds of pilsners !

  17. says

    @Frank: You must have seen so many changes between your first and second visit to Prague. Just trying to imagine. You took the right approach to get on public transport and see where it took you – there are some really lovely areas on the outskirts of town where there are friendly locals and so not touristy. Look forward to catching up in person soon in Scranton!

  18. says

    Hey guys, great tips in this post – you should tag it under Czech Republic on the left hand side. I knew it was here as I had read it ages ago, but it took me a while to find it today when we wanted to see what places you mentioned.

  19. says

    I stumbled on this post in the Travel Bloggers group on FB and I must say, thank you for this! I’m heading to Prague for the first time in April and I’ve been about concerned about how touristy it’s said to be. I’m only going to be there for 4 days and I’ll be visiting with my parents who are coming over to Europe from Canada. I’m sure we’ll want to see the popular sites but I’m not a fan of crowds so I’m looking forward to checking out some of your alternative selections. I’m a big foodie too so your restaurant tips have been duly noted. Thanks again!

  20. says

    @Allison: Really glad you found this piece before your trip with your parents. It is a beautiful city, but as you’ve heard it does have its overly touristy side. The main sites are definitely worth visiting – take a tram to the top of the castle and then walk through the castle, Malastrana to the Charles Bridge, through Karolinum (remember: avoid Karlova street!) to Old Town Square. A great walk and way to hit the main sites in one path.

    Hope you have a great time!

  21. says

    Fantastic TIps! I’ve bookmarked it for my future travels back to this remarkable city. I agree, looking over your bill in restaurants is a MUST. We were charged a “tourist’ tax each time but didn’t realize it until we got home. I thought there was something fishy. Czech Republic is so beautiful, it’s so unfortunate the people are not respectful of tourists :(

  22. says

    @Cristina: Thanks, glad you found these tips useful! Unfortunately, your story about being overcharged is too often the norm. I used to have a British boss who would tell me every weekend a story or two of how someone tried to “accidentally” miscount her change or add weird charges to bills. Really sad that people are not thinking of respecting tourists and good customer service that would encourage people to return to Prague again. But, once you know these “tricks” it makes it easier to navigate and call people out when they are trying to cheat you.

  23. says

    In 2009 while studying abroad in Spain a few of my friend and I went to Prague for a long weekend. We had an amazing time and loved the city, sights, culture, everything. The first we happened to stumble upon a locals pub that had fantastic authentic Czech food for an incredibly low price. The second night was quite the disaster. Not realizing that we were right around the corner from the Charles Bridge we stopped in a small restaurant that looks pretty simple, nothing special at all. When they brought over the menus we noticed there were no prices listed, and we made the fatal mistake of just assuming that everything would be fairly cheap. No such luck. The drinks were almost 15 euros a piece and the food itself while edible, not delicious, ending up costing each of us around 40 euro a person! Such a shame! You really do need to be careful to stay away from the tourist traps!

  24. says

    @Vicky: Unfortunately, your story of the restaurant near Charles Bridge with the overpriced (and often mediocre) food is all too common for Prague. So glad you had the experience at the local pub first so that you had a feel for what local places and prices should be. Prague is a great place and there are still tons of good local places, but they are harder to find in the Old Town and tourist areas.

  25. says

    Just got back from Prague and wish I saw this!
    You are so spot on about the taxi scams. I got scammed by picking up a taxi in front of a train station (near the Prague Castle no less). I think the difficult part is not knowing how much a certain distance should really cost. This is also very similar in Budapest. Sigh. Otherwise, Prague is fantastic and the beer gardens are a lot of fun.

  26. says

    @Natalie: Ah, too bad this got to you too late! Your experience with the taxi scams (and from other people’s experiences with inflated bills) is exactly why we wrote this. Perhaps I should add a section in here on taxi companies to call that are reputable and don’t overcharge. And yes, the beer gardens are fantastic!

  27. says

    I have to admit, I enjoyed the production at the astronomical clock, even with the crowds. Think your tip to go up to the roof top terrace is brilliant – we saw it when climbing the clock tower – would gladly have watched the clock from there!

    Loved the beer gardens (and I don’t even drink beer!) – they had the most amazing schnitzel! I wouldn’t even be able to begin to try to name some of our favourite restaurants – we managed to find places so off the beaten track, we were the only english speakers most nights. Food was amazing and the prices were not jacked up for tourists! The one night, we didn’t have enough cash – the owner wasn’t phased! We had it all sorted out and on our way in no time!

    Couldn’t get enough of Prague. We really didn’t have any problems other than tired feet! Not bad for 10 days of pounding the pavement!

