Difference between revisions of "Prague"
Revision as of 13:42, 29 August 2010
Prague (Czech: Praha)  is the capital city and largest city of the Czech Republic. It is one of the larger cities of Central Europe and has served as the capital of the historic region of Bohemia for centuries.
Confusingly, several incompatible district systems are used in Prague. Partially, different systems are from different historic periods, but at least three different systems are used today for different purposes. To make things even worse, a single district name can be used in all the systems, but with different meanings.
For purposes of this guide, the "old" district system is used. In this "old" system, Prague is divided into ten numbered districts: Praha 1 through to Praha 10. If you encounter a higher district number, a different system is being used. For example, Praha 13 is part of the "old" Praha 5 district. The advantage of the "old" system of ten districts is that it is used on street signs and house numbers throughout the city, so you can always easily determine the "old" system district you are located in.
Praha 1 is the oldest part of the city, the original 'Town of Prague', and has by far the densest number of attractions. Praha 2 also contains important historic areas. In this central area, the "old" district system (or any of the newer systems) is too crude to be practical, a finer division is needed. Traditional city "quarters" provide such a division. Their disadvantage is that they are somewhat incompatible with the modern district systems - although "quarters" are smaller than the "old" system districts, a single quarter can belong to two or even more districts. The advantage is that these central quarters are well known and widely used and identical with the homonymous cadastral areas shown on on street and house number signs along the "old" district designation, allowing easy orientation.
Buildings in Czech Republic have two numbers, one blue and one red. The blue ones are the orientation numbers - it is the ordinal number of the building on its street. Historicaly these numbers always started from the end of the street which is closer to a river. As is normal in Europe, odd numbers belong on one side of the street and even numbers on the other. This allows you to find quickly the house you are looking for. The red numbers are related to the house register of the entire quarter (for example, Staré Město), and thus usually correspond to the order the buildings in that district were constructed. Most people do not remeber them; if somebody says e.g. the house is in Dlouha str. number 8, they will usually mean the blue number. Red numbers usually have 3 or more digits.
The most important quarters in the historic city centre are:
For the rest of the city, the "old" district system is used in this guide:
Links to the articles using the former division, until rewritten:
It is regarded by many as one of Europe's most charming and beautiful cities, Prague has become the most popular travel destination in Central Europe along with Budapest and Krakow. Millions of tourists visit the city every year.
Prague was founded in the later 9th century, and soon became the seat of Bohemian kings, some of whom ruled as emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. The city thrived under the rule of Charles IV, who ordered the building of the New Town in the 14th century - many of the city's most important attractions date back to that age. The city also went under Habsburg rule and became the capital of a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1918, after World War I, the city became the capital of Czechoslovakia. After 1989 many foreigners, especially young people, moved to Prague. In 1992, its historic centre was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two countries and Prague became capital city of the new Czech Republic.
The Vltava River runs through Prague, which is home to about 1.2 million people. The capital may be beautiful, but pollution often hovers over the city due to its location in the Vltava River basin.
Many Praguers have a small cottage (which can range from a shack barely large enough for garden utensils to an elaborate, multi-story dwelling) outside the city. There they can escape for some fresh air and country pursuits such as mushroom hunting and gardening. These cottages, called chata (plural form chaty, pronounciation of ch as in Bach), are treasured both as getaways and ongoing projects. Each reflects its owners' character, as most of them were built by unorthodox methods. There were no Home Depots under communism. Chata owners used the typically Czech "it's who you know" chain of supply to scrounge materials and services. This barter system worked extremely well, and still does today. Chaty are also sometimes used as primary residences by Czechs who rent out their city-centre apartments for enormous profit to foreigners who can afford to pay inflated rent.
Local foreign language newspapers
Ruzyně International Airport, (IATA: PRG), +420 220 111 111, +420 296 661 111 . Located 20km northwest of the city centre, it generally takes about 30 minutes to reach the city centre by car. The airport is served by a number of airlines:
Getting into the city from the airport
All international trains arrive at Praha hlavní nádraží (the central station, abbreviated to Praha hl.n.) which has connections with Metro Line C.
