Czech Republic

By bike
By bike

The Czech Republic is an excellent place for cycling. There are lots of pleasant country lanes, cycling marked paths and picturesque villages along these paths always with a pub..., it's easy to find the way, and the trains have bicycle racks in the baggage section for when you get tired. Try cycling in South Moravia region close to Austrian borders where you can find dozens of well-marked paths that will lead you through beautiful countryside full of vineyards, vine cellars and colourful villages.

Also border mountains Krkonoše, Šumava, Jeseníky etc. are more and more popular among mountain-bikers. There are usually no fences along the trails but always keep to the roads or marked cycling paths here as these mountains are National Parks/Reserves and you can be fined if you cycle "off the beaten track".

Beware that drunk cycling is illegal and although quite common, the police do routine checks especially on paved cycling paths. See By car for more information.

IDOS (http://jizdnirady.idnes.c...) offers an exceptionally useful online timetable, that covers all Czech trains, buses and city transport and many train and bus lines abroad.

Train categories
By train

The following train categories are recognized and shown in timetables (http://jizdnirady.idnes.c...) or departure boards (http://provoz.szdc.cz/Tabule/):

Osobní (Os)
– slow local trains, stop everywhere, usually operated by ČD
Spěšný (Sp)
– faster than "osobní", usually skip little villages, operated by ČD
Rychlík (R)
– fast trains, stop in major towns, commonly used trains for longer distances, operated by ČD
Rychlík vyšší kvality (Rx)
– fast trains like "Rychlík", with use of newer and more comfortable carriages, operated by ČD
Expres (Ex)
– faster and use of newer and more comfortable carriages than "Rychlík", operated by ČD
Intercity (IC)
– fast trains coming up to European standards, currently only the RegioJet uses this category, with a compulsory seat reservation
LeoExpress (LE)
– the LeoExpress has registered its own train category, with a compulsory seat reservation
Eurocity (EC)
– international fast trains coming up to European standards, stop in major cities only, operated by ČD
railjet (RJ)
– international fast trains to Austria, stop in major cities only, operated by ČD
Supercity or Pendolino (SC)
– the fastest tilting trains between Prague and Ostrava, operated by ČD, with a compulsory seat reservation
Train tickets
By train

The normal train ticket price can be discouraging roughly CZK 1.40 per km, but Czech Railways ČD offer plenty of discounts. Return ticket gives you a 5% discount, and when travelling in a group even two travellers are considered as a "group", the first person pays full price, second gets 25% discount, others get 50% discount. Therefore ask for "skupinová sleva" group discount and/or "zpáteční sleva" return discount.

For journeys between larger cities you can buy a discounted ticket called Včasná jízdenka Česko (https://www.cd.cz/eshop/a...), which is generally of the same price or even cheaper than bus. The earlier you buy it, the cheaper it is. The ticket isn't bound to particular train, only to a specific day and route. You'll buy it online it is bound to your name and Passport/ID number and print it yourself or present it on your notebook/tablet or tell the conductor the 6digit ticket number. You can buy these tickets directly at station counters too, but at least one day in advance. Group discount does not apply to these tickets.

The ČD e-shop offers also international e-tickets called Včasná jízdenka Evropa (https://www.cd.cz/eshop/a...), which are often much cheaper sometimes more than twice than tickets purchased at a train station. However there are limitations: only major destinations are subject to this discount, tickets cannot be used to travel to the Czech Republic, but only for one-way or return trips starting in the Czech Republic, they must be stamped by Czech conductor, purchased at least 3 days in advance, bound to the specific train and passenger name, they are non refundable and you must print them before the journey on your own printer.

Regular travellers can use a ČD loyalty card, called In-karta IN25 (http://www.cd.cz/en/vyhod...), for CZK 150 3 months, CZK 550 1 year or CZK 990 3 years. It offers a 25% discount for normal and return train tickets and 5–25% for the Včasná jízdenka Česko. Its price will pay for itself quickly. You have to fill in an application form at the ticket counter and provide a photograph. You will get a temporary paper card immediately and start using the discount. After three weeks you will get a plastic chip card.

The complete list of discounts can be found at the ČD website (http://www.cd.cz/en/vnitr...) as well as the eShop, where most of the ticket types can be bought (https://www.cd.cz/eshop/).

Note that if you intend to travel on the RegioJet or Leo Express train, a special ticket is required. The ČD tickets and international tickets including InterRail are not valid on these trains. If you combine private and ČD trains, you have to buy two separate tickets. Both private companies offer a comprehensive e-shop and have ticket offices at major stations at Praha–Ostrava route. They have similar ticketing system to airlines, so the earlier you book the ticket, the cheaper it will be, and the ticket is bound to a specific train.

