4 Ways to avoid the crowds in PraguePublished 26/02/2022
Prague is such an intense popular tourist destination that even the government tried to make changes in the way the tourists experience the city. I think it’s common knowledge that in the Czech Republic beer is cheaper than water (yes, this really is true), so there’s a lot of alcotourism (yes, they really call it that). Meaning, many stag parties and loud, annoying, drunk people. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, actually, there isn’t a city I found this far that I loved as much as Prague. But you do have to avoid the crowds, and I will tell you how.
Follow the locals
This might make sense if you’re a frequent traveller who doesn’t like to only do the touristic things. But in Prague, locals really avoid the old town like the plague. That’s really sad actually, but unfortunately true. Aside from the drunk tourists, this is also because the prices in the city centre are sky-high. The Czech Republic is super cheap, obviously, Prague is a bit more expensive but the prices in the old town are prices you’ll see in Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, or Barcelona. You easily pay €5 for a coffee, while outside the centre you pay less than €3. Even after lockdown when bars opened up again but the borders were still closed, most Czech people didn’t go to the old town because they didn’t want to support the tourist places. So, basically, you either serve locals or you serve tourists. Follow the below tips to find the local places.
1. Cross the river
Wherever you are in the city, the other side of the river is cheaper. With as the only exception, the one street across Charles bridge. As this is the most popular tourist attraction in the city, it will be expensive on either side. If you cross that street until you reach Malostranské náměstí (a square), go left, and you’ll notice prices drop. On the right is Prague castle and you’ll definitely break the bank going there.
2. Cross the highway
Okay, not literally, you actually go under. But there’s a highway separating the city centre from the rest of the city. It’s above the red metro line. You will see it on Google Maps or get a metro map and cross the red line. The neighbourhoods on the Eastern side are mostly expat areas. Lots and lots to do, but without the crowds and touristic prices. Definitely worth a visit! The cool neighbourhoods are Vinohrady, Vršovice and Karlín.
These also happen to be the neighbourhoods where you can find my favourite brunch restaurants, read about it here.
3. Go in the opposite direction of others
This one pretty much goes anywhere. People tend to walk in the same direction, from one tourist spot to another. With the above example as proof. Malostranské náměstí is the square at the foot of the Prague Castle. So most people will go from Old town square to Charles bridge and then to the Castle. That’s why you’re coming to Prague, right? Restaurant owners know this, so every single place on that exact route will be expensive. Go the opposite way. Take a different bridge or walk away from the river altogether. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to those tourist places altogether because they are definitely worth a visit. Just walk away from it once you’ve seen them and are hunting down a nice place for lunch or a drink.
Go to the parks
Prague is one of the greenest cities I’ve ever been, and it’s one of the reasons I love it so much. Also because most parks are on hills and therefore give amazing viewpoints. Some of my favorites:
- Letna park (pictured on top)
Letna is next to the river. Take a tram or prepare for a bit of a climb. There are stairs, but they are high! While the tram takes you to the other side, where you’re already on the same level. But it’s so worth it. It will give you a wonderful view over the water with all the bridges and the castle in the back. Definitely, a must-go for a nice sunset drink at the beer garden.
- Riegrovy sady
Riegrovy sady again offers an amazing view, but from a different side. It’s such a popular spot among locals and expats and if the weather allows it, there’s a live jam session on Friday evening. Watch another sunset with some nice music. There’s also a beergarden here. Because, well, Czechs and beer..
- Petrín (pictured above)
Petrín, especially in spring because the park will be covered in beautiful cherry blossoms. It’s one of the biggest parks, and you can get quite the hike here. People tend to go here for picnics, reading a book and just lazy afternoons. Even though it’s right next to Prague castle and the top can get touristic, the rest of the park is never busy and only occupied by locals and expats.
Should I not go to the old town at all?
Touristic places are usually touristic for a reason. Pretty buildings and old structures draw in people. Definitely do go to those places! Charles bridge is one of my favourite places ever. Just leave the crowds once you want to go for a drink or food. And maybe try to get up early to explore an empty city around sunrise. It might be early, but you’re going to be happy you made the effort!