A travel guide to the Czech Republic
Important notes prior to travel to the Czech Republic
When you give Simply Ruritania your first name and surname to be printed on your airline tickets please ensure that they correspond exactly with the first name and surname on your passport. If they do not match exactly, the airline may refuse you the right to travel.
Before you travel, please make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond your planned return date. It must also have at least 2 blank pages.
Before you leave home, it is a good idea to take photocopies of all-important documents (passport data page, credit cards, travel insurance policy, air tickets, driving licence etc). Leave one copy with someone at home and keep another with you while you travel, in a separate place from the originals.
Entering the Czech Republic as a tourist
The Czech Republic is currently a member of both the European Union and the Schengen area. This means that citizens of countries that are also in the European Union and the Schengen area may stay in the Czech Republic with no permit requirements. To enter the country, they only need a valid travel document such as a passport or an ID card. For the time being, this still applies to UK citizens.
If you are a non-UK citizen and not from a country within the EU or the Schengen area you will need to apply for a 90-day Schengen Visa to be able to travel to the Czech Republic. If anyone stays in the Czech Republic longer than three months, they must notify the relevant authorities of their stay.
You can find out more about how to apply for a visa from the Visa and Consular department at the Czech Republic embassy in London. You will still need to have a valid passport, and will be required to present the visa and the passport on arrival in the country.
Carry your passport with you at all times for identification. The police may fine you or arrest you if you fail to do so.
Health and Medical Information in the Czech Republic
If you have any concerns about staying healthy while abroad and any precautions you might need to take beforehand, please consult with your doctor before travel.
If you’re from the UK, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, it’s advisable to take a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you. An EHIC gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another EEA country or Switzerland. The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would to a resident of that country, either at a reduced cost or, in many cases, for free.
You can apply for a card free of charge using the official EHIC online application form: https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/startApplication.do. Please note you can obtain a card from other sites, but they may charge you a fee for doing so.
While in the country, if you need to contact the emergency services call 112. If you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
No vaccinations are required before visiting the Czech Republic, however the Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA) recommends that you are covered for Tetanus and that you might need to consider vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tick Borne Encephalitis (TBE). You can find out more and book vaccinations from their website www.masta.org. You may also wish to consult your doctor.
Security when travelling in the Czech Republic
The Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit may have issued information about travelling to the Czech Republic. You are advised to check this information at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
A good travel insurance that covers lost luggage, money and valuables, personal liability, medical and cancellation expenses is essential. It is a condition of travelling with Simply Ruritania that you have adequate Travel Insurance. Many clients prefer to make their own insurance arrangements to suit their requirements. Please note that we will need to know the following information before commencement of your holiday:
Name of your insurers
Insurers emergency contact number
Some money tips for your trip to the Czech Republic
The official currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech crown (koruna), abbreviated as Kč, with the international abbreviation CZK. 1 crown consists of 100 hellers (haléř), abbreviated as hal. Heller coins are no longer in use, but hellers are still used in retail prices. The final price is always rounded off to the nearest crown value.
Take care when using cash machines, shield your pin and be aware of other people standing nearby. If you need to exchange currency, do so at a currency exchange office or bank, never on the street as this money is often counterfeit. It is very difficult to change Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes in the Czech Republic, so we would recommend that you change this currency in the UK instead.
Major credit cards, such as Visa, American Express and Master Card are accepted by most hotels, shops and restaurants. Try to avoid signing for optional services at your hotels, pay as you go along to avoid unnecessary delays when checking out.
In the Czech Republic, it is usual to tip in restaurants, bars, coffee shops and other similar places. Sometimes the tip is included in the bill, but mostly it is at the customer’s discretion how much of a tip to leave in a restaurant or bar. 10% is the norm if you feel the service has been good.
What temperatures and weather to expect during your trip to the Czech Republic
The temperature from early March to late May usually stays around 10°C on average in the Czech Republic, with approximately 479 hours of sunshine during those months. The average rainfall/snowfall averages about 161 mm.
