Prague Through the Eyes of a Local: Dana’s Tips

Like A Local Guide • 23 Nov, 2015

Every few weeks we ask one of our clued-up contributors a bunch of questions about their city, from fun facts and practicalities to what to see and what to skip. This time around we quizzed Dana, our local ambassador for Prague. She runs a small local business called Prague Behind the Scenes, which offers unique small-group tours for those who want to explore the city in a less touristy way. Her goal is to lead as many travellers off the tourist trail as possible.

If you’re hungry for insider insights into other destinations, you can keep an eye out for new Through the Eyes of a Local posts here, or follow us on Facebook for updates.

When is the best time to visit Prague? It’s entirely up to you and your preferences. There are plenty of things to do and see throughout the year, however some places are closed during the winter season, typically from November until April (the beautiful Waldstein Garden, the Na Valech garden and the Deer Moat, for example). Opening hours also vary during the colder months.

If I were a traveller, I’d choose May – the start of spring. The temperatures are perfect for walking and the locals are smiling more. We love the first warm and sunny days when the city isn’t that packed yet. May 1st and 8th are national holidays, with lots of events taking place in the city. September and early October are also great because it’s wine harvesting season. Locals love visiting wine festivals to taste a special Czech drink called burčák (fermented grape juice), which is only available at this time of year.

What are three things every visitor should see or experience?

1. See Prague Castle at night. It’s open until 11 pm (until midnight during the high season) and has a completely different atmosphere after dark. You also have a better chance of being there with very few people if you visit at night, which is an absolutely unique experience.

2. Enjoy Czech beer together with pickled Camembert (nakládaný hermelín in Czech) in a non-touristy pub.

3. See some controversial street art by David Černý (Quo Vadis – the walking Trabant, St. Wenceslas Riding a Dead Horse, the Hanging Man, Babies, In Utero, Embryo, etc.).

What’s your favourite hidden gem? Nový Svět because it’s the most picturesque part of the city and tourists never visit it­ (they all head to Prague Castle instead). It’s an extremely photogenic quarter hidden just a few minutes from the Castle’s main entrance. It’s what we call the real Old Prague – there are no shops, no advertisements, no souvenirs, no people… And if so, they’re mostly locals. While walking along the area’s winding cobblestone streets, you shouldn’t forget to look up. Maybe you’ll notice a cannonball lodged in the wall of a house – a reminder of the Prussian occupation of Prague in the mid-18th century. This is also the place to admire Prague’s solid old fortification and see how protected the city once was. The massive ramparts are absolutely impressive.

32de621aee9b18b2e9bbf0297533b419

What are the biggest tourist traps? Shops selling Russian souvenirs (matryoshka dolls, fur hats with CCCP logos etc.), taxi drivers, nightclubs, strip bars, absinth shops, wax/sex/torture museums and other places like these in the downtown area. And all of the so-called authentic Czech restaurants that surround the main squares – they’re overpriced, the service is bad and the food is average.

Where can I enjoy amazing views? For a fee: Petřín Tower, the Great South Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral or the Old Town Bridge Tower at the beginning of the Charles Bridge. For free: from the path below the Strahov Monastery, from the Hanavský Pavilion or the Metronome in Letná Park, or from the Vyšehrad area.

What’s the best way to spend a sunny day in Prague? Grab a beer in a beer garden.

What do you like to do when the weather is bad? Go to my favourite café, Alchymista, or a sauna. In winter, it’s possible to visit a public sauna on a boat. It’s a bit punk, but it’s really cool! It’s located on a barge in Náplavka, which is right in the city centre. The best part? The sauna room and relaxation area overlook the Vltava river and Prague Castle. Instead of taking a shower, you can take a dip in the river (of course you can still use the shower if you wish). Being naked in downtown Prague without getting fined – so cool! Just grab a beer on the deck and relax.

12ffc658e14a260690141aed450d8520
Photo credit: Lazne na Lodi

I want to try authentic local cuisine. Where should I go and what should I order? Naše Maso is a butcher shop where everything is supplied by Czech farmers and everything is made according to old Czech recipes. They sell small hot and cold meals, for example tatarák, tlačenka and houska se šunkou. They even have a self-service beer tap!

What should I take home as a souvenir? Botas 66 shoes. They’re a cult brand manufactured in the Czech Republic and they have a history dating back to the 60s. Isn’t it quite unique to wear something that’s not made in Asia?

What’s the best way to get around? On foot. Prague is well-known for its walkability. The downtown area is quite compact, so you won’t need to travel from one place to another by tram or metro. If you want to travel beyond the central area, public transport is clean and reliable.

How can you tell if someone is from Prague? They don’t refer to the metro lines as yellow, red and green – instead they say A, B or C. It’s a really good way to recognise a local!

If I want to get out of Prague for a day, where should I go? Konopiště Castle is a great place for a day trip. It was originally founded as a gothic fortress, but was later converted into a beautiful Baroque, French-style château (open from April to October). Another option is the city of Kutná Hora, where you can visit a scary chapel decorated with the skeletal remains of more than 40,000 people.

I’m vegetarian/vegan – help! Dhaba, Etnosvět, Maitrea and Lehká Hlava are all local favourites.

39a43db6d7f5d8392002a660a74d1a52
Photo credit: Etnosvet

What are some great local nightlife spots? Cross Club is a fantastic local nightlife spot and entry is often free.

What do you recommend for culture buffs? The interior of Prague Castle and the Museum of Prague, which is home to Langweil’s intricate cardboard model of the city from the beginning of the 19th century. It’s absolutely amazing!

8386305745_ff93694657_k
Photo credit: Tjflex2

Can you suggest some places for families with kids? The Karel Zeman Museum and the Zoo are both good options.

Where can I find out about local events? I read Goout.cz to find out about local events.

Is there anything else you think visitors should know? You should always stand on the right side of the escalators in the metro. The left side is the “fast lane”, the right side is for standing. Locals are a bit sensitive about this and tend to get nervous when people stand on the left side while others are in a hurry. And please don’t put love locks everywhere! Seriously, this is the #1 touristy thing you can ever do – anywhere in a world.

For more local recommendations read:

What locals like to do in Prague
Where locals like to eat in Prague
Where locals like to party in Prague

Special tip:
For a more authentic Prague experience, get the Like A Local mobile app

Like A Local Guide
Like A Local Guide is about stepping off the tourist trail and finding cool and cosy spots where locals like to spend their time. We built a website and mobile app to bring insider recommendations from around the world to your fingertips.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name
E-mail
Write a comment

    Right now I’m sitting at Kavarna Novy Svet in Novy Svet of course and it’s paradise! Thanks for recommending this beautiful quarter Dana!
    Ghazal • May 24, 2018 • Reply
    You are amazingly generous in giving very valuable tips to a first timer like me in Prague. A hue thank you with gratitude. I am from India and is visiting Prague for the first time today for 5 days.
    Dinesh Sharma • Apr 21, 2018 • Reply
    I can't wait to be there!
    Becky Dittmer • Jan 15, 2016 • Reply
    I love, love Prague. The first time I visited was in 1992. I was absolutely thrilled by every thing I saw and did. My last visit was September of 2012. If God wills, I will go back this year.
    Carol Schwartz • Jan 15, 2016 • Reply
    Prague is a great destination
    Roberto Castillo • Jan 15, 2016 • Reply
Popular posts
Like A Local Guide 25 Jun, 2019
Martin Liivand 31 May, 2016
Like A Local Guide 11 Nov, 2013
Like A Local Guide 1 Nov, 2013