Before travelling to a destination you have never been to before, it is advisable to get hold of some basic information in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.
We have prepared a summary of everything a foreigner might need in the Czech Republic. We will advise you on what clothes you should take with you, how to connect to the Internet in the Czech Republic, what the Czech crown exchange rate is, which credit cards can be used, and also what sort of tips should be given in restaurants…
Transport in the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is one of the main transit points in Europe. The largest and main Czech airport is the international airport in Prague-Ruzyně, which changed its name to Václav Havel Airport Prague in 2012.
This text provides basic information on the rules of the road, public transport, flights to the biggest Czech airport and other related issues, including the regulations applying to the use of drones over the territory of the Czech Republic.
Czech Republic by car – basic information
In the Czech Republic you drive on the right.
Lights must be used throughout the day and night all year round.
Without exception, it is prohibited to drink alcohol before driving a car – the police may require you to take a breath test to prove that you are absolutely sober.
It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving unless it is operated hands-free.
Children weighing less than 36 kilograms (80lb) and under 150 cm (4ft 11in) in height must use a car seat and a safety belt.
From 1 November to March 31, drivers in the Czech Republic must use winter tires. Although the law permits using summer tires when the conditions allow it, the weather in the Czech Republic is very variable, specifically in winter, and so winter tyres help prevent problems and accidents.
All drivers should carry with them their driver’s license, identity card and documents associated with their car’s safety (technical licence and green card).
In built-up and residential areas – towns and villages, the speed limit is 50 km/h (30 mph). You must always give way to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings. The only exception are trams, which must be given priority by both drivers and pedestrians.
The speed limit outside towns and municipalities is 90 km/h (55 mph).
The speed limit on motorways outside residential areas is 130 km/h (80 mph), in towns and villages, you can travel down the motorway at up to 80 km/h (50 mph).
Cars of up to 3.5 tons driving down public roads that are subject to a charge, such as highways, must have a vignette – a proof that the driver has paid the appropriate fee.
Vignettes may be purchased at petrol stations, at the branches of the Czech Post, at border crossings and specialised shops for drivers.
Motorway vignette for 10 days: 310 CZK (EUR 11, USD 13, CNY 85)
Motorway vignette for one month: CZK 440 (EUR 16, USD 18, CNY 120)
Motorway vignette for 14 months (1 December to 31 January): CZK 1500 (EUR 55, USD 63, CNY 405)
For a map of motorways in the Czech Republic and more information click here.
Vehicles over 3.5 tonnes must have a special device communicating with the toll gates to pay the fee for driving on roads in the Czech Republic. More information, including the rules for travelling with a motorhome or caravan, can be found here.
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 ( EUR 3,700, USD 4,200, CNY 27,000). Where none of these situations occurs and the drivers reach an agreement as to who caused the accident, they do not have to call the police. However, it is recommended that the form of “European Record of a Car Accident” should be filled in.
The average price per kilometre in a taxi is CZK 20 (EUR 0.75, USD 0.85, CNY 5). The final amount to be paid depends on the city, Prague usually being the most expensive. The price for the trip from downtown to the Prague airport ranges from CZK 500 (EUR 18, USD 20, CNY 135) to CZK 700 (EUR 25, USD 29, CNY 189).
Unfair taxi drivers are everywhere, but their number in the Czech Republic is decreasing – to avoid the remaining ones, do not take a taxi directly in the street and rather call one by phone. Use only taxis that are clearly identified and ask about the price to your destination beforehand, if it is too high, do not get on.
Czech Republic by train and bus
The Czech Republic has one of the most dense railway networks in Europe and a sophisticated system of bus transportation. Both trains and buses are reliable. A comprehensive system for looking up departures of trains and buses all around the Czech Republic is to be found here.
In Prague you can use trams, buses, metro, ferries and even cable cars. Timetables, connections and other important information on Prague transport can be found here. A comprehensive system of public transportation is also available in Brno (here), Ostrava (here), Pilsen (here), Liberec (here) and other cities. With the modernisation of the fleet, an increasing number of public transport vehicles are barrier-free. The timetables include information on stations that have lifts or special paths making them accessible to disabled people.
To use public transport in Prague, you must buy a ticket, choosing from one of the following options: The basic fare for adults costs CZK 32 (EUR 1.20, USD 1.35, CNY 8.5). If you are going to stay in Prague for one day, it is convenient to use a one-day ticket for CZK 110 (EUR 4, USD 4.5, CNY 30), if you are planning a weekend visit, it pays up to buy a three-day ticket for CZK 310 (EUR 11, USD 13, CNY 84). The ticket is always valid from the moment of its marking (the marking machines are in the metro, on the trams and buses) – it is enough to mark it once. If you fail to use a ticket, you may be imposed a fine of up to CZK 1,500 (EUR 55, USD 62, CNY 406).
