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Prague

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Prague (Czech: Praha) [1] the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic.

Prague Castle
The east bank of the Vltava river

Districts

Prague has fifteen numbered districts: Praha 1 through to Praha 15. Praha 1 is the oldest part of the city, and has by far the densest number of attractions. It can be further subdivided into these quarters:

  • Castle (Hradčany) -- the highest point in Prague
  • Lesser Town (Malá Strana) -- the settlement around the castle
  • Old Town (Staré Město) -- the nucleus of the right bank
  • New Town (Nove Město) -- the fourteenth century district south of Old Town
  • Jewish Town (Josefov) -- the old Jewish ghetto

The outer areas of Prague can be divided as follows:

  • North -- Praha 7, Praha 8 and Praha 9.
  • East -- Praha 3, Praha 10, Praha 14 and Praha 15.
  • South -- Praha 2, Praha 4, Praha 11 and Praha 12.
  • West -- Praha 5, Praha 6 and Praha 13.

Understand

Regarded by many as one of the world's most beautiful cities, Prague has arguably become the most popular travel destination in Central Europe. 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 included in UNESCO's 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 thanks to its location in the Vltava River basin. Prague customer service is great, with sensitive treatment towards the tourists. Learning a little of the language may receive a smile or two.

Chaty

Many Praguers have a small cottage (which can range from a shack barely large enough for garden utensils to an elaborate, multi-storey dwelling) outside the city. There they can escape for some fresh air and country pursuits such as mushroom hunting and gardening. These cottages, called chatas, 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 (pl. of chata) are also sometimes used as primary residences by Czechs who rent out their city-center apartments for enormous profit to foreigners who can afford to pay inflated rent.

Local foreign language newspapers:

Tourist Information Office

Tourist Traps in Prague

  • Prague old downtown: there is a heavy-traffic path between the Charles Bridge and Old Town Square which is crowded and laden with tourist shops and traps. But if you turn off this path the congestion instantly eases and prices drop on everything.
  • Restaurant overcharges: 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.
  • Ticket inspectors: The most frequent unpleasant experience comes from the ticket inspectors of the Prague public transport (MHD). It is caused by the ticket system here: The commuter is obliged to enter the means of transport with a ticket and immediately mark it in a special machine for this purpose - this means the commuter has a valid ticket. However, the information system is weak and lots of tourists buy the ticket and do not mark it - and so the ticket inspector can charge them, because the unmarked ticket is not a valid ticket. The second problem is that a majority of ticket inspectors are weak in language skills - most frequetly are able only to repeat in English "five houndred or police", which obviously is not very pleasant and can not solve the problem. The third problem is that they profit from the lack of information about commuter rights. They are only employees of a public company and regarding this they should behave. The last problem is false inspectors - deceivers who can be detected by asking for the identity card which should be possessed by every inspector. When you use public transport in Prague, keep in mind that it is a habit to let a retired person sit down. However, they take it for granted and if you do not stand up from your seat immediately when they come next to you, they often start to be rude to you and shout at you. Apart from that, the public transport is classified as very good, the trains and buses arrive exactly on time (except disasters) and the maps of the lines through the city are simple and effective.
  • Taxi drivers: 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 masked as an English speaking tourist and was charged for 350% of the regular charge. The most cases of cheating happens on the way from the railway station or airport to the hotel. However, they know the city well and if you need to get somewhere fast, it is worth using a reputable company, eg AAA Taxis, who will agree on a price beforehand.

Get in

By plane

The international airport Ruzyně (IATA: PRG phone +420 220 111 111, +420 296 661 111) is in the west of Prague. In the last years the traffic grew enormously and the airport was significantly expanded. Today there is a brand new Schengen terminal but contruction is still not completed. There are many cheap direct flights operated by easyJet, Ryanair and BMIbaby from UK, by SmartWings from Continental Europe, Turkey and Dublin, by SkyEurope from assorted destinations and by Sterling from Scandinavia.

Getting into the city from the airport

The airport is located about 20 kilometers outside the city center. It generally takes 30 to 50 minutes to get there.

