If you are travelling to Prague for the first time, I’m sure you have plenty of questions in your head about your trip. In this blog post, I wanted to round up all the practical information you should know before you set for Prague.
So what do you need to know before you travel to Prague for the first time?
Where is Prague?
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic. If you look at a map of Europe, Prague is right in the centre, which is why some Czech people find it slightly insulting when visitor say ‘Prague is in Eastern Europe’. The term is more likely to refer to the political division of Europe before 1989, than the geographical location, but I would still say, that Prague is in the heart of Europe, not in the East.
Is Prague worth visiting?
I’m biased, so of course, I’ll say ‘YES’, but in all fairness, it depends on what you are looking from your trip. If you like history, you’ll love Prague!
On the other hand, if you want to go somewhere off the beaten track, Prague could be a great base from which you can explore less visited towns and historical places in the Czech Republic.
Is Prague tourist friendly?
On the whole, I would say, ‘Yes, Prague is very welcoming to tourists and visitors. Most younger people will have a basic understanding of English, German or Spanish and you’ll find most restaurants in the centre with an English or German menu.
What’s the best season to visit Prague?
The best time to visit Prague is in the spring or autumn, as the weather is nice and warm and Prague is less busy than in summer. Going offseason completely, like for example in January, February or November is fine too, bearing in mind that the weather is often very cold and there are not that many things happening. For a medieval fairytale town with Christmas atmosphere, you can also visit in early December up to the 6th of January.
Summer is usually the busiest part of the year, and Prague can get very hot and overcrowded in the centre. July and August is also a school holiday, and most Czechs leave Prague to spend their summer in the countryside or even abroad at the seaside. It’s also traditionally time when most road works and repairs are carried out in Prague with roads sometimes closed, and trams and buses are diverted.
Do I need a visa to travel to Prague?
This depends on where you are travelling from, but in most cases, you’ll not need a visa to visit as a tourist. Czech Republic is part of the European Union, which means that if you can enter the European Union without visa, you can freely travel to Prague. Your stay is usually limited to 90 days. If you intend to study or work in Prague, then you’ll need a visa from the beginning of your stay.
How many days do I need for my visit to Prague?
As a minimum, I would suggest three days, as anything less will feel very rushed and the chances are that most places you visit will turn in to a bit of a blur. Three days is enough to visit the Prague Castle, walk in the centre and across the Charles Bridge, stop for a coffee or lunch and visit one or two museums.
Is Prague safe place to visit?
Yes, in general, Prague is a very safe place to visit and the crime is fairly low for a major European City. The only thing, I do need to mention, is that pickpocketing is still a problem, so be careful.
Do people speak English in Prague?
Yes, especially younger Czechs do speak fluent English. Most restaurants and cafes in the centre have their menus translated into English, so you shouldn’t have any problems placing your order.
What’s the currency in Prague?
Although the Czech Republic has been in the European Union since 2005, the official currency is still Czech crown. If you are paying by cash, you will need to pay with Czech Crowns, but most places now accept major debit or credit cards, so you don’t need to worry if you run out your Czech money.
Can I use my debit or credit card to pay for things in Prague?
Yes, all shops, restaurants and most tourist attractions accept all major cards. But it’s always handy to have some cash as small street food stalls, travel tickets or small coffee places might not always have card machines. There are plenty of ATM around Prague, where you can take money out. These are free to use, but you should check with your bank how much they charge for money withdrawals abroad. Personally, I find that the bank charges are much smaller than changing cash currencies and it’s much safer to carry around just what you need and not a whole of your holiday money.
What daily budget do I need for my trip to Prague?
This really depends on whether you are after a budget holiday or a luxury weekend away. Since, there is no limit to what you can spend in Prague, let’s just stick to the basics to give you an idea of what to budget for.
90 min public transport ticket 32 kc
Coffee 50-75 Kc
Cake 50-75 Kc
Museum Entrance 200-300 Kc
Accommodation 1500Kc for 2 people per night (based on a basic hotel or private accommodation)
Breakfast 150-250 Kc
How can I get around Prague?
Prague has a very good public transport system, including underground (Metro), trams, buses, trains, river ferries and even one cable car! A single 32Kc ticket will last for any journey up to 90 minutes and it’s valid on any means of transport. If you think that your journey will last longer than 90 minutes, you can buy ticket for 2 or 3 hrs. If I know that I’m going to be making more than 4 journeys in one day, I buy 24 hr ticket (about 125 Kc). It’s actually valid for 24 hrs, which is quite good as you can start it at any time during the day and it’s still valid the next day. No matter what ticket you have, make sure you stamp it in the machine when you first enter the public system and keep it safely with you. Plain clothes ticket inspectors can stop you any time and ask you to produce your ticket (and fine you if you don’t!)
Where is the best place to stay in Prague?
If you are coming for a long weekend, it’s best to stay somewhere fairly centrally, so that you can start exploring Prague the minute you leave your hotel. Accommodation cost will be, of course higher, than if you stay on the outskirts of Prague. If you are a light sleeper, check that your hotel is not on a busy road or in a noisy area with night clubs next to the hotel, like for example on Wenceslav Square. I personally like to stay slightly off the centre, for example in Vinohrady, Smichov, Karlin or Zizkov. It’s still only a few minutes by tram or underground to the centre, but because these areas are mainly residential areas, it’s nice and quiet there.