Czech Republic travel guide
During the past few decades the Czech Republic has slowly been emerging as a popular tourist destination, favoured particularly by the discerning traveller seeking culture and charm.
However, most visitors still tend to explore no farther than the capital, Prague: fewer than 10 percent of tourists venture into the countryside, which means they are missing out on a treat. Prague, westernised and cosmopolitan, is a beautiful city of spires and a visual feast of medieval, baroque and art nouveau architecture. Prague more than deserves its reputation as an intriguing and cultured city and it has much to offer tourists. But, if they leave the city behind, travellers will find a magnificent undulating landscape of mountains and plains, forests and farmland.
The Czech Republic is divided into two geographic and cultural sections, Bohemia and Moravia. Bohemian spa towns and laid-back Moravian wine villages seem to be in a time warp, welcoming visitors as though they are living museums enshrining a refined and relaxed rural lifestyle. There are more than 100 castles dotted around the countryside, ranging from forbidding fortresses to elegant chateaux, all open to the public.
The Czech countryside is also a major drawcard for hikers, cyclists and cross-country skiers, with hundreds of kilometers of marked trails crisscrossing the landscape.
The official currency is the Czech Crown, locally known as the Koruna (CZK), which is divided into 100 haler. Most credit cards, including American Express, Diners Club, Visa and MasterCard are accepted, but it is best to have cash handy when travelling outside of Prague and the main tourist centres. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some hotels; commission is highest in hotels. Banks are closed on weekends. ATMs (known as 'bankomats') are now common in Prague and are probably the best way to obtain local currency at a good rate. The Czech Republic is still cheap compared to the rest of Europe, though the gap is closing.
Language : Czech is the official language but English and German are also widely spoken.
Electricity : Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs with a hole for a male grounding pin are standard. Most sockets also take the standard European two-pin plugs.
Entry Requirements :
US citizens must have a passport valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in the Czech Republic. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days.
Passports endorsed 'British Citizen' must be valid on arrival; British passports with other endorsements must be valid at least three months beyond the period of intended stay. Passport exemptions apply to holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltar, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes under the authority of the United Kingdom', as well as to holders of emergency passports issued to nationals of the United Kingdom. A visa is not required for passports endorsed British Citizen. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days for holders of passports endorsed British National (overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizen (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and British Subject (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom).
Canadians must have a passport valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in the Czech Republic. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days.
Australian citizens must have a passport valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in the Czech Republic. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 90 days.
South Africans require a passport valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in the Czech Republic. A pre-arranged visa is required.
Irish nationals must have a passport (or emergency passport) valid for the period of intended stay in the Czech Republic. No visa is required.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in the Czech Republic. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days.
Passport/Visa Note :
The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all the aforementioned countries. All visitors must hold an onward or return ticket, or proof of sufficient funds to buy a ticket, and all documents required for onward travel. They must also fill in and sign a border-crossing card, and be able to show proof of the following at the request of the Authority of Aliens Police Service: (i) sufficient means of support for the duration of their stay; (ii) documents confirming financial security (credit cards, bank statements, etc.); (iii) documents confirming accommodation for the period of stay in the Czech Republic, unless another accommodation arrangement is provided; (iv) valid health insurance, with complete coverage. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Travel Health :
There are no vaccination requirements for international travellers, and no major health risks are associated with travel to the Czech Republic. Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A and hepatitis B if travellers have not been previosly vaccinated. Long-term visitors to forested areas should seek medical advice about immunisation against tick borne encephalitis.
A reciprocal health agreement with the UK entitles citizens with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to free emergency health care. However, medical insurance is still advised.
Tipping in restaurants is optional and no service charge is added to bills. Gratuities of about 10 percent are expected for good service. Taxi drivers are tipped by rounding up the fare at the end of the journey.
Safety Information :
The majority of visits to the Czech Republic are trouble-free, although the country has a risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which it shares with the rest of the world. Petty theft is on the increase, especially in Prague, and visitors should be vigilant about their belongings particularly on public transport and around the main tourist sites. Violent crime is rare.
Local Customs :
Drunken behaviour and drinking in public is punishable by law.
Punctuality is vital in the Czech business world and dress should be smart and conservative. Initial greetings are usually formal, with a firm handshake. Titles and surnames are used, unless otherwise indicated. There is generally some small talk to establish rapport at the beginning of meetings; be polite and courteous. German is the most common foreign language used in the Czech Republic but English is widely spoken by younger generations. Translators are available and any attempts at speaking Czech will be appreciated. Deals can take a long time to manifest due to significant bureaucratic red tape and it is important to be patient. Business hours are usually 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday and some businesses close during the month of August.
The international access code for the Czech Republic is +420. There are high surcharges on international calls from hotels; it is cheaper to use the public telephone boxes - phone cards can be bought from newsagents. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with all major international operators, except those in the USA. Internet cafes are available in the main towns.
