While we lived in Prague for over five years, we were simultaneously awed by its beauty and frustrated by the rapacious tourism development that had swamped its old town. Recently, I've heard from travelers disappointed by their visits to Prague because of the city's tourist schlock and crowds.
Yes, there's a fair heap of that. But, there are also ways to avoid it and much more to see and experience in Prague without crowds. That's what this insider's guide is all about with tourist traps to avoid, best things to do, favorite Czech beers and pubs and where to eat in Prague.
Many moons ago, during our first month living in Prague, I remember exiting Charles University after a Czech language class and looking up at a night-lit Prague Castle and thinking, “My God, do I actually live here?”
It didn't seem real.
Even after five years of living in Prague, I could still turn a corner, catch the right light and get that feeling. Prague is a Bucket List and “Top 10 Romantic Cities” favorite — for good reason. But frankly, there's also a lot of touristy crap that can leave a casual visitor tourist-worn.
During my last visit to Prague, I played tourist for a day and forced myself to walk through through its main tourist artery — from the Prague Castle, over the Charles Bridge, down Karlova Street, through Old Town, up to the top of Wenceslas Square. Maybe it had improved since we lived there?
But all is not lost. Here are some ideas on how to minimize the tourist schlock, what to do to replace it with, local neighborhoods to explore and where to eat in Prague at the end of the day.
Note: This post was originally published in May 2011 and was updated on June 4, 2019.
What to Avoid in Prague: Tourist Schlock
1. Karlova Street
In tourist hell, right next door to San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf and Bangkok's Khao San Road is Prague's souvenir-engorged Karlova Street. If you only retain one piece of information from this post, it should be this: avoid this street like the plague.
Don't ask why, don't be tempted. Just avoid it. Your visit will be all the better for it.
Alternative: “But how am I going to get from Charles Bridge to Old Town Square?” you might ask. Easy.
When you come off the Charles Bridge (on the opposite side of the river from Prague Castle), cut through the Klementinum (look for the doorway across the street to the left of Karlova street) and enjoy a peaceful stroll through a 14th century…