Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Worst Tourist Traps in Prague


Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. World-known sights, panoramic views, excellent beer and good prices make it a very popular destination. But unfortunately there are also many things spoiling Prague's reputation... These tourist traps are all over the city center, mostly run by foreigners who want to make easy money and don't care about tourists or Prague at all. Let's take a look at the worst tourist traps in Prague!

1. Money Exchange


When it comes to currency exchange in Prague, be very careful! The Czech Republic has its own currency, the Czech koruna (crown). You can see them in the picture above.

Always check the right exchange rate before you go and compare it with the rate on the exchange list (all offices must display the rates by law). Also make sure the exchange office offers 0% commission, some of them can take almost 30%!

Most tourists are used to change their money right after landing at the airport. Don't do this in Prague... All exchange offices at the airport are owned by Interchange. This company offers very bad exchange rates and you will be ripped off.

In the city center you will find many other dishonest places. Chequepoint at the Old Town Square is the worst of them. Athough they offer 0% commission, their exchange rate is so bad you will lose almost half of your money! Another Chequepoint is located in Kaprova street, close to one of the best exchange offices in Prague. We can't make a list of all the bad exchange places because there is too many of them and they change almost every month.

Simply check the rate and commission at any time and you will be fine. Or visit Exchange in Kaprova street 13 (corner of Kaprova and Maiselova). This is the place where most locals change their money and where you'll get one of the best rates.

The best idea is to pay with your card or use ATMs. But always choose ATM of a Czech bank, don't use weird ATMs without a bank name.

Also never ever change your money on the street! Foreginers try to trick tourists and sell them worthless foreign money.

Avoid:
- airport exchange offices
- Chequepoint at the Old Town Square and other offices with a commission or bad rate
- changing money on the street

Visit/Do:
- Exchange in Kaprova 13
- large banks ATMs
- pay with your card

2. Taxi


You may have already heard of taxi in Prague... Yes, it has an awful reputation. We are not proud of it, many people try to change it but you can still find taxi drivers that will totally rip you off.

Please avoid taxis in front of the airport. If you stay with Prague City Apartments you can use our airport transfers for honest price or for free when your stay is longer. You can also use apps like Uber or Liftago to be sure you won't pay more than you have to. Ask for an estimated price before the ride at any time. You should never pay more than 600 CZK when going from the aiport! You should always get a printed receipt. If you want to take a cab anyway, call for one ahead. For example AAA Taxi is one of the good services (+420 222 333 222). Never try to catch taxi on the street.

The cheapest way to get from the airport is to use a public transport. Buy 90 minutes (32 CZK) ticket, catch the bus 119, exit the bus at the last stop (Nádraží Veleslavín), use the green metro line and go to the Můstek station. Make sure to validate your ticket on the bus. 

Avoid:
- taxis in front of the airport
- catching a taxi on the street

Use:
- public transport
- Prague City Apartments transfers
- Uber, Liftago and other apps
- AAA Taxi

3. The Royal Way - strange shops and services


Most visitors of Prague want to see at least a part of the Royal Way, the traditional coronation route of Czech kings, leading through the city center, from the Powder Tower to the Prague Castle. It is full of the world-known sights (the Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle and many more) but also full of tourist traps, strange shops which have nothing to do with Prague or the Czech Republic.

Especially Karlova street is known for the largest concetration of tasteless shops offering China made goods with Czech motifs of poor quality, Thai massages or Russian dolls... Do you want to buy a matryoshka? Well, you should go to Moscow. For a Thai massages, go to Bangkok. The historical center of Prague is just not the right place. Also avoid absinthe stores (Czech absinthe is a fake, the real absinthe is French).

And what is the right souvenir from Prague? What about a can of Czech beer (Pilsner Urquell, Budweiser Budvar, Staropramen, Bernard and many more), bottle of slivovice (plum brandy) or Becherovka (traditional herbal liqueur), Kofola (soft drink), wooden toys and marionettes or traditional spa wafers? If you are brave enough, you can buy a traditional smelly curd cheese from the city of Olomouc - tvarůžky. You can also go for high quality hand-made cosmetics from Manufactura or traditional Czech glass and Czech garnet (make sure to check its the genuine Czech garnet before you buy).

