Scams in Prague

Tourists are easy targets for scams everywhere in the world, and so it is in Prague. If you know in which particular situation you might be affected and you learn how to protect yourself, your peace of mind while travelling will be satisfied. As a tourist to Prague, the most common scam subjects are: taxi, restaurant bill and money exchange (read article where to get good exchange rate). Here we list the most common scams in Prague.


Scams in Prague Restaurants

Even though the current situation is much better compared to ten years ago, you should still be aware of this, and always check your bill carefully and you will be fine.

The most common scam is charging for additional extras like sauces, bread, rolls or pretzels on the table. Usually the menu will state that the price excludes charges for bread, but somewhere where it is hard to see. The simple solution is if you don’t want to pay for those items, then ask staff to take them away. Even if you don’t eat it and if it’s on the table then you are obliged to pay. This is usually not an issue in top restaurants.

Un-itemised handwritten bill – if you do not get an itemised bill, do a quick rough calculation and if in doubt ask staff for a detailed bill. This mostly happens in pubs, but in restaurants it is not usual practice.   

Group bill scams: If you pay a large bill for more people it’s pretty easy to squeeze in a few extra items to your bill. Or they may do a wrong calculation, for example you should pay 462 CZK and they ask you for 562 CZK.

Service charge scam: by Czech law, the bill always includes a service charge, but does not include optional tips. So the total amount on the bill must be inclusive of 10%. Sometimes restaurants try to persuade customers that they have to leave an additional 10%. This is not true.

Sausage Food Stands scam: It has happened to so many travellers when purchasing a sausage on Wenceslas Square – they are given change which is short on both notes and coins. Do not be one of them, and remember that these mostly Ukrainian workers do it intentionally, and especially with tourists. Even if you immediately protest, it is too late. You might think it’s no big deal – so you paid just 50 CZK more – but if the lady does it to every second foreigner… Do not be part of that dirty practice and pay the exact change; that’s the only advice.

Having just returned from my second visit to Prague after a gap of five years I was somewhat surprised by the way city centre prices have increased to match the rest of Europe. It is still a great place to visit and our hotel, Hotel Rott, was superb. However, I would like to alert you to the high pressure selling taking place at the ‘7 Angels Restaurant.’ We knew the prices of the food were expensive when we made a reservation but the ambiance and hence the evening was ruined by being greeted with a waiter attempting to sell an aperitif of Vodka or champagne at a ridiculously inflated price, water was charged at £6.50 a bottle, canapés that were ‘given’ were then charged for, a bottle of the cheapest wine finished costing over £40 a bottle and a cover charge of £2 a head for a plate of stale bread that was not refilled when empty. Of course a 10% gratuity for service was demanded making you feel like a cheapskate as you were shown the door seemed part of the ritual. Tourists beware the 7 Angels!!!


Prague Taxi Scams

Prague taxi drivers are well known for their bad reputation. Quite often foreigners are not even aware that they have been overcharged, cheated etc. Or they find out when it is too late, or when it happens they are too shy to argue with the taxi driver, and rather choose to pay and consider it a “tourist tax”.

Apart from common practices of a cabbie asking you for a high price, there are also some practices which might be hard to recognise. For example, a fast taxi meter – the taxi tariff looks ok but, when you check the mileage travelled and the total fare charged it is not correct. This means that the driver is using a crooked adjusted taxi meter which charges more than it should. So, for that reason always check what should be the approximate taxi fare in advance.  

Wrong tariff – the mileage travelled by the taxi appears to be OK but the price is highly inflated. Often this is inflated by a “luggage tariff” or a “tariff outside of city district”. The driver will probably have a good explanation. For example, taxi drivers working for a certain company set different tariffs, some lower and some higher (for example when you call a taxi over the phone they use a cheaper tariff compared to the tariff if you took a taxi off the road etc.).  

Change – drivers will say that they are sorry but they do not have small change to give you – they consider it as a tip. Or they will give you change in a wrong currency hoping you do not know what local bills look like.

Another practice is the so-called “scenic route“. The taxi tariff and distance are fine for the journey but you went a lot further than necessary as the driver intentionally used a longer route in order to make you pay more.

We have also received emails that some drivers took clients to the wrong hotel, which may or may not have been intentional, but in all cases the customer had to pay more. So provide the location, not just the name of the hotel, as there are quite a lot of hotel brands with the same name but a few locations etc.


