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Public transport continues at night: 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 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.
 
Public transport continues at night: 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 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.
  
One valuable tourist purchase may be the PRAGUE CARD [http://www.praguecitycard.com/] which for 740Kc (less for children/students; as of 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.  
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One valuable tourist purchase may be the PRAGUE CARD [http://www.praguecitycard.com/] which for 790Kc (less for children/students; as of March 2008) 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.  And with an extra 330Kc, you can get a 72 hour transport card for underground, bus and tram.
  
 
The public transportation in Prague uses the honor system: after buying a ticket, it must then be validated (stamped) using the machines at the entrance to the metro, or by using the small yellow machines inside trams and buses. If the ticket is not stamped, you will have to pay a fine if checked by ticket inspectors. These inspectors, now wearing uniforms, 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.  
 
The public transportation in Prague uses the honor system: after buying a ticket, it must then be validated (stamped) using the machines at the entrance to the metro, or by using the small yellow machines inside trams and buses. If the ticket is not stamped, you will have to pay a fine if checked by ticket inspectors. These inspectors, now wearing uniforms, 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.  

Revision as of 11:34, 22 March 2008

Prague is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
Prague Castle seen from Petřín Hill

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

Contents

Districts

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

  • Castle (Hradčany) - the Historic nexus of the city, and the highest point on the left bank
  • Lesser Town (Malá strana) - the settlement around the castle; location of most governmental authorities, including Czech Parliament
  • Old Town (Staré město) - the nucleus of the right bank, the oldest part of Prague
  • New Town (Nové město) - the district adjacent to Old Town, established in the 14th century

The outer areas of Prague were originally villages and towns adjoining to Town of Praguena that were gradually connected to Prague over the course of the last five hundred years. They 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

Jan Palach
A university student, Jan Palach became a Czech and Slovakian hero in 1969 when he set himself ablaze in protest to Soviet intervention against the Prague Spring reforms, which liberalized government policies concerning freedom of press and political freedoms. Palach died three days later due to his injuries. Palach's funeral erupted into mass protests against the communist government and Soviet Union. Many Czechoslovakians mourned Palach and sympathized with his ideals including Jan Zajíc, who killed himself in the same fashion as Palach to encourage his countrymen to fight the Soviet occupation of the Czechoslovakian nation. A little more than two months later, on Good Friday, Evžen Plocek also set himself ablaze in the town of Jihlava, however, Plocek's protest went largely unnoticed as since his death was not reported by the media. Twenty years after Palach's death in 1989 large scale protest were held in what became known as Palach Week, a precursor to the Velvet Revolution later the same year.


This magical city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes, has been mirrored in the surface of the swan-filled Vltava River for more than ten centuries. Undamaged by WWII, Prague's compact medieval centre remains a wonderful mixture of cobbled lanes, walled courtyards, cathedrals and countless church spires all in the shadow of her majestic 9th century castle that looks eastward as the sun sets behind her. Prague is also a modern and vibrant city full of energy, music, cultural art, fine dining and special events catering to the independent traveller's thirst for adventure.

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 east bank of the Vltava river

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.

Learning a little of the language may receive a smile or two (see the Czech Republic page for an introduction to basic Czech phrases).

Chaty

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 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-centre apartments for enormous profit to foreigners who can afford to pay inflated rent.

Local foreign language newspapers

Get in

By plane

  • Ruzyně International Airport, (IATA: PRG), +420 220 111 111, +420 296 661 111, [2]. Located 20km northwest of the city centre, it generally takes about 30 minutes to reach the city centre by car. ČSA (Czech Airlines) is the national carrier operating to many European destinations. There are also many cheap direct flights operated by easyJet, Ryanair and BMIbaby from UK, by SmartWings from Continental Europe & Turkey, Aer Lingus from the Irish cities of Dublin & Cork, by SkyEurope from assorted destinations and by Sterling from Scandinavia. Starting on May 2nd, 2007, Delta Air Lines will start flights to Prague from Atlanta in the United States. Further information on Ruzyně International Airport Multilanguage Airport Website

