Nestled in the center of Europe, the Czech Republic is a country steeped in history. It’s been populated for thousands of years and is a land dotted with castles, medieval towns, beautiful mountains, ancient ruins, and world-class wineries. The country sees more and more tourists each year but they mostly stick to Prague. Once you escape that beautiful (but crowded) city you’ll find an inexpensive country with some of the most beautiful and rugged landscape in this part of Europe. I love taking the train from place to place and just staring out the window. If you visit, you’ll probably be coming for Prague but be sure to leave the city and see the rest of what the country has to offer! It’s too often overlooked!
Accommodation – Prices for hostel dorm beds will vary depending where you are in the country, starting at 175 CZK in small towns, and getting as high as 400 CZK in Prague. Free WiFi is standard, and most hostels also have a kitchen for you to cook your own food. A twin or double bed in a budget hotel will start around 500-700 CZK per night, usually including free WiFi (prices will vary depending on where you are, with prices in Prague being the highest). Expect to pay closer to 900 CZK per night for a budget hotel that offers free breakfast. Airbnb can be found in the major cities and towns, though the vast majority of properties are located in Prague. If you’re looking for shared accommodation, prices start around 450 CZK per night. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay closer to 1,500 CZK per night. For those traveling with a tent there are campgrounds scattered all throughout the country. For a basic plot, expect to pay upwards of 200 CZK per night.
Food – Czech cuisine is nothing fancy, but it is delicious. Give me a plate of goulash bread dumplings and gravy, and I’m content for a week. For a cheap meal at an inexpensive restaurant, expect to pay around 120 CZK. A nicer meal at a mid-range restaurant will cost closer to 300 CZK. For fast food (think McDonald’s) you’ll actually pay more than a cheap local meal, as fast food usually costs around 130 CZK. Stick to the local fare for the most budget-friendly meals. If you’re looking for a quick bite, there are numerous kebab shops for less than 120 CZK. Grocery shopping for the week will cost around 1,000-1,200 CZK if you’re willing to navigate the language barrier and buy Czech items in the grocery store. To keep things simple and cheap, sausages and cheese are easy to find and make a good, quick meal.
Transportation – Most cities have a tram system dating back to communist days. Prague also has an underground that is simple to use, with only three lines going to major points across town. A one-way ticket is less than 24 CZK for a 30-minute window of use or 32 CZK for 90 minutes. An unlimited 24-hour pass is 110 CZK. Transportation between towns via train is very easy, just don’t expect modern train cars. Buy your tickets at the station in advance if possible to get the best fare. A ticket from Prague to Brno, for example, can be fond for under 300 CZK. Inter-city buses are a cheap way to get around, as well. From Prague to Vienna is under 500 CZK, while a bus all the way to Berlin is under 600 CZK. Check out Orange Ways for their deals online before making plans.
Activities – Visits to most Czech towns will be less about the sights and more about taking in the local culture. Grabbing a beer at the local pub, walking the cobblestone streets and taking in the gothic, art nouveau and communist architecture. The country is still on the Czech Koruna, so prices are very affordable. There are also plenty of free hiking trails all around the country for anyone looking to spend some time in nature. Most museums and excursions will be between 60-800 CZK, though more intensive activities like white-water rafting will be closer to 2,000 CZK.
Suggested daily budget – 1,025-1,285 CZK/39-50 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
Money Saving Tips
- Buy in advance – If traveling through the country or the continent by train or bus, check online or head to the train station in advance to take advantage of the student or discount prices. Buses and trains are popular, so they do sell out — another reason why getting a ticket ahead of time is recommended.
- Eat local – Belly up to the local bar for a plate of goulash and a pint, and have a great meal for under 245 CZK. You won’t regret trying the local fare, and one plate will keep you full for the whole day.
- Bring your student id – Many Czech cities, especially Prague, are student cities. Because of this, you’ll find tons of deals for those studying at a university. Show yours at museums and shops, and you’ll save cash.
- Walking tours – The Czech Republic is quickly becoming a tourist hot spot, and free walking tour companies have set up shop all over the country. These are actually great introductions to the city and it’s history, so enjoy the stories and make sure to give your guide a small tip at the end if you’re entertained!
- Explore the outdoors – There are plenty of free hiking trails all around the country for anyone looking to get outside. Czech Tourist’s Club produces maps for all the major routes, so pick one up if you feel like a stroll.
Top Things to See and Do
- Czech out Prague – As the capital and most famous city in the country, Prague has really come into its own and has become one of the hottest tourist destinations in Europe. Head here and wind through the medieval streets, making sure to look up and take in the original buildings that survived WWII. Local food is a highlight here, though it’s the beer that most people come for. Climb the hill to visit Prague Castle, gaze up at the Astronomical Clock and get ready for an eccentric nightlife that is unparalleled.
