TIPS & TRICKS

Intro

This document was originally compiled by me (Jaroslav Švelch) for my friends who went to Prague for another conference. I have now updated it for CEEGS 2018. What follows are not official endorsements, but personal recommendations for things and places that me and my friends personally like and go to, so please treat them like that and keep in mind that your tastes may be different! There are many more things to do and places to check out. In Prague, reviews on Foursquare, TripAdvisor or Google are usually a reliable indication of whether something is worth your time.

Getting around

Prague is a safe city (beware pickpokets around tourist spots, though!), and you can walk anywhere in the extended center. Walking is often the fastest way of getting around. Trams and the subway are cheap and you can buy tickets in subway stations (and at some tram stops). It might be a good idea to buy a 7-day ticket, depending on how long you are staying. Trams come often and are usually faster than driving or taxis, unless you drive a longer distance. Google Maps has relatively reliable information about the schedules, and idos.cz has the offical timetables. The network is very dense and trams run fast, but make sure you’re at the correct stop in the correct direction. If not, stops are usually not too far apart, so it’s not a big deal. If you prefer taxi, Uber may be a better option than a regular cab because the former has fixed prices (some cab drivers take advantage of foreigners and charge unreasonable amounts). If you do not feel comfortable using Uber, there is a similar local company called Liftago that works with local professional taxi drivers – you have to download their mobile app first. Lyft did not work in Prague last time I checked. Do not exchange money in the exchange offices, unless you absolutely have to. They charge commissions which vary from one place to another and are sometimes unreasonable. ATMs will give you Czech crowns without any problems and with low, fixed fees.

Neighborhoods to visit/walks

The area around FAMU is one of the busiest and simulateneously most exquisite parts of town. You will see the National Theater) right across the street.

Old Town Square – this is the obvious highlight, it is of course very beautiful, but go there early in the morning or late at night, other times it’s crowded with tourists. Beware that as for restaurants and bars, this area is full of tourist traps. Good places tend to be inconspicuous, like Mistral Café. Old town also has many beautiful streets that tourists don’t go to. Like for example Zlatá. It’s easy and safe to get off the beaten track in the Old Town.

Prague castle – another classic highlight, and for a good reason! The most picturesque way to get there is from the Letná park. When you are at Prague Castle, visit Nový svět, the cutest street in the city:

The Malá strana neighborhood (below Prague Castle and across the river from FAMU) and the Petřín tower (our tiny Eiffel tower) can be a bit touristy, but are always beautiful. Especially nice when you get there from the Prague Castle.

Náplavka – there are great walks along the river embankments. This one is extremely popular, has many bars (some on boats) and has lately become one of the centers of Prague night life. (And day life, too, because of the farmer markets). Great when the weather’s nice.

Letná park, beer gardens and restaurant – one of the nicest parks in the city, which gives you a beautiful view of the city

Cubist houses – one absolutely unique thing about Prague is cubist architecture – one of them is Kovařovicova villa, close to Vyšehrad. More are further along the river.

From Kovařovicova villa, you can walk south and then take stairs up to Vyšehrad – this is the site of the original castle of Prague, now with a church and fortifications. It has amazing views of Prague and is not nearly as touristy as Prague castle, although it is just as close to city center

For museums, National Gallery has a good selection of art from different periods. Their modern and contemporary art building is in the cool neighborhood of Letná.

DOX Centre for Contemporary Art is a private but very respectable institution. They tend to have cool thematic exhibitions and events on new media.

Žižkov TV tower – a landmark that has been voted the second ugliest building in the world. I don’t know why, I like it. You can see it from most places in the city, but it is actually cool to go there, take the elevator to the top and look around.

And, there is the Arcade Game Museum, the biggest one in Central Europe. Their collection is enormous and you can play all the machines, but it is housed outside of the city. Let me know if you want to figure out the transportation. Joystick Bar, where the warm-up party will take place, only has (relatively) few machines, but is very central. Unfortunately, it is often crowded by tourists.

Places to eat

At all of these places, you can speak English. They should understand when you say you need gluten-free („bezlepkový“ in Czech, pronounced bez-lep-ko-vee) or vegetarian food. Podolka, Lehká hlava and Sisters for sure have marked out gluten-free options. If you’re lactose intolerant, they will be able to tell you which dishes use milk.

In the closest vicinity of FAMU, the Klub Famu (in the building’s basement) has good lunches. Pivovar Národní is sort of a run-of-the-mill gastro pub, but fits larger groups, and both food and beer are solid.

Bistro 19 - only open on weekdays, but have tasty lunches just around the corner from FAMU. I used to go there at least twice a week!

Lehká hlava – a vegetarian staple very close to FAMU with fun new-age décor, many gluten-free options, too.

Café Louvre - despite its French name (never mind it is a Viennese-style place), it has very good takes on traditional Czech food. Close to FAMU.

Podolka – a reliably great restaurant with gluten free, vegetarian, vegan options. They’re a 6 minute tram ride away from FAMU (probably a bit too far for lunch during the conference), in a river yacht club wharf, with a beautiful view of the river. It’s safer to make a reservation.

U Kroka - below the Vyšehrad castle, and about 20 minute walk from FAMU, this is one of the best Czech restaurants in town that I know. They have modern versions of traditional Czech dishes. Reservation is usually required.

Sisters – they make one-sided sandwiches in the Czech tradition, but in many healthy options, including gluten-free. A good place for breakfast, or you can bring the sandwiches with you. We used them for catering at university events and people loved them!

Bahn-mi-ba – a Vietnamese place with great sandwiches and other Vietnamese dishes. Vietnamese food is generally great in Prague.

Pho Original – the Vietnamese are a strong minority in Czechia and Vietnamese food in Prague is often great. This is one of the best Vietnamese dinner restaurants, at least one that I like to go to. There are many more and you should try at least one.

But the most tasty bun bo nam bo can be found here in this fast food joint. It is quite legendary.

Bistro Punjab – the best Indian/Punjabi restaurant in town, despite being in a sketchy-looking wooden building next to the Supreme Court. I am including it because it’s in my neighborhood and I help the proprietor with social media and graphic design.

Bars and clubs

If you want to mingle with local artists, musicians and students around FAMU I recommend Klub FAMU and Vzorkovna.

Cross club – a very unique mecha-punk bar with hundreds of moving parts. You will feel like in Blade Runner or Mad Max. It’s also quite a labyrinth and I always find a new nooks and crannies whenever I go. It can be a bit crowded and rowdy on Friday and Saturday nights, but mellow during the week.

You will be able to able to find cool places in the center, but the true sites of night life are the Žižkov and Vršovice neighborhoods. Here is my favorite bar/restaurant in each – U Kurelů and Café Sladkovský. Both have great food and beer.

If the weather is nice, you should check out some outdoor cafes or beer gardens. The most famous one is the one in the Letná park (see above). It is very big and attended by a very diverse crowd of locals and foreigners. There is another outdoor space close to it, under the giant metronome. Náplavka (the enbankment) is another cool place.

Other resources

I recommend reading this article. The authors also published a book called The Honest Guide to Prague. I agree with most of their recommendations.

Also, feel free to ask me questions.