Getting into the city from the airport

  • By bus: The cheapest way to get to the city is by bus, but be sure to have some Czech Crowns ready. Buy a ticket from the kiosk in the arrivals hall or the vending machine, next to the bus stop, for 26 CZK (if you have a bigger luggage with you, you have to pay 13 CZK extra). You can also buy the ticket from the driver, but it is more expensive. No machines or drivers accept foreign currencies. Take bus 119 to its terminus (Dejvická) and go downstairs to the metro. Your ticket will continue to be valid in the metro. Alternately, Bus no. 100 brings you to subway station Zličín (metro B). Remember to validate your ticket as soon as you get on the bus. If you fail to do so and a revisor catches you, you'll be fined for 700 CZK. Neither is advisable. Tickets are also available from the DPP kiosk in the arrivals area of Terminal 1. Day, 3-day and weekly tickets are also available here.
  • Airport Express (bus operated by Czech Railroads): These buses leave the airport every 30 minutes; the first one at 4:40 a.m. while the last one at 9:10 p.m. at a price of 45CZK per person. Tickets are 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.
  • Cedaz bus:[3] 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 centre to the Náměstí Republiky (metro B). Fares are about 90 CZK per person. The easiest way to get to your hotel, however, is to use the company's shared-ride transfer service. They will take you direct to the door of your hotel, delivering groups of 1-4 passengers for 480 CZK. The drivers can be clearly seen straight outside the doors of the terminal building, just be sure to check that they have the correct identification. Online booking now available.
  • By shuttle: Various companies run shuttle services to the hotel and back. These can be found at the airport arrival halls. One company is called Smart Shuttle, who run for Smart Wings airline, however some customers have found their services to be unsatisfactory. An option may be the 123-Prague.com shuttle operated by HFS s.r.o. Prague 123-Prague airport shuttle which charge 9 EUR per person. There are also private companies that provide transfers and will meet you in the arrivals hall, one of which is the American operated Prague Airport Shuttle and another Czech operated Prague Airport Transfers or Airport Transfers by Mary's. They usually charge around 600 CZK for trip and in general are a bit cheaper than the taxis.
  • By taxi: The most comfortable method to reach the city will cost 350 - 700 CZK with AAA. AAA [4] has an exclusive contract with Prague airport to have a fleet of taxis waiting. For a bargain, call one of their competitors such as Profi Taxi [5] or Halo Taxi [6]. Avoid cab drivers who solicit inside the terminal building - they will charge 50% to 100% more for the same journey.

By train

Prague has two international train stations: Hlavní Nádraží (the central station, also known as Praha hl.n.) and Praha Holešovice. Both have connections with metro line C.

The park in front of the main train station is a haunt for some of the cities undesirable elements and should be avoided after dark. If you do have to come through on foot its 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 once in a while.

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 kmph as the Czech railroad 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.

Since 2005, faster Super City Pendolino trains operate between Ostrava (3.5 hours), Olomouc (just over two 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 additional fee. These buses operate every 30 minutes (5:15 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.). Without a SC Pendolino ticket, you will have to pay 45 CZK to the driver.

Train connections from western countries such as France and England are complicated and slow because of the layout of German railroads, 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.

It is important to note that travel within the Czech Republic is not included in the Eurailpass. A "Prague Excursion Pass" addon is available for Eurailpass holders, providing inbound and outbound travel to Prague; these tickets need not be to the same Czech border stations. Train and bus timetables and a map of the Czech rail network are also available online.

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. The south-western highway (D5; international E50) leads through Pilsen (Plzeň) to Germany. The D5 highway continues in Germany as A6, until the connection with A93 (the remaining of A6 through to Nurnberg is under construction). 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 through 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 prolonged, 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.

By bus

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

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

You can travel down the famous Vltava River (Moldau, in German), which inspired writers and composers such as Smetana and Dvorak.

Get around

Public transportation is very convenient in most of the areas visitors are likely to frequent.


Walking

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. And there is much to see and savor.

Taxi

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:

  • Profi Taxi, +420 844 700 800, [7].
  • PAT Taxi, +420 800 870 888, [8].
  • City Taxi, +420 257 257 257, [9].
  • Halo Taxi, +420 244 114 411, [10].
  • AAA Taxi, +420 222 333 222, [11].

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.

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. [12] or FEBA Trade Limousine Car Service [13] or even cheaper but as reliable HFS s.r.o. - 123-Prague-Airport-Transfer.com [14].

