For almost a month I lived and worked remotely in Prague, Czech Republic as a Remote Year participant. I didn't do much research before arriving and had a "take it as it comes" mindset. That being said, I learned a lot about Prague that I didn't know before. If you're planning on booking a trip to Prague, here is what you should know before you arrive.
Get To Prague Sooner Rather Than Later
I am going to start by saying that Prague is underrated. Typically when people book their first trip to Europe they instantly think of countries such as France, Spain or Italy. However, Prague is heading in the direction of a "go-to" destination in Europe. Everyone is starting to realize how amazing Prague is and the streets are becoming more and more tourist filled. I suggest that you make your way to Prague before it becomes the “Paris” and “Rome” of European vacations... it's headed in that direction quickly!
The Public Transit Is Awesome
The public transit in Prague is awesome! Public transit comes frequently, it runs late, it's easy to use, it’s cheap and it's well connected. The streetcar is referred to as a “tram” and the subway is referred to as the “metro”. In fact, unlike Canada I don’t think the transit ever stops running. There’s never been a point in time, regardless how early or late, that I wasn’t able to take public transit.
Thankfully the public transit is easy to use as well. I suggest downloading Google Maps. It gives specific directions on which trams and metros you need to take, what time they arrive, how long it will take to get to your destination etc. You literally can't get lost if you have Google Maps.
A monthly pass will only cost you about $28 CAD. What’s more interesting is that in Prague there is no person or machine stopping you before you get into the subway to collect money or check tickets. The “tram” driver certainly doesn’t care either. It’s a huge honour system and I like that. However, don't get caught without a ticket as they do random checks. If you get caught without a ticket I hear the fine can be hefty. All in all the public transit in Prague rocks, so make use of it! Oh and most important - yield to the trams! They will run you over if you’re in their way.
Smoking Is Allowed Inside Buildings
The biggest adjustment for me, and a bit of a flash from the past, is that smoking is allowed indoors in Prague. Yes, it's true. Prague has been slow to make the shift to banning smoking indoors but apparently in the coming months people will no longer be able to smoke indoors.
The Areas To See And Stay
I highly recommend seeing the sights of Prague. Most tourist attractions can be found in Prague 1. The metro stops you will want to get off at and explore are Muzeum, Mustek and Staromestská. If you are like me and prefer to book your hotel outside of the tourist filled streets, I would suggest staying somewhere close to Prague 3. There is a mall in this area, restaurants and parks but it’s certainly not the best area for nightlife. I have a lot of suggestions on where to go exactly, but that’s a whole other blog post on it’s own. Stay tuned!
Most People Speak English
Good news! In Prague you shouldn’t have too much trouble with the language barrier, as most people also speak English. In addition, most restaurants will offer an English menu. If you are ever stuck reading a sign, label or maybe have to face a Czech menu, just download the Google translate app. You can simply take a picture of what you want translated and it will translate it. It’s that easy!
Prague Is Extremely Safe!
As a girl, I was a bit concerned my first time walking the streets alone at 11pm to go meet up with some fellow Remote Year participants. However, Prague is very safe! I always felt safe. No cat calling, no creepy men, no bad vibes!
Avoid Taxis And Take Uber
Taxis have been known to rip off tourists big time!I would simply avoid them. Should you decide to take a cab, make sure you call one and don’t flag it down. Simply calling instead of flagging one down will save you money. They offer cheaper rates if you call, even if that taxi you called happens to be right in front of you! Instead, of going the taxi route I would strongly suggest downloading the Uber app and using that instead. I used Uber for the first time in Prague and I finally realize why everyone has made such a big deal about it. I now love Uber and was so impressed!! All of the drivers are friendly, you only have to wait maybe 5 minutes and you can get a 15 min drive for around $5-$7 CAD. I almost had a heart attack after finding out just how affordable Uber is here.
Beer Is Cheaper Than Water
This isn’t even a joke and caused more hangovers than you can imagine. In Prague, beer is cheaper than water. I could literally be dying for a water but go for the beer instead, simply because it’s that much cheaper. Why is it cheaper? I don’t really know how to explain this one so just enjoy it!
You Can Drink Alcohol In The Streets!
It felt wrong at first but it’s true... you can drink alcohol in the streets of Prague. You can leave a restaurant with a “to-go” cup of alcohol and they sell beer at stands throughout the major parts of the city. There are also a lot of bachelor parties happening as well, which means you will almost always run into a guy dressed up crazy as he celebrates his last night out on the town.
Prague Is Extremely Affordable!
Canadians know that the Euro never converts in our favour, making European vacations more costly. I heard that Prague was affordable but I figured that meant it would just be on par with Canadian costs. In Prague they use the Czech Koruna and the buying power is awesome! This batch of groceries only cost me $13 CAD.
Say Goodbye To Bacon And Egg Breakfasts
Bacon, eggs, sausage, toast, home fries - YUM! Unfortunately this yummy delight referred to as "an American breakfast" in some parts of Europe is not popular in Prague. The closest breakfast I've had to this in Prague is a boiled egg and an omelette. Enjoy that big breakfast before you arrive!
If You Love Lattes, You’re In Luck!
The scene for lattes, cappuccinos... you name it! is awesome. First, you can literally get your fix anywhere - cafes, subway stations, grocery stores etc. Second, there isn’t a mass coffee chain or company taking over all the business. All of the coffee shops in Prague are local and each of them have their own unique vibe and taste. In fact, I used this awesome resource to scout out good cafes. Finally and best of all, being a barista is serious business here. Seeing these baristas at work is mind blowing. They take such care with every drink they make. They taste wonderful and the presentation is amazing!
The Food Is Delicious, But “Heavier”
Don’t expect to diet during your time in Prague. Yes, there are healthy options (if you search them out) but traditional Czech food is very heavy. It’s delicious and I recommend trying it but let’s just say salads and wraps aren’t a popular choice of food.
Don't Expect Ice Or Tap Water At Restaurants
In Canada if you ask for water at a restaurant they automatically assume that means tap water with ice. In Prague restaurants will typically only offer bottled water. You will be asked if you want “gas” or no “gas”. “Gas” is sparking water and no “gas” is flat water. Don't make the mistake that I did with the accent barrier and misinterpret "gas" for "glass". Water is also expensive and will cost more than a beer. I enjoy a cool beverage, which typically means adding some ice to a drink. Be warned that ice isn’t exactly popular in Prague. It’s a flip of a coin if a restaurant will have ice for their beverages or not. I asked a local to see if this was true for all people and not just tourists and it is in fact a real thing.
Prague Is Very Energy Efficient
Kudos to Prague for being energy efficient. The lights in hotel hallways will always be off unless you press the timer light switch. The escalators either stop or go at super slow speed when no one is using them but pick up speed once it detects someone is on it. Being as energy efficient as they are, don’t expect air conditioning or fans for that matter. Finally, you may notice recycling is also popular in Prague. I'm proud of Prague for following these initiatives and hope that Canada will follow suit!
There you have it! I hope my tips have helped you discover what to expect before travelling to Prague. It’s a beautiful city and has exceed my expectations. I highly recommend making the journey this way!
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