The Czech Republic is serviced by the multimodal IDOS traveler router, which includes all Czech trains, buses, and municipal transportation, as well as numerous rail and bus lines from other countries.
CSA Czech Airlines operates domestic flights from Prague to Brno and Ostrava.
Student Agency buses are an inexpensive and convenient way to travel between Prague and other major cities. These buses are typically quicker and less expensive than Czech railways (not considering discounts). This is minor on certain lines (for example, Prague to Brno), but on others, such as Prague to Karlovy Vary or Liberec, there is no direct rail link, thus buses are by far the best choice. Normally, you do not need to reserve a seat, however it is advised if you are traveling from or to Prague on Fridays or during holidays. Seats may be reserved online via the Student Agency website. Apart from this operator, there are many more bus companies that connect Prague with other cities, towns, and even distant villages on a regular basis. The majority of buses depart from the primary bus station at Florenc, although additional significant bus stations can be found at Na Knec (metro station Andl), ern Most, Zlin, and Roztyly, all of which are next to metro stations.
Local bus transport between small towns and neighboring villages is often provided by firms called SAD (district name), a relic of the communist-era national state-run enterprise eskoslovenská Autobusová Doprava. On local buses, you just tell the driver where you want to travel and pay the fee as you board.
Czech drivers may seem aggressive at times, particularly in Prague, but they are far from the “craziness” seen in other southern European nations.
The Czech Republic has a zero tolerance policy for alcoholic beverages. Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of any quantity of alcohol is prohibited, and breaches are harshly penalized.
To travel on the well-maintained highways, however, you must buy a toll sticker unless you are riding a motorbike. In 2014, these stickers cost 310 Kč for ten days (for cars weighing less than 3.5 tonnes), although they may be bought for longer periods of time (1 month for 440 Kč or 1,500 Kč for a year). If you don’t have a toll tag on your vehicle and travel on the highways, you may face a hefty charge (at least 5,000 Kč).
Make ensure that you get the proper toll sticker: there are those for cars weighing less than 3.5 tonnes and those for vehicles weighing between 3.5 and 12 tonnes. Vehicles weighing more over 12 tonnes must utilize an on-board unit (“premid” unit) to pay distance-based tolls.
Many roads are always being improved, but if you want to be inexpensive and quick, travel on the highways as much as possible, but if you want to go to isolated areas of the nation, you will have to use side roads that may be a bit rough at times.
In the Czech Republic, speed limits are typically 130km/h on highways, 90km/h off highways, and 50km/h in towns. Petrol is cheaper than the rest of Europe (36 Kč/€1.40), although it is more costly than in the United States due to high taxes.
Traffic penalties are typically payable on the spot.
Even during the day, the usage of daytime running lights or dipped headlights is required all year. Failure to have your headlights on while driving may result in a fine from the police.
Trains in the Czech Republic are mainly operated by the state-owned enterprise eské Dráhy (Czech Railways). RegioJet (a subsidiary of Student Agency) started running modernized trains between Prague and Ostrava in 2011. LeoExpress joined them on the Prague-Ostrava route in 2012.
Trains go to even the most distant parts of the Czech Republic, and unlike buses, they typically run on a regular basis during off-peak hours and on weekends. However, outside of the renovated major corridors, the quality of travel remains often the same as it was in the 1970s, making it difficult to go to regional towns or villages, since trains prefer to wander about the countryside.
- Osobní (Os) – Local trains are sluggish and often stop. Suburban trains near major cities are included.
- Spěšný (Sp) – quicker than “osobni”, generally avoids small settlements
- Rychlík (R) – Trains that go quickly and stop in important cities are more frequent than trains that travel longer distances.
- Expres (Ex) – “Rychlk” that is quicker and generally a little cleaner
- Eurocity (EC) – International trains are very contemporary (but fully usable for intra-state travel as well), quick, and only stop in large cities.