Tram & 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 later midnight. The schedules and connections may also be checked online from the website of Prague Public Transit [15], [16]. Purchase 75 minutes transfer for 26 Kc ($1) ticket, or 180 minutes for 40Kc, at any dispenser using coins (they make change), or tobacco shop. Reduced tickets for children up to 15 years are also available. You may purchase 24-hours, 3-days or 7-days tickets at ticket offices in some metro stations. 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 ticket inspectors often make the rounds asking to see your ticket. An unstamped ticket is invalid, it will be confiscated, and you will incur a 500 Kc ($25) 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 5:00 AM) usually come every 30 minutes. Every 15 minutes some night 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.

One valuable tourist purchase may be the PRAGUE CARD [17] which for 790Kc (less for children/students; as of March 2008) 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. And with an extra 330Kc, you can get a 72 hour transport card for underground, bus and tram.

The public transportation in Prague uses the honor system: after buying a ticket, it must then be validated (stamped) using the machines at the entrance to the metro, or by using the small yellow machines inside trams and buses. If the ticket is not stamped, you will have to pay a fine if checked by ticket inspectors. These inspectors, now wearing uniforms, 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.

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 a habit to let elderly people and mothers sit down.

See

Individual listings can be found in Prague's district articles
Prague Castle


  • Prague Castle [18]. The biggest ancient castle in the world, according to Guinness World Records, which rises above the city offering beautiful views of the areas below. Also on site is the St. Vitus Cathedral with its lookout tower, the Castle Picture Gallery [19], several palaces and museums and the beautiful Royal Garden, among other attractions. You can also watch the Presidential Guard, and the changeover of the guards on duty on the hour. The entrance for St. Vitus Cathedral is free.
  • Charles Bridge One of several bridges over the Vltava. Its construction started at the 14th Century and it is one of Prague's most beautiful attractions. Over the day it is a bustling place of trade and entertainment.
  • The Old Town (Staré město) Prague's historic centre. Includes numerous historical buildings and monuments, most notably the famed Astronomical Clock (Orloj), the pure GothicTýn Church, the mural-covered Storch building, and the Jan Hus monument. Nearby, the Estate Theatre is a neoclassical theatre where Mozart's opera Don Giovanni was first performed. The old town features many historical churches (St. James Church, Church of Our Lady before Tnem among others) and some other interesting historical buildings like the Old Town Hall.
  • Josefov The historical Jewish ghetto. Interesting for its well preserved historical synagogues, unique in the entire world. The Old New Synagogue (Czech: Staronová synagoga) is Europe's oldest active synagogue. It's rumoured to be the resting place of the famed Prague Golem. Another interesting synagogue is the Spanish Synagogue, a highly ornamented building of Moorish style. Other attractions are the old Jewish Cemetery, which is the oldest in Europe, and Kafka's house. The Old New Synagogue is NOT a part of the Jewish museum, so it's recommended to buy a combined pass to all Jewish attractions [20].
  • New Town (Nové město) The new town was constructed as an extension of the old town at the 14th Century. Nonetheless, despite its oldness most of it was modernized. The main attraction here is the Wenceslas Square, which has many stalls, shops and restaurants. At the top of the square is the National Museum which is well worth a look (see below). Midway down this historic Boulevard one finds trendy discos and art nouveau hotels, as well as quaint parks and arcades, while just off the beaten path are some wonderful panoramic views (Henry Tower), romantic restaurants, Narodni, and the dazzling, Disney-colored Jubilee Synagogue.
  • The Lesser Town (Malá strana) Across the Vltava from the city centre and leading to the castle, this quarter also offers beautiful streets and churches (of which St. Nicholas Church is the most renowned). The Lennon Wall which used to be a source of irritation to the communist regime is also found here, near a Venetian-like canal with water wheel and close to the Charles Bridge.
  • Loreta [21] A beautiful Baroque convent in the Lesser Town.
  • Strahov Monastery [22] A monastery on the mountain. Worth a visit for both its picture gallery and its notable Renaissance library.
  • Prague Dancing House (Fred and Ginger Building). One of the most fascinating architectural expressions of Prague. Accessed from the Karlovo náměstí metro station.
  • Vyšehrad [23]. A nice castle worth a visit.
  • Petřínská rozhledna A smaller version of the Eiffel Tower on the top of a hill.
  • Prague Giant Metronome It is a huge monument erected in order to replace the Stalinistic monument that preceded it.
  • Memorial to the 1989 Velvet Revolution A simple brass plaque at 20 Narodni. From Cafe Louvre, walk toward the river. You will enter an archway in just a few meters, look on the wall to the left.

