A short guide on how to become a Prague local in less than 5 minutes!
We have carefully analized the most common mistakes that might give away that you are just visiting Prague, so here are 5 things to keep in mind for your perfect disguise.
- Try to greet and thank people in their language! - This might sound obvious but you'd be surprised how many people skip this step entirely. Say hello or ‘dobrý den’ [dobr'iː ‘den] when you enter a restaurant or buy tickets for a concert, thank you or 'děkuji' [dje’kujiː] when people help you with directions and open doors. Actually, say it as much as you can! Czech people are brought up suave, so saying polite things is just something they tend to overdo. What happens when people cross the border to the Rude Land? Imagine you decided to set up a tent at the bottom of a sleeping volcano. How many hours of good night sleep would you get? Exactly. You never know.
- Met a local? Shake hands! - Introductions are always tricky, but I have got you covered. When you meet a Czech person, reach out your hand, find theirs, squeezing it, shake it. You are done! That is a classic greeting. Your handshake has to be quite firm and confident, otherwise, we might think you are not happy to see us. We are not big on adding kisses and hugs to greetings though. Maybe after some time when we know each other better. Five years? Okay, okay, I agree. It is too soon, no need to rush! Let’s wait for 10!
- Make way when using public transport! - Prague has one of the most efficient transportation systems in Europe both underground and overground. Naturally, to keep it in order there are few rules to follow. Before stepping inside of the vehicle you have to let others exit. Vice versa, if someone is getting off you have to make way for them. From time to time, you will hear ‘s dovolenim’ which means, ‘pardon me’ when someone needs more space to move closer to the door. You don't have to memorize this expression, just use a simple ‘pardon’ (you can try it with a Czech accent just for fun), and people will step aside. When you are going down to catch a metro, try to stay on the right-hand side of the escalator because someone probably will be taking the left side to run down and jump in the closing doors of the cart in a true ninja fashion. I've seen a mother with a stroller doing it. That's some skills!
- Respect silence. And not just after 10 pm - While the city center can get quite busy, as soon as you enter a local restaurant, a tram, or another place where Czechs gather, you'll hear nothing but dead silence. That's because we like it that way. If you want to fit in, join us in our quietness. Of course parties, festivals, and other celebrations are a different story. There you might see people singing, laughing, drinking beer while standing on their heads, and living their best life. Outside of these gatherings, Czechs are not famous for their small talk and bubbly personality. It is quite normal to see a couple having dinner without saying a word to each other. Or smile. Believe me, it doesn't mean that they are not enjoying themselves.
- Liked the service? Consider tipping 10%! - Talking about dining, we don't have strict rules for tipping, but if you enjoyed your food and the service the restaurant provided leave 10%. If the food was atrocious and the waiter ill-mannered, don't feel bad about not leaving a tip. Good restaurant service isn’t something we can be proud of, but it only makes you appreciate great places more! To avoid unpleasant experiences try to stay away from places that are bluntly located in the tourist hotspots like Old Town and Wenceslas square.
That’s it, folks! Now you are educated about Czech manners and ready to come to visit us in Prague. Special thanks to Denisa Vaňková, who wrote her bachelor thesis about Czech etiquette.
See more of our Prague Travel Tips.
Author: Valeriia Zahradnikova and Vaclav Zahradnik, Prague guides certified by Prague City Tourism agency. Valeriia and Vaclav have worked in tourism for over 6 years and have guided thousands of Prague visitors.