EXPAT VOICES: Making friends in Czechia isn't always easy for foreigners – here's why

Our survey revealed that many people believed Czechs were initially less welcoming and more distant than expected, although knowing the language helps.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 31.07.2023 17:00:00 (updated on 31.07.2023) Reading time: 9 minutes

Sunday, July 30 marked International Friendship Day. In honor of the occasion, we asked our readers last week about how easy or difficult it is to make friends as an expat in Czechia. 

We were curious to know three things: Which strategies our readers found effective to meet new people in Czechia; any cultural differences they found from Czechs; and the challenges that expats face when trying to form friendships in Czechia. 

We also asked people to give examples of memorable friendships made in Czechia.

Is it easy or difficult to make friends in the Czech Republic?

Easy 21 %
Difficult 79 %
419 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open

The responses we received were fascinating and said a lot about what people thought of Czechs in general. Many said that they believed locals were rather cold and distant at the outset, but would become friendlier once you got to know them. Others said that they believed Czechs were hospitable people.

Expats also said that joining social groups was a great way to meet people in Czechia, as well as connecting with others via work. Read on to see what internationals living in this country truly think about making friends here.

Ways to build relationships with locals and expats

The general theme of responses was the importance of “getting yourself out there” to make friends. As the replies to our survey show, there are many ways to do this.

Attending events and joining groups

Going to events was one of the most popular responses. As one reader summarized: “You have to make the effort to attend events. Nobody will come to you.”

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Reader Erin said that “volunteering and meet-ups” are effective ways to meet people, and another reader said that “going to events not focused on the expat community” is also useful in meeting locals. Joining groups was also cited as being a great way to meet new people in Prague.

Reader Casey mentioned that joining the Rotary Club Prague was a highly effective method of meeting people due to having a large number of both international and Czech members, and also gave people an opportunity to do fun activities and good deeds together.

"Joining the International Women’s Association of Prague [IWAP] definitely allowed me to make essential friendships both with locals and expats, to find my way in Prague, and to give something back to the community"

Reader Fernanda

One reader also said that joining a Facebook group with people who are also from your own country is a good way to meet other expats. Reader Bibiana also said joining the IWAP organization was helpful in meeting new people.

Friends through work

Some readers such as Thanos and Erin also saw opportunities for meeting people via their workplace. “Working for a big company helps…I met a lot of people when I started working for my firm,” said one reader. Another reader mentioned that having young, Czech co-workers who were sociable and helpful made it easier to meet friends.

Hobbies, social events, and beer

Taking part in hobbies and activities is also a good way to meet new people, according to the responses. Reader Joe recommends joining a gym, and Aileen said that yoga helped her make friends. Other readers say that outdoor activities such as hiking and climbing helped them meet new people. “Climbing outdoors in Czech climbing areas and going where locals go” was the advice of one reader. 

Others suggest simple social events as a good way of getting to know someone. One reader says going to “a nice pub with good beer” allows you to meet several people, and another said they “went out alone and just entered places that felt like they have a good vibe.” Comedy shows were also cited as good places to meet people. 

One reader also mentioned that – as many of us know very well – having a few beers makes the process of befriending Czechs and internationals much easier.

Another reader said that 10 years ago they started going “to a typical underground bar in Prague.” Although the bar no longer exists, “some of the local regulars including the bartender are now my good mates,” they wrote. Fernanda also mentioned that simply walking the dog guarantees bumping into people and making friends!

Knowing Czech

A couple of readers also commented on the usefulness of learning Czech – something they recommend. Casey, for example, said that learning enough "fun and funny" Czech to be perceived as a “humorous and friendly person” makes it easier to meet locals in the country. It also helps to speak Czech to shop assistants, he says.

Cultural differences that make it harder to connect with Czechs

Acclimatizing to a new culture can often be difficult and, as our readers told us, can affect forming friendships in Czechia. Many people said that they thought Czechs have a different approach to meeting people and friendship groups compared with other countries.

A more ‘closed’ outlook

"Czech people are not open to being friends with foreigners and, even if one is, they will not introduce you to their group of Czech friends,” said one reader. 

“Czechs aren't particularly interested in making new friends with foreigners, because they prefer staying in one social group.”

Anonymous reader

Fernanda echoed the view that Czechs are initially stand-offish – that “there is an apparent lack of trust at the outset…a distance they naturally establish.” However, she noted that “once you get to know them, Czechs are very warm.”

One reader commented: “Czechs do not trust easily at first and are unapproachable at times.” Therefore, as another person noted, “expats are much easier to make friends with.”

Reader Bibiana noted that she “connects very well” with expats due to the shared experiences of moving to Czechia from abroad.

