The Czech Republic

Quick Facts

Government

Type: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic

President: Miloš Zeman

King: Andrej Babiš

Religion

Undeclared/Unaffiliated

≈78%

Language

Czech

≈98%

Currency

Koruna

$10.00 ≈ Kč230

Location

Central Europe

Bordered by Poland, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany

Food

Smažený sýr (fried cheese)

Goulash

Climate

Temperate oceanic

Warm, dry summers

Cold, rainy winters

Cost

Beer ≈ Kč23

Ice cream ≈ Kč21

Read More About The Czech Republic

Not-So-Quick Facts

Present Day Snapshot

Czechoslovakia split in 1993 and The Czech Republic was peacefully formed. This split was dubbed The Velvet Divorce. Today The Czech Republic is a peaceful, developed nation which provides universal healthcare and free university level education to its citizens.

War: The Czech Republic is a NATO member. Today the country is involved in The War in Afghanistan and the Northern Mali Conflict.

Follow Laws

Identification: Police are entitled to ask you for identification at all times, however you are not required to carry an identity card on you. If you are stopped the police must provide you with assistance in identifying yourself.

Drugs: Sale of all drugs is a criminal act. However, possession of small amounts of drugs (i.e. <15 grams of marijuana) is a misdemeanor offense subject only to a fine. Medical marijuana is permitted.

Alcohol: 18 is the legal drinking age in The Czech Republic. Generally, it is permitted to drink on the streets, however certain neighborhoods may have rules against it.

LGBTQ: Discrimination based on sexual preference or gender identity is against the law. Same-sex couples do have some rights under the law, however same-sex marriage is not permitted.

Stay Safe

Generally speaking, The Czech Republic is a very safe country for tourists. Unfortunately, petty theft does still exist and pick-pockets are prevalent on trams and other public transportation.

Another issue is the taxi mafia. It is advisable to steer clear of taxis all together as drivers do not use meters and will charge obscene prices, especially to tourists. Public transport is good and Ubers are available

Historical Snapshot

Founding: The Czech Republic is a young country, having formed only in 1993

 

Origins: The Duchy of Bohemia (Bohemia is still a region of CZ today) first came into existence in the late 9th century. In the 19th century the land became part of The Austrian Empire and later was Cisleithania, a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

 

Recent History: At the End of WWI, what is today The Czech Republic became a part of Czechoslovakia and at that time was the only democracy in Central Europe. The Czech lands were later occupied by Nazis who called for the extermination or enslavement of most Czechs. One of the Nazi’s infamous death camps was near Prague – Terezín. After the finish of WWII the area became a part of the communist Eastern Bloc until 1989 when the bloodless Velvet Revolution led to the return of a liberal democracy in Czechoslovakia up until 1993 when the two countries separated. The Czech Republic joined The EU in 2004.

Clothing Rules

There are no clothing rules in The Czech Republic.

Speak Czech

Hello: Dobrý den (literally: good day) /doh-brie den/

Please: Prosím /pro-seem/

Thank you: Děkuji /di-ku-wee/

Can I have a beer please: Jedno pivo prosím /yed-no pi-vu pro-seem/

Where is the train station?: Kde je vlakové nádraží /gih-day yi vlo-koh-vay no-dro-zee/

Boat
Lake Merkur
river in the middle with two sides of green trees, red grooves in foreground
Prague
horse statue in square with yellow statue in background - The Country Jumper
Brno
General Rules of Etiquette

Most greetings include a handshake. To use someone’s first name, you need to be invited by him or her first, generally it is the woman who offers this. If you are invited to a Czech house, it is necessary to come on time and take off your shoes when going through the door. Czech people also don’t discuss business in personal meetings.

Gender Relations

Gender relations very much depend on the age and geography. Generally speaking, younger people in Prague are more liberal and agree with gender equality. Older people are more conservative and it is quite common that the woman does all the cleaning and cooking while the man works more and brings more money to the household.

Tipping

Tips are kind of normal in Czech Republic. Even little ones. If you don’t tip, it is considered rude. Small tips usually mean that person would round up the check. If you should pay Kč15, you would give Kč20 and so on. Bigger tips are usually about Kč20 to Kč50 and are given when you consider the service very good.

Rude or Offensive Things

Czech Republic has a lot of respect for older people and it is considered rude to, for example, not let them sit on the bus or tram. It is also considered rude or offensive to have a hat on inside any building – whether you are male or female. Another thing that is considered rude is not to greet when being greeted – that can easily happen on hiking trails or on riverboat trips.

Religious Customs

Czech Republic has freedom of religion so generally speaking – all religions are welcome. Czechs themselves are usually non-believers, about 20% or people are Catholics. The main religious customs include going to church every Sunday. Outside of Prague there are fun fairs in the name of saints (which saint depends on the location of the fun fair). At these fun fairs there used to be a big mass, nowadays it is mainly a fun fair for kids.

Read More About The Czech Republic

My Time in Czech Republic

Prague

I lived in Prague for nine months from 2016-17. I taught English and lived in the neighborhood of Anděl.

South Moravia

I visited Brno on a long weekend from Prague and also spent a weekend at the Věstonice Reservoir.

