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When exploring a new city, it always pays (sometimes quite literally) to have some insider tips under your belt. Here’s our guide on how to save time and money, avoid tourist traps and get around like a local during your visit to Prague, from local restaurants and currency to the metro and co-working hubs.
Prague has a reliable transport system with well-connected tram, metro and bus lines running across the city. A 90-minute trip costs 32 koruna (around €1.25), but for extended stays, it’s worth investing in a three-day pass for 310 koruna (€12) or a monthly ticket at 550 koruna (€21). Tariffs for longer periods can be checked on the transport agency website. Ticket machines can be found in all metro stations, but bear in mind that most tram stops don’t have them. If there’s no metro in sight, you can always try a mini-market, some of which sell single-trip tickets.
The local currency in Prague is the Czech koruna (also referred to as crowns or CZK). While some places accept foreign currency or card payments, cash is king in Prague. The simplest way to get Czech crowns is to withdraw cash from a machine, but be sure to choose to withdraw without conversion when prompted, to avoid high bank fees. If converting currency at a cash exchange, make sure to select an exchange office with 0% commission. But beware that many agencies claiming not to charge commission may instead make their money through offering bad exchange rates, particularly in the city centre.
The best way to ensure you are getting your money’s worth is to double-check the office exchange rate against the official currency rates set by the Czech National Bank. Exchange.cz is a reliable exchange office found on Kaprova Street in the Josefov neighbourhood in Prague 1 and covers most foreign currencies. Another option is to “change” euros when you make a purchase at the airport Starbucks (first level of Terminal 1) or BILLA supermarket (lower ground floor of Terminal 2) – you will get your change back in Czech crowns, at a better rate than most exchange offices at the airport.
On weekends, Prague residents often escape the city for the countryside. For total freedom, and to be able to explore more remote villages, consider renting a car. Rental companies include AVIS and Hertz, which are reliable but on the pricier side, while the cheapest option is usually the aptly named Budget. If you don’t have a driver’s licence or just want to avoid the usual Friday evening traffic jams on the D1 motorway, you can also opt for bus or rail travel. Studentagency.eu offers train and bus deals for travel both within the Czech Republic and to neighbouring countries at very reasonable prices.
If you’re visiting from outside the EU and staying for a month or more, avoid costly roaming charges by getting a local SIM card. The leading carriers in the Czech Republic are Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile and Orange, which all offer prepaid cards at similar prices. Vodafone currently has the best coverage in the country and provides SIMs free of charge – you can even order one online and receive it by post within two days. For data-only packages, you can expect to pay just 99 crowns (around €4) for 500MB. Vodafone also offers a 200-crown bonus when topping up for the first time, but to take advantage of this, you’ll have to use a Czech card to pay online or get a voucher from one of their many kiosks around town.
Prague is a great place for a ‘workation’ or study break thanks to the abundance of co-working spaces and laptop-friendly cafés dotted around the city. The global franchise Impact Hub runs two fully equipped spaces in Prague: a beautiful villa named K10 with day passes going for 500 korunas (around €20), and a smaller site in Smíchov where a day pass will set you back just 380 koruna (approximately €15).
If you’re less interested in networking and just seeking good coffee and Wi-Fi, try The Globe, which has tables on two levels and is fronted by a wonderful English-language bookstore. For night owls, Cafedu has reading rooms that stay open late, making it a hotspot among local students.
Taxis can be a comfortable and economical option for getting around Prague, but avoid hailing cabs on the street or run the risk of being charged an extortionate price. Instead, download a local taxi app like Liftago, which lets drivers set their own prices so you can select your own rate from a list. Another local company, Modry Andel, offers rides for 19 koruna/km (€0.82/km), as well as a premium ‘Business Class’ service – ride in style in a Mercedes E-Class for a slightly higher rate.
Watch out for overpriced bars and restaurants in the city centre, particularly tourist traps claiming to offer “authentic Czech cuisine”. Pilsner beer, the country’s national beverage, should not be more than 45 crowns a pint in a pub, so if charged more than that, find somewhere else to quench your thirst.
Many Prague residents will have breakfast and dinner at home but take advantage of special lunch deals. A starter and main will usually cost 180 CZK (€7) during lunch hours on weekdays, including at restaurants with otherwise pricey menus such as Home Kitchen for international cuisine, Maitrea for vegetarian food or La Bottega Gastronomia for some quality Italian. Most restaurants upload their lunch menus on Restu.cz, so you can even plan ahead.