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Czech Republic

The Czech Republic (Czech: ?eská republika), or Czechia (?esko) is a small landlocked country in Central Europe, situated south-east of Germany and bordering Austria to the south, Poland to the north and Slovakia to the south-east.

Regions

The Czech Republic has 14 political regions which can be grouped in eight regions:

Cities

These are just nine of the most interesting cities selected to represent the variety of Czech urban areas. For other exciting destinations, see the individual regions.

  • Prague — the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic with a large and beautiful historic centre
  • Brno — the largest city in Moravia and its former capital, it offers several excellent museums, annual Moto GP Grand Prix, annual international fireworks festival Ignis Brunensis, the second-largest historical centre in the Czech Republic (after Prague), the second-largest ossuary in Europe (after the Catacombs of Paris), one of the biggest exhibition centres in the Europe, the oldest theatre building in Central Europe, and many other things.
  • ?eské Bud?jovice – attractive large city in South Bohemia
  • ?eský Krumlov — beautiful old town in South Bohemia with the country's second biggest chateau
  • Karlovy Vary — historic (and biggest Czech) spa resort, especially popular with German and Russian tourist groups
  • Kutná Hora — historical town with famous Saint Barbora cathedral, old silver mines and the Chapel of All Saints, which is decorated with thousands of human bones
  • Olomouc — riverside university town with a thousand year history and the second-largest historical centre in the Czech Republic
  • Ostrava — a vibrant local subculture and long history of coal mining and heavy industry
  • Pilsen — home of the original Pilsner Urquell beer, and the largest city in West Bohemia

Other destinations

  • Bohemian Paradise: (?eský ráj) A region of towering rock formations and isolated castles located north-east of Prague. The gateway city of Ji?ín is an interesting destination in its own right, but Turnov is closer to most of the castles and rock formations. The twin towers of the ruined castle Trosky are a symbol of the area and can be climbed for the views
  • Karlštejn Castle and the holy cave monastery: Hiking trip to the famous castle as well as an off the beaten track monastery
  • Krkonoše: (Giant Mountains) The highest mountains in the Czech Republic along the Polish border. Most popular Czech skiing resorts are situated here, such as Špindler?v Mlýn, however considered overpriced by locals.
  • Litomyšl: A beautiful small town in East Bohemia. The renaissance main square and chateau are among the Czech Republic’s prettiest and the town has been home to many important and influential artists, including composer Bed?ich Smetana, sculptor Olbram Zoubek and painter Josef Váchal. There are two international opera festivals at the chateau each year.
  • Mariánské Lázn?: A spa town in Western Bohemia.
  • Mut?nice Wine Region: Some of the best vineyards in the Czech Republic and totally off the well beaten tourist path
  • Nové M?sto na Morav? : Cross country skiing resort. The race of Tour de Ski takes place here.
  • Terezín: A red-brick baroque fortress 70km north of Prague beside the Oh?e river. It was used during WWII as a Jewish ghetto and concentration camp.
  • Znojmo: The Rotunda of the Virgin Mary and St Catherine with the oldest frescoes in the Czech Republic.

Understand

The Czech Republic is not a large country but has a rich and eventful history. Czechs, Germans, Slovaks, Italian stonemasons and stucco workers, French tradesmen and deserters from Napoleon’s army have lived and worked here, all influencing one another. For centuries they jointly cultivated their land, creating works that grace this small country with hundreds of ancient castles, monasteries and stately mansions, and entire towns that give the impression of being comprehensive artefacts. The Czech Republic contains a vast number of architectural treasures and has beautiful forests and mountains to match.

History

The Czech region was inhabited by Celtic tribes Boii for the first four centuries of the first millennium. The Celts gave way to post-Roman Germanic tribes. Later, Slavs arrived and, in the 9th century they founded the Great Moravian Empire, stretching from Germany to the Ukraine. After the fall of Great Moravia the Bohemian Duchy (later Kingdom) was formed, creating a territorial unit almost identical to the modern Czech Republic. The rise of the Habsburgs led to the Czech lands becoming a part of the Austrian Empire, and later Austria-Hungary, and a massive influx of German immigrants.

After the First World War, the closely related Czechs and Slovaks of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire formed the new nation of Czechoslovakia. During the interwar years, the new country's leaders were frequently preoccupied with meeting the demands of other ethnic minorities within the republic, most notably the Sudeten Germans and the Hungarians. A poor relationship with the German minority (20% of the overall population) was a particular problem that was capitalized on by Adolf Hitler and used as "rationale" for the dismemberment of the nation before the outbreak of World War II. The country was annexed and brutally occupied by Germany during the war.

After World War II, Czechoslovakia expelled most of its Germans by force and many of the ethnic Hungarians after the Potsdam Conference. However, the nation was very blessed in the fact that it emerged from the war more or less physically intact as it avoided the fate of the massive air bombardments and invasions that levelled most of the historic neighbouring cities in Germany, Austria, Poland and Belarus. The country fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and remained so by force of arms until 1989 (see Cold War Europe).

In 1968, an invasion by Warsaw Pact troops ended the efforts of the country's leaders to liberalize Communist party rule and create "socialism with a human face". Anti-Soviet demonstrations the following year ushered in a period of harsh repression and conservatism within the party ranks called "normalisation". In November 1989, the communist government was deposed in a peaceful Velvet Revolution.

On 1 January 1993, the country underwent a "velvet divorce" into its two national components, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. A member of NATO since 1999 and the EU since 2004, the Czech Republic has moved toward integration in world markets, a development that poses both opportunities and risks.

The Czech flag is the same one that had been used by Czechoslovakia. It was readopted in 1993.

Habits and customs

  • Easter (Velikonoce): On Easter Monday it is customary for guys to (slightly) spank girls and women with a wicker stick with colourful ribbons at the end (pomlázka), in the hope that the girls and women will in turn give them coloured eggs, candy or drinks. Obvious tourists are often (but not always) exempt.
  • Witch Burning (Pálení ?arod?jnic) or Night of Witches (?arod?jnice): On the last April evening, bonfires are lit around the country. "Witch" figurines, as a symbol of evil, are made and burned in the fire. This is the reinterpretation of the old pagan festival (Beltane) influenced by Christian inquisition. Because probably most Czechs would prefer the witches over the inquisitors, in many fires no witches are burnt, and the feast is celebrated in a more original pagan way - witches are those who should celebrate the night, not be burnt. It doesn't stop jokes like "Honey, hide or you will be burnt tonight!"
  • Last Ringing (Poslední zvon?ní) is a traditional celebration of the end of the last year at a high school. It is celebrated usually in late April or early May, a week or more before the final exams (maturita in Czech) take place (the time may be different in different schools). Students get a free day and usually do silly things in silly costumes. They go to the streets and collect money from people passing by, sometimes threatening them with water, writing on their faces with a lipstick or spraying them with perfume. The collected money is used at a party after the exams, or maturita ball.
  • Feast of St. Mikuláš (St. Nicolaus, Santa Claus), Dec. 5: On this day, St. Mikuláš roams about with his consorts, an angel and a devil. He gives small presents and candy to children to reward them for their good behaviour throughout the year, while the devil chastises children for their wrongdoings over the course of the year and gives them potatoes, coal (or sometimes spankings) as a punishment. Old Town Square in Prague is a great place to watch the festivities.
  • Christmas (Vánoce): Czechs begin celebrating this holiday on Christmas Eve and continue to celebrate until the 26th (the Feast of Stephen). Presents are placed under a Christmas tree (by Ježíšek (The Baby Jesus) as little children believe) and taken after dinner on Christmas Eve. Potato salad and carp is a traditional Christmas meal, and for this reason one can see live carp being sold out of huge tanks throughout the streets of Czech cities and towns just before Christmas.

Historic regions

The Czech lands (?esko [?t??sk?] in Czech) consist of three historical lands: Bohemia (?echy), Moravia (Morava) and Czech Silesia (Slezsko).

Bohemia

Although the modern adjective bohemian refers to Bohemia, that usage was based on a broad stereotype and also a poor grasp of geography, so don't expect the Bohemians you meet to be nomadic or anti-conventional artistic/literary bohemians, or to see anything out of Puccini's "La Bohème". And no, "Bohemian Rhapsody" (its lyrics sprinkled with Italian and Arabic) is not a local anthem!

So the word Bohemia/Bohemian came from the name of the Celtic tribe Boii. The term Bohemian had ended up meaning more or less Czech by the end of the 19th century with the awakening of Slavic nationalism. However, it was also used to refer to any inhabitant of Bohemia, including the vast number of Germans that used to inhabit the region until the closing months of World War II.

Moravia and Czech Silesia

Moravia and Bohemia (the other half of the Czech Republic) were among the first regions of continental Europe to undergo an industrial revolution; however Moravia did not experience the mass urbanisation of Bohemia. This region is, therefore, still home to gorgeous vineyards, orchards, fields full of "organic" produce, and filled with scenic mountain vistas and cute little villages. Even the regional capital, Brno, is renowned for its small town charm. There is an extremely extensive rail system, and the region contains historic factories such as Zbrojovka Brno (weapons) and the Ba?a factory in Zlín (shoes).

The dialects of Czech spoken in Moravia are slightly different from those spoken in Bohemia, particularly in Prague. Moravians pride themselves on their dialect and learning a few stereotypical regionalisms may go down well (or terribly, depending on just what it is you think you're saying and what you end up saying).

The region's strategic location at the Moravian Gate (a pass through the imposing mountain ranges of Central Europe) has led to a confluence of a great amount of history.

Get in

Visa requirements

The Czech Republic is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

  • There are normally no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most of the European Union and a few other countries.
  • There are usually identity checks before boarding international flights or boats. Sometimes there are temporary border controls at land borders.
  • Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.
  • Please see Travelling around the Schengen Area for more information on how the scheme works, which countries are members and what the requirements are for your nationality.

Travel document requirements

For EU, EEA and Swiss nationals, passports and national identity cards only need to be valid for the period of their stay in the Czech Republic.

For all other nationals, passports/travel documents must be valid for a period of at least 90 days beyond the expected length of stay in the Czech Republic/Schengen Area.

Foreign nationals whose stay in the Czech Republic will exceed 30 days are required to register within 30 days on their arrival in the Czech Republic with the Alien and Border Police. In case you stay in a hotel or similar institution, the provider of the accommodation should arrange this registration for you.

Children inscribed in their parents´ passports are allowed to travel with their parents up to the age of 15. Once the child has reached the age of 15, a separate passport is necessary.

Visit this webpage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic for more information on what constitutes a valid and acceptable travel document for the purpose of entering the Czech Republic.

By plane

Václav Havel Airport – located about 10 km west of the centre of Prague, (Praha in Czech), is a hub of Czech national carrier – Czech Airlines (?SA), a SkyTeam member.

Other international airports are in Brno (with flights to London, Moscow, Rome, Bergamo, Eindhoven and Prague), Ostrava (flights to Vienna and Prague), PardubiceKarlovy Vary (flights to Moscow and Uherské Hradišt?).

There are several low-cost airlines going to/from Prague (e.g. EasyJet from Lyon). Ryanair flies to Brno from London and Bergamo. Other nearby airports are Nuremberg (200km) and Munich (320km) in Germany, Vienna having a bus shuttle to Brno city (260km to Prague, 110km to Brno) in Austria, Wroclaw (200km) in Poland (might be a good idea if you want to go to the Giant Mountains) and Bratislava (280km to Prague, only 120km to Brno) in Slovakia.

Airport transfers

In order to transfer from Ruzyn? Airport to the centre of Prague and beyond, you can take:

  • PragueTransfer Minibus service. Prices range from €25 for a party of 4, to €180 for a party of 49.
  • Airport Express Czech railways public bus service. 50 K? per ticket. This bus stops at terminals 1 and 2. It connects to Metro line A ("Dejvická station") and to Prague Main Train Station in 35 minutes.
  • Public bus lines Tickets can be purchased at the arrivals halls of terminals 1 and 2, or from ticket machines placed at bus stops for 32 K?. Tickets can also be purchased directly from the driver for 40 K?. None of these services are direct to Prague centre but will take you to the nearest Metro station, where you can continue to the city centre. The ticket is valid for 90 minutes in all buses, trams and Metro and needs to be stamped after entering the bus. Routes servicing the airport are:
    • 119 Terminates in at the "Nádraží Veleslavín" Metro Station. Transfer to Metro line A for city.
    • 100 Terminates in western Prague ("Zli?ín" Metro station) in 18 minutes. Transfer to Metro line B for city.
    • 510 A night service every 30 minutes. Goes to the south of the city, but passes near the centre ("Jiráskovo nám?stí" or "I.P. Pavlova" stops) which takes 42 minutes.
  • Taxi Airport authorised service. Rates are 28 K? per kilometre plus 40 K? per journey.

By bus

International bus service runs from many cities in Europe with direct connections from Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Slovakia, Switzerland, Austria, etc. Good service is offered by Eurolines and Student Agency. Cheap tickets from Poland are offered by PolskiBus. Almost all new long distance bus operators in Germany as well as Deutsche Bahn offer buses from various points in Germany or Austria to Prague for a overview of rates see this German website. As the market is very new and still very volatile companies might cease operations or newly emerge on short notice.

By train

International train service runs from most points in Europe with direct connections from Slovakia, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Belarus and Russia; in summer also from Romania, Bulgaria and Montenegro.

From Germany

EC trains operate every two hours from Berlin or Hamburg via Dresden and Bad Schandau in Saxon Switzerland to Prague and Brno. Direct overnight sleeper car serves Cologne Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Copenhagen and Basel. Cheap tickets to Prague (and sometimes to Brno) are available at the website of German railways, if bought in advance. The price begin at €19–39 for seat and €49 for couchette.

German Railways operate express non-stop buses connecting Nuremberg, Munich and Mannheim with Prague, fully integrated to German railway tariff. If you have an InterRail or Eurail pass, consider that these buses require compulsory reservation.

There are four daily trains from Munich to Prague, but they are slower than the abovementioned bus, because of slow and curvy (although picturesque) railway at southwestern Czech border. The cheapest way is a Bayern Ticket (€21 for one person, €29 for group up to 5 people) to the Czech border combined with Czech domestic ticket (see #Cheap ticket combinations).

If you cross the border in a local train (not EC or EN), consider taking advantage of the Bayern-Böhmen-Ticket or the Sachsen-Böhmen-Ticket. In the vicinity of the Czech-German-Polish three country border, you may profit from the unified fare of the transport system ZVON

From Poland

There is one direct EC train from Warsaw to Prague and Ostrava and direct sleeper cars from Warsaw and Kraków. The ticket for the daytime train costs €19–29, if bought at least three days in advance. For night trains, there is no such cheap offer, but you can use a tricky combination, see #Cheap ticket combinations.

Apart from the long-distance trains there are very few local trains. For long-distance travel a semi-fast train from Wroclaw to Pardubice can be useful.

In local trains (not IC or EC), it is possible to buy a special cross-border ticket (Polish: bilet przechodowy) which is valid between the Czech and Polish (or vice versa) border stations and costs only 15 K? or PLN2. You can buy it from the conductor on the train (or completely ignore it if the conductor does not emerge before you reach the other border station, which happens) and combine it with domestic tickets of the two countries. In the vicinity of the Czech-German-Polish three country border, you may profit from the unified fare of the ZVON transport system.

From Slovakia

As parts of former Czechoslovakia, the trains between Czechia and Slovakia are frequent. EC trains go every two hours from Bratislava to Prague and Brno, and from Žilina to Prague and Ostrava. There is one daily train from Banská Bystrica, Zvolen and Košice to Prague and Ostrava. All these cities have also a direct overnight sleeper car connection to Prague.

Regular one-way ticket to Prague costs €27 from Bratislava and €42 from Košice. There is a return discount of (roughly) 30% called CityStar. Slovak railways also offer discounted online SparNight tickets in advance - e.g. the day train from Bratislava to Praha costs €15 and night train including couchette reservation from Košice to Prague €27.

From Austria

Railjet trains from Graz and Vienna to Prague and Brno operate every two hours. From Linz to Prague there are two directs connections and two more connections with change in ?eské Bud?jovice.

Cheap tickets to PragueBrno and Ostrava are available at Austrian Railways website, if bought at least 3 days in advance. The price begins at €19 for Vienna-Brno, €29 for Vienna-Prague and Linz-Prague.

If you cross the border in a local train (not IC, EC), you can take advantage of discounted return ticket EURegio.