Travel tips
By train

There is an unofficial English page (http://captainoddsocks.bl...) about Czech train travel tariff, but not quite up to date. And consider a calculator of domestic (http://jizdenka.idos.cz/N...) and international (http://jizdenka.idos.cz/I...) ticket prices. It uses same system as cash desks at train stations, so its interface can be a bit user-unfriendly for a newbie.

If you travel in a group on weekends, you can use a daily pass Skupinová víkendová jízdenka (https://www.cd.cz/eshop/n...) for unlimited travelling on Saturday or Sunday. It is valid for group up to 2 adults and 3 children. The pass is valid in all ČD trains including EC and railjet, but in SC Pendolino you need a compulsory reservation. The whole-network variant costs CZK 650 and regional variant costs CZK 225 to 300.

Although many train stations were repaired and modernized, the rest is still like a trip back in time to the communist era. There is no need to be afraid but try to avoid them in the late night hours. Trains are generally safe there are regular police guards assigned for fast trains and very popular mean of transport and they are widely used both by students and commuters. Therefore especially the principal rail axis Praha–Pardubice–Olomouc–Ostrava is crowded during peak times Friday and Sunday afternoon and seat reservation is recommended.

Prague has a pretty good network of local trains connecting it with suburbs and surrounding cities called Esko S-Bahn. The Prague public transport tickets e.g. CZK 32 for 90 minutes are valid on these trains Os and Sp category for travel within the area of Prague.

Taking bikes or pets on the train
By train

The basic ČD ticket for a bike costs from CZK 25 to CZK 75 depending on the distance. You load and unload your bike by yourself. Trains with such possibility are marked with a bike symbol in the timetable, as well as carriages suitable for bike transport.

Some long-distance trains with a suitcase symbol in timetable have a luggage car, where the train staff will care of your bike, for an extra charge of CZK 10, payable at the train.

Some trains with square-framed bike/suitcase symbol in timetable require compulsory reservation for bikes for CZK 20.

More on bike transport on ČD website

Smaller pets in cages or bags may travel for free. Bigger dogs must have a muzzle and must be on a leash. Price is from CZK 15 to CZK 50 depending on the distance.

More on dogs transport on ČD website

No bikes or bigger dogs are permitted on private trains of RegioJet and LeoExpres.

By train
By train

Trains in Czech Republic are operated mostly by state-owned company České Dráhy (http://cd.cz) Czech Railways, ČD. At Praha–Ostrava line there are two new private operators Regiojet (http://regiojet.cz) a subsidiary of Student Agency and Leo Express with very comfortable and modern trains comparable to European standards.

The trains go even to the most remote locations of the Czech Republic and unlike buses, they usually operate regularly during off-peak hours and during weekends. However, outside the modernized main corridors, the standard of travelling is often the same as it was in the 1970's, and therefore it is quite time consuming to get to the provincial towns or villages, the trains tending to meander around the countryside.

On foot
On foot

In addition to walking in the cities, there are a great number of hiking paths and scenery-rich trails going through the Czech Republic's forests and natural areas, and the Czech Tourist Club Klub českých turistů (http://lnbm.kct.cz/files/...) has mapped and marked these trails so that walkers can easily locate and navigate thousands of kilometres of scenic paths, in fact it is probably the best maintained system of marking in Europe. You can buy maps of their paths on their website (http://www.klubturistu.cz...), or in the Czech Republic in most bookstores, tobacco shops or museums green maps, marked with the organization's symbol and the words EDICE TURISTICKÝCH MAP KČT 1:50000 (http://kct.cz/?oid=10189&PHPSESSID=07fcff9810a926df89b6daa78a4fb660/ at the top). These maps are based on military maps and very accurate. It's also possible to go by train to a small village at the edge of a forest and find the on-site map of the surrounding area, and four possible paths will be visible, marked in red, yellow, green, and blue nice tourist maps (http://www.mapy.cz/#x=131...). Nearby such a map will be a set of directing signs, usually posted to a tree, pointing the initial direction on any of the coloured paths. The path's colour will be marked on trees throughout the path: three short horizontal bars, the outer two white and the innermost the colour of the path you're on. This symbol at times will appear as an arrow, indicating a turn. Bus and train stops will also be indicated on signs. You can also register to become a member (http://kct.cz/?oid=11119&...) of the Czech Tourist Club, where you can camp for 30–50 Kč a night in cottages (http://kct.cz/?oid=10188&...) around the Czech Republic.

By road
By road

Hitchhiking is very common and some drivers stop even on places where they shouldn't. Although you may see it, it is illegal to hitchhike on motorways, with the exception of service areas.

Take care to use very a clear gesture with the thumb pointing upwards. A gesture looking like you are pointing to the ground may be mistaken for prostitution solicitation.

