SUMMARY: If you have VISA or Mastercard you are all set.
SUMMARY: Get a guidebook before you travel, map is better to buy while you are in Prague.
ACCOMMODATION. It is said that Prague is very cheap. It is right, but accommodation is not that cheapest thing on the earth. However it is up to you what you choose, here is a link to a special site about accommodation in Prague (includes hotels from one star to *****). For young people there is a possibility to stay at a hostel- it is not very comfortable but the price is worth it.
CULTURE. Culture that is Prague. It was the European city of culture of the year 2000. I really like saying this: you are going to have a hard time choosing where to go. There are so many cultural events going on at the same time that even if you live in Prague you have no chance to track them all. However I will do my best to help you. Music- when you will walk through Prague you will meet a lot of posters inviting you to a concert in a church or some other place. These concerts are made for tourists. That means they are I don't say that they are not of a good quality but I would not recommend them to you. I know about better concerts. Those are concerts of the FOK in the Municipal house (Obecni dum) or in Rudolfinum. FOK is my favorite, however you can also choose Czech Philharmonic orchestra. I can guarantee that you will be 100% satisfied. Theatre- a little bit strange for foreigners, because who can understand Czech? Don't be said because the solution is opera and ballet. The tickets are much more cheaper than anywhere in the world and the experience you will have can not be described. Opera and ballet is performed by the National Theatre in the National Theatre, Stavovske Theatre and State Opera house. You can book the tickets online. Special theatres- are Laterna Magica, that is combination of theatre, movie, ballet and bunch of other things. If you want to visit Laterna do not forget to book tickets in advance, it is sold out for every performance. Also special is a Black theatre and Marionettes theatre. Musicals- Czech musicals are not Brodway musicals but I bet they soon will. Are you the type that doesn't like theatres? Than you should go and see a musical. Movies- well I don't think that is the best way how to spend your time in Prague. Movies are usually American with Czech titles, but note that a movie that was in the theatre in January in the US will come (if you are lucky) to the theatres here in June. Exhibitions & Museums- there a lot of them here. It's up to you which one you choose... if I were you I would go and see the Wax museum. It's cool. Check all the events right now in English.
CRIME. Is Prague a safe city? Yes. It is not like we do not have crime here but if you know what to do and where not to go you are fine and safe. In the center it is OK, even in the night. I would just not recommend to go to Perlova (that is a street) and to the park around Main railroad station (which we call Sherwood). There is one thing you should pay attention to and that is pocket stealing. Here in Prague there are organized groups of Romanian and Gipsy kids, even a few groups of adults and they specialize in stealing valuables from the tourists. How? Usually they choose a very crowded place (like public transportation- tram#22), get behind you and steel your purse or something else. How can you protect from these people? It is very easy. Do not take with you a lot of cash, do not put your purse into your back pocket and if you have handbag than put a hand on it. I hope you won't have any troubles.
FOOD. Ringo:"oh, I like bananas". Yes, yes we have McDonalds, KFC, Dunkin Donuts, Fridays and bunch of other fast food restaurants here. But hey why don't you go and try Czech food too. I'm not saying you have to start with dumplings but... You can get a big portion of a good meal in a normal restaurant for the same price as at McDonalds. Not every restaurant is that cheap though. If you want to eat in a restaurant on the Prague Castle than it will be expensive. Most of the restaurants in the very center are expensive but take just one station with the metro (subway, underground) and you will find cool restaurants were meal costs under $4. Czech speciality are dumplings. If they are good? You have to try them... But what you have to definitely try is the Czech beer. It is the best beer in the world and no wonder that Czechs drink the most beer in the world per capita. In the supermarket you can buy a bottle for about 20 cents. That's a price huh? Beer in a restaurant is better and a little bit more expensive. Caution- Czech beer contains more alcohol than you are used to.
GENERAL. You need a valid passport, visas are not required if you are from the EU and USA. For other countries better check out if you need one. Since April 1, 2001 you have to obtain a visa if you are Canadian. We speak Czech, no it is not Russian it is Czech. A very hard language but I know few people that learned it and are good at it. But you don't need to know a word in Czech. Almost everyone here speaks English or German. If you need to ask someone on the street choose young people they have a better knowledge of foreign languages and most of them will be happy to help you. We pay with Czech crowns, the exchange rate is now about $1= 37 crowns. Check the exchange rates now. How much does things cost? Well beer costs about 9 crowns, big bread Sumava 16 crowns, one kilogram of cheese (Eidam) 100 crowns.
