The Czech Republic is one of the main transit points in Europe. The largest and main Czech airport is the international airport in Prague-Ruzyne, Václav Havel Airport Prague.
The official unit of currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech crown (Kc, CZK), which is divided into 100 hellers. Although it is possible to pay in euros for certain services and in many shops, it is better to get some local currency for a stay in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic uses coins in values of CZK 1, CZK 2, CZK 5, CZK 10, CZK 20 and CZK 50.
Paper banknotes have values of CZK 50, CZK 100, CZK 200, CZK 500, CZK 1,000, CZK 2,000 and CZK 5,000.
There are three basic methods of changing money:
Banks – they have a good exchange rate, but are not usually open in the evening or at weekends
Hotels – they have worse exchange rates, but smaller amounts in euro are not usually a problem almost any time of the day or night
Bureaux de change – there are relatively large differences between them. For example, some bureaux de change do not charge a fee for the exchange, but have a worse exchange rate. The best idea is to first ask how much money you will get and calculate the actual exchange rate yourself.
If you have an international payment card, you can of course pay directly using this or withdraw cash from a bank machine.
Payment cards are regularly accepted in shops and also in some restaurants in large cities. Traveller’s cheques issued by internationally acknowledged companies are mostly accepted by Czech banks without any problems.
The only official language in the Czech Republic is Czech, which is a Slavonic language like Slovak, Polish, Serbian, Russian, Croatian and Bulgarian.
Abundant usage of so-called diacritical marks is characteristic for Czech, i.e. hooks over certain letters and accents to indicate the length of vowels, which often change the meaning of whole words. Czech is spoken by roughly 96% of the population. You will also frequently hear Slovak, Polish and Romani. You can usually make yourself understood in English, German and Russian.
State-run and private medical facilities exist in the Czech Republic. Most of them have concluded a contract with an insurance company on provision and settlement of costs for healthcare and only provide insured patients with the essential care subject to settlement of the excess as stipulated by law; this relates to citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein who have a European health insurance card.
First aid, emergency and rescue service
Healthcare is also ensured in the event of sudden illness or injury outside of surgery hours in the emergency departments in hospitals.
In cases of sudden serious illness when the patient cannot make his or her own way to the doctor and when swift treatment is necessary, you must call the rescue service on the emergency number 112.
Medicines to relieve flu or a cold and other similar preparations can be purchased without a prescription. A prescription from a doctor is required to purchase other medicines.
Health insurance for foreigners from the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein
In order to be able to use medical care in the Czech Republic, you must have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). In terms of treatment in medical facilities in the Czech Republic, this proves that you are insured and that medical care will be paid for by your insurance company.
However, the insured party of one EU member country is only entitled to essential medical care within the territory of another member country according to the nature of the illness and expected length of stay. On the basis of the card, the insurance company will not pay for anything above the framework of essential care and will not even settle the excess stipulated by the local laws. This excess is payable at the following levels in the Czech Republic:
Visit to a GP – CZK 30
Item on a prescription – CZK 30
Emergency treatment – CZK 90
A day in hospital – CZK 60
Visits to a dentist are billed in a specific manner.
Health insurance for foreigners from countries outside the EU
If you do not have permanent residency within the EU, you must conclude a commercial insurance policy. If you do not have this, you will have to pay for all care on the spot in cash.
It is usual to leave a tip in restaurants – especially as an expression of your satisfaction with the services of the establishment. A member of staff usually brings the bill and leaves. When he or she returns, it is up to you to say how much you actually want to pay. Another option is to pay the precise amount and to leave the tip on the table. Tips are usually left at the level of roughly 10 percent of the bill.
The Czech Republic is one of the main transit points in Europe. The largest and main Czech airport is the international airport in Prague-Ruzyne, which changed its name to Václav Havel Airport Prague in 2012. You can get to the airport by car on road R7 or using one of the public transport services.
The main Czech airline is Czech Airlines (CSA), which ranks among the large European airlines. Domestic flights operate from Moravia to Bohemia (for example from Ostrava to Prague) although most flights are international flights.
Long-distance trains and busses
The Czech Republic has one of the densest rail networks in Europe and an elaborate system of public bus transportation. Connections by bus and train are reliable.
Rail transportation is provided by both state and private companies, bus transportation is provided by several private carriers.