  28. says

    Thanks for the article. I been there 3 years ago and all the good stuffs which you suggested I had not been.. I went old square and spend most of the time waiting Astronomical Clock Show…haha..
    Anyway I love the sunset there with the Prague castle scene behind…and it’s really awesome

  29. says

    @Anita: The astronomical clock show is kind of fun, but the crowds are too much for me. Maybe that’s the result of living in Prague for too long :)

    Glad to hear you had such a good visit and got a taste of the local Prague scene, schnitzel, good beer and all.

    @Ken: Easy to happen at the Astronomical Clock – lots of waiting and then people look around afterwards and ask, “Is that it?” Quite funny.

  30. says

    Hi Audrey,

    Actually I watch three times with 12 noon, evening and 10pm night…I remember the 12 noon is the longest…other is not so special compare with the 12 noon

  31. Nor says

    So glad I just found this information, Thanks Audrey. We will be visiting Prague for the first time in September 2012, and also Cesky Krumlov by bus. I will keep reading to find restaurant tips, etc. I prefer to stay away from very touristy spots myself so I enjoy reading about alternative places to visit. So to all, please keep the recommendations coming and how to avoid any scams :) Thanks

  32. says

    @Ken: Yes, the noon show at the astronomical clock is the biggest and longest, which is why it attracts the most people.

    @Nor: So glad you stumbled upon this piece just before your trip to Prague. Hope you can enjoy some of these more local, less touristy places. Cesky Krumlov is also wonderful – really a magical little place. Enjoy and safe travels!

  33. Bill & Violet says

    We’ll be off to Prague this Thursday and returning on Monday next i.e. 10th Sep. We found your column useful and interesting for a fresher like us vsisting Prague for the first time. Will post again when we return.
    Thanks for all the info anyway.

  34. Kelly says

    Great guide, I haven’t been back for a few years now but am returning with a group of friends in March. I am sure it has changed but I cannot wait to revisit such a wonderful place. It never fails to capture me never mind how touristy it is.

    Will be looking for the “non-tourist” eating/drinking places though!

  35. says

    @Kelly: Although Prague has become quite a touristed town, it is possible to find local places and get a feel for its “unpolished” self. As you’ve been there before, it will likely be easier as you know what to look for. And yes, even with all the tourist shops and such, it is a stunningly beautiful place. We still gaze up to the castle lit up at night in awe. Enjoy your trip!

  36. says

    Superb post; great info. I stumbled upon this while searching for ‘Prague non-tourist area’ (in preparation for our forthcoming visit to the city) and such a gem this turns out to be.

    Can’t stop for suggesting (know it is not my place to do so) adding a link on stays – or perhaps such locations where a stay would be more worthwhile than the city centre areas. It is obviously a difficult call for a local because I would never stay in a hotel/GH/pension in my own city thus would not have much info on that :-) May be just the areas, like I would look up on stay options in Praha 7 (Holesovice), thanks to this post.
    Thanks for the unadulterated, insider info.

  37. says

    Great post!
    As a Prague local, I hate tourist traps and all the scams and traps set up to rip off travelers who visit my city. The taxi drivers are the worst. If you need a cab (and I doubt you do – the Prague public transport is fast, safe and reliable), do what the locals do – call a central dispatch number (the two major taxi service numbers are 14014 and 14015). Your cab ride will be recorded, you get a text message upfront with the estimated price so the driver cannot rip you off. Always ask for the receipt upfront. As a local, I always call even if there’s a vacant cab standing right in front of me – it’s simply cheaper and safer. You normally wait for less than 10 minutes.
    Otherwise the post is right on the money about most of the things to avoid. I would add the money exchange offices. Please read the fine print and never give away your money before you ask what precise amount you get for the precise amount of foreign currency you want to exchange. Once you let go of the money, it’s really hard to get it back.
    Have a great stay in Prague!
    Jan

  38. says

    @Mauro: Your question about recommended neighborhoods to stay is a good one. Someone recently asked this on our Facebook page. I would say that staying in any of the suggested neighborhoods we mentioned above – Vrsovice, Holesovice or Vinohrady would be good. These days, there’s a lot available on airbnb or apartment rental places that often are better deals than hotels. So I’d probably start my accommodation search first with those. Hope you have a good trip!

    @Jan: It is quite frustrating as a local to see these scams happen and people taken advantage of consistently (I had a British boss in Prague who was always scammed at restaurants). But, it’s good to see that some improvements have happened – last visit we noticed there were recommended fare signs near taxi stands so people could get a feel for what a trip should cost. But we always call a service instead of picking up a taxi on the street.

    We’ve seen people go crazy at money exchange places because they didn’t read the fine print. Best to avoid them all together if you can. Thanks for the advice on this.

