Free walking tour in Prague: To take or not to take?

Free walking tour – those 3 magic words…
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Đọc bài viết bằng tiếng Việt.

Free walking tour – the 3 magic words that make you want to grasp one right after finishing all your other important bookings for a trip. That was also what I exactly did when I travelled to Prague.

I spent 3 days in Prague and had my 2nd day a free walking tour from this operator.

10 o’clock in the morning we met at Old Town Square. There were some groups there waiting for other group members and there were different groups in different languages. Mine was the English one, including me – a Vietnamese traveller living in Norway, 2 students from Turkey, a couple from Brazil, a Canadian couple, an Estonian girl and an Aussie guy. Plus the guide.

We started at around quarter past, starting from the Astrological Clock, Týn Church, strolling around the old town. At 12pm we had lunch at an obvious-tourist-trap restaurant in the Old Town, then went down to Josefov (the Jewish Quarter), went round and round (sorry, it was almost 6 months ago). After walking for ca. 4 hours on cobbled streets, we stopped near the castle.

And I am so sorry to say that it was the most boring day I’ve ever spent in Czech! Why?

The guide was very nice and friendly. But he speaks English very fast. By “fast” I mean ridiculously fast, with a strong Eastern European accent, which made it difficult for me – a non-native speaker – to follow. And as you can imagine, there were many people there at the same time, a lot of tourists travelling in groups, and hundreds of tour guides using loudspeakers while explaining things! I totally failed to listen to him, let alone understand what he said.

Now comes the most interesting part: the tips!

I understand that even they claim it “free walking tour”, it’s nice of us to give the guide some tips, at least enough for a typical lunch. But as tips is something people do willingly, I personally don’t thing it’s a good idea to ask for a certain amount of money that you wish.

Sadly he did.

The Brazilian couple started first, giving him 100 CZK as a tips. He looked at them, hesitated a little bit, and said “Thank you, it’s very nice of you, but since you are a couple, I expect you to give me 200 CZK!”

I was speechless. I planned to give him 100CZK, but then I didn’t want to.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not any desperately frugal traveller or whatever. And I don’t mean to be rude, but just to make it clear: 100 CZK cost me a bottle of water in Norway, or almost 4€, which actually was not a big deal. The thing that mattered was not the money then.

He turned to me, with a nice smile on his face and was ready to get the tips. I shook his hand instead, said thank for the tour, and wished him the best. There was a pause and a strange look in his eyes, but that was all I could do and actually already did in this situation.

The tour was nice, anyway, and it helped me feel the city a little bit more than just follow my own plan and information I downloaded.

I would recommend to take it if you:

  • have no idea what to do in Prague at all. Then you’ll see the city and know what you want to do later.
  • have a short stay in Prague, maybe less than 48 hours.
  • want to enjoy a walking tour and make new friends.
  • want to feel the city before exploring it by yourself (like my husband).

About the tips, well, it’s a matter of personal ethics, I think.

But at least after reading this article, you know what to expect when taking a free walking tour in Prague. 😉

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  • Uliana

    I understand your feelings after this tour very well! I did a lot of free walking tours, and most were nice, but then there are some guides that totally ruin the experience. I find it unacceptable when free walking tour guides talk about the money you have to give them. Sometimes they do it in the very beginning, saying what is the tip their expect in the end – and then the tour is already almost ruined to me. They should either stop speaking about Money or stop advertising tours as “free” 🙂

    • Misa Gjone

      Hi Uliana, I agree with you that it totally ruined the experience, even when they say it in the beginning, so people will not be… “surprised” in the end. However, people still feel like being cheated somehow, or at least that’s what we/I think.
      I just think, which one is better for marketing: a) A free walking tour which turns out to not be that free, but it can engage many people, or b) a very cheap walking tour, like 5 USD/5 EUR, but then people know exactly in the beginning they are supposed to pay and they can choose whether to take or not.
      (oh I’m just blah blah-ing again)
      Anyway, thank you for your comment 🙂

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Hello! I’m Quyên “Misa” Gjone (30), a freelance travel writer born and raised in Vietnam, studied MSc. in Communication in Sweden, and currently live in Norway.

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