Travelling by Train in the Czech Republic
Using the Czech Republic’s trains is perhaps the best way to take in this country, as they are cheap, efficient and stretch to nearly all towns in the land. Strangely, taking a bus can actually be a faster way to reach a destination, but the problem is that they are usually a bit more expensive. Timetables for both bus and train services can be found at jizdnirady.idnes.cz. It is also possible to easily travel around the country by car, as the roads are well maintained. The rail network in the Czech Republic is operated by Czech Railways.
There are a number of different types of trains that you can use when travelling in the Czech Republic. The cheapest of these – but also the slowest – is the stopping train. This resembles a tram more than a train and, as the name suggests, makes regular stops en route to the destination. It also only travels at 19mph, which can be far too slow for some people. Fast trains operate on longer routes and they do not stop at every single station on the line. It is possible to reserve a seat on this type of transport and also they have first and second class carriages.
Fast trains, just like trains in other countries, have a number of different types of tickets, all of which vary in price and quality of service. It is usually best to make a reservation when travelling on these trains; in fact, some services like the InterCity and EuroCity require you to reserve before you arrive. The best trains are considered to be those run by SuperCity, as they only have first class carriages and run only on the route from Prague to Ostrava.
When it comes to the stopping trains, tickets are usually booked in person at the station. This is simple to do and the offices can be found in all of the larger train stations across the country. All other tickets are available to purchase on the CD website at www.cd.cz.
Should you be travelling with children, then it is worth noting that all children up to the age of six are allowed free travel on trains in the country. After this age, children will get a 50% fare reduction until they reach 15 years old. You must also remember that purchasing a return ticket is cheaper than two singles. InterRail tickets are also valid in the country for those travelling across Europe, as are Euro Domino tickets.
Railway stations in the Czech Republic are incredibly well maintained and even the smallest of stations will offer everything that you need. They are all incredibly tidy and most also have restaurants and cafeterias, serving everything from soft drinks to alcoholic beverages. They also all obviously have a well manned ticket office. Many also have a bicycle rental service, so that you can explore the areas using pedal power.
One thing that might surprise visitors is the platforms at some of the smaller stations. Often there is no raised platform – instead, a member of staff will control the flow of passengers on and off the train, as well as ensure that people don’t stand too close to the open tracks.
In larger stations (Prague Main Station) – usually found in the more major cities – it is possible to leave your luggage in the left hand luggage area, or perhaps in a locker provided at the station. In Prague they also have porters to assist with luggage if needed.
Travelling by Bus
The Czech bus system is well known for being extremely good and efficient. The country’s main company – ČSAD – runs a network that spans that whole country, therefore meaning that it is possible to get to even the remotest areas of the nation. Other well-known coach company is Student Agency. Generally travelling by bus is more expensive than using the train, but on the flip side it is also a lot quicker. Bus stations are generally located in the center of towns, therefore meaning that they are extremely easy to access.
It is possible to buy tickets from desks at all of the bus stations and it is also possible to reserve tickets in advance – something that is highly recommended during busy periods, such as weekends. On less well travelled routes, tickets can be bought straight from the driver. It is also possible to travel to neighboring countries via bus from both Prague and Brno.
Travelling by Car
Travelling by car can be one of the most pleasurable ways to see the Czech Republic, as the roads are excellent and nearly always well maintained. Should you drive on Czech roads as a foreign national, you will need to bring a few items with you though. These are an international driving license, the vehicle documents and also another form of ID. If you are from outside the EU, you will also need your passport at all times. You must also carry a red triangle and a first aid kit to comply with the law. Small children should always have the correct seating in place as well. Recently, a law has also come into place that requires all motorists to use dipped headlights at all times.
When it comes to motorcycles, it is absolutely compulsory that riders wear a crash helmet. The maximum speed for both bikes and cars is 50km/h (30mph) in urban areas, 90km/h (55mph) on open roads and 130km/h (80mph) on motorways.
Drink driving is a serious offence in the Czech Republic and drivers breaking this law are liable to arrest. There is no tolerance for any alcohol in the body, so ensure that you are careful when it comes to driving if you have recently been drinking.