Every place has its own hidden details that are not mentioned in any guide book. We - local guides - know many of the Prague secrets as we cruise the streets every day.
Our clients tell me how precious are these little details. I have decided to collect them from all team of our guides and share them with you!
I include some tips on how to make your Prague visit more interesting, better, and cheaper.
Some of the information is really "clasified", designated only for you. Please do not share it with some big tourist groups :-)
You can choose like single tour or combined
Free entry. Skip the queues. Advantageous tickets. Tram single tickets or all day pas?
Valendstain Garden - there are many stylish gardens in Prague, many require entry fee. Valendstain Garden is for free.
Tyn Church - wonderful Gothic church very similar to the St. Vitus cathedral (where you must pay the entry fee).
Skip the queues
St. Vithus cathedral - All big group tours start at 9 or 10 and they go up to the castle. Try to visit the castle later, after 14:00 when the big group tours are gone.
Jewish museum and cemetary - Everybody wants o see the cemetary so there is the longest queue for the tickets. No queue is usually round the corner - at the hidden ticket box in the Maisel Synagogue, Maisel street.
Tower of the Old Town clock - exelent view and elevator make this tower idela place for you and your camera. Every hour sharp there is the clock show and then at quarter past many people direct to the tower and form a queue. If you come at quarter to the hour you save your nerves and time.
Charles bridge - gets very busy from 10:00 to 20:00. If you want to see the romantic bridge visit it before 9:30 am.
Jewish Town tickets are now valid for 7 days - so you can divide your sightseeing into more days.
Tram single tickets or all day pas?
If you stay in teh Prague centre and do not need public transfer system for the way to and from the city centre, then I would not recommend to get the all day or 3 -5 day passes. These passes are very expensive and you would have to travel 4 times a day to use the value.
If you suppose you wil need a tram once a day - rather buy few one way tickets or 32 CZK and validate them for every single ride.
Detailed info at: http://www.dpp.cz/en/fares-in-prague
How to recognize the good, local restaurant? What about tipping?
How to recognize the good, local restaurant?
Her we give you several tips how to recognize good local place:
- see the menu and prices ahead, the beer is cheaper than Cocacola (prices for locals)
- restauraCE is for czech people on contrary restaurANT is an english translation probably focusing foreigners
- local restaurants usually have the cheeper daily menu offer
- waiters usually do not smile, locals are not used to exaggerated client service :-)
- menu primarily in Czech, chalk writings in Czech on info boards
What about tipping?
Czech people are used to the clients from various countries. Some people do not ti al all some people give very generous tips. There is no set rule, nothing exact is expected. If you want to be polite - you can leave about 5- 10% of the price. Many locals leave tip only if satisfied with services. Preferably in the cash, on the table (instead of involving the amount into the credit card payment).
CZECH CUISINE & COOKERY RECIPES
Try to cook some typical Czech meal.
CZECH CUISINE & COOKERY RECIPES
Koláčky (kho-laach-ky) are the traditional Czech small cakes from the yeast dow. Some of the cookery skill is required! Our grandmother bakes them for the Sunday meetings of the family. They must be present at every Czech wedding! Czech mothers bake like crazy for several days to have enough Kolacky to fill the gift hampers for all the participants :-) Kolacky can have various topping: apricot , plum jam - povidla, blueberry, poppa seed filling, cream cheese.
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups scalded milk
4 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fruit preserves
Cream shortening and sugar together. Stir in salt, hot milk, beaten egg yolks, and flavoring. When lukewarm, add yeast to mixture. Let stand 5 minutes. Add flour, beating well. Knead down into bowl. The dough will be slightly sticky. Let rise 1 hour. Cut off small balls of dough. Roll into rounds in your hands, and place on greased cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Let rise 15 minutes.
Make a depression into the center of each roll. Fill with fruit preserves. Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) until brown. Watch carefully. Cool on wire racks.
