Top Tips to Know Before Traveling to the Czech Republic
As the fifth most-visited city in Europe, Prague in 2014 received more visitors than Amsterdam, Milan, and Barcelona. There seems to be no stopping the growing number of travelers, so here are a few helpful tips to bear in mind on your next trip to Prague.
No visit to the Czech Republic would be complete without a trip to a castle, or two. With over forty castles to choose from in the capital alone, history fans will be spoilt for choice. Those visiting in the winter months will be both blighted and blessed. Prague Castle, one of the more popular destinations, remains open throughout winter while others shut their doors over this period. The result is that you will likely be queuing for much longer. A less-crowded option is Karlštejn Castle—in summer, visitors are free to roam the castle grounds alone, but in winter they must join a tour to get access. Many visitors will likely skip it for that reason, so you will be afforded more time and space to explore, without the typical hustle and bustle. Just make sure you get there on a weekend.
There are plenty of shopping destinations in the Czech Republic. Most stores are open seven days a week, usually until 9pm or 10pm. Smaller shops typically stay open until 5pm or 7pm. Shopping centers like Palladium get crowded on weekends, especially during the holidays. Throughout the month of December outside the Palladium, a Christmas market takes place selling souvenirs and trinkets that would make perfect festive gifts. Make sure you come early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Prague nightlife begins later than many other European destinations. Unless you want to sit in a bar alone, start your night at 10pm. To truly party like a Praguer, aim to stay out till at least 3am. Bombay Bar & Club or Nova Lisboa Music Club are both popular destinations, as they keep their doors open till 5am on weekends. Complete the evening with breakfast or brunch if you’re feeling ambitious.
Make sure you get a transportation ticket first thing after arriving. A single-day ticket will let you switch between the entire public transportation system an unlimited number of times. Most buses, trams, and metros run 24/7. Even so, visitors should still be sure to pack a pair of comfortable trainers—undoubtedly the best way to discover Prague is on foot. Female travelers should be advised to ditch heels that they find hard to walk in—with plenty of cobblestone streets and hilly roads to explore, you will want comfortable shoes. Even for nights out, most Praguers will take with them a pair of stylish flats.
Violent crime is very low in the Czech Republic, and it’s perfectly safe for somebody to walk alone late at night as long as you’re mindful of basic safety rules. Prague never really sleeps, and you’ll find people walking around well after midnight, regardless of the cold. You should, however, be aware of pickpockets when riding public transportation.
A final important tip: don’t flag taxis in the street unless you see a company name and a phone number printed on the side—this is usually a good indicator that you can trust their meter to run as it should.