Are you planning to visit Prague but would like to avoid all the tourist traps? Do you want to spend some time off the beaten track and experience the city the way the locals do? If you consider yourself a traveller rather than a tourist, a new map called Use It will help you to do all that, and more.
For over two decades now, Prague has been one Europe’s top tourist destinations with millions of people visiting the city each year. But the local tourist industry has grown correspondingly, making it difficult even for the casual traveller to escape the city’s tourist traps and experience Prague without having to work their way through streets full of touts, kitschy souvenirs, and other tourists.
To offer an alternative, a group of students this year put together a map designed for young travellers called Use It Prague. Inspirited by similar maps that have been put out in several European cities including Brussels, Porto and Warsaw, the new Prague map promises to give you a more down-to-earth experience. Julie Dürrová is one of the map’s authors.
“This map is special because it’s made by local volunteers; it’s free and it’s not commercial which means the places mentioned in it don’t pay to be included. We picked special places that are off the beaten track as well as places as that we normally use, rather than those where every tourist in Prague goes to, like Old Town Square. So we tell people, find your own way around the city.”
The Use It Prague map will also take you to some of the city’s tourist classics, such as Prague Castle, Old Town Square. On your way there, however, you can stop at some of the hidden cafes and bars popular with the local crowd, or pop in several galleries and music clubs often omitted by the mainstream tourist guides. To see what life in Prague is like for the residents, there are three walks to take you around the city. One of them is called the Communist March.
“We recommend to start on the Petřín Hill from where you can see some of the buildings erected during the communist era. You can also appreciate some of the metro stations, then go to the Žižkov neighbourhood to climb the iconic TV tower, and finally visit one of the suburbs with prefabricated panel buildings.”
The map, funded by EU and Prague municipal grants, is only available in English. The group now plans to introduce similar maps for other Czech cities, including Plzeň, Brno and Olomouc.
“We would like to come up with such maps for other places in the Czech Republic. In Belgium, the main success of the Use It map was in that tourists coming to Brussels don’t just stay there but they also go to Antwerp and other cities, and they now come for more days. So that’s our goal.”
Until August 20, you can pick up the map at an info stand at the foot of the Petřín Hill, opposite the funicular station, or get a copy in most of Prague’s youth hostels. You can also download it from use-it.cz although the authors admit they have yet to make it as user friendly as the printed version.