Some readers also commented on Czechs’ tendencies to be family-oriented. Erin said that “Czechs like to spend a lot of time with their families, so it helps if their families speak English too – or if you can speak Czech.” Similarly, another reader said that Czechs mainly “stick to family and friends from school,” thereby making it harder to meet locals in the country.

"Czechs are very cold and can appear very unfriendly or bothered if approached. They are less likely to integrate or mix friends…so it's like you have to meet Czechs individually rather than as a group"




Reader Joe

Fewer things in common

Having a difference in interests was also an issue cited a few times. One reader wrote: “I have nothing to talk about with most Czech people. It feels like there is a huge gap. It is funny because as someone from South America, most of my friends here are Ukrainians as I feel our cultures are more similar.” 

Thanos similarly said that “coming from a Mediterranean country,” he tends to spend time outdoors differently to Czechs, therefore making it harder to mix. One reader also described that they felt Czechs had a “very traditional culture” and were “uncomfortable with new things and experiences,” making it harder to meet them. 

Another reader wrote: “None of my local mates ‘get it’ when I disappear to watch a five-day cricket match.”

“Personally I don't like drinking, and that excludes me from a lot of activities that would connect me with Czechs”

Anonymous reader

Czechs in the workplace

Some people did not have any issues meeting Czech people. One reader said that Czechs were “nice overall,” once you got to know them and that having Czech co-workers that you meet daily helps a lot in overcoming any cultural differences. Reader Aileen also said that they thought “young Czech people are very open to new friendships” – something she experienced at her workplace.

Challenges that expats face when trying to form friendships in Czechia

By far and away the most frequent challenge to making friends that our readers mentioned was navigating the language barrier; the vast majority of respondents cited this in some form.

Not knowing Czech

One reader said that if you do not speak their language, Czechs are “less likely to welcome foreigners into their social groups.” As a native English speaker, this person also noted that some Czechs were shy due to their English skills.

Another reader said that the lack of “small talk” that Czechs do makes it harder to initiate, and engage in, conversation.

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do…most expats in Czechia forget their audience and that they should follow the ‘house rules’”

Reader Casey

Several expats such as Casey noted the importance of assimilating oneself into a culture by learning the language of the land – this helps overcome several language-related barriers.

Friendships with expats can sometimes be temporary

Erin noted that a major challenge was the fact that “expats tend to move away,” which means that many friendships with internationals tend to be transient and short-lived. She therefore thinks it is better to “make friends with locals.” As another reader similarly surmised: “A good friend you made may leave the country soon.”

Thanos said that he “managed to find a few friends living three years in Prague, but wouldn't characterize anyone as ‘close friend’.” 

Memorable and special experiences making close friends in Czechia

Despite the difficulty of meeting new people in Czechia, finding that special, close friend can truly transform one’s experience in the country. Here are some of our readers’ personal stories.

“An old bartender of a local bar that I always used to visit took me to a concert, and then we went skiing together. He became a lifetime friend, and we bonded over beer, music, and skiing"

Anonymous reader

“My colleague who speaks English quite well was welcoming and open from the beginning of my employment. They invited us to everything and educated us on culture and some language tips, and were always willing to help. We ended up having a close 10-year friendship,” described one reader.

Erin told us that she “made many Czech friends as a volunteer English teacher with the EnglishStay organization. It was a really fun group – six years later, we are even better friends.”

Fernanda said: “After surgery, I was sharing my hospital room with two Czech ladies. I had very enjoyable conversations with one of them, which later developed into a warm friendship.”

“In the past, I called my now-best friend a Czech word that I didn’t think would upset him. He promptly responded that if anyone else had said it, he would have killed them!” said wrote one reader.

Joe said that he “made a close friend in the gym, got close, and mixed our family members into the friendship.”

“I met some Czechs in Greece, and we traveled and adventured there together for about a week. We have now been friends for over five years,” said one reader. Casey shared with us a great story of how he made a long-lasting friend in Czechia:

“Walking on Petřín hill one night, I stumbled upon the Štefánik Observatory. Inside, I met a friendly, informative, and engaging English-speaking assistant who showed me the wonders of the night sky and how to use the telescope. Because he had taught me how to operate it, when a group of tourists showed up and he could not pay attention to everyone at once, I got to show a couple of people how to use it. That cemented a new friendship.

I learned that he's a bell ringer at St. Vitus Cathedral and a cyclist with a loving family. Now, we share stargazing experiences, climb the St. Vitus bell tower, cycle together, enjoy occasional meals, and he kindly gives me a lift to the airport when I travel. I also take care of their Christmas shopping when I am in the U.S. It rarely gets better than that!”

Our survey shows that, despite the challenges inherent in moving to a new country and facing a different culture and language barrier, befriending people in Czechia is made much easier by joining groups and attending social events. You'll just need to put yourself out there.

Reader answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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