The average summer temperature is about 17°C because it also includes mountainous areas. In reality, the temperature in the towns in June, July and August may reach as high as 35°C.
September is still relatively warm in the Czech Republic, but the beginning of October brings more rain and the average daily temperature falls to 10°C. You may also get some ground frosts in the late autumn.
Winter in the Czech Republic lasts roughly from December to February and is traditionally cold, with temperatures in towns sometimes dropping as low as -20°C, and even lower in the mountains. Recent winters have been milder, however, with temperatures slightly below zero – still cold enough to enjoy some skiing though!
Travel and Transport in the Czech Republic:
The largest airport in the Czech Republic is the Václav Havel Airport in Prague, formerly called Ruzyně and renamed after the Czech president in 2012. The airport is on the outskirts of Prague, but it’s very easy to get to the City centre. There are several options:
You may also like to refer to Prague airport’s official website; http://www.prg.aero/en/
The other international airports in the Czech Republic are:
Karlovy Vary http://www.airport-k-vary.cz/en/
Public Transport in the Czech Republic
As with many places, the best practice with taxis is to use only taxis that are clearly identified and that you have called by phone, not hailed from the street. Ask about the price to your destination beforehand, and if it is too high, do not get in the car. The average price per km in a taxi is CZK 20.
Buses and trains
The Czech Republic has one of the most dense railway networks in Europe and a good bus service. Both trains and buses are reliable. In Prague, you’ll also find trams, metros, ferries and even a cable car.
You can find more information on timetables and destinations from the following sites:
Prague only: http://www.dpp.cz/en/
Driving in the Czech Republic
Safety and legalities
It is illegal to drink any alcohol at all before driving in the Czech Republic. If you plan to drive a car during your holiday, you must make sure you are absolutely sober. The police may breathalyse you to check.
You should always carry with you in the car your driver's licence, identity card and car documents (such as the technical licence and the green card).
You drive on the right in the Czech Republic, and the car’s lights must be on during the day as well as the night. Trams always have priority, whether you are driving or a pedestrian. You must always give way to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings.
It’s illegal to use a mobile phone while you are driving unless it is hands-free. Children must use a car seat and a safety belt if they weigh less than 36 kgs and are under 150cm tall.
Drivers in the Czech Republic are required to use winter tires between 1st November and 31st March. The weather in the Czech Republic is very variable, particularly in winter, so it is always advisable to be prepared for adverse weather conditions. Winter tires help to prevent problems and accidents.
Drivers must report all accidents in which anyone is injured or killed, or when a third party suffers damage or when the damage suffered by one of the parties exceeds CZK 100,000. In any other scenario, if the drivers reach an agreement as to who caused the accident, they do not have to call the police. However, even in this case, we recommend that you fill out a “European Record of a Car Accident” form.
In towns and villages and other residential and built up areas, the speed limit is 50 km per hour (30 mph). Out of town, it’s 90 km per hour (55 mph). On the motorways, it’s 80 km per hour (50mph) if it’s a road going through towns and villages, otherwise the speed limit for motorways outside residential areas is 130 km per hour (80mph).
Some public roads, like motorways, are subject to a toll which must be paid for in advance, by purchasing what is called a vignette. You can purchase vignettes at Czech Post offices, petrol stations, specialist drivers’ shops, and border crossings. Any car up to 3.5 tonnes driving down public roads that are subject to a toll is required to have one of these vignettes.
A motorway vignette that is valid for 10 days costs 310 CZK. You can also purchase a one-month vignette for CZK 440 or a 14 month vignette valide from 1st December to 31st January costs CZK 1,500.
Vehicles over 3.5 tonnes must have a special device that operates the toll gates electronically.
You can find more information on the Czech Republic’s dedicated toll website here: http://www.mytocz.eu/en/new-customer/tolling-system/index.html
For a map of motorways in the Czech Republic and more information click here.
