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Czech Republic Travel Guide

Czech Republic
Czech Republic
Czech Republic

“Prague is far more than the sum of its physical parts or its history. It is a city of the mind and the imagination, a city that exists as vividly in poetry and painting and music and legend as it does in brick and stone… Just as the physical city of Prague would be unimaginable without its unique topography, without its palaces, its churches, its parks, its streets, and its hostelries, so the Prague of the mind would be unimaginable without its storytellers and the tales they weave..” 

Paul Wilson (Prague: A Traveler’s Literary Companion)
Czech Republic

Top Six Destinations In the Czech Republic

  • Prague: Known as the “City of a Hundred Spires,” Prague captivates with its stunning medieval architecture, charming Old Town, and vibrant cultural scene, including the iconic Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.
  • Český Krumlov: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Český Krumlov boasts a fairy-tale castle perched above the Vltava River, winding cobblestone streets, and a picturesque medieval town center, making it a must-visit for history and architecture enthusiasts.
  • Karlovy Vary: Famous for its hot springs and elegant 19th-century spa architecture, Karlovy Vary offers relaxation, wellness treatments, and beautiful colonnades surrounded by lush forested hillsides, creating a serene and rejuvenating atmosphere.
  • Kutná Hora: Home to the Gothic masterpiece of St. Barbara’s Church and the eerie Sedlec Ossuary (Bone Church), Kutná Hora showcases a blend of history, art, and macabre curiosity that draws visitors seeking unique cultural experiences.
  • Brno: The vibrant capital of Moravia, Brno boasts a lively cultural scene, stunning architecture such as the Špilberk Castle, and a rich history reflected in its museums and vibrant café culture, making it a hidden gem for travelers seeking authentic Czech experiences.
  • Olomouc: A hidden gem with a rich history and stunning architecture, Olomouc features the UNESCO-listed Holy Trinity Column, impressive Baroque buildings, and a relaxed atmosphere perfect for exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations in the Czech Republic.

Did you know?

Country Stats

  • Capital: Prague
  • Population: Approximately 10.7 million people.
  • Area: 78,866 square kilometers (30,450 square miles)
  • Official Language: Czech
  • Currency: Czech koruna (CZK)
  • Government: Parliamentary republic
  • President: Petr Pavel
  • NATO: Member since 1999
  • Ethnic populations: The majority identify as Czech, constituting approximately 64% of the total. There is also a significant Moravian 5% and a smaller Slovak minority, approximately 1.4%. The remaining approximately 29.6% of the population includes various ethnic groups such as Roma/Gypsies, Silesians, Germans, and others.
  • US State Department Risk Level: One
  • Religions: In the Czech Republic, the majority of the population, approximately 72%, identifies as non-religious or atheist. Roman Catholics constitute around 10% of the population, with smaller numbers belonging to various Protestant denominations, Orthodox Christianity, and other religions such as Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam.
  • Terrorist groups: No known
  • Key imports: machinery and equipment essential for industrial processes, as well as transport equipment like vehicles and aircraft. Mineral fuels and oils, Chemicals such as pharmaceuticals and fertilizers, and metals like iron and steel, plastics, and textiles are also imports. Additionally, food and agricultural products, such as grains, meats, dairy products, and processed foods, are import to meet domestic demand.
  • Key exports: automobiles, machinery, electronics, metals, chemicals, plastics, precision instruments, glassware, and beverages such as beer. Automotive manufacturing, led by Škoda Auto, plays a crucial role in the country’s exports, alongside industrial machinery, electronics, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Notable inventions worldwide. Semtex revolutionized explosives technology in the 1960s. Soft contact lenses. Hedgehog provided effective anti-tank defenses during World War II. František Adler’s 1894 Czech typewriter incorporates a layout similar to the modern QWERTY keyboard.
  • Elbe River: One of the major rivers in Central Europe, the Elbe River has a river basin spanning four countries (Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, and Poland) and is formed in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northern Czech Republic.
  • GDP (Nominal): Approximately $258 billion USD (2022 estimate)
  • GDP per capita: Approximately $24,000 USD (2022 estimate
  • Unemployment Rate: Approximately 3.2% (2022 estimate
  • Literacy rate of 99%
  • Life Expectancy: Approximately 79.5 years