  • By taxi: The most comfortable method to reach the city will cost about 700 CZK (Although it can be got for as low as 650CZK). Ask for a receipt when you arrive. Make sure you ask how much it will cost before commencing your journey. Avoid taxis without illuminated signs on the car roof. It is generally cheaper to call a taxi (like AAA +420 2333 22 333 and wait for the number) on the phone than to get one waiting in front of the airport. However the Taxi drivers outside will be very assertive and speak no English whatsoever
  • By Airport Express (train): (New - service introduced on 11 Dec.2005) Buses leaving the airport every 30 minute the first one at 4:40 a.m., the last one at 9:10 p.m. Price is 45 CZK/person, tickets available from the driver. They will take you to the railway and subway station Nádraží Holešovice (metro C), which is also the railway station to take a train to Berlin and Vienna.
  • By Cedaz bus: These buses operate from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. every half hour. They will take you past the subway station Dejvická (metro A) and into the city center to the Náměstí Republiky (metro B). Fares are about 90 CZK per person. The same company's minibuses run a shared-ride transfer service direct to your hotel, delivering groups of 1-4 passsengers for 480 CZK.
  • By city bus and subway: This is the cheapest way to get into the city. A ticket valid for 75 minutes costs 20 CZK. Bus no. 119 takes you to the subway station Dejvická, then on to the city center by subway line A. Bus no. 100 brings you to subway station Zličín (metro B).
  • Hotel shuttles: various companies run shuttle services to the hotel and back. These can be found in the airport arrival halls. One company in the halls is the Smart Shuttle run for Smart Wings airline.

By train

Prague has two international train stations: Hlavní nádraží (central station, abbreviated Praha hl.n., subway connection by metro C); and Praha Holešovice (Holešovice station, subway connection by metro C).

Eurocity trains connect Prague to Berlin, Vienna and Budapest. It is a very comfortable way of travel, but not as quick as used in other countries - Eurocity has average speed about 120kmph only, because Czech railroad network is not suitable for higher speeds. From Berlin, a train reaches Prague in 5 1/2 hours, from Wien (Vienna) in 4 1/2 hours and from Budapest in 6 1/2 hours. The trainline 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.

Since 11 December 2005 fast trains Super City Pendolino operate between Ostrava (3 1/2 hours) , Olomouc (2 1/4 hours) and Prague (station Praha - Holešovice). Reservation is necessary on these trains. If you come to Prague by SC Pendolino, you can use Airport Express to Prague Airport without any additonal fee. These buses operate every 30 minutes (5:15 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.). Without SC Pendolino ticket you shall pay 45 CZK to the driver.

Train connection from western countries (France, England) is complicated because of an inconvenient layout of German railroads (they lead mainly from north to south, with no direct connections from east to west) - you have to change frequently, for example to Paris you have to change at least two or three times and it takes more than 13 hours.

By car

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. Southwestern highway (number D5, international E50) leads through Pilsen (Plzeň) to Germany. There is still a small incomplete part on the German side of the border, but it is only about 20 km. Not counting this small part, the D5 highway is connected to the German highway network. Riding from the state border to Prague takes about an hour and a half (only 160 km). Southeastern highway (number D1) is the Czech Republic's oldest and most used highway yet it is in good condition. It leads through Brno to Bratislava in Slovakia. It offers a good connection to Vienna, Budapest and all traffic from the east. You have to count on more than two hours as it is more than 250 km. 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). From northern Germany (Dresden, Berlin, Leipzig), you have to take state road E55, which is sometimes quite overcrowded. 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 through Turnov. I don't think it is an important access direction because there are no major cities in this direction (Zittau in Germany, some cities in Poland), but 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 D11 (E67), which is only 40 km long and is in poor condition. It leads to Poland.

Czech highways are under development (D8 and D11 are being prolonged, the city by-pass of Pilsen is nearly finished on D5) so things may get better. There are only seldom traffic jams on Czech highways, with the exception of D1 near Prague (and near Brno, too) - not counting road construction work.

When you get to Prague, things get worse. Prague suffers from heavy traffic and on working 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.

By bus

The main bus station for international busses in Prague is Florenc, Křižíkova (metro lines B and C). It is located east of the city center.

Eurolines connects Prague to major European cities, some of them depart from Nádraží Holešovice (metro C) but the majority leave from the main bus terminal at Florence (also metro C).

By boat

Get around

Public transportation is very convenient in most of the areas visitors are likely to frequent. There are three main subway lines (Czech: metro), and numerous bus and tram (streetcar) lines. Purchase 75 minutes transfer for 20 CZK ticket at any tobacco shop or 24-hours, 3-days or 7-days tickets at ticket offices in some metro stations; date stamp this the first time you ride. Tickets are not checked upon boarding, but undercover inspectors frequently make the rounds asking to see your ticket. Even though freeriding seems easy in Prague, you should invest in the cheap ticket; staying more than two days in Prague will guarantee that you will be checked.