Money Exchange Ripoff

There are also other “scams” like exchange offices charging rip-off commissions etc. Please check this section for further details. ATM Scams – Prague has been targeted in the past for a copy card scam. The simple solution is to use ATMs inside of banks etc, not external ones. This scam does not represent a big danger as there were not many cases.

I must warn the tourists in Prague and other big cities about the pathetic scums who prey on unsuspecting bargain seeking/ greedy Dollar/Euro/Pound Sterling carrying people by offering them a rate sufficiently above the rates offered at other office exchanges. Happiness about the deal just concluded soon turns into despair and anger when they discover they have been given Hungarian Forint in stead of Czech Crowns. The 100 Pounds they have just shortly parted with is now worth some 10 Pounds.


Plainclothes policemen

Beware of plainclothes policemen looking for counterfeit money or investigating illegal money-changing. They approach tourists and ask to see their wallet. And when they check your wallet you’ll find that a substantial amount of money has been stolen. Or you might be approached by group of ‘tourists’ asking for directions (‘playing lost tourist’). Once you have been in conversation for a few minutes, two of the tourist’s ‘friends’ interrupt, claiming to be plain-clothes policemen and accusing you of changing money illegally. Again they will want to see your wallet.

If you’re threatened with an inexplicable fine by a “policeman, scare him away by saying you’ll need a receipt, or ask a passer-by if the fine is legit.


Metro Scams

If you enter the metro (usually at night), you may find a team of con artists at the stations, saying they are metro clerks and after examining your ticket for some time that it’s invalid so you’ll have to pay a fine of 500 CZK (1000 CZK if you argue with them). So if you happen to see them, and you’re sure that your ticket is valid, tell them to call the police, or call them yourself.


Sleeper Trains Robberies

Be astute on sleeper trains, as bag robberies are on the increase between major stations. Ask for ID from anyone who asks to take your ticket or passport and lock backpacks to the luggage racks. Keep valuables on you, maintain common sense.


Strip Clubs

Some sex/strip clubs nearby Wenceslas Square routinely rip off trusting tourists. Lately this district has become the rage for British stag parties.


Additional Information

Check Also

Prague Taxis

Ripped Off by Prague Taxis

In every single large city in the world, stories emanate about unsuspecting tourists being conned …


  1. Hello all
    I am not used to write down my experiences, however today I fell compelled to share with the most people possible this information, in order to help future travellers not to be robbed.
    I was in Prague with a friend, we entered in a money change bureau at the end of Charles Bridge, just past the ancient medieval door, where Mala Strana begins. The street is called Mostecka, and the bureau entrance has a big orange “CHANGE” label on it.
    We got in and changed 100€. My friend saw that the change was 26.65 crowns per Euro, and signed the transaction.
    When the young lady gave us the money, she gave us only 1917 crowns instead of 2665. We asked why and she told us that the commission was 28%!!!
    We complained but the lady indicated a small write on the currencies screen, where indeed it was said that the commission was 28%. My friend had already signed and we could not receive the money back.
    This is an authentic TOURIST TRAP. They took us nearly one third of what we were changing.
    This means that if you change 300€ you get almost 100€ away, and since you’ve signed you can’t protest.
    I think the police should do something, but since they don’t, and this place simply makes money by this legalized theft with inattentive tourists, better spread such news as much as possible on the internet.
    Thanks for reading and please advertise this!

  2. Prague is a great place to visit for 48hours max. From the time you get off the train until you leave, you will be bombarded by tons of mini scams. Almost every taxi driver is corrupt, bargain any price they tell you. If you purchase anything with the euro ask them what their conversion rate is. One restaurant tried to convert our euro rate 20-1 when the rate was over 24 and the fair exchange was 23. I would say two thirds of the people were either offstandish or slightly unfriendly. The place is beautiful, the food is good and fairly priced. They also have a fun artistic style. But the shadyness of the place leaves you over it after two days.

  3. Just back from Prague, a beautiful place to visit. I agree two days is enough to view the city. I unfortunately had my purse taken from my bag when I was on the metro, this was the first eve so it sort of ruined my second day.

    The hotel I was staying at did not speak much english and told me that the police didnt speak any english so I was unable to report my purse.

  4. can’t believe more people are not writing about the money exchange SCAMS in the Czech Republic. Right next door to the beautiful municipal house, Obecni Dum, I exchanged EUR 200 and received 3,400 Czech crowns.