The park in front of the main train station is a haunt for some of the city's undesirable elements and should be avoided after dark. If you do have to come through on foot, it's best to avoid coming through the park and approach from the Southeast along Washingtonova. As you get to the corner of the park there's a police station, so the likelihood of running into problems from this direction is minimalised. The station is currently undergoing a major refurbishment, alas the 70s style will be lost, but the toilets might be cleaned up once in a while. Beware of the taxi drivers operating from the (official-looking) taxi rank alongside Praha hl.n.; they will attempt to charge a fixed price of CZK1760 (~USD100) for a trip within the city center zone, or more than this if you want to travel further.
Eurocity trains connect Prague to Berlin, Vienna and Budapest. It is a very comfortable way of travel, but not as quick as in other countries - Eurocity has average speed about 120 km/h as the Czech railway network is not suitable for higher speeds. From Berlin, a train reaches Prague in just under five hours, from Vienna in 4-4.5 hours and from Budapest in 6.5 hours. The train line from Berlin to Prague passes through the Erzgebirge mountains, and for a couple of hours the passengers are treated to a series of beautiful alpine river valleys, surrounded by rocky escarpments and mountains. Between Nuremberg to Prague, there is a direct express bus service run by the German and Chech railway companies, which only takes 3:45 hours (while the trains take 5 hours or more).
Since 2005, faster Super City Pendolino  trains operate from Ostrava (3.5 hours), Olomouc (just over two hours), and Vienna (4 hours) to Prague. Reservation is necessary on these trains. If you come to Prague by SC Pendolino, you can use Airport Express to Prague Airport without any additional fee. These buses operate every 30 minutes (5:15AM to 9:45PM). Without a SC Pendolino ticket, you will have to pay 45 CZK to the driver.
Train connections from western countries such as France and the United Kingdom are complicated and slow because of the layout of German railways, which lead mainly from north to south, with no direct connections from east to west. The route with the fewest connections is Prague-Berlin-Paris, but you can shave a few hours off your route if you're willing to transfer several times; eg. Prague-Nurnberg-Stuttgart-Paris can be done in 12 hours. Trains from within Germany can be best scheduled through the 'Deutsche Bahn' website . Direct trains run several times a week from Prague to the Netherlands, reaching Amsterdam in about 14 hours.
Prague has highway connections from five major directions. Unfortunately, the highway network in the Czech Republic is quite incomplete and some highways are old and in poor condition. Thus, the highway connection from Prague to the border of the Czech Republic is available only in two directions - southeast and southwest. The south-western highway (D5; international E50) leads through Pilsen (Plzeň) to Germany. The D5 highway continues in Germany as A6. Riding from the state border to Prague takes about an hour and a half (160 km). The south-eastern highway (D1) is the Czech Republic's oldest and most used highway - as such it's in a rather poor condition. It leads through Brno to Bratislava in Slovakia. It offers a good connection to Vienna, Budapest and all traffic from the east. It runs for 250km, and usually takes over two hours. To the northwest you can take highway D8 (E55), but it is not complete to the German border. It ends now at Lovosice (about 60 km from Prague and starts again in Usti nad Labem and continues to the northern Germany via A17 (Dresden, Berlin, Leipzig). To the northeast you can take highway R10 (E65). It is strictly speaking a motorway, not a highway, but it has four lanes and differs little from a highway. It leads from Liberec to Turnov. It isn't regarded as an important access route, as there are no major cities in this direction (Zittau in Germany, some cities in Poland), however it offers a good connection to the Czech mountains Jizerské hory and Krkonoše (Riesengebirge) with the best Czech skiing resorts. To the east you can take the newly completed D11 (E67), which goes to Hradec Kralove. It leads to Poland.