  39. CK says

    I leave for Prague Tuesday. First trip to Europe! So for this Ohio woman, I’m in countdown mide. Have done all my prep, but so glad I tripped over this site when I went to search for two last things befor I meet my daughter there next week. I think and your followers will give me the best advice. 1) We plan on attending a performance at the State Opera. Question: I want great seats, better to order online from U.S. and if so what is a reputable website. If I wait, where do I go for great seats without getting ripped off? 2) We’re only there for 4 days. This is going to be our one “big hight”. Where to go for dinner for good food atmosphere and that fiew we’ll tell everyone about when we come home? Thanks to you for providing the layman’s point of view for the rest of us!

  40. says

    @CK: To buy State Opera tickets in advance, you can try http://www.ticketsonline.cz/ – they charge a small commission, but I remember the prices of the actual seats being the same as if you bought them at the ticket office. Otherwise, just go to the State Opera when you get to Prague and check out what tickets are available – that’s the lowest price option.

    As for a dinner recommendation, I’m trying to think of places with good food AND a nice view. You could try Hergetova Cihelna. Has a great view of the Charles Bridge and food was good (disclosure: been a few years since I last ate there). There’s also Grosseto Marina recommended above. Has great views of the castle.

    Good luck and enjoy your trip!

  41. Peter says

    Praque has one thing going for it. Architecture. The food is awful, the city is filthy, covered with grafitti and the people are rude and disrespectful especially to Americans. I have lived and traveled throughout Europe for 20+ years and would NOT recommend Praque. If you really want to see it buy a DVD watch and dream. I cannot understand the hype and such by travel guides etc. because I find very few redeeming qualities in this city with the exception of the buildings and architecture. Save your money and go elsewhere. I know my comments seem harsh but they are truthful. Reality sometimes offends people but please note that it is not my intention.

  42. says

    @Peter: Having lived in Prague for five years I don’t agree that Prague doesn’t have many redeeming qualities. If you are stuck in the downtown tourist areas, it’s easy to understand that one might be treated rudely. But, in our experience, the neighborhoods are a different story. That’s why we wrote this to try and help people navigate away from the areas that are overly touristed and into more local areas. I will agree with you that Prague’s architecture is pretty fabulous.

  43. Peter says

    With Respect Audrey, most people travel to see the sights and not wander neighborhoods. Maybe for you being a local it makes sense as you have time in your favor but for the average tourist passing through the historical and cultural areas are more in favor. That being said IMHO that is where Praque fails miserably. Many other countries serve the public better such as France, Italy, Scandinavia, Vienna, The Baltics, Turkey and Russia just to name a few. Again while the architecture is a marvel to ones eyes the unsavory character of the people and the seedy subculture leaves me with the opinion to save your money and avoid this much ballyhooed, over rated and hyped city but then again to be fair and democratic “To each his own”…….there are those who just adore a Disneyland vacation eating those giant turkey legs. Safe Travels to all this summer!:) Cheers!

  44. says

    @Peter: No worries, no offense taken :) The reason why I wrote this article in the first place was to share information and advice that goes beyond just the “Top 10 Sights” that drew from our experiences living in Prague. I kept hearing reports from friends and other travelers who had bad experiences in the tourist areas of Prague, so I wanted to help people navigate those waters better and also understand the fun of the neighborhoods. Although people might be drawn to Prague for the big sights, I’m getting more and more emails from people asking for advice on which neighborhood to stay in and what restaurants to visit outside the center because they want to get a more “local feel.” I think people want a bit of both – the sights and the neighborhoods. That’s the different perspective we’re trying to provide in this article.

  45. Peter says

    Dear Audrey, After reading over my posts i feel that I was a bit harsh, ignorant and one demential in my description. You are doing a wonderful service with this article and I am sure that many tourists will take your sincere advice and concern to see the other side of the tourist traps that many European cites offer. Fact: The beauty of Praque is unmatched……i just wish that the native people would be a bit more congenial and nice to visitors. Thanks again Audrey.
    My sincere warm regards and blessings to you!

  46. Ericka says

    Thank you for the post, it’s been very helpful. What do you think about the neighborhood Miss Sophie’s Hostel is located in?

    Miss Sophie’s, Melounova 3, 120 00 Prague, Czech Republic

    I noticed on the map it is a 22 minute walk to Vinohrady, which is really where I would like to stay but I’m unable to find accommodations that aren’t just by myself. I’m traveling alone so I’d prefer to stay where there will be other travelers staying as well.

    Vinohrady from what I’ve read, is known as a gastronomic neighborhood. I travel for food and enjoy visiting local coffee shops and cafes, etc. I live in San Francisco, CA and love walking and eating all day :) Also, I want to visit a few pilates and aerobic dance classes while I’m here.

    Thank you,

    Ericka

  47. amund Blix Aaeng says

    Great article! I’m in Prague as I type, and I’m checking out one of your resturant choices this evening. :)

    I really like it here, but also try to avoid the touristy areas.
    I’ve also found the as long I avoid looking like a tourist (no visible camera or map) I get treated well, and many assume I’m local. I guess Norwegians doesn’t look that different from the people here. :)

    I love the simple and hearty food. They sure love their pork!

