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Czech Republic Country Information
During the past few decades the Czech Republic has slowly been emerging as a popular tourist destination, favoured particularly by the discerning traveller seeking culture and charm rather than pizzazz and parties.

However, most visitors still tend to explore no farther than the capital, Prague. Fewer than 10 percent of tourists venture into the countryside, which means they are missing out on a treat. Prague, westernised and cosmopolitan, is a beautiful city of spires and a visual feast of medieval, baroque and art nouveau architecture. Leave the city behind and visitors will find a magnificent undulating landscape of mountains and plains, forests and farmland.

The Czech Republic is divided into two geographic and cultural sections, Bohemia and Moravia. Bohemian spa towns and laid-back Moravian wine villages seem to be in a time warp, welcoming visitors as though they are living museums of a refined and relaxed rural lifestyle. There are more than 100 castles dotted around the countryside, ranging from forbidding fortresses to elegant chateaux, all open to the public.

The Czech countryside is also a major drawcard for hikers, cyclists and cross-country skiers, with hundreds of kilometres of marked trails networking the landscape.

Basic Information
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs with a hole for a male grounding pin are standard. Most sockets also take the standard European two-pin plugs.

Current: The official currency is the Czech crown, locally known as the Koruna (CZK), which is divided into100 haler. Most credit cards including American Express, Diners Club, Visa and MasterCard are accepted, but it is best to have cash handy when travelling away from Prague and the main tourist centres. Travellers cheques and foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some hotels; commission is highest in hotels. Banks are closed on weekends. ATMs (known as 'bankomats') are becoming more common in Prague and are probably the best way to obtain local currency at a good rate and without commission. The Czech Republic is still cheap compared to the rest of Europe, though the gap is closing.

Language: Czech is the official language but English and German are also widely spoken.

Travel Health: There have been cases of Swine Flu confirmed in the Czech Republic. There are no vaccination requirements for international travellers, and no major health risks are associated with travel to the Czech Republic. A reciprocal health agreement with the UK entitles citizens with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to free emergency health care, however medical insurance is still advised. Visitors to forested areas should seek medical advice about immunisation against tick borne encephalitis. Outbreaks of bird flu have been reported; the risk to travellers is low, but close contact with live birds should be avoided and all egg and poultry dishes should be well cooked as a precaution.

Tipping: Tipping in restaurants is optional and no service charge is added to bills. Gratuities of 10% are expected if the service is good. Taxi drivers are tipped by rounding up the fare at the end of the journey.

Safety Information: The majority of visits to the Czech Republic are trouble-free, although the country has a risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which it shares with the rest of the world. On 1 August 2004 an explosive device in the centre of Prague injured 17 people, including tourists. Petty theft is on the increase, especially in Prague, and visitors should be vigilant about their belongings particularly on public transport and around the main tourist sites.

Local Customs: Drunken behaviour and drinking in public is punishable by law.

Business: Punctuality is vital in the Czech business world and dress should be smart and conservative. Initial greetings are usually formal, with a firm handshake. Titles and surnames are used, unless otherwise indicated. There is generally some small talk to establish rapport at the beginning of meetings; be polite and courteous. German is the most common foreign language used in the Czech Republic but English is widely spoken by younger generations. Translators are available and any attempts at speaking Czech will be appreciated. Deals can take a long time to manifest due to significant bureaucratic red tape and it is important to be patient. Business hours are usually 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday and some businesses close during the month August.

Communications: The international access code for the Czech Republic is +420. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Area codes are not required, and the first two digits of the number indicate geographical location. There are high surcharges on international calls from hotels; it is cheaper to use the public telephone boxes - phone cards can be bought from newsagents. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with all major international operators, except those in the USA. Internet cafes are available in the main towns.

Duty Free: Travellers to the Czech Republic over 17 years and entering from the EU do not have to pay customs duty on 800 cigarettes, or 400 cigarillos, or 200 cigars, or 1kg tobacco; 10 litres of spirits with alcohol content over 22%, or 20 litres of alcoholic beverages with alcohol volume less than 22%, or 90 litres of wine or 60 litres of sparkling wine, or 110 litres of beer. Travellers arriving from non-EU countries do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco, or a proportional assortment of these; 1 litre spirits or 2 litres wine; 50g perfume or 250ml eau de toilette; and food, fruits, medications and flowers for personal use. Other goods to the value of €175 per adult and €90 per child under 15 years are allowed.

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Weather and Climate in Czech Republic
The climate of the Czech Republic is continental, characterised by warm, humid, wet summers and very cold, dry winters. The capital, Prague, experiences temperatures ranging from 25°F (-4°C) during winter, to 73°F (23°C) during summer. The mountains in the north of Czech Republic experience more severe weather, with around 50 days of snowfall during winter.

Prague has a mild climate with warm, wet summers and cold winters. Average summer temperatures are 75-79° F (24-26°C), with chilly nights. In winter daytime temperatures hover around freezing, falling several degrees lower at night. Spring is generally sunny, the wettest months being in summer, May to August. Snow is rare in the city.