- See Ceský Krumlov – Situated on the Vltava River, this town is a smaller, more picturesque version of Prague. The medieval architecture and red-roofed buildings make for beautiful pictures and a casual stroll through the streets is a great way to slow down during a whirlwind trip. Many beautiful resorts are here, as well as lodges that are cozy options during the snowy winters.
- Visit Kutná Hora – This historical town is home to the famous St. Barbara Cathedral that is adorned with thousands of human bones. While perhaps a bit creepy, it’s really something you should see for yourself. Admission is 60 CZK for adults and 40 CZK for students.
- Try some pilsner in Pilsen – You guessed it: Pilsen is the birthplace of the Pilsner and the home of the original Pilsner Urquell Czech beer. Heading here makes a great day trip from Prague via bus or train. During your visit, make sure to not only tour the Pilsner factory but also check out the beer spas where you soak in a tub of beer. Expect to pay around 800 CZK for a soak in the beer tub.
- Drink up in Moravian Wine Region – Although you might only think of beer when you head to the Czech Republic, the Moravian Region is actually very famous for their wine. It’s a great experience to drive, bike or wander through the vineyards here. Many tours offer options for tastings while visiting the area. Prices will vary based on whether you visit a single vineyard or many, and whether you organize the tour yourself or hire a guide. For a multi-vineyard, multi-day guided tour, prices can be as high as 5,000 CZK.
- Tour Karlstein Castle – Everyone wants to have their very own fairytale, and this castle is a great stop during your tour of the country, just a quick train ride from Prague. Admission is 270 CZK for adults, with discounts available for students, seniors, and families.
- Hike the Adršpach-Teplice Rocks – Hike around these natural sandstone cloisters. With names like ‘Giant’s Armchair’ and ‘Sugar Cone,’ you can’t go wrong. There are two clusters of formations: Adršpach Rock Town and Teplice Rock Town. A train here from Prague costs around 275 CZK and takes just under 3 hours.
- Adventure outdoors in Krkonoše – Summer or winter, a trip to Krkonoše is a must. This beautiful mountain range, which runs along the Czech-Polish border, is the highest peak in the country. There is great hiking and cycling during the summer and skiing during the winter.
- Head to the Renaissance town of Telc – Telc, with its winding cobblestone streets, is one of the most picture-perfect examples of a Renaissance town in Europe. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a fire in 1530 the town was rebuilt, so medieval arcades with their gabled houses surround the picturesque town square.
- Visit quaint Olomouc – Olomouc is a small university town noted for its parks, churches, sculptures and fountains. The Holy Trinity Column and grand astronomical clock are UNESCO sites.
- Relax at the Karlovy Vary spa – Karlovy Vary is a relaxing spa which offers hot mineral springs, fine baroque and Gothic architecture, forest walks and a lively cultural scene. There is also a castle at nearby Loket, overlooking the River Ohre.
- Enjoy the Šumava National Park – Pack your trekking gear and head to Šumava, the country’s largest national park. It is a region full of densely forested hills along the border with Austria. Feast your eyes on the scenic lakes, trout streams, areas of virgin forest, and important historic monuments. Admission to the park is free.
- Visit a nuclear bunker – Located 5 stories under Prague, this museum is full of Cold War paraphernalia. The bunker was designed to house civilians during a nuclear attack, after which they would then flee into the countryside. Tours last a couple hours and cost 600 CZK for adults (500 CZK for students).
- See the Spanish Synagogue – The outside of this building may not be anything special, but the inside is incredibly ornate. Admission 330 CZK for adults, and includes entry into a few other synagogues, as well.
- Go rafting – Just 20 minutes from Prague is a white water rafting course touted as the ultimate hangover blaster. Spend a day on the water battling the waves, followed by a barbecue lunch and a soak in a hot tub. Not a bad way to spend a day! Prices vary but expect to pay around 1,600 CZK per person.
- Explore Macocha Gorge – Located near Brno, this sinkhole is an impressive 138m deep. It’s a popular tourist site in the area, suitable for both casual visitors and those who have more advanced technical caving experience. The nearby Punka caves can be explored from April-September, with admission costing 180 CZK for adults.
- Visit the Austerlitz Battlefield – The Battle of Austerlitz was one of the most decisive battles of the Napoleonic Wars, and is widely considered to be one of Napoleon’s greatest victories. It was here where he crushed the combined forces of Russia and the Holy Roman Empire, which led to the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire.Periodically there are reenactments held here, perfect for the history buff!