Cheap ticket combinations

Full-price international tickets are quite expensive so, if no commercial discount fits your needs, you can combine domestic tickets to save money:

  • Buy a German/Austrian/Slovak/Polish domestic ticket to the Czech border and then ask the Czech conductor for a Czech domestic ticket starting at the border point (the surcharge for buying the ticket in the train is 40 K?). Remember there is a significant group discount starting from 2 passengers. According to the Czech Railways website, conductors on international trains should accept payments in euros [1].
  • On weekends, instead of the standard Czech domestic ticket, you can also buy online a network ticket called SONE+ for 600 K? (valid up to 2 adults and 3 children for one weekend day). You have to print this ticket online or present it on the screen of your notebook.

The border point names are:

  • from Berlin: Schöna Gr.
  • from Vienna: B?eclav Gr.
  • from Linz: Summerau Gr.
  • from Bratislava: Kúty Gr.
  • from Nuremberg/Munich: Furth im Wald Gr.
  • from Košice: Horní Lide? Gr. (trains via Vsetín) or ?adca Gr. (trains via Ostrava)
  • from Warszawa and Kraków: Zebrzydowice Gr.
  • from Wroclaw: Lichkov Gr.

The Gr. means a border point to distinguish them from stations with the same name.

By bike

The Elbe Radweg crosses the German-Czech border.

Get around

Czech Republic is served by the multimodal IDOS traveler router that covers all Czech trains, buses and city transport and many train and bus lines abroad.

By plane

There are domestic flights from Prague to Brno and Ostrava, operated by CSA Czech Airlines.

By bus

A cheap and excellent means of travelling between Prague and other major cities are the buses from Student Agency. These buses are usually a bit faster and cost less than the Czech trains (not considering discounts). On some routes (e.g. Prague to Brno) this is marginal, but on others such as Prague to Karlovy Vary or Liberec, there is no direct train connection so the buses are by far the best option. Usually, you do not have to book a seat but if you travel on Fridays or during holidays from or to Prague, it is recommended. You can reserve seats online at the Student Agency website. Apart from this operator there are many other bus companies that link Prague and other cities and towns, even remote villages, regularly. Most buses leave Prague from the central bus station at Florenc, but other major bus stations can be found at Na Knížecí (metro station And?l), ?erný Most, Zli?ín and Roztyly, all of which are located next to metro stations.

Local bus travel between small towns and surrounding villages is usually operated by companies named ?SAD (district name), a remnant of the nationwide state-run company ?eskoslovenská Autobusová Doprava from communist times. On local buses you simply tell the driver where you're going and pay him a fare as you get on.

By car

Czech drivers may seem aggressive sometimes, especially in Prague, but it is far from the "madness" found in some southern European countries.

The Czech Republic is a zero tolerance country for alcohol. It's illegal to drive a motor vehicle under the influence of any amount of alcohol, and violations are heavily punished.

In order to drive on the well-kept motorways, however, you need to purchase a toll sticker unless you're riding a motorcycle. These stickers cost 310 K? in 2014 for ten days (for vehicles lighter than 3.5 tonnes), but can be purchased for longer periods of time (1 month for 440 K? or 1,500 K? for a year). If you don't display a toll sticker on your car when you drive on the motorways, the fines can be very steep (5,000 K? minimum).

Make certain that you purchase the correct toll sticker: there are those for vehicles under 3.5 tonnes in weight and those for vehicles between 3.5 and 12 tonnes. Vehicles larger than 12 tonnes in weight must use an on-board unit ("premid" unit) to pay tolls based on distance.

The condition of many roads is continually improving, but to be economical and fast, drive on the motorways as much as possible, although if you want to get to remote parts of the country you will not avoid side-roads that may be a little bumpy sometimes.

Speed limits in the Czech Republic are usually 130km/h on motorways, 90km/h off the motorways, and 50km/h in towns. Petrol is cheaper than the rest of Europe (36 K?/€1.40), but it is expensive compared to the United States, as it is heavily taxed.

Traffic fines can usually be paid on the spot.

The use of either daytime running lights (dlr) or dipped headlights is mandatory even during daytime all year. Failure to have your lights on while driving may result in a police fine.

Compulsory equipment includes

  • First-aid kit
  • set of replacement bulbs
  • set of replacement fuses
  • warning triangle (not required for motorcycles)
  • reflective jacket

By train

Trains in Czech Republic are operated mostly by state-owned company ?eské Dráhy (Czech Railways). In 2011 RegioJet (a subsidiary of Student Agency) began operating modernised trains between Prague and Ostrava. They were joined by LeoExpress in 2012 on Prague-Ostrava route.

The trains go even to the most remote locations of the Czech Republic and unlike buses, they usually operate regularly during off-peak hours and during weekends. However, outside the modernised main corridors, the standard of travelling is often the same as it was in the 1970s, and therefore it is quite time consuming to get to the provincial towns or villages, the trains tending to meander around the countryside.

Train categories

  • Osobní (Os) – slow local trains, stop everywhere. Includes suburban trains near the largest cities.
  • Sp?šný (Sp) – faster than "osobní", usually skip little villages
  • Rychlík (R) – fast trains, stop in major towns, commonly used trains for longer distances
  • Expres (Ex) – faster and usually a bit cleaner kind of "Rychlík"
  • Eurocity (EC) – pretty modern international (though perfectly useable also on intra-state journeys) trains coming up to European standards, fast and stop in major cities only.
  • Supercity (SC) – the fastest trains run by Czech Railways, offering free Wi-Fi connection in addition to other services, operate only on the router Prague - Ostrava, requires either a special ticket or a 200 K? seat reservation in addition to a normal one. Competes with privately-owned LeoExpress (LE) and InterCity (IC) "Regiojet" trains with a similar or better level of service.

Train tickets

Tickets should be bought online in advance - [2] for Czech Railways, which run on all national and international long-distance routes as well as on the vast majority (99%) of local railways, or [3] (Czech only) and [4] for the privately-held companies, operating trains only on the Prague-Ostrava long-distance route. In each case, there are many advantages compared to buying at the ticket office: tickets are cheaper when bought in advance and the system automatically recommends the cheapest variant (sparing you the trouble of going through the, often byzantine, tariffs). Visiting the ticket office is only necessary when paying with cash or when needing some special kinds of fares (for example, sleeping car reservations) unavailable online. Ticket purchased online don't have to be printed: It;s usually enough to show the pdf file to the conductor on a laptop or tablet screen. The main disadvantage when buying tickets on-line is the need to supply the traveller's name and the number of a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license or a passport.

The normal train ticket price on the ?D trains, always available even immediately prior to the departure, can be discouraging (roughly 1.40 K? per km), but Czech Railways (?D) offer plenty of discounts. Return tickets give you a 5% discount, and a group of travellers (even two travellers are considered as a "group") is treated roughly as "first person pays full price, others pay half price". Therefore, ask for "skupinová sleva" (group discount) and/or "zpáte?ní sleva" (return discount).

Regular travellers can use a ?D loyalty card, called In-karta IN25 [5], for 150 K? (3 months), 550 K? (1 year) or 990 K? (3 years). It offers a 25% discount for normal and return train tickets and 5–25% for the online tickets. Its price will pay for itself quickly. You have to fill in an application form at the ticket counter and provide a photograph. You will get a temporary paper card immediately and start using the discount. After three weeks you will get a plastic chip card.

The complete list of discounts can be found at the ?D website.

Note that on the route between Prague and Ostrava, you can choose between three competing railroad carriers: The national Czech Railways (operating both standard "Ex" and premium "SC" trains) and privately-held IC RegioJet and LeoExpress (LE) trains. Considering price, LE, Ex and IC trains are equivalent (about 295 K?), while the SC trains cost usually about 100 K? more. Speed-wise, SC is the fastest, followed closely by LE, while IC and Ex lag behind. The on-board service is better on the LE and IC trains.

Travel tips

If you travel in a group on weekends, you can buy a Group weekend ticket[6] for unlimited travelling on Saturday or Sunday. It is valid for group up to 2 adults and 3 children. The pass is valid in all trains including IC and EC, but in SC you need to buy a seat reservation for additional 200 K? (or less, for less-frequented times). The whole-network variant costs 600 K? and regional variant costs 200 to 275 K?. Buying online and printing the ticket yourself gives you a small discount of 3% and you'll avoid the queue at the station.

Although many train stations were repaired and modernized, the rest is still like a trip back in time to the communist era. There is no need to be afraid but try to avoid them in the late night hours. Trains are generally safe (there are regular police guards assigned for fast trains) and very popular mean of transport and they are widely used both by students and commuters. Therefore especially the principal rail axis Praha-Pardubice-Olomouc-Ostrava is crowded during peak times (Friday and Sunday afternoon) and seat reservation is recommended.

Prague has a pretty good network of local trains connecting it with suburbs and surrounding cities called Esko (S-Bahn). The Prague public transport tickets (e.g. 32 K? for 90 minutes) are valid on these trains (Os and Sp category) for travel within the area of Prague.

If you want to visit the dining car in the Czech Railways (?eské dráhy) train (the blue one), try to do so while the train is inside of the Czech Republic. While the train is in the Czech Republic, you can get some good and tasty meals (even traditional ones like "Sví?ková") for around 150 K?. If you order while the train is outside of the Czech Republic, you will be charged almost double the price. This is not scam, it is official policy of the company.

Taking bikes or pets on the train

The basic ticket for bike costs 25 K? for one train or 50 K? for whole day. You load and unload your bike by yourself. Long-distance trains (with suitcase symbol in timetable) have a luggage wagon, where the train staff will care of your bike, but the ticket costs 30 K? for one train or 60 K? for a whole day. Some trains (with squared bike or suitcase symbol in timetable) require compulsory reservation for bikes for 15 K? at counter or 100 K? from train staff.

Smaller pets in cages or bags may travel for free. Bigger dogs must have a muzzle and must be on a leash. Prices are 15 K? one train or 30 K? for whole day.

By bicycle

The Czech Republic is an excellent place for cycling. There are lots of pleasant country lanes, cycling marked paths and picturesque villages along these paths (always with a pub...), it's easy to find the way, and the trains have bicycle racks in the baggage section for when you get tired. Try cycling in South Moravia region (close to Austrian borders) where you can find dozens of well-marked paths that will lead you through beautiful countryside full of vineyards, vine cellars and colourful villages.

Also border mountains (Krkonoše, Šumava, Jeseníky, etc.) are more and more popular among mountain-bikers. There are usually no fences along the trails but always keep to the roads or marked cycling paths here as these mountains are National Parks/Reserves and you can be fined if you cycle "off the beaten track".

Mapy.cz [7] is a good source for cycling information - switch the map (via Zm?nit mapu - Turistická) to see cycling routes in violet color.

We Bike Prague offers different options of guided and self-guided bike in the Czech Republic.

On foot

In addition to walking in the cities, there are a great number of hiking paths and scenery-rich trails going through the Czech Republic's forests and natural areas, and the Czech Tourist Club (Klub ?eských turist?) [8] has mapped and marked these trails so that walkers can easily locate and navigate thousands of kilometres of scenic paths, in fact it is probably the best maintained system of marking in Europe. You can buy maps of their paths on their website [9], or in the Czech Republic in most bookstores, tobacco shops or museums (green maps, marked with the organization's symbol and the words EDICE TURISTICKÝCH MAP K?T 1:50000 [10] at the top). These maps are based on military maps and very accurate. It's also possible to go by train to a small village at the edge of a forest and find the on-site map of the surrounding area, and four possible paths will be visible, marked in red, yellow, green, and blue nice tourist maps [11]. Nearby such a map will be a set of directing signs, usually posted to a tree, pointing the initial direction on any of the coloured paths. The path's colour will be marked on trees throughout the path: three short horizontal bars, the outer two white and the innermost the colour of the path you're on. This symbol at times will appear as an arrow, indicating a turn. Bus and train stops will also be indicated on signs. You can also register to become a member [12] of the Czech Tourist Club, where you can camp for 30–50 K? a night in cottages [13] around the Czech Republic.

By thumb

Hitchhiking is very common and some drivers stop even on places where they shouldn't.

Take care to use very a clear gesture with the thumb pointing upwards. A gesture looking like you are pointing to the ground may be mistaken for prostitution solicitation.

As a word of advice, if you are hitch-hiking through the Czech Republic from the south to the German town of Dresden, never go to or past Prague unless you are in a ride going all the way to Dresden. Prague itself has no major and continuous beltway, so residents of the area must maneuver a ring of major and local roads to get around the city from south to north. Therefore the great majority of traffic you will encounter is going into the city. Past Prague, the major highway turns into a two-lane mountain road through local villages, in which again, the great majority of traffic is local and international travelers are hesitant to stop.

Try a letter-sized (A4) piece of paper with the destination written on it so it is clearly visible where you would like to go. See some other Tips for hitchhiking.

By thumb with pet

It is possible to hitch-hike with smaller dog, although "waiting time" will be longer. Expect another dog in the car.

Talk

See also: Czech phrasebook, Slovak phrasebook

The main language spoken is, not surprisingly, Czech. The Slovak language can often be heard, as there is a sizable Slovak minority and both languages are mutually intelligible up to a certain point. Czech people are very proud of their language, and thus, even in Prague you will not find many signs written in English (outside of the main tourist areas). Many older people, especially outside the large cities, are also unable to converse in English, so it's good to learn some Czech or Slovak before your arrival. However, most young people speak at least some English.

Most Czechs speak a second and often a third language. English is the most widely known, with German the most widely spoken second language among older people. Russian was compulsory in all schools so most people born before c. 1975 speak at least some Russian (and often pretty well). However the connection with the communist era and the Soviet-led invasion in 1968 has given this language some negative connotations. Other languages, like French or Spanish, are also taught in some schools.

The Czech and Slovak languages are very difficult for English-speakers to grasp, especially if you're not really familiar with the other Slavic languages, including Russian. However, if you can learn the alphabet (and the corresponding letters with accents), then pronunciation is easy as it is always the same - Czechs and Slovaks pronounce every letter of a word, with the stress falling on the first syllable. The combination of consonants in some words may seem mind-bogglingly hard, but it is worth the effort!

The Czech language has many local dialects, especially in Moravia. Some dialects are so different that they can sometimes be misunderstood even by a native Czech speaker from a different region. However all Czech people understand the standard Czech (as spoken in TV, written in newspapers and taught in schools) and should be able to speak it (but some are too proud to stop using their local dialect). Some of them are even unable to speak standard Czech but write it correctly.

The vocabularies of Czech and Slovak are similar, with occasional words not understood. The younger generation born after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia is growing apart in the two separate countries, and they have problems understanding one another.

Buy

Money

The currency of the Czech republic is the koruna (crown), plural koruny or korun, denoted by the symbol "K?" (ISO code: CZK). THe ISO code is often used internationally and locally, but the local symbol is K? (for Koruna ?eská). However, you will more often see amounts just chalked up like "37,-" without "K?" added at all. One koruna is made up of 100 halé? (halé??), but coins have only been issued in whole koruna values since October 2008.

Coins are issued in 1 K?, 2 K?, 5 K? (all stainless steel), 10 K? (copper-coloured), 20 K? (brass-coluored) and 50 K? (copper-coloured ring, brass-coloured centre) denominations. Notes are issued in 100 K? (aqua), 200 K? (orange), 500 K? (red), 1000 K? (purple), 2000 K? (olive green) and 5000 K? (green-purple). See some banknote samples [14]. Be aware that all 20 K? and 50 K? banknotes, halé? coins, and older-style 1000 K? and 5000 K? banknotes from 1993 are not legal tender.

Some major stores (mainly bigger chains) will accept euros, and it's also fairly common for accommodation providers to quote the price in euros. At shopping areas along the Austrian border and petrol stations in the whole country change is given in euros, but supermarkets and similar stores in downtown Prague (and probably other cities) return only K?, even though they accept euros.

Currency exchange

Never exchange money on the street. Also, if you're in Prague, don't exchange it in the tourist-oriented exchange offices. The "real" exchange rate you should be looking for can be found here [15]. There is no "black market" with better rates, but there is a good chance you'll end up with a roll of worthless paper. Be very careful when you are exchanging money at a small exchange kiosk. They try to use tricks in order to give you a bad exchange rate. Ask for the total amount you will get and recompute it by yourself. Do not trust "0% commission" in big letter signs (often there is an "only when selling CZK" amendment in small letters, and buying koruny still includes a commission). On this [16] website you can get good overview of reliable exchange places and rates.

