Czech Republic travel guide
About Czech Republic
A historic jewel at the heart of Europe, the Czech Republic packs a sizeable punch for such a small country; from majestic castles to medieval towns, elegant spa resorts to scenic national parks, it has much to offer international visitors. It is also, lest we forget, the birthplace of the world’s finest beer.
At the heart of it all is the culture-crammed capital, Prague. Dubbed the “city of a thousand spires,” it comprises beautiful churches, cobbled lanes and medieval bridges, all watched over by a fairytale castle. Add to that a mix of ancient monuments, fine dining, old breweries, bustling markets and lively jazz clubs. There really is never a dull moment.
Yet those who fail to venture beyond the city boundaries are truly missing out. Located just a short drive from the capital are some extraordinary attractions; the hot springs of Karlovy Vary; the giant gothic castle of Karlštejn; the church made of human bones in Kutná Hora; and the city of Plzeň, where pilsner beer was born.
Formerly part of Czechoslovakia, since the Velvet Divorce of 1993 – when Slovakia and the Czech Republic parted company – the latter has emerged the more popular with tourists. And to understand its appeal one must consider its assets; the stunning wine-growing region of Monrovia, home to rolling hills, traditional food and the spirited cities of Brno and Olomouc; the snow-capped mountains of Krkonoše; the otherworldly rock formations of Český Ráj; the wild forests of Šumava National Park; and the historic town of Český Krumlov, a fully deserving UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And yet, for all this, the Czech Republic is far more than the sum of its sights. This is a nation of proud, forthright and friendly people, eager to take a significant role on the European stage. It may only be a small country – and a relatively new one – but the Czech Republic leaves a big impression.
78,866 sq km (30,450 sq miles).
10,550,085 (UN estimate 2016).
135 per sq km.
President Miloš Zeman since 2013.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis since 2017.
Last updated: 14 December 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU, while the UK remains in the EU.
Over 300,000 British nationals visit the Czech Republic every year. Most visits are trouble-free.
If you need to contact the emergency services call 112.
Carry your passport with you at all times for identification. The police may fine you or arrest you if you fail to do so. Keep copies of your insurance policy, European Health Insurance Card, ticket details and a 24-hour emergency number in a safe place and leave further copies with family or friends in the UK.
Only buy alcohol from legitimate places like supermarkets or bottle shops. Make sure the bottle has an original, untouched seal around the cork or cap. See Crime
Although there is no recent history of terrorism in the Czech Republic, attacks can’t be ruled out. There may be increased security in place over the Christmas and New Year period, including at Christmas markets and other major events that might attract large crowds. You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks
Safety and security
Most visitors to the Czech Republic experience no difficulties but you should be aware of street crime and petty theft, particularly in Prague.
Prague city police advises visitors of the following:
- always exchange currency at a currency exchange office or bank, never on the street as this money is often counterfeit
- avoid contact with women and men acting as street prostitutes as they are often pickpockets
- take care when using cash machines
- the sale and distribution of drugs is illegal and the drugs are often hazardous counterfeits
- be aware of consumption charges in night clubs; they are often high. Be careful with consumption cards, which carry high financial penalties if they are lost before the bill is paid
Take care of yourself and your belongings in the same way as you would do in the UK. Take precautions against pickpockets and bag snatchers and don’t leave your belongings or food / drinks unattended.
Petty theft is a problem, especially in major tourist areas in Prague. Try to avoid busy carriages on the metro and trams, which are favoured by pickpockets. There is also a risk of pick-pocketing on flights from the UK. It is best to keep your passport and valuables with you before and during your flight.
Beware of bogus plain-clothes policemen, who may ask to see your foreign currency and passport. If approached, don’t show your money, but offer instead to go with them to the nearest police station. If you suspect that you are dealing with a bogus police officer, you can call 158 or 112 to check their identity. No police officer in the Czech Republic has the right to check your money or its authenticity.
Report any thefts in person to the Czech police within 24 hours and get a police report crime number. Prague police station (Jungmanovo namesti 9, Prague 1 – nearest metro stop is Mustek) is open 24 hours and has English translators. There’s also a police station at the airport where you can get a police report. It’s possible to obtain a reference number for a crime related incident by reporting it to a police station in the UK, but it’s much better to report the crime in the Czech Republic.
