Compared to many Western cities, Prague is relatively safe. You will generally find policemen very helpful. Prague is an unthreatening city to walk around. Violent crimes in the city centre are rare. There is no danger to tourists, either by day or night, in any part of the city – you may see beggars or drug addicts, but they generally pose no threat. You don’t need to worry that you will automatically be robbed in Prague, but it’s better to be take precautions in advance. As with any city, always use caution and care when travelling around. It’s best to keep passports, money and electronics in a closed bag and avoid crowds. Violent crime is very rare in Prague.
Prague city police advises visitors to Prague of the following:
- always exchange currency at a currency exchange office or bank, never on the street as this money is often counterfeit; do not speak to strangers who approach you on the street with offers of illegal money changing
- avoid contact with women and men acting as street prostitutes as they are often pickpockets
- take care when using cash machines
- don’t buy drugs on the street as sale and distribution is illegal and the drugs are often hazardous counterfeits
- be aware of consumption charges in night clubs, they are often high; be careful with consumption cards, which carry high financial penalties if they are lost before the bill is paid
- never leave drinks or food unattended, or accept drinks from strangers
- make sure you know where your belongings are at all times, particularly while at restaurants, bars and nightclubs; use a cloakroom if available
- it’s best to keep passports, money and electronics in a closed bag and avoid crowds
- always keep your belongings in a safe place, in an inside pocket of clothing or in closed baggage
- when going on trips, don’t carry a lot of cash, leave important documents and jewellery in your apartment
Pickpocketing in Prague
Petty theft is a problem, especially in major tourist areas in Prague. Pick pocketing is common at the main railway station and on public transport, particularly the routes to and from Prague Castle and other major tourist sites, and on the buses to/from the airport. Using your common sense will help you to avoid pick pocketing.
Thieves tend to operate around the city’s crowded sights, such as the Charles Bridge and on tram lines (mainly numbers 9, 22, 23). In a restaurant: never leave your handbag or coat containing a wallet unguarded on a chair next to you or hanging over the back of your chair. It is unlikely that anything stolen will ever be recovered. If you become the victim of a crime, call the police on 158.
Women may encounter a few stares and comments, but this is about as far as sexual harassment will go. However, women, who are alone, should try to avoid Wenceslas Square at night.
It is technically illegal not to carry some form of identification (normally your passport). Although you are unlikely to be asked to produce it, having it could save a lot of problems. However, we recommend carrying photocopies of all essential documents while keeping the originals in a safe place.
Prague has a good security camera system capable of revealing even petty crime. However, it is advisable to be careful in the city centre. This applies especially to Královská cesta (Royal Way), the city centre from Karlovo námestí (Karlovo Square) to Národní divadlo (National Theatre), the park by the main railway station and Florenc bus station. You should also take care of your belongings on trams and metro trains travelling through the city centre. Prague has a good security camera system capable of revealing even petty crime. However, it is advisable to be careful in the city centre.
If you travel on public transport you must buy a ticket and validate it before you travel. You will be fined on the spot if you are travelling with a ticket that has not been validated. The fine, usually 800 crowns if you pay immediately. In case you do not have cash directly you pay 1500 crowns. You should get a receipt. You can buy tickets at most large hotels, metro stations and at many newspaper stands (‘Trafika’).
To drive on motorways you will need to buy a special vignette (sticker) from a Post Office, petrol station or at the border. There is a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. You must have your headlights on dipped beam when driving anywhere in the Czech Republic, even during the hours of daylight.
All private cars, including those of foreign visitors, must carry the following items by law: – fluorescent green high visibility safety jacket – first aid kit, warning triangle – complete set of spare bulbs – complete set of electric fuses – jack – spanner and – spare wheel or special tyres repair set.
If you do have to drive into the city centre, always make sure your parked car is properly locked and that no items are left visible inside e.g. wallet, phone, laptop or important documents.
It is not advisable to stop a taxi in the street; it is safer to call a taxi through a dispatcher who also gives you an orientation price for your journey. The staff of a tourist information centre will be able to help you choose a taxi service.
Immediately after a passenger boards a taxi the driver must switch on the taxi-meter and at the end of the journey must present a receipt. Insist on the issue of a receipt, especially if you are unhappy with the service or price.
Remember that the law states a maximum price of:
40 CZK boarding fee
28 CZK per kilometre
6 CZK per minute waiting