    A bit too hot here now, but I’ll manage. :-) Second year in a row I’m here now. Living in a really expensive country, it’s nice feeling rich for 10 days. :-)

  48. Tina C says

    We just returned from our first visit to Prague and loved the city and your recommendations! The Prague Beer Museum had some great brews and brew cocktails (for this non-beer drinker) and we visited Grosseto Marina twice…first for an afternoon beverage after visiting Prague Castle, then a return that evening with a group of 8 for dinner and the fantastic views! Food was scrumptious and the service very, very good!

    I have to suggest one touristy thing, though. Enjoy a beverage on the roof-top terrace of the U Prince Hotel that overlooks the Old Town Square (there is an elevator inside). We dropped in about mid-afternoon and found plenty of seating with fantastic views of the whole city! (Food is disappointing however, so just go for drinks.)

    Thanks for your post!

  49. Jen says

    Hello Audrey;
    Thanks so much for this post. I’m traveling to Prague this Fall with my husband and we invited my mom to come along as her family, starting with her Grandfather, is from Prague and none of us have ever had a chance to visit. We’ll be the first 2 generations. Really excited to see the old homeland, so to speak.

    My question to you – even though I’ve read other posts I’m a little confused about the taxi situation. My mom is 70 and suffers a bit with arthritis so is more comfortable riding in a more ‘private’ setting. I’m sure our hotel (the Golden Well) will take care of us getting to the restaurant/pub or what have you but are restaurants open to helping you when you’re ready to leave? We won’t have our cell phones with us, too pricey to use in Europe.

    Thanks again, appreciate the non-touristy point of view!

  50. says

    @Ericka: Miss Sophie’s is just near IP Pavlova so it’s really easy to walk to Vinohrady (closer than 20 minutes I think) or old town. Also, it’s a transport hub so you can always hop a tram of metro if you want to go faster. In addition to Vinohrady, I’d also check out Vrsovice (our old neighborhood) which is just down the hill from Vinohrady. There are so good, small restaurants there and funky cafes. Just take a look at expats.cz and you’ll likely find a good listing for pilates and other classes. Have fun and enjoy your visit!

    @Amund: I hope the restaurant recommendations steered you in the right direction. After Norway, almost every country in Europe is cheap :) But the beer in Prague is especially good quality for the price. And yes, not looking like a tourist helps as well.

    @Tina: So glad you had a good visit to Prague and that these recommendations were useful! U Prince is a GREAT place for a drink – we used to take our visitors there often (but only for drinks, not food). We hadn’t been there in a while so we didn’t include it in this list in case it had changed, but glad to hear that it’s just as good as ever.

    @Jen: What an exciting trip you have coming up with your mother – it will be great to be able to do some family research and connect.

    As for your question, restaurants/pubs should be able to call a reliable taxi for you. If you want to be sure for a reputable taxi service, ask them to call AAA taxi – this service is honest and it’s usually quite fast in pickups. Enjoy your trip!!

  51. jen says

    i think prague is rubbish. There is very little to do in Prague and at night…every street corner filled with men trying to sell ‘Charlie’. The Czech people are not friendly at all and in my opinion come across very arrogant to tourists there.
    Will NEVER come back and would never recommend it to anyone.

  52. says

    @Jen: We’re sorry you had such a bad experience visiting Prague. After several friends did not have good visits there, I wrote this piece to help people avoid some of the tourist trap areas where there’s a higher chance that you’ll find less friendly people and be ripped off. In my opinion, the neighborhoods of Prague are great places to hang out and meet people outside the tourism industry. If you return to Prague at any time, I hope you have an opportunity to explore these local areas.

  53. says

    For those of you thinking of visiting Prague or are planning a return visit, we are giving away three copies of Karen Feldman’s updated Prague: ARTÄšL Style this week (5-9 August) on Facebook. It’s not your ordinary guidebook – more like a friend taking you around her city. Enter to win here: http://bit.ly/13DO9L2

    Good luck!

  54. Jozef_S says

    Prague is definitely worth visiting. However you need to be prepare in advance, otherwise you pay…
    1. Book hotel in advance, otherwise if you try to get a room the same day you will be overcharged. Hotel Tiepolo charged me 130$ a night this July. I could make a reservation over the Internet for 60-70$ a night at the same hotel a few days later.
    2. Do the currency exchange outside the country (or may be that’s just Prague), go to a bank or use credit card if you can. The currency exchange places will charge a service fee (in my case it was 19.5% at the main railway station and about the same at the Malostranska Namesti).
    3. Never call outside using hotel phone system. (Hotel Tiepolo again).
    4. The Tourist Information Office at the main railway station is not very useful. They would help to find something on a map or how to get to a place but that’s about it. The “hotel” they recommended offered small room in the communal building with no AC for only 130$ a night (it was the end of July).