Avoid:
- China made goods of poor quality
- matryoshkas, Thai massages, fake absinthe and other nonsense

Buy:
- traditional Czech drinks and foods mentioned above
- genuine Czech goods (toys, marionettes, cosmetics, garnet, glass and others)

4. Fake/overpriced food and drinks


If you travel a lot, you probably know how hard it is to find good places serving genuine food, typical for a visited country. In Prague you will see many tourists buying and eating trdelník. A traditional pastry? As you could read in our previous post (The Best Sweets and Pastries in Prague), it's fake, it's expensive, it's not traditional at all and it's not even that good...

In the busiest parts of the city (the Old Town Square or Wenceslas Square) you can also see stalls with old Prague ham offered by weight. That means you don't know the exact price before and you can be surprised when they ask for more than 40 EUR for one serving! Please avoid these stalls...

In Prague (same as any other popular destination) you will also see many overpriced restaurants with terrible food. Most of them are located around the Prague Castle and in the Old Town. Of course we can't mention them all. We can just recommend to check the reviews in advance (on Google, TripAdvisor or other sites) or ask locals for some good tips. Or check our blog posts to see 8 Places to Taste the Best Traditional Czech Cuisine in the Old Town of Prague. Don't forget to book a table in advance.

Some restaurants use another unfair trick. They charge you a "service fee" which is mentioned in a menu but well hidden. This fee can be very high so watch out and visit just the best rated places.

Also don't pay too much for a beer. A large glass of Pilsner Urquell or Budweiser Budvar should cost no more than 80 CZK (3 EUR). But you can see these beers for less than 40 CZK (1,5 EUR) as well. If you want to taste special beers from Czech microbreweries, they can cost more. The most expensive ones even more than 100 CZK (4 EUR) or 150 CZK (6 EUR).

Avoid:
- trdelník
- old Prague ham and other food offered by weight
- fake absinthe
- suspiciously looking and empty restaurants
- too expensive beer

Visit:
- pubs, bars and restaurants recommended by locals, our staff and blog posts
- highly rated places on Google, TripAdvisor and other sites

5. Electric scooters, segways and fake vintage cars


These are not necessarily tourist traps but definitely useless services ruining the center of Prague for other visitors and locals. Don't waste your money on them. The historical center of Prague is a unique place featuring stunning, hundreds of years old sights, beautiful architecture and epic views. It is pretty small, from one side to another you can easily get in no more than 30 minutes on foot. You really don't need to rent overpriced electric scooters (segways were banned in a city center), you will just annoy other visitors and locals who just want to peacefully enjoy their time in the city.

You also don't need to take bus tours or vintage cars tours (most of the cars just look old, they are fake) as you can easily discover all the famous places on foot. Walking is the only way to fully enjoy the city and not to miss all the hidden gems. To see more distant places for a reasonable price you can use Prague's great public transport system. Just buy a one day ticket and you can use it for trams, metro and buses. Don't forget to validate your ticket!

Avoid:
- electric scooters and segways rentals
- bus tours and fake vintage cars tours through the city center

Use:
- walking
- public transport

6. Prague Airport


Prague Airport unfortunately offers most of the mentioned tourist traps combined. Unfair exchange offices with bad rates, crooked taxi drivers or overpriced goods, food and drinks. We suggest to ignore all these things and buy anything you need somewhere else. Change your money in Exchange in Kaprova street, use Prague City Apartments transfer or Uber/Liftago and buy your souvenirs in geunine Czech shops selling high quality goods.

Avoid:
- exchange offices
- taxis in front of the terminals
- overpriced goods and food

Result

Prague is a beautiful and picturesque city that has a lot to offer. Don't let anyone ruin your experience. If you follow our tips and you are careful about what you're buying, you always check the right exchange rate and don't waste your money on useless/fake things or overpriced food/drinks and you will be fine and you will love this city. Please share these tips with all your friends or family members going to Prague so they can enjoy their vacation. Have a great time in Prague!

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