Fun Facts

  •  Czechia boasts around 2,000 castles & chateaux, one of the most per capita worldwide.
  •  The largest castle complex in the world is the magnificent Prague Castle, nearly 70,000 square meters.
  • The Czech national sport is ice hockey. The Czech National Ice Hockey Team is the only national team to have won the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship three consecutive times: in 1999, 2000, and 2001.
  • Mushroom hunting is a very popular pastime of the Czechs. Over 70% of the population picks mushrooms at least once a year.
  • Well-known foreign people born in Czechia include Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis; Franz Kafka, the surrealist author; Ferdinand Porsche, the car manufacturer; Madeleine Albright, the former United States Secretary of State; and Gustav Mahler, the composer.
  • Czechia ranks as one of the least religious countries worldwide. In the last census in 2011, only 21% of Czechs self-identified as believers.
  • Czechia’s political name changed nine times in the 20th century. The country was officially called Lands of the Bohemian Crown (until 1918), Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1938), Czecho-Slovak Republic (1938-1939), Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (1939-1945), Czechoslovak Republic (1945-1960), Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1960-1990), Czechoslovak Federative Republic (1990), Czech and Slovak Federative Republic (1990-1992), Czech Republic (1993 onwards).
  • Pančavský waterfall is the highest in the country at 148 meters.
  • Prague was the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor during Charles IV’s reign and was consistently one of the largest cities in the Holy Roman Empire.
  • The town of Písek has the Czech Republic’s oldest bridge – 900 years old.
  • Jan Janský, a Czech neurologist, was the first to classify human blood into four blood groups, paving the way for modern blood donations and typing.
  • The Czechs drink more beer per capita than anyone else, consuming an average of 43 gallons (160 liters) per person per year. 
  • The Czech Republic ranks as the seventh safest country to live in the world
  • The best beer in the Czech Republic is probably Pilsner Urquell Nefiltrovaný. It is the #1 in the country according to RateBeer.com.
  • Prague is home to the 2nd ugliest building in the world, the Žižkov Television Tower. Built in the 80s, it is 700ft high with an observation deck at 300ft.
  • Vinarna Certovka is Prague’s narrowest street, at 50 cm (20 inches) wide and only 10m long.

