Prague is a city with two distinct price levels: touristic pricing and local pricing and the difference between them is substantial. One example is restaurants where typical establishments for foreigners can charge 300-800 CZK for a meal while a similar styled local place can provide an identical dinner for 150-250 CZK. In some restaurants, a main course can be ordered for around 80-100 CZK compared to the 300-500 CZK it can cost at the tourist place.
Restaurants in Prague 1 are mostly geared toward foreigners and charge high prices. The value proposition can be discussed and a better option is to look for upscale environments targeted toward the wealthier local population instead since they give better cuisine to similar prices. Examples of such places are the Francouska Restaurace Art Nouveau or La Perle de Prague (in the Ginger & Fred/Dancing House) or the fine Italian Ostroff restaurant.
By going to those, a luxurious dinner can be experienced to prices that provide value for the money. Regular meals can be enjoyed at local restaurants and those can be found not far from the touristic areas. By moving from Prague 1 to Prague 2 (Vinohrady), many decent restaurants with local customers can be found and they offer decent food and a non-touristic environment, thus providing a glimpse of the everyday life of people.
Similar pricing strategies can be found at the museums; the more specialized ones are less frequented by tourists and offer lower admission fees than the Prague Castle as one typical example. This also means that a lot of culture can be experienced during a stay, while offering a great value as well.
In the case of shopping, a special situation has been created after the velvet revolution. Almost all shops in the Prague 1 area are strictly geared toward tourists and the selection is a bit monotheistic with Change and Bohemia Crystal/Souvenirs almost everywhere. Other products such as clothing, groceries, books, music, furniture and everything else are to be found outside of this area; it is necessary to move to Vaclavské Naměstí and Na Příkopě in order to start finding the variation.
Before the system change, other shops such as groceries and hardware stores were available in the touristic area but were forced out in order to make space for all Change and Bohemia Crystal/Souvenirs. An example of this was the U Rotta building where a hardware store existed for a very long time before it was converted into a department store for crystal products.
Because of this, a visit to the shopping malls and exploration of the other parts of the city is highly recommended since it paints a completely different picture, both of the selection of goods but also the general price level, which is attractive when moving to different areas. Even for typical gifts such as crystal, it is worth to detour out of Prague 1 and to check the malls since the selection is decent paired with a better value proposition.
Prague is a safe city, generally speaking even if crimes occur. In the case of visitors, the typical things to look for are pickpocketing, which can happen on the Metro or the streetcars. It is always recommended to keep the wallet safe, especially when traveling through the tourist areas. If there is special call-outs onboard the streetcars (beside the regular announcements of the next stop and so on, be on the watch since those usually is a heads up about the need for increased attention). Those announcements are usually made on the line 22 from Malostranská up to Karlovo Naměstí since it is a section often frequented by visitors.
It is also important to avoid black cabs or to take cabs near the Charles Bridge and similar locations. Licensed AAA cabs or hotel cars are to be used rather than “nameless” ones, which can be operated with very high fares by shady drivers. It is better to arrange transport from the hotel rather than trying to take the “first” cab on the street.
Finding your way around
It is recommended to use GPS and a mobile device with appropriate informational apps in order to navigate the city. Some museums provide apps as well, which can give a better understanding of the different artifacts and also stimulate further studies before or after the visit. Prague is very pedestrian friendly in general but some parts of the old town can be quite tricky to navigate, which make a digital map helpful.
Another thing that is highly recommended is to use apps that use the camera of the device in order to identify and provide information about different buildings, which can be a fun and interesting way of learning more by seeing and doing.
The Prague Guide by Matts Lindmark