Public transport continues at night in a convenient way. Night trams or night buses (00:00 to 5:00 AM) usually come every 30 minutes. Every 15 minutes some night trams leave the central exchange station in the centre of Prague called Lazarská. You can also easily change tram lines here.

One valuable tourist purchase may be the Prague Card (http://www.praguecard.biz/) which for 740Kc (less for children/students; correct July 2006) gives a four day travel card, a guidebook, free entry to more than 50 attractions, and other discounts. The card can be bought from various locations in Prague. For more information see http://www.praguecard.biz/

Prague Public Transit (also http://www.dpp.cz)

Prague travel

Care Hire Services

Try to avoid getting taxi on the street and if you have to, try to negotiate price in advance. Its advisable to call one of the major Prague Taxi services:

City Taxi AAA Taxi

See

The Tyn Church
Prague's Astronomical Clock measures the movement of the sun and moon through the 12 signs of the zodiac, as well as the day's time in three systems -- Old Bohemian time (24 hours, starting at sunset), Babylonian time (12 hours of daylight, of varying length from summer to winter), and time as we know it.
  • The Charles Bridge

Old Town

  • Old Town Square
  • Lady of our Tyn Church
  • Church of St. Nicolas
  • Church of St. James
  • Church of St. Giles
  • Kinsky Palace
  • Clementinum
  • Carolinum
  • Astronomical Clock
  • Church of St. Gall
  • Celetna Street
  • Powder Tower
  • Old Town Bridge Tower (gate to the Charles Bridge)

Hradcany

  • Prague Castle
  • St. Vitus Cathedral
  • Loreto
  • Strahov Monastery

New Town

  • Wenceslas Square
  • New Town Hall
  • Bethleham Chapel
  • Faust House
  • Slovanic Monastery
  • Church of our Lady of the Snows
  • Church of St. Ignatius
  • Charles Square

Vysehrad

  • Vysehrad

Lesser Town

  • Church of St. Nicolas (not to be confused with the church of the same name located in Old Town)
  • Church of St. Thomas
  • Kampa Island (the Venice of Prague)
  • Church of Our Lady Victorious (with Prague Infant Jesus)
  • Lesser Town Bridge Tower (gate to the Charles Bridge)

Smichov

  • Portheimka

Currently being cleaned and repaired until early 2006.

  • Golden Lane in the Castle district.
  • Pinkas Synagogue in the Jewish Town.
  • The Old Jewish Cemetery in the Jewish Town.
  • St Agnes's Convent in the Old Town.
  • Hvezda Summer Palace in the West.
  • Municipal Hall in the Old Town.
  • The Zizkov Television Tower in the East.
  • The Petřínská rozhledna, an old observation tower, unfortunately without elevator.

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge (Czech: Karlův most) stretches across the Vltava River between the Lesser Town and the edge of Old Town's central shopping district. The current incarnation of the bridge was built by Charles IV's imperial architect Petr Parler, who is also known for his work on St Vitus Cathedral. It replaced previous Judith Bridge, destroyed by a flood.

Charles Bridge has outlived floods, disasters and heavy traffic for 600 years. It even allowed car traffic earlier in the 20th century! It's a mystery how the bridge has survived so long - one ongoing myth says eggs were mixed into the mortar when it was built. If you believe in supernatural protection, maybe the sword of Bruncvik explains the bridge's miraculous strength. Like the English Arthurian legends, it is said Bruncvik's sword (supposedly hidden inside the bridge) will make itself available in the country's darkest hour, rising to its defense.

From an artistic perspective, the most notable feature of the bridge is the groups of statuary lining either side. Scenes from Bible and popular saints are included, such as St Jan Nepomuk and St Luitgard. Nepomuk has two legends associated with him: first, if you place five fingers in the gilded stars at the Charles Bridge statue's base and make a wish, not only will your wish come true, but you are guaranteed to return to Prague. Second, you may wonder why you see a small picture of a tongue in association with Nepomuk. Supposedly, acting as the queen's religious confessor, Nepomuk refused to repeat something she had told him in confidence to King Wenceslas IV, her husband. The unfortunate prelate was tortured, beaten and thrown from the bridge with hands tied. Some time later, during a severe drought, the river level went down enough to find Nepomuk's body. It was decomposed, as one would expect, but with one exception: his tongue was perfectly preserved, symbolizing his refusal to break the seal of the confessional.