Czech Republic Map

Good to know before you go

  • In the Czech Republic, tipping is not obligatory. Typically, it’s customary to round up the bill or leave around 10% of the total as a tip in restaurants, cafes, and bars if you received good service. In more casual settings like pubs, it’s common to round up the bill to the nearest convenient amount simply. Tipping taxi drivers and hotel staff is also appreciated but not strictly expected. Credit cards are used, but some restaurants and cafes in Prague still only allow cash payments. In Prague, we use Apple Pay often.
  • In the Czech Republic, people generally dress in a style that blends casual comfort with a touch of elegance. In urban areas like Prague, you’ll see a range of fashion choices from trendy and modern to classic and sophisticated.
    For everyday wear, both men and women often opt for well-fitted jeans or trousers paired with stylish tops or shirts. Women may also wear dresses or skirts, especially in warmer months. Footwear tends to be practical yet chic, such as sneakers, flats, or ankle boots.
    In more formal settings like business meetings or upscale restaurants, Czechs tend to dress smartly. Men might wear suits or blazers with dress shirts and polished shoes, while women often opt for dresses, skirts, or trousers paired with blouses or smart tops. Overall, Czech fashion reflects a balance of practicality and style, with an emphasis on neatness and appropriateness for the occasion.
  • Driving in the Czech Republic is generally straightforward, but there are a few things to keep in mind: Road Conditions: Major highways and roads are well-maintained, but rural roads can be narrower and less well-lit. Potholes can be a concern in some areas, especially after winter. Traffic Laws: Drivers must have a valid driver’s license, insurance, and vehicle registration. Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers, and children under 150 cm must use appropriate child seats. Speed limits are strictly enforced, with urban areas typically limited to 50 km/h and highways to 130 km/h. Road Signs and Navigation: Road signs follow international standards, with most signs in both Czech and English. GPS navigation is widely available and reliable. Parking: Paid parking zones are standard in city centers. Look for designated parking areas and pay attention to parking signs to avoid fines or towing. Driving Etiquette: Czech drivers generally follow traffic rules. They keep right except to pass on highways and yield to trams and pedestrians in cities. Overtaking on the right is prohibited except in slow-moving traffic. Alcohol Limit: The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.0% for drivers under 21 and 0.2% for all other drivers. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly enforced and can result in severe penalties.
  • The Czech Republic offers a high quality of life across several key areas. Its healthcare system is well-developed, providing accessible and affordable medical care through both public and private options. Education is robust, with strong public schooling and internationally respected higher education institutions like Charles University. The country is known for its safety, boasting low crime rates, and a stable political environment. Modern infrastructure supports efficient transportation and connectivity, while a moderate cost of living makes it appealing for residents and expatriates alike. Culturally, the Czech Republic excels with its rich heritage, offering ample opportunities for leisure activities and exploration of historical landmarks and natural beauty. Overall, the Czech Republic presents a compelling package of amenities, safety, cultural richness, and affordability, contributing to its reputation as a desirable place to live.
  • Public restrooms in the Czech Republic vary in quality depending on the location. In cities like Prague, facilities are generally clean and well-maintained, found in shopping malls, restaurants, and tourist spots, albeit often requiring a small fee for use. However, in rural areas and smaller towns, restroom facilities may be more basic and less frequent. Travelers are advised to plan ahead, primarily when outside major cities, to ensure access to suitable restroom facilities.
  • The Czech Republic has a rich historical and cultural heritage, visible in its medieval towns, castles, and UNESCO World Heritage sites like Prague Castle and Český Krumlov. Respect for historical landmarks and cultural sites is important.
  • While many Czechs speak English, especially in tourist areas, learning a few basic Czech phrases (like greetings and thank you) shows respect for the local culture and can enhance interactions.
  • Czech cuisine is hearty and typically includes dishes like goulash, roast pork with dumplings, and traditional pastries. Beer is a significant part of Czech culture, with the country being famous for its breweries and beer festivals.
  • Czechs appreciate politeness and respect in social interactions. It’s customary to greet with a handshake, use titles and surnames when addressing people formally, and remove shoes when entering someone’s home.
  • The Czech Republic has a strong tradition in classical music, with composers like Dvořák and Smetana being celebrated. Artistic expression, particularly in literature and visual arts, also holds cultural significance.
  • Traditional festivals, such as Easter markets, Christmas markets, and folk festivals (like the UNESCO-listed folklore festival in Strážnice), are integral parts of Czech cultural life and offer insights into local traditions and customs.
  • Greetings in the Czech Republic are characterized by politeness and formality. The most common greetings include “Dobrý den” for a good day and “Dobrý večer” for a good evening, used formally in most situations. Informally, “Ahoj” is used among friends. Handshakes are customary, particularly in formal or business contexts, while informal greetings like cheek kisses are reserved for closer relationships. Addressing individuals with their titles and surnames demonstrates respect, especially in formal settings. Understanding and using these greetings appropriately can facilitate positive interactions and show cultural awareness when visiting the Czech Republic.
  • Czechs generally have a positive attitude towards dogs, considering them as beloved companions and often treating them as members of the family. Dogs are commonly seen in parks, on walks around neighborhoods, and in outdoor seating areas of cafes and restaurants. There is also a strong tradition of responsible dog ownership, including cleaning up after pets in public spaces. However, it’s essential to be mindful of any specific rules or regulations regarding dogs in certain areas or establishments, as these can vary. Overall, dogs are warmly embraced in Czech culture, contributing to the country’s pet-friendly environment.
  • Austrian customs are based on family values and traditions. Family is the foundation of the social system in Austria. At the end of the week, all the family members gather to spend time together and do outdoor activities. Moreover, Sundays are for visiting relatives and family. Austria gives great importance to the family. Eating dinner together in the evening is very much the norm.
  • Table manners in the Czech Republic emphasize politeness and respect for dining etiquette. Upon seating, wait for guidance or take cues from the host. Use utensils correctly—forks in the left hand, knives in the right—and keep pace with the meal. Begin eating only after everyone is served, and engage in light conversation while avoiding sensitive topics. Toasting with “Na zdraví” (To your health) is customary, and use “prosím” (please) and “děkuji” (thank you) when requesting or receiving items. When finished, place utensils together on the plate to signal completion. These practices ensure a harmonious dining experience and demonstrate cultural sensitivity to Czech dining customs.
  • Czech society tends to lean towards liberalism, particularly in social and cultural aspects. This is reflected in attitudes towards issues such as LGBT rights, gender equality, and personal freedoms. The country has a history of secularism and a relatively low level of religious influence compared to some other European nations. However, like many societies, there is diversity in political and social views among Czechs, and opinions can vary widely depending on individual backgrounds, regions, and generations.
  • When visiting someone in their home, it is customary to bring flowers or a small gift, such as chocolate, books, wine, or candy.
  • In general, Czechs tend to value modesty and humility over ostentatious displays of wealth. Showing off wealth or material possessions excessively may not be well-received and could be seen as distasteful or pretentious. Czech society often appreciates practicality, sincerity, and a down-to-earth demeanor. While there is variation among individuals, especially in urban areas influenced by global trends, a more reserved approach to wealth is typically appreciated in Czech culture.
  • It is a safe country with low crime.