As a word of advice, if you are hitch-hiking through the Czech Republic from the south to the German town of Dresden, never go to or past Prague unless you are in a ride going all the way to Dresden. Prague itself has no major and continuous beltway, so residents of the area must maneuver a ring of major and local roads to get around the city from south to north. Therefore the great majority of traffic you will encounter is going into the city. Past Prague, the previously major highway turns into a two-lane mountain road through local villages, in which again, the great majority of traffic is local and international travelers are hesitant to stop.

Try a letter-sized A4 piece of paper with the destination or one of former license plate codes] written on it so it is clearly visible where you would like to go. See some other Tips for hitchhiking.

By thumb with pet
By road

It is possible to hitch-hike with smaller dog, although "waiting time" will be longer. Expect another dog in the car.

By plane
By plane

There are domestic flights from Prague to Brno and Ostrava, operated by CSA Czech Airlines (http://www.czechairlines.com/).

By car
By car

The Czech drivers may seem aggressive sometimes, especially in Prague, but it is far from the “madness” found in some Southern and Eastern European countries.

The Czech Republic is a zero tolerance country. It is illegal to drive any vehicle including bicycles and kick scooters under the influence of any amount of alcohol, and violations over .03 % are heavily punished. However up to .02 % is usually tolerated as it can be naturally ocurring.

In order to drive on motorways, you need to purchase a vignette. These cost CZK 310 12,00 EUR for ten days, CZK 440 16,50 EUR for a month and CZK 1500 56,50 EUR for a whole year prices of 2015. If you do not have a vignette on your car when you drive on motorways, the fine can be very steep CZK 5000 minimum. Vehicles over 3.5 tonnes in weight must use an on-board unit “premid” to pay tolls based on distance; this is required also on primary roads marked with M in a circle. You can easily obtain pre-paid premids at most petrol stations.

Unlike most of the motorway network, the D1 motorway between Prague and Brno is in a bad shape. Although reconstruction is slowly underway, there are still long sections of misaligned concrete blocks which cause a bumpy ride. Combined with heavy traffic, reckless driving style, rapidly changing weather due to higher elevation as the motorway crosses the Bohemian-Moravian Highland and virtually no detour routes, it makes the D1 notorious for crashes, even fatal. Drive carefully, the 130 km/h speed limit is in many places too fast for this route, especially if you do not know the terrain well.

The condition of many roads is continually improving, but to be economical and fast, drive on the motorways as much as possible, although if you want to get to remote parts of the country you cannot avoid lower roads that may be a little bumpy sometimes.

Speed limits in the Czech Republic are 130 km/h on rural motorways, 90 km/h on rural roads, 80 km/h on motorways in towns, and 50 km/h on other roads in towns. Petrol is inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe CZK 33 / €1,23 ceskybenzin, but it is expensive compared to North America as it is heavily taxed. Speeding is common but so are speed traps and unmarked police cars so it can easily result in heavy fines, especially if you do not know the area.

Many drivers use Waze mobile app to warn fellow motorists about speed traps, hazards on road etc., so if you purchased local SIM card with good data plan or if you have good roaming data plan on your own, try it out.

Traffic fines for small offences can be paid on the spot. Large offences drunk driving, more than 40 (town/50 rural km/h over limit, etc.) require administrative hearing and you may be required to pay a large deposit and/or your driving license can be suspended. In criminal offences which would result in a trial eg. heavily drunk or drugged driving, car chase, etc., your car can be seized as well. Some police cars mostly on highways accept payment by cards but most don't.

The use of headlights or day-time lights is mandatory at all times day-time lights are allowed between dawn and dusk and in good visibility only. Failure to comply while driving may result in a fine of up to CZK 2000. If other cars are flashing their high beam at you, it might be a friendly warning that your headlights are off.

By bus
By bus

A cheap and excellent means of travelling between Prague and other major cities are the buses from Student Agency. These buses are usually a bit faster and cost less than the Czech trains not considering discounts. On some routes e.g. Prague to Brno this is marginal, but on others such as Prague to Karlovy Vary or Liberec, there is no direct train connection so the buses are by far the best option. Usually, you do not have to book a seat but if you travel on Fridays or during holidays from or to Prague, it is recommended. You can reserve seats online at the Student Agency website, (http://www.studentagency.cz). Apart from this operator there are many other bus companies that link Prague and other cities and towns, even remote villages, regularly. Most buses leave Prague from the central bus station at Florenc, but other major bus stations can be found at Na Knížecí metro station Anděl, Černý Most, Zličín and Roztyly, all of which are located next to metro stations.

Local bus travel between small towns and surrounding villages is usually operated by companies named ČSAD district name, a remnant of the nationwide state-run company Československá Autobusová Doprava from communist times. On local buses you simply tell the driver where you're going and pay him a fare as you get on.

Timetables for both local and long-distance bus travel are available on the IDOS website.