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your Prague guide by someone who lives here

How to Tell if you are in a Prague Tourist Trap

A tourist trap occurs when visitors are forced into an area and then limited in their options to purchase goods and services. A classic example is the airport. If you need to fly there is no choice but to go to the airport. Once at the airport you have no option but to purchase from the stores available. Because the shops know you have no other option they can jack up the prices without worrying you will go somewhere else.

Prague is 496 km squared - a large city. But tourists don’t spread out evenly around the city. They are there to visit the sites - Charles bridge, Prague Castle, Old Town Square. These sites take up less than 1% of the total city, but 100% of the tourist visit these site. Over 7 million people a year with pockets full of spending money congregated in these small areas. A perfect storm, a perfect trap. With all that traffic vendors selling souvenirs have the liberty to raise prices. Tourist need to eat and drink and what is a vacation after all if you don’t relax with a meal and a beer. For the convenience of being close to the attraction they pay extra.

What makes Prague a really effective trap is language. Protected by the iron curtain from the early 1950’s until 1989 most Czech’s never saw the need to speak English. Other then the very young or those who require it for work very few have the need to learn English. The highest concentration of English speakers are at the tourist sites. In the tourist zones hotel staff and restaurant waiters all speak fluent English. The sites are little cocoons where everybody speaks english. But step outside of that zone and you enter Czech speaking territory. This scares a lot of tourist so they stay safety inside the tourist zones - they stay trapped.

You do not need to be trapped. You can escape.

The popular Prague tourist sites are english speaking and tourist priced islands in Prague. All around them is the real Prague, usually only a single street away. The same beer, meal and czech glass souvenir is twice as expensive on Karlova Street street (connects Charles Bridge with Old Town) as one street over where few tourists venture to go.

Some people don’t mind paying extra for the comfort of being amongst other tourists and English speakers. But if you are not one of them and would like to peek out from behind the veneer to experience a little of the local Prague you need to know where the trap zones are and where they are not. Of course you will need to enter trap zones because that is where the interesting sites you came to see are, but it does not mean you need to spend you money there. Move over one street and have your beer and goulash out of the zone. The waiter might not speak perfect english but the respite from the hoards of tourist and the money you save will be worth it.

How to Tell if you are in a Tourist Trap?

Usually it is obvious that you are in a tourist trap - standing on a old stone bridge with hundreds of non czech people around you. But sometimes it is not so obvious. You could be on one of the streets that lead to a tourist trap site called funnel streets. Or if you are a early riser, squares like Malostranske namesti or Václavské náměstí appear to be very local until all the tourists wake to fill them.

Prague Trap App

PRAGUE TRAP - An App for your phone that tells you if you’re trapped

Instead of pulling out your map and trying to figure out whether you are trapped here is a app which will instantly tell you whether you are standing in a tourist trap. Before walking into a restaurant or buying a souvenir use this app first. If if says you are trapped, walk 200 meters in a random direction and try again. A green ‘You’re Local’ means you can expect to experience the real Prague.

Prague Tourist Trap

Am I Being Helpful?

I hope you find this website helpful. I created the website because I love Prague, I enjoy writing about it, and I get a weird kick out of helping you make your trip to Prague more enjoyable.

I wrote a book about local travel in Prague. The book is my pride, my joy, my unbiological offspring. It was written with a passionate heart. If you find this website helpful consider reading my book. You will receive an entertaining book full of useful tips that will instil in you the confidence to wander the local streets of Prague. The book is also included in the popular Prague Local Explore Kit Bag.

Thank you,
Roman : Prague 2017

Prague Local Travel Book