Prague is a quite safe city, where people feel relaxed walking at just about whatever hour, even on its sometimes dimly lit streets. As in any touristed destination, pickpockets focus on areas where tourist congregate, so be mindful and don’t keep valuables in an accessible place.
So that any difficulties won’t spoil your stay in Prague, please follow the next tips. The overwhelming majority of visitors leave Prague satisfied, stick to our warnings and will also be safe.
They are quick to take advantage of any situation when you are not paying full attention to your personal belongings to make some of them their own. Therefore, pay particular attention to your belongings in places where many people congregate, such as the public transport system, popular tourist spots, and clubs. Extra police are sent onto the streets of Prague throughout the tourist season and are prepared to help resolve any problematic situation. In the case of thefts, go to the local police. Your country’s embassy will help you with arranging replacement or emergency documents.
Prague Infamous Taxis
The negative publicity that has been given to Prague by some of the city’s taxi drivers has given the city a bad name throughout the world. Complaints about dishonesty have a bit, fortunately, declined over the recent past years. This has also been helped by the “Taxi Fair Place” campaign. On information panels marked with this symbol, you can find out how much a journey will cost you from a fixed point to the centre or well-known tourist sites. Prague City Hall regulates the fees and has set maximum prices. Where possible, book a taxi through a radio dispatching service, where you will be notified of the price beforehand or pre-book Prague Airport Transfer online. Your hotel or any information centre will be happy to provide you with a contact number.
Even if he or she has only a little experience, every traveller knows that exchanging money in the street never pays! The safest way is to exchange in a bank or the hotel exchange office. Exchange offices in the town centre are more advantageous as they offer the best exchange rates. For your security, however, always verify the final amount that you receive from the exchange office. For example, an extremely favourable exchange rate may be available only for exchanging more than a set amount (for example, 100 euro), or fees may be added for the exchange. Every exchange office must always indicate such information in several languages; however, it frequently happens that tourists do not digest this information (for example, because it is intentionally provided in small writing). Also, do not forget that the exchange rate for buying and selling must always be displayed in exchange offices in the Czech Republic!
In the Czech Republic, it is considered a good habit to leave 10% of the cost of the meal as a tip for restaurant service. In some establishments, this sum will appear as a separate item on your bill. Information about whether you will be charged a fee for service will always be found on the menu, or other official printed matter. Your waiter or waitress must present a receipt for the entire amount paid. Should your attendant not provide you with a bill for the whole amount, and ask you for a separate payment outside of the bill, then he or she is probably attempting to increase the bill illegally. Should you disagree with the bill, you should ask for an explanation from the restaurant manager, as the owners often do not know that their personnel are increasing their earnings in this way.
Travelling on the public transport system can save you not only time but mainly money. That is, however, only in the case that you are travelling with the correctly stamped travel documents. After boarding your means of transport (bus, tram or metro), it is necessary to get your ticket stamped. Only in this way is the ticket valid, and you will not run the risk of a war of words with a ticket inspector. Do not count upon not running into the inspector, as it will definitely cost you dearly. The fine is more than 20 times the price of a single ticket.
The transport system in Prague with its old infrastructure needs constant repair. This means tearing up streets and consequently re-routing trams. Before setting off, check for updates from the Prague public transport network at www.dpp.cz.
When entering the metro, beware of con artists posing as ticket inspectors. They might approach you and ask to see your ticket before declaring that you have to pay a fine. If this happens, tell them to ring the police or do it yourself. A real ticket inspector will always show their badge when approaching you, so if no badge is present, you are almost certainly being scammed.
Czechs are sadly unaccustomed to people who do not look like them or dress like them. Since 1989, the Neo-Nazi skinhead movement has grown at a disturbing rate. Random, unprovoked violence against dark-skinned individuals may occur, but it is unlikely to affect you in the main tourist areas.
Cases of lethal food poisoning are sporadic, but mild cases are common. It is good to be familiar with the symptoms, such as nausea and diarrhoea. Stands selling fast food on the street are more likely to cause problems than reliable restaurants, as the ingredients are exposed to bacteria and are often not very well cooked. When in doubt, avoid fish, eggs, and especially products including mayonnaise.
Unpleasant Personnel, Poor Service
In the course of your stay, were you unsatisfied with the level of service at your hotel, restaurant, travel office or elsewhere? Please, try to solve your complaint directly on the spot with the manager or director of the given establishment. In this case, you will still always have the possibility of obtaining better service, whereas, after your return home, you may only ask for redress circuitously from the senior manager of the institution.
In Prague, you might wonder how many dog-owners are notoriously careless about cleaning dog mess – so watch your step. The municipal authorities are also not very keen on doing that and have largely absolved themselves of trying to clean up after them.
The oldest profession still thrives in a shadowy zone of the city. Even though it might look legal, never assume that prostitution is legal. Even saints should avoid prostitutes of both sexes: they are often known to supplement their incomes by picking pockets.
Unfortunately, Prague has too few reputable bars, and cafés open into the early hours. The words “non-stop” are mostly synonymous with shady characters. Such establishments are often filled with slot machines, gambling and drug addicts. You’d be much better off getting an early night or going to some of the reputable nightclubs.
Unsafe Area Around the Central Railway Station
There are places where even a born and raised Prague citizen doesn’t dare to go after dark, and the Central Railway Station is one of them. Every day you can see dozens of dubious people sitting on the benches and spending their time sipping wine from boxes, drinking other cheap alcohol, taking drugs or bagging passing tourists for money. During the day, because of the police presence and traffic, the area is considered OK.
Even despite the fact that it violates the law, sometimes tourists are charged more —some reputable establishments offer a discount to Czechs. Simply letting ticket sellers know you’re aware of the lower price helps, but it is no real promise that you won’t be penalized for being a foreigner.
Small Food Stores
There are quite a lot of small food shops in the centre that price their goods up to 10 times more than normal. Most of the time, you can recognize them as they don’t have price tags anywhere. Owners of such shops are mostly from the Vietnamese or Russian minorities.