    The rate they had posted was 24 korona per euro, which meant I should have received 4,800 korona.

    This means it would have cost me EUR 58 to exchange EUR 200 into Czech currency.

    I refused the transaction, left the money and the receipt there, called the police, told people coming in that they would be ripped off, and yelled several times at the person working behind the counter. I wanted my money back in full.

    The police came and told us there was nothing to be done, that Czech law permitted this, because it was written on the exchange board “under limit.”

    Finally, I told the guy working there that I was going to call my embassy and the media.

    We won!

    We probably spent an hour and a half arguing, calling the police, aggravating the people behind the counter, but he offered us the full rate of 24 crowns per euro that was posted. This meant that we got 4800 crowns.

    Yes, we were stupid.

    But, the way the exchange rates are posted in the Czech Republic is very very deceptive.

    We saw the same deceptive practice being used all over Prague, which means that tourists that change money at such exchange offices are losing huge amounts of money.

    I love Prague but these money exchange offices are really ruining its reputation – they might as well be state-sponsored criminal organizations. Any law that allows visitors, who are spending huge amounts of money in the city, to be ripped off must be repealed.

    Tell all your friends! I’m going to write my embassy and contact the media.

    • I prefer having cash from ATM using my VISA card abroad. Usually, you cannot be better off if you exchange your currency abroad into foreign currency. The transaction fee 1-2% usually if you use bank ATM. Maybe you can have some similar deal if you do your best deal in exchange office with real money.

  5. I changes money in the old republic square by a place called “Change” located at Staromestke nam. 17. These people are the biggest scam artists. Despite the posted rate of 22 KC for 1 USD, they gave me 14.74. I threatened to call the police but decided against it as I was in a hurry. I did tell them I would post it on the web. So here it is. NEVER trust the street vendors to change money. Take it from me – Jack – on June 13, 2010.

  6. I was in Prague and am returning there in April. Around the Clock tower you can identify the pickpocket teams if you sit in a nearby cafe to watch, they can be seen passing through tourist lined up to watch and then following them as they leave or simply dipping them there and then and walking away and passing it across to another member of their team who leaves the area, I have then seen this person return shortly after, fascinating to watch and get an understanding of how they work , which puts you on your toes, do not leave wallets, purses etc on table tops keep attached or hidden in pockets and do not put your handbag down by the side of your seats as they can easily steal from them, watch out for younger ones bumping you and another dipping you.

  7. I am visiting Prague next month to attend a conference but I am getting scared of what is said here about scams and pickpockets. It is frightening. I am Egyptian lady wearing a veil on my head; would there be anymore annoying because of this, besides normal annoyings?

    • I have now visited Prague around 15 times in the last 3 years. I had heard of the various scams going on and was a little nervous of my first trip alone from the airport to city centre. There is no need to worry if you take a few simple precautions. Look as if you know where you are going. Tell street money changers to go away (!). If male, keep cash in your pocket and keep your hands in there too. If female, give your cash to your escort or do not carry a handbag. I feel safer in Prague than I do in my home town of London so, don’t worry too much. Worst rip off I nearly had was a taxi driver. British ex-pat took me over the river three times when I didn’t need to cross it at all. Managed to stop him at lights near where a police van was and got out and refused to pay. He threatened me with arrest. I said go ahead and show your licence. Best to get a taxi from a bar/cafe/restaurant that you are comfortable in. They have a reputation to keep. Enjoy Prague; it is wonderful. Peter

  8. Hi, I was in Prague last March with a friend. Walking around the Old Town Sq, we were approached by an individual that showed as a Police Id very quickly. He asked us to show our passasport, which we did. He then asked us to show him any money we have to see if was not forgery as it was going a lot in Prague. He place the notes flat on his left hand and he started touching the top notes with his right index finger, give the money back to us. Later we realized that he has stolen all the large notes 500 crowns that they were underneath. We lost in total 3500 crowns. I think you should include this scam in your website. P

    • Just to make information more complete please note that no genuine police has the right to inspect your money. Also police will never ask you to see your wallet!

    • same thing happened to my son in budapest. the “police” inspected his wallet, plamed his master card, and had charged $1000 within the next 30 minutes…

  9. When changing money please watch out for the change offices on Wenceslas Square which are probably operated by Russians, they are thieve. They advertise something else, and charge huge commission.

  10. Thank you for this, we are soon to visit Prague and will look out for these things.

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