Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic is a magnificent place to visit. It’s one of Europe’s most visited cultural centres and receives millions of tourists each year. The Vaclav Havel Airport is the main airport in the Czech Republic and is most foreign tourists point of entry into the country. On my recent trip to Prague, I learnt a lot about this beautiful old city and visited historical sites and major attractions. I also picked up quite a handful of money tips that will definitely help someone who wants to visit Prague for the first time.
The currency used in Czech Republic is the Czech Koruna (or more commonly pronounced, the Czech Crown). While the Czech Republic is in the Euro zone and have signed up to join the Euro eventually, they have yet to do so. Even though the Czech Republic pretty much meets the criteria required to join the Euro, the recent Eurozone crisis has resulted in considerable resistance within the country to joining the monetary union. In many establishments, however, they do accept payment using Euro and some, even in US Dollar. Be warned though, the exchange rate offered on the street will be pretty poor.
If you have read a couple of travel reviews, you will notice that there are many complaints levelled against the Money Exchange Bureaus. I noticed that whatever rate is advertised outside the offices is not what you get inside when you exchange your money to their local currency. Even when the sign reads “No Commission”, you must first ask the clerks exactly how much you will get if you give them £ X or $ X.
To get the best rate, its advisable to exchange your money while in your home country, if possible. This was a last-minute trip so I only had a couple of days to prepare and I discovered that many foreign exchange establishments in Ireland do not carry the Czech Koruna as standard and it usually has to be ordered in. Even in Dublin airport, the Bureau de Change in T1 was sold out of Koruna. I ended up having to get money in Prague airport after landing.
It is advisable to have some local cash upon leaving the airport as most of the public transport ticket machines only accept coins. The ticket machine outside Terminal 1 does accept credit and debit cards but the further into the city you go the harder it is to find a credit card ticket machine.
Alternatively, you could use your ATM card. The rates more favourable at ATMs than in shops but be sure to check your own bank’s fee’s before you do. Speaking of ATMs and cash, be careful how you carry your cards and cash. Like all big cities, Prague has its fair share of pick pockets. Just use the same caution you would in any other city.
Just to mention that the public transport system is quite good in Prague and is a better way to travel within the city as opposed to using taxis. A taxi from the airport to Old Town should cost 550CZK or about €25 + tip but be very weary of con drivers who will try rip you off. In comparison, a 90 minute metro pass will cost you about 32CZK or about €1.30 and will cover you for both the bus and metro ride into the city centre. Journey time is about 35 minutes.