Generally, exchange offices at airports, rail stations and main tourist streets do not offer a good rate. Local people exchange money in exchange offices in less frequented areas, such as around the "Politických v?z??", "Opletalova" or "Kaprova" streets. In some cases, one can get a better rate by using ATMs instead of changing cash. In a pinch, you can also try a bank such as ?eská spo?itelna - there will be a small commission but the rates are much better than those in the "tourist trap" exchange offices.

Major stores throughout the country accept Visa and EC/MC, as do all the tourist stores in Prague.

Tipping

Although it is customary to tip in the Czech Republic, it has very little to do with the size of the bill, and more to do with a sign of appreciation. It is common to round up the bill by a few crowns to make it even. Away from places regularly visited by foreigners, leaving a "tip" on a table after a meal at a restaurant is not the usual practice; locals may even object to it.

Tipping in tourist restaurants is a standard 10%, and is not normally added to the bill. Don't be confused by the percentage figures listed at the bottom of the bill - by Czech law, a receipt must show the VAT paid (21% in most cases) - the VAT is already included in the final amount, and you should add 10% to this. It is normal practice to give the waiter the tip before you leave the table. Tipping is not obligatory - if you weren't satisfied with services offered, don't bother tipping.

See

UNESCO sites

  • Prague, the capital with its incredible historic center (and famous monuments such as the Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle).
  • Olomouc, a vibrant university town with the second largest historic center after Prague.
  • ?eský Krumlov - beautiful city with castle.
  • Holašovice - preserved baroque village
  • Tel? - well preserved renaissance town
  • Zelená Hora - unique baroque church
  • Litomyšl - reneissance chateau and historic centre
  • Kutná Hora - silver mining town with gothic cathedral and other sights.
  • Vila Tugendhat in Brno
  • T?ebí? - preserved jewish quarter
  • Lednice-Valtice Area - cultural landscape - chateaus, castles, ponds, gardens...
  • Krom??íž - Arcbishop Palace and garden

Castles and chateaux

There is more than 2000 of castles, castle ruins and chateaux in the Czech Republic. Wherever you are in the Czech Republic, there will be some castle or chateaux nearby.

Castles

Iconic landmarks of Czech landscape are castles. Often situated on top of the hill, from most of the castles is beautiful view to countryside. Some of of those castles are just ruins, but some castles are well-preserved with old interiors, furniture etc. Most picturesque and interesting are for example: Loket Castle, Karlštejn Castle, Kost Castle, Rabí Castle ruin, ?eský Šternberk Castle, Bezd?z Castle, K?ivoklát Castle, Bouzov Castle and Pernštejn Castle

Chateaux

Renaissance, baroque or neo-classical, possibly every Czech town has its own chateau. For example: Konopišt? Chateau, Valtice Chateau, Lednice Chateau, Hluboká nad Vltavou Chateau, Kuks Chateau, Mikulov Chateau, Vranov nad Dyjí Chateau, Jarom??ice nad Rokytnou Chateau, ?ervená Lhota Chateau, D??ín Chateau and Orlík Chateau.

Churches

The Czech Republic is a land of many great cathedrals. Perhaps the most important one is the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle. It has a great importance for the Czech nation as a coronation place of Bohemian kings and also the place of their last rest. It contains treasury for the most precious relics of the kingdom and remains of patron saint Wenceslaus.

Another Gothic jewel is the monumental St. Barbara's Church of Kutná Hora, a part of UNESCO cultural heritage. St. Barbara is a patron of miners, which is particularly appropriate in Kutná Hora, which gained its wealth and fame in the Middle Ages due to rich silver mines.

Among other highlights are St. Bartholomew's Cathedral in Pilsen, Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Hradec Králové, Saint Wenceslas Cathedral in Olomouc and Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Brno.

Monasteries

  • Kladruby Monastery
  • Brevnov Monastery
  • Plasy Monastery - cistercian
  • Vyssi Brod Monastery

Pilgrim places

  • Svata Hora u Pribrami
  • Hostyn

National Parks

  • Krkonoše NP
  • Šumava NP
  • Bohemian Switzerland NP
  • Podyjí NP

Protected Landscape Areas

Beautiful landscape areas Bohemian Paradise, ?eské St?edoho?í, K?ivoklátsko, T?ebo?sko, Beskydy Mountains, Jeseníky Mountains and many more.

Others

  • The Macocha Caves, north of Brno, are definitely worth a visit. You can take a guided tour into the caves, which will take you through a myriad of winding tunnels, with close up views of stalactites and stalagmites. The tour ends with a boat ride on an underground river.
  • The Battle of Austerlitz - Slavkovské bojišt? is one of the most important events in the history of Europe in the 19th century.
  • Technical museum in Brno (nice and modern)
  • Lakes under Palava (mountains). This lakes are actually river dams but good for sailing and fishing (you must have fishing license) it's full of big fishes.
  • Mikul?ice archaeological site, site of the former capital of the Great Moravian Empire (c. 900 AD).

Do

Hiking

Czech Republic has an excellent and sophisticated system of trail blazing, marked trails are about everywhere. Choose an area, buy a hiking map for the area (best brand is "Klub ?eských turist?", 1:50000 military based maps covering the whole country, available in most large bookstores) and go. Marked trails can also be seen on online maps [17].

Swimming

Many places in the Czech Republic are great for swimming, and there are many designated public swimming areas (called koupališt?). A list of places suitable for swimming is available here: [18]. However, be aware that in hot weather the quality of the water in some places can fall below EU standard regulations.

Nudism/naturism

Although the Czech Republic is a land-locked country, it does have a lot of nudist/naturist beaches near lakes. A full list is available here: [19]. Full nudity on other beaches is legal, but rare, and usually only happens in non-crowded places.

Eat

In a vast majority of better restaurants located in major cities you can pay by credit card (EC/MC, VISA), but don't be surprised if a few will not accept them. Make sure to check the door for respective card logos when entering the restaurant or ask the waiter before ordering. Czechs sometimes use special meal tickets (stravenky) to pay in some restaurants - these are tax-preferred and subsidised by employers. You won't get these tickets unless you get a job in the Czech Republic, just don't be surprised when you see them.

Traditional local food

Traditional Czech food is hearty and suitable after a hard day in the fields. It is heavy and quite fatty, and is excellent in the winter. In the recent time there was a tendency towards more light food with more vegetables, now the traditional heavy and fatty Czech food is usually not eaten everyday and some people avoid it entirely. However nothing goes as well with the excellent Czech beer as some of the best examples of the traditional Czech cuisine, like pork, duck, or goose with knedlíky (dumplings) and sauerkraut.

A traditional main meal of a day (usually lunch) consists of two or three dishes. The first dish is hot soup (polévka). The second dish is the most important part, very often based on some meat and side-dish (both served on the same plate). The third, optional part is either something sweet (and coffee) or small vegetable salad or something similar.

Czech cuisine knows many different kinds of soup (polévka). The most common are brambora?ka - potato soup (sometimes with forest mushrooms), hov?zí vývar - clear beef soup (sometimes s játrovými knedlí?ky - with liver dumplings), gulášovka - thick goulash soup, zel?a?ka - thick and sour cabbage soup, ?esne?ka (strong garlic soup, very healthy and tasty, but do not eat this before kissing), kulajda - thick soup with forest mushrooms and milk, hrášková polévka from young green peas, ?o?ková polévka from lentils, fazola?ka from beans, rajská polévka - tomato soup, and many others. A special case not to everyone's tastes is drš?ková polévka (tripe soup). Rybí polévka - thick fish soup made from carps (including its head, some innards, roe and sperm) is the traditional soup of the Christmas Dinner.

Some soups are eaten with bread, sometimes small croutons are put inside the soup just before eating. Soup can be also eaten as the only dish, especially for a smaller dinner.

The second dish (main course, hlavní jídlo) of a meal is (in the traditional cuisine) often the famous heavy and fatty part, very often based on pork, but also beef, chicken, duck, or other meat. Important part of most main courses is side-dish (the whole dish including the side-dish is served on one plate) - usually cooked or baked potatoes, fries, rice, pasta or the most typical side-dish of the Czech cuisine - knedlíky.

Knedlíky (usually translated as dumplings) come in many different kinds. Most kinds are used as side-dish, however some kinds with filling are used as dish by itself. The most common type, always used as side-dish, are houskové knedlíky (bread dumplings). These are cooked in a shape of a cylinder, which is then cut into round slices about 8 cm in diameter remotely resembling white bread. Houskové knedlíky are served with Czech classics such as guláš, similar to Hungarian goulash but with a thinner sauce and less spicy; Sví?ková na smetan?, beef sirloin with a creamy root vegetable (carrot, celeriac, parsnip) sauce, served with a tablespoon of cranberry sauce, a slice of orange and whipped cream; Vep?ová pe?en? se zelím a knedlíkem locally named as Vep?o-knedlo-zelo, the combination of roast pork, knedlíky and sauerkraut. The latter combines very well with the world-famous Czech beer, the major brands being Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Budvar, Staropramen, Velkopopovický Kozel and Krušovice. If you are lucky enough to enter a pub serving Svijany, you should definitely order it, as it is believed to be one of the most delicious brands worldwide.

Another common kind is bramborové knedlíky (potato dumplings), the slices are smaller, more yellow in color, and are also always served as a side-dish. A typical combination is roasted meet (pork or lamb for example) with spinach and bramborové knedlíky or duck with sauerkraut and bramborové knedlíky (or combination of bramborové and houskové knedlíky). Less common are chlupaté knedlíky (hairy dumplings, but there are no hairs, don't panic), which are not sliced but cooked in shape of balls. They are also usually served with roasted meat and either sauerkraut or spinach.

Other Czech dishes include pe?ená kachna, roast duck again served with bread or potato dumplings, and red and white sauerkraut; moravský vrabec, known as 'Moravian Sparrow', but which is in fact pork cooked in garlic and onions; smažený kapr, fried carp breaded and served with a very rich potato salad and eaten on Christmas Eve; pe?ené vep?ové koleno, roast pork knee, served with mustard and fresh horseradish; bramborák, garlicky potato pancakes; smažený sýr, breaded deep-fried edam (the most popular cheese in the Czech Republic) served with boiled potatoes or french fries and tartar sauce; párek v rohlíku, long, thin hot dogs with crusty rolls and mustard or ketchup. If you must, you can always get hranolky - french fries. And of course, the ubiquitous zelí (raw cabbage), which is served with absolutely everything. Game is also very good, and includes dishes such as kan?í, wild boar, bažant, pheasant and jelení or da??í, both types of venison. These are almost always served either with dumplings and red and white cabbage, or as guláš.

Don't expect a wide selection of zelenina, vegetables, unless in the countryside - peppers, tomatoes and cabbage are the most commonly-seen side dishes, often served as a small garnish.

Visitors may be surprised when they find "American potatoes" on the menu. These are actually potato wedges, usually spiced.

Meals you usually don't get in restaurants

Generally, probably the best place to really try the Czech cuisine is to be invited for such a meal to somebody's home. However, it is not so easy, because people today tend to prepare simpler and more international foods. Traditional Czech cuisine is often reserved to Sundays or some holidays or prepared by old grandma when her children visit her. This is not a rule, but it is a common situation. In common restaurants, even the better ones, the traditional Czech food usually does not match what the old granny serves. This does not mean that the food is bad or not tasty, but it is missing something that the home preparation can provide. In luxurious restaurants specialized in Czech cuisine, the food can be excellent, but the luxurious style and creative improvements by the chef often do not match the style of the old granny. Again, this is not a hard rule. Sometimes you can compliment the food in a restaurant "as if my grandma prepared it."

There are some dishes that are usually not served in any restaurants or pubs, are usually made at home and are worth trying if you have the opportunity. Brambory na loupa?ku ("potatoes to be peeled") is a cheap and simple meal usually made in the countryside. Whole unpeeled potatoes are cooked in a big pot and put in the pot itself or a bowl on the table. You just take a hot potato from the pot, peel it yourself, put some salt, butter, and/or curd (tvaroh) on it and eat it. Drink it down with lot of cold milk. For such a simply meal it can be incredibly tasty, especially when eaten in the countryside after a day spent outside and chatting over it.

Picking mushrooms in forests is a very popular activity in the Czech Republic. Probably not surprisingly, collected mushrooms are eaten then. In restaurants, usually only cultivated mushrooms are used. If forest mushrooms are served in a restaurant, then usually only as a minor addition to a meal. Homemade mushroom meals are a completely different story. A classic example is Smaženice (the name is based on the verb 'smažit' - to fry), also known as míchanice (to mix) - forest mushrooms, the more kinds the better, are sliced to small pieces, mixed and stewed (with some fat, onion, and caraway). Later, eggs are added to the mixture. Smaženice is served with bread. Smažené bedly are whole caps of parasol mushrooms coated in breadcrumbs and fried. ?erný kuba (literally black jimmy) is a traditional Christmas fasting meal made from dried mushrooms and peeled barley. Houbová omá?ka (mushroom sauce), served with meat and bread dumplings is also popular. Fresh or dried mushrooms make also a nice addition to brambora?ka s houbami (potato soup with mushrooms). Kulajda is a soup from mushrooms and cream. Soups and sauces are the most likely forest mushroom meals to find in a restaurant, because they contain relatively small amount of mushrooms.

If you want to pick mushrooms by yourself, be careful. There are hundreds of species, some of them very tasty, some merely edible, but some poisonous or even deadly. There is also a species used as a hallucinogenic drug. A tasty and edible species may look very similar to a deadly species. If you do not know mushrooms very well, you should be accompanied by an experienced mushroom-picker.

Beer snacks

Also try traditional beer snacks, often the only food served in some pubs (hospoda, pivnice), and designed to be washed down by a good beer:

  • Utopenec - (means 'drowned man' in Czech) a pickled sausage with onion, garlic and other vegetables and spices.
  • Zaviná? - (rollmop) a slice of pickled fish, most often herring or mackerel, rolled-up and filled with various pickled vegetables (sauerkraut, onion, sometimes carrot or pepper).
  • Tla?enka s cibulí - (brawn with onion) a slice of haggis-like meat pudding, sprinkled with vinegar and garnished with fresh onion slices. Beware, can be rather acidic due to vinegar.
  • Nakládaný Hermelín - pickled Brie-like cheese, often marinated with garlic and chilli.
  • Pivní sýr - beer cheese - a soft cheese, with a strong, Cheddar-like flavour. You should add a splash of beer to the cheese, and then mash it all together, and serve it on traditional Czech bread - Šumava (the name of a region in South Bohemia) is the most common bread, a very tasty dense loaf made from rye and carroway seeds.
  • Tvar?žky or Syre?ky - traditional cheese with a very strong aroma, and very much an acquired taste. Often served deep-fried, but can be eaten alone, just with some chopped onion, mustard and bread. Sometimes also marinated in beer ('syre?ky v pivu'). This cheese naturally contains almost no fat (less than 1%).
  • Romadur - traditional cheese with strong aroma. Aroma is similar to Tvar?žky, but Romadur is different type of cheese.
  • Matesy s cibulí - (soused herring) cold fish served with onions.

If you want a warm, bigger, and more complicated meal which goes excellently with beer, get some of the typical Czech meals based on fatty meat (pork, duck, or goose) with sauerkraut and knedlíky (dumplings). Another excellent option is a whole pork knee with horseradish and bread (ovarové koleno s k?enem).

Sweets

Czechs like sweets but consumer patterns are different compared to France, USA or the UK. As everywhere some traditional treats have become a mass-market production for tourists, others are pretty difficult to find.

On the street

  • Láze?ské oplatky - spa wafers from Mariánské Lázn? and Karlovy Vary (major spa towns in Western Bohemia, better known by their German names of Marienbad and Karlsbad) are meant to be eaten while "taking the waters" at a spa, but they're good on their own, too. Other major spas are Karlova Studánka (favourite destination of Václav Havel - former Czechoslovakian president), Františkovy Lázn?, Jánské Lázn?, Karviná, Teplice and Luha?ovice. You will find them most easily not only in spa resorts but also in Prague. Have them either out of the box on your own or heated and iced with sugar, cinnamon, etc..
  • Trdlo or trdelník - is available in dedicated sell-points in the streets of Prague. It is a mediaeval style sweet roll made from eggs and flour.

