Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport to enter the Czech Republic and can stay up to 90 days without a visa.
Time: Prague is five hours ahead of U.S. eastern standard time; six hours ahead in summer.
Money: The currency of the Czech Republic is the crown (koruna). For current conversion rates go to OANDA Currency Converter. www.oanda.com/convert/classic
Phone Calls: All numbers in the Czech Republic have nine digits. There are no area codes. Numbers for mobile phones tend to start with a “6” or “7” (i.e., 602-xxx-xxx). When calling from abroad, dial 420 (the country code) and the 9-digit number.
When to Go: Prague has a continental climate, with four distinct seasons. The best time to visit is in the fall, when the days tend to be warm and dry. Summer is good too, but steel yourself for crowds and unpredictable weather. The almanac says summers are supposed to be sunny and warm (with temperatures ranging from 60-80°F [16-27°C]), but recent years have brought stretches of cool, rainy weather. Winters are dark, cold, and best avoided–though less crowded.
Getting There: About six miles (ten kilometers) outside the city, Prague-Ruzyne Airport (www.prg.aero) is served by several international carriers, with frequent service to major cities throughout Europe. Czech Airlines, or CSA (www.csa.cz), and Delta Airlines offer nonstop flights to select cities in the United States. Other flights to and from North America normally change planes in a European hub like Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or London.
Getting Around: Don’t bother driving in Prague. Instead, familiarize yourself with the excellent public transportation system. Most sights in the center are within walking distance. For everything else, metros, trams, and buses should suffice. Taxis are ubiquitous and cheap, but watch out for dishonest drivers. Avoid hailing cabs on the street; instead call in advance or have your hotel or restaurant call for you.
Tips: Prague weather is fickle, so pray for sun but prepare for rain. Pack a decent umbrella, a waterproof coat, something warm for chilly evenings (even in summer), and comfortable walking shoes.
Cell Phones: You'll need a cell phone that is GSM SIM-unlocked that works on 900-1800 GSM frequencies (check with your operator). These will work with any prepaid SIM card in Europe. For details, see www.telestial.com.
Electrical Gadgets: Czech appliances operate on 230 volts, requiring a transformer for 110-volt American shavers, hair dryers, and so on. Most laptops, cell phone chargers, and iPods have built-in transformers, but you’ll still need a plug adaptor with two round prongs. Buy adaptors before you leave home; they can be difficult to find in Prague.
Aspirin: Pain relievers and other over-the-counter remedies are sold only in pharmacies, so best to take some extras along before you leave home.
Money: Leave the wad of dollars and traveler’s checks at home and just bring a debit or credit card with a PIN number (double check with your bank that the card is approved for international transactions). ATMs are available everywhere and you can get Czech crowns at a bank machine on your arrival at Prague airport.
Prague Information Service
Basic information about accommodations, what to see and do, and other essential tourist resources. www.pis.cz
Prague and Czech Maps
Online mapping service covering Prague and the entire country. Czech language only so use Czech spellings, i.e., “Praha” for Prague, when typing in addresses. www.mapy.cz
Prague Public Transportation
Routes, schedules, fares for all Prague public transportation, including metros, trams, and buses. Helpful route planner. www.dpp.cz
Complete online timetable for buses, trains, and planes to and from Prague. Great for planning getaways. Use Czech spellings when typing in destinations. jizdnirady.idnes.cz
Complete listings for cinemas, concerts, exhibitions, parties, and clubs. Online classifieds and real estate. prague.tv
Online bulletin board aimed at English-speaking expats and visitors. Includes business and service listings, restaurant reviews, classifieds, and a jobs board. www.expats.cz
Instantly translate words from English to Czech and vice versa. Also works with French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, and German. www.slovnik.cz
Highly entertaining and idiosyncratic food blog about Prague maintained by a U.S. expat known only as “Brewsta.” czechoutchannel.blogspot.com
The Prague Daily Monitor
Online newspaper covering news, business, culture, and sports. Good restaurant reviews and lifestyle features. www.praguemonitor.com
The Prague Post
News and current events from Prague’s weekly English-language newspaper. Decent cultural listings, and movie and restaurant reviews. www.praguepost.com
Czech Business Weekly
Business and economics newspaper, including some human interest and cultural stories. www.cbw.cz
The English-language service of Czech public radio. Good source for local news and features; listen online or download podcasts. www.radio.cz
Alternative online magazine focusing on music, art, culture, and commentary. provokator.org
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