Czech Republic Visa and Entry Information

  • Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens must have a passport valid for at least 90 days beyond period of intended stay. A visa is not required for stays of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must have a passport, but a visa is not required. If passport is endorsed British National (Overseas), British Subject or British Overseas Territories Citizen with the right to abode in the UK then a visa is not required for a stay of up to three months. In all other cases, passports must be valid at least 90 days beyond expiry date of the visa and a visa is required.
  • Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians must have a passport valid for at least 90 days beyond period of intended stay. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens must have a passport valid for at least 90 days beyond period of intended stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans require a visa prior to arrival as well as a valid passport (must be valid for at least 90 days beyond expiry date of the visa). Visitors must register at the 'Authority of Aliens and Border Police' within three working days of arrival.
  • Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens must have a passport valid for at least 90 days beyond period of intended stay. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals must have a valid passport or a special (Emergency) passport. No visa is required.

Passport/Visa Note: The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all. All visitors must hold an onward or return ticket or proof of sufficient funds to buy a ticket, and all documents required for onward travel. Proof of sufficient funds to cover stay, as well as complete health insurance may also be required. These must be produced on request at border crossing points. Visitors must sign a border-crossing card. Passports of all visitors must be valid at least 90 days beyond expiry date of the visa, or 90 days beyond period of intended stay for visa exempt nationals. EEA members just require a valid passport on entry. Visitors must register at the 'Authority of Aliens and Border Police' (can be done by hotels).

Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.


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Attractions in Czech Republic

  • The Castle District (Hradèany) - The Castle District stretches across the top of the hill overlooking the city and incorporates the best churches and museums in Prague set around three courtyards, immaculate gardens, fortifications and state apartments.
  • St Vitus Cathedral - Situated within the Castle Complex, the spires of St Vitus Cathedral, an elegant but domineering French Gothic structure, soar above the ramparts. It is the county’s largest church containing numerous side chapels, frescoes, tombstones and beautiful stained glass windows and it literally sparkles with all the finery inside.
  • Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) - The pedestrian Charles Bridge serves as the focal point for tourists and is the most photographed feature of the city. Construction began in 1357 replacing the earlier Judith Bridge of which the only remaining part is one of the towers at the Malá Strana gate that can be climbed for a view of the city.
  • The Jewish Museum - The Jewish Museum is the largest and most authentic of its kind in Central Europe with one of the most extensive collections of Judaic art in the world. Situated in the old Jewish Quarter, exhibitions are spread over a variety of buildings and synagogues, including the Maisel, Spanish, Klausen and Pinkas Synagogues, the Ceremonial Hall, the Old Jewish Cemetery, the Robert Guttmann Gallery and the Education and Culture Centre.

Special Events in Chech Republic

  • Prague Spring International Music Festival - Prague Spring has become one of the most prestigious classical music festivals in Europe, presenting exceptional artists, orchestras and chamber music ensembles of international acclaim. Every year the festival is traditionally opened and closed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra. The festival also remembers important anniversaries in the music world by including works by the composers concerned.
  • Prague Autumn Festival - This international festival of classical music ends the European summer music festival season and has gained renown for its programme of celebrated musicians.
  • Christmas Markets - Christmas in Prague is a delightful season made special by the traditional Christmas markets that sparkle with lights and colourful decorations, that resound with Christmas music and smell of hot mulled wine, sausages and gingerbread. Brightly decorated wooden huts sell Czech handicrafts such as puppets, candles, wooden toys and jewellery, alongside traditional food and drinks. In Old Town Square, local and international choirs and musical ensembles sing Christmas songs, and a wooden stable recreates the Bethlehem manger scene with live animals. Other festive attractions include an open-air ice rink and the enormous Christmas tree ablaze with colourful lights.

Airports in Czech Republic

Prague-Ruzyne International Airport (PRG)

  • Location: The airport is situated 10 miles (16km) north west of Prague.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +420 220 113 314.
  • Getting to the city: Cedaz minibus shuttles leave regularly for the city centre; they can drop passengers off at hotels throughout the city. The Airport Express provides the quickest transport to Prague Main Train Station. Public buses have regular services to all areas of Prague departing from the front of the arrivals hall. Public transportation (Tel: +420 800 191 817) fares are based on time of travel but a minimum 75 minute allotment for the ride to the city centre costs US1.20 and US$2.50 on the Airport Express. Cars can be hired at fixed rates (Tel: +420 220 113 892) or taxis (420 2 2056 1788) are available to the city centre which both should take about 30 minutes. Taxis should cost US$30 and depart from the outside the arrivals hall.
    Car rental: All the major car rental companies are represented at the airport, including Avis, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.
  • Airport Taxis: Taxis are also available outside the Arrivals hall. For information and prebookings call +420(0)2 2056 1788. A taxi to the city centre should cost no more than CZK600 and take around 30 minutes. Agree this price with the driver before the journey begins as many licensed taxis are unmetered. A reputable taxi company is AAATaxi. Shared minibus taxis are also a cost effective option; call Cedaz on +420(0)2 2491 9240.
  • Facilities: There are a number of shops, bars, cafeterias and restaurants in the main terminal. Bureaux de change, ATMs and a bank are also available; the Travelex in the transit section is open 24 hours. Mobile phones can be rented from the Arrivals hall of Terminal North 1. Conference and meeting rooms can also be hired, and wireless Internet access is available in both terminals. Disabled facilities include wheelchairs and a transit car; passengers with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
  • Parking: There are abundant short and long-term parking facilities at the airport. Short-term parking is available in front of the north terminal, and there are more than 3,000 long-term parking bays.
  • Departure Tax: None.

