10 Most Common Prague Tourist Scams – What to Avoid?

Adriana and Matej Discovering Prague

Written by local experts Adriana & Matěj

Adriana and Matěj Halouskovi are travel bloggers behind the successful blog Czech the World.

Matěj was born in Prague and has lived here his entire life and Adriana moved here 6 years ago.

We have traveled to more than 60 countries, but if we could tell you what place we know the most, it is our city

Don’t be scared – Prague is one of the safest cities in the world. However, you should be aware of the most common tourist scams happening in the most touristic areas of the Czech capital city.

In this article, we share a list of common scams and practical tips, on how to avoid them and enjoy your stay in our beautiful city.

1) Currency Exchange Scams

One of the most common pitfalls for tourists in Prague involves currency exchange scams. The Czech Republic, while a part of the European Union, does not use the euro as its primary currency. Instead, the Czech koruna (CZK) remains the official currency. This situation creates a ripe environment for scammers looking to exploit tourists unfamiliar with the local currency and its value.

Places to Avoid

Be cautious about where you exchange money. Currency exchange offices situated in airports, train stations, and near major tourist attractions are known for offering unfavorable exchange rates. Additionally, some of these exchange offices advertise “No Commission” services, yet the exchange rates are significantly lower than the official rates, which effectively serves as a hidden fee.

  • Tourist Hotspots: Scammers often target areas with high tourist traffic, knowing that visitors are looking for convenience.
  • Street Exchangers: Individuals offering to exchange money on the street should be avoided at all costs. These offers are almost always scams, with the potential for counterfeit currency being handed over (most common are worthless Belarussian Rubbles).

How to Spot a Bad Deal

Spotting a bad exchange deal requires a bit of preparation and awareness:

  • Check the Official Rate: Before exchanging any money, check the official exchange rate (just search on Google – 100 EUR to CZK, etc.). This rate gives you a baseline to compare against the rates offered by exchange offices.
  • Read Small Print on Signage: Some exchange offices display an attractive rate on their signage but apply that rate only to large transactions, often thousands of euros. The rates for smaller amounts can be significantly worse. Always read the small print on any displayed rates.
  • Ask for the Net Amount: Before handing over any money, ask the clerk to calculate the exact amount of Czech koruna you will receive after all charges. This step helps avoid any surprises from hidden fees.

Preventing Currency Scams

The best way to prevent falling victim to currency exchange scams is to avoid unnecessary exchanges:

  • Pay with a Card: You can pay with a card in the vast majority of places in Prague. However, ensure your card offers favorable rates on international transactions and inform your bank of your travel plans to prevent any fraud alerts from freezing your card.
  • Withdraw Directly from ATMs: Using ATMs affiliated with reputable banks to withdraw Czech koruna can offer better rates and lower fees than currency exchange offices. However, be mindful of dynamic currency conversion (DCC) prompts that offer to charge you in your home currency; always choose to be charged in the local currency for a better rate.

2) Euronet ATM Scams

Euronet ATMs are infamous for their high fees and unfavorable exchange rates, particularly affecting tourists. While using an Euronet ATM isn’t necessarily a “scam” in the traditional sense, you may feel misled by the steep charges incurred when withdrawing money.

Euronet ATMs are known for:

  • High Transaction Fees: They often charge significantly higher fees than ATMs operated by local banks.
  • Poor Exchange Rates: Euronet ATMs may offer exchange rates that are much less favorable than standard bank rates.
  • Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC): Euronet ATMs prompt you to accept a currency conversion to your home currency during the transaction. While this might seem convenient, it usually results in a poor exchange rate, leading to more expensive withdrawals.

How to Avoid Unfavorable Charges

  • Seek Out Local Bank ATMs: Whenever possible, use ATMs affiliated with reputable local banks. These are more likely to offer better rates and lower fees.
  • Decline DCC Offers: If prompted to choose between being charged in your home currency or the local currency, always choose the local currency (Czech Crowns). This choice bypasses the ATM’s exchange rate, instead using your home bank’s more favorable rate.

3) Taxi Scams

Prague taxi drivers are infamous for frequent scams. It became such a big problem that municipal authorities needed to ban regular taxi drivers from the airport and make Uber an official airport taxi.

