- Download our Moving to the Czech Republic Guide (PDF)
The high-quality transport and driving infrastructure in the Czech Republic make it easy for expats to get around in the country. Public transport is robust and generally preferred, with a wide variety of options, including trains, subways, trams, buses and taxis.
It's not necessary to buy a car. In fact, owning a car could be an inconvenience in big cities such as Prague, where parking is extremely limited, and car break-ins have been known to occur. Arranging a local Czech driving licence can also be a long and challenging process. While nationals of certain countries can continue to drive on their existing licence or exchange it for a local one, others will have to face a complicated procedure to obtain a local licence, including extensive testing.
Public transport in the Czech Republic
A number of Czech cities have tram systems, most notably Prague. In Prague, trams run 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are a quick way to get around, making them a popular mode of transport. Expats should note that operating hours vary in other cities. Prague boasts a tram system extending across 88 miles (142 km).
The national rail carrier is České dráhy, and there are a few private rail companies in operation, including RegioJet, Leo Express and GW Train Regio.
The biggest and busiest railway station in the Czech Republic is Praha hlavní nadráží, situated in Prague. This station offers long-distance travel to several neighbouring countries (including Germany, Austria, Hungary and Poland) and regional services to most large cities in the Czech Republic.
Prague is home to the country's only metro system, which is popular among commuters and travellers alike. Continually expanding, the track is over 40 miles (65 km) long, serving more than 60 stations.
If expats cannot find a train route to a city or village in the Czech Republic, then a bus will most likely get them there. In some cities, local buses are the preferred form of transport, running 24 hours a day.
Local and regional buses are usually run by the state, while services crossing over the border into other European countries are often via private bus companies. There are currently over 60 bus companies operating in the Czech Republic, with more than 180 stations.
- For more on trams in Prague, visit Prague Transit.
- České dráhy's website provides expats the opportunity to explore the available rail routes in the country.
- The Prague Public Transit Company has information on routes and schedules for the city's subway system.
- RegioJet and Flixbus are some of the most popular and reliable bus services in the country.
Taxis in the Czech Republic
Taxis in the Czech Republic are infamous for taking advantage of foreigners. If expats cannot speak Czech, they should write down their destination to avoid wrong routes as a result of mispronunciation.
It's best to arrange a taxi with a reputable company beforehand, but when hailing a taxi on the street, only use officially registered taxis and confirm the price before beginning the journey. These can be identified by their yellow roof lights. A taxi from a legitimate company will also have the company's name, the taxi's licence number and its rates printed on both doors.
Alternatively, ride-hailing apps such as Uber, Liftago and Bolt operate in the Czech Republic. Many expats prefer using these apps as it gives them more control over routes and service prices while minimising language barrier issues.
- City Taxi and AAA Taxi are some of the most popular taxi services in the country.
- For more on ride-hailing in the Czech Republic, visit Liftago, Bolt and Uber.
Driving in the Czech Republic
Many expats will need to go through a lengthy process to legally drive in the Czech Republic, though there are some exceptions to this. Those already licensed to drive in the EU can continue to do so using their current valid licence. In addition, certain countries have agreements in place with the Czech Republic allowing nationals to simply exchange their foreign licence for a local one.
That said, expats from non-EU countries without agreements with the Czech Republic will need to obtain a Czech driving licence. This can be a long and arduous process.
For the first three months of their residency, expats can drive on an International Driving Permit. To continue driving, they will need a Czech licence. To obtain one, expats must attend a local driving school for a prescribed number of hours and pass written and practical exams. Tests are usually available in English, German or Czech – those unable to take the test in any of these languages will be allowed to make use of an official translator during testing.
Road signs are mostly in Czech, and driving is on the right-hand side of the road. Cars in the Czech Republic must have their lights on at all times, and winter tyres must be used from November to March. Roads in the big cities are in good condition, but the trams, narrow streets and lack of parking might make a journey less than pleasant.
Similar to other EU countries, the Czech Republic employs a points system. Expats who receive 12 points for road violations will have their driving licences suspended for up to a year. Expats must also pay an annual toll for driving on Czech roads, and this is done through purchasing an electronic vignette.
- Expats can visit the eDalnice website to learn more about purchasing an electronic highway stamp and the country's highways and toll roads.
Cycling in the Czech Republic
Cycling is more commonly viewed as a sport and recreational activity than a means of transport in the Czech Republic. Expats used to getting around by bicycle are likely to be disappointed by the relative lack of cycle-friendly roads. The hilly topography of the country, and Prague in particular, can also be a challenge for cyclists, not to mention its picturesque but bumpy cobblestone sidewalks.
In some cities, there are bicycle-renting schemes where bicycles can be picked up at one location and dropped off at another. Some forms of public transport allow bicycles to be brought on board, though this is sometimes restricted by area, for example only outside the city centre.
- NextBike operates bike-sharing programmes in 25 cities across the Czech Republic.
Walking in the Czech Republic
Travelling on foot in the Czech Republic is usually unnecessary, thanks to its excellent public transport infrastructure. When crossing the road, keep a sharp eye out for approaching cars or trams, as trams have the right of way even at a pedestrian crossing.
►For an overview of medical facilities and treatment in the country, read Healthcare in Czech Republic
What do expats say about transport in the Czech Republic?
"It's excellent. There are very few places in the city you can't get to easily with the public transportation system. It's also very affordable to use." Learn more about Kevan, a Canadian expat, and his experience living in Czech Republic.
Image Credits: Red tram in the Czech Republic by Alex Wolowiecki; A car driving down a Czech forest road by Miroslav Škopek. Both from Unsplash.
Are you an expat living in Czech Republic?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Czech Republic. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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