Transport to the airport in Prague and elsewhere
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. Its official website is accessible under this link. The airport is situated on the outskirts of Prague, but the connection with the centre is very good. The AE (Aeroport Express) bus line will take you to the Main Train Station in the centre in 30 minutes. The line has its own fare and the tickets are available directly from the driver. There is also a number of regular fare buses going from the airport to different metro stations, such as Nádráží Veleslavín or Zličín. More details are available here. You can also travel to and from the airport with one of private carrier services.
Other international airports in the Czech Republic are located in Brno, (official website), Ostrava (official website), Karlovy Vary (official website) and Pardubice (official website).These official websites include information on public transport and parking.
Rules for Flying Drones in the Czech Republic
Drones are becoming ever more popular and an increasing number of people would like to take the chance of bringing home bird’s eye view photos from their holiday. In the Czech Republic drone operation is governed by rules which should be thoroughly studied before embarking on an unmanned flying adventure.
No matter whether you want to use drones for private or commercial reasons, in the Czech Republic you definitely must avoid no fly zones. To view their locations see the website: http://aisview.rlp.cz/ .
In addition, without the necessary permits (for more details see below) you will not be allowed to fly an unmanned aircraft above motorways, roads or private land without the permission of the owner and furthermore you will need the consent of the people who could be depicted on the shots from the drone.
Permits, insurance and possible fines
And that’s not all. Commercial use of drones is subject to additional regulations and it is necessary to procure special authorisation issued by the Civil Aviation Authority. To see its website, please click here. We recommend checking all the requirements for flying drones in the territory of the Czech Republic with this authority.
In short: a potential drone operator must procure permission to fly and permission for aerial work, or possibly it may be necessary to acquire permission to operate aerial activities for one’s own needs.
Make sure not to forget insurance, because a falling drone can cause injury to people as well as damage to property.
Currency, Payments, Prices and Tips
The official currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech crown (Kč/ in English CZK).
Coins: CZK 1, CZK 2, CZK 5, CZK 10, CZK 20 and CZK 50
Banknotes: CZK 100, CZK 200, CZK 500, CZK 1000, CZK 2000 and CZK 5000
CZK 1 = 100 halers, but you will be able to see these in the Czech Republic only on price labels. When you make payment you will not use halers or get them back in change. Prices are subject to rounding. For example: if the price is 299 crowns and 75 halers, you will pay 300 crowns. And if it is 159 crowns and 20 halers, you will pay 159 crowns.
Many shops, restaurants as well as tourist centres accept Euros. But you should not be surprised that particularly in shops any change returned will be in Czech crowns.
The exchange rate of a crown to a Euro and other currency can be checked at the website of the Czech National Bank and European Central Bank.
- In exchange offices. First make sure that you don’t have to pay any needless fees. Unfortunately, the tempting sign “0% commission” often relates to the purchase of foreign currency and not its sale. In other places there might be a small print text at the bottom of the information board saying that fees are not paid for exchanges of 200 Euros and higher, for example. It is advisable to enquire in advance how many crowns you will get for your money and what fees you will have to pay. By operation of law exchange offices are bound to provide information in several world languages.
- In banks. The fee charged for currency exchange ranges around 2 %. Some banks add the condition of the minimum fee (for example CZK 30). Banks in the Czech Republic are shut at weekends and on public holidays.
- In hotels. You can exchange your money for crowns even in the hotel where you stay. However, they too may charge some fees.
Warning! Never exchange money on the street. Don’t accept offers from people who are offering an excellent exchange rate outside of an exchange office, bank or different institution.
You can also withdraw Czech crowns from cash machines which can be found in sufficient numbers in Czech towns. However, it is advisable to ask your bank how much it will charge for cash machine withdrawals abroad.
You can make payments with an internationally recognised card (Visa, MasterCard, Plus, Maestro, etc.) in most shops and restaurants.
It is customary to leave tips when paying bills in Czech restaurants, bars, coffee shops and other establishments. Some of these include the tip in the bill, but it is quite usual that a guest will decide for himself how much to tip the staff in the restaurant. With smaller items and in ordinary restaurants it is customary to round up the sum to match one’s satisfaction. If you were happy with the lunch, service and the restaurant itself and the waiter brings a bill for 116 crowns, round it up to 130 or more. The higher the price, the bigger the tip should be. In more upmarket restaurants tips are expected at about 10 % of the price, but you can also expect much better service. If you weren’t satisfied, you don’t have to leave any tip at all.
Note: The information was accurate when it was published. This can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all details directly with the companies in question.