In restaurants

  • Jablkový závin or štr?dl, apple strudel, often served warm with whipped cream.
  • Medovník - a newcomer having quickly spread in most restaurants. A brown high cake made of gingerbread, honey and walnuts.
  • Ovocné knedlíky - fruit stuffed dumplings served either as main course or a filling dessert. The smaller ones ('tvarohové') come with plum, apple or apricot filling, the bigger ones ('kynuté') come with strawberries, blueberries, povidla (plum jam) or toher fruits. Knedlíky are served with melted butter, iced with tvaroh (curd cheese) and sugar, and topped with whipped cream.
  • Pala?inka - not much in common with French crepes, these pancakes are usually thicker and served with a wide choice of fillings including chocolate, ice-cream, fruit and whipped cream.

Cukrárna

Also try the wide variety of rich cream cakes usually found in a Kavárna (a cafe), or a Cukrárna (a shop which sells all things sweet together with ice cream and drinks, found throughout the Czech Republic and often the only place open in small towns and villages on Sundays). Czech cakes are similar to their Viennese cousins due to the shared history of both countries under the Austro-Hungarian empire. Also sample Víde?ská káva (Viennese coffee), coffee served with a mountain of whipped cream.

  • Rakvi?ka (literally a little coffin) is a light crispy biscuit with cream,
  • V?trník is a round French éclair style cream cake,
  • Pun?ák is a rum soaked yellow/pink biscuit sugar-glazed cake,
  • Laskonka is a coconut and cream based sandwich cake, and many more!

Home made

  • Bábovka - a traditional cake, similar to marble cake, fairly dry, and usually served dusted with icing sugar.
  • Buchty - (singular Buchta)traditional buns filled with tvaroh (curd cheese), mák (poppy seeds), or povidla (plum jam)
  • Kolá?e - (singular Kolá?) rather popular flat tarts topped with various sweet fillings like tvaroh, povidla, mák, fruit jams, chopped apples and nuts. Their size ranges from bite-sized ('svatební kolá?ky') to pizza-sized, which often contain several fillings combined into an elaborate pattern ('Chodský kolá?' or 'frgál').

Vegetarian food

Finding a vegetarian meal in the Czech Republic is not as difficult now as it once was. In tourist areas at least, such as Prague and the Bohemian Paradise, most restaurant menus contain a vegetarian meals category (bezmasá jídla or vegetariánská jídla) with 2-3 options. People may have their own interpretation of 'vegetarian' though, and it is not uncommon to find dishes such as "broccoli bacon" or prawns listed under "vegetarian meals". In traditional restaurants the choice in vegetarian food is usually limited to fried cheese, dumplings (knedlíky), omelette, potatoes (cooked, baked, fried or as 'potato pancakes') and sometimes a Greek salad or cooked vegetables. Be advised that vegetables practically always have to be ordered separately, even if they appear to be part of the dish: e.g. the vegetables listed in a menu option called "potato pancakes with vegetables" are most likely a garniture consisting of a few leaves of lettuce and a slice of tomato.

Bigger towns have foreign cuisine restaurants, mostly Italian and Chinese, which can serve you meat-free dishes such as vegetarian pasta.

Drink

Beer

The Czech Republic is the country where modern beer (pivo in Czech) was invented (in Plze?). Czechs are the heaviest beer drinkers in the world, drinking about 160 litres of it per capita per year. Going to a cosy Czech pub for dinner and a few beers is a must!

The best-known export brands are Pilsner Urquell (Plze?ský Prazdroj), Budweiser Budvar (Bud?jovický Budvar) and Staropramen (freely translatable as "Oldspring"). Other major brands which are popular domestically include Gambrinus, Kozel, Bernard (a small traditional brewery, with very high quality beer), Radegast, and Starobrno (made in Brno, the capital of Moravia). Other fantastic beers worth tasting are Svijany and Dob?anská Hv?zda. Although many Czechs tend to be very selective about beer brands, tourists usually don't find a significant difference. And remember, real Czech beer is only served on tap – bottled beer is a completely different experience. High-quality beer can almost certainly be found in a hospoda or hostinec, very basic pubs which serve only beer and light snacks. Take a seat and order your drinks when the waiter comes to you - going to the bar to order your drinks is a British custom! But beware, the handling of the beer is even more important than its brand. A bad bartender can completely ruin even excellent beer. Best bet is to ask local beer connoiseurs about a good pub or just join them.

Beers are sometimes listed by their original sugar content, which is measured in degrees Plato (P/°). The difference is generally apparent in the final alcohol content. Normal beer is about 10° (such as Gambrinus and Staropramen, which results in 4% ABV), lager 12° (such as Pilsner Urquell, which results in about 4.75% ABV). The latter is stronger and more expensive, so you should specify which one you want when you order.

Czech lager is nothing like the fizzy lagers found in many other countries. Instead, it has a very strong, hoppy, almost bitter flavour, and goes very well with heavy dishes like duck or pork and dumplings or strong cheeses. It always has a thick head on the top when it is served, but do not be afraid to drink "through" it, it is fun and it slowly disappears anyway, nevertheless do not drink the beer too slowly as the fresh cold taste (especially in hot summers) quickly fades – the "true" Czech connoisseurs do not even finish this "tepid goat," as they call it.

The right beer bought in shops is only in half-litre brown glass bottles with sheet-crown cap. Experienced earthy beer drinkers drink it directly from the bottle. Some breweries distribute also big (two-litre or 1.5 litre) plastic bottles but they are considered a bit barbarian and degraded by Czechs, and the better breweries ridicule such form. Also sheet-can beer is perceived as an alien.

Wine

Wine (víno in Czech) is another popular drink, particularly wine from Moravia in the south-eastern part of the country where the climate is more suited to vineyards. White wines tend to be the best as the growing conditions are more favourable for them. For white wines, try Veltlínské zelené (Green Veltliner), Muškát moravský (Moravian Muscatel), Ryzlink rýnský (Rhine Riesling) or Tramín (Traminer), or red wines such as Frankovka (Blaufrankisch), Modrý Portugal (Blue Portugal, named after the grape, not the country), or Svatovav?inecké (Saint Lawrence). Also try ice wine (ledové víno) made when the grapes are harvested after they have frozen on the vines, or straw wine (slámové víno) made by leaving the grapes to ripen on straw) – these wines are more expensive and are similar to dessert wines. Bohemia Sekt is also popular with Czechs, and is an inexpensive sweet, fizzy wine, similar to Lambrusco, and drunk at celebrations. The best places for wine are either a wine bar (vinárna), or a wine shop (vinotéka) which sometimes has a small bar area too.

Spirits

For spirits, try Becherovka (herb liqueur, similar to Jägermeister, tastes of a mixtures of cloves and cinnamon, and drunk as a digestive), slivovice (plum brandy, very popular as a pick-me-up), hruškovice (pear brandy, less fiery than Slivovice), and so on. Spirits are made out of almost every kind of fruit (Plums, Peaches, Cherries, Sloes, etc.). Czech unique tuzemský rum (made from sugar beet, not from sugar cane as the Cuban rum, sold under brands like Tuzemák to conform with EU market rules). Be careful as all are about 40% alcohol.

Non-alcoholic

Generally, fruit sparkling waters (as well as coke waters) are named limonáda in Bohemia or sodovka in Moravia. Draught "limonades" of various types used to be a very cheap and available beverage in common pubs in rural and hiking areas. Now, more expensive "Cola-Fanta-Sprite" choice or draught or bottle Kofola are available usually. Kofola, a coke-like drink is also very popular, and some Czechs say it is the best thing the communists gave them.

Mineral waters are popular, but tend to have a strong mineral taste. Try Mattoni, or Magnesia, both of which taste like normal water and still claim to be good for your health. If you want bubbles, ask for perlivá. If you want it non-carbonated, ask for neperlivá. Sometimes you can see jemn? perlivá – it is "lightly bubbled" water. Many restaurants don't make any difference between "sparkling water" and "sparkling mineral water". Sparkling water (without flavour) is traditionally named sodovka (sodová voda, soda water) in Bohemia and sifon in Moravia.

Usually, also some fruit juices are on offer.

Restaurants and most of pubs offer also tea and coffee. The bacis form of coffee is turecká káva (Turkish coffee) with grounds, but it is offered also drip coffee or instant coffee or milky coffee, especially with whipping cream (víde?ská káva, Viennese coffee). Broader assortment is offered in cafes (kavárna) or tea rooms (?ajovna). Cofes are visited especially by seniors, ladies or intellectuals, tea rooms have east-oriented atmosphere and are very popular among non-alcoholic young people in last decades.

At many train and subway stations and other places, cold and hot non-alcoholic beverages are available in 24/7 vending machines.

Others

Restaurants and pubs do not offer water for free. Not surprisingly, as beer is the national drink, it is usually the cheapest drink you can buy, with prices ranging from 15–60 K? (€0.50-2) per half litre, depending on the attractiveness of the pub to tourists. Drinks are brought to your table, and often each drink is marked on a small slip of paper which is kept on the table in front of you, so you can keep count of what you have had. When you are ready to leave, ask the waiter for the bill – he or she will calculate the bill according to the number of marks on the paper. It is common to share tables in busy pubs and Czech people will ask Je tu volno? (Is this seat free?), before they sit down.

Try also sva?ák, hot mulled wine served in all pubs, and outdoors at Christmas markets, grog, hot rum and water served with a slice of lemon - add sugar to taste, and medovina, mead, again usually served hot, and particularly good for warming up at a cold winter market. Finally, if you are heading into Moravia, try bur?ák, a speciality found only around the end of the summer, or early autumn. It is extremely young wine, usually white, and is the cloudy, still fermenting stage in wine production when the wine is very sweet, and very smooth to drink. It continues to ferment in the stomach, so the alcohol content at the time of drinking it is unknown, but it is usually high, creeps up on you, and it is very moreish. Czechs say that it should only be drunk fresh from the vineyard, and many small private wine makers are passionate about it, waiting up into the night for the moment when the wine reaches the "bur?ák" stage. You can see it at wine festivals around the country, and sometimes in markets or wine bars too.

Work

Citizens of the EU can work in the Czech Republic without a work permit (your employer should register you at a Labor Office at the beginning of your work stay); otherwise, you'll need a work visa.

Prague is probably the best place to foreigners to look for a job because there are many multinational and English speaking companies. It is also easy to get a job teaching English because of a high demand.

The most popular websites to search for a job are Jobs.cz[20] and Prace.cz[21]. These websites are free to use. There are many flexible office solutions that enable you to rent office space for a short term across the country. See for example Regus[22]. There are also a few coworking spaces in large cities. See the list of coworking spaces at Navolnenoze.cz[23].

Stay safe

  • Taxi drivers: warning - negotiate the price before you use taxi or use a reputable company (e.g. Liftago, Uber). Prague taxi drivers are known for taking you the longest possible way to earn more money. Prague City Council has introduced new regulations which will see all legitimate taxis painted yellow. Public transportation is also very cheap, fast and reliable. In Prague, the metro runs up to midnight, and night trams run throughout the night, all of them converging at a central tram stop, Lazarská.
  • Pickpockets: Watch your pockets, especially if there is a crowd (sights, subway, trams, in particular numbers 9, 10 and 22) Watch out for large groups of people jostling you. Beware of a particular pickpocket gangs operating in Prague: they are mainly male, although sometimes there are women too; all are extremely overweight and rely on their sheer size and number to disorientate tourists. They tend to operate on the 9, 10 and 22 trams, as well as the central metro stations, usually just as people are getting on and off, or on the escalators. Don't pull out your tickets unless you are specifically asked to do so. And keep your wallet and money securely locked and separate from each other at all time. Don't challenge them as they can become aggressive, but keep your eyes open. Prosecutions for pickpocketing are rare as legally the police have to catch the pickpocket in the middle of a crime.
  • Prostitution: Prostitution is not illegal in the Czech Republic. However, officially prostitution does not exist as a legal business. Prostitutes do not pay taxes and prostitution is not regulated by the state. The health risk may be very high, especially in cheap brothels or on the street. There also have been cases of prostitutes offering a drink with sleeping pills to their customers and stealing everything from them. Pay attention to the age of the prostitute, paying a person under 18 years for sex is a criminal offense (otherwise the age of consent is 15).
  • Marijuana: Marijuana is basically illegal in the Czech Republic, but it is quite popular especially among young people. In case the police catch you smoking or possessing marijuana, you want to be very polite with them. The reason is that by the current law, possessing only a "larger than small" amount of marijuana is a criminal offence. A "larger than small" amount of marijuana is defined as more than 15 g.
  • Ghetto-like localities inhabited prevalently by pure gypsies are feared also by common fellow citizens. In such places, there is somewhat increased danger of pockets, robbery or rape. Whole quarters are affected in some cities of North Bohemia (Most, Litvínov, Ústí nad Labem) or in Ostrava. In last decades, number of homeless people occupying many outlying areas permanently increase but they are not very dangerous usually.
  • Other than that, the Czech Republic is a very safe country.

Stay healthy

Grocery stores do not sell over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin. You will need to go to a pharmacy (lékárna), which is usually open 08:00-19:00, Monday to Friday. There are 24-hour pharmacies in the bigger cities, and you should find an address for the closest one to you listed in the window of the nearest pharmacy to you. If you are in Prague, the most central 24-hour one is in Prague 2 - on the corner of Belgická and Rumunská streets - they dispense both prescription and non-prescription drugs from a small window on Rumunská out of hours - ring the bell if there is no-one there.

Tap water is good, especially in Prague although in small towns, the amount of chlorine added can be quite strong.

A reputable hospital in Prague is Nemocnice na Homolce, Address: Roentgenova 37/2, Prague 5 (tel 257 272 350). There is a foreigners' clinic (Cizinecké odd?lení) there with English-speaking receptionists who can make appointments for you. Most doctors speak some English, and the level of care is of a very high standard.

Central Europe and parts of the Czech Republic have ticks (Ixodes ricinus) which can carry Encephalitis or Lyme Borreliosis. Ticks hide in grass and bushes, so try to stay on trails and inspect exposed areas of skin after a hike. Vaccination against Encephalitis is available and recommended. If you want to bushwhack, make sure you have the vaccination and wear long trousers. A good insect repellent (which contains DEET), might be helpful, too.

Ticks like to cling to any soft, warm, well-perfused areas of your body (undersides of knees and elbows, skin around ankles, groins, neck area, behind your ears, etc.) and if not removed, they'll suck your blood until they grow about 1 cm big. Never try to scratch a tick off or pull it out, because damaging it can cause you a serious infection. The sooner the tick is removed, the smaller the chance of infection. Either ask a physician to remove a tick for you, or try to remove it by yourself: lubricate your finger with any greasy lotion and gently wag a tick from side to side until it wobbles free. Then flush it down the drain - never crush or burn it to avoid infection. Watch the affected spot: if you see a growing red spot developing there any time during next several months, immediately visit your physician and tell him that - you might have contracted Borreliosis. It is dangerous, but it can be easily treated with antibiotics during early stage. Be aware that the American vaccination against Borreliosis most probably won't work against European strains (B. afzelii and B. garini). Note that ticks are sometimes present even in city parks, including Prague.

Respect

The Czech Republic, along with its neighbours Slovakia, Austria, Poland and Hungary, is part of Central Europe. Often in Western Europe and North America it is incorrectly referred to as an "Eastern European" country, and most Czechs are very sensitive about this- many will even pre-empt the ignorance of some foreigners by asking "What part of Europe would you say the Czech Republic is in?" Get on their good side by answering "Central Europe", not Eastern!

Czechs don't appreciate when foreigners incorrectly assume that their country was part of the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire – both definitely false – although it was part of the Soviet Bloc and, until 1918, an Austro-Hungarian territory. Commenting about how "everything is quite cheap here" comes across as condescending about the country's economic status.

If you are knowledgeable about the Czechoslovakian communist regime following the Second World War, bear in mind that this is still a sensitive issue for many and that it is easy to upset people in discussions on the subject.

Czechs are one of the most atheist people in the world. This is true especially in large Bohemian cities. Don't assume that anyone you do not know believes in God or has a passion for Christianity. Respect that and your religion will also be respected.

Always say hello (Dobrý den) and goodbye (Na shledanou) when you enter and leave a small shop, as it is polite.

While dining at a restaurant with a host's family it is customary for them to pick up the bill, the opposite of most Western standards. Don't assume they will - but also don't be surprised if they do.

When entering a Czech household, always remove your shoes. Czechs usually wear slippers or sandals when inside a house and never their outdoor shoes. Depending on how traditional the host family are, they may insist you change immediately into house shoes as a hygiene precaution, though this is rare. At the very least they will offer you some to keep your feet warm.

Mentioning Czech towns and places with their former German names, when asking for directions (e.g. referring to Budweis instead of ?eské Bud?jovice) may cause confusion and may be regarded as offensive and disrespectful towards the Czech people.

