From renovating sites of historical interest to working on farms, volunteering in the Czech Republic can take you deeper into the cities and countryside of the Czech Republic than the regular tourist visit allows.
Although the capital city, Prague, is a highlight of the Czech Republic, there are many other locations that could be your base for living and volunteering in this small but beautiful country. The Czech countryside is renowned for its wonderful hiking, and smaller destinations around the country have unique culinary traditions and medieval heritage that make them all worthy of your time.
Prague is the largest city in the Czech Republic, and rightly popular with tourists and other foreign visitors. The medieval architecture and art is some of the best preserved in the whole of Europe, and there are weeks' worth of activities and sights in the capital city.
Brno is a lively hotspot filled with cafes and clubs alike; boasting a great selection of museums and experimental architecture, this city is a great counterpart to Prague for those who are interested in a lesser-traveled destination.
The EU's Cultural Capital (at least in 2015), this city is largely known as the home of Pilsner Urqell beer. It's not too far from Prague location-wise; this destination hosts intricate underground tunnels and a wealth of history for travelers to explore.
An elegant town out of a fairy tale, this city attracts travelers due to its enchanting castle and carefully restored heritage buildings. It's known as Czech Republic's second busiest tourist town after Prague, but the historical scenery is not one to miss.
Community Development / Environmental Conservation
International volunteers in the Czech Republic are mostly involved in environmental and cultural heritage protection, education, and agriculture.
Many other volunteer roles require a proficiency in the Czech language. Czech is a Slavic European language related to Polish and Russian, but not widely learned or spoken outside of the Czech Republic. For this reason, many international volunteers will be involved in lesser-skilled jobs that do not require an advanced grasp of the language, such as working on farms or helping to renovate old homesteads and heritage buildings.
WWOOFing, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, is a good option for people wanting to volunteer in the Czech Republic. You can contact the hosts directly to negotiate your stay, as well as ensure there won't be as much of a language barrier. Plus, you also usually receive accommodation when WWOOFing, which is great for volunteers who want to travel more economically.
English-language immersion summer camps are gaining popularity in the Czech Republic and often have openings for teachers and volunteers.
You may also consider putting your English-language skills to good use in the community. Cultural organizations -- such as museums or non-profits -- sometimes need help proofreading English language materials. Although there aren't any organized programs facilitating this type of volunteer work, past volunteers in the Czech Republic have had some success contacting these organizations directly. If this is the type of work that appeals to you, a little extra effort at the beginning may pay off.
Things To Look For
When volunteering, always check to see what is included in your program or other contractual agreement with the employer. Some may include accommodation or transport costs, but others may not. When you are not being paid for your work, free accommodation could mean the difference between being able to volunteer and not at all.
Some volunteering programs around the world require the volunteers to pay a program fee or administration fee. Always check the fine print to see whether the fee reflects the services that you are actually receiving, as well as what the money goes towards.
There are, unfortunately, unscrupulous organizations that seek to make a (large) profit from volunteers. Don't let your good intentions be exploited. If the fee seems large, but you don't receive housing, transport, or other modes of assistance (such as language classes), then it may be worth looking elsewhere for an alternative volunteering opportunity.
Volunteer activities such as WWOOFing, working in youth hostels, or working in English language summer camps come with the distinct advantage of included accomodation. Double-check whether this is free, or whether you still need to make some sort of monetary contribution.
Organizations that provide housing along with their program fees often house volunteers in volunteer houses, dormitories, or hostels.
The Czech Republic is situated right in the middle of Europe, which means cold, snowy winters (November to March). The other warmer months are a better time to plan your visit.
It will be significantly easier to volunteer in the Czech Republic if you are a resident of another EU country (rather than North America or Australia, for example), as no visas are required. Plan to apply for your visa at least six months before your departure in case there are any complications.
Volunteers who can speak Czech are at an advantage when seeking jobs, even volunteer jobs, in the Czech Republic. Many younger Czechs speak good English these days, but older generations are less likely to, so keep that in mind when choosing the right program for you.
Contributed by Elen Turner