Czech Airlines (www.csa.cz) runs a handful of flights weekly from Prague to the eastern city of Ostrava, but the country is small enough that air travel is usually impractical. There are no flights between Prague and Brno.
Cycling is an increasingly popular weekend activity in nice weather, though its full potential has yet to be realised. Southern Moravia, especially along a marked wine trail that runs between vineyards, is ideal for cycling.
- Off the main highways, the country is criss-crossed by hundreds of kilometres of secondary roads that are relatively quiet and ideal for cycling.
- The cycling infrastructure, such as dedicated cycling trails and a network of bike-rental and repair shops, is slowly improving but still not adequate.
- A handful of large cities, including Prague, do have dedicated cycling lanes, but these are often half-hearted efforts and leave cyclists at the mercy of often ignorant and aggressive drivers.
- It’s possible to hire or buy bicycles in many major towns, though not all. Rates average from 400Kč to 600Kč per day.
- A helpful website for getting started and planning a cyclist route in the Czech Republic is Cyclists Welcome (Cyklisté vítáni; www.cyklistevitani.cz).
There are no local boating networks for moving from town to town, though several towns and cities, including Prague, have pleasure cruises on lakes and rivers.
Long-haul and regional bus services are an important part of the transport system in the Czech Republic. Buses are often faster, cheaper and more convenient than trains, and are especially handy for accessing areas where train services are poor, such as Karlovy Vary and Český Krumlov.
- Many bus routes have reduced frequency (or none) at weekends. Buses occasionally leave early so get to the station at least 15 minutes before the official departure time.
- Bus stations are usually (but not always) located near train stations to allow for easy transfer between the two. In Prague, the Florenc bus station is the main departure and arrival point, though some buses arrive at and depart from smaller stations along outlying metro lines.
- Check the online timetable at IDOS (http://jizdnirady.idnes.cz) to make sure you have the right station.
- Buy tickets at station ticket windows or directly from the driver. Be sure to have small notes handy, since drivers are rarely able to give change for large denominations.
- Regiojet and Flixbus are popular private carriers with extensive national networks to key destinations, including Prague, Brno, Karlovy Vary, Plzeň and Český Krumlov. Buy tickets online or at station ticket windows.
Car & Motorcycle
Driving has compelling advantages. With your own wheels, you're free to explore off-the-beaten-track destinations and small towns. Additionally, you're no longer at the whim of capricious bus schedules and inconvenient, early-morning train departures. That said, driving in the Czech Republic is not ideal, and if you have the chance to use alternatives like the train and bus, these can be more relaxing options.
- Roads, including the most important highways, such as the D1 motorway between Prague and Brno, are in the midst of a long-term rebuilding process, and delays, traffic jams and long detours are more the norm than the exception.
- Most highways are two lanes, and can be choked with cars and trucks. It's white-knuckle driving made worse by aggressive motorists in fast cars trying to overtake on hills and blind curves. When calculating arrival times, figure on covering about 60km to 70km per hour.
- Western-style petrol stations are plentiful. A litre of unleaded 95 octane costs about 34Kč. Petrol stations invariably accept credit cards, but you'll need to have a four-digit PIN to use them.
- Czech roads and highways are covered by most satellite-navigation systems like Garmin or TomTom. If you're going to be driving, download the most recent European maps and bring along your home sat-nav device.
Driving In The Czech Republic
- The Czech Republic is covered by a network of generally good roads, though many towns still do not have a bypass – beware of suddenly reduced speed limits as highways narrow and pass through the centres of towns and villages.
- There are also hundreds of railway level crossings where the official speed limit is 30km/h, but you're better off stopping and looking since many have no barriers and some in rural areas don't even have flashing lights.
- Driving on Czech motorways requires a toll kupón (sticker), which can be purchased at border crossings and some petrol stations (per 10 days/month/year 310/440/1500Kč). This is usually included with rental cars.
International rental companies have offices in large cities and at Václav Havel Airport in the capital. In addition, locally owned car-hire companies usually operate in large cities and can be cheaper. Book cars in advance via company websites to get the best rates. Drivers must normally be at least 21 years old, and the renter must hold a valid driving licence and credit card. Note there may be restrictions on taking the car out of the Czech Republic, particularly to places like Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.
- The minimum driving age is 18.
- Traffic moves on the right.
- The use of seat belts is compulsory for front- and rear-seat passengers.
- Children under 12 years or shorter than 1.5m (4ft 9in) are prohibited from sitting in the front seat and must use a child-safety seat.
- Headlights must be always on, even in daylight.
- The legal blood alcohol limit is zero; if the police pull you over for any reason, they are required to administer a breathalyser.
- In cities, trams have the right of way when making any signalled turn across your path. Drivers may overtake a tram only on the right, and only if it’s in motion.
- You must stop behind any tram taking on or letting off passengers where there’s no passenger island.
- In case of an accident, contact the police immediately if repairs are likely to exceed 20,000Kč or if there is an injury. Even if damage is slight, it’s a good idea to report the accident to obtain a police statement for insurance purposes.
- For emergency breakdowns, the ÚAMK provides nationwide assistance 24 hours a day.
Watch speed limits in towns and villages in spots where the legal limit drops quickly from 90km/h (56 mph) to 50km/h (30 mph). Highway speeds are often monitored by mounted surveillance cameras. On expressways the speed limit is 130km/h (78 mph).
Hitching is a popular way of moving from town to town, where hitchers, often students, line up on the main road just beyond the town or city limits and display a sign with their destination to hail a ride. That said, hitching is never entirely safe, and we don’t recommend it. Travellers who hitch should understand that they are taking a small but potentially serious risk.
The Czech rail network is operated by České dráhy. Train travel is generally comfortable, reasonably priced and efficient. Trains are particularly useful for covering relatively long distances between major cities, such as between Prague and Brno, or Prague and Olomouc.
It's always safer to buy tickets in advance. Seat reservations are usually not necessary on smaller, regional trains, but are recommended if travelling on a Friday or over the weekend when trains tend to be more crowded. Bikes can be transported for a nominal fee (35Kč to 50Kč) on trains marked with a bicycle symbol on the timetable.
Two smaller private operators, RegioJet (RJ) and LEO Express (LEO), operate daily high-speed trains from Prague to the Moravian cities of Olomouc and Ostrava, with the possibility to connect to onward coach services to Slovakia and Poland. Timetable information for all trains is available online at IDOS (http://jizdnirady.idnes.cz).
Several different categories of train run on Czech rails, differing mainly in speed and comfort.
- EC (EuroCity) Fast, comfortable, international trains, stopping at main stations only, with 1st- and 2nd-class coaches; supplementary charge of 60Kč; reservations recommended. Includes 1st-class-only SC Pendolino trains that run from Prague to Olomouc, Brno and Ostrava, with links to Vienna and Bratislava.
- IC (InterCity) Long-distance and international trains with 1st- and 2nd-class coaches; supplement of 40Kč; reservations recommended.
- R (rychlík) The main domestic network of fast trains with 1st- and 2nd-class coaches and sleeper services; no supplement except for sleepers; express and rychlík trains are usually marked in red on timetables.
- Os (osobní) Slow trains using older rolling stock that stop in every one-horse town; 2nd class only.