Moravia

The vast majority of Moravians will take no offence to being called Czechs, and consider themselves to be both. If you are attempting to speak Czech, beware of the complexities and slight differences between the terms ?echy (Bohemia) and ?esko (Czech Republic). Much like a Welshman would raise an eyebrow over his country being called England, using the term ?echy (Bohemia) to refer to the entire Czech Republic may not be appreciated by a Moravian. Since there are no mainstream separatist movements in Moravia, and there is definitely no ethnic conflict, it is infinitely more likely you'll be showered with kisses and plied with alcohol for simply making an attempt to speak Czech.

Connect

There are three main mobile phone operators using the GSM standard, their coverage is very good (except in some remote, mostly uninhabited areas). If you find using roaming with your own operator too expensive or you want to have a Czech phone number, you can buy an anonymous prepaid card from any of the three main operators. However, the pricing schemes are usually quite complicated and some investigation may be necessary to find the ideal solution (even with the prepaid cards, operators offer various schemes including various additional 'packages'). GPRS and EDGE is widely supported, 3G networks support is in its beginnings (O2, Vodafone and T-mobile, mostly in Prague). The fourth operator (U:fon) uses some custom standards and you have to buy special hardware from them.

There are still some telephone boxes available, but they are gradually vanishing since the advent of mobile phones. Some still accept coins, but most of them require a special prepaid telephone card.

You can call emergency numbers from any phone for free (even without a card). The universal emergency number 112 is functional and you can use it, however you will only reach a telephone operator who will need to contact the real emergency service for you. To save precious time, it is best to directly call the service you need: 150 for firefighters, 155 for medical emergency, and 158 for state police.

Wifi is available in many restaurants and most cafés, especially in larger cities. In particular, all branches of Starbucks, KFC, Gloria Jeans Coffee and Costa Coffee offer free access. You may need to ask a waiter for the passphrase. There are also some hotspots available on the streets and some city quarters (for example in Prague) offer free wifi coverage for everyone. However such coverage is usually very slow and unreliable and you may need to create an account (using a web browser and the page it is automatically redirected to) to be able to use it. In most larger cities, there are also several internet cafés available.

Kampa-Museum-Gridskipper-Prague-Galleries.jpg Kampa at night [Photo: Places Online]

Prague is home to vital nineteenth and twentieth century art movements, but it also boasts a thriving contemporary art culture. Sometimes you'll find both old and new in the same space, providing an exciting context in which to examine a historic city that, ever since the fall of Communism, has also been trying to reinvent itself. Here are some galleries and museums in which to engage the full spectrum:

- Graham Hamilton

Hear about travel to the Czech Republic as the Amateur Traveler talks to Anthony Hennen from anthonyhennen.com about his trip to the areas of the country outside of Prague.

 

Prague is a magical fairytale of a place, with ancient buildings and cobbled streets. It’s romantic, centrally located and pedestrian-friendly, making it a perfect stop on any trip to Europe. In this Prague podcast travel guide, we talk about our experience of Prague, Czech Republic and how you can enjoy it too.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 306 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Layout

Prague travel guide podcast pinterest pinPin it!In practice, Prague is quite easy to negotiate and if you enjoy walking a city, it’s one of the best. The city is divided into numbered sections 1-22, but most of the more well-known areas are in Prague 1 and 2:

  • Old Town (Stare mesto): Prague 1
  • Lesser Town (Malá strana): Prague 1
  • New Town (Nove mesto): Prague 2
  • Jewish Town (Josefov): Prague 1
  • Castle (Hradcany): Prague 1
  • Vysehrad (Vyšehrad): Prague 2

The Vltava River (Moldau in English) runs mostly south to north through the city, with the Old Town nestled in a slight bend on the east side and the castle on the west. The New Town is to the south of the Old Town and the main train station is to the east of them. The airport is about 15km to the west.

Accommodation

Prague has a full range of accommodation options, including hostels, apartment rentals and luxury hotels. We’ve stayed in a bunch of different places, including Mosaic House and Fusion Hotel and have found them excellent, and we’ve also heard great things about Sir Toby’s and Sophie’s Hostel — these hostels are pretty much Europe-renowned for their fun atmosphere and the great people that they attract. Whatever level of accommodation standard you’d like, you’ll find it in Prague — though Couchsurfing could be a challenge because of the sheer number of visitors Prague sees.

Fact box

Name: Prague, but locally Praha Place: To the north-west of the centre of the Czech Republic. Prague is the capital. Population: 1.25 million Language: Czech Known for: Cheap beer, Christmas markets, a beautiful old town and Good King Wenceslas. Temperatures: Around 0 in winter and early 20’s during summer. Although summer is warm, it can be wet — take a rain jacket. Airport: Václav Havel Airport (PRG). Served by budget and legacy airlines. Takes about half an hour to get into the centre of town by public transport. Currency: Czech koruna (crown). US$1 = 24Kč. €1 = 27Kč. Price of a pint: 25-40Kč Price of a dorm bed: From €5/US$5.50, but expect to pay around €10/US$11. Price of a double room: €28-60/US$31-67 Price of a public transport ticket: 32Kč or 24Kč

Food and drink

Lunch is the big meal in Prague, with red meat and potatoes or dumplings being a main feature of a serious sit-down meal. We were amazed at the range of high-quality international cuisine on offer; don’t just limit yourself to Czech fare when you’re there. We enjoyed Colombian, Georgian, Thai, Vietnamese and Mexican (among others) during our last visit, but still found time for meat and dumplings.

The Czech Republic is serious Pilsner country, with the famous brand Pilsner Urquell being the foremost. There’s also the real budweisers — you know, the beer from České Budějovice, or Budweis. The local Prague beer though, is Staropramen, which is an excellent lager and dirt cheap in most bars throughout Prague.

Transport

There’s an integrated system with the bus, tram and subway (called metro). Tickets are based on the length of time you will be using the service: 30 minutes (24Kč), 90 minutes (32Kč), one day (110Kč) or three days (310Kč). If you’re there for a week or more you can get a monthly pass for around double the price of a three-day ticket, there’s a thriving online market for selling these on. Children and seniors pay half price and if you’re over 70, it’s free to travel. If you’re travelling with luggage, you’ll need to buy a separate ticket for it: 16Kč.

You can buy tickets from ticket machines in metro stations and from kiosks throughout the city. Make sure to validate your ticket before entering the metro and as soon as you enter a bus or tram for the first time, then keep your ticket on you until it expires. Ticket inspectors will issue on-the-spot fines for invalid tickets or not having tickets for big bags. Be aware of false inspectors, ask to see a badge before paying, and they should give you an official receipt.

Prague trams: public transport in a href=Remember to validate your ticket when you get on the tram.

Attractions – free

It could be said that the whole city is a free attraction; it was mainly undamaged throughout World War Two so, unlike much of Europe, the beautiful medieval buildings remain to be photographed. It gives the whole thing a fairy-tale feeling which has made it such an attractive place to visit.

Some of the highlights are:

The Old Town, especially the central square with the astronomical clock and gothic and Art Nouveau buildings, particularly the Tyn church. Next to the Old Town is the New Town which was built in the 14th century. Walking through these two sections of town is certainly enough to keep one entranced for a day or so if you stop in at some of the little restaurants, bars and shops. This is also where you’ll find the Dancing House, by Frank Gehry.

There are dozens of bridges across the Vltava River and several in Prague, but one in particular stands out: the Charles Bridge. It’s wide and beautiful with statues all along it. In fact, it’s so wide that a bustling mini-market of souvenir-sellers, buskers, painters and craftspeople line both sides of it!

You’ll pass through the Lesser Town, Mala Strana, on your way up to the castle. There are great views from here and some excellent places to relax and look over Prague.

Charles Bridge is always full of tourists, a href=Charles Bridge is always full of tourists.

Attractions – paid

Prague Castle

Access to the castle complex is free, but you need to pay for access to some areas. Full access costs 350Kč, which is also the cost of an audioguide for three hours. If you are likely to get castled out, wander around for free and only pay for entrance if something looks great. Things tend to happen on the hour: watch the changing of the guard ceremony and listen to the bells toll.

Prague museums

The National Museum’s main building in Wenceslas Square is closed for reconstruction, but there are plenty of other galleries and exhibitions spread throughout the city. Museum entrance costs 160kc for all exhibitions or 300kc for a three-day pass. You might also want to consider one of the many Prague Cards on offer which include entrance to some museums as well as transport or a bus tour.

Prague was home to some excellent artists and two that are both contemporary and accessible: the Mucha museum houses works of Alphonse Mucha, a predominant figure in Art Nouveau. If you like his work, head to the National Gallery to see his Slav Epic. Franz Kafka was also a Prague resident and has a museum in the lesser town.

Mucha's Slav Epic in a href=Mucha’s Slav Epic is definitely worth a visit if you’re into art.

Another important museum is the Communist Museum which shows many of the ways Prague and what was then Czechoslovakia changed under the regime.

Jewish Quarter

In the Jewish Quarter you’ll find some spectacular sites, including the Old New Synagogue, the Jewish Museum, and the cemetery. The Nazis intended for the area to be a museum of the extinct Jewish race; nowadays it’s an inhabited area full of museums of European Jewish life past and present. Speaking to other travellers about Prague on Twitter, the Jewish cemetery came up again and again as the most memorable thing about their visit.

Attractions – seasonal

May is the month of the renowned Prague Spring Classical Music Festival, drawing stars and fans of serious music from around the world. Not really my kind of thing, but it gives a focal point to the season.

Christmas markets are Prague’s most famous event, with visitors coming from around Europe on short breaks to visit and shop. The markets are spread throughout the city and are easy to find… and enjoy.

Guidebooks

All your favourite guidebook publishers have good guides to Prague. The Lonely Planet Europe on a shoestring has enough information on the city to make the most of a short trip, though I found it really lacked the historical background that makes Prague such a fascinating place. Reading around, the Rough Guide worked well for that. Since Prague is such a visually rich city, Eyewitness‘s visual slant is perfect. They’re light on the practical information side though.

Where to next

To listen, hit play above or check in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud. This is an updated version of a podcast that was first published in November 2009.

This episode of the Indie Travel Podcast is sponsored by Context Travel.

Context provides private guides and (very) small group tours for the intellectually curious traveler. PhD and MA-educated guides take you deep into your destination, and with a maximum group size of six, you can ask as many questions as you like!

Find out more about Prague tours at Context Travel.

Have you been to Prague? What did you like best? If you haven’t been, what would you like to see in Prague? Leave a comment below.

Prague is a magical fairytale of a place, with ancient buildings and cobbled streets. It’s romantic, centrally located and pedestrian-friendly, making it a perfect stop on any trip to Europe. In this Prague podcast travel guide, we talk about our experience of Prague, Czech Republic and how you can enjoy it too.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 306 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Layout

Prague travel guide podcast pinterest pinPin it!In practice, Prague is quite easy to negotiate and if you enjoy walking a city, it’s one of the best. The city is divided into numbered sections 1-22, but most of the more well-known areas are in Prague 1 and 2:

  • Old Town (Stare mesto): Prague 1
  • Lesser Town (Malá strana): Prague 1
  • New Town (Nove mesto): Prague 2
  • Jewish Town (Josefov): Prague 1
  • Castle (Hradcany): Prague 1
  • Vysehrad (Vyšehrad): Prague 2

The Vltava River (Moldau in English) runs mostly south to north through the city, with the Old Town nestled in a slight bend on the east side and the castle on the west. The New Town is to the south of the Old Town and the main train station is to the east of them. The airport is about 15km to the west.

Accommodation

Prague has a full range of accommodation options, including hostels, apartment rentals and luxury hotels. We’ve stayed in a bunch of different places, including Mosaic House and Fusion Hotel and have found them excellent, and we’ve also heard great things about Sir Toby’s and Sophie’s Hostel — these hostels are pretty much Europe-renowned for their fun atmosphere and the great people that they attract. Whatever level of accommodation standard you’d like, you’ll find it in Prague — though Couchsurfing could be a challenge because of the sheer number of visitors Prague sees.

Fact box

Name: Prague, but locally Praha Place: To the north-west of the centre of the Czech Republic. Prague is the capital. Population: 1.25 million Language: Czech Known for: Cheap beer, Christmas markets, a beautiful old town and Good King Wenceslas. Temperatures: Around 0 in winter and early 20’s during summer. Although summer is warm, it can be wet — take a rain jacket. Airport: Václav Havel Airport (PRG). Served by budget and legacy airlines. Takes about half an hour to get into the centre of town by public transport. Currency: Czech koruna (crown). US$1 = 24Kč. €1 = 27Kč. Price of a pint: 25-40Kč Price of a dorm bed: From €5/US$5.50, but expect to pay around €10/US$11. Price of a double room: €28-60/US$31-67 Price of a public transport ticket: 32Kč or 24Kč

Food and drink

Lunch is the big meal in Prague, with red meat and potatoes or dumplings being a main feature of a serious sit-down meal. We were amazed at the range of high-quality international cuisine on offer; don’t just limit yourself to Czech fare when you’re there. We enjoyed Colombian, Georgian, Thai, Vietnamese and Mexican (among others) during our last visit, but still found time for meat and dumplings.

The Czech Republic is serious Pilsner country, with the famous brand Pilsner Urquell being the foremost. There’s also the real budweisers — you know, the beer from České Budějovice, or Budweis. The local Prague beer though, is Staropramen, which is an excellent lager and dirt cheap in most bars throughout Prague.

Transport

There’s an integrated system with the bus, tram and subway (called metro). Tickets are based on the length of time you will be using the service: 30 minutes (24Kč), 90 minutes (32Kč), one day (110Kč) or three days (310Kč). If you’re there for a week or more you can get a monthly pass for around double the price of a three-day ticket, there’s a thriving online market for selling these on. Children and seniors pay half price and if you’re over 70, it’s free to travel. If you’re travelling with luggage, you’ll need to buy a separate ticket for it: 16Kč.

You can buy tickets from ticket machines in metro stations and from kiosks throughout the city. Make sure to validate your ticket before entering the metro and as soon as you enter a bus or tram for the first time, then keep your ticket on you until it expires. Ticket inspectors will issue on-the-spot fines for invalid tickets or not having tickets for big bags. Be aware of false inspectors, ask to see a badge before paying, and they should give you an official receipt.

Prague trams: public transport in a href=Remember to validate your ticket when you get on the tram.

Attractions – free

It could be said that the whole city is a free attraction; it was mainly undamaged throughout World War Two so, unlike much of Europe, the beautiful medieval buildings remain to be photographed. It gives the whole thing a fairy-tale feeling which has made it such an attractive place to visit.

Some of the highlights are:

The Old Town, especially the central square with the astronomical clock and gothic and Art Nouveau buildings, particularly the Tyn church. Next to the Old Town is the New Town which was built in the 14th century. Walking through these two sections of town is certainly enough to keep one entranced for a day or so if you stop in at some of the little restaurants, bars and shops. This is also where you’ll find the Dancing House, by Frank Gehry.

There are dozens of bridges across the Vltava River and several in Prague, but one in particular stands out: the Charles Bridge. It’s wide and beautiful with statues all along it. In fact, it’s so wide that a bustling mini-market of souvenir-sellers, buskers, painters and craftspeople line both sides of it!

You’ll pass through the Lesser Town, Mala Strana, on your way up to the castle. There are great views from here and some excellent places to relax and look over Prague.

Charles Bridge is always full of tourists, a href=Charles Bridge is always full of tourists.

Attractions – paid

Prague Castle

Access to the castle complex is free, but you need to pay for access to some areas. Full access costs 350Kč, which is also the cost of an audioguide for three hours. If you are likely to get castled out, wander around for free and only pay for entrance if something looks great. Things tend to happen on the hour: watch the changing of the guard ceremony and listen to the bells toll.

Prague museums

The National Museum’s main building in Wenceslas Square is closed for reconstruction, but there are plenty of other galleries and exhibitions spread throughout the city. Museum entrance costs 160kc for all exhibitions or 300kc for a three-day pass. You might also want to consider one of the many Prague Cards on offer which include entrance to some museums as well as transport or a bus tour.

Prague was home to some excellent artists and two that are both contemporary and accessible: the Mucha museum houses works of Alphonse Mucha, a predominant figure in Art Nouveau. If you like his work, head to the National Gallery to see his Slav Epic. Franz Kafka was also a Prague resident and has a museum in the lesser town.

Mucha's Slav Epic in a href=Mucha’s Slav Epic is definitely worth a visit if you’re into art.

