Wrapping up my summer in Berlin, I figured that I really ought to visit Prague. I only visited for 3 nights, which was a bit short for me – I definitely could have spent a couple more days wandering around and will probably have to drop by again soon.
- Prague is a super pretty city. It’s apparently one of the few European cities not heavily bombed during WW2 and the skyline and architecture feel like “Old Europe” more than any others I’ve been to so far. It also still has a distinct post-Soviet vibe in some areas. A friend commented that it looked like Half-Life 2, and you do get that feel. (City 17 was modeled after a bunch of Eastern European influences)
- While Prague has a reputation for being a bit sketchy (and I certainly avoided the taxis), overall I found it to be pretty nice/not too bad (even wandering around in the middle of the night). In fact, late nights were pretty subdued – maybe I just didn’t spot the nightlife. One bar/tavern I was in for dinner had last call at 10:30PM.
- They don’t use Euros! ATMs are easy/everywhere. By default they may give you larger bills than you want, but on some machines you can pick what denominations you receive (select the “Other” option on amounts and you might see the menu). All ATMs should do that.
- Most people speak some English and it’s the lingua franca for tourism (there’s huge mix of nationalities in the tourists, very global) and it wasn’t a problem at all getting around
- Prague is only 5 hours by rail and I paid €88 for a round-trip 2nd class ticket (online posts mentioned there was little difference for 1st class). I bought it online but used the app for the mobile-only ticket – during my trip it was checked about 3-4 times each way (although in the Czech side they don’t bother to scan the QR code). The train ran about a half-hour late each way, but otherwise was perfectly cromulent. The German and Czech scenery was pretty bucolic – I’ll probably visit Dresden and Decin next time I’m nearby.
- Public transit works great in Prague and a combination of the subway and trams will probably get you pretty much anywhere you want. Tickets are cheap (about $1/ride) and are good for 30 or 90m. Your first intuition might be to use the ticket machines (which only take change), but you can actually buy tickets from the convenience stores in the stations, which is easier. You can also get tickets via SMS, which is pretty awesome.
- O2 seems like the best deal for short term data (375MB/wk for $4, 3GB for $25) and they are very efficient, they advertise swapping out SIMs in a minute, but their stores seem mostly closed on Sunday (the one by the Museum station closes at 6PM – the Vodafone shop is open until 8PM on Sunday). Vodafone is a bit pricier (1.5GB for about $20), but also offers some ridiculously large data packages pretty cheap (10GB for $40, you can also apparently get 1GB data + a USB stick for about $33). I ended up getting one of each and both worked fine. O2 was faster/more responsive (and LTE), however they disable tethering on iPhones. Vodafone apparently has some LTE rolling out (Band 3/8) but I didn’t see any my entire time in Prague.