This is the first time I write a post citing only negative aspects of a city. I wouldn’t have imagined it would be on this particular one, which is one of my favorites in Europe. Before proceeding, don’t think is a dangerous city, but it is a crowded one where they try to rip off tourists continuously.
- First, no doubt, as I said, massification. It is truly overwhelming even in low season. The old town (Stare Mesto) is made up of narrow streets with many curves, so the flow of people is slow. The route between Staromestská Square and Charles Bridge must be done almost in procession. In front of the astronomical clock at o’clock time, people are literally packed.
- Free Tours. In many cities, especially in Central Europe, companies that conduct free tours through the city are beginning to proliferate, you just pay what you want. I discovered them in 2014 in Poland and did two, and found them a good deal: Krakow I liked it, so I did the whole tour and tipped; the one in Warsaw bored me so I just left after half an hour. In Prague I have not done any, because they have been established recently and I already knew the city since I came in 2012. The issue is that the guides that ‘capture’ visitors for free tours have become the main nuisance this time. The second day 13 guides came to us (I counted them) to offer their tours, and is not that they ask and if you refuse they leave you alone; as there are so many, they want to make sure you do not do the tour with another company, so they try to convince you again and again. We did not want to be rude but in the end, on more than one occasion we had to cut them same as you do to telemarketers when they want to sell you something. Apart from them, are the segway tours, which are also quite a nuisance.
- Currency exchange. Prague’s worst thieves are exchange offices and ATMs. Any exchange money place applies commissions from 10 to 25%. ATMs usually charge a % for using in addition to the possible commission of the bank of origin. In many businesses, paying by credit card adds also a surcharge. I recommend searching nearby tourist areas but not where the flow of tourists is; 2% commission we found in several places on Pod Bruskou street and U Luzickeho Seminare, near Malostranska metro station, halfway between the Charles Bridge and the road leading to the east entrance of the castle. Pay in euros or dollars can be fatal for your wallet.
- Hazards. The risk of being in a violent situation is minimal, but there are many pickpockets in the main areas and the metro, trains and buses, although it is true that on this last visit in 2016 the city has seemed safer to me than in 2012. The park just off the central train station is the most notorious black spot in the city in terms of security; there may be problems if you walked in at night.
- Taxi drivers. Competing against exchange offices for the title of swindlers in the city. The fact is that today all of us we have GPS in our mobile phones, so this is spoiling their party, but still they are famous for their detours and ability to get stuck into a jam, so it is not advisable to go by taxi unless absolutely necessary. If necessary, you should always call a taxi company, never stop one in the street. If the driver refuses to say the approximate price of the race, the meter does not match a price list that should be visible, or refuses to deliver a printed receipt of the cost, you can refuse to pay and get off the taxi. Three girls in my hostel in 2012, a taxi driver stuck them in a jam, charged them € 100 and they lost the concert they were going. When they told me, I told them they have been clearly ripped off and the worst is that they did not even believe it; they argued that there was indeed jam and that the driver was really nice to them at all times and seemed to be overwhelmed by the situation, until I held out the page of my travel guide which clearly said: Taxi drivers in Prague? Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t know what was the worst for them, if losing the money or the expression on their faces.