  55. says

    @Jozef: Some very good advice here. Unfortunately, it is quite common to end up paying more for a room in high season (also outside of Prague) without pre-booking. The currency exchange places in Prague are quite notorious for ripping people off with fine print. We always use ATM machines in Prague to get cash and never had a problem.

  56. Abhishek says

    Hello Dan and Audrey,

    It was wonderful and informative to read such insight and details. Me and my wife are planning for a week long trip. It would be great if you could put up some advise on some good places to stay in neat areas and locations.

    Warm Regards,
    Abhishek

  57. says

    @Abhishek: I don’t have a list of hotels we can recommend firsthand, but I would suggest looking for accommodation in neighborhoods such as Vinohrady, Vrsovice, Holesovice. Be sure also to check sites like airbnb as you might have more flexibility finding accommodation in the neighborhoods. Enjoy your visit with your wife!

  58. Sandra says

    Hello-
    Thank you so much for the post. My husband and I are heading to Prague for 3 days in the beginning of October and your post has proven extremely helpful.
    Best,
    Sandra

  59. says

    @Sandra: So glad you found this post helpful for your upcoming trip to Prague. Beginning of October is a great time to be in Prague as the weather is still kind of warm but you start to see the changing leaves. Enjoy!

  60. says

    Thanks for all your advice Audrey. Prague was my first stop on a year’s journey overseas almost 30 years ago! In October we are going to spend a long weekend there so I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s changed. I clearly remember how beautiful the buildings were and how ordinary the food was. Hopefully we’ll find that the later has changed for the better. I will take note of your recommendations this time.

    Just one thing I’m wondering about. What’s the best way to get from the airport to the city?
    Many thanks for a great post.

  61. says

    @Jenny: Wow, Prague 30 years ago – that must have been quite an adventure!! Hope you enjoy your upcoming trip there.

    If you don’t have a lot of luggage, the easiest thing is to grab a bus from the airport to Dejvicka metro (green line). From there, you can get to anywhere in the city you want to go by metro. The cost is just a regular transport ticket (32kc).

  62. says

    Oh, yu guys know Prague really good. I used to live in Prague for almost 4.5 years and you just got perfect hidden locations that only Czechs might know :)

  63. says

    @Halee: You’re welcome! Hope you have a wonderful trip to Prague. Let us know how it goes!

    @Ivana: Yes, we know Prague quite well. We were fortunate to have lots of Czech friends who showed us some of their favorite places.

  64. Vaishnavi says

    Good article..Planning a trip next year so taken made notes from your article:) Hope I can make it. Would you by any chance know if an Indian can do some kind of work for a week or 2 to earn a bit? Europe is so expensive for Indians :(

  65. says

    @Vaishnavi: Thanks, glad you found the article useful for your upcoming trip to Prague. You might want to check in the hostels (especially those with bars) to see if they would do an exchange of some work for room and board. Otherwise, it would be tough to find work for just a week or two.

  66. parisa says

    Dear Audery,

    Many thanks for your awesome information . I will be going to prague in February 6th, do you think i am going to be dead cold that time of the year ?

    Best,
    Parisa

  67. says

    @Parisa: You’re welcome – glad this information is useful! As for the weather in February, it’s usually cold at that time (around or just above 0 degrees Celsius). But, each year the weather changes – last year it was cold until April. But, right now (December) it’s quite warm for this time of year. My suggestion is to pack lots of layers. That way, you’re prepared for anything!

  68. Brian says

    Hello, while I have found some useful info on your site, thank you, this post does great disservice to your followers. Every one should read this and any online blog advertising travel expertise with a grain of salt. One person’s nadir is another’s paradise.

    I have lived a 5 minute walk away from Vaclavske Namesti for many years and it is without overdramatizing,,,my favorite place on earth. I’ve been there at 3 in the morning, 11 at night and every hour in between in every season. It is the safest place in the Czech Republic at any time of day or night. Not going to Vaclavske Nam at night is like not going to Time’s Square, really, do you know that there are hookers and strip joints in Times Square even with the Disneyification? But millions of people somehow manage to have a good time.
    I’ve seen Vaclavak packed with tens of thousands of Czechs celebrating hockey triumph, and tens of thousands of jet set Euros celebrating life. I’ve seen it evolve from seedy taxi filled backwater to it’s current pleasure seeking family friendly hot spot, not to be missed. Sure, you may hate it, there are many warts that still need to be cleaned up, plus many people will only want to stay in the medieval dreamworld of the Old Town or Mala Strana, but DON’T end your trip without wandering up and down and up and down, 1st on the left, now on the right, then next time up the middle. Enjoy the majesty of the National Museum sitting on it’s perch at the ‘top’of the square, take note of the countless beautiful buildings intermixed with communist era schlack. Shop for imported aged cheddar at M&S, shop for overpriced clothing at the hundreds of outlets, have a fatty sausage and listen to the multitude of languages and sounds surrounding you in a friendly embrace. Here are pleasure seekers from all over the globe united in the purpose of having a good time, whether it be at a fancy Michelin rated restaurant or in a sports bar watching football. Rich and downtrodden mix shoulder to shoulder. I take my kids here every Sunday night for pizza, I had my bachelor party here, I had my wedding reception in one of the rooftops near Mustek, I shop here for books, my dentist is here, I play paintball here, my World Class Gym is here, I was just there last night at 2 am having a few beers with a buddy at some seedy Turkish kebar bar. There is something for everyone, day or night. And if you ever see some guy with his kids riding scooters down the middle of the square no matter the time of day or day of the year, that’s us.