Typical Tricks Used by Taxi Drivers

  • Tampered Meters: Some taxi drivers manipulate their meters to run faster than they should, leading to inflated fares.
  • Fixed Rates: Drivers might offer a fixed rate before the ride, claiming it’s cheaper than the metered rate. These fixed rates are often significantly higher than what the fare would ordinarily be.
  • Longer Routes: Unknowing tourists can be taken on longer routes to increase the fare, especially when they’re not familiar with the city.
  • Broken Meters: A driver may claim that the meter is broken and then charge an exorbitant flat rate.

How to Ensure You’re Getting a Fair Rate

To avoid falling victim to these scams, you can take several proactive steps:

  • Research Average Rates: Before arriving in Prague, research the average taxi fares from key points, such as the airport or main train station to your accommodation. This information gives you a baseline to negotiate if needed.
  • Use Ride-sharing Apps: Utilize ride-sharing apps like Uber or Bolt. These apps offer the advantage of fixed rates agreed upon before the ride, and the route is tracked via GPS for additional security.
  • Ask for an Estimate: Before starting the ride, ask the driver for an estimated fare to your destination. If they offer a fixed rate, ensure it aligns with your research on average rates.
  • Check for Identification: Ensure the driver has official identification and that the vehicle is marked with recognizable taxi service branding.

What to Do if You Encounter a Scam

  • Request a Receipt: Always ask for a receipt at the end of your journey. The receipt should include the driver’s identification, the taxi’s license number, and the fare. A driver reluctant to provide a receipt might be avoided.
  • Use Public Transportation: Prague’s public transportation network is extensive, reliable, and reasonably priced. When possible, consider using trams, buses, or the metro, especially for routes well-served by these options.

4) Restaurant and Bar Scams

Being aware of common restaurant and bar scams can help you enjoy your meals and evenings out without unwelcome surprises.


One of the most prevalent scams involves overcharging customers for food and drinks. This can occur in various ways:

  • Inflated Prices: Some restaurants, particularly those in tourist-heavy areas, may have significantly higher prices than comparable local spots. While not a scam per se, it preys on tourists’ unfamiliarity with local pricing.
  • Menu Switching: A venue may provide a menu with reasonable prices to lure customers in. Once the bill arrives, the prices are much higher, and the restaurant claims the menu shown was incorrect or outdated.
  • Extras for Bread or Pretzels: In some restaurants, they place bread or pretzels on the table. If you eat some of these, you will be charged for every slice/piece. It’s not for free!
  • Large Beer: the typical Czech restaurants offer large beer (0,5 liter) and small beer (0,3 liter). Be aware that some restaurants started to “scam” this and give you a 1-liter beer as a large beer, which is just too much.
  • Service Charges and Hidden Fees: Extra fees not mentioned in the menu or verbally, like service charges or cover charges for live music, can be added to the bill.

Avoiding Scams

  • Research in Advance: Look up restaurant reviews on reputable travel sites or apps. Venues with consistently good reviews are less likely to engage in dishonest practices.
  • Confirm Prices: Before ordering, confirm the prices of your selected items directly from the menu provided. If prices seem unusually high, don’t hesitate to ask the staff for clarification or choose another establishment.
  • Check the Bill Carefully: Always review your bill for unexpected charges and ask about any discrepancies. If the establishment insists on charging for items or services you did not agree to, consider escalating the matter.
  • Stay Away from Tourist Traps: Restaurants and bars directly in major tourist areas are more likely to engage in scammy behavior. Walking a few blocks away can lead to more authentic and honest establishments.
  • Ask Locals for Recommendations: Local residents can often point you to trustworthy and high-quality dining options that are less known to tourists.
  • Beware of Unsolicited Invitations: If someone on the street aggressively invites you to a specific restaurant or bar, it could be a setup for a scam. It’s better to choose places based on your research or recommendations from trusted sources.

What to Do If You Encounter a Scam

  • Stand Your Ground: If you believe you’re being unfairly charged, calmly dispute the charges. Mentioning that you intend to contact the police can sometimes resolve the issue quickly.
  • Report the Restaurant: Share your experience on review platforms to warn other tourists.

5) Pay by Weight Scams

Restaurants or food vendors sometimes employ a “pay by weight” pricing model for certain items, particularly at buffet-style eateries or traditional Czech cuisine spots. While this can be a legitimate and transparent way to charge for food, it also opens the door to potential scams targeting unsuspecting tourists.

Old Prague Ham stand in Old Town Square is the most infamous pay-by-weight place. They will always give you such a large portion and you will pay a lot just for a mediocre ham.