Another important museum is the Communist Museum which shows many of the ways Prague and what was then Czechoslovakia changed under the regime.

Jewish Quarter

In the Jewish Quarter you’ll find some spectacular sites, including the Old New Synagogue, the Jewish Museum, and the cemetery. The Nazis intended for the area to be a museum of the extinct Jewish race; nowadays it’s an inhabited area full of museums of European Jewish life past and present. Speaking to other travellers about Prague on Twitter, the Jewish cemetery came up again and again as the most memorable thing about their visit.

Attractions – seasonal

May is the month of the renowned Prague Spring Classical Music Festival, drawing stars and fans of serious music from around the world. Not really my kind of thing, but it gives a focal point to the season.

Christmas markets are Prague’s most famous event, with visitors coming from around Europe on short breaks to visit and shop. The markets are spread throughout the city and are easy to find… and enjoy.

Guidebooks

All your favourite guidebook publishers have good guides to Prague. The Lonely Planet Europe on a shoestring has enough information on the city to make the most of a short trip, though I found it really lacked the historical background that makes Prague such a fascinating place. Reading around, the Rough Guide worked well for that. Since Prague is such a visually rich city, Eyewitness‘s visual slant is perfect. They’re light on the practical information side though.

Where to next

To listen, hit play above or check in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud. This is an updated version of a podcast that was first published in November 2009.

This episode of the Indie Travel Podcast is sponsored by Context Travel.

Context provides private guides and (very) small group tours for the intellectually curious traveler. PhD and MA-educated guides take you deep into your destination, and with a maximum group size of six, you can ask as many questions as you like!

Find out more about Prague tours at Context Travel.

Have you been to Prague? What did you like best? If you haven’t been, what would you like to see in Prague? Leave a comment below.

Charming cobbled streets and colourful buildings, Christmas markets, an excellent food scene: what isn’t there to love about Prague? The capital of the Czech Republic is one of Europe‘s most popular destinations; if you’re considering a trip to Prague, you might need to know the answers to some of these questions.

1. Where to stay in Prague?

Prague has a full range of accommodation options, from camping by the river to five-star luxury. Stay in the centre (Prague 1) for proximity to the main attractions, or go a little further out if you’d like to be away from the hordes of tourists. Prague is very walkable and has a good public transport system, so you’ll always be able to get into the centre. Check out Hostelbookers for hostels or Booking.com for hotels, or consider an apartment rental if you’re a group.

2. What to see in Prague/Prague attractions?

The top three things to see in Prague are the astronomical clock, the castle, and Charles Bridge. Listen to our Prague podcast for more tips!

3. Is Prague safe?

Yes, Prague is a very safe city. As in most major cities, pickpocketing can be an issue, so take normal precautions with your belongings, especially at the train station and on public transport.

4. What to buy in Prague?

First and foremost: beer. Try a variety of different ones and take a couple of bottles home as souvenirs. If you’d prefer something personal, head to Charles bridge and buy a CD from a busker or have your portrait sketched by one of the artists. Avoid the tacky souvenir shops at all costs, but if you do want something to take home, a handmade wooden toy is a good option.

5. What’s the weather in Prague Czech Republic?

Pin me!Pin me!Prague has a continental climate with warm summers and often snowy winters. You’re looking at temperatures of around 0°C in winter and early 20’s during summer. Although summer is warm, it can be wet — take a rain jacket.

6. Is Prague worth visiting?

Absolutely! It’s a beautiful city with centuries of history. The public transport is good and there’s an excellent range of high-quality food. It’s a very popular tourist destination, but even if you don’t like crowds there’s plenty to do away from the most popular sites.

7. Is Prague on the euro?

No, the Czech Republic uses the Czech koruna (CZK/Kč), also called the “crown”. One euro is worth about 27Kč.

There was a plan to adopt the euro but the plan was suspended in 2005, and now most Czech people would prefer to stick with the koruna.

8. Is Czech Republic part of the European Union? Is Czech Republic part of Schengen?

Yes, the Czech Republic has been part of the European Union since 2004. It is also part of the Schengen Area border-free zone.

9. Which Prague district should I live in?

Consider Karlin, in Prague 8. It’s close to the centre but not full of tourists, and there are a lot of great restaurants.

Map of a href=Prague is easy to get around.

10. Which Prague castle inspired Walt Disney?

Sources disagree! Prague Castle itself was probably one of the inspirations, and the Tyn Church in the Old Town Square was another of the inspirations for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle.

11. Where is Prague Zoo?

Prague Zoo is located in Prague 7, beside the Vlatava River and to the north of the Old Town. To get there, catch bus number 112 from Nádraží Holešovice metro station on line C.

12. Where is Old Town Square?

The Old Town Square is located in Prague 1, between Wenceslas Square and the Charles Bridge.

Prague's Astronomical clock in Czech RepublicThe Astronomical Clock is located in the Old Town Square.

13. Where is Charles Bridge located?

Charles Bridge crosses the Vltava River between the Old Town and the Lesser Towns of Prague, in Prague 1. You can cross it to get from the Old Town to the castle.

14. When was Old Town Square founded?

The Old Town Square was used as a market place from the tenth century. Many of its main buildings were built in the 12th and 13th centuries, such as the Old Town Hall and the Church of Our Lady before Tyn. The astronomical clock was installed in 1410 and is the oldest astronomical clock still running.

15. When was Czech Republic founded?

The modern Czech Republic was founded on 1 January 1993 when Czechoslovakia was dissolved into two separate countries: Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The Czech state was formed in the 9th century, and was part of various empires throughout its history (such as the Great Moravian Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Czechoslovakia was formed in 1918 when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

16. When was Czech Republic dissolved?

The Czech Republic is a modern country, it has not been dissolved!

17. When was Charles Bridge constructed? When was Charles Bridge first opened?

King Charles IV commissioned the bridge in 1357 and it was opened in 1402. It’s the oldest bridge in the city and replaced a bridge that was damaged by a flood.

Charles Bridge in a href=Charles Bridge is often full of tourists, but it’s a good place to buy souvenirs.

18. Is Prague in Czech Republic?

Yes, Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic.

19. Is Prague in eastern Europe?

That’s a good question! Some sources say Prague is in eastern Europe, but others disagree. Czechs consider themselves central Europeans, not eastern Europeans, so it’s better to say that Prague is in central Europe.

20. Is Prague water safe to drink?

We have always drunk the water in Prague and have never had any problems. You can drink the water from most taps unless there is a “do not drink” label, such as on trains. Water from fountains is usually not drinkable, so fill your water bottle from a tap.

Boat on Vltava River a href=Don’t drink the water from the river, either!

21. Is Prague expensive to visit?

Prague is a very economical place to visit, much cheaper than neighbouring countries like Austria or Germany.

22. Which Prague guidebook should I buy?

That depends on your travel style. We found that the Lonely Planet Europe on a shoestring has enough information on the city to make the most of a short trip, though it lacks historical background. The Rough Guide worked well for that. Since Prague is such a visually rich city, Eyewitness‘s visual slant is perfect.

23. Is Czech Republic the same as Czechoslovakia?

Nope. Czechoslovakia is a country that existed from 1918 until 1993, when it peacefully dissolved into the two countries of Czech Republic and Slovakia. Don’t call the Czech Republic Czechoslovakia, you’ll sound horribly out of date and will probably offend someone.

24. Is Czech Republic part of Russia?

No, and it never formed part of the USSR either.

25. Is Czech Republic communist?

No. Czechoslovakia was a communist state from 1948-1960 and a socialist republic from 1960-1989. The modern Czech Republic is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic: it has democratic elections.

26. Do I need travel insurance for Prague?

It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance. You might already be covered if you have other insurance policies, so check with your insurance provider before you travel. We use World Nomads because they are great for independent travellers.

Do you have any questions about Prague? Ask in the comments below.

Some of the links in this post are affiliates.

Charming cobbled streets and colourful buildings, Christmas markets, an excellent food scene: what isn’t there to love about Prague? The capital of the Czech Republic is one of Europe‘s most popular destinations; if you’re considering a trip to Prague, you might need to know the answers to some of these questions.

1. Where to stay in Prague?

Prague has a full range of accommodation options, from camping by the river to five-star luxury. Stay in the centre (Prague 1) for proximity to the main attractions, or go a little further out if you’d like to be away from the hordes of tourists. Prague is very walkable and has a good public transport system, so you’ll always be able to get into the centre. Check out Hostelbookers for hostels or Booking.com for hotels, or consider an apartment rental if you’re a group.

2. What to see in Prague/Prague attractions?

The top three things to see in Prague are the astronomical clock, the castle, and Charles Bridge. Listen to our Prague podcast for more tips!

3. Is Prague safe?

Yes, Prague is a very safe city. As in most major cities, pickpocketing can be an issue, so take normal precautions with your belongings, especially at the train station and on public transport.

4. What to buy in Prague?

First and foremost: beer. Try a variety of different ones and take a couple of bottles home as souvenirs. If you’d prefer something personal, head to Charles bridge and buy a CD from a busker or have your portrait sketched by one of the artists. Avoid the tacky souvenir shops at all costs, but if you do want something to take home, a handmade wooden toy is a good option.

5. What’s the weather in Prague Czech Republic?

Pin me!Pin me!Prague has a continental climate with warm summers and often snowy winters. You’re looking at temperatures of around 0°C in winter and early 20’s during summer. Although summer is warm, it can be wet — take a rain jacket.

6. Is Prague worth visiting?

Absolutely! It’s a beautiful city with centuries of history. The public transport is good and there’s an excellent range of high-quality food. It’s a very popular tourist destination, but even if you don’t like crowds there’s plenty to do away from the most popular sites.

7. Is Prague on the euro?

No, the Czech Republic uses the Czech koruna (CZK/Kč), also called the “crown”. One euro is worth about 27Kč.

There was a plan to adopt the euro but the plan was suspended in 2005, and now most Czech people would prefer to stick with the koruna.

8. Is Czech Republic part of the European Union? Is Czech Republic part of Schengen?

Yes, the Czech Republic has been part of the European Union since 2004. It is also part of the Schengen Area border-free zone.

9. Which Prague district should I live in?

Consider Karlin, in Prague 8. It’s close to the centre but not full of tourists, and there are a lot of great restaurants.

Map of a href=Prague is easy to get around.

10. Which Prague castle inspired Walt Disney?

Sources disagree! Prague Castle itself was probably one of the inspirations, and the Tyn Church in the Old Town Square was another of the inspirations for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle.

11. Where is Prague Zoo?

Prague Zoo is located in Prague 7, beside the Vlatava River and to the north of the Old Town. To get there, catch bus number 112 from Nádraží Holešovice metro station on line C.

12. Where is Old Town Square?

The Old Town Square is located in Prague 1, between Wenceslas Square and the Charles Bridge.

Prague's Astronomical clock in Czech RepublicThe Astronomical Clock is located in the Old Town Square.

13. Where is Charles Bridge located?

Charles Bridge crosses the Vltava River between the Old Town and the Lesser Towns of Prague, in Prague 1. You can cross it to get from the Old Town to the castle.

14. When was Old Town Square founded?

The Old Town Square was used as a market place from the tenth century. Many of its main buildings were built in the 12th and 13th centuries, such as the Old Town Hall and the Church of Our Lady before Tyn. The astronomical clock was installed in 1410 and is the oldest astronomical clock still running.

15. When was Czech Republic founded?

The modern Czech Republic was founded on 1 January 1993 when Czechoslovakia was dissolved into two separate countries: Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The Czech state was formed in the 9th century, and was part of various empires throughout its history (such as the Great Moravian Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Czechoslovakia was formed in 1918 when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

16. When was Czech Republic dissolved?

The Czech Republic is a modern country, it has not been dissolved!

17. When was Charles Bridge constructed? When was Charles Bridge first opened?

King Charles IV commissioned the bridge in 1357 and it was opened in 1402. It’s the oldest bridge in the city and replaced a bridge that was damaged by a flood.

Charles Bridge in a href=Charles Bridge is often full of tourists, but it’s a good place to buy souvenirs.

18. Is Prague in Czech Republic?

Yes, Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic.

19. Is Prague in eastern Europe?

That’s a good question! Some sources say Prague is in eastern Europe, but others disagree. Czechs consider themselves central Europeans, not eastern Europeans, so it’s better to say that Prague is in central Europe.

20. Is Prague water safe to drink?

We have always drunk the water in Prague and have never had any problems. You can drink the water from most taps unless there is a “do not drink” label, such as on trains. Water from fountains is usually not drinkable, so fill your water bottle from a tap.

Boat on Vltava River a href=Don’t drink the water from the river, either!

21. Is Prague expensive to visit?

Prague is a very economical place to visit, much cheaper than neighbouring countries like Austria or Germany.

22. Which Prague guidebook should I buy?

That depends on your travel style. We found that the Lonely Planet Europe on a shoestring has enough information on the city to make the most of a short trip, though it lacks historical background. The Rough Guide worked well for that. Since Prague is such a visually rich city, Eyewitness‘s visual slant is perfect.

23. Is Czech Republic the same as Czechoslovakia?

Nope. Czechoslovakia is a country that existed from 1918 until 1993, when it peacefully dissolved into the two countries of Czech Republic and Slovakia. Don’t call the Czech Republic Czechoslovakia, you’ll sound horribly out of date and will probably offend someone.

24. Is Czech Republic part of Russia?

No, and it never formed part of the USSR either.

25. Is Czech Republic communist?

No. Czechoslovakia was a communist state from 1948-1960 and a socialist republic from 1960-1989. The modern Czech Republic is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic: it has democratic elections.

26. Do I need travel insurance for Prague?

It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance. You might already be covered if you have other insurance policies, so check with your insurance provider before you travel. We use World Nomads because they are great for independent travellers.

Do you have any questions about Prague? Ask in the comments below.

Some of the links in this post are affiliates.

Prague holds a special place in our heart, ever since we spent Christmas 2006 there with a group of friends. It snowed, we had a snowball fight and I made my first snowman, and we drank snow-cooled champagne from plastic cups in our hostel room. It was one of the first European cities we had ever visited, and we had an amazing time.

We’ve been back several times since then, to visit friends or just sightsee, and we’ll certainly return again. There’s something about the stately buildings, the looming castle, the old town square, that resonates with us… and that’s not even mentioning the food!

On our most recent visit to Prague, the weather was against us: it was either swelteringly hot or pouring with rain. Somehow, though, the city still managed to charm.

While you check out the Prague Instagram photos, take a listen to our Prague podcast: hit play below or find episode 306 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Prague Castle

We're in Prague! This is the cathedral, which is located in the castle complex. It's free to enter the first section but if you want to look around and admire the stained glass windows (including one by Craig's favourite artist, Mucha) you have to buy a ticket for 250kc (around €10).

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Aug 13, 2015 at 6:22am PDT

Inside St Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Aug 15, 2015 at 1:01pm PDT

A rear view of St Vitus cathedral in Prague.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Aug 16, 2015 at 1:38am PDT

This is my favorite of the stained glass windows in St Vitus Cathedral in Prague — by Alphonse Mucha.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Aug 14, 2015 at 9:50am PDT

Old town square

We didn't have the best weather when we were in Prague: either swelteringly hot or raining. At least the clouds looked cool.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Aug 30, 2015 at 2:49pm PDT

I love the colours of Prague.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Aug 27, 2015 at 12:56am PDT

Charles Bridge

Tourists are part of the landscape here in Prague. This is the tower on one end of Charles Bridge. We visited on our Charles IV tour of the city with Context Travel.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Aug 15, 2015 at 12:25am PDT

Charles bridge in Prague is famous for its statues, but this is the original and best: St. John of Nepomouk. He's always got stars around his head in statues, keep an eye out for them.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:53pm PDT

Architecture

More colours of Prague. This is from the Municipal House, one of the prettiest buildings in the city.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Aug 31, 2015 at 1:34am PDT

This is apparently the only cubist lamppost in the world — you'll find it in Prague if you're interested!

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Aug 22, 2015 at 1:07pm PDT

A moment in Prague.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Sep 2, 2015 at 12:34pm PDT

Prague's expo centre is pretty stunning. Pity we weren't in the city for the wine and food fair!

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Aug 21, 2015 at 1:00am PDT

On the water

Continuing the water theme, while in Prague we took a ferry over a stretch of the river where there are no bridges, it was fun!

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Aug 26, 2015 at 12:39am PDT

Come join us on Instagram by searching for indietravel — we’re having heaps of fun!