Czech Republic Essential Info

U.S. Consular Emergency
The 24-hour number from a U.S. Phone is 1-888-407-4747
Outside of U.S. 011-202-501-4444

U.S. Embassy Prague

Parking 12A
Prague, Czech Republic
Tržiště 15
118 01 Praha 1 – Malá Strana
Czech Republic
Phone: (+420) 257 022 000
Fax: (+420) 257 022 809
Email: ConsulateVienna@state.gov
Website for Czech Republic Embassy

Emergency Numbers
GENERAL 112
Medical 155 Police 158 Fire 150

Country Code
+420

Time Zone
UTC+1

Adaptors for the Czech Republic
“Standard” Euro plug
Type C or F

Driving
Right side

Official online travel guide Prague

Official Czech Republic Tourism Office


When to go to The Czech Republic

The best time to visit the Czech Republic varies by preference and activity. Spring (April to June) offers mild weather and blooming scenery, which is ideal for sightseeing with fewer tourists. Summer (July to August) brings warm temperatures and festivals but also crowds and higher prices. Fall (September to October) features pleasant weather and vibrant autumn colors, perfect for outdoor activities and exploring historical sites. Winter (December to February) attracts winter sports enthusiasts to Czech ski resorts and offers a festive atmosphere in cities like Prague. Choosing the best time depends on whether you prefer cultural events, outdoor adventures, or winter sports, ensuring an enjoyable visit to the Czech Republic throughout the year.

Our Favorite Czech Republic Resources

This resource section contains some Amazon affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Travel Books/Guides

Moon Guide Prague, Vienna & Budapest (Travel Guide) Paperback – March 15, 2022 This is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip and what hidden discoveries await you in Vienna (and two other cities). We love their guides! Let this beautifully illustrated guide be your travel partner. It features great photography and lots of details to aid in planning. Discover this fantastic travel guide here.

Rick Steves Prague & The Czech Republic Full disclosure: we are huge Rick Steve fans; it will be rare not to recommend one of his fantastic guides. We love his travel style and perspective. His off-the-beaten-path approach, together with his independent travel philosophy, matches well with how we travel. The guides never disappoint and are an excellent resource. This great travel companion is full of expert advice and independent reviews on what to see and do, plus detailed itineraries and suggestions for exploring this fascinating country. He offers a pocket guide to Vienna as well. Find this guide here.

Our favorite websites

1. Official Czech Republic Tourism Office

2. U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs Czech Republic Country Info

We cannot encourage you enough to visit this website as you plan and prepare for your trip. The U.S. Federal Government addresses the safety, security, travel risk, entry, exit, visa documents mandates, emergency U.S. and Embassy contacts, health, local laws, exceptional circumstances, threats, traveler vulnerabilities, government warnings, and transportation in Switzerland. This is your best and most reliable resource for all this critical info. Check back often before you go, as things can change quickly. Being prepared is essential in all travel, but especially internationally.

3. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Czech Republic Travelers Health Resource

This CDC travel resource provides essential health info for your specific destination. Using their tool, you can determine which vaccines, medications, and health advice recommendations are needed for Malta.

