So you’ve booked that trip to the Czech Republic you’ve been dreaming about. Between the fairytale castles, cobblestoned streets, world-class beer, and fascinating history, it’s sure to be a vacation you’ll never forget.
But before you start packing, here are a few mistakes to avoid so you can make the most of your time in this enchanting country. As a frequent traveler to Prague and beyond, I’ve made a few of these blunders myself. Learn from my mistakes so you can truly immerse yourself in all the Czech Republic has to offer.
Don’t Assume People Speak English
While younger Czechs may have pretty good English skills, many older Czechs do not. Learn a few basic Czech phrases like ‘please’ (prosím), ‘thank you’ (děkuji), and ‘excuse me’ (promiňte) to be polite. Trust me, you won’t need to learn Czech swear words.
Don’t Expect 24/7 Service
Many businesses are closed on Sundays, especially outside of Prague. Museums and attractions often have limited hours, even during the busy summer season. So plan ahead!
Don’t Just Rely On A Credit Card
Even though the Czech Republic is very modernized and most shops in the villages accept card payments, there are places where you can only pay in cash.
These are, for example, farmer’s markets, entrance fees to some smaller chateaux or castles, or wine tastings during the wine season in Moravia with private winemakers.
Don’t Miss Out On Czech beer!
Sample the original Budweiser (Budvar) and Pilsner Urquell. But pace yourself – Czech beer is stronger than most, and drinking to excess will leave you with an epic hangover. Na zdraví! (Cheers!)
Don’t Jaywalk or Disobey Traffic Laws
Whatever you do, don’t jaywalk or disobey traffic laws in the Czech Republic. Their traffic police don’t mess around and will fine you on the spot.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while driving in the Czech Republic:
- There is a zero-tolerance policy for driving with alcohol in your blood system in the Czech Republic.
- Highways and roads, both in towns and villages, are in very good condition.
- Don’t use a car horn unless absolutely necessary. No one uses it there!
- The maximum permitted speed in the village and in the city is 50 km/h, while on the highway, it is 130 km/h.
- Nowadays, many villages already have speed cameras and radars that measure your speed.
Don’t Tip Excessively
When in the Czech Republic, don’t feel obligated to leave an overly generous tip. Tipping culture is not as prominent in the Czech Republic as in the US. For restaurants, rounding up the bill or leaving around 10% is perfectly acceptable. There’s no need to calculate 15-20% like in America.
Taxi drivers also don’t expect lavish tips. Round up the fare or give a few extra Czech Koruna. No need to tip hotel staff, they are paid decent wages. Only tip tour guides if you feel they did an exceptional job.
While tips are appreciated, don’t feel guilty if you occasionally forget or are unable to leave one. Service staff earn living wages in the Czech Republic, so tips are considered a small bonus – not the bulk of their pay.
Save your money to enjoy all the Czech Republic has to offer.
Don’t Fly Your Drone Over The Charle’s Bridge
If you are shooting videos with a drone, avoid well-known tourist spots such as Charles Bridge or Orloj. Otherwise, your vacation will cost you a fortune.
While there is no ban on drone flying, always check your drone’s app or look online to see where flying is prohibited. They can be natural parks, protected (UNESCO) reserves, airports, etc.
Don’t Focus Only On Prague
Yes, Prague is an absolutely breathtaking city worth visiting. However, if you are going to visit the Czech Republic for a longer period of time, definitely rent a car or get on the train and travel elsewhere.
There are so many interesting places worth visiting (in all parts, from west to east and north to south.) Some of my favorite and recommended places are:
- Mikulov (you’ll love this city)
- Karlštejn (a beautiful castle)
- Velká Amerika (natural quarry)
- Český Krumlov (a picturesque fairytale-like city)
- Czech Mountains (Kašperské hory, Krkonoše, Šumava)
- Karlovy Vary (famous spa town)
- Pardubice (a city famous for gingerbread)
- Plzeň (a beer city – Pilsner)
But there are loads of other wonderful places worth visiting. It depends on whether you prefer the city, food, beer, or nature.
Don’t Ignore Restaurant Customs
When dining out in the Czech Republic, be sure to observe local etiquette. Some faux pas could offend your server or fellow diners.
One mistake to avoid is waving your hand or snapping your fingers to get a server’s attention. This is considered quite rude. Instead, make eye contact and say “prosím” (please) to signal you need assistance.
Don’t ask for separate checks unless absolutely necessary. Most restaurants expect parties to split the bill evenly. Asking for separate checks is seen as inconvenient for the staff.