BRAMBORAKY (bram-bor-a-ky)Bramboraky are traditional pan-fried potato pancakes best accompanied by beer, sometimes decorated with the sower cabbage. It is an easy, filling and cheap Czech dinner. Enjoy them plain, with beer, topped with cheese, or sower cabbage.
4 large potatoes
3 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and black pepper to taste
1 pinch dried marjoram (substitue oregano)
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 tablespoon milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
oil for frying
My granny adds 2 spoons small bacon (ham) pieces.
Peel and coarsely grate the potatoes, squeezing out as much liquid as you can. Transfer the shredded potatoes to a mixing bowl. Stir in the crushed garlic, salt, pepper, marjoram, and caraway seeds. Beat the eggs with the milk. Add the egg mixture to the potatoes and stir well to combine. Gradually mix in the flour to form a thick but still pourable batter. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; the oil should be about 1/4-inch deep. Spoon about 1/4 cup of batter into the hot oil, flattening it slightly. Fry the pancake until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Taste the first pancake and adjust the seasoning if necessary; repeat with remaining batter.
RAJSKA (raj-skaa)Rajska Omacka - Beef Roast With Czech Tomato Sauce is very popular all family dish, kids love it! It has a nice sweet and sower taste and it is recommended to serve with the bread dumplings.
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 ½ tablespoons flour
2 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Melt butter and sauté onions until tender.Add flour and stir to make a light brown roux.Slowly add broth, tomatoes, allspice and bay leaf and stir together. Add pinch of salt and pepper and simmer for about twenty five minutes. Run sauce through a sieve into another small pot or bowl.Stir in vinegar and sugar (caramelize it if you like) choosing your degree of sweetness or bitterness.Serve over slow cooked pot roast and knedliky (dumplings).
GOULASH (ghou-laa-sh)Goulash is a meat and vegetables stew, easy to cook and filling recipe. Typical Czech lunch or dinner. Bit heavy, so buy some beer to "wash your throat" after the meal :-)
2 large onions chopped
1 pound [450 g] pork, cubed into ½" [1 cm] pieces
2 T oil
dash freshly ground pepper
1 c [250 ml] HOT water to cover
1 t vinegar
2 T tomato paste
1 T Wondra flour dissolved in 1/4 c [60 ml] COLD water
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Heat oil in stew pot. Chop onions and add; stir constantly until golden. Do not let onions scorch. Chop meat into ½" [1 cm] cubes; sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss well and place into pot. Mix thoroughly and cook uncovered until meat is no longer red. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, add enough HOT water to cover meat and simmer another 30-45 minutes until meat is very tender (depends upon toughness of meat). Add vinegar and tomato paste. blend well, stir in flour/water mixture and bring to boil 3-5 minutes while stirring to thicken. Lastly add chopped tomatoes and green pepper stirring in well but don't cook any longer.
SVICKOVA (Svee-tchko-vaa)Svickova na smetaně = Marinated Beef and delicious cream sause are often served as a nice Sunday lunch for the family meetings. The taste is great and not so difficult to cook. Every Czech will tell you that his or her maminka (mum) or babi (grandma) makes this best! The dish takes one of the best cuts of beef, the tenderloin, and makes it more flavorful yet by marinating it in the vegetables with which it will later be cooked. Svickova is often served with a cranberry sauce.
3 lbs Sirloin Roast
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Vinegar
2 Carrots, Chopped
2 Ribs of Celery, Chopped
2 Parsnips, Chopped
1 onion, Chopped
5 pieces of Allspice
2 Bay Leaves
4 Tbls All Purpose Flour
1 16oz container Sour Cream
1 Cup Beef Broth
1/2 Tsp Thyme
Combine water, vinegar, vegetables, all spice, peppercorns, and bay leaves into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. Cool marinade to room temperature.Pour marinade onto roast in baking dish and cover. Refrigerate marinated meat for at least twenty four hours. (I recommend you marinate for at least 48 hours). Flip roast over every 12-24 hours to both sides adequately absorb marinade. When ready to roast, season meat with salt, pepper and thyme. Place roast into roasting pan and cover with marinade and vegetables. Place roasting pan in preheated 350 degree oven. Roast for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove roast from oven and place on cutting board. Reserve remaining juices from roast and discard vegetables. Begin sauce by combining flour and sour cream in saute pan over low heat.Slowly add reserved marinade and beef broth to heated sour cream and flour mixture. Stir sauce for seven minutes over low heat. Flour should be dissolved and mixture should be adequately thickened. Serve sauce over thinly sliced beef. Serve over dumplings.