Our favorite maps

Czech Republic (National Geographic Adventure Map) Easy to read maps with practical road and travel information. These maps are meant for the adventure traveler and are very durable. Detailed highlights and weather info. Significant sites and landmarks are well-marked. Great for planning your route before your trip. Though we default to Google Maps, this came in handy when service was poor or during construction detours. Find this essential map here.

Our favorite apps

Rome2rio: Trip Planner Trip and Holiday Organizer Enter any address, landmark, or city in the app will instantly display all your travel options, and booking info, along with accommodation providers, and things to do. Find it on your local app store.

Duolingo-Language Lesson Audio lessons that help improve your listening and speaking skills. Find it on your local App Store.

Rick Steves Audio Europe This app includes Rick Steve’s audio content library and provides cultural and travel information, including self-guided tours of top attractions and historic walks. It is a must-have. Find it on your local App Store.

Google Translate: We use this often to practice proper pronunciations of the three languages you will encounter in Switzerland. Most Swiss speak excellent English as it is their official language. In encounters with older residents, though, their English was rough. As we always encourage, it is essential to learn the basics of greeting and thanking people in the local language. Google Translate was an easy app to use. If needed, you can enter text in English, and it will speak back in the language you need to aid in communicating with locals.

Do you have a favorite Czech Republic travel resource? Share your favorites in the comments section at the bottom of this page or

© 2024 Wanderers Compass All Rights Reserved

Travel Insurance

Squaremouth.com
Our favorite travel insurance site!

We could not be stronger advocates of being well-insured—not just for the little stuff but for the big things like medical emergencies. We never leave home without it. Our go-to place is Squaremouth.com. It does a fantastic job with its user-friendly interface and uses top-rated and reputable insurance carriers. They also mediate on your behalf if you have problems.

To empower you as a consumer, we suggest you read our blog post on the importance of travel insurance and how to get the best coverage from top-rated companies for an affordable price.

MedjetAssist
Medical transport back home from anywhere in the world

They are the premier global air medical transport. One caveat to travel insurance is that medical evacuation usually gets you to the closest facility to care for you. Medjet gets you back to the U.S. to the hospital of your choice once you are stable enough to fly. A Medjet membership is only for medical transport. Medjet Horizon offers expanded coverage. They have individual trip policies starting at $99 and annual policies for around $300. Most of their policies limit the age to 74.

To learn more about how Medical Evacuation membership with Medjet Assist works, check out our blog post for a more detailed review.  

Accommodations & Experiences

Expedia.com and VRBO
Hotels, home rentals, BNBs, flights, and other transportation & tours 

Expedia is a US-based company whose mission is to power global travel for everyone and everywhere. Wanderers Compass focuses on independent travel, and using sites like Expedia makes that possible. Every aspect of travel you need, from airfare, accommodations, rental car, and cruises to activities to do at your destination, can be booked on Expedia.  

Booking.com
Hotels, Home rentals, BNBs, Flights, and other Transportation & Tours 

Booking.com connects millions of travelers to memorable experiences, various transportation options, and incredible places to stay – from homes to hotels and much more. It is one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces for established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes. It is our preferred booking site.

Viator
The leading marketplace for travel experiences

Viator believes that making memories is what travel is all about. And with 300,000+ experiences to explore—everything from simple tours to extreme adventures (and all the niche, interesting stuff in between)—making memories that will last a lifetime has never been easier. We use them often during our travels and love their liberal cancellation policy.

Shopping

Wanderers Compass Amazon Storefront
An excellent source for all travel essentials and guides

Amazon is one of the most comprehensive online shopping sources in the world. Teams worldwide provide lower prices, better selection, and rapid delivery on behalf of customers. They offer a vast inventory, and their 1.7 million small and medium businesses worldwide selling on Amazon.com offer extensive options to customers.

HYDAWAY

This is not your ordinary drinkware company. The HYDAWAY difference is what their products do when you’re not using them. Practical and portable, HYDAWAY doesn’t take up unnecessary space in your already-packed life or pile up in landfills. We have used their collapsible water bottle, carrying case for the water bottle, and collapsible insulated drink tumbler. They are all lightweight and durable. This is a conservation-focused product you can be proud to buy.

Use our Promo Code. WANCOM15, at checkout for 15% off your Hydaway order

This article contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

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