Transit issues aside, the end of the year is a great time to get away from home: many people have time off work and you have the chance to experience different holiday celebrations in exotic destinations. However, being away from family and friends can be the trade-off for year-end travel.

Christmas podcast pinPin me on Pinterest!Although our parents would love us to come back to New Zealand for Christmas every year, we don’t always make it. On average, we’re there one year in two, which is pretty good considering how far away New Zealand is from the rest of the world!

For us, Christmas is a family celebration and New Year’s is for friends, and we always feel a little sad not to be celebrating with the people we love the most. However, over the years we’ve developed a few tricks for celebrating the holidays away from home.

To listen to the Christmas podcast, hit play below or find episode 313 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Escape completely

Perhaps you despise Christmas and all it stands for. In this case, now’s the time to travel somewhere where Christmas is not celebrated, or at least, not much. Last year, we spent Christmas Day in the Moroccan desert, and there was not a Christmas tree in sight or a carol to be heard. It was refreshing after the months of Christmas lead-up that we’ve experienced in many countries.

If you want to escape completely, let your friends and family know you won’t be contactable for a few days and turn off your phone. You can deal with any Christmas messages when it’s all over.

We spent Christmas Day on camelback.We might look like the Three Wise Men, but it didn’t feel too Christmassy at the time.

2. Find local celebrations

If you are quite happy to celebrate but just happen to be away from home, find local celebrations to take part in. A few years ago, we were in Jerez, Spain, over the holidays, and jumped feet-first into the many, many events that take place there every year. Parades, zambomba concerts, nativity scene exhibitions — there was a lot going on, and it was awesome. When we celebrated Christmas in Germany and the Czech Republic we made sure to visit the Christmas markets, and in Perth we went to outdoor evening carol singing events.

Christmas parade in Jerez, SpainJerez was great for Christmas events.

3. Create traditions you can take with you

Many families have traditions that they follow during the holidays; why not create some of your own? You can invent them yourself or steal them from places you’ve visited. We’ve appropriated the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and I often make Christmas cookies or date balls if I have access to a kitchen the week before Christmas. You could consider the Spanish tradition of wearing new red underwear on New Year’s, or make your own paper Christmas tree to decorate your hostel or hotel room.

Sometime during the last week of every year, Craig and I talk about what we’ve done during the year: where we’ve travelled, what we’ve acheived, the highlights and the lowlights of the past twelve months. This is one of my favourite traditions, and can be done alone, with a partner, or with whoever you happen to be with — if they’re willing!

Grapes for New Year Jerez SpainEating 12 grapes is an important part of our New Year!

4. Make friends

If you’re travelling solo or as a couple, it’s a good idea to spend time with friends over the holiday period. This could mean planning your travels around where your friends are, or just making friends on location. Sharing a bottle of wine with a Brazilian couple made our Moroccan Christmas more special, and we had a fantastic Christmas, New Year’s, and Three Kings with people we met through Couchsurfing in Jerez.

Three Kings celebration Jerez SpainSpending time with friends (old or new) can make a big difference to your holiday experience.

Making friends on location isn’t as hard as it sounds: if you’re on a tour or in a hostel, just talk to people and you’re sure to find someone you’d like to spend time with. Otherwise, try Couchsurfing or a language exchange to find like-minded people in your destination. If you’re single, Tinder is an option too!

You could also convince people to come to you or go where your friends are. We spent our first Christmas away from home with our best friends Janine and Ange, who flew to Europe from New Zealand to celebrate with us in Prague, and we saw in the New Year with my Dad in Germany the year after that. We’ve travelled to be with people too: we celebrated our Perth Christmas with my aunt and uncle and an Adelaide one with my sister and her friends. And this year, we’re in San Miguel de Allende mostly because our friends Pete and Dalene were going to be here — we’re looking forward to a Christmas Day of games and tacos.

Christmas nativity scene Jerez SpainEnjoy the local traditions (like nativity scenes), wherever you are.

5. Be in touch

If you can’t be with them, you can at least contact them! You might want to send presents or Christmas cards from wherever you are, or record a video to send like our friend Sherry does every year. We always call our family some time on Christmas Day and as many people as possible at midnight on New Year’s — since New Zealand is the first country to see in the New Year, it’s usually sometime in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve for us.

The holidays can be a difficult time to be away from friends and family, but it’s certainly possible to improve your experience of travelling at Christmas and New Year’s. To listen, hit play above or check in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

I’m often surprised when I look back over photos from the last twelve months to see how much I’ve done… and this year is no different. 2015 has been an amazing year, full of good times, not-so-good times, and time with friends and family.

January

We saw the new year in in our temporary home of Alcalá de Henares, where I was doing a master’s degree. We’d been based there since September 2015 and stayed until the end of June, so it was a pretty long stretch for us. Luckily, we loved it — and who wouldn’t? Not only is it Unesco world heritage listed, it’s full of lovely people and delicious tapas.

Plaza de Cervantes in Alcala de HenaresWe spent a lot of time in the Plaza de Cervantes.

February

We’re always happy to have an excuse to visit our old home of A Coruña, so we took advantage of a long weekend to fly up to visit our friends Oliva and Guille at Carnival time. They (and another friend, Alba) had created some spectacular costumes for us to wear, and we enjoyed watching the parades and looking like idiots while eating tapas.

March

I had to knuckle down to work and study, but Craig headed off to Berlin to attend a conference and hang out with awesome people. I wasn’t too jealous — after all, it was at least ten degrees warmer where I was.

visit the Brandenburg gateI got to go to Berlin later in the year, so I wasn’t too jealous…

April

April was a month of family visits. First, my brother Simon and his fiancée Katie hopped over from London to spend Easter with us, and then Craig’s parents visited for a week in the middle of the month. We made sure to explore Alcalá and Madrid with them, and headed over to Valencia for the weekend.

Family time at the Puerta de AlcaláKatie, Simon, Linda and Craig at the Puerta de Alcalá.

May

The big event of the month was a trip up to Lloret de Mar in Catalunya to attend the TBEX travel bloggers’ conference. It’s always great to catch up with our travel blogger friends, some of whom we’ve known for almost ten years — as long as Indie Travel Podcast has been running.

After TBEX, Craig headed up to the Baltics with JayWay Travel and I returned to Alcalá with my friend and workmate Alisa. While Craig explored Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, I finished my thesis and went on school camp with a hundred preteens.

The summer palace at Kadriorg, TallinnHowever, I was jealous of missing the trip to the Baltics.

June

Our last month in Alcalá was spent in good company. My sister came over for a visit with her son Henry, and our friend Janine joined us part way through the month. We all hopped in a car together for a quick trip around Portugal with a stop in Segovia along the way, and Janine and Craig finished the journey with a week-long surf school in Peniche.

After my graduation, Janine, Craig and I headed north to take part in the Haro Wine festival — yep, we threw wine at each other for a beautiful, sticky morning.

At the wine fight in Haro SpainWe got a little damp.

July

Janine had never walked a Camino de Santiago, and we are always keen to do another, so we hiked 300km from Oviedo to Santiago over two weeks or so. We started as a group of three and finished as seven, and for some reason we called ourselves the Smurfs.

Female bloggers also walk the Camino PrimitivoOne of the many views on the Camino Primitivo.

After a quick stop in Coruña (to show it off to Janine) we hopped in Alba’s car to head to Toledo for Oliva and Guille’s wedding. It was a beautiful day in a gorgeous location and we felt privileged to be invited to take part in it.

We had a few days in Madrid, during which we caught up with a few friends and ate tacos, then flew to Berlin for something completely different.

August

We were housesitting in the outskirts of the city and thought we’d just get down to work — but it didn’t work out like that. Instead, we spent heaps of time with our friends Claudia and Holger; Frankie and Jesus; Adam; Javier; and Natalie and Stephanie from Context Travel. We did find time to walk the dog twice a day, though!

We even spent time at the beach while in Berlin!We even spent time at the beach while in Berlin!

From there, we caught a bus down to Prague, where we stayed with the excellent Charles of JayWay Travel. Our friends Graham and Jon were over from New Zealand, and Janine and our Camino friend Clothilde joined us for a wonderful couple of days together.

Too soon, it was time to go — we flew to England for another housesit.

September

We’d never heard of Oundle before we accepted the housesit, and it wasn’t anything like what we expected. There was so much to do — pub visits with the neighbours, walking tours, a visit to the theatre. I even went to a blogging festival near London (where I almost froze, but at least in good company). We were sad to leave, but not too sad — we were going to Moldova!

Oundle war memorial in Oundle UKOundle was beautiful and surprising.

October

We’d wanted to attend the Moldovan wine festival for at least eight years, so you can imagine our disappointment when it was called off when we finally had tickets to the country. No worries, though: alternative activities were put on, and we enjoyed them in the company of a group of Moldovan and Romanian bloggers.

The Moldovan flag flies over the Et Cetera vineyard.The Moldovan flag flies over the Et Cetera vineyard.

Our trip to Ukraine was postponed as a result of my incompetence, but we got there eventually. We loved spending time with local people in Odessa and having a Performance Foundry mini-conference on a boat in Kiev.

Kiev was gorgeous -- Santa Sophia Cathedral blew us away.St. Sophia Cathedral is one of the most spectacular buildings we’ve ever seen — and we’ve seen a few.

November

The weather really started to cool off at the beginning of November, and heading back to England probably didn’t help matters. However, we had a stunning day for watching New Zealand win the Rugby World Cup final, and only shivered a little while travelling across London for the World Travel Market conference.

Watching the big game at the rugby fanzone in Richmond.Go All Blacks!

Most of the month, though, was spent in Mexico with Janine and our other best friend, Ange. We hung out in Cancun for a week before starting our epic road trip around the Yucatan Peninsula, during which we ate a lot of tacos and only had to pay three bribes.

December

Cuba was our next destination, where we were joined by another friend, Luis. We loved staying in casas particulares (local homes) and trying rum and cigars in various spots around the country.

Classic car in a href=Cuba is full of awesome classic cars.

Pin me on Pinterest!Pin me on Pinterest!It was sad to say goodbye to Ange, Janine, and Luis, but they had other plans and we were heading back to Mexico to hang out with other friends. Pete and Dalene had told us they would be spending Christmas in San Miguel de Allende, so we decided to crash the party and head there too, with a one-week stop in Querétaro along the way.

An indie travel 2016

2015 has been an epic year, especially since we thought we’d be travelling slowly. Next year though, we really should be slowing down: we’ve got a housesit lined up in Panama, and we’re heading to Colombia for three months after that. We hope to explore a bit more of this part of the world before heading south again to hang out with family and friends in Australia and New Zealand towards the end of the year.

What are your plans for 2016? What was your highlight of the last year? Leave a comment below.

Boston Fourth of July

When Donald Trump announced he was running for president, we joked that he’d be done within a few months. Comedians had a field day. He couldn’t gain any serious support, could he?

Until he started leading all the polls…and winning primaries.

Holy shit. This could actually happen.

“If Trump gets elected, I’m leaving the country!”

I know. Everyone says it. But there’s no way to actually do that, is there?

OF COURSE THERE IS! You could leave the country in SO many different ways — ways that are 100% legal and ethical.

Kate on the Sydney Bridgeclimb

1) Get a working holiday visa in Australia or New Zealand.

If you’re 30 or under, you qualify to spend a year living and working in Australia or New Zealand! These are the only traditional working visas currently available to Americans.

In both countries, you can apply for the visa if you’re as old as 30; you can enter the country within one year of receiving your visa, which means you could start your year at age 31. Australia also offers the option of taking a second year if you spend three months working in “regional Australia” (rural areas and outside the most popular tourist destinations). Edit: I’ve since learned the second year is not available to Americans, sadly. Brits and Canadians can take advantage of this option, however.

You could spend your year bartending in Cairns or Queenstown, working on a winery in the Barossa Valley or Marlborough, working at a corporate job in Melbourne or Wellington, or taking on a hospitality job just about anywhere. And those are just a few of the possibilities.

For more, check out the Australia working holiday visa site and the New Zealand working holiday site.

Hongdae

2) Get a job teaching English abroad.

Teaching English abroad is one of the easiest ways U.S. citizens can get a job working abroad. Most countries only require a university degree in any field; others also require a TEFL certificate.

The most opportunity for Americans is in Asia. South Korea tends to offer the best packages: a competitive salary plus free housing and free flights to and from your home country. Many teachers in South Korea are able to comfortably save more than $10,000 per year and pay down debt or go traveling afterward.

Japan, China, and Taiwan also have great environments for teaching English with decent benefits. Entry-level teaching jobs in Southeast Asia and Latin America tend to pay only enough to get by.

While many Americans dream of teaching English in Europe, it’s extremely difficult to work in the EU without EU citizenship and the jobs are thus few. Eastern Europe and Turkey are a better bet.

Options in the Middle East tend to pay the most but have the most stringent requirements, often a teaching certification and experience in your home country and/or an advanced degree.

This is just the most basic of overviews — head to ESL Cafe to learn anything and everything about teaching English abroad.

El Tunco, El Salvador

3) Join the U.S. Foreign Service.

Dreamed of working as a diplomat around the world? The U.S. Foreign Service is your way in. If you’re able to pass the notoriously difficult Foreign Service Exam, you’ll be eligible to work two-year contracts in countries around the world.

The goal of the U.S. Foreign Service is “to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad.” Basically, you represent the United States while abroad.

There are several different tracks: Administration, Construction Engineering, Facility Management, Information Technology, International Information and English Language Programs, Medical and Health, Office Management, and Law Enforcement and Security.

You don’t get to choose your destination — you could be headed to any of 270 embassies around the world — but if you work in a hardship destination, you’ll often get preferential treatment regarding your next assignment. Like two of my lovely readers whom I met in Mexico last year — after working as diplomats in Pakistan, they got stationed in Cuba next.

Check out all the details on the U.S. Foreign Service’s website.

Bitola

4) Join the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps is perhaps the most famous volunteer program in America, starting in 1961 under President Kennedy. Volunteers are sent around the world in primarily two-year contracts working in the fields of Education, Health, Community Development, Environment, Youth in Development, Agriculture, and Peace Corps Response.

You don’t get to choose where you go — you’re sent where your skills are needed the most. That means if you speak Spanish, there’s a good chance you’ll be sent to Latin America; if you speak French, there’s a good chance you’ll be sent to Africa.

Most people I’ve known to serve in the Peace Corps describe it as life-changing. It’s a fantastic way to serve your country and make lasting contributions toward building a better planet.

For more, visit the PeaceCorps.gov.

Koolbaai

5) Find a job abroad.

I know it sounds daunting to find a job abroad when you don’t know anything about it, but Americans do it successfully every day!

The U.S. State Department has put together a comprehensive list of resources for finding work abroad, no matter what field you’re in.

Ljubljana

6) Study abroad or get another degree.

Are you still in college? Studying abroad will be one of the most valuable (and fun!) things you do in your college career. Here are the lessons I learned from my semester in Florence in 2004.

Already have a degree? This could be a great opportunity to get your master’s abroad! Several countries offer you the option of getting your master’s in just one year, unlike the standard two years in the United States.

You probably know that several countries offer free university education to their citizens. Well, several countries offer free university education to international students as well, including Americans! Don’t speak the local language? They offer degrees given in English as well.

It was big news when Germany began offering free education to international students in 2014. Other countries include Brazil, Finland, France, Norway, Slovenia, and Sweden.

Many of these countries also offer stipends, making getting your degree infinitely more affordable than in the U.S.

London Millennium Bridge

7) If your job has an international office, see if you can transfer.

This isn’t an option if you work for a small, independent, local business. But it could work if you work for a larger company.

I used to work for a company with offices in Boston and London, and plenty of people migrated across the Atlantic in each direction. The company took care of the sponsorship and all the red tape.

Another option: if your company has an international parent company, see if you can find a job abroad in one of your parent company’s other companies.

Playa Samara

8) See if you can start working remotely.

If your job is mostly doable online, you may have the ability to start working remotely and set up shop anywhere in the world.

Note that this is something best done little by little. Start by doing exceptionally outstanding work for awhile, then ask your boss if you can work remotely one day per week. Make that your most productive day of the week. If it goes well and your company is pleased, keep negotiating for more time working remotely.

If you’re able to transition to working 100% remotely, keep in mind that you may need to stay within the same time zone or in a destination where you have excellent internet. Still, that’s a small price to pay for working from, say, a beach town in Costa Rica!

Berlin

9) Look into the German Artist Visa.

