Dos and Don’ts

Pub Etiquette: “The Czech pub is a highly democratic institution. If there's a free table or chair, it's yours.”—Evan Rail, author, Good Beer Guide Prague and the Czech Republic. Most pubs do not require reservations nor do they expect you to wait to be seated. If the only available chairs are at tables with other guests, it's perfectly acceptable to ask if you can join their table (using any combination of Czech, English, German, and sign language that works). Once you order, the beers will keep coming until you say stop, either by asking to pay or, if the situation is desperate, placing a coaster over your glass.

Visiting a Private Home: Don’t be surprised if your host asks you to remove your shoes at the door. Czechs rarely wear shoes in the house. If you’re headed to a private party, choose your socks accordingly—chances are you are going to be standing around in them all evening.

Shopping: When entering a store, it’s good manners to greet the shopkeeper or sales clerk with a cheerful “Dobry den!” (good day). When you leave—even if you only stopped in for a second to browse—turn and give everyone a hearty “Na shledanou!” (goodbye).

Riding the Tram or Metro: On a crowded car, always offer your seat to an older woman, a pregnant woman, or any disabled passengers. Not doing so risks incurring the wrath of the rest of the car.

Tipping: Tips are usually not included in the price of restaurant meals. On smaller tabs, round up the nearest ten-crown interval. On larger bills, ten percent is considered standard. Don’t leave your tip on the table, instead hand it directly to your server when you pay the bill.

Phrase Book

English knowledge has improved greatly in the past few years and you’re unlikely to have any major language problems. Still, a little Czech is always appreciated and can go a long way.

Ahoj!: Literally “Ahoy!” Though there’s no Bohemian sea, the standard informal way to say hi or hello. Pronounced a-hoy.

Cau!: Informal greeting used for both hello and goodbye. Often doubled up as Cau-Cau! Pronounced Ciao!

Dobry den: Good day. More formal than Ahoj! or Cau! Pronounced DOH-bree DEN.

Dobry vecer: Good evening. Pronounced DOH-bree VECH-er.

Dekuji: Thank you. Hard to pronounce but worth the effort. Pronounced DYEK-oo-yee.

Na shledanou: Goodbye. Often shortened to Na-shle! (Pronounced NAH-skle!) Pronounced NAH-skle-DAH-noh.

Ano: Yes. Usually shortened—confusingly for English speakers—to ‘no. Pronounced AH-no.

Ne: The real word for no. Pronounced NE.

Jedno pivo, prosim: One beer, please. The first thing you say in a pub after Dobry den! Pronounced YED-noh PEE-voh PROH-seem.

Jeste jedno, prosim: Another round, please; the handiest phrase in the dictionary. Pronounced YESHT-ye YED-noh PROH-seem.

Na zdravi!: Cheers! Pronounced nahz-DRAH-vee.

Zaplatit: The check/bill please. Pronounced ZAH-plah-teet.


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