Czech highways are under development (D8 and D11 are being extended, D3 to Ceske Budejovice and Linz is supposed to be completed in 2020) so it's hoped that things will get better. Unless there are road works, there are only seldom traffic jams on Czech highways, with the exception of D1 near Prague (and near Mirosovice (direction to Ceske Budejovice and Linz, and Brno, too)).
Prague suffers from heavy traffic and on week days the main streets are one big traffic jam. Moreover, Prague still doesn't have a complete highway outer circuit. It is a really good idea to use the P+R (park and ride) parking places, where you can park your car for a very small fee and use public transport. The P+Rs are situated near all highways and are well marked. Note that traffic wardens are rife and parking in most residential streets in and around Prague city centre (even after dark) without a valid permit will result in a parking fine. In particular, avoid blue-marked areas which are parking-restricted area if you don't want your car to get towed away within the hour.
The main bus station for international buses in Prague is Florenc, in Praha 8 (metro lines B and C). It is located east of the city centre. In June 2009 a new terminal building was opened.
Eurolines  and Student Agency  connect Prague to major European cities. Other, less frequently used bus stations are at Nádraží Holešovice (metro C), Dejvická (A), Zličín (B) and Černý most (B).
Public transportation is very convenient in most of the areas visitors are likely to frequent.
Prague is renowned as a very "walkable" city. For those who enjoy seeing the old and new city by foot, one can easily walk from Wenceslas Square to the Old Town Square, or from the Old Town to Charles Bridge and the Palace (Hrad) District. However almost all of the streets are cobbled, rendering it very difficult for disabled or elderly travellers to get around effectively. Also, pedestrians should enter crosswalks carefully in Prague, as drivers are not as likely to yield as they are in other European cities.
Remember that in the Czech Republic, it is illegal to cross at a pedestrian crossing on a red man, and if caught this incurs a fine of 1000kč.
Shared minibus airport service is cheaper alternative to regular door-to-door private transfers. One can find easy-to-follow website at www.123-Prague.com , eventually shuttle service is available through http://www.Prague-shuttle.cz . The shuttle costs around 18 Euro per up to 4 passengers and one drop off address.
Try to avoid getting taxi on the street (public transportation is always the better option in Prague) and if you have to, try to negotiate the price in advance. It’s advisable to call one of the major Prague Taxi services:
Deceptive taxi drivers are another trap that can badly surprise a tourist. Mostly they charge more than they should. The municipal council has been trying to solve this problem since the Prague mayor dressed up as an Italian tourist and was repeatedly overcharged. The most frequent cases of cheating happen between the railway station or airport and hotel. If you must take a taxi, and cannot call one directly or call your hotel for a referral, the best way to find a reputable one may be to look for a hotel and ask them to call a taxi.
Always insist on having the taxi-meter turned on and ask for a receipt once you leave the taxi. The receipt should have driver's name, address and tax identification number included. Even though you ask for receipt the taxi-meter could be tampered with so called "turbo", which will cause the taxi-meter price go sky high.
If you go for waving the taxi on the street make sure you stop car with logo of one of the major companies. It's not a bullet proof solution, but at least you have some chance to get some satisfaction from the taxi dispatching company.
About two years ago, an information desk was set up on most taxi stands in the city, with orientation prices to most popular destinations from that stand. But there is a mistake in the local law, which actually allows some of the taxi companies renting the taxi stands (specifically around Old Town square) to charge VERY high prices (about 99Kč/Km). There is an ongoing law suit regarding this, however the practice still hasn't stopped. The most infamous company in this regard is a recently created AAA Taxi s.r.o. deliberately creating its name to resemble regulated and popular AAA Radiotaxi Praha, however AAA Taxi cabs charge up to four times more for a ride, they even do not provide services to Czech customers. Visitors are advised to to use the services of proved phone-order taxis, as they are even reports of robberies with street cruising taxis.
If you're not speaking Czech, then be prepared there is about 50% chance to get cheated by a taxi driver, when stopping taxi in the city center. So be always on watch as that is a standard warning in any guide book about Prague.