If your passport is lost or stolen you will need to obtain a police report and apply for an Emergency Travel Document from the British Embassy in Prague.
Every lamppost in Prague has a 6-digit number posted at eye-level. Should you require assistance from the police or emergency services, these codes will help pinpoint your location if you’re unable to offer an exact address.
If you’re travelling in a group keep a careful note of your hotel telephone number and address in case you are separated from the rest of your party. Leave contact details of your travelling companions with a friend or relative at home who you can contact if you get separated from your group.
If you travel on public transport you must buy a ticket and validate it before you travel. You’ll be fined on the spot if you are travelling with a ticket that has not been validated. The fine, usually 800 crowns (around £22.00), is paid directly to the ticket inspector. You should get a receipt. If you can’t pay the fine you may be arrested. The fine can be higher if you’re unable to pay on the spot. You can buy tickets at most large hotels, metro stations and at many newspaper stands (‘Trafika’) and convenience stores.
Every year there are accidents involving trams. Take extra care when near tram tracks and make sure you look both ways. Trams can’t stop quickly.
Seasonal flooding (normally during the Spring) occurs occasionally. Check the Ministry of Agriculture website for more information. By selecting ‘Enter’ you’ll see a map of the country which showing any current flood warnings.
It’s safer to use a major taxi company like Tick Tack tel: 14 144 or AAA tel: 233 113 311. If you do pick up a taxi in the street, always check the fare per km before getting in. Some taxis can charge highly inflated prices. The rates should be clearly marked on the side of the taxi.
You can drive using a UK Driving licence.
In 2015 there were 732 road deaths in Czech Republic (source:Department of Transport).This equates to 6.9 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2015.
If you’re planning to drive to the Czech Republic, you may like to consult the green line motoring helpline run by the Czech Central Automobile Club (UAMK), which has information available in Czech and English (telephone: 00 420 1230).
To drive on motorways you’ll need to buy a special vignette (sticker) from a Post Office, petrol station, bureau de change or at the border. Failure to display a valid vignette can result in a fine. More information about vignettes can be found on the website of the Czech Ministry of Transport.
There is a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
You must have your headlights on dipped beam when driving anywhere in the Czech Republic, even during the hours of daylight.
All private cars, including those of foreign visitors, must carry the following items by law:
- fluorescent green high visibility safety jacket
- first aid kit, warning triangle
- complete set of spare bulbs
- complete set of electric fuses
- spare wheel or special tyres repair set
You need winter tyres between 1 November and 31 March.
Although there is no recent history of terrorism in the Czech Republic, attacks can’t be ruled out. You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public places, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Local laws and customs
Some bars and restaurants in the city centre don’t allow access to stag groups. Drunken or offensive behaviour is dealt with according to Czech law and may result in detention and or fines.
You may be fined if you attempt to cross a road or tram tracks within 50 metres of a designated crossing point (commonly marked by ‘zebra’ style crossing or traffic lights). You may also be fined if you cross at a pedestrian crossing if the green pedestrian crossing light is not lit.
You should carry your passport with you at all times for identification.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from the Czech Republic.
British citizens don’t need a visa to enter the Czech Republic. If you have another type of British nationality (eg British Overseas Citizen) you may need a visa. Contact the Embassy of the Czech Republic in London for further information.
If you intend to stay longer than 30 days or settle permanently in the Czech Republic you need to register with Czech Foreign Police.
You can find further information about residency from the Czech Ministry of the Interior.
It is very difficult to change Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes in the Czech Republic.
Scottish bank notes can be exchanged in ERB Bank in Prague 5. Check with the bank beforehand that they still offer this service:
ERB Bank Exchange Štefánikova 78/50, 150 00, Prague 5
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
If you’re visiting Czech Republic you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC isn’t a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms for Czech nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate. The EHIC won’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment, so you should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.
If you intend to settle permanently in the Czech Republic you need to either obtain Form S1 (previously E106), which indicates that you have made full National Insurance contributions in the UK, or to arrange health insurance with a commercial company on arrival. For further advice contact the Overseas Healthcare Team (Newcastle), Durham House, Washington, Tyne & Wear NE38 7SF, United Kingdom, +44 191 218 1999, Overseas.Healthcare@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about something that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.