Museums:

  • Czech National Gallery [24] Its most important collections are in the Sternberg Palace (up to to the Baroque), St George Convent (Czech Baroque and Mannerism) and Veletržní Palace (19th century and modern art). The first two are located near and in the castle respectively. Do not confuse them with the Castle Picture Gallery (see above) which is worth visiting on its own right.

A collection of Asian art is exhibited at the Zbraslav Castle.

  • Czech National Museum [25] An association of various museums. The main building is at the Wenceslas Square and is dedicated to natural history. Other branches include museums of the Czech composers Dvořák and Smetana, Czech Music Museum, Historical Pharmacy Museum, Prince Lobkovicz' Collection at the Prague Castle, Czech Ethnographical Museum and Naprstek Anthropological Museum.
  • Prague City Gallery [26] A museum of modern Czech arts divided between several sites most of which are in the old town. Its main building is the House of the Golden Ring at the Old Town Square featuring 20th Century Czech art in a beautiful medievil edifice. 19th Century Czech art is exhibited at the Troja Castle.
  • Czech Museum of Fine Arts [27] 20th Century Czech art and changing exhibitions.
  • Museum of Decorative Arts [28]
  • National Technical Museum [29] Amazing collection of motorcycles, cars, aircraft and commercial vehicles, plus many examples of communist-era technological angineering
  • Military Museum [30]
  • Mozart and Dušek Museum [31]
  • Prague City Museum [32] An absolute must-see for the incredibly detailed cardboard model of nineteenth century Prague by Anton Langweil. The detail is amazing, even down to the colour of the doorways and the design of the windowsills.
  • Mucha Museum [33] A museum of the Czech artist and his contemporaries.
  • Kafka Museum [34] There is also a permanent exhibition at Kafka's house.
  • The Pedagogical Comenius Museum [35] A museum documenting the writings of the Czech Renaissance erudite.
  • The Mueller Villa [36] A work of art of the well known Viennese architect Loos from the beginning of the 20th Century.
  • Museum Kampa [37] A museum of modern Central European art.
  • Museum of Communism in Czechoslovakia [38]
  • There are plenty of smaller museums. Among them: Miniature Museum at the Stahnov Monastery, Toys Museum and Musical Automata Museum at the Prague Castle, Wax Museum, Torture Museum, Postal Museum and Brewery Museum at the Old Town and the Aviation Museum at Kbely.

Sightseeing Passes

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:

  • PRAGUE CARD [39], all-top attractions inclusive tourist card with tradition since 1991, is valid for 4 days and grants free entry to over 50 top attractions in the Prague area. You will receive a book with information on all the free attractions and many discounts (Prague Walks excursions, airport transfer, shopping, Mucha and Kafka museum etc.) and a voucher for each attraction. You can only enter the attraction with a valid card AND a voucher. The card does not include public transport and a separate ticket will have to be bought. The Prague Card costs 790 Kč.

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, Old Town, Malá Strana and Charles Bridge historical towers and other attractions, Observatory, small copy of Eiffel Tour 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.


  • Prague Pass [40] will give you free entry to various attractions in Prague within a 1 year period, various discounts, sightseeing tours and 72 hours of public transport, including metro, tram, bus, funicular, and train all for 860 Kč, or roughly 30 euros.

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 a 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%).

Do

Individual listings can be found in Prague's district articles

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

  • AghaRTA Jazz Centrum [41]
  • Black Light Theatre [42]
  • Ungelt Jazz & Blues Club [43]
  • Pipe organ music in Prague [44]
  • Prague Folklore Days [45]
  • 17th International Festival of Advent and Christmas Music [46]

River cruises

Prague Boat

River cruises are both popular and varied, from one hour cruises to long evening cruises with dinner or music.

  • Cruise Prague [47] offers a wide range of regular and private cruises
  • EVD [48]
  • JazzBoat [49] combines cruising and jazz concerts

Sports

  • Prague Sports [50] gives you the chance to play a range of sports from Football, Cricket, Rugby Union, and Hockey in Prague. Packages can be tailor-made to include accommodation, transfers, activites etc

Tours

There are many tour companies in Prague, offering a variety of tours including short walking tours, all day tours of the city, tours for large tourist groups, and private tours. Most tours start from the Old Town Square. Leaflets can be found in the airport, and the various tourist information centres in Prague.