Transport by car
Roads in the Czech Republic are divided into motorways, roads, local roads and special purpose roads. On maps, the type of road in the Czech Republic is indicated with the letter D, R or S, whereas D indicates a motorway, R a fast road and S a normal road.
There are a total of six motorways in the Czech Republic, the oldest and most important being the D1 motorway connecting Prague and Brno.
Apart from petrol stations, there are almost 900 filling stations for LPG in the Czech Republic and roughly 40 stations with CNG. A network offering recharging stations for electric cars is also emerging.
driving licence (European or international),
ID card (EU) or passport
vehicle documents (small certificate of roadworthiness, third party insurance and a green card)
Fees and toll
Passenger cars must have a sticker on the windscreen to use the motorways, which is proof of payment of the fee for use of motorways. The motorway sticker can be purchased at any filling station. The annual sticker for vehicles up to 3.5t costs CZK 1,500; the monthly sticker costs CZK 440 and a ten-day sticker costs CZK 310. Vehicles over 3.5t in weight are subject to payment of electronic toll fees and must acquire a special on-board unit.
Parking in large cities
The system of parking is resolved differently by each large city. Especially in the city centres, drivers are obliged to only park in designated car parks, where there is mostly a charge for parking. Car parks are most frequently equipped with ticket machines; some cities have started to use a parking system paid for via text messages. For this reason, before visiting a specific city, where problems with parking can be anticipated, you should find out in advance which system is used there. You can find this information on the websites of the individual cities. Whether and how long you can park in any given location is also determined by the information signs there. If you breach these regulations, your car may be towed away or you may have to pay a high fine for unauthorised parking.
Always quickly resolve situations relating to a vehicle having been towed away with the police. The moment you discover that your car is not where you left it, call the national police line 158 or the municipal police on 156.
The rule applies in the Czech Republic that if you estimate the costs for damage to the vehicles involved including transportation fees at less than CZK 100,000 (and if the participants agree on who caused the accident), you do not need to call the police. You are however obliged to draw up a record of the traffic accident on a special form (the standard European Accident Statement form – your insurance company will provide you with this). Both parties involved in the accident must then report the accident to their insurance company. If the damage is greater or if any injury or damage occurs to the property of a third party, or public property, you must always call the police. You are obliged to provide essential aid to injured parties and to mark the location of the accident.
Large cities operate a system of public transport using tram, bus, trolleybus or metro routes operated by the local public transport companies. You can regularly purchase individual tickets for individual journeys, but if you are staying for longer, consider buying the more advantageous day tickets, two-day tickets or week tickets or even a long-term travel pass.
In some cities, you can buy tickets via text messages, in ticket machines at stops or directly from the driver. You can also generally buy them in public transport shops and in shops selling tobacco and newspapers.
Entrance to the Czech Republic and visas
The Czech Republic is a member of the European Union.
Citizens of the U.S.A., Canada, and Mexico are not required to have a visa to visit the Czech Republic/Schengen area for a period of up to 90 days within a 180-day period (except profitable activities) - it is calculated from the date of first entry into any Schengen country.
Citizens of EU countries, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland may stay temporarily within the territory of the Czech Republic without any permit whatsoever on the basis of a travel document or ID card.
A notification obligation does however apply for this group for stays longer than 3 months. You must notify the pertinent inspectorate of the foreign police service.
All citizens of countries with which an agreement on visa-less relations has been concluded require is a passport.
Citizens of certain countries need to arrange a visa to enter the Czech Republic.
Climate and weather
Similarly to other Central European countries, the Czech Republic has a moderate climate with four seasons. Similarly as seen in the whole of the northern moderate climate band, the start of the year is marked by a cold winter, mostly with an abundance of snow; summers are usually hot without any extreme fluctuations in temperature.
The 24-hour clock is generally used in the Czech Republic in printed materials and on digital clocks. The 12-hour clock is also used when speaking colloquially or in relation to analogue clocks.
The week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. Saturday and Sunday are not working days.
The time zone GMT (UTC) +1 applies throughout the territory of the whole Czech Republic, i.e. CET (+0). Winter and summer time are used in the Czech Republic.
The clocks go forward on the last Sunday in March at 2:00 CET to 3:00 CEST. The clocks then go back on the last Sunday in October from 3:00 CEST to 2:00 CET. Summer time (an hour more) thus applies here from roughly April to October.