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DO bring an adaptor if you plan to use American appliances. The Czech Republic uses the 220V system common throughout Western Europe; plugs have two rounded prongs. You will need a voltage converter, or (if your appliance has a 120/220V switch) a plug adaptor to use your electrical appliances, PCs, etc. in the Czech Republic. The adaptors are available in hardware and travel stores throughout the US.




Country Code: 420; when calling from the US, dial 011-420-area code-number.

City/Area Codes can have between 1 and 3 digits; e.g., Prague is 2. These codes are preceded by a zero when calling from another area code within the Czech Republic; the zero is dropped when calling from abroad, thus: When calling from the US, dial 011.420.2.local #.  When calling from Europe, dial 00.420.2.local #.  When calling from within the Czech Republic but outside of Prague, dial 02.local #.  When calling from Prague, dial just the local #.

Local numbers can have anywhere between four and nine (yes, nine!) digits--there is no "standard length" for a Czech phone number. If you can't get through although you have the correct area code, the number has probably changed. (Unfortunately, this happens quite often.) In that case, call us at 212.288.0830, ext. 101 or 105 or call directory assistance at 120 (from the US, call 011.420.2.120).

Calling from a public phone: You will need a telephone card, which you insert into a slot in the lower part of the telephone. Follow the prompts on the display, always available in several languages including English. There are also coin-operated telephones, which are somewhat less reliable and harder to find.

DO buy a telephone card--you will probably need one sooner or later. These are available from larger post offices, airports, railway stations, metro stations, big department stores, kiosks, and hotels. There are several types of these cards, usually from 50 to 150 units.

When calling the US, you can simply dial 001, followed by area code and number; you will pay around $1-$1.30 per minute. Alternatively, you can use the following US-based direct-dial services:

AT&T: 00-420-00101
MCI: 00-420-0011
Sprint: 00-420-87187

DON'T bring your cell phone. Your cell phone is most likely 800MHz. In the Czech Republic, the current standard is 450MHz. Therefore, your cell phone won't work there. If you want to use a cell phone, you have to purchase or rent one--contact Eurotel or Radiomobil.

Internet access: Some business hotels include Internet facilities and dataports in the cost of the room. There are numerous Internet cafes in Prague, especially in the center.




In general, the Czech Republic is a very safe country, and you'll feel comfortable walking around at any time of day or night. The two things to look out for, especially in Prague, are:

Stay alert, and they'll never get you. Predictably, pickpockets (individuals or organized gangs) plague mostly Prague's "tourist spots," crowded subway, and trams, taking advantage of visitors who gaze at the sights or read their map and don't pay attention to their bags and pockets. DON'T carry valuables in an open or easily accessible pocket of your pants or backpack, don't leave your bags unattended, DO use a money belt or a safely zippered inside pocket to keep your money in. Whenever you find yourself in a crowded area, especially on the tram or subway, hold on to your belongings and don't be distracted by the pushing and shoving that might be going on around you. The application of these common-sense precautions is enough to protect you.

Overcharging foreigners is, unfortunately, still a frequent occurrence in
Prague, although the situation is s-l-o-w-l-y improving. To avoid "being taken for a ride," DO use reliable radio taxi companies like AAA (tel. in Prague 1080), hotel taxis, or public transit (see our separate sheet on Transportation). 

DON'T use any of those shiny new Mercedes cabs waiting in places like Wenceslas Square, Old Town Square, etc. Always request a receipt printed by the meter, not one written by hand.



some shopping! Favorite souvenirs and best bargains include glass and crystal, handmade toys and marionettes, art (glass, paintings, photography, even sculpture), classical music CDs, intricately decorated eggshells and other folklore items, photography and art books, minor antiques, jewelry with Czech garnets, wines, and beer paraphernalia.

Credit cards (AmEx, Visa, MasterCard) are accepted in most major stores.

Opening hours: For shops and banks, the hours of operation are generally 9-5 (some shops, especially those in the country, still hold rigorous lunch breaks between 12 and 1pm); banks may close as early as 4pm. On Saturday, most stores close at noon and are closed on Sunday. Only large department stores and shops catering to tourists (glass, jewelry, souvenirs) are open throughout the weekend (usually 10am-6pm). Restaurants are usually open every day from about 11am to 11pm.