If you are convinced you got overcharged by the taxi driver, mark the car ID numbers (license plate, taxi license number on the car door, driver name etc.) and contact the company, which the driver is working for (if any) or police. The problem is that you have to testify against the driver, which is kind of hard when you're on the other side of the world. Try to avoid suspicious taxis and if you find even a grain of suspicion, then walk away catching another taxi.
Other alternative is to use some of the chauffeured services companies like Prague Airport Transfers s.r.o.  or FEBA Trade Limousine Car Service  or even cheaper but as reliable HFS s.r.o. - 123-Prague-Airport-Transfer.com . Should you need to travel out of Prague, Taxi & Transfers  operated by HFS s.r.o. may be an alternative. Transfers are operated daily, both ways from Prague as well as to Prague, and at fixed reasonable rates.
Some hotels offer taxi services. Make sure to compare the price with other companies. Some hotel taxis are cheap but others are more than twice the price and the car is not always identified as being a taxi.
Tram and metro
There are three main subway lines (Czech: metro), and numerous bus and tram (streetcar) lines. The tram and bus schedules are posted on the stops, and the metro operates from very early in the morning (around 5:00AM) until approximately midnight. The schedules and connections may also be checked online from the website of Prague Public Transit  . Purchase a limited (30 minutes or 5 stops in the metro or 20 minutes in buses and trams, no transfers at all) for 18 Kc or a 75-minute transfer ticket for 26 Kc at any dispenser using coins (they give change), or tobacco shop. Ensure you always have some coins, because the only way to buy ticket on some stations (or at night time) is to use a ticket machine. Discounted tickets for children up to 15 years are also available.
You may purchase 24-hour, 3-day or 5-day tickets at ticket offices in some metro stations. A 24-hour ticket costs 100 Kc, and may be both cheaper and more convenient than buying separate tickets for each journey. Tickets for 3 or 5 days allow for free accompaniment of one child between the age of 6 and 14 (inclusive). The same ticket may be used on metro, tram or bus, including transfer from one to the other, during its time period. Time stamp your ticket by slipping it into one of several boxes in the tram or bus as soon as you board, stamp metro tickets before entering the stations (imitate the locals), and keep it handy until it expires.
Tickets are not checked upon boarding, but uniformed and plain-clothes ticket inspectors often make the rounds asking to see your ticket. These inspectors have mostly improved a great deal, and usually speak a fair amount of English and are fairly polite in their difficult jobs. One problem is false inspectors who most often ride the trams between "Malostranske Namesti" and Prague Castle - these deceivers can be detected by asking for the identity card which should be possessed by every inspector. An unstamped ticket is invalid, it will be confiscated, and you will incur a 700 Kc fine. Even though "riding black" seems easy in Prague, you should invest in the cheap ticket, for the simple reason that Prague's transportation works perfectly, and it functions on the honor system - help it stay that way.
Public transport continues at night. Night trams or night buses (00:00 to 5:00AM) usually come every 30 minutes. Every 15 minutes during this time, trams leave the central exchange stop of Lazarská in the centre of Prague. All night trams go through this stop. You can easily change tram lines here if not anywhere else.
Do not underestimate how close to the footpath the trams will be when they reach the stop. It's safer to take a few steps back before the tram arrives as wing mirrors could cause injury for taller people. When you use public transport in Prague, keep in mind that it is good etiquette to let elderly people, pregnant women or disabled people sit down.
You can travel down the famous Vltava River (Moldau, in German), which inspired writers and composers such as Smetana and Dvorak.
A collection of Asian art is exhibited at the Zbraslav Castle.
As with many major European cities, you can get a good deal by buying a tourist card. Be discerning when choosing based on your needs (for example, cards may list free entry to locations that are normally free anyway - this concerns Prague Pass). Here are your options:
Free Attractions Of note is that the card will grant free admission to all the Prague Castle short tour, which normally costs 250 Kč. Many of the town's museums and galleries--including all branches of the National Gallery and the National Museum--are also included, and over four days you can easily see 3 times the card's value. As such, this is an excellent choice if you're planning on visiting a lot of museums. The only major attraction that is not included is the Old New Synagogue and Jewish Museum.
