Despite its reputation as an inexpensive destination, prices in Prague are not as cheap as they used to be. In 2002, one US dollar could buy you forty Czech crowns (koruna); just over ten years later, the exchange rate for the dollar is hovering at twenty crowns. The dollar may not get you as far as it used to, but if you plan smartly and carefully, it is still possible to get some bargains in the City of 1,000 Spires.
Let’s start with accommodation. Hotel costs have skyrocketed in the wake of Prague’s tourism boom. There are legends of a time where you could get a bed for $10 a night, but those days are as long gone as Communism. Many nicer hotels in the center can set you back at least 100 dollars a night in high season. It is possible to hunt around for pensions and hostels that cost a bit less, but these can be a bit of a crap shoot – some are quite lovely and clean, others not so much. (This writer caught a terrible case of food poisoning from one such place! Stabbing pains in my abdomen lasted for almost a week.) For the traveler who wishes to stay for more than a week, or prefers to be right in the Old Town, the best bet is to rent an apartment. It is less than a hotel and most agencies have discounted prices for longer stays. There’s also more room and amenities (a small kitchen including a stove and fridge, for example) and are often more centrally located. It is quite possible to pay less than 100 dollars a night for a small apartment that is smack in the middle of Prague’s Old Town. These apartments can be tiny, but offer the unique experience of living like a local in a great part of town.
Part Two coming tomorrow…