Budget Living in Prague

Expats.cz takes a look at living in Prague on a budget.

Nicole Malone

Written by Nicole Malone
Published on 13.10.2009 10:22 (updated on 13.10.2009)

Money, money, money. There never seems to be enough. And now with the prices in Prague rising, you may be finding that your income just isn´t covering what it used to cover. So how can you cut some corners?

Grocery Shopping

When comparing a few supermarket prices for staple products, it turns out Hypernova and Albert offered the most competitive prices, closely followed by Tesco. It is not surprising that Hypernova and Albert have almost identical prices as they are owned by the same company, Ahold, which is currently rebranding all of the Hypernova supermarkets in the Czech Republic as Albert. To find a list of addresses for Albert/Hypernova supermarkets go to www.ialbert.cz or www.ihypernova.cz. For Tesco, go to www.itesco.cz.

Billa (www.billa.cz) is another large supermarket whose prices are slightly more expensive, however their fruit and vegetables always look fresh and are of good quality. Plus, they have a free membership card with which you can get discounts and special deals throughout the year.

If you prefer to do your shopping all in one place, both Hypernova and Tesco have an extensive range of products available. On the other hand, if you don´t mind getting your groceries from different places, you might want to check out your local butcher. “The quality of the meat is much better than that found in the supermarket,” said one expat about her local butcher. Plus, the meat is often less expensive than the meat sold in the supermarkets.

The same however, can´t be said about the fruit and vegetables sold in the small fruit and veg stores or markets. The supermarkets offer competitive prices and quality for fruit and vegetables, so unless you have a favorite fruit and veg store/market you go to, you may as well get your greens while doing your basic shop.

Clothes

If you are not concerned with your clothes´ brand names, then Tesco offers good quality items at reasonable prices. Jeans Club (www.jeansclub.hu) found in Palladium Shopping Center, Letnany Shopping Center and Galerie Butovice, also sells a range of casual wear within the same price range as Tesco.

H&M (www.hm.com/cz) and C&A (www.c-a-a.cz) sell affordable, good quality clothing, especially if you can find items during one of their many sales. These two stores can be found in the main shopping centers/streets of Prague. H&M and C&A also offer a well-priced selection of underwear, as does Tezenis (www.tezenis.com) found on Na Příkopě and in Letnany Shopping Center. Marks and Spencer (www.marks-and-spencer.cz/) also offer a competitively priced lingerie range. Marks and Spencer can be found on Václavské náměstí or in the main shopping centers within Prague.

Household/furniture

For furniture and household goods Ikea (www.ikea.com/cz) still seems to be the winning bet in terms of price and quality. If you don´t mind second hand, check out the classified section in Expats.cz. If you know exactly what you want you can also post an ad here, and who knows, you may get lucky! Another place to look for used furniture and knick-knacks is the used furniture “market” at the Libenský Most tram stop (Trams 1, 3, 12, 15, and 25). Head towards what looks like a used car lot and on your left you will see two sheds where you should be able to spot the piles of second hand bargains just waiting to be found! If you head to the right of these sheds and follow the signs for Nové bazary Nábytku you will find a selection of mainly new furniture. For household appliances also check out Tesco and Hypernova/Albert. Affordable household goods within the city center can also be found in Kotva (Náměstí Republiky 8, www.od-kotva.cz) on Level 3.

Entertainment/Culture

For a cheap day/night out nothing beats the entertainment of your friends! Pack up a picnic and the Frisbee, and head for your nearest park. Favorites include Letná Park, Stromovka, and Riegrovy Sady. For a more comprehensive round up of the parks in Prague, check here.

Another cheap option is to bury your nose in a good book. This has the added advantage of being able to be done both inside and outside, depending on the weather. The National Library (Klementinum 190, www.nkp.cz) has a section dedicated to books in foreign languages. There is a reasonable selection of English books, as well as books in other languages, such as French, German, Russian etc. If you enjoy reading the daily newspaper, on the entrance level of the National Library is a room called Čítárna novin. Here you can find a selection of international newspapers to browse through. The National Library also offers Wi-Fi for its members. 

If you enjoy going to the movies there are a few ways to make your trip to the cinema more affordable. One way is to head to the smaller, independent cinemas in Prague. Their tickets are noticeably cheaper than the multiplex cinemas, and you can often find some interesting films that haven´t made it to the blockbuster list. For a full list of cinemas in Prague head to our cinema listings. Or, if part of ‘going to the movies´ means heading to a multiplex cinema and watching a blockbuster with popcorn and an incredibly large soda – then choose your day to get the best deal. Village Cinemas (www.villagecinemas.cz) offers cheap Mondays with adult tickets for 119CZK. If you buy your tickets online, an adult ticket will cost 129CZK any day of the week, which is good if you want to head to the flicks on the weekend. Cinema City (www.cinemacity.cz) offers cheap Tuesdays with adult tickets at 129CZK while Palace Cinemas‘ (www.palacecinemas.cz) cheap days are Wednesdays; adult tickets 129CZK.

Enjoy visiting museums? Then spoil yourself on the first week of each month with a free museum/gallery to visit on each day of the working week! On the first Monday of the month there is free entrance to the National Museum (Václavské náměstí 68 Prague 1, www.nm.cz).  On the Tuesday you can go visit the Museum of Decorative Arts (17. Listopadu 2 Prague 1, www.upm.cz) for free. On Wednesday you get a choice of two: The National Museum of Agriculture (Kostelní 44 Prague 7, www.nzm.cz) offers free entrance all day and The National Gallery (www.ngprague.cz) offers free entrance to its permanent exhibitions from 3pm – 8pm. On the Thursday there is the Czech Museum of Music (Karmelitská 2/4 Prague 1) offering free entrance. And finally, for the first Friday of each month you again get two options. Both the National Museum of Ethnographic Exhibition (Kinsky Folly, Kinského zahrada 97 Prague 5) and Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures (Betlémské náměstí 1 Prague 1) offer free entrance on this day.

But surely the biggest highlight for the culturally minded yet budget concious is the yearly Prague Museum Night (www.praskamuzejninoc.cz). This free event has been occuring every June since 2003. It starts at 7pm and goes until 1am, with a large selection of museums, galleries and cultural institutions offering free admission to their exhibitions. There is free public transport to the involved locations, but beware – the crowds are huge! With this in mind it is best to decide what you are interested in seeing and plan your route first!

Travel

If you use public transport often, then it is worth purchasing a monthly, three monthly or yearly public transport pass. While it is a fair chunk of money to spend at once, the yearly will save you the most money; however any of these options will work out cheaper than constantly purchasing one way tickets. For information on the individual prices of tickets and the locations of where you can purchase them go to www.dpp.cz.

For budget travel around the Czech Republic and international, check out Student Agency (www.student-agency.cz). This travel agency caters to everyone, not just students, and offers extremely good prices for their bus trips. They have buses which travel to all of the main cities in the Czech Republic, and many other capital cities within Europe. They are also relatively comfortable and cheap! Student Agency also offers flights and hotels. Another budget travel agency which offers buses, flights and hotels is Letuska.cz (www.letuska.cz). A very cost-effective option is to scout around yourself and book your transport directly from the bus/train/plane company. With so many budget airlines flying to and from Prague – www.easyjet.com, www.smartwings.net, www.click4sky.com to name a few – this can often turn out to be the best option. If travelling within Europe, you have the choice of buses, trains and planes – all of which have the possibility of being the cheapest option depending on when and where you want to go, and what deal is currently being advertised.

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