I know that sharing unpopular opinions is not what you should do when travel blogging, but I really think that Prague is overrated! And in this article I will tell you why it is so and maybe help you come prepared when you first visit Prague. Because, even though overrated, it is still a nice city to visit!
When I decided to spend a month in Prague this year, it was after scouring Holland – especially Amsterdam and Rotterdam – for a nice place to stay. As Holland proved to be insanely over our budget, I went for the second best option available: the much praised, cheap Central European country of Czechia and its capital, Prague.
Initially, we wanted to be there in July, but most cities in Europe are extremely expensive during the peak of the season, so instead we opted for a slightly cheaper (accommodation-wise) month of June.
Now, writing this article, we’re already 15 days in and I can easily say that Prague is overrated. Most bloggers are usually all praise when it comes to sharing their experiences and thoughts – and in this case, there are definitely many things to complain about.
Below I will complain and share with you my main reasons for stating that Czechia’s capital is overrated.
Very high prices
One of the main things that Prague is well known for is the low cost of living. Low prices of beer, of food, of everything make it a perfect choice for travelers on a budget.
Well… this is what many people say, but the truth is far from it. In reality, Prague is really expensive and totally opposite of what you’d expect from an Eastern European country (with which it is usually compared to).
Prices are similar to what we’ve seen in Germany or France and a lot higher than in other cheap European destinations like Budapest, Bucharest and basically all other Eastern European countries out there.
This came as a shock for sure: having to pay 2 Euros for a scoop of ice cream seems a bit much for a “cheap” destination. Grabbing a meal at a regular restaurant for 20 Euros per person is not my idea of cheap…
Sure, you can find ice cream for around 1.5 Euros and maybe even a bit lower here and there and there are cheaper restaurants as well, but generally the prices were well above what we were expecting based on prior reports.
It is true that we have never had any problem with the food itself – so at least it is good and plenty, but I do miss the cheap takeaway Chinese joints in Budapest or the menu del dias in Valencia…
And food is not the only expensive thing in Prague: everything else is. From things you can buy in the store – groceries to toiletries and everything in between, to entrance fees to various attractions and taxis, Ubers or public transportation… everything is more expensive than we had anticipated.
Sure, I understand, this is a touristy place and prices are for tourists and as long as the quality is at least decent, there’s no reason to complain… but I do complain because most people claim that Prague is budget friendly. It is not!
I actually read recently that prices in Prague are twice as high as those in other cities in Czechia. Not really sure if this is true… but it sure is expensive!
It’s a bit of a vicious circle here: Prague is extremely popular and everybody praises it, therefore thousands of tourists are flooding its streets each day, just like me, only to complain that it’s way too crowded. Again, just like me.
Yes, we all know it: never visit during the high season if you don’t like the crowds! But I hate the miserable, cold weather, with cold rains and depressing views… plus, I didn’t think that June is really high season (my bad!)
Apparently, I was extremely wrong as there are thousands over thousands of tourists at all times of day, trying to see exactly the things that we want to see. Eating in the restaurants that we want to eat in. Doing touristy stuff, just like everybody else does when on vacation.
And while every major city has this problem with crowds, it is in Prague that I have experienced the apogee of the tourist tsunami. During the weekend, we know what to do: go visit a park or move as far away from the city center as possible. It’s when the crowds quadruple!
Waiting in line for hours to see generally over-hyped attractions (more on this below) is nobody’s cup of tea. As a result, I did skip some of these attractions and tried to avoid the crowds as much as possible. And thanks to Google, I know that I didn’t really miss that much!
Cakes are terrible (unless you really love jelly)
I have no intention to upset the people living here and loving their cakes… but really, these are the worst I have eaten in my entire life. Probably you will feel the same.
All the cakes here are as dry as the desert and crumbly and the bakers seem to have a really soft spot for using jelly everywhere. Really, it seems that they’re always trying to find a way to add that jelly to any type of cake!
I laughed when, after a bit of research and pastry shop hopping, I found inside a large shopping mall an Italian cake shop. I kid you not when I say that all those “Italian” desserts had the trademark jelly on top of them. Not sure about the tiramisu… but I have a feeling that it was as dry as it can be and maybe they even found a way to use that jelly in it.
So yeah, if you like that moist batter as much as I do and if you dislike that thick jelly just like I do, you will be terribly disappointed with all the cakes and sweets in Prague!