Signs of a Scam

  • Unclear Pricing: The price per weight unit (e.g., per 100 grams) is not clearly displayed or explained.
  • Excessive Portions: Staff encourages you to buy more food than you can eat, emphasizing the variety or uniqueness of certain dishes without clear pricing information.
  • Tampered Scales: The scale used to weigh your plate may be tampered with to show a higher weight. This is harder to spot but be wary if the final cost seems excessively high for the amount of food you chose.

How to Avoid Pay-by-Weight Scams

  • Ask for Pricing Upfront: Before filling your plate, ask for a clear explanation of the pricing structure. Ensure you understand the cost per weight unit and check if there are different rates for different types of food.
  • Watch the Weighing: If possible, watch the weighing process to ensure the scale starts at zero and no unnecessary items are on the scale that could increase the weight.
  • Be Mindful of Portions: Be conscious of how much food you’re taking, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the currency or conversion rates. It’s easy to end up with a surprisingly high bill if you’re not paying attention.
  • Check Reviews: Before dining, check reviews of the restaurant online. Previous customers will often mention if they felt the pricing was unfair or if there were any issues with the “pay by weight” system.

What to Do If You’re Overcharged

  • Question the Charge: If the bill seems excessively high, politely question it and ask for a breakdown of the costs. Referencing the prices you were told initially can help.
  • Share Your Experience: Leave an honest review of your experience on travel review websites to inform future travelers of potential issues.

6) Pickpocketing and Petty Theft

Pickpocketing and petty theft are issues faced by many popular tourist destinations worldwide, and Prague is no exception. These crimes are typically opportunistic, targeting distracted tourists in crowded places. It never happened to us, but it’s better to be aware (the thieves go after tourists not locals).

High-risk Areas

  • Tourist Attractions: Places like Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, and the Old Town Square, due to their high foot traffic, are favorite spots for pickpockets.
  • Public Transportation: Trams, buses, and the metro, especially routes connecting major tourist sites, can be hotspots for theft.
  • Crowded Events: Any crowded event, from Christmas markets to summer festivals, attracts thieves looking to take advantage of the packed conditions.

Techniques Thieves Use

  • Distraction: Thieves often work in teams; one or more individuals distract you while another commits the theft. Distractions can be as simple as asking for directions or as complex as causing a commotion.
  • Close Contact: In crowded places, thieves might bump into or crowd their victims to disguise the act of pickpocketing.
  • Unsecured Bags and Pockets: Thieves target easy opportunities, such as open bags, purses loosely carried, or valuables in the outer pockets of backpacks.

Preventing Pickpocketing and Theft

  • Stay Aware: The most effective deterrent is to remain aware of your surroundings and cautious in crowded places.
  • Secure Your Belongings: Use anti-theft bags or purses with secured closures. Wear bags in front of you in crowded areas and avoid keeping valuables in easily accessible pockets.
  • Limit Valuables: Carry only what you need for the day. Use hotel safes or secure storage for passports, excess cash, and other valuables.
  • Use Body Wallets: For essential items like your passport, credit cards, and cash, consider using a body wallet worn under your clothing.
  • Travel in Groups: There’s safety in numbers. Thieves are less likely to target individuals who are part of a group or those who appear alert and aware.

What to Do If You’re a Victim

  • Report the Theft: Immediately report any theft to the local police. For insurance purposes and potential recovery of stolen items, obtaining a police report is crucial.
  • Cancel Stolen Cards: If your credit or debit cards are stolen, contact your bank immediately to report the theft and cancel the cards.
  • Visit Your Embassy or Consulate: For stolen passports, your next stop should be your country’s embassy or consulate to report the loss and begin the process of obtaining a replacement.

7) The Petition Scam

The petition scam is a deceptive tactic that involves individuals or groups approaching you with a petition to sign, which might be presented as supporting a noble cause, such as a charity for the deaf, blind, or children in need.

While appearing to be a legitimate request for support, the real intention behind this scam is usually to distract you for pickpocketing or to pressure them into handing over money as a donation.

How the Scam Works

  • Approach: Scammers, often posing as representatives of charities or advocacy groups, approach tourists in busy areas, holding clipboards with petitions.
  • Distraction: While the tourist is engaged in reading or signing the petition, accomplices may attempt to pickpocket them, or the scammer may use the opportunity to assess the tourist’s valuables.
  • Pressure for Donations: After signing, the scammer requests a donation for the cause, sometimes aggressively. Tourists may feel compelled to give money, especially after having signed what they believe is a petition for a good cause.

