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 Petr Pavel since 2023.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis since 2017.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:
- advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
- information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in the Czech Republic set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Czech Republic Embassy in the UK.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering the Czech Republic.
Passport validity requirements
To travel to the Czech Republic, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.
To enter the Czech Republic (and all Schengen countries) your passport must:
- have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive. Passports issued after 1 October 2018 are now valid for only 10 years, but for passports issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added if you renewed a passport early
- have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
If you lived in the Czech Republic before 1 January 2021 and have the relevant documentation, you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. You can enter and exit the Czech Republic with a valid passport and do not need any additional validity.
Checks at border control
Make sure you get your passport stamped.
If you’re a visitor, your passport must be stamped when you enter or leave the Schengen area (which includes the Czech Republic). Border guards will use passport stamps to check you have not overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for stays in the Schengen area. If your passport was not stamped, border guards will presume you have overstayed the visa-free limit.
If your passport was not stamped, show evidence of when and where you entered or left the Schengen area (for example, boarding passes or tickets) and ask the border guards to add the date and location in your passport.
Read about passport stamping if you live in the Czech Republic.
At the Czech Republic border control, you may also need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay
You can travel without a visa to the Schengen area (including the Czech Republic) for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. This applies if you travel:
- as a tourist
- to visit family or friends
- to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events
- for short-term studies or training
If you’re travelling to the Czech Republic and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries in the 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.
To stay longer (to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons), you must meet the Czech Republic government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa or work permit you need with the Embassy of the Czech Republic .
If you stay in the Czech Republic with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Czech Republic guide.
Registering with the police
If you do not have a Czech Republic residence permit, you must register your address with the nearest Foreign Police Department within 3 days of arriving. You can also register through your hotel or accommodation service. If you do not register, you could get a fine of up to 3,000 Czech koruna.
There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of the Czech Republic. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions such as powdered baby milk, baby food and special foods or pet feed required for medical reasons.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in the Czech Republic
Although there is no recent history of terrorism in the Czech Republic, attacks cannot 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.
Public protests may happen at short notice. These have been peaceful, but take care in crowded places and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Protecting your belongings
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 avoid leaving your belongings, food or drinks unattended.
Petty theft is a problem, especially in major tourist areas in Prague. There is a risk of pickpocketing on busy metro and bus routes from Prague airport to the city centre and trams to popular tourist sites like Prague castle. Keep your passport and valuables with you at all times.
Report any thefts in person to the Czech police within 24 hours, and get a police report crime number. Prague police station (Jungmannovo namesti 9, Prague 1, nearest metro stop is Mustek) is open 24 hours and has English translators. You can also get a police report from the police station at the airport.
Every lamppost in Prague has a 6-digit number posted at eye level. These codes will help you tell the police where you are if you cannot give them an exact address.
There is a risk of drink spiking in bars and clubs. Be careful about taking drinks from strangers or leaving your drinks unattended.
Be aware of criminals pretending to be plain clothes policemen who ask to see your foreign currency and passport. Czech Republic police officers do not have the right to do this. Do not show them your money. Instead, offer to go with them to the nearest police station. You can also call 158 or 112 to check their identity.
Laws and cultural differences
Carry your passport with you at all times for identification. The police may fine or arrest you if you do not.
Prague safety issues
Prague city police advise visitors to:
- always change money at a currency exchange or bank rather than on the street as this money is often counterfeit
- take care when using cash machines
- avoid contact with sex workers
- be aware of consumption charges in night clubs as they are often high
- be careful with consumption cards, which carry high financial penalties if you lose them before you pay your bill
Drunken and offensive behaviour
Stag groups are not allowed to enter some city centre bars and restaurants. You may be arrested or fined for drunken or offensive behaviour. Police may take you to ‘Sober-up’ facilities for a temporary period and you may be charged for your stay.
The possession, sale and distribution of drugs is illegal, and the drugs are often dangerous counterfeits. Penalties for drug offences are severe, convictions carry sentences of up to 18 years. Some shops, particularly in Prague, advertise ‘cannabis products’, which contain trace amounts of THC permissible under Czech law. However, possessing marijuana remains illegal in the Czech Republic.
Same-sex relationships and civil partnerships are legal in the Czech Republic but same-sex marriages are not recognised in Czech law. LGBT+ travellers should be aware that showing affection in public could receive unwanted attention. Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.
It is illegal to earn money from a surrogacy arrangement.
The police may charge you if you are:
- a surrogate mother
- a British national who plans to take a child born through surrogacy
- an agent organising the handover
FCDO advises against making surrogacy arrangements in the Czech Republic or moving surrogacy arrangements from other countries.
You should get specialist legal advice in the UK and the Czech Republic. Read the information for British nationals on surrogacy arrangements in foreign countries.
Travelling in groups
If you’re travelling in a group, keep a note of your hotel phone number and address in case you are separated. Leave contact details with a friend or relative in the UK.
If you are planning to drive a hire car or a UK vehicle, see information on driving abroad and check the rules of the road in the RAC’s Czech Republic guide. The guide lists driving regulations and other legal requirements you need to be aware of.
Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as a year of driving experience, a higher minimum age and holding an IDP.
You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in the Czech Republic. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the correct version of the international driving permit (IDP) as well.
You need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK.
In Czech Republic you are not allowed to drive with any alcohol or drugs in your system. The Czech police (‘policie’) can ask any driver to take a breathalyser test on the spot. If they detect any alcohol or drugs, you could face a fine of up to 50,000 Czech koruna, confiscation of your licence and possibly imprisonment.
It’s safer to use a major taxi company rather than picking one up in the street. Some taxis charge high prices. Always check the rates on the side of the taxi before getting in.
Buses and trams
Be careful near tram tracks and make sure you look both ways as trams cannot stop quickly. Trams have the right of way on zebra crossings.
You may get a fine if you do not cross roads and tram tracks at pedestrian crossings. You can also get a fine if you cross when the pedestrian crossing light is not green.
You must validate your tickets on public transport in a ticket machine before you start a journey. Officials patrol public transport and will issue an on-the-spot fine of 1,000 koruna (around £35) if you do not hold a validated ticket. You should get a receipt. The police can get involved and will increase the fine if you cannot pay immediately.
The 30 and 90 minute journey tickets for bus, tram and Metro are not valid on the Petřín Hill funicular railway in Prague. You need a specific 60 koruna ticket from the vending machines at funicular railway stops.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
For more information read guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Czech Republic guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in the Czech Republic
FCDO has a list of English speaking doctors in the Czech Republic.
COVID-19 healthcare in the Czech Republic
See advice and information on COVID-19 healthcare on the Czech COVID portal.
Health insurance cards
The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Czech Republic nationals. If you do not have your card with you or you’ve lost it, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team.
It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. A GHIC or EHIC does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.
GHIC and EHIC cover state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or private clinic.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in the Czech Republic
Telephone: 112 (ambulance, fire, police)
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers, funeral directors and translators and interpreters in the Czech Republic
- dealing with a death in the Czech Republic
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis , such as a terrorist attack
You can also contact FCDO online.
Help abroad in an emergency
If you are in the Czech Republic and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Prague.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)
Risk information for British companies
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.