Plan Your Trip To Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is one of our favorite places to explore. Luckily, we now live on the border and we can visit the sites many times on just a day trip. Our first time visiting this small country was in 1990. We crossed over into a third world country. From Germany, it was a marked difference. Thankfully twenty years later, the country is a vibrant and fun place to visit. Prague is probably one of the prettiest cities in Europe, and there are many things to do, see, and eat.
Location and Visa
The Czech Republic is in central Europe, bordering Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Poland is extremely easy to get to either by plane, train, or car. Part of the Schengen visa there are no border checks with any of its neighbors. The only time your passport is stamped is entering by plane from a non-Schengen country. (To learn more about the Schengen visa and what it means to you, go here.)
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If you are flying into the country, you will probably fly into Prague at Ruzyne International Airport. We have flown in and out of it once, and really enjoyed the experience. For an international airport, it’s very small and easy to navigate. The check-in, security, and customs lines were managed well and we didn’t have long waits anywhere. Inside the gates there were sufficient sitting areas with a few cafes and snack options. Parking our car in the long-term lot was very reasonably priced.
We’ve also taken the train across the country, and even though there are not that many new trains, we were comfortable and the tickets were cheap enough that even very budget-conscious travelers would not have a problem. Prague is the main hub for the country so most international lines will stop here and passengers then switch to local trains to get to other Czech cities. Visit the Czech Railways homepage for ticketing and other information.
For the most part, we have driven our own car all over the country. There are a couple of major autobahns where you can drive 120 -130 kilometers per hour, but as soon as you exit them, you are on smaller roads. Most of the roads we’ve traveled are well maintained. You can find gas stations in many of the medium towns as well as near the main roads. One of most memorable road trips was through Bohemia during the fall. The foliage was in full color and the crisp air really leant itself to a fantastic trip all around, let alone that we visited some cool places.
Public Transportation is widely used in all the Czech cities of any size. We didn’t have any problems in Prague or Brno. Tickets can be bought from the front desk of your hotel, on board the bus, or from machines at the stops. If the city isn’t large enough for a tram system, their buses are reliable, frequent, and cheap.
The currency is Czech Koruna (CZK or Kč)and the exchange with US dollars makes it pretty inexpensive. A normal dinner entrée in any restaurant will cost anywhere from 150Kč ($6.80) to 250Kč ($11.30) which is quite reasonable.
ATMs and Banks
ATMs are plentiful in the Czech Republic. We’ve traveled to many smaller cities and towns and have never had a problem finding an ATM. For awhile there was a scam where a green plastic piece covered the card intake slot which copied the contents of the card, but it was easy to detect. If you see a suspicious looking piece, jiggle it. If fake, it will come right off and you can take it into the bank.
Credit Cards vs. Cash
In most larger cities proprietors have no problem using credit cards, but if you travel to some of the smaller places, take cash.
Health And Safety Concerns
As usual, it is imperitive that your normal vaccines are up to date. Many doctors will suggest you also take your Hepatitus A and B as well.
If you are an adventurer, rabies has been detected in bat caves, but if you are not caving you should be okay.
The water is safe, and you can drink or fill your water bottles from any tap. Decorative fountains often have signs that say the water is non-potable, so refrain from drinking that water.
There are plenty of pharmacies all over the Czech Republic, and you should be able to find an open one any day of the week. If you are traveling with prescription drugs, keep your latest prescription handy as well as keep the medication in its original bottle. If you need a refill, you will have to show the doctor or pharmacist your current prescription.
Most visitors to Czech will not experience any problems. However, tourists in Prague are more likely to encounter petty theft and street crime such as pick pockets and purse snatching. A little common sense goes a long way. Keep your purse and wallet close and wear your back pack in the front. Drivers should park in secured locations and never leave anything visible in the car. A few simple precautions will ensure a pleasurably memorable trip to Czech.
When Is The Best Time To Go?
The climate in the Czech Republic is very predictable. It has four distinct seasons. Summer is mild, except for a few weeks in August each year. The rainiest months are May and June. Winter can be very cold, but houses and hotels have fine heating systems, so it shouldn’t stop you from visiting. Personally, I love Prague when it’s bitter cold outside. It gives the spires and Charles Bridge a very eerie feel. The prettiest times of year are June when the flowers are out and fall with its beautiful autumn foliage.Each time of year in Czech brings with it plenty of activities, but we have found that many of the major tourist sites outside of Prague are closed from October to April.
Spring and Summer
As with any place, this is the best time to visit, especially if you like to get outdoors. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails. One of the prettiest places to go is Bohemian Switzerland where you can hike the gorges of the River Kamenice.
Fall and Winter
Yes, there is skiing in the Czech Republic, but many of the sights in the lesser known cities and countryside close down in November and don’t reopen until April. Winter is a fantastic time to explore Czech, but just make sure to do your research and find out if the things you want to do are open.
Czech food is amazing, and Czech beer is world famous! Some of the foods you will want to try out are: Knedliky (dumplings), Hovezi gulash (beef goulash), Smazack (fried cheese), and Svickova na smetane (beef).
The hotels are pretty inexpensive compared to other European destinations. Our favorites are the boutique or family owned hotels that you can find all over the country. We’ve listed the places we recommend on the destination posts below.