With the Prague Card you can visit Prague Castle (350 CZK), Old Town, Malá Strana and Charles Bridge historical towers and other attractions, Observatory (20 CZK), small copy of Eiffel Tour (100 CZK) and Mirror Maze at Petrin Hill, Vysehrad all castle including his casemates and gallery, many New Town Museums and Galleries and several castles outside centre of Prague.
Free Attractions There is something for everyone with Vysehrad and its casemate (catacombs) and basilica, take a boat trip through Prague on the river Vltava (Moldau), effortless up in the TV tower with the best panorama of Prague or enjoy a ride on the Petrin hill cable railway. The whole city in one hall (perfect model in 1:480 scale) - a time travel to the past in Prague’s historical most significant museum. Don't fear the sharks and marvel at the blaze of colors in the Sea World Aquarium, a magical ride at a performance of a Black-Light-Theater or let your soul swing at a concert in a church. River Navigation Museum, Army museum, Aviation museum and the UNESCO certified auto museum "PRAGA".... all for free! (Some of them however have free entry anyway !)
Also in your pack is a free map of Prague and a program guide booklet as well as a free welcome present. You will also receive discount coupons for several discounts of up to 50% for guided sightseeing- and city-walking tours, Mozart museum, galleries, concerts, internet use, computer games, real laser game or for Rent a Car (25%).
There are many opera and Black Light Theatre companies in Prague. There are several performance groups that cater to tourists. They aren't strictly to be avoided, but common sense should tell you that the opera advertised by costumed pamphleteers is not going to be up to truly professional standards.
River cruises are both popular and varied, from one hour cruises to long evening cruises with dinner or music.
The streets around Old Town are full of gift shops geared towards tourists, selling Bohemian crystal, soccer shirts and other mass-produced memorabilia. The thoroughfare between Charles Bridge and Old Town Square is particularly bad, turning off into one of the laneways you can find the exact same merchandise for half the price. If you are looking for some decent souvenirs, try to get off the beaten path. Street vendors can have some unexpected treasures and there are plenty in the Charles Bridge area. Prints of paintings and good quality photos are very popular, and a really good way to remember Prague. Don't bother buying overpriced furry hats and Matryoshka dolls, though, because they have nothing to do with Prague - they are Russian in origin, and their sellers are just trying to capitalize on unknowing tourists.
In December, the squares host Christmas Markets selling a mix of arts, craft, food, drink and Prague memorabilia. The markets are an attraction in their own right and a great place to pick up a more unique memento of the city.
There are several large shopping malls in Prague, you should take "Na Prikope" street - the 18th most expensive street in the world (measured by the price of property), with famous shopping arcades "Cerna ruze" (Black rose) and "Palac Myslbek" and many shops. If you are looking for souvenir shops, you will find them in the city's historical centre - mostly around Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and Prague Castle. There are many other shops offering Bohemian crystal - especially in the centre near the lower end of Wenceslas Square. The other typical (if rather expensive) Czech goods is the garnet jewellery - typical Czech garnet stones (gathered near the town of Turnov) are dark red and nowadays are produced by a single company - Granat Turnov - and if you buy genuine traditional Czech garnet, you should get a certificate of authenticity. "Pařížská" street goes from Old Town Square towards the river - and includes some of the most luxurious (and expensive) boutiques in Prague.
Popular shopping malls:
Palladium - situated directly in the city centre, it's the newest and perhaps most luxurious shopping mall. No cheap options to eat, unless you buy some food in Albert supermarket on the lowest floor (-2). On the top level (+2) are some moderate to expensive restaurants. Tram/metro station Namesti Republiky.
OC Chodov - a huge shopping mall with hypermarket located slightly further away from the centre at metro station Chodov.
