Wednesday, 30 August 2017

How to Visit Prague (and not get ripped off)


For those who follow my blog, you'll know that I love Prague and indeed every Czech city I've been to. It's an awesome country with great architecture, nice people and cheap beer but there's an issue - like any touristy city, there's a massive issue with people getting ripped off.

If I had a Czech Crown for the amount of times a friend or colleague comes back from Prague and boasts about only paying 99 crowns for a pint, I'd have enough to buy a pint in a respectable pub or hospoda that doesn't rip people off.

While on the face of it paying the equivalent of £3.50 doesn't sound that bad, it really is. I frequently tell people that the most expensive normal lager in the Czech Republic is usually Pilsner Urquell and even so you should never be paying more than around 50 crowns (£1.70) for a pint of it.

Yes, I know, people reading this blog who went to the Czech Republic 20 years ago will be flabbergasted that the price of a pint is that much these days when it was previously only about 10p a pint but that's what happens - inflation and the weak pound - but it's still cheap if you know where to go and what to do.

Arriving in Prague:

It is most likely that you'll arrive in Prague at Vaclav Havel Airport and I would strongly advise against using the taxis that are parked outside because they will rip you off. There is also an Airport Express Bus that goes directly to the main train station but it is not cheap, in fact it's probably about £8.

You can use public transport although it will consist of a bus and then an underground journey which isn't too helpful if you have luggage with you, so your best bet is to use Uber which will probably cost around £8 to the centre which isn't too bad if there are more than one of you.

Currency:

DO NOT CHANGE MONEY AT CHEQUEPOINT. This is literally the worst thing you can possibly do as a tourist in Prague. They advertise 0% commission, but they literally give the worst rates ever because where you'd usually get around 28 crowns to the English pound these days, you'll be lucky to even get 20 here.

Of course there are honest currency exchanges in Prague but it's much better to exchange your money before you go, at somewhere reputable like Eurochange or Debenhams.

Also, whilst you can buy things using Euros in the Czech Republic, local currency is cheaper. If you look at a bill in a restaurant and convert both crowns and euro currency into English, I can guarantee the price you pay in crowns is better for your wallet.

Old Town Square:

Old Town square is pretty; there's no denying it. It's fun to see the Astronomical Clock, then take a walk over the beautiful yet horrifically busy Charles Bridge but you see that pop up police station right in the centre of the square? It's there for a reason. It's there because the area is rife for pickpockets. You won't see them and you won't feel them slide your wallet out of your bag or pocket until you go to pay for something and boom, you'll notice it's gone.

The shops of old town square are a rip off too. Want a traditional Czech gift to take back to your mum? Well it'll cost an extortionate amount and is actually made in China. Go find a farmers market instead to find some genuine hand made gifts to take home.

Beer & Food:

Of course I wanted to go a little more in depth about the beer situation since this is a beer blog, but I'm also going to include food. This basically follows on from what I was saying at the start, and about Old Town Square.

When walking around Old Town Square or up near the castle (the two main tourist areas) you will see several things...

Kiosks: These kiosks primarily sell 3 things - Trdelník, Prague Ham and Drinks. All of these things are a rip off. Trdelník despite all of the signs is not traditional Czech dessert; its origins are unknown but it's suspected to be Hungarian. Prague Ham, whilst delicious and is well worth eating, is a rip off from these kiosks because the price advertised is actually only for around 100g, not a portion so they'll pile it up and guess what sucker? You're stung with a bill for 300 crowns and you'll have to pay it. Drinks are extortionate too as they'll charge you probably 100 crowns for a 330ml can of deliciously warm Pilsner Urquell that you're not legally allowed to drink in public.

Restaurants: If it boasts about selling "traditional" Czech cuisine in English and/or the menu has pictures on it STAY WELL AWAY. There are several restaurants in the touristy areas of Prague that like I said above will charge you a horrific price for beer but that's not all. The food is crap and massively overprice - whilst a main meal in a real traditional Czech restaurant would cost you around 125 crowns, these restaurants will charge around 300 crowns whilst also sneaking a massive service charge and cover charge on you.

Instead of visiting the kiosks and restaurants around Old Town Square, just walk a couple of streets over to Dlouha to visit Sisters for a delicious open faced sandwich topped with Prague Ham or anything you can imagine; and pop to Lokal for a cold, reasonably priced pint of tank fresh Pilsner Urquell with some delicious Czech Cuisine. Lokal is a small chain of maybe 5 restaurants in Prague and you can't go wrong. There's also one at the other end of Charles Bridge - U Bile Kuzelky, on Misenska.

There you go, my top tips to avoid getting ripped off in Prague. Of course this is not a comprehensive guide but just a few observations that I've made when I've been there and also a couple of bits that I've borrowed from Honest Prague Guide on YouTube because they're great guys, doing a great service to stop people from getting ripped off.

I have plenty of other blog posts about good places to eat and drink in Prague, including posts about craft beer bars where the £3.50 a pint is justified so take a look at the rest of my blog!

Thanks,

Nate

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