    Also, Karlovo street is not my favorite street but it makes my top 10. It is simply a street that you have to go down. I am slapping my face trying to picture someone advising someone else not to go there because their are souvenir shops….really!>?? Do you not go to Disney world because some large mouse wants you to buy a pin that you’ll forget about 5 minutes later? Just avoid it at peak hours. Most tourists don’t hit the streets before 11am so just go early so you can see the eery twisty turny carless streets filled with ancient leaning buildings and adorned with wild statuary that made me fall in love with this city in the first place. If you look hard enough you can see the statue of the saint who proved his godliness by having his small dog chomp off his wonker (you can see the blood on his leg and the bulge in the dog’s mouth!! Weirdly enough, I just discovered a smaller version of this saint and his dog treat/schmackle on my own street, having not noticed it was there for years, Prague is like that, walk down any street a number of times and you will always see something new). Or the famous Greek Gods holding up the heavens. There are also some seriously beautiful art/souvenir shops to admire and not miss. And smack in the middle of this tourist area is the Czech Republic’s most famous pub, The Golden Lion, filled day and night with sweaty dirty loud worker Czechs enjoying an experience shared by many for hundreds of years. Good luck getting a reservation…

    The astro clock is way overrated but has to be seen at least once, they didn’t have these where I grew up in the states plus you can compare it to the other schlocky clocks in various other Central European cities.

    And do go see a tourist centric classical concert. These shows are high quality since the same musicians performing for Czechs moonlight for extra cash at these venues. If you are a classical music afficiando (like myself) and have the time and ability to get tickets for a ‘real’ show by all means do it, but if you are a average tourist with limited time and just want to get an experience and a ‘taste’of some beautiful musical highlights without the (for many people, not me) long winded filler while admiring the inside of a church christened 800 years ago…..

    While I am on my sopabox, EVERY city has scams and thieves. Prague is one of the few cities I’ve spent time in where I was assured that I would never see violent crime but maybe my bill would be higher than expected,,,, just be a smart traveler and count your change, this isn’t the drug store in your home town. Lots of the petty workers the average tourist runs into aren’t even Czech, there has been a flood of eastern euros into the bottom end of the local economy.

    BUT DO::: travel further than the center, there are so many places to go and so much to see. Go to Stromovka park, Riegerovy Sady park, Havlickovy Sady park, Folimanka (next to Vysehrad and walled in by the 600 year old hunger wall), Troya, take a special zoo boat upriver to the zoo, see the world’s largest equestrian statue in Zizkov, go to the top of the tv tower for amazing Russian inspired views with it’s giant babies hanging off(I personally find the building charming). Every weekend I head out on a train or bus to hike and see a 3000 Celtic hill fort, a 5000 year old Hallstat era historical area, or a 300 year old Chateau. Check out Pruhonice, Karlstejn, Krivoklat, and my favorite small town of all, Zatec, in the land of the summer hops that fill everyone’s refreshing Pilsner.

    Gotta go, heading downtown to eat lunch at my favorite place, Apetite Jidelna in the Lucerna Passage (gawd, I LOOOOOOVE walking through Prague passages, it adds to the city’s living soul as an outdoor/indoor backyard/living room. Wander, explore, get lost,,,,,discover for yourself.

    If you take nothing from this post but one thing let it be this,,,,, Prague was meant to be enjoyed very early in the morning or very late at night. Spend the rest of the day at a classical concert, puppet show, ballet, park, pub, garden etc etc….

    Brian
    Prague

  69. says

    @Brian: Thanks for your long and thoughtful response. I do agree with you that one person’s nadir is another’s paradise. I do share with you the same love for Prague’s passages (esp. Lucerna), but I’m afraid that I don’t share the same feeling about Karlovo street and a few other places. Your advice to wander, explore and get lost is spot on.

  70. Lynne says

    Can you recommend any people who do city walks?preferably someone who wants to show you around the not so touristy areas?

