The capital of the Czech Republic attracted over 6 million foreign tourists in 2014, according to the statistics. As you’ve probably already learned, Prague certainly offers vast possibilities for the numerous visitors to enjoy. However, being a foreigner always means that you are somehow prone to fall into tourist traps. Read about six common mistakes tourists make when visiting Prague and make your trip to our beautiful capital more comfortable, authentic and fun.
1. They buy matryoshkas in souvenir shops on the King’s Road
If you have walked on the King’s Road, the most frequented route connecting the Old Town Square with the Prague Castle, you couldn’t have missed the dozens of shops offering painted wooden dolls that fit into each other. The problem is that although the selection may suggest otherwise, the Matryoshka dolls have nothing to do with the Czech culture, they are Russian. The dolls became popular among the sellers in the 90s as Prague was one of the first Eastern bloc cities foreign tourists started to visit. These people simply wanted to buy anything Eastern, disregarding the differences among the different countries. Nowadays though, they should know better. So please, if you want to buy a Czech souvenir, buy glass products. Or a fancy beer. And do that outside of the center.
2. They don’t use the porters’ services near the airport
Maybe you have heard the good news: the excellent Prague subway system was prolonged this spring. The downside is that the subway still doesn’t reach the airport as the architects rather illogically chose to send the trains to a nearby hospital instead. What is even more preposterous is that they somehow forgot to put escalators at the subway station that is the closest to the airport. So nowadays, porters are carrying the incomers’ luggage up and down the stairs at Nadrazi Veleslavin (thanks India for the inspiration!). Don’t be afraid to use their services, they are free, they are there for you and they are definitely not going to steal away from you
3. They only come to Prague for beer
We all know that the excellent Czech one euro beer is an important attraction of Prague. Anytime I go abroad, I get reminded about how unique this feature is and I promise myself that I definitely have to enjoy it when I have the possibility. However, please don’t confine your Czech Republic trip just to booze – there are many other attractions you can see. Let the tour guides of the Prague Extravaganza Free Tour give you some of the hottest tips
4. They expect everybody to be friendly right away
A Brazilian friend of mine says there are two different kinds of nations: the peaches and the coconuts. The peach nations are easy to interact with, but once you get through the soft peel, you may find a stone inside, meaning that it is more difficult to build an intimate relation with these people. The coconut nations, on the other hand, are difficult to crack but are more likely to become very close friends with you once they get to know you. The Czechs are the second kind of people – we don’t start speaking with the strangers on the bus stations and in bars, we mostly keep with our friends. Therefore, please don’t feel offended if one of our compatriots doesn’t engage in a conversation with you, he definitely doesn’t mean to be rude. He is just a tougher nut to crack
5. They only stay in the center
While the Old Town Square, the Charles Bridge and the Wenceslas Square remain in the center of the tourist interest, there are many more sights you ought to see in Prague. In fact, the most famous attractions have a reputation of tourist-zones-only that the local people tend to avoid as there are not enough places to relax and enjoy their free time at a reasonable price. If you want to try something more authentic, visit Náplavka (the river bank), Vinohrady or Karlín. These hip locations were revived lately and have become a popular hub where all sorts of local people come to have a good meal, to shop in the local markets or to have a good party.
6. They only stay in the capital
It is understandable that if you come to the Czech Republic for three days, you only have enough time to visit the capital city. If you stay a few days longer though, try exploring some other parts of the Czech Republic as well. The medieval castles of Karlštejn or Křivoklát make a good one day trip from the Prague, just like Kutna Hora with its UNESCO cathedral. Find out more about Kutna Hora in our other blog post. During a week long visit, you have enough time to visit Brno or Olomouc, lively student cities. You can also visit Český Krumlov and explore the city with a little help from our friends from Wiseman Free Tour. Keep in mind that just like in any other country, the lifestyle in the capital is different to that outside of it, so visiting other parts of the Czech Republic may give you a more authentic insight into the real lifestyle of the Czechs. The bonus is that the Czech transport system is rather good and very cheap compared to these in the Western Europe, so you should definitely take advantage of that.