What you need to know before traveling to Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a small eastern European country, nestled among Poland, Germany, Austria and Slovakia. Though it is landlocked, the country has a varied geography, with mountains to the north, dense forests and four major rivers. The Czech Republic is noted for its spas, its many historic castles, its native beer and wine and the modern and historic delights of Prague, one of the most visited cities in Europe. Czech Republic tourism is a major industry, with more than one percent of the population working in the tourist industry. Approximately seven million people visit Czech Republic each year.

  • Key facts
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    Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is the most popular tourist destination in the country. This city of 1.24 million residents, situated along the Vltava River, is also the capital of traditional region of Bohemia. Favorite attractions in Prague include the historic Old Town, St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge, a pedestrian crossing that dates back to the 14th century. However, this bustling metropolis isn't all there is to see in this diverse, ancient country. Just a few of the other places you'll want to consider when you travel to the Czech Republic include:

    • Brno -- The second largest city in the Czech Republic, Brno is the historic capital of the Moravian region and home to one of the country's wine districts, a former royal castle from the 14th century and an international music festival, held each summer.

    • Bohemia -- Bohemia encompasses the western half of the country. In addition to Prague, the region of Bohemia features quaint villages to explore, castles and dense romantic forests.

    Czech is the official language of the Czech Republic, although German, English and Russian are also widely spoken. A minority of the people here speak Slovak, particularly in the eastern portion of the country.
    The official Czech currency is the korun (crown). Euros are also sometimes accepted, particularly in tourist areas.
  • Weather & when to go
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    The high season and the most crowded time to visit the Czech Republic is during the summer, from mid-June to late August. However, the weather can be steamy in the heat of the summer. The best weather (and usually lower airfares) can be found during May, September and October. Even the winter can be delightful, as the country prepares for the holiday season. The average high temperature in Prague is 73 F (23 C) in July, 65 F (19 C) in September and 35 F (2 C) in January.
  • Getting around
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    Getting around the Czech Republic is easy, given the country's compact size. The state-owned Czech Railways provides efficient train service between all of the major cities. There are a variety of rail discounts available to visitors, depending on your length of stay and your itinerary. Be sure to ask what discounts apply to your trip.
    Within Prague, the subway system (called the Metro) is the most efficient and affordable way to travel. Other Czech cities, including Brno and Most, have local tram systems.
    Prague's Vaclav Havel Airport, located about 6 miles west of the city, is the main international gateway in the Czech Republic. The four-terminal facility serves more than 11 million passengers each year and offers non-stop flights to more than 50 destinations around Europe, North America and the world. Public buses depart the terminals every 30 minutes for Prague's city center.
  • Know before you go
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    It's a good idea to learn the public holidays before you plan travel to Czech Republic. Most government buildings and offices as well as most retailers and attractions are closed on Czech public holidays. These include:

    • January 1 -- New Year's Day and Restoration Day

    • March/April -- Easter Sunday

    • The day after Easter -- Easter Monday

    • May 1 -- Labor Day

    • May 8 -- Liberation Day

    • July 5 -- Saints Cyril and Methodius Day

    • July 6 -- Jan Hus Day

    • September 28 -- St. Wenceslas Day

    • October 28 -- Independent Czechoslovak State Day

    • November 17 -- Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day

    • December 24 -- Christmas Eve

    • December 25 -- Christmas Day

    • December 26 -- St. Stephen's Day

    To reach emergency services while traveling in the Czech Republic, dial 112 (as you can anywhere in the EEC.) In addition, you can reach the fire department by dialing 150, the local rescue and ambulance service by dialing 155, the metropolitan police by dialing 156 and the local police by dialing 158. Calls are answered in Czech, German, Polish, English, French and Russian.
    Citizens of other EEC countries need only a valid identity card to enter the Czech Republic. Citizens of other countries need to carry a valid passport (issued within the last 10 years and with at least one year remaining validity.) In addition, citizens of countries outside of the United States, Canada, Australia and the EEC are required to obtain a tourist visa from a Czech consulate or embassy before they arrive in the Czech Republic.
  • Travel tips & recommendations
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    • Shop hours in the Czech Republic can be a little confusing as there really isn't one steadfast set of rules. Chain retailers tend to be open from 8:00 AM or 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM Monday through Saturday. Smaller, independent stores usually close for lunch from around noon until 2:00 PM and are only open until noon on Saturdays. Virtually all Czech stores are closed on Sundays.

    • Czech food favors roasted meats, boiled and baked potatoes, gravies, dumplings and sauerkraut. Hot soups are a popular start to lunch and dinner and local beers are the drink of choice.

    • Not all Czech restaurants, even in the major cities, accept credit cards. Be sure to ask before you order.

    • There is usually a small fee in Czech restaurants for water and bread in addition to the menu items.

    • The Czech Republic has a very low crime rate, compared with that of other European countries.

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