Entering the EU long-term is a major challenge for most Americans, but one of the easiest ways in (aside from getting a student visa) is to get the German “artist visa.”

“Artist” is a relative term here. In this case, it means freelancer. If you’re able to prove multiple contracts paying you enough to get by, that may be enough for you to secure this visa and live in Germany.

Most people with this visa choose to live in Berlin due to its art scene, expat scene, and relatively low cost of living (albeit one that continues to rise). Increasingly popular alternatives are hip Hamburg and artsy Leipzig.

Check out Travels of Adam’s guide to getting the German artist visa or, alternatively, a student visa.

Paris Marais

10) Become an au pair in Europe.

If you love kids, don’t mind living with a family, and want to live like a local, becoming an au pair could be an excellent option for you. Many Americans become au pairs by finding a job and family online, then registering for a student visa to give you a year in the country.

The student visa could be for as little as a few hours of language study each week; some countries, like France, are notoriously lax about whether you actually attend class and many au pairs decide to ditch the classes entirely.

Being an au pair could be the time of your life — or a complete disaster. The best thing is to know exactly what kind of experience you want — how many kids and how old? Living with the family or in your own apartment? Urban, suburban, or rural environment? Would you be expected to cook or not? — and finding a family that fits your needs well.

Ashley Abroad has a great resource for getting started as an au pair.

Christmas at JJ's

11) Save up, quit your job, and backpack the world for awhile.

Yes. You can absolutely do this. Plenty of people around the world travel for months at a time — it’s very common for people from other western countries, but far less popular for Americans.

If you want your money to go the furthest, stick to a cheaper region. Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Central America, and Eastern Europe are all great options. You can live in parts of these regions on less than $1000 per month if you want to (but that amount doesn’t include start-up expenses like flights, gear and insurance).

Here’s how I saved $13,000 in just seven months. That was almost enough to sustain me for six months in Southeast Asia from 2010-2011, but keep in mind prices have increased a bit since then.

Santa Cruz Atitlan Guatemala

12) Move somewhere cheap for awhile.

Not in the mood to be traveling all the time? You could just move somewhere. Many countries have visa policies that allow you to live long-term by leaving the country every few months and coming right back. (Be sure to check on your country’s latest visa regulations, as they can change at any time.)

I still think that Chiang Mai, Thailand, offers the maximum value for a great price. As a solo adult, you can comfortably get by in Chiang Mai for less than $800 per month, or even less if you’re part of a couple, and there are plenty of amenities for the many expats who live and work there.

Other popular options for expats? Oaxaca, Mexico. Ubud, Bali. Bangkok, Thailand. Medellin, Colombia. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala (particularly Panajachel and San Pedro). If you have the ability to live in the EU, consider Berlin, Germany; Lisbon, Portugal; Budapest, Hungary; Prague, Czech Republic; or any town you can imagine in Spain: Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, Barcelona.

Ragusa, Sicily

13) Get a second citizenship based on your ancestry.

Several European countries offer the option of getting a passport based on your ancestry. I’ve known Americans who have gained Irish, British, Italian, and German citizenship due to their parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents being born in those countries.

The best part? Gaining EU citizenship means you can move around freely within the EU, not just the country where you hold the ancestry! I have an American friend with new German citizenship who’s thinking about moving to London. That’s totally fine on a German passport.

Do research this first — every country is different and has its own conditions. Some don’t offer ancestry-based citizenship at all. (While my great-grandfather immigrated from Italy, I don’t qualify for Italian citizenship because he naturalized before my grandmother was born.) Here’s a guide to obtaining citizenship in European countries.

Israel also offers citizenship based on the Law of Return. You must either be Jewish by birth (meaning your mother or grandmother is Jewish) or a convert to Judaism.

Keep in mind that this could potentially take years, depending on the country. It took three years for my friend Mike to get his Italian citizenship. (Then again, as someone who lived in Italy and visits often, they are not the most organized of nations when it comes to this kind of stuff. Or anything else, frankly.)

Skellig Michael

14) Fall in love with someone from a different country, get married, and move to their country.

I know a lot of people, particularly women, dream of this — meeting a handsome fisherman on a Greek island, or a brawny Australian at a beach bar in Thailand, and falling in love and it being destiny and your friends being so jealous.

Well…as someone who has lived in another country for two different boyfriends, let me tell you that the reality can often be quite difficult, even if you have a good relationship. Living in a different country is like fighting through hundreds of cultural differences every day, and there can be a chasm in your relationship if you’re struggling while your partner is surrounded by everything he knows and loves. It’s much harder if you don’t speak the local language or you’re living in a small town.

Whatever you do, make sure you have a strong support system on the ground. Make sure you have interests, activities, and a social circle outside your partner. Most importantly, make sure your partner understands how challenging it is for you to be there, even if you’re happy most of the time. Make sure he makes an effort to travel to America, too.

You’re the one who is sacrificing here. Even if you were excited to move there. Even if he supports you financially. Even if you work online and have the freedom to live anywhere.

quebec-ice-slide-gallery

15) Just move to Canada!

Everyone says they’re moving to Canada if a candidate they hate is elected. Well, this guy actually moved to Canada when George W. Bush was elected. That link gives you an overview of ways for Americans to move to Canada today.

Pink House New Orleans

But in all seriousness…

I know this is a tongue-in-cheek list, but I seriously hope you’re not voting for Donald Trump. (I know I’m preaching to the choir here. The kind of person interested enough in other countries to read a travel blog is not the kind of person who would support a xenophobic presidential candidate.) Please do everything you can to keep him from being elected.

But there’s something else I want to say.

In the past six years, I’ve met many American travel bloggers who have said something along the lines of, “I just don’t like it in America. I don’t want to live where I could be killed in a random shooting or where I could be bankrupted if I’m hospitalized. I don’t like it here anymore, so I’m leaving.”

I get it. I was like that. Parts of me still feel that way. But not anymore.

I recently moved back to the U.S. after more than five years of travel. There were many reasons. One is because I am sick of doing nothing. I want to be here and fight to make my country better. And I’m getting started.

All of us can run away. Believe me — there’s stuff about America that keeps me up at night. Frequent school shootings and a Congress that refuses to pass any kind of reasonable legislation like closing the gun show loophole. Black Americans, including children, being killed by the police for no reason at all. The racism, both overt and subtle, that our president receives on a daily basis. Out-of-control elections and candidates supported by corporations. The possibility of a religious ideologue being appointed to the Supreme Court.

So why do I even bother? Because when you choose to be inactive, you’re giving power to the opposition.

If you choose to travel, or to live abroad, that’s wonderful! But don’t use it as an excuse to check out of America completely. Donate money to causes that will make America better. Donate your time to causes and see if you can help online. Get absentee ballots, familiarize yourself with candidates in every race, and vote in every election. These things really can make a difference.

Would you leave the country if Trump was elected?15 legal, ethical ways to leave the country if Donald Trump gets elected.

Lonely Planet Prague & the Czech Republic (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Prague & the Czech Republic is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Explore Prague Castle, stroll across the Charles Bridge, and sample the best beer in the world, all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Prague & the Czech Republic and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Prague & the Czech Republic Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - architecture, history, Czech lifestyle, film, literature, music, visual arts, theatre, beer. Free, convenient pull-out Prague map (included in print version), plus over 50 maps Covers Prague Castle & Hradcany, Mala Strana, Stare Mesto, Nova Mesto, Ceske BudejoviceCesky KrumlovPlzenBrno and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Prague & Czech Republic, our most comprehensive guide to Prague and the Czech Republic, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for just the highlights of Prague? Check out Pocket Prague, a handy-sized guide focused on the can't-miss sights for a quick trip.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Neil Wilson and Mark Baker.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

Rick Steves Prague & The Czech Republic

Rick Steves

You can count on Rick Steves to tell you what you really need to know when traveling in Prague and the Czech Republic.With this book, you'll create your own unforgettable tour of the "Golden City of a Hundred Spires." Walk across Charles Bridge at twilight, stroll the grounds of Prague Castle, and wander through the city's stunning Old Town Square. Venture beyond Prague with day trips to the medieval villages of Bohemia. Visit local vintners in Moravia, where you can enjoy a wine-cellar serenade. Take a dip in the peat-bog spas of Trebon—a great way to relax after a busy day of sightseeing.Rick's candid, humorous advice guides you to good-value hotels and restaurants in charming neighborhoods and villages. He gives you no-nonsense information on where to go and which sights are worth your time and money. More than just reviews and directions, a Rick Steves guidebook is a tour guide in your pocket.

CZECH REPUBLIC Country Studies: A brief, comprehensive study of Czech Republic

CIA

A brief yet detailed report on the country of Czech Republic with updated information on the map, flag, history, people, economics, political conditions in government, foreign affairs, and U.S. relations.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Czech and Slovak Republics

DK

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photography, and illustrations of any guide.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Czech and Slovak Republics is your in-depth guide to the very best of the Czech and Slovak Republics.

Enjoy all that the Czech and Slovak Republics have to offer with our DK Eyewitness Travel Guide, your resource for exploring this stunning area. Go for a scenic walk or a drive and take in the gorgeous mountain scenery, the stunning cathedrals, and the Gothic, Medieval, and Baroque architecture. Check out the city's best restaurants and cafes, or experience local delicacies and the local beer halls. With tips for everything from hiking and skiing in the High Tatras to finding a hotel to experiencing the area with children, our Eyewitness Travel Guide has everything you need for a wonderful and memorable trip to the Czech and Slovak Republics.

Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Czech and Slovak Republics

Detailed itineraries and "don't miss" destination highlights at a glance. Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights. Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums. Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area. Area maps marked with sights. Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights. Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Czech and Slovak Republics truly shows you the Czech and Slovak Republics as no one else can.

Rick Steves Prague & the Czech Republic

Rick Steves

You can count on Rick Steves to tell you what you really need to know when traveling in Prague and the Czech Republic.With this book, you'll create your own unforgettable tour of the "Golden City of a Hundred Spires." Walk across Charles Bridge at twilight, stroll the grounds of Prague Castle, and wander through the city's stunning Old Town Square. Venture beyond Prague with day trips to the medieval villages of Bohemia. Visit local vintners in Moravia, where you can enjoy a wine-cellar serenade. Take a dip in the peat-bog spas of Trebon—a great way to relax after a busy day of sightseeing.Rick's candid, humorous advice guides you to good-value hotels and restaurants in charming neighborhoods and villages. He gives you no-nonsense information on where to go and which sights are worth your time and money. More than just reviews and directions, a Rick Steves guidebook is a tour guide in your pocket.

Czech Republic (National Geographic Adventure Map)

National Geographic Maps - Adventure

• Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map

National Geographic’s Czech Republic Adventure Map provides global travelers with the perfect combination of detail and perspective in a highly functional travel tool. This expertly crafted map includes the locations of thousands of cities and towns with an index for easily locating them, plus a clearly marked road network complete with distances and designations for motorways, expressways, major roadways, secondary routes, and more. Specialty content to include hundreds of diverse and unique recreational, ecological, cultural, and historical destinations, make this map invaluable to travelers hoping to experience all the attractions the country has to offer. Among these varied points of interest are World Heritage sites, botanical gardens, zoos, museums, winter sports resorts, golf courses, archeological sites, monuments, castles, and churches.

The eastern half of the country from the cities of Hradec Kralove, Havlickuv Brod, and Jihlava to the eastern border with Slovakia and Poland is shown on the front side of the print map. The reverse side details the western half of the country including its capital Prague, and the cities of LiberecKutna Hora, and Jindrichuv Hradec to the western border with Germany. Users will find a variety of helpful travel aids on this map as well, including the location of airports, airfields, railroads, and even some cable car routes.

Every Adventure Map is printed on durable synthetic paper, making them waterproof, tear-resistant and tough — capable of withstanding the rigors of international travel.

Map Scale = 1:380,000Sheet Size = 25.5" x 37.75"Folded Size = 4.25" x 9.25"

Fodor's Prague: with the Best of the Czech Republic (Full-color Travel Guide)

Fodor's Travel Guides

Written by locals, Fodor's travel guides have been offering expert advice for all tastes and budgets for more than 80 years. Offering value, a vibrant nightlife scene, and one of the most beautiful old cities in all of Europe, it's no wonder that Prague is the single most-visited destination in Eastern Europe. The full-color Fodor's Prague guide provides all the recommendations and tips travelers need for exploring this picturesque city. This travel guide includes:· Dozens of full-color maps · Hundreds of hotel and restaurant recommendations, with Fodor's Choice designating our top picks· Multiple itineraries to explore the top attractions and what’s off the beaten path· Major sights such as the Old Town Square, Church of St. Nicholas, and the Jewish Museum· Day Trips from Prague including Kutna Hora, Lidice, and Terezin· Coverage of Prague, Southern Bohemia, Western Bohemia, and Moravia

Lonely Planet Czech Phrasebook & Dictionary

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Anyone can speak another language! It's all about confidence.

This book will give you all the practical phrases you need to explore the countryside, visit Golden Prague, and tour castles and mountains worthy of the Brothers Grimm (in fact, the 2005 movie of that name was filmed here). It also contains all the fun phrases you need to connect with local people and get a better understanding of the country and its culture.

Never get stuck for words with our 3500-word two-way dictionary Order the right meal with our menu decoder Avoid embarrassing situations with essential tips on culture & manners

Coverage includes: Basics, Practical, Social, Safe Travel and Food

Lonely Planet gets you to the heart of a place. Our job is to make amazing travel experiences happen. We visit the places we write about each and every edition. We never take freebies for positive coverage, so you can always rely on us to tell it like it is.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet and Richard Nebesky.

About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, as well as an award-winning website, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet's mission is to enable curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves in.

TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards 2012 and 2013 winner in Favorite Travel Guide category

'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times

'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves; it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)

Exercise normal security precautions

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Violent crime is low, but the number of incidents is rising. Petty crime (pick-pocketing, purse snatching) is common, particularly in Prague. Be vigilant in and around popular tourist attractions, major hotels and the main railway station (Praha Hlavni nadrazi), especially after dark.

Be very cautious when travelling on public transport. Gangs of thieves target subway stations, especially Muzeum, Můstek, Staromĕstská and Malostranská, as well as tram route 22 that runs to and from Prague Castle. Thieves may use jostling and swarming techniques to rob their victims.

Road safety

Rural roads may be uneven, under construction or poorly marked.

Dial 00 420 1230 for information on road conditions.

Public transportation

Use only officially marked taxis, such as Profitaxi, Cititaxi or AAA Radiotaxi (but not taxis marked AAA Taxi that charge excessive prices).

Tickets are required for public transport and these may be purchased at newspaper kiosks, metro stations and most hotel reception desks. Anyone caught riding without a valid ticket is subject to fines.

Czech railways provide clean, efficient train service to almost every part of the country.  Exercise caution on overnight trains from Poland to the Czech Republic as robberies have occurred. Store your valuables in a safe place and do not leave your compartment unattended. Ensure that the door is secured from the inside.

Express buses are often faster and more convenient than trains.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Scams

Individuals posing as plainclothes police officers may ask you to see your foreign currency and passports. Politely decline to cooperate, but offer to go to the nearest police station.

See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.

Spiked food and drinks

Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum, or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

General safety measures

Exercise normal safety precautions. Do not show signs of affluence, and ensure that personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.

Emergency services

Dial 112 for emergency assistance.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Tick-borne encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to tick bites (e.g., those spending time outdoors in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Eastern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Eastern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Eastern Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in Eastern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Good medical care is widely available. However, doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Canada and the Czech Republic are signatories to the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in the Czech Republic to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Czech authorities.

Identification

Carry adequate identification at all times, preferably a photocopy of your passport. 

Driving laws

You must be at least 18 years old to drive in the Czech Republic. An International Driving Permit is required.

The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited, unless they are fitted with a hands-free device.

Headlights must be on at all times.

A road usage permit is required to travel on all major highways. You may purchase this permit for a period of 10 days, one month or one year, at highway gas stations and border crossings. Failure to display this permit may result in fines. All rental vehicles are provided with valid motorway permits.

There is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and penalties are strict. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines or jail sentences.

Money

The currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech koruna (CZK).

Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are accepted.

Always exchange your currency at an exchange office or bank. The use of non-official currency exchange is illegal. Never exchange money with vendors on the street, as the risk of receiving counterfeit bills is high.

When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000, or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the web page of the European Commission on cash controls.

Climate

Heavy rains are frequent in summer sometimes resulting in local flooding. The Czech Republic experienced severe flooding in early June 2013. Exercise caution, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.