Tackling a brand-new city can be a daunting experience, and this is no less true when you touch down in Prague for the very first time. Keep the following tips in mind when you arrive in the Czech capital, and you’ll conquer your nerves in time for a fantastic trip abroad.
1. Bring Your Walking Shoes
With its cobblestone streets lined with baroque-style buildings, Prague is a walker’s paradise. Earlier in the year, Prague repurposed Malostranské Náměstí, a former parking lot, into a car-free cultural hub. In addition to sites like St. Nicholas Cathedral and Parliament, the square is teeming with pubs, cafés, and small shops where you’ll be able to rest your feet. After a long day of site seeing, be sure to grab a trdelník, a sweet street pastry topped with sugar and chopped walnuts.
Malostranské Náměstí is just one of many pedestrian-friendly areas of the city. Wenceslas Square as well as Melantrichova and Michalská streets have joined the car-ban to let visitors and locals alike explore the city by foot without worrying about vehicles or newly banned segues.
But don’t spend your entire trip here. Look up! Be sure to check out the many lookout points that demonstrate why Prague is known as the city of a hundred spires.
2. Grab A Drink & A Bite in Karlín
Before 2002, a year in which the area suffered a devastating flood, Karlín was an area you could easily miss. Now, after the rebuild transformed the district, it’s a trendy pocket of Prague you must visit. Part of its appeal is thanks to the influx of hipster restauranteurs who moved in.
As the latest hotspot for tourist and locals, TripAdvisor curated a list of places to check out, but don’t hesitate to wander without a set destination. You’d do well to stop in at any of the many artsy cafés, pubs, and restaurants that call Karlín home.
If you plan on taking advantage of the free WiFi in many of these cafés and bars, be careful with how you use your phone or iPad while you’re connected. Many of these complimentary connections are unsecured — which means anyone with a device and a bit of knowledge will be able to access your gadget and any profiles you log into while online.
This isn’t unique to Prague, so it’s a good idea to equip your phone with a proxy shield app anytime you log onto an unsecured network. Like the Dbrand skin on your phone, this app is another layer of protection. While the former keeps spilled espresso from ruining your tech, the proxy shield keeps your connection secure and anonymous even when you’re using unprotected, free WiFi anywhere in the world.
3. Be Careful With The City’s Cabs
Prague’s notorious taxi scams are a legitimate concern, so you must be wary of hailing a cab. There are many incidences — some of which are caught on video — detailing the highjacked pricing some cabbies inflict on their riders. While it’s true that some drivers are willing to scam any visitor naïve enough to ask for a ride, most of Prague’s 7,000 taxis offer a reasonable fare.
To make sure you get the right cab, a good rule of thumb to remember is to arrange a pickup ahead of time. This ensures your driver comes from a reliable company that won’t drive away with your money.
If that’s not possible, confirm the cost of the fare before you get into any cab you’ve hailed on the street and request a receipt from the driver.
4. Try Out Prague’s Transit System
Avoid the issues with cabs altogether by embracing the city’s public transport system. Prague has a comprehensive system that includes metros, buses, trains, and trams. For a city of its size (over 1.2 million people as of 2015), its system is clean, economical, and easy-to-use for first-time visitors. Download the Prague Trips by Public Transport app to help you navigate your next route.
Just remember you must validate every ticket you use. As you enter the metro or board buses, you’ll see yellow boxes that will stamp your ticket. Only do this once for every trip, as a stamp covers transfers within an allotted time. Failure to stamp (or to stamp incorrectly) may result in a fine, so keep your ticket handy.