Šestka - new shopping mall just 1 station from the Prague Airport. Very far away from the center but ideal for last minute shopping before your departure. Take bus 119 from Dejvicka metro station.
Palác Flora - medium-sized shopping mall with IMAX cinema in the top floor. Tram/metro station Flora.
OC Nový Smíchov - big shopping mall with 2-floor Tesco hypermarket, a cinema, bunch of fastfoods on the top floor and very close to metro/tram station Anděl
Metropole Zličín - medium-sized mall with a cinema, hypermarket Interspar, fast foods, huge parking lot and near the metro/bus station Zličín. If you are hungry after your flight, take a bus 100 from the airport to Zličín and then just walk few meters to this mall and buy something to eat.
The official currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech Crown (koruna), abbreviated as Kč, with the international abbreviation CZK. The current exchange rate can be found at the official website of the Czech National Bank 
Sometimes it is also possible to pay with Euros (Hotels in the centre of Prague, McDonalds etc.) but be prepared to suffer an unfavourable exchange rate.
Lunch is traditionally the main meal in Prague. Czech cuisine is typically based around pork or beef with starchy side dishes such as dumplings, potatoes, or fries. Fish is not as popular, though these days it is widely available. Popular Czech desserts include fruit dumplings (ovocné knedlíky), crêpes or ice cream. Most restaurants become very crowded during lunch and dinner, so consider making a reservation or eating earlier than the locals.
The tip should be about 10 to 15% - in cheaper restaurants or pubs you can get away with rounding up the bill or leaving a few extra coins. Otherwise it's customary to leave at least 20Kč-40Kč or €1-2. Taxes are always included in the price by law. Many restaurants in heavily-touristed areas (along the river, or with views near the castle) will charge a cover or "kovert" in addition to your meal charge. If this is printed in the menu, you have no recourse. But a restaurant will often add this charge to your bill in a less up-front manner, sometimes after printing in the menu that there is no cover. Anything brought to your table will have a charge associated with it (bread, ketchup, etc.) If you are presented with a hand-scrawled bill at the end of the meal, it is suggested that you take a moment to clarify the charges with your server. This sort of questioning will usually shame the server into removing anything that was incorrectly added. It should be noted that some waiters are impolite especially to people from the eastern part of Europe. Pay no attention to this, and simply find another restaurant.
If you're on the look out for fast food, you won't be able to move without tripping over street vendors serving Czech style hot dogs and mulled wine in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square in New Town. If you're after Western-style fast food, the major chains also have a large presence in Wenceslas Square and the area immediately around it. Most beer halls also serve light snacks or meals. Definitely try the hot dogs - they're far superior to the greasy, messy version you get in the West. Small, hollowed-out French baguettes are used for the bread, filled with mustard and ketchup, and then the frankfurter is inserted afterwards. This turns the bread into a convenient carry-case and means you don't get ketchup all over your hands. Make sure you get mustard, even if you don't normally like it - unfortunately the hot dogs are somewhat flavorless and need that extra bit of kick. Prices range from around 15 crowns for a small one to 45 crowns for the terrifying-looking 'gigant'. Note that size of hot dog relates to girth rather than length.
If you're looking for somewhere more formal, Old Town Square has several places with outside seating on the square. It's an excellent place to people watch.
While Czech is the official language of Prague and the Czech Republic, Slovak is also acceptable as Czech and Slovaks have historically understood each other without the need of a translator. Both languages are very similar and mutually intelligible to a very wide extent, leading foreigners to assume incorrectly that they are dialects of each other.
Russian is widely understood by people who were attending school before the Velvet Revolution in 1989, but the language is too different from Czech to be understood without study. In addition, some people may dislike to use Russian even if they know it because of the Soviet occupation of the Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the Communist history in general. Some Czechs will also have knowledge of German. People studying after 1989 and even some older people can speak English. However, learning either Czech or Slovak (even if it's just a few phrases like greetings and thanks) will surely endear the locals.
