Whenever you plan a trip to a new city as a tourist and you don't read tips and tricks about how not to be cheated by locals in stores, taxis, or restaurants before arriving - you expose yourself to the danger posed by “tourist traps”, as they are often called. The beautiful city of Prague – with a language relatively unfamiliar to non-Slavic speakers and with its own currency – is no exception, so here is our short list of the things you should be aware of when in Prague.
Money exchange rates
In some EU countries you cannot use the Euro, and the Czech Republic is one of them. Even though some restaurants and shops accept Euros and USD, the best way to pay is with Czech crowns.
For 1 Euro you should get around 27 Czech crowns. But, believe it or not – some exchange offices will give you only 15 crowns, and plus – charge you commission fees of up to 5 percent. You can lose a lot of money this way, so be careful and always take a look at the exchange rates before you go to the cash desk and check if there are conversion commissions.
The Honest Guide to Prague has identified some of the worst exchange places in Prague, so take a look at their videos before you decide to buy crowns. There are two exchange offices in Jindrišska Street in the center of Prague where you can get fair deals for no commission at all.
Unfortunately, some places hold a narrowly opportunistic view of tourism and tourists and try to scam anyone who looks like “fresh meat“. You might experience unpleasant surprises in shops or restaurants – you see one price on the shelf or on the menu and another one on your bill. Taxis are no exception.
But don’t let these places get away with it: be vigilant, pay attention to your bill, count your change, and question or complain if you are being cheated. If you don’t, you’ll be doing yourself — and all other tourists who follow in your footsteps — a disservice. If your restaurant bill arrives with extra service charges or “taxes” that are not specifically stated on the menu, refuse to pay them. Also, if you need a taxi, look for reliable companies on the Internet, such as AAA, or use Uber.
Overpriced cultural spots
Prague has a very lively cultural scene to satisfy various tastes. However, many cultural exhibits can be quite disappointing and – worse – well beneath the money you pay to see them.
The Alfons Mucha Museum is one of them. The collection of works by the famous Czech painter and representative of “art nouveau” is rather small and doesn’t include his most important works such as the “Slav Epic” canvases. Other spots of cultural interest, such as the Communism Museum, the Sex Machines Museum, or the Black Light Theater shows which you can see around the city center, are way too expensive for what you get. Instead, it is better to pay 300 crowns for entry to all six permanent exhibitions of the National Gallery in Prague (Kinský Palace, Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia, Trade Fair Palace, Sternberg Palace, Schwarzenberg Palace and Salm Palace) and enjoy some exceptional pieces of art.
Also, most of the palaces within the Prague Castle complex look better from the outside so it is better to save your money to enter other worthy attractions. For example, St. Vitus Cathedral at the Castle is absolutely stunning from the outside, but to see its quite unexceptional interior – you would have to pay some cash and wait in long queues.
Alternative means of transportation
Prague is famous for its well functioning public transportation. Trams, buses, and metro are well-organized, frequent, and almost never late. However, you will see many tourists using “segways” or paying for expensive car rides with old timers to go around the city center.
But there’s absolutely no reason to spend your money to drive around the city center, which is a relatively small area, when you can use your legs. Your experience of Prague will be the most rewarding if you walk through it, sneak around hidden corners, and even get lost in it.
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