Czech Republic Time Zone
The Czech Republic is in the Central European time zone (CET), which means it is one hour ahead of the UK. Like the UK, the Czech Republic also switches to summer time, with the clocks moving forward an hour on the last Sunday in March and back again on the last Sunday in October. The Czechs usually use the 24-hour format for telling the time, although they will sometimes use the 12 hour convention in every day speech.
Electricity in the Czech Republic
The electrical network in the Czech Republic has a voltage of 230 V and frequency of 50 Hz. The sockets are the same as in France, Germany, Belgium or Poland. You will need to use an adapter if you are using an appliance with a UK plug.
Phones and internet connectivity:
There is a good broadband service across most of the Czech Republic, so you should have no problem finding an internet connection. Wi-Fi is usually available in restaurants, cafés, bars, hotels or libraries and on some of the transport network, such as certain trams, buses and trains.
The larger cities like Prague, Brno, Plzeň, Ostrava have high speed mobile phone networks, so if you have a prepaid data allowance with your phone provider, you can browse the internet that way too. European Union regulations were brought in in the summer of 2017, which means that all EU citizens will be charged at the same rate as they would be in their home country, putting an end to expensive data roaming charges
The international dialling code of the Czech Republic is +420 (00420).
The number for directory enquiries is 11 88 if you need to quickly find a phone number, taxi or other information and you do not have access to the Internet. The operators speak English, Russian, French and Slovak.
Big companies and public authorities have toll free lines starting with 800.
If you don’t have a mobile phone or don’t want to use it, the Czech Republic still has phone booths operated with coins or a prepaid card.
Shopping while in the Czech Republic:
Opening hours for shops, banks, pharmacies in the Czech Republic:
As a general rule, the bigger the town, the longer the opening hours.
Banks are open weekdays from 9am. to 5pm. In the centre of the larger cities they often don’t close until 8pm. ATMs are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Shopping centre opening hours tend to be the same throughout the Czech Republic: usually from 9am to 9pm, seven days a week, except for public holidays.
Postal services within the Czech Republic and internationally are provided mainly by Czech Post. In the larger towns, post office branches are open from 8am to 6pm. The main post office in Jindřišská Street in the centre of Prague stays open from 2am to midnight.
Branches in smaller towns are usually open from 8am to 5pm.
Pharmacies or chemists are usually open on weekdays only from 8am to 5pm. Opening hours may be longer in larger towns however. They are closed at weekends and public holiday, except if they are situated within a shopping centre, in which case they stay open if the shopping centre is open on public holidays too.
Petrol stations on main routes or in towns and cities are mostly 24 hour, with perhaps a short night time break.
Tourist sites, historical points of interest, galleries and museums in the Czech Republic are usually closed on Mondays.
Normal hours for governmental offices are on Mondays and Wednesdays with some of the offices being open to the public more often. Most will close for lunch, usually between 12pm and 1pm.
Normal business hours for shops and services in smaller towns in the Czech Republic are usually from 8am to 5pm.
Guide on prices during your trip to the Czech Republic
Here are some approximate prices of basic items that you may wish to buy in Czech shops:
Bottle of still water (0.5 l) – CZK 15
Bottled beer (0.5 l) – CZK 20
Wine (0.7 l) – CZK 100
Bread (0.5 kg) – CZK 25
Cheese (100 g) – CZK 30
Yogurt (150 g) – CZK 12
Ham (100 g) – CZK 30
Approximate prices of admission fees and other services:
Cinema ticket – CZK 180
Theatre ticket – CZK 300 or more
Concert ticket – CZK 500 or more
Admission to castles and chateaux– CZK 100 – CZK 350
If you are considering making a major purchase of handicrafts, souvenirs, jewellery, or anything else to take home with you while in the Czech Republic bear in mind that you may be responsible for
1. Carriage /shipping / postage and insurance charges.
2. UK Value Added Tax (VAT)
3. UK Import Duty
Should you purchase an item please note we cannot be held responsible for the quality or delivery of the goods in the UK and are not able to intercede in any transaction you may make. It’s advisable to keep in mind: ‘The buyer beware’.