The Czech Republic is a landlocked, country located in Central Europe. It borders Germany in the west, Poland in the north, Slovakia in the east and Austria in the south. The most distant points of the country between west and east are 493 km apart, between north and south 278 km. The Czech Republic is a member of the European Union. Since Jan. 1, 1993 it has been an independent state, until then it was part of Czechoslovakia. The territory of the Czech Republic consists of three historical lands – Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. Area: 78 864 km2 Capital City: Prague Administrative Structure: 14 Regions System of Government: Parliamentary Republic Population: 10.4 million Religion: roughly two-thirds of the population are atheists, Catholicism is the major religion Official Language: Czech Time: the time zone is UTC + 1, both summer and winter time are used Currency: Czech koruna (CZK) Dialling Code: + 420 Internet Domain: .cz
Important Telephone Numbers: 112 SOS Emergency Call 155 Emergency Medical Service 158 Police of the Czech Republic 156 Municipal Police 150 Fire Brigade
How to get there
The largest and main Czech airport is the Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague-Ruzyně, which meets all European standards and has three terminals. Other international airports are in Brno, Ostrava, Karlovy Vary and Pardubice.
In the Czech Republic, traffic drives on the right, speed limits: motorway/outside of municipalities/in municipalities – 130/90/50 km/h. The dense road network is dominated by 19 motorway sections totalling 1247 km. Motorway use is paid for in the Czech Republic via motorway toll stickers, which can be purchased at petrol stations or post offices; the drive-through toll is not paid by passenger cars. The price of the motorway toll sticker for passenger cars up to 3.5 t is year/month/10 days – CZK 1,500/ 440/ 310. Buses must be equipped with an electronic device for toll collection; the toll rate for them is lower compared to freight vehicles.
In the Czech Republic it is not permitted to drive after consuming any amount of alcohol whatsoever. Drivers are required to have headlights on in the daytime.
Train and bus transport is widely used, including a network of cycle buses. Tourists can also use cableways and passenger boats. Larger towns have extremely efficient public transport networks. A good service is provided by the information transport system IDOS, which is a software interface for searching for connections of different types of public transport, including combinations (www.idos.cz).
Normally shops are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., mainly on weekdays. In large towns, opening hours are usually longer, often up to 10 p.m. and during the weekend. Conversely, in smaller towns and villages shops often close at 5 p.m. or even 4 p.m. Hypermarket chains are normally open until 10 p.m., the largest stores are open non-stop including weekends. Historical sites and museums are mostly closed on Mondays. Their opening hours are governed by the season; longer over the summer, shorter in winter. Some of the sites are open year-round, others only from April to October.
Jan. 1 Restoration Day of the Independent Czech State Jan. 1 New Year the first Friday after the first full moon following the spring equinox – Good Friday the first Monday after the first full moon following the spring equinox – Easter Monday May 1 Labour Day May 8 Liberation Day Jul. 5 Saints Cyril and Methodius Day Jul. 6 Jan Hus Day Sep. 28 St. Wenceslas Day (Czech Statehood Day) Oct. 28 Independent Czechoslovak State Day Nov. 17 Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day Dec. 24 Christmas Eve Dec. 25 Christmas Day Dec. 26 St. Stephen’s Day
Tips and Advice
The language skills of Czechs are slowly improving, in cities you can converse at least at a basic level in English, German and Russian, minimally in French. Czechs will appreciate it if you try to speak Czech, often just a greeting or a courtesy phrase is enough: Dobrý den / Hello Dobrý večer / Good evening Ahoj / Hi (only among friends) Jak se máte? / How are you? Prosím / Please Děkuji / Thank you Ano / Yes Ne / No Ztratil jsem se / I am lost Můžete mi pomoci? / Can you help me? Promiňte, nerozumím česky / Sorry, I don’t understand Czech Czechs love stories and anecdotes and like to tell them even to complete strangers. If you listen to them, you will be thought well of. Good Advice: Czechs consider themselves to be part of Central Europe; if you include them in Eastern Europe they may become offended.
Czech currency contains the banknotes – CZK 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000. Coins are in denominations of – CZK 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50. Tips are not usually included in a price, the normal amount expected is 10 %. If you pay by card, it is good manners to leave a tip in cash.
Hiking is very popular in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic has the densest and most elaborate network of marked hiking trails in the world. The marked trails begin in the centres of towns and villages or at railway stations. Information on guideposts is given in kilometres.
Czech cuisine is permanently evolving; it adopts the current trends of preparation and presentation of dishes. However, you can expect, particularly in restaurants in smaller towns and villages that the side dish will be larger than you imagined. They also offer less vegetables and vegetable dishes. Simple guide: look for the Czech Specials symbol. In restaurants marked with this symbol, the Czech cuisine is of excellent quality. Typical Czech Dishes: • Dumplings as a side-dish with many meals • Sirloin in cream sauce with dumplings • Roast pork with dumplings and cabbage • Fruit dumplings • Roast duck with dumplings • Beef goulash with dumplings • Tomato sauce or dill cream sauce with beef and dumplings • Fried cheese with potatoes • Steak tartar with toast • Thick and substantial soups Ask about traditional foods – for example in Chodsko and Wallachia you will be treated to great cakes, in Olomouc to strong ripened soft cheese – every area has some unusual traditional food. Beer is the liquid bread of the Czech nation and Czechs are convinced that it is the best in the world. The most famous brands are Pilsner Urquell, Budvar and Staropramen. But it is worth trying different tastes. The Czech Republic is seeing a huge boom in local breweries and microbreweries, so every now and then you come across a new brand. Typically they produce bottom fermented lagers. South Moravia is however an area far more interested in wine. The countryside is peppered with villages that have wine cycle paths leading through them, charming wine cellars and grape harvest celebrations.
Practical information for travelling in the Czech Republic is available at www.czechtourism.com