Liberec

I visited the region for a weekend of skiing in Harrachov, near The Polish border.

South Bohemia

I visited the small, magical town of Český Krumlov for a weekend.

panorama of a river surrounded by a town with a prominent white church
Český Krumlov
yellow smoky small fireworks in sky in front of head silhouettes
Brno
pink and yellow angels on church ceiling
Brno

Additional Resources

LGBTQ

Accessibility

Dani, Diapers in Paradise says:

The Czech Republic, like much of Europe, is not entirely accessible to those with a disability. Some of the most popular tourist destinations, like Prague’s Old Town, are pedestrian-friendly and walkable, but challenging to access if you are limited to walking very short distances. Cobblestone and unpredictable roads add to the challenge. My experience of traveling in the third trimester of pregnancy was that many buildings were accessible only by stairs, with no elevators, making them impossible for me – and anyone with reduced mobility. And while buses always had seats reserved for those with disabilities, the elderly, or pregnant women, I found most often that the seats were not given up without me having to ask. This might seem small, but it contributed to an overall sense of the country feeling less accessible and welcoming to those traveling with impairments.

More Accessibility Bloggers:

BIPOC

Locals

stalactite in cave
Brno
South Moravia
South Moravia
south moravian wheat fields
South Moravia

Before Your Trip to The Czech Republic

Watch

Starring: Asa Butterfield

Drama

Movie

 

Though fictional – the haunting Boy in the Striped Pajamas takes place at Terezin Concentration Camp, outside of Prague.

Read

By: Ota Pavel

Short Stories

Goodreads Stars: 4.06/5

This book brings you to the time of Nazi occupation in what was then Czechoslovakia as a young boy uses his knowledge of fish and fishing to survive.

Starring: Jamie Dornan

Action

Movie

 

Anthropoid is the true story of the attempted – and failed – assassination of SS General Reinhard Heydrich one of the highest rankings Nazis. Along with a history lesson, the movie has fantastic Prague scenes.

By: Milan Kundera

Classic

Goodreads Stars: 4.10/5

In this Czech classic you’ll find yourself amidst a love story – of sorts – in the Prague of the 60s and 70s.  

Alternative Places to Visit in Czech Republic​

The Predictable

prague castle

Prague Castle

Prague Castle is gorgeous and big and so very full of history…and crowds. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Prague while it is worth visiting you might consider some alternatives. 

The Alternative

Namesti Miru church in Prague at Christmas time

Namesti Miru

While Namesti Miru might be considerably smaller than the imposting Prague Castle, it is also considerably less crowded. So, if you’re looking for non touristy Prague, this is it. And if you’re in town during the Christmas market season – check out the little one here.

charles bridge in prague

The Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge is really pretty – so pretty in fact that Hitler loved it and ordered it not to be destroyed. *fun fact* But as pretty as it may be, the elbow to elbow throngs of tourists that always fill it make it less than appealing. During my 9 months of living in Prague I crossed the bridge once – at sunrise. 

prague river

All the Other Bridges

Want another fun fact? All the bridges in Prague are pretty pretty and there are a lot of them. There are 18 bridges which cross the Vlatava in Prague – and none of them are ugly. Cross Čechův most or Most Legií. Or, walk along the banks of the Vlatava or paddle a boat through the middle – all great ways to also see The Charles Bridge, without the crowds. 

Prague's astronomical clock on left, old town square in front with lights at nighttime

Old Town Square

Yeah, it’s unmissable. Go watch the weird little demonstration at the astronomical clock on the hour (I promise you’ll be underwhelmed) take a few pictures then peace! This place is full of people hawking tours (my ex used to do it) and overpriced bland food. Nothing to do really.

Malostranské náměstí

Malostranské náměstí

Honestly, this is not one of the secret places in Prague – it’s basically just a tram switchover. But I always liked it. There are shops all over including a Starbucks (don’t go there) but there’s this gorgeous tunnel that the trams go through and loads of archways and covered sidewalks, and the roads which run away from it are just picture perfect Prague. And there are fewer people.

Cesky Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov is a lovely fairytale, and if you’re going to do an overnight it’s not a bad spot since the majority of tourists clear out come 5PM and their buses head out. But, it is touristy and basically the whole town is catered to what you might want.

Karlsteijn Castle

Karlštejn Castle

Getting off the beaten path in Prague might not be easy, but getting off the beaten path outside of Prague is as easy as pie. A quick train trip from Prague is Karstejn Castle, and I highly recommend it. There is a bit of a hefty price tag to get into the castle – and if others are any indication it’ll be meh – but climb up into the hills and enjoy the peaceful Czech countryside and views of the castle. Plus, Karlštejn is only one of many castles around the country.

Prague Views

Off the beaten path Prague is not. It might be inconceivable to visit The Czech Republic without going to Prague – but there is so much more to see throughout the country. And there are other cities too! Can you do it? I dare you!

horse statue in square with yellow statue in background - The Country Jumper

Considered to be the second city of the Czech Republic, Brno is smaller and much easier to take on. While it is difficult to get off the beaten path in Prague, Brno is itself off the beaten path – and it’s truly worth visiting. 

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