How to Avoid the Petition Scam

  • Politely Decline: You can politely decline to sign any petitions or engage further without stopping. A simple “No, thank you” as you continue walking is often sufficient.
  • Do Not Feel Pressured: Remember, you are under no obligation to sign anything or donate money, especially to individuals on the street. If you wish to support a cause, consider donating directly to reputable organizations.

8) Shopping Scams

Shopping in Prague can be a delightful experience, offering everything from high-end boutiques to charming local markets. However, there are potential scams that you should be aware of.

Counterfeit Products

One common scam involves the sale of counterfeit or fake products masquerading as genuine articles. This is particularly prevalent with brand-name goods, luxury items, and even traditional Czech products.

  • How to Spot Them: Look for signs of poor quality, such as irregular stitching on clothing or misspelled brand names. Genuine articles usually have a high standard of craftsmanship and packaging.

Bargaining Tips

While bargaining is a part of shopping in many cultures, it’s less common in established stores in Prague. However, at markets and with street vendors, negotiating the price can be expected.

  • Know When to Bargain: Understand the appropriate contexts for bargaining. Attempting to haggle in a department store is not advisable, but it’s perfectly acceptable at a flea market.
  • Do Your Research: Knowing the average price for items can help you negotiate more effectively. This prevents paying above the odds for goods that are available cheaper elsewhere.

Recognizing Authentic Czech Products

Prague is famous for several unique products, such as Bohemian glass (also known as Czech crystal), garnet jewelry, and wooden toys. Ensuring authenticity is crucial when purchasing these items as souvenirs or gifts.

  • Certificates of Authenticity: Genuine Bohemian glass and Czech garnet should come with certificates of authenticity. Ask for this documentation before making a purchase.
  • Buy From Reputable Stores: Purchase high-value items like Czech crystal and garnet jewelry from established and reputable stores rather than street vendors or markets to ensure authenticity.

Preventing Shopping Scams

  • Research Before You Go: Look up reputable shops and markets before you start your shopping. Reviews and recommendations from other travelers can be invaluable.
  • Avoid Street Vendors for Expensive Purchases: While street vendors can offer interesting and unique finds, it’s best to make more expensive purchases from brick-and-mortar stores where you can verify the authenticity of the items.
  • Keep Receipts: Always ask for a receipt. This is not only proof of purchase but essential if you need to make a return or verify authenticity later.

9) Things that are NOT typical Czech Traditions

In Prague, several items are often marketed as traditionally Czech, but in reality, they have origins elsewhere or are not as deeply rooted in Czech culture as vendors might suggest. This marketing aims to appeal to tourists seeking to take home a piece of Czech heritage. Here are a few examples:

Trdelník (Chimney Cake)

  • Origin: Although trdelník is ubiquitous in Prague’s tourist areas, it’s not originally Czech. Its roots can be traced to Transylvania, Romania, and it’s also popular in Hungary and Slovakia. Trdelník became popular in the Czech Republic relatively recently and is more of a tourist novelty than a traditional Czech delicacy.

Matryoshka Dolls

  • Origin: Matryoshka dolls, also known as Russian nesting dolls, are often found in souvenir shops around Prague, suggesting a Slavic connection. However, these dolls are distinctly Russian, not Czech. Their presence in Czech souvenir shops is primarily for tourists who associate them broadly with Eastern European culture.


  • Popular Misconception: Absinthe is widely available in Prague and often promoted as a traditional Czech spirit. While absinthe is legal and popular in the Czech Republic, its origins are actually Swiss, and it became famous in France in the 19th century. The Czech Republic does have a history with a similar spirit called “absinth” (without the ‘e’), but it’s a different recipe and was not traditionally consumed in the same way as the absinthe known in Western Europe.

Historical / Vintage Cars

  • Origin: the vast majority of the “historical/vintage cars” that are offered in the city center are replicas from Poland. Many of them are in very bad technical condition and don’t have a proper license.

Thai massages

  • Don’t support these places that place hideous plastic Buddhas in the Prague historic city center and offer low-quality quick massages. What do Thai massages have in common with Prague?

10) People with Animals

Another common tourist trap. Never ever agree to take a picture with an animal offered to you on the street!

Terrible Welfare of Animals

  • The welfare of the animals involved is a significant concern; these creatures are kept in unsuitable conditions and subjected to stress from constant handling and crowded environments. Furthermore, interacting with or supporting these practices indirectly endorses animal exploitation and can perpetuate a market for animal mistreatment.

Health risks for tourists

  • There are potential safety and health risks for you, including the risk of bites, scratches, or transmission of diseases.

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