Museums and cultural monuments (castles, chateaux, galleries) are usually closed on Mondays and on days following public holidays. They are open on most holidays except Christmas and New Year. Their opening hours vary, but none are open after 6pm.

NOTE: The Jewish Museum in Prague is closed on Saturday and all Jewish holidays.




DO leave a tip at a restaurant: an approx.10% tip, rounded up to the next 10 crowns, is sufficient. DON'T leave change on the table--it's not done. Instead, the guest is expected to name the total amount (s)he's going to pay, including the tip, when (s)he is handed the check. When paying for a taxi, round the fare up to the next 20 (or, for longer trips, 50) crowns.


VAT Refunds

Foreign visitors to the Czech Republic can apply for value added tax (VAT) reimbursement when leaving the country. Minimum price of a single item to be refunded is CZK 1,000.  Visitors can ask for refunds of all purchases made within 30 days prior to their departure from the country. Foreigners must claim the reimbursement at the retail store they have bought the goods no later than 3 months after the day of purchase.

VAT Reimbursement Forms, which have to be certified by customs authorities upon departure, can be obtained at Financial Offices, Customs Offices, and some retailers. 


Refunds can be claimed in person at any of the following Cash refund Offices:

  • Prague Airport Thomas Cook office

  • Prague Airport Exchange office in the transit hall

  • Throughout Prague and the Czech Republic: Ceska pojistovna (Czech Insurance Corp.) offices

  • Karlovy Vary airport Duty Free Shop

  • Border crossings to Austria: Dolni Dvoriste/Wullowitz, Gmund, Halamky/Neu-Nagelberg, Hate/Kleinhaugsdorf, Hevlin/Laa an der Thaya, Mikulov/Drasenhofen

  • Border crossings to Germany: Cheb/Pomezi/Schirnding, Cinovec/Zinnwald, Folmava/Furth im Wald/ Rozvadov/Waidhaus/ Vojtanov/Schonberg, Zelezna Ruda/Bayr. Eisenstein

  • Border crossings to Poland: Broumov, Cesky Tesin/Cieszyn, Habartice/Zawodow, Mezimesti/Golinsk, Nachod/Kudowa Zdroj, Nove Mesto/Czerniawa, Tanvald/Jakuszyce, Opava/Pietraszyn (Polsped), Ostrawa/Chalupki (Polsped), Nachod/Kudowa Zdroj (Polsped)

  • Border crossings to Slovakia: Breclav/Kuty, Lanzhot/Brodske, Hodonin/Holic nad Moravou, Stary Hrozenkov/Drietoma, Sdomerice/Skalica, Bila/Klokocov, Horni Becva/Makov, Mosty u Jablunkova/Svrcinovec, Strelna/Lysa pod Makytou



On public holidays, most shops, offices and government organizations stay closed, including post offices and banks; public transportation is on Sunday/holiday schedule. Galleries, museums and monuments are usually open on holidays but close on the day following the holiday (exceptions: Christmas, New Year, Easter; most monuments are closed on those holidays).

  • January 1st - New Year's Day

  • Easter Sunday & Easter Monday (= the day following Easter Sunday)

  • May 1st - May Day (Labor Day)

  • May 8th - Liberation from Naziism Day (end of World War II in Europe)

  • July 5th - Slavic Missionaries Cyril and Methodius: the arrival of Christianity in Greater Moravia, AD 863

  • July 6th - Jan Hus Day (Master Jan Hus, or John Huss, a Czech religious reformer and thinker, was burned at the stake by the Catholic Church in 1415 in Konstanz, Germany)

  • September 28 - St. Wenceslas' Day (Day of Czech Statehood)

  • October 28 - Independence Day (the founding of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918 after the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire)

  • November 17th - Student Resistance Against Totalitarianism Day

December 24, 25, 26 - Christmas holidays: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Second Christmas Day