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Driving Information

Drinking and driving:
Strictly forbidden. Nil percentage of alcohol allowed in drivers' blood. Fine between 25,000 and 50,000 Czech crown (CZK) and withdrawal of the driving licence for up to two years.

Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is considered a criminal offence.

Driving licence:
Minimum age at which a UK licence holder may drive a temporarily imported car 18, motorcycle up to 125cc 17, over 125cc 18 years.

Photocard licences are accepted - licenses that do not incorporate a photo must be accompanied by an International Driving Permit.

Fines:
On-the-spot , there is a maximum fine for traffic offence . An official receipt should be obtained.

The police are empowered to retain the driving licence in case of committing a serious traffic offence. Illegally parked vehicles may be clamped or towed away.

Fuel:
Unleaded petrol 'natural' (95 and 98 octane), diesel (nafta) and LPG (autoplyn or plyn) available. Up to 10 litres of petrol in a can permitted. Credit cards accepted at filling stations, check with your card issuer for usage in Czech
Republic before travel.

Driving Distances:
Prague to Brno - 210kms (2 hours/5 minutes)

Please click here http://www.viamichelin.com/ for more driving distances

Lights:
Use of dipped headlights during the day compulsory throughout the year. Fine for non-compliance: approximately 2,000 CZK. Any vehicle warning lights, other than those supplied with the vehicle as original equipment, must be made inoperative.

Motorcycles:
Use of dipped headlights during the day compulsory throughout the year. The wearing of crash helmets is compulsory for driver and passenger of motorcycles. It is forbidden for motorcyclists to smoke while riding their machine.

Motor Insurance:
Third party insurance compulsory.

Passengers / Children in cars:
All passengers must use seat belts. Child passengers (persons with a weight under 36kg and under 150cm in height) are not permitted to travel in a vehicle unless using a suitable restraint system.

A child seated in the front seats of a vehicle using a suitable child restraint system where the airbag is activated must travel facing forward.

Seat belts:
Compulsory for front and rear seat occupants to wear seat belts, if fitted.

Speed limits:
Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers: In built-up areas 31 mph (50 km/h), outside built-up areas 55 mph (90 km/h) and motorways (for vehicles not exceeding 3500kg and
buses) 80 mph (130 km/h).

On expressways that pass through built up areas 50mph (80 km/h).

Maximum speed with snow chains 31 mph (50km/h).

At railway crossings drivers must not exceed 18 mph (30 km/h) for 50m before the crossing. The arrival of a train is indicated by red flashing lights / red or yellow flag.

Vehicles that are constructed with a maximum speed of 49mph (80 km/h) or under are not permitted to travel on motorways.

Compulsory equipment:

  • First-aid kit
  • Warning triangle - not required for two wheeled vehicles Spare bulbs
  • Winter equipment - Vehicles must be fitted with either winter tyres (which must be marked M&S) or carry snow chains between the 1 November and the 30 April. Dependant upon weather conditions (if roads are covered with snow) this period may be extended. As snow chains can only be used when roads are completely covered, we recommend that winter tyres are fitted. The minimum depth on winter tyres is 4mm.
  • Reflective jacket – EU standard EN471. The driver of a vehicle with 2 or more axles must carry a reflective waistcoat which has to be used in the event of a breakdown or emergency outside a built up area on expressways and motorways. It has to be worn when exiting the vehicle in such circumstances and therefore must be kept within the car (not in the boot). The waistcoat is recommended for passengers and riders of mopeds and motorcycles.

Other rules / requirements:
Motorway tax is payable for the use of motorways and express roads. A windscreen sticker must be displayed on all four-wheeled vehicles as evidence of payment. Stickers can be purchased at the Czech frontier, UAMK branch offices, petrol stations or post offices for periods of one year, one month or seven consecutive days. Fines imposed for non-display.

The authorities at the frontier must certify any visible damage to a vehicle entering the Czech Republic. If any damage occurs inside the country a police report must be obtained at the scene of the accident. Damaged vehicles may only be taken out of the country on production of this evidence.

The use of an audible warning device is only permitted in built up areas to avoid imminent danger, they are prohibited between 2000hrs and 0600hrs, and in Prague.

The use of spiked tyres is prohibited.

A GPS based navigation system which has maps indicating the location of fixed speed cameras must have the ‘fixed speed camera PoI (Points of Interest)’ function deactivated. The use of radar detectors is prohibited.

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