- Supercity (SC) –The fastest trains operated by Czech Railways, providing free Wi-Fi access in addition to other amenities, operate exclusively on the Prague – Ostrava line and need either a special ticket or a CZK200 seat reservation in addition to a regular one. With a comparable or higher quality of service, it competes with privately-owned LeoExpress (LE) and InterCity (IC) “Regiojet” trains.
Tickets should be purchased in advance online – [www] for Czech Railways, which operate trains on all national and international long-distance routes, as well as the vast majority (99 percent) of local railways, or [www] (Czech only) and [www] for privately-held companies, which operate trains only on the Prague-Ostrava long-distance route. In each instance, there are many benefits to purchasing at the box office: tickets are cheaper when purchased in advance, and the system automatically suggests the lowest option (sparing you the trouble of going through the, often byzantine, tariffs). Visiting the ticket office is only required when paying with cash or when special rates (such as sleeping car bookings) are not available online. Tickets bought online do not need to be printed: it is generally sufficient to show the conductor the pdf file on the screen of a laptop or tablet. The primary drawback of purchasing tickets online is the need to provide the traveller’s name and the number of a government-issued picture ID, such as a driver’s license or a passport.
The standard rail ticket price on D trains, which is always available even just before departure, may seem discouraging (about 1.40 K per kilometer), however Czech Railways (D) offers many discounts. Return tickets are discounted by 5%, and a group of travelers (even two people are deemed a “group”) is handled approximately as “first person pays full price, others pay half price.” As a result, request “skupinová sleva” (group discount) and/or “zpáten sleva” (price reduction) (return discount).
Regular travelers may use the In-karta IN25 [www] ČD loyalty card for 150 K (3 months), 550 K (1 year), or 990 K. (3 years). It provides a 25% discount on regular and return train tickets, as well as a 5–25% discount on online tickets. Its cost will soon pay for itself. At the ticket desk, you must fill out an application form and submit a picture. You will instantly get a temporary paper card and may begin taking advantage of the discount. You will get a plastic chip card in three weeks.
The ČD website has a comprehensive list of deals.
You may select between three competing railroad carriers on the route between Prague and Ostrava: the government Czech Railways (running both regular “Ex” and premium “SC” trains) and privately-held IC RegioJet and LeoExpress (LE) trains. When it comes to pricing, the LE, Ex, and IC trains are roughly similar (around 295 K), but the SC trains are often approximately 100 K higher. SC is the quickest, closely followed by LE, while IC and Ex trail behind. The on-board service on the LE and IC trains is superior.
If you travel in a group on weekends, you may purchase a Group weekend ticket [www] that allows you to travel on Saturday and Sunday without restrictions. It is eligible for a party of up to two adults and three children. The ticket is usable on all trains, including IC and EC, but you must purchase a seat reservation in SC for an extra 200 K. (or less, for less-frequented times). The whole-network version costs 600 K, whereas the regional variation costs between 200 and 275 K. Buying online and printing the ticket yourself saves you 3% and allows you to skip the wait at the station.
Despite the fact that several railway stations have been restored and updated, the remainder is still reminiscent of the Soviet period. There is no need to be frightened, but try to avoid them in the late hours of the night. Trains are a popular mode of transportation for both students and commuters, and they are usually safe (regular police guards are posted on fast trains). As a result, particularly during peak periods (Friday and Sunday afternoons), the main rail axis Praha-Pardubice-Olomouc-Ostrava is packed, and seat reservations are advised.
Prague has a strong network of local trains named Esko that link it to its suburbs and neighboring towns (S-Bahn). Prague public transportation tickets (for example, 32 K for 90 minutes) are valid on these trains (Os and Sp category) for travel within the Prague region.
If you wish to visit the dining car on a Czech Railways (eské dráhy) train (the blue one), attempt to do it while the train is still inside the Czech Republic. While on the train, you can have several excellent and tasty meals (including classic ones like “Svková”) for about 150 K. You will be charged almost double the amount if you purchase when the train is outside of the Czech Republic. This is not a fraud; it is the company’s official policy.