Avoid seeming impatient if the food takes a while to arrive. Dining in the Czech Republic is meant to be a leisurely experience shared with friends and family. Rushing through a meal is seen as strange behavior.
Don’t make a lot of substitutions or special requests when ordering. The menu reflects traditional Czech fare, and asking for too many changes may confuse or annoy the kitchen staff. Save special requests for allergies or dietary needs only.
Don’t Disrespect Historical Sites
Whatever you do, don’t disrespect the historical sites you’ll encounter in the Czech Republic. Many landmarks like Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, and the historic Charles Bridge have stood for centuries.
Climbing on statues or monuments, leaving graffiti, or damaging property in any way is unethical and illegal. These cherished places should be preserved for future generations. Instead, appreciate their beauty and significance.
The Czech Republic has endured a complex history of war and political turmoil. Many historical sites serve as a reminder of the struggles the Czech people have endured to gain independence and democracy. Treat these landmarks with sensitivity and respect. Your visit will be much more meaningful.
Don’t Call It Czechoslovakia
The Czech Republic and Slovakia peacefully separated into two independent countries in 1993. Although they were once joined as Czechoslovakia, calling the Czech Republic (or Czechia, but many Czechs hate this name) by that name today would be incorrect and could offend some Czech people. When referring to the present-day country, be sure to say ‘the Czech Republic’.
If you do slip up and call it Czechoslovakia, don’t worry too much – especially if you’re a tourist. Just politely correct yourself by saying something like ‘Sorry, I meant the Czech Republic’.
Do Not Force Your Religion or Belief On Others
The Czech Republic has a long history of religious freedom and tolerance. Most Czechs are atheists or agnostics, so openly proselytizing your faith may make some locals uncomfortable.
Czechs don’t care what you believe in or how you dress. But they mind strangers preaching or handing out religious pamphlets on the street. Do not go door-to-door to promote your beliefs, and don’t try to convince anyone over a glass of beer in the pub that this religion is better than that.
If asked about your faith, feel free to have an open and honest discussion. But do not try to aggressively convert others or suggest their beliefs are wrong. Forcing your religion on unwilling participants is seen as rude and disrespectful.
Don’t Call It Chechnya
The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two completely different places, so avoid confusing their names. Even though “Czechia” and “Chechnya” sound quite similar, the Czech Republic is a Central European country, while Chechnya is a federal subject of Russia located in the North Caucasus.
Mixing up the Czech Republic and Chechnya could lead to confusion, offense, or embarrassment.
Don’t Call The Czech Republic Eastern Europe
The Czech Republic is located in the heart (center) of Europe, not in the East. Still, many people call it an Eastern European country, probably because of its communist history or Slavic traditions and language.
The Czech people value their independence and Western influence. Calling the Czech Republic “Eastern Europe” can be seen as insensitive or rude. Instead, refer to it as the “Czech Republic” or “Central Europe.”
To avoid offending the locals, be mindful of the country’s history and cultural identity. The Czech Republic has influenced and been influenced by Germanic, Latin, and Slavic cultures, giving it a unique blend not found in other Central European countries.
Don’t Get Drunk
Whatever you do in the Czech Republic, avoid overindulging in alcohol. The beer is plentiful and cheap, but getting severely drunk can lead to legal trouble, health issues, and regrets, depending on how alcohol affects you.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Eat while you’re drinking to avoid getting drunk too quickly. Traditional Czech bar snacks like fried cheese, sausage, or pretzels pair great with beer.
- Watch out for high-alcohol beers. Many Czech beers are 5% ABV or higher. Stick to lower alcohol Pilsners, around 4%, if you want to drink for longer.
- Don’t drink and drive. Use public transport, taxis, or rideshares to get around after drinking. Drunk driving penalties are severe.
- Avoid rowdy late-night scenes. As fun as the nightlife is, very late nights often lead to drunken chaos, fights, and theft. Head home at a reasonable hour.
Drinking, especially beer, is an enjoyable part of experiencing the Czech culture, but do so responsibly. Moderation and common sense can ensure you have fun memories rather than a pounding hangover and regrets.
Avoid these blunders, and you’ll have an amazing trip filled with delicious food, stunning sights, and unforgettable experiences. The Czech Republic has so much to offer, so do yourself a favor and don’t make it harder than it needs to be!
Remember that the Czech Republic is considered to be one of the safest nations globally, so it’s your actions and conduct (reckless driving, excessive drinking…) that pose the greatest potential danger.