  71. says

    @Lynne: I don’t know firsthand of people who do city walks but I do believe that Context Travel has started walks in Prague. We took one of their neighborhood walks in Berlin and it was really well done – the guide was a historian and had so much knowledge about the area.

    I’ll ask around from our Prague friends if they can recommend anyone else.

    • jennifer says

      I have an amazing contact for a great guide who does walking tours and anything else you want to see. If you’re interested please email me at dillsjennifer@gmail.com and I can give you more info. She and her colleagues showed us more of Prague than I ever thought I’d see. Fantastic!

  72. says

    You said you came out of a Czech language class. In your travels (and maybe this info is found elsewhere), how many languages do you speak, now? I love languages, and one of the reasons I love traveling is learning the language.

    Also, I visited Prague in 2001 and 2003, and absolutely loved it. It was cheap, fun, and I left calling it my favorite city both times. I do not recall the over-touristy stuff. Is that all recent? When did it become so touristy, do you know?

    Love the blog!

  73. says

    @Mike: I am conversant in 5 foreign languages – French, Estonian, Czech, Russian, and Spanish. Currently trying to learn German, but it’s slow going. For more on how I learn foreign languages: http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/2010/08/learning-foreign-languages-while-traveling/

    Like many cities, Prague’s old town has always been more touristy then other parts of the city. But it was around 2009 onwards that I started to hear more complaints from travelers about tourist schlock in the old town and bad customer service. It is a beautiful city. Glad you had such a great experience there!

  74. says

    Lovely post. I have been to Prague several times and I think there are still places I have not seen or want to see again. Thanks for sharing nice pictures and tips ;)

  75. kim says

    hi there. coming to prague with my adult son end of june for a quick 3 days before heading on to lake como.
    i took an apartment in old town but want to avoid the touristy traps. thank you for your blog. wondered if you wouldn’t mind a few questions:

    1)were able to answer lynne’s question about non-touristy guide we might hire to see the highlights and some gems off the beaten path.

    2) we love to look at contemporary art – is there a part of town that has a concentration of serious art galleries?

    3) lastly, getting in at 6 p.m. our first night. where would you go for great dinner (we’re foodies) and good cocktail. would love to be only a 10 minute walk or so by foot so we can get back early and crash.

    thanks so much,kim

    • says

      Hi Kim,
      If you scroll above you’ll find my response to Lynne’s question on guides, but just to summarize here. We don’t have first-hand experiences with guides, but we have taken a Context walking tour in Berlin and really liked it. Learned a lot about an area that we thought we already knew well. They have opened up tours in Prague recently so perhaps look them up.

      As for contemporary art, you could see what exhibitions are on at Museum Kampa.

      If you’re looking for something with a view, try Grossetta Marina. If you want something more upscale, you could go for Hergetova Cihelna near Kampa Park.

      Enjoy your trip!

  76. Jill says

    Thanks! I have enjoyed reading this thread and has gave me some insights about what to and not to expect, where to go/avoid and what to do, tips on where to eat, etc. My husband and I are all booked to visit Prague in October for my birthday. I work with a Czech colleague and was given hints about this spectacular place but it is different for a ‘foreigner’ to actually form his/her own idea or description. We just came back from Athens and Santorini and was allured (well for me more so for Santorini as have been to Athens 11 years ago and left a spot in my heart). Here’s hoping for a delightful 5 days in Prague for us..i’ll keep you posted :)

    • says

      Jill, so glad that this article was timely and useful for your upcoming trip to Prague. Hope your trip in October goes well and you enjoy some wonderful fall weather! Look forward to hearing about it.

  77. says

    Hi there, thanks for the interesting blog and posts. What a way to earn a living. Nice work if you can get it!

    I’m wanting to bring a group of South African music lovers to Prague and Budapest for a music trip (and of course architecture, art, culture, castles, good food and fun times). How would I find a GOOD tour operator in Prague who would be able to put together an itinerary for me, make bookings, arrange transfers, etc? I don’t want to go to an operator in the UK or the States, because it will just push up the price dramatically. I’m also going to try approaching the Czech embassy here to see if they have any ideas, but if you have any suggestions they’d be most welcome.

  78. says

    Hey Audrey, nice well-rounded post! I live in Prague and agree with some things more than others.. e.g. the astronomical clock is worth seeing ONCE (not more times:))
    Anyway.. there’s some news in the city – Prague Beer Museum opened one more location a year or so ago! It’s on Namesti Miru and it’s very popular. I’d say the layout of that place is even better than on Dlouha.

    • says

      Hi Veronica,
      Thanks for stopping by and glad to get a thumbs up for (most of) the recommendations here from a Prague native. While the hourly show on the astronomical clock is pretty cool, the crowds that gather around at that time, particularly in the summer months, are challenging at times. So perhaps the idea is to go see the show way early in the morning when not many people are around :)

      Thanks for the heads up about the second Prague Beer Museum near Namesti Miru! I’ll update the post with this. I hear that the new outlet also has good food.