Pubs (in Czech "hospoda") abound throughout Prague, and indeed are an important part of local culture. The exact brand of beer usually vary from pub to pub, and recommendations are difficult to give as natives are usually willing to argue at lengths about their preferences. The most internationally recognized beers are Pilsner Urquell (Plzeňský Prazdroj) and Budweiser Budvar (Budějovický Budvar). There are other brands famous among Czechs like Gambrinus. If you are looking for a beer brewed in Prague, go for Staropramen. Usual prices for a half-liter glass are between 20 and 35 Kč, based on the brand and locality, while certain restaurants at tourist areas like the Old Town Square are known to charge more than 100 Kč for an euro-sized glass. Don't be afraid to experiment with different beer brands, even if they are not mentioned in this article.
In Prague it is customary, especially at beer halls, to sit with a group of people if there are no free tables, so go ahead and ask if you can join. Prague has also many excellent tearooms (in Czech čajovna) which serve different kinds of teas from around the world.
Prague has a wealth of accommodation options, many of them within walking distance of the town centre. Peak season generally runs from April to October and a major influx of visitors can be expected during New Year as well. Prices for accommodation can be up to twice as high in the peak season and reservations are advised. Otherwise, the main train station, Hlavní nádraží, has an accommodation booking service for hotels and hostels upstairs. Normally, tax and breakfast are included in the room rate.
Even during peak season, dorm rooms in hostels close to the city center can be had for around 350Kč per person per night. Prague has its share of rough and ready youth hostels with a party vibe, but there are many with a more relaxed atmosphere and some housed in beautifully restored buildings as fancy as any hotel. Many hostels also offer private rooms, with or without shared bathrooms, for much cheaper than a pension or hotel room. Around Hlavni Nadrazi, the main train station, there are many touts offering cheap accommodation. Many are Czech residents renting part of their apartment for extra cash. Prices don't vary much between them, but some may not be trustworthy so be cautious.
A fun alternative is a 'Botel'. Usually relatively well placed, with gorgeous views. Prices vary from €20 to €120 pppn. Botel Florentina offers a view of the castle while being affordable too.
For those travelers to Prague that aren't looking to just save money, but to stay and tour the town in style, there are a few luxury hotels including one that is in the historical building from the 16th century:
For those looking for something a little different, a 'botel' (boat hotel) may be an appealing option. Most are moored on the south of the river in Praha 4 and 5.
Many hostels and hotels offer free internet on shared computers or over a wireless network, so ask before you shell out extra at one of Prague's many internet cafes.
Also, almost all KFC fast foods offer a free wifi connected to internet. When you enter the place, just buy something small and tune your laptop or phone to wireless network of the name "KFC". No login required.
There's an internet cafe at Spálená 49 (Metro B & Tram: Národní třída) which is open until midnight every day. It also has printing facilities which were invaluable after my friends recently missed a flight and needed to book another and print boarding cards.
The most common crimes in Prague by far are car theft and pickpocketing: the prevalence of car theft and vandalism pushes up the crime statistics of Prague. But it doesn't mean that you're safe if you do not drive any cars. Pickpocketing is common in Prague, and some violent crimes do occur in this city. You are seriously warned not to provoke drunken people as it will pose yourself in extreme danger to provoke them.
Begging is a serious problem in this city and you can even see beggars in this city's top tourist attractions. Don't carry a wallet or purse in the back pocket of your pants; always keep an eye on your items; don't put all your money in one place; don't show your money or valuable things to anybody; don't walk alone into deserted areas even you think you are a strong man. Better safe than sorry so take enough precautions for yourself. Prague might seems attractive with the relatively budget expenses, but keep in mind there's no free lunch in this world. The cops here don't speak English sodon't expect them to help you. They are known to be one of the rudest in the world among tourists.