Warning: This is a pick-pocket zone due to the high-foot traffic on the bridge from tourists and Prague natives using the bridge. They are especially active when the bridge is most crowded. Take standard precautions to protect your wallet.

Museums and Galleries

Do

Tours

There are many tour companies in Prague. Leaflets for these and their tours can be found in the airport, and the various tourist information centres in Prague. Tours vary from short walking tours, to allday tours of the city. Tours can also be in large tourist groups, or booked for private tours. Most tours tend to start from the Old Town Square.

  • Prague Private Guides, [4]. VIP tours of Prague and the Czech Republic.
  • Authorized Guides of Prague, Senovazne nam. 23 - D302, Praha 1, ph +420 776868770, Web. Tourist guides providing private sightseeing tours in various languages. They find a tour guide according to needs of the visitors. The language, time, meeting place and duration depend on the decision of the clients. As the tours are tailor-made, it is recommended to contact them at least one day in advance. They also arrange other related travel services such as transportation, restaurant bookings, cruise tickets etc.
  • Citywalks, Web. Offer a series of small group city tours, either on foot or using other forms of transport ranging from riverboats to micro-scooters! Private individual or group tours can also be arranged.
  • Martin Tours, [5]. Offers a range of regular tours, including walking, bus driven or on riverboats.
  • Prague Walking Tours by Prague Travel Ltd - http://www.praguewalkingtours.cz/ - Vinohradska 28, Praha 2. ph 222 516 064 or 777 070 784. fax 271 742 622. email praguetravel@praguetravel.cz. Web. Prague Travel organises several daily walking tours of Prague with different themes and an English speaking guide. All the tours meet at their marked orange umbrella by the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town, and you can buy tickets on the spot.

Popular pastimes

Ice hockey is hugely popular in Prague, thanks to the amazing Czech national team. During communism, hockey was closely related to politics. When the Czechs beat the Russians in the 1971 for the world title, it was national fest. Many Czech hockey and tennis players have gone on to international fame.

Drinking beer is practically a sport among men. Mushroom hunting is very common during the fall, and some great dishes show up on menus across the country as a result. Renovating the family chata (see Did You Know? below) and growing vegetables on its surrounding land is a popular summer pastime.

Sports tours can also be organised in Prague; "Fun in Prague" (http://www.funinprague.com/) can organise water rafting, paintballing and go-karting amongst other activities, as well as other tours.

Prague Boat

River Cruises

River Cruises are on the list of popluar activities of visitors in Prague. They vary from one hour cruises to long evening cruises with dinner or music.

Culture

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 pamphleters is not going to be up to truly professional standards.

Eat

Lunch is traditionally the main meal. Czech cuisine is typically based around pork or beef with starchy side dishes such as dumplings or fries. Fish is not so popular, though these days it is widely available. Popular Czech desserts include fruit dumplings, 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 Euros. Taxes are always included in the price by law.

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 beerhalls also serve light snacks or meals.

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.

  • El Centro, Maltézské Náměstí 9, Praha 1, tel. +42 0257 533 343, bar-elcentro@volny.cz, [www.elcentro.cz]. Open every day 12PM-12AM (Last orders at 11PM). An excellent little restaurant located near the Charles Bridge, but tucked behind a couple of other buildings. It's a typical Spanish restaurant, has a very friendly atmosphere, good prices and isn't crowded. Also, it doesn't have any hidden charges such as service taxes which are common in Prague. English menus and takeout available. Mains 90Kč-350Kč.
  • 'U Jednoho Pokoje, reservation@ujednohopokoje.cz, [7]. 'U Jednoho Pokoje' is Czech for 'At the one room' which is a summary of what this restaurant is. The restaurant was started by a French chef in a semi-abandoned apartment in the vicinity of I.P. Pavlova. With a little painting, scrubbing and mopping the room was fixed up. All of the furnishing for the restaurant (tables, chairs, etc.) are items that have been salvaged and restored and friends and supporters of U Jednoho Pokoje lent their art for the walls. Dinner is a set menu by appointment only and everything is done by the owner himself from greeting guests to cooking, pouring wine and serving the meal. No beer is available. The food is superb, and at 250kc for a three course meal it's not cheap by Prague standards but still very reasonable.
  • Radost FX Bělehradská 120, Praha 2, +42 0603 193 711, vk@radostfx.cz [8]. One of the best restaurants in town. Near the IP Pavlova stop on the Red Metro line or get the 22/23 tram. Great vegetarian food, great prices. Radost is also a lounge and has a club in the basement, making it a favorite with expats. Mains around 160Kč-180Kč.

