Czech Republic

Bridge in Prague   Square in Prague

Why Czech Republic?                                                      Click here to view video

A historic jewel at the heart of Europe, the Czech Republic packs a sizeable punch for a small country; from its fairytale castles and medieval towns, to elegant spa resorts and scenic national parks. This is also the birthplace of some of the world's finest beer.

The Czech Republic’s capital is the culture-filled Prague, whose imposing castle is the centre piece. Easy daytrips from Prague include the spa resort of Karlovy Vary, Karlštejn and Konopiště castles, and the historic towns of Mělník and Kutná Hora. The Czech Republic is peppered with fascinating UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the picture-postcard town of Český Krumlov, and the Renaissance architecture of Telč. For a country that’s only been around since 1993, the Czech Republic does a fine job of showcasing an exciting history. Here the past becomes real. Castles and chateaux abound, illuminating the stories of powerful families and individuals whose influence was felt well beyond the nation’s current borders. Unravel the history of Bohemia and Moravia, the two ancient lands that now make up the modern Czech Republic and you’re unearthing the history of Europe itself.

And when you’ve had your fill of the past, return to Prague, one of the world’s most beautiful and cultured cities, and one of the most exciting with a dynamic music and arts scene. Down the world’s best beer in the brewery towns of Plzeň and České Budějovice, and discover the laid-back backpacker scenes in Český Krumlov and Telč. Everywhere you go, you’ll meet a forthright people, proud of their heritage, but now confidently taking their place in a modern, united Europe.

  • When should I travel?
For the majority of Czech destinations, the best time to visit is in May or September, when the weather is mild and the crowds fewer. A large percentage of museums, galleries, castles and the like are open only during high season (May to September). April and October are chillier but you’ll benefit from smaller crowds and cheaper rooms. In winter you’ll likely get to see it all under a blanket of snow; camping grounds are closed, as are attractions in the smaller towns. High in the mountains, November to March is an additional high season. Most Czechs, like residents of the rest of Europe, take their holidays in July and August, then again over the Easter and Christmas/New Year holiday periods. Accommodation facilities are often booked; crowds, particularly in Prague and the mountain resort areas, can be unbearable; and prices spike to their highest. On the other hand, most festivals take place during the summer months and the supply of cheap sleeps in university towns increases as student dorms are thrown open to visitors. The seasons are distinct. Summer (June to August) receives the highest temperatures and heaviest rainfall. The cold, bitter winter months of December, January and February often see temperatures reaching as low as -5°C in the cities and -10°C to -15°C in the mountainous areas (-30°C at higher altitudes). Tailor-made for skiing and other winter pursuits, the mountains receive about 130 days of snow a year, but other areas get coverage as well. Spring (late March to May) brings changeable, rainy weather and sometimes flooding. Autumn is also variable but temperatures can be as high as 20°C in September.

  • Is it safe to travel and are there places to avoid?
Pickpockets can be a problem in Prague’s tourist zone, and there are occasional reports of robberies on overnight international trains. There is intense racism towards the local Roma population, which sometimes boils over into assaults by gangs of skinheads on darker-skinned people.

  • What money should I take?
The currency is the Koruna (CZK). Major cards such as American Express, Diners Club, Discover, Visa, MasterCard and others may be used to exchange currency and are also accepted in some hotels, restaurants and shops, and in ATMs.
Travellers cheques are are accepted in banks, but only rarely in hotels and almost never in restaurants. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars, Euros or Pounds Sterling.

  • What language will they understand?
The official language is Czech. English and German are also spoken.

  • How about my health?
State-run and private medical facilities exist in the Czech Republic. In Prague, there are a number of Western-style medical clinics with English-speaking doctors and dentists. Many doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash, regardless of whether you have travel health insurance. Serious medical problems will require air evacuation to a country with state-of-the-art medical facilities.

  • Public Holidays

2012

January 01 New Year's Day
April 09 Easter Monday
May 01 May Day
May 08 Liberation Day
July 05 Day of the Apostles St Cyril and St Methodius
July 06 Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Jan Hus
September 28 Czech Statehood Day
October 28 Independence Day
November 17 Freedom and Democracy Day
December 25 Christmas

2013
January 01 New Year's Day
April 01 Easter Monday
May 01 Labour Day
May 08 Liberation Day
July 05 Saints Cyril and Methodius Day
July 06 Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Jan Hus
September 28 Czech Statehood Day
October 28 Independence Day
November 17 Freedom and Democracy Day
December 25 Christmas Day

  • Do I need a visa?
South African passport holders require a visa for the Czech Republic.

  • Will I need any innoculations before I depart?
No innoculations are required for the Czech Republic.