You will find a number of pay phones around the Czech Republic, but most will not be coin-operated, as these are nearly obsolete now, and they tend to be perpetually broken. Instead, most are operated using phone cards instead. Public pay phones are now much harder to find due to the widespread use of mobile phones.
Prepaid Phone Cards
If you want to use pay phones, you are almost certainly going to have to purchase a prepaid phone card, and there are two that you can choose from: insertable or international. When you purchase a card in the Czech Republic, it can only be used in this country, and not abroad.
Insertable Phone Cards
These are purchased at any Post Office in the country and can only be used with pay phones. The card is issued by O2 Trick and will cost you 180 CZK, regardless of the Post Office you go to. It is a good choice for domestic calls, but international calls tend to be very expensive with them. To use them, unhook the phone, place the card in the slot and then, when you hear the dial tone, proceed with you call as normal – the cost of the call is deducted automatically as the call progresses. You can save money on international calls by adding the prefix “970” to calls (for example, this would make a call to the UK start with 970-00-44), but this will still be more expensive than an international phone card.
International Scratch Phone Cards
These are the best choice if you are going to be calling abroad, as they are much cheaper than Insertable Phone Cards. They can also be used to make domestic calls as well though, and can even be used with the phone in your hotel room. They’re easy to use – simply call a free number and then enter your code – but the only company currently producing them on a large scale is Smartcall. You can buy them in many places, such as newsstands, hostels and souvenir shops. The only drawback is that you will only be able to buy them in larger towns. You can buy them in denominations of 150 CZK, 300 CZK, 500 CZK, and 1,000 CZK, but just to be safe, avoid the higher amounts, as they could be fraudulent.
Mobile phone coverage in the Czech Republic is on the 900 and 1800 MHz GSM frequency wavebands. Travellers from elsewhere in Europe should be able to connect to a local network with their existing handset, assuming their service provider has an arrangement with a Czech service provider. The same goes for most US phone users. Check before you leave if you’re unsure, and be wary of high call charges.
Increased competition has led to better services and lower call charges among Czech networks. If you’re here for a short time, it may be worth picking up a combination SIM and pre-paid card for your phone. The main networks are Vodafone (800 777 777, www.vodafone.cz), T-Mobile (603 603 603, www.t-mobile.cz) and 02 (800 020 202, www.cz.O2.com).
The Czech Republic’s country code is 420. To call the numbers within Prague, simply dial the nine-digit number as listed in this guide. From abroad, dial your country’s international access code (00 from the UK, 011 from the US) or the ‘+’ symbol on your mobile phone, then 420 (the Czech country code), then the nine-digit local number as listed in this guidebook.
To call abroad from Prague, dial the international access code of 00 (or the ‘+’ symbol), then the relevant country code, and then the number. When calling, for example, UK numbers, omit the first ‘0’ of the area code.