Travelling in the Czech Republic

It is very easy to travel around the Czech republic. There are excellent bus and train links throughout the country. To assist in making travel arrangements, there is a brief dictionary at the bottom of this page. Dictionary. Bus information is to be found here: Buses. If you are staying in Prague, or another major city see this information on city transport: City Transport. Information for the motorist is here: Motoring.

Rail Travel

The trains are normally slow, but seem to keep to the timetables and are reasonably cheap. There are so-called fast trains, which are almost as fast as the bus services, and which stop only at major towns, and a good network of local trains, so very many small towns and villages can be reached by train. There are also Inter-City trains, the quickest ones.

The situation is reminiscent of the pre-Beeching era in the UK, when almost every town and village had its station. It is to be hoped that this network is not decimated in a similar fashion, but the threat has been there for many years now, because of the losses made by the system.

I have found the best method of booking a train ticket to be this: Work out everything beforehand, (train-times, train numbers, type of ticket, dates of travel, single or return etc.) and write it down. Then give that to the clerk, who invariably will not be able to speak English. Make good use of a phrase-book, or if you have computer access use the excellent IDOS system to get the information you need (it has information in English as well as Czech).

You can also travel first-class on fast and inter-city trains at a premium of about 50%, and on busy routes may guarantee a seat. Alternatively, it is worth buying a seat reservation.

Bus Travel

Travelling by bus is by far the most popular method of travelling within the Czech Republic. Most buses are run by the state bus company which is called Česká státní automobilová doprava (ČSAD). You can get anywhere by bus, and often more quickly than by train. Be careful in checking bus timetables as they often differ from working days to weekends. It is advisable to book in advance, especially on major routes and at busy times, otherwise buy the ticket when you board. (A little knowledge of Czech can be helpful as illustrated by this experience: My wife and I decided to travel from Prague to Mělník by bus. At Holešovice bus station in Prague, I noticed a sign (in Czech) which said that buying a coupon from the Tabák would be cheaper than buying the ticket on the bus. This saved about 8 crowns each per journey - about 20 pence per journey per person.)

Motoring

As a non-motorist I have no experience of driving in the Czech Republic, or indeed anywhere! However, I can tell you that there is a very limited motorway system, but roads seem to be reasonably good. Where I have traveled by car it has been interesting, but it may be my natural nervousness that makes it seem that Czech drivers drive too fast and take too many risks!

Depending on your country of origin, you may need an International Driver's Licence, and if you using your own car, you must carry your vehicle's registration document. It is always a good idea to check on your insurance cover before travelling. Contact your insurance company. You must also carry a red warning triangle, and display a national identification sticker. Also you must have a first-aid kit and a set of replacement bulbs.

Driving is on the right, and wearing of seat belts is compulsory. It is forbidden to drive with any alcohol in the blood. Children must be in the back of the car. Beware of trams when passengers are getting on or off - I believe it is not allowed to overtake them at such times unless there is an island for the pedestrians. Be sure to check up-to-date information on speed limits and road signs. Take particular care at level crossings, which often have no barriers. Be careful not to drive over them too quickly - there is a speed limit of 30kph - and it makes good sense!

City Transport

Within Prague and other major cities, there is a good tram, trolleybus and bus system. These often run from early morning to about midnight, and there are also night trams in Prague and in Brno. There are excellent passes available giving unlimited travel on the urban system (including the underground in Prague). These are cheap and convenient, they only need validating in the machines on every bus, tram, trolleybus or at the metro station on first use, and then to be carried and shown on demand. There are fines for not having a valid ticket. The tickets can be bought at Metro stations, and many newsagents and tobacconists and also from machines which can be found at some bus and tram stops.

IDOS

The IDOS website is an excellent help in travelling within the Czech Republic, whether the information you require involves buses, trains or urban transport.

Be sure to check the options you have set, and try to be specific as to your start point and destination and dates and times you wish to travel, and the system will give you the options of bus and train journeys with timing, distances, and often prices too. You can select a journey and get more information on the number of stops, the interchanges you need to make etc. This is very useful, especially if you print this and give it to the clerk at the booking office, you can be very specific as to the journey you wish to make. As stops are usually announced on the buses, trams and metro within Prague, it can help you to know exactly where you are.

The site is in English and Czech (click on the flag) and can be found here: IDOS.

Dictionary

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A few helpful words for travellers.

English Czech English Czech
train vlak bus autobus
fast train rychlík ordinary train osobní vlak
departure odjezd arrival příjezd
platform nástupiště side of platform kolej
ticket lístek seat reservation místenka
return ticket zpáteční lístek first class první třída
station nádraží bus stop zastávka
Underground Metro tram tramvaj
petrol benzín diesel nafta
bicycle kolo working day pracovní den