MONEY. Money, money...know that song by ABBA? Anyway I wrote about money a little bit at the beginning. My recommendation was to take a credit card with you. If you need to exchange money, DON'T exchange them in the shops or at the special exchange places, that are almost on every corner (Chequepoint for exemple). WHY? When you are exchanging your money you should pay attention at TWO things, first what is the exchang rate and second how much is the commission they charge. Usually the special exchange places have a pretty good exchange rate but they charge as much as 10% commission. (Most of them have a big sign that they charge 0% commission, but if you keep reading it is just for the case when you exchange Czech crowns for foreign money!!!!). A good place where to exchange your money is a bank where they don't have always the best exchange rate but they have a low commission and it makes a big difference in how much you are going to get. However the best place to exchange your money is in Ceska pojistovna (their exchange office is a part of their office in Spalena street, right in front of Tesco store). They have a better exchange rate then the specialised exchange offices and even a lower commission than the banks.
SIGHTSEEING. You should see Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square....upsss sorry, I know that you have these places in your guidebook. Anyway, we prepared just for you our original Prague2001.com Prague sightseeing walks. Here are my additional tips. Krizikova fontana, that is a magic fountain with a music and lights. It is a good thing for the evenings and you will be fascinated what a fountain can do. ZOO- Prague Zoo is big and has a lot of animals there :). What else can I say about a ZOO? If you are coming with kids it is a good way how to rest. And if you are going to the ZOO do not forget to visit Troja castle, it has a wonderful garden. Tired of sightseeing- Petrin is a solution for you. Petrin is a hill very close to the center on the tram #22. It is a cool park and if you don't feel like walking to the top take a special train and have your camera prepared- really nice views of Prague from up there. On the top of the hill there is a Petrin tower, it is a small Eiffel tower and you can climb to the top. Next to the tower there is the coolest thing on the earth. Go and have a look in the magic mirrors, I bet you will be laughing for the next two hours. And one more thing you should visit- Kampa. That is a place on the bank of the Vltava River, a magic place.
TAXI. A lot of things were written about Prague taxi drivers. The point is that you do not need to take a taxi at all. Prague has the best public transportation system that I know. But what if you really feel like taking a taxi? Here are some advices: AAA taxi and Profi taxi are good firms and you should not have any troubles with them. Call the centrale and the taxi will come right to you for free. You pay about 20 crowns once you get in and about 18 crowns per kilometer. If you didn't call for a taxi and you caught one for yourself on the street, make sure he has a sign "taxi" on the top of the car, a sticker with his name and prices on the doors and please CHECK the prices because they may vary. When you get in make sure the taxameter is cleared and after you pay ask for a return receipt. If you are charged to much tell the taxi driver you will not pay it and that you will call the police. Never pay to the taxi driver if he doesn't want to give you a return receipt or if he charged too much.
TOILETTES. Everyone has to go there. But where the heck are they? Nice and clean toilettes with a toilette paper are at every reataurant. Usually there are public toilettes at every important turist attraction but you have to pay few crowns for these and not always you get a toilette paper. The same thing are the public toillets at the subway stations, most of them are OK but you have to pay. If you really need to go and can not find public toilettes than go to McDonalds. Their toilettes are clean and you do not need to ask for a key.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Is good. Takes you anywhere you want and is pretty fast. It is much more better than driving your car. The only thing I do not like about it is that it gets crowded during the peak hours but it is not that big deal. We have metro (subway, underground), trams and buses. One ticket costs 8 crowns if you don't change, 12 tickets for a longer ride. Don't buy tickets. Buy a season ticket, it is a better investment and you do not have to worry about tickets. One day ticket costs 70 crowns, 3 day ticket 200 crowns, 7 day ticket 250 crowns etc. If you want to know more I made a special section about Prague public transportation for you. If you are already in Prague tou can visit one of these four information centers at Muzeum, Cerny Most, Andel, Nadrazi Holesovice and Jungmannovo namesti.
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