Prague and Amsterdam are two very different cities that are often compared by tourists. Prague is the heart of Europe known for having beautiful architecture, pretty women and cheap beer. Amsterdam is known as a place with a crazy night life, legal prostitution and legal drugs. But of course there is so much more to each city. After living in Prague my whole life and visiting Amsterdam for over a week I made a few interesting comparisons when it comes to cleanliness, transportation and alcohol.
Big cities are never perfectly clean. The major differences between Prague and Amsterdam are where you find the trash and how it got there. A lot of streets in Prague are covered in chewing gum that has been permanently stomped into the ground. The gum stays no matter how much Czechs clean — men and women in orange suits sweeping and picking up trash are seen regularly. With the large flow of tourists and the abundance of events held throughout the city, trash cans are often found overflowing with trash piled on all around the can. Otherwise Prague is pretty clean and trash cans are on every corner, Amsterdam is a little different. It seems to have fewer trash cans than Prague, but the area around them is almost always spotless. The trashcans in residential areas have large areas underneath them so there is always more space and trash doesn’t get left on the side. However walking through the city and it’s outskirts, there is a lot of noticeable trash in areas in and around bushes and trees; wrappers, empty bottles and cups. Whether it’s the lack of trashcans or lack of fines for littering, like in Prague, there is more stray trash on the streets of Amsterdam. However Prague has more visible trash in concentrated areas.
Both cities have reliable, safe and clean public transportation. But the price and method of paying are quite different. In Prague you can buy a single use pass around one euro, just under for an hour and just over for 90 minutes. There is also a one day ticket for 4 euros. In Amsterdam the tickets are much more expensive with a one time pass costing 2.8 euros and a daily pass costing 7.5 euros. After purchasing the tickets there is a different process of validating the tickets. In Prague, one day tickets are validated in machines right before entering the metro, or right in the tram or bus. There is also a possibility of buying a mobile ticket. Since some people have monthly passes they don’t need to validate them when they get on it creates the possibility of people sneaking on without paying. This is why Prague and especially the busiest stops have people who stop you and check your ticket with a fine of almost 30 euros for not having one. In Amsterdam it’s different because you have to validate your ticket every time you get on public transportation and every time you leave. There is either a system that stops you from entering without placing your card on a sensor or there is a person watching everyone who enters.
So Prague has much cheaper public transportation with gaps in enforcing everyone to pay. There have even been big groups of people who form in order to ride illegally and chip in when a member gets fined — according to them it is cheaper than everyone having to buy a pass. In Amsterdam there is no possibility of doing this and the system tracks how long you are traveling for and which routes you take. This information can be very useful to innovating public transportation to make it more convenient and altered to travelers needs.
Finally there’s alcohol. It is one of things that draws many tourists to both Prague and Amsterdam. Prague is known for it’s cheap and very tasty beer that is sold for around a euro in large pints. Prague has pubs on almost every street, and almost every shop or street vendor sells beer along with other alcoholic beverages. In shops beer is sometimes less than half a euro. Amsterdam is quite different. Beer is more expensive, three euros on average if you’re drinking out. It is also served in smaller quantities, usually in 0.33 glasses. Beer is also not as accessible as in Prague. Gas stations and small street vendors rarely sell beer so you have to go to a super market or restaurant to buy it. However the stores who do sell beer for around a euro and there are beers with a much higher alcohol percentage than in Prague. Neither city has strict enforcement against public drinking and beer consumption is high in both places. The final difference is that Czech pubs offer less beers, usually one or two alcoholic and one non-alcoholic. While many Dutch pubs have a much richer variety.
These are just a few comparisons that stood out during my visit to Amsterdam. Prague and Amsterdam are two very different and amazing cities and both are definitely worth a visit.