Duty Free :
Travellers to the Czech Republic over 17 years and entering from the EU do not have to pay customs duty on 800 cigarettes, or 400 cigarillos, or 200 cigars, or 1kg tobacco; 10 litres of spirits with alcohol content over 22%, or 20 litres of alcoholic beverages with alcohol volume less than 22%, or 90 litres of wine or 60 litres of sparkling wine, or 110 litres of beer. Travellers arriving from non-EU countries do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco, or a proportional assortment of these; 1 litre spirits or 2 litres wine; 50g perfume or 250ml eau de toilette; and food, fruits, medications and flowers for personal use. Other goods to the value of €175 per adult and €90 per child under 15 years are allowed.
Prague Václav Havel Airport
Location: The airport is situated 10 miles (16km) northwest of Prague.
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Contacts: Tel: +420 220 111 888.
Transfer between terminals: The terminals are connected.
Getting to the city: Cedaz minibus shuttles leave regularly for the city centre; they can drop passengers off at hotels throughout the city. The Airport Express provides the quickest transport to Prague Main Train Station. Public buses have regular services to all areas of Prague departing from the front of the arrivals hall. Public transportation fares are based on time of travel.
Car rental: All the major car rental companies are represented at the airport, including Avis, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.
Airport Taxis: Taxis are also available outside the Arrivals hall. A taxi to the city centre should take around 30 minutes. Agree on a price with the driver before the journey begins as many licensed taxis are unmetered.
Facilities: There are a number of shops, bars, cafeterias and restaurants in the main terminal. Bureaux de change, ATMs and a bank are also available; the Travelex in the transit section is open 24 hours. Conference and meeting rooms can also be hired, and wifi access is available in both terminals
Parking: The first 15 minutes of parking at Prague Ruzynì International Airport is free. Thereafter parking charges range from CZK 100 for 30 minutes, and CZK 200 for an hour for parking directly in front of the terminal. Short-term parking costs CZK 50 per hour for the first 11 hours and a day rate of CZK 590. Weekly rates are quoted on request.
Departure tax: None.
Leoš Janáček Airport Ostrava
Location: The airport is located 12 miles (20km) southwest from Ostrava city centre.
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Getting to the city: The bus stop is located in front of the airport hall and transports passengers to the city; tickets are available from drivers. There is no train station at the airport, however travellers can take a taxi to the station in Studenka, roughly six miles (10km) away.
Car rental: Car rental companies represented at the airport include Avis, Budget, Hertz and Europcar.
Airport Taxis: Taxis are available at the airport to transport passengers to their required destination.
Facilities: Airport facilities include baggage wrapping, cafes and a bar, shopping (including duty-free shops), a business lounge, meeting rooms, currency exchange, ATMs, a nursing room, and a children's play area.
Parking: There are parking lots for long-term and short-term parking. Short-term parking (P1) costs about CZK 40 per hour up to five hours, with the first 15 minutes free. Long-term parking (P3) costs about CZK 90 per day.
The Czech Republic has a typically European continental climate with cold, snowy winters and warm (sometimes wet) summers. Winters (November to February) can get very chilly; January is the coldest month, with daytime temperatures far below zero and strong, cold winds. Snowfall can be heavy: in the low-lying areas the yearly average of snow days is less than 40; in the mountainous areas it reaches 120. Summer temperatures average between 68°F (20°C) and 77°F (25°C) but often reach as high as 86°F (30°C). There is plenty of sun in summer but there are also frequent thunderstorms. The capital, Prague, experiences temperatures ranging from 25°F (-4°C) during winter, to 73°F (23°C) during summer. The best time to visit is from May to September when days are warm and nights cool. The European summer (June to September) is the tourist high season, but spring and autumn can also be rewarding times to visit, particularly if you prefer to avoid the tourist crowds. Although the winters are cold, the Czech landscapes do look strikingly beautiful when it is snowy. In a way, every season has its advantages from a touristic point of view.
United States Embassy, Prague: +420 257 022 000.
British Embassy, Prague: +420 257 402 111.
Canadian Embassy, Prague: +420 272 101 800.
Australian Consulate, Prague: +420 221 729 260.
South African Embassy, Prague: +420 267 311 114.
Irish Embassy, Prague: +420 257 011 280.
New Zealand Embassy, Berlin, Germany (also responsible for Czech Republic): +49 (0)30 206 210.
Embassy of the Czech Republic, Washington DC, United States: +1
202 274 9100.
Foreign Embassies in Czech_Republic
Embassy of the Czech Republic, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7243 1115.
Embassy of the Czech Republic, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 562 3875.
Embassy of the Czech Republic, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6290 1386.
Embassy of the Czech Republic, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 431 2380.
Embassy of the Czech Republic, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 668 1135.
Honorary Consulate of the Czech Republic, Auckland, New Zealand: +64 (0)9 306 5883.
112 (General); 158 (Police); 155 (Ambulance)
Czech_Republic Emergency Numbers
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