KNEDLÍKY (kned-hlii-ky)Knedliky - Dumplings are favorite side dish to accompany sauce meals, they taste like fresh soft bread. Nothing absorbs gravy and sauce like the Czech dumplings. They are quite difficult to cook. (If you fail - you can usually substitute them with bread :-)
3 cups white flour
3 cups semolina
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk (or thereabouts)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 baguette / French stick or similar French bread, cubed
Mix the flour, semolina and baking powder together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and break in the egg. Mix in some milk and the salt: then start mixing in the flour. Stir the dough very hard with a wooden spoon for about ten minutes, adding milk if necessary until bubbles start to form (or mix for several minutes in a food processor, using the plastic blade). Add some of the cubed bread: continue to mix. Keep adding bread until the dough is pretty full of it. Put the dough on a floured board. Divide into four pieces, shaping them into small loaves by rolling them on the board with your hands. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Put in two of the dumplings and let them cook for 12 minutes: flip them over and cook for thirteen minutes more. Remove and repeat with the other two dumplings. Place the cooked dumplings on a cutting board. Don't try to slice them with a knife: the dumplings are likely to get crushed and lose their lightness. Instead, take a long piece of sewing thread, slide under one of the dumplings (the short way), wrap it around the top and pull tight to slice. Repeat until the dumpling are all sliced. Place them in a covered serving bowl to keep warm.
Distinguish the quality product. Get the cheap, but very local souvenirs. Prevent tourist traps.
Distinguish the quality products and shops
Before you buy any Czech glass or garnet stone ask abou the origin, certificate of quality. Choose rather specialised shops than cheap mixed souvenir shop.
I would avoid shoping in Mostecka, Karlova and Nerudova street - as it is very toristy area. Try the streets: Dlouha, Ungelt, Celetna, Kaprova, Michalska, Narodni.
If you plan a countryside tour - try to do your shopping there, the prices are usually cheaper there.
Get the cheap, but very local souvenirs.
Here are some tips for the very local thinks that does not cost much, but can be a great souvenir for you or your friends. Many of them you can get in the local supermarket.
- COOKIES - Tatranka, Fidorka, Lázenské oplatky - the spa wafers (delicious and crispy, great present)
- TEA - Lipový čaj (Linden Tea with a nice honey taste. All Czech people drink it to increase the ability to fight infections. It brings relief from colds, flu, coughs, and aches and pains in the body, as well as for diuretic and sedative purposes.)
- PLUM BRANDY - Slivovice - small bottle of the local plum brandy
- ALFONS MUCHA - book marks, calendars or a scarf with the Art Nouveau motives painted by Alfons Mucha
- EASTER EGGS
- CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS
- PENCILS KOH-I-NOOR - Czech made pencils from high proffesional quality to the childrens color pencils.
- BEADS - The most renowned jewelry is produced by JABLONEX
- WOODEN TOYS - The history of the Czech wooden toy craft goes back hundreds of years.
- CONSTRUCTION KITS - STAVEBNICE MERKUR- all Czech boys have the iron kits
- BRAIN TEASER - Ježek v Kleci - many Czech kids have this teaser with the hidden map to treasure inside
- TOY - KRTECEK - The little mole is like a Czech Mickey MOuse. You can see the animated story at You Tube. Kids from 1-4 years love it!