Trains to Czech Republic
National rail operator
Facts about Czech Republic
- Currency: Koruna (CZK)
- Timezone: 1+ UTC
- Language: Czech
The Czech Republic is a railway paradise. Train travel is part of the Czech way of life. No other country in central Europe can boast quite such a fine-mesh network of main lines and rural railways extending to every corner of the land. The Herculean process of upgrading an outdated rail infrastructure is well underway, and travellers will find comfortable, modern trains on most main routes. These include smart Railjet trains which serve the Prague – Brno – Vienna line and the SuperCity Pendolino services which run from Prague to Ostrava, Bohumín and Cheb.
Move away from the principal trunk routes, and you’ll discover some of Europe’s most retro railway experiences. Ancient railcars toil over hills and down dales, often with no more than a handful of passengers on board. Fares on these branch railways are extremely cheap – and so too are the prices of accommodation and food once you move away from Prague.
It is well worth exploring beyond the capital. The spa towns of Bohemia each offer their own particular kind of laid-back charm. Karlovy Vary, Frantiskovy Lázne and Mariánské Lázne all have excellent rail connections. So too have the medieval towns of South Bohemia – such as Ceský Krumlov. It is worth bearing in mind that many provincial centres have an excellent choice of international rail connections. In a word, there is much more to the Czech Republic than Prague.
There are direct daytime trains to Prague (and other Czech cities) from Berlin, Dresden, Munich, Vienna and Budapest. If you do not mind a spell on a long-distance coach rather than a train, Deutsche Bahn offer a non-stop express bus service from Nuremberg to Prague. Tickets for that road service are fully integrated into the European rail ticketing system and can thus be purchased on Loco2. Prague has a useful range of overnight trains with departures every evening for Zurich, Kraków and Warsaw.
The main national operator is České dráhy, often shortened to ČD, which is noted for having great restaurant car fare. Don't expect haute cuisine, but rather a good range of hearty Czech classics at decent prices - with Czech wines and beers to match. In 2018, České dráhy won the Loco2 award (in The Great Train Comparison) for the best on-board catering in Europe.
České dráhy no longer enjoys the monopoly position it once did. There is a whiff of competetion on Czech rails these days, with both RegioJet and Leo Express now challenging ČD on key routes. RegioJet seized a big share of the Prague to Vienna market in 2018, while Leo Express - which in late 2018 launched direct train services from Prague to Kraków in Poland - is said to have eyes on the Prague to Berlin market for late 2019.