  • Authorized Guides of Prague, Senovazne nam. 23 - A326, Praha 1, ph +420 776868770, [51] provide 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.
  • Prague-Walks.com Custom Travel Services, Tel (24/7): +420 608 866 454, [52] - Recommended by Fodor´s. Provides individually tailor-made tours conducted by licensed and friendly professional guides. Widest range of tours in Prague and the Czech Republic. Transportation, accommodation, theatre tickets.
  • Private Guide Prague, [53]. Private guided walks in Prague and day trips to the Czech countryside conducted by local licensed Prague tour guide. Individually tailor-made tours. Over 1000 years of history, art and architecture. Tips for good restaurants, entertainment and shopping.
  • Citywalks, [54]. Private and group tours, either on foot or using other forms of transport ranging from riverboats to micro-scooters.
  • Daily Walks of Prague, [55].
  • Pub Crawl. Meets in front of the astronomical clock in Old Town square at 9:15 nightly. 12 euro for an hour of free beer, wine and absenth, and then takes you to some of the coolest bars and pubs in town and ends at a rocking night club. Its a great way to find out what the nightlife in Prague is really like. No booking neccessary, just show up thirsty!

For an alternatively authentic night out, try the Zizkov district's Pub Crawl. Zizkov is where locals go out. Its cheaper, and almost devoid of tourism. It meets in front of the Church at "Jiriho Z Podebrad" metro stop at 8:30pm every night, and goes to "Blind Eye" bar from 9-10pm.

  • Fun in Prague, [56]. Options include "sport tours" such as water rafting, paint-balling and go-carting.
  • Martin Tours [57] - regular tours, including walking, bus driven or on riverboats.
  • Prague Private Guides, [58]. Prague PG provides private guides that will take you on a suggested or taylor made tour of the city originating in your place of residence. Since the company is American/Czech owned, customer service is of great importance. Do book in advance to get the best suited guide for your individual needs.
  • Red Umbrella Prague Walking Tours, [59]. Try the superior tour, fantastic tour including a traditional czech lunch, a boat trip and tram ride to the castle- a wonderful to see many of the major attractions in Prague.
  • Prague Walking Tours Vinohradska 28, Praha 2. ph 222 516 064 or 777 070 784, (fax 271 742 622 praguetravel@praguetravel.cz), [60]. Themed walking tours with an English speaking guide, all of which meet at their marked orange umbrella by the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town, where tickets can be bought on the spot.
  • Precious Legacy Tours [61] Kaprova 13, Praha 1. tel: 222 321 951, fax: 222 321 954, mob: 602 214 088, luba@legacytours.net. Jewish heritage tourism company running private and group tours of Prague and the rest of the Czech Republic. Specialities include Prague's Jewish Quarter and the former concentration camp at Terezin.
  • Premiant City Tour, [62].
  • Self-guided walking tour of Prague, [63].
  • Walks of Prague, [64].
  • Prague Sports, [65]. Organises football, cricket, rugby and hockey tours to Prague. Possible to tailor tours to include accommodation, transport, activites such as go-carting, paintballing, White Water Rafting, etc.

Buy

Christmas market in the night-time

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

Christmas market

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 the "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 the Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and the 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. The "Parizska" street goes from Old Town square towards the river - and there are some of the most luxurious (and expensive) boutiques in Prague.

Eat

Individual listings can be found in Prague's district articles

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. 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.

Drink

Individual listings can be found in Prague's district articles

Pubs (in Czech "hospoda") 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. Both famous Czech beer brands, Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser Budvar, can be found in Prague pubs. However, if you want to drink beer made in Prague, look for Staropramen.

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.

See the disctricts of Prague to find out more about specific bars.

Prague is favorite city for pubs, clubbing, organizing stag, hen parties so why not enjoy a drink or two or get loose and party?

Prague has a wide choice of pubs, clubs with different music style ranging clasic pop, regge, hip hop for you certainly satisfy what you fancy.