Main attractions are overrated
OK, I said it! The main attractions – those on all the “Top 10” lists out there… they’re highly overrated.
The Castle? Not only that you will have to spend hours pushing into and being pushed by other tourists to get inside, but you will also find it largely disappointing. Actually, the views around the castle and the parks nearby are much better in my opinion!
The Astronomical Clock? I kid you not when I say that when the “show” is over, half of the people there will be exchanging glances asking themselves “is this it?” What a disappointment!
The Lennon Wall? Good luck finding Lennon there, covered by tons and tons of grafitti – and poor quality stuff, too!
The Dancing House? Just a place to walk by, snap a photo and move on. Charles Bridge? While indeed interesting and a nice walk, it’s also full of tourists at all times of day and you’ll always feel suffocated.
Fortunately, there are so many things to see in Prague that once you’re done with the main attractions (or at least are prepared to skip them entirely), you’ll feel much better: all the parks and hills are beautiful, the Saint Peter and Paul Basilica is great, while the nearby Vysehrad Cemetery is strangely charming… and so on.
Really, there are much better things to do in Prague than to follow the crowds and head straight to the overhyped attractions. Take your time to explore the lesser known areas of the city, the places where locals go, and you will be satisfied.
The only exception, I would say, is the entire old town area – especially the Old Town square which is truly spectacular and is worth all the praise (not the claims that it is cheap, though!)
Public transport / infrastructure
Although drivers and pedestrians in Prague are generally civilized and really nice, the entire public transport meets cars area is pretty chaotic and awkward.
During our stay, we witnessed a full collision between a car trying to take a turn and a tram! I guess that these things happen often because of the way everything is laid out, especially around the city center area: pedestrians have to squeeze through trams and cars, with the latter having to pay attention at incoming trams as well… I don’t really know how to explain this better than say that it’s chaotic and difficult at best.
For example, from our Airbnb to the train station, you could probably walk in 5-7 minutes. You actually are, at a point, on a high ground, seeing the train station. But in order to actually get there, you have to do a 10 minute detour around the National and History museum.
Also, make sure that you are on the right side of the street – as the other ends abruptly and without warning, so you have to return if you don’t know where you have to go. Been there, done that!
Fortunately, Google Maps tells you exactly what’s the route you have to take… but it’s strange to see that everything is so poorly designed.
Sure, this could be an effect of the fact that the entire area was built back when cars didn’t even exist and there weren’t thousands of tourists roaming the streets… but it still leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
And the buses and trams… if it’s melting hot as it was during our stay, you will be slowly cooked when traveling. We did take a tram at least once a day during our stay here and only once we ended up in one with working air conditioning.
Sure, the extremely hot weather might be uncommon in Prague and a result of climate change… but it’s still unpleasant not to have air conditioning. This was also my problem with Budapest…
My pet peeve: recycling
While this is not really something that makes Prague overrated or in any way a poor choice for a destination, it is something that really disappointed me: the lack of care for recycling and trying to reverse the evil we’ve done to this planet.
While our host did have sorting trash cans for paper, plastic and general waste… we found out that there’s no trash bin to put our sorted trash into and it all went in the same bin in the end – as well as the same truck.
There are some bins for the sorted garbage on some streets – but they are few and rare between. The closest to our location was several minutes away and all those bins were always full – proving that the people care, but probably the local authorities don’t.
Together with that, Prague is not very bike-friendly either. Although there are definitely lanes for bikes in many places around the city, you will fast see that the infrastructure for riding bikes is lacking a lot – and as a result we’ve seen surprisingly few people riding bikes in the city.
So… Is Prague overrated?
I would definitely say so.
And while the city itself is definitely beautiful and has a lot to offer, you should come here prepared for everything I have mentioned above and take all the praise it’s getting from other bloggers and publications with a pinch of salt.
I am not at all disappointed with the fact that we have decided to make Prague our home for an entire month and I don’t regret choosing it as this year’s main destination, but I was really surprised to find out that it’s lacking that particular something that makes you fall in love with it.
I actually ended up enjoying Prague more and more as the days passed, as we found places to eat that were not insanely expensive and the staff wasn’t treating you as if they were doing you a favor for feeding you, as we found more off the beaten path attractions and started to live a little bit more like locals do.
I know that this might not be a popular opinion an definitely not something you want to read, but truth must be told. No reason to tell you how amazing the city is, only for you to get there like I did and wonder if you landed in the wrong place…