  79. Kim says

    Hi Audrey,

    Your blog is very detailed and a good read!

    My partner and I are planning to go to Prague around the end of January 2015. We’ll be travelling around Europe from December 2014 – February 2015. Since it’s Winter, we’ve been reccommended to not pre-book hotels and just pay as we go. I was just wondering if it’s cheaper that way? or will accommodation be more expensive if you book and pay upfront?

    Any feedback is welcomed! :)

    Thanks, Kim

    • says

      Hi Kim,
      During the winter months in Europe it’s usually fine to pay as you go except for the Christmas and New Year’s time period. Things get busy and booked quickly. What I would perhaps do is check the prices for the hotels that you’re interested in on a site like Expedia and then check the prices on the hotels’ websites (or call the hotels) and see if there is a difference. We’ve found that sometimes the Expedia prices can be cheaper, but it really depends place by place. I’d also recommend looking into renting a flat through airbnb or a similar website as that can often be cheaper and in interesting neighborhoods. Good luck and enjoy your trip!
      Cheers,
      Audrey

  80. Joel says

    Thank you, I enjoyed your article. 12 years ago I spent 4 months in Prague and I can very much relate to the wonder you describe. How many times in those months did I stop on the Charles Bridge, look down at the white swans gliding on the icy Vltava River and the statues staring down on me and think “Let me stay!” Probably the season saved me from at least some of the worst of the tourist industry, and I almost came to blows with an Englishman who suggested I help him with his new business “Praguepissup.com”, but the writing was on the wall. At the break of dawn that winter I could walk from my flat just off Wenceslas Square all the way to the Castle and barely see more than a few other people – a couple of drunken stragglers, a work crew fortifying themselves with some deep-fried cheese burgers. My footsteps were the first in the fresh snow outside the famous clock. But I fear what I’ll find when I return this November after so long. I guess I’m a tourist too. What must the locals think of it?!

    • says

      Hi Joel,
      Sounds like you have some wonderful memories from your time in Prague. Don’t worry, the beauty and special feeling of the place is still there. It just may be that you have to wake up a bit earlier or avoid certain streets downtown. That you are going in November will mean that you’ll avoid the high tourist season.

      As for what the locals think of it, it’s a mixed bag as they are proud of the beauty of their town and that people from all of over the world come to see it. But, when we were locals we used to avoid the main downtown areas during the height of the tourist season as it felt too busy. I’d recommend spending some time in the neighborhoods to get a balanced feel for the place.

    • says

      Hi Joel, the month of November is off-the-tourist season. I love it! The city center is all of the sudden (after busy months of September and November) abandoned from crowds of foreigners. The Old Town square is the worst though…. There are so many tourist things and attractions all year around that locals (like me :-) call this place the “Prague Circus”. However the month of November has it’s nostalgic misty ambiance that I enjoy. I love this music video shot in Prague in the 80’s….It’s similar how the city looks during the off-tourist season. I hope you’ll enjoy your stay! Maya Caput Regni http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VU9DjQpvMQ http://vimeo.com/35904787

  81. @LDILLONSCHALK says

    We tried out the Bredovsky Dvur restaurant this evening based on your blog post for great local Czech food without the tourists. AMAZING. Thank you. The ratings on foursquare are dated and not as positive – but we thought to trust the write up. So it is wonderful service, a treat for any soccer/football fans and amazing food.

    • says

      So glad you had a good time and experience at Bredovsky Dvur. I used to go there often at lunch with my Czech colleagues when I worked in Prague, so that’s how I first learned about it. Then we began going in evenings and always had good food, great beer and a non-touristy environment. Glad that hasn’t changed!!

  82. says

    Hi guys, I really enjoyed reading a blog written by a fellow resident. One small detail though. To avoid Karlova Ulice if you go a bit to the left after crossing from Charles Bridge then you’ll be going through the Clementinum, not the Karolinum. Little updates courtesy of livingprague.com.

  83. Annette says

    Interesting,,, I am staying right in the middle of Karlova and have been doing all the things you suggest to avoid, as I read this….yes very touristy so busy… Also part of the experience…
    Fascinating place love Prague …
    Every where you look is just awesome….
    Have found that the locals (shop workers) not very helpful, do not like to be disturbed, there face would crack if they smiled……
    Looking forward to a non tourist day somewhere tomorrow….

  84. Peter & Luisa says

    Interesting post!! Thanks :) I love Prague, the city from my personal point of view is incredible, specially, the czech beer and food. My ideal place is The Old Town Square and i would recommend eating in Sarah Bernhardt, near to Namesti Republiki!! I visited it with my wife six months ago…so…I would like to visit again Peter & Luisa

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