Prague is also great concerts place for world famous artists. Celebrated musicians and music groups as Pearl Jam, U2, Metallica, Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode and Madonna enjoyed their performances either at concerts halls or open air.

For a real taste of the local pub/club scene, try a pub crawl. "The Crawl" meets every night in front of the Old Town Square clock tower at 9:15pm. After an hour of free beer, wine, and absinthe, you visit some off-the-beaten-path pubs and clubs, with local flavor and cheap prices (1 euro beers).

Prague has also many excellent tearooms (in Czech čajovna) which serve different kinds of teas from around the world.

Sleep

Individual listings can be found in Prague's district articles

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.

  • 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.
  • 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 built in a 14th century monastery.
  • 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. These are great for families, as a four person apartment will run you 1700Kč - 3200Kč and while it may not be cheaper than a hostel, it's a lot cozier. Be sure to check the map before making a reservation, as some apartments are not in the city center.
  • Camping: The city has numerous campsites; there is one area to the south of the river (in the city) with camping grounds on river islands. Another is in the north in 'Troja' these campign grounds are mainly small, family affairs, in the peak season they can get very crowded. from Prague centre they are accessable from tram 12 and 15; at Troja follow the signs for the 'zoo'

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, [66]. 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, [67]. 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.
  • There is an interent cafe in the Station; in the basement

Stay safe

Prague is a very safe city by European or American standards. The risk of assault, murder, and other crimes are extremely low (in fact, more than half of all fights reported to Prague police in 2005 were involving people from the UK!); the most common crime in Prague by far is car theft: the outrageous prevalence of car theft / vandalism pushes up the crime statistics of Prague; crime statistics therefore show Prague to be much more dangerous than it really is. If you observe basic rules of sanity and safety (ie. don't provoke drunken people; don't wear your purse in 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 if you are woman), you should be perfectly safe in Prague.

Use of hard drugs is a criminal offense while the use of softer drugs such as marijuana or "magic" mushrooms (if fresh) are not punishable - and are in fact tolerated in all walks of life (however you may have to smoke your non-tobacco materials outside). However, you can be prosecuted for owning more than usual amount of soft drugs (ie. more than one joint); definition of "usual amount" depends entirely on each particular policeman, which means you want to be polite to them.

Be aware of teams of pickpockets[68] that lurk outside metro stations, overcrowded tram wagons, Charles Bridge, Wenceslas Square and the Old Town Square. They usually work in teams of 3-5 and are looking for lost or distracted tourists; the carrying of a backpack is 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 assure anyone of being 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 (e.g. inner pocket of your coat), never put it into your rear pocket or any other place where it can be easily stolen.

If you enter the metro(usually at night), you may find a team of con artists, at the stations, saying 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.

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 over-charging is greatly overplayed, 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 system, which is very complex and can take you almost anywhere in Prague.

Be careful with money exchanges. Exchange your money in banks and rather avoid exchange offices. Never buy money from a street money-dealer. Most of the exchange offices are fair, but certain, especially those at the most busy places, are trying to cheat customers with various tricks. One of the them is offering favourable exchange rates, but with fine print below, e.g. "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", which is too late. Police does not help you, it typically sends you to the Czech National Bank, the supervisory authority of exchange offices, to file a complaint (which does not help you either). The czech law is weak and does only order exchange offices to display the actual rates, which you usually find somewhere in the office (typically not in very large printing). Therefore if you decide for an exchange office always ask for the actual rate you will pay before making the transaction and before giving 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 general emergency call.

Get out

Buses and trains are frequent and quite inexpensive and can get you to even the smallest village.

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

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

  • Kutna Hora- a once prosperous silver mining town in the 14th and 15th centuries with the fantastic Saint Barbara church.
  • Sedlic - very close to Kutna Hora, walking distance, with a church decorated with the remains of 40,000 human skeletons who were largely plague victims.
  • Olomouc - 275 km from Prague, but with a good train connection, former capital of Moravia, beautiful old city, famous communist astronomical clock.
  • Novosedly - take a horseback trip through the vineyards of Moravia
  • Písek - beautiful South Bohemian town with the country's oldest bridge
  • Vyšší Brod - three day canoe trip from the Sumava mountains through Český Krumlov
  • Vysočina - 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
  • Český Ráj - hike through forests and valleys filled with giant sandstone columns and cliffs in this park near Jičín





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