Buy

Chirstmas market

The streets around Old Town are full of gift shops geared towards tourists, selling Bohemian crystal, soccer shirts and other mass produced memorabilia. 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.

In December the sqaures 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.

Drink

Pubs abound throughout Prague, and indeed are an important part of local culture. A green sign hanging outside an establishment indicates one of the country's excellent local beers is to be had inside. Most pubs serve only a small selection of beers. Locals seldom pay more than 25Kč for a half liter glass, while tourist traps often charge 50Kč or more.

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.

  • U Fleků, Křemencova 11 ,Praha 1, tel. +42 0602 660 290, [9]. Open every day 9AM-11PM. A restaurant that brews their own fantastic dark, sweet beer. It is the color of Coca-Cola with an alcohol content of 13%, but its flavor is not overly strong. The servers will suggest a shot of local herb liquer Becherovka, but it won't be free. The ghoulash they serve comes with a piece of bread that has sausage and cheese baked into it. The atmosphere of this pub gets very rowdy as it is loaded with tourists from all over and oompah bands play regularly. It's a lot of fun with a group. Mains 185Kč-360Kč, U Fleků 13°lager 30Kč for 200ml and spirits around 79Kč.
  • U Zlatého Tygra (The Golden Tiger Pub), Husova 17, Praha 1,[10]. Open every day 3PM-11PM. - If you aren't easily scared off by smoke so thick you can climb up it and mean-looking Czechs that look like they would rather shank you than share a table, then this place is a must-stop. It is almost always crowded to standing capacity but if you stop by just before closing during the week you can usually grab a table next to a local or knowledgable expat and have some great Pilsner Urquell for 26Kč a half liter, a price that is almost charitably low for the city center. There's also a simple menu of snacks and mains for around 35Kč-90Kč. Check the picture on the wall- that's President Bill Clinton drinking here.
  • Reduta Jazz Club, Národní 20, Praha 1,[11].Reduta is a popular venue with a distinguished history - Bill Clinton visited here on his first trip to post-Communist Prague. Live Jazz every night from 9.30. Advance bookings from 3pm.
  • AghaRTA Jazz Centrum, Železna 16, Praha 1, near the old town square, tel. +42 0222 211 275, info@agharta.cz, [12]. Open every day 7PM-1AM, live music from 9PM-12PM. AghaRTA is another well known jazz club, and organiser of the Prague Jazz Festival [13].
  • Al Capone's Coctail Bar, Bartolomějská 3, Praha 1, tel. +42 0224 212 192, [14]. Open M-Th 5PM-2AM, F-Sa 6PM-3AM, Su 6PM-12PM. Al Capone's is a small and family like bar, located in the very centre, but with acceptable prices. Beer 25Kč-70Kč, cocktails 45Kč-80Kč.
  • Duplex Vaclavske Nam 21, Praha 1, New Town, tel. +42 0224 232 319, info@duplex.cz, [15] Situated in Wenceslas Square, this club has become a favourite of celebrities.
  • Karlovy lázně, Smetanovo nábřeží 198, Praha 1, tel. +42 0222 220 502, info@karlovylazne.cz, [16]. This self-styled "biggest music club in Central Europe", is right next to Charles Bridge, with 5 floors of clubs each featuring a different style of music.
  • N11 Music Club and Lounge, Národní 11, Praha 1, tel. +42 0222 075 705, info@n11.cz, [17]. Open Tu-Th 8PM-4AM, Fr-Sa 7PM-5AM, Su 8PM-4AM. Cocktails 80Kč-150Kč, beer 35Kč-90Kč.

Sleep

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 a accommodation booking service for hotels and hostels upstairs. Normally, tax and breakfast are included in the room rate. Check the district pages linked above for individual listings.

Budget

Even during peak season, dorm rooms in hostels close to the city centre 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 beaufully 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 accomodation. 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.

Mid-range

Pensions and cheap hotels are easy to find throughout Praha 1, particularly in Old Town, New Town and the Jewish Quarter. 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.