Taking bikes or pets on the train
The standard bike ticket costs 25 Kč for one train or 50 K for the whole day. You are responsible for loading and unloading your bike. Long-distance trains (with the suitcase sign in the schedule) offer a baggage wagon where the train personnel will look after your bike, however the ticket is 30 K for one train or 60 Kč for the whole day. Some trains (shown in the schedule with a squared bike or suitcase emblem) need a mandatory reservation for bikes for 15 Kč at the counter or 100 Kč from train personnel.
Smaller pets in cages or bags are allowed to travel for free. Larger dogs must wear a muzzle and be leashed. Prices are 15 Kč each train or 30 Kč for the whole day.
The Czech Republic is a great cycling destination. There are many lovely rural roads, cycling designated routes, and attractive towns along these paths (always with a bar…), it’s simple to find your way, and the trains offer bicycle racks in the luggage compartment for when you feel weary. Try riding in South Moravia (near the Austrian border), where there are hundreds of well-marked routes that will take you through magnificent landscape full of vineyards, wine cellars, and colorful towns.
Border mountains (Krkonoe, umava, Jesenky, etc.) are also becoming more popular among mountain bikers. There are generally no fences along the trails, but stick to the roads or designated bike routes since these mountains are National Parks/Reserves and riding “off the beaten track” may result in a fine.
CzechCycling.info [www] is a non-profit website that provides cycling information for the city of Prague and its surrounding regions. Mapy.cz [www] is another good source – alter the map (through Zmnit mapu – Turistická) to show bicycle routes in violet hue.
We Bike Prague provides guided and self-led bike tours throughout the Czech Republic.
In addition to walking in the cities, there are a plethora of hiking paths and scenery-rich trails winding through the Czech Republic’s forests and natural areas, and the Czech Tourist Club (Klub českých turistů) [www] has mapped and marked these trails so that walkers can easily locate and navigate thousands of kilometers of scenic paths; in fact, it is probably the best maintained system of marked trails in the Czech Republic. Maps of their routes may be purchased on their website [www], or in the Czech Republic in most bookshops, tobacco shops, and museums (green maps with the organization’s emblem and the words EDICE TURISTICKÝCH MAP KČT 1:50000 [www] at the top). These maps are very accurate and based on military maps. It’s also possible to take the train to a tiny town on the outskirts of a forest and look for the on-site map of the surrounding region, which will provide four potential routes highlighted in red, yellow, green, and blue excellent tourist maps [www].. A map like this will be accompanied by a series of directional markers, typically affixed to a tree and indicating the starting direction on any of the colored pathways. The color of the route will be indicated on trees along the way: three short horizontal bars, the outer two white and the innermost the color of the path you’re on. This sign may appear as an arrow at times, suggesting a turn. Signs will also identify bus and rail stops. You may also sign up to become a member [www] of the Czech Tourist Club, which allows you to camp in cottages [www] across the Czech Republic for 30–50 K each night.
Hitchhiking is extremely prevalent, and some vehicles stop even when they are not supposed to.
Take care to make a distinct motion with your thumb pointing upwards. A motion that seems to be pointing to the ground may be misinterpreted as a request for prostitution.
If you’re hitchhiking across the Czech Republic from the south to the German town of Dresden, avoid traveling to or beyond Prague unless you’re in a ride that’s going all the way to Dresden. Because Prague lacks a large and continuous beltway, people must navigate a ring of major and minor roads to travel around the city from south to north. As a result, the vast majority of traffic you will encounter is heading towards the city. After Prague, the main highway becomes a two-lane mountain route through small towns, with the vast majority of traffic being local, and foreign visitors reluctant to stop.
Try a letter-sized (A4) piece of paper with the destination written on it so it is obvious where you want to go.