Tourist Scams and Traps to Avoid in Prague
When I first arrived in Prague I was incredibly excited to explore the places I had spent countless hours researching and fixating over in pictures. As a first time visitor to Prague, my first days in the city were spent in Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Wenceslas Square and all the other popular spots in the city. In my sheer excitement I set out to see everything and eat everything all in a few days, even though I had three whole months to get to know this city. However, too distracted by the beauty and chaos of the city, I didn’t even realize the tourist traps I was willingly and obliviously falling for. In most European cities, especially ones that have heavy tourist traffic like Prague, there are a million ways to be ripped off and often times you won’t even notice it happening. So, when you arrive in Prague, don’t make the same mistake I did and get so caught up in the excitement that you forget you are a visitor in this city and there are plenty of ways people can take advantage of that. Here are some tourist traps to absolutely avoid in your time here:
When I first arrived in Prague I cashed in some of my US dollars for Czech Koruna’s at the first exchange place I saw. I didn’t bother to check the exchange rate and it wasn’t until later that day when I converted the money I gave and the money I received that I realized I lost almost 1/3 of my money to the incredibly high exchange rate. It’s easy to fall into this trap, especially when you are in a new city and need local currency. Consider using an ATM instead, and if that is not an option be sure to check the exchange rate before exchanging currency.
Pay attention to Prices at Restaurants
When I arrived in Prague I was so excited about how inexpensive everything was compared to the United States, I failed to realize that just because something was cheaper than it was in the United States doesn’t mean it’s not an inflated price. Prague in an incredibly affordable city, but when walking through popular tourist destinations the beautiful eye-catching restaurants are the places increase their prices due to heavy tourist traffic. So avoid eating in restaurants in the heart of Old Town and other popular destinations. Even just travelling a few blocks away from the city popular attractions can get you a delicious meal for a fraction of the price.
While walking to the Charles Bridge from Old Town for the first time I discovered the tourist traps of all tourist traps. This one that’s easier to recognize, Karlova street is filled with souvenir shops, street performers, and thick crowds. There are a lot of places to buy souvenirs in Prague, but this isn’t one of them. The best idea when walking down Karlova street, is to keep an extra close eye on your belongings and not stop by into any of the shops, it’s a rip off waiting to happen.
The Vltava River my favourite part about Prague. Nothing beats watching the stunning city lights glisten off the dark blue water, and that’s why cruises along the river are so popular. However, River Cruises can be expensive, so be sure to do your research on all the options before paying 2,000 CZK on a luxury dinner cruise. There are plenty of other more affordable options, my favourite being the individual paddle boats you can rent for just 150 CZK an hour
Prague has an amazing public transportation system that makes taking taxis unnecessary most of the time. There are even night trams that get you just about anywhere in the city late at night. However, if there is a need make sure you don’t get overcharged by taxi drivers and agree on a fare beforehand, especially at the airport. Uber and Liftago are great alternatives to taxis and are incredibly popular in Prague.
There is more to Prague than the sights in Prague 1
Prague can feel quite small if you see the only the popular sights, that can be done in only a day or two. However, there is so much more to the city than the places you see on postcards. Of course, you should see the major sights while you are here, but also take some time to explore other neighbourhoods and different parts of the city. There are countless beer gardens, interesting neighbourhoods, even more castles and so many other places in Prague that are worth the visit. The biggest tourist trap in my mind is falling for the myth that the best of Prague can be seen in a day.