Another great solution is to rent an apartment. Many companies, including Old Town Apartments [18] and Mary's Agency [19], offer high quality apartments in various locations around Prague. These are great for families, as a four person apartment will run you 1700Kč - 2800Kč and while it may not be cheaper than a hostel, it's a lot cosier. Be sure to check the map before making a reservation, as some apartments are not in the city center.

  • Pension U Medvidku (literally: at the bear cubs), Na Perstyne 7, Praha 1, tel. +420 224 211 916, info@umedvidku.cz, [20]. U Medvidku is a great deal and only 5 minutes walk from the Town Square. The pension is built on the site of an old brewery that is now a Czech Budweiser (Budvar) restuarant and the pension building houses a brewing museum and shop. It is also connected to a smaller bar that is open until 3am. The rooms are clean and atmospheric. Ask for a room at the very top (#43 is a good pick) to avoid street/restaurant noise. Rates are seasonal but start from around 1550Kč/2300Kč/3100Kč per night for singles/doubles/triples off peak. Add an extra 10% if you want one of beautifully restored historical rooms.

Splurge

Prague is the business hub of the Czech Republic and hosts the Central European headquarters of many international companies, so there are many luxury hotels catering to business travellers.

Contact

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.

  • Grial Internet Cafe, Belgická 31, Vinohrady, Prague 2, tel. +42 0222 516 033, info@grial.cz, [www.grial.cz]. The nearest metro station is Náměstí Míru on the A line. Open M-F 9AM-11PM, Sa-Su 11AM-11PM. Grial Cafe serves hot and cold drinks, including alcohol, and scanning, printing and CD/DVD burning are available. Internet access is 40Kč per hour.
  • Internet Cafe Interlogic, Budějovická 13, Praha 4, tel. +42 0241 734 617, info@interlogic.cz, [21]. Open every day 10AM-10PM. 12Mbit/second internet connections, couches and drinks. 1Kč/min.
  • Blue Mail, Konviktská 8, Praha 1, (Old Town), tel. +42 0222 521 279, info@bluemail.cz, [22]. Open M-F 10AM-10PM, Sa-Su 10AM-11PM. The first five minutes is free and an hour of access will set you back 81Kč.

Stay safe

Be careful with taxi drivers, particularly from the train station. Insist on the use of the meter and make sure it doesn't stop it on the way. Some of them tend to overcharge tourists, so insist on a receipt. Otherwise you have the right to refuse payment. On the receipt the name and number of the driver is written. Usually it's better to call a radio-cab.

Be also aware of your belongings when using crowded street-cars in the centre because of the pickpocket gangs. Especially dangerous in this aspect are lines 22 and 23.

Prague is a very safe town, just be sensible and alert!

Get out

Many people who come to Prague and the Czech Republic never take advantage of the country's excellent inter-city bus and train network. Buses and trains are frequent and quite inexpensive and can get you to even the smallest village.

How to get out

All information for buses and trains is available on the web (in English and German) at www.vlak-bus.cz. Don't be initimdated about buying tickets even if you don't know the language, most bus and train terminal employees can speak a few phrases in English. Be sure and there is a wealth of things to see.

Buses Almost all buses leave from either the city's main bus terminal at the Florenc metro stop (red and yellow metro lines C and B) or from Anděl metro stop (yellow metro line B), the station is 200 meters south of the metro stop.

Trains Almost all trains leave from either Nádraží Holešovice, Hlavní nádraží (both red metro line C stops). If you are going to Karlstejn you will have to take a train

Practically every major European city on the continent can be reached by bus or train from Prague.

Where to go

For just a small selection of places off the beaten path:

  • Kutna Hora - See a creepy church decorated with the remains of 40,000 human skeletons.
  • Novosedly - Take a horseback trip through the vineyards of Moravia
  • Písek - Beautiful South Bohemian town with the country's oldest bridge.
  • Vyšší Brod - Take a three day canoe trip from the Sumava mountains through Český Krumlov
  • Vysočina - A great mountain area for hiking, located halfway between Prague and Brno
  • Beroun - Small city located on the way to Plzen, follow the Beroun river north to some beautiful villages.
  • Karlštejn castle and the holy cave monastery - Hiking trip to the famous castle as well as an off the beaten track monastery.
  • Konopiště - Archduke Franz Ferdinand's Castle located 40km South of Prague

Tourist websites

  • www.czechtourism.com - Official Czech Tourism website
  • www.prague-info.cz - Prague Toruism site
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!




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