Possession of drugs has been historically a grey area under the Czech jurisdiction. Since early 2010, though, the dubious term "an amount less than small" has been finally transformed into absolute values based on the actual judicial practice and it is no longer an offense to carry less than 15 g of marijuana, 5 patches of LSD, 1 g of cocaine, etc. It is still a criminal offense to posses more than the allowed amount of drugs. Please also note that most bars will expect you to go outside if you intend to smoke a joint.
Be aware of teams of pickpockets  that lurk outside metro stations, overcrowded trams, Charles Bridge, Wenceslas Square and the Old Town Square. They usually work in teams of 3-5 and look for lost or distracted tourists. Backpacks are especially interesting to them. Many of those groups use underage children as pickpockets because they can't be prosecuted by Czech laws.
Due to the low incidence of violent crime, the threat of pickpockets has been played up as a great problem. However, common sense and basic precautions can keep most people safe from pickpockets. If you have a camera, try not to wear it openly. Always close and secure your backpack and try to keep an eye on it. Be especially careful not to fall asleep in tram or metro. Wear your wallet in a safe place (like inner pocket of your coat), never put it into your rear pocket or any other place where it can be easily stolen.
Be astute on sleeper trains, as bag robberies are on the increase between major stations. Ask for ID from anyone who asks to take your ticket or passport, and lock backpacks to the luggage racks. Keep valuables on you and maintain common sense.
If you enter the metro (usually at night), you may find a team of con artists at the stations, saying that they are metro clerks and, after examining your ticket for some time, that it's invalid so you'll have to pay a fine of 500 CZK (1000 CZK if you argue with them). So if you happen to see them and you're sure that your ticket is valid, tell them to call the police, or call them yourself. Remember that Prague Metro ticket inspectors have to produce their badge in order to check your ticket and issue a fine; if they don't do this as soon as they approach you then, they are almost certainly fakes.
Be careful with taxi drivers, particularly from the train station. Taxis that are legally registered may still be mafia-run affairs that do their best to overcharge. It is illegal for a taxi driver to refuse you a receipt in Prague, so agree a price before putting yourself or your luggage in the taxi. The risk of overcharging is greatly overplayed but just take the usual sensible precautions of only using taxi firms affiliated with the station or your hotel, or call a reputable company and wait. Finally, if presented with a wrong bill from a taxi driver, call the police on your mobile phone. Your driver will quickly change his tune.
If you can't afford to haggle with cab drivers, you can always use public mass transit. The network is extensive and can take you almost anywhere in Prague.
Be careful with money exchanges. Exchange your money in banks or official tourist informations and rather avoid exchange offices. Never deal with a street money-dealer: they offer better rates but frequently try to swindle you by giving you money from another country, such as Russian roubles or old Bulgarian leva.
Most of the exchange offices are fair, but some, especially at the busiest tourist sites, may try to cheat customers with various tricks. One of the them is offering favourable exchange rates, but with fine print below such as if you exchange more than 1000 EUR. Another trick is putting a huge board with "we sell" exchange rates to the shop window, which makes an impression of good rates, whereas the actual rate for buying CZK is much more unfavourable.
When the customer finds this out at the counter and wants to cancel the transaction, the money-dealer refuses with an excuse "I have already printed the bill", implying it is too late. The police won't help you, typically referring you to the Czech National Bank, which supervises exchange offices, to file a complaint (which does not help you either).
Czech law is weak and orders exchange offices only to display the actual rates, which you might find somewhere in the office in small print. Therefore, if you decide to use an exchange office always ask for the actual rate you will pay before making the transaction before releasing any money out of your hand.
If you find yourself in emergency, dial 158 for police, 155 for ambulance or 150 for firefighters. You can also dial 112 for a general emergency call.
If you need medication at weekends or evenings, you can go to Lékárna Palackého, (Tel +420 224 946 982) the 24-hour pharmacy on Palackého 5 in the new town.
Buses and trains are frequent and quite inexpensive and can get you to even the smallest village.
Practically every major European city can be reached by bus or train from Prague.
Regular buses are available to the following Czech towns, travel times in brackets:
For just a small selection of further places off the beaten path: