Driving in the Czech Republic - How to Do It Safely

With charming towns and amazing countryside, one of the best ways to see the Czech Republic is by driving. We take a look at what you need to know before you take to the roads.

Since becoming a democracy just a few decades ago, the Czech Republic has become a popular travel destination. With such a rich history and fascinating culture, there's certainly plenty to do and see. But once you arrive, there is the matter of finding the best form of transportation. Here are some tips and suggestions on how to get around Czech Republic safely.

Driving

Although it's not really that common, you do have the option of renting a vehicle in Czech (provided you have the proper license). If you do choose to go this route, before you drive off the lot with your rental, it's important to know what the roads may hold in store.

Many locals speak English, however street signs and other road markers will be in the local lingo. Most hire cars these days come with English speaking sat navs making getting to your destination a bit easier than having to take a crash course in Czech.

The roads aren't terrible, although there are some nasty potholes around that could damage your vehicle if you're not careful. There is a relatively new law that requires drivers to stop for pedestrians, so don't be surprised if a person just steps out in front of your vehicle at a crossing. If you hit them, you are always in the wrong. On the other hand, if you happen to be the person on foot, you should also be aware that many drivers still fail to obey the new law so be cautious when crossing.

Watch for trams and listen for their bells. If they ring it at you, they're telling you to get out of their way. Take heed, as these drivers show little mercy for others. If you come upon a tram that's stopped, don't try to pass it on the inside since that's where the passengers board and disembark. Flashing traffic lights mean they are not in service so be particularly cautious when approaching an intersection. In this type of situation, traffic on the right always has the right of way. Czechs are notorious for not using their turn signals, so pay close attention to those around you and be prepared to stop at any time.

If you drive on the motorway, keep in mind that you are only supposed to pass on the left. This law, however, is rarely adhered to so keep an eye on all your mirrors.

If you happen to be involved in a collision, don't move your vehicle. It's required that the police first inspect the scene. Of course, if you feel that the location of your car is placing you in harm's way, by all means get to someplace safer. But be sure to mark the location of all vehicles involved in the crash first.

Taxis

You'll notice that in the Czech Republic, taxis are everywhere, but it's not always a good idea to simply flag one down and hop in since some drivers are often looking to rip off foreigners. Your best bet is to use a reputable company (someone at your hotel should be able to help) and try to negotiate a price before you hire them. 

To avoid catching a dodgy taxi, call for or ask the restaurant/accommodation to call for a radio taxi. If you need to hail one from the street, official taxis are yellow with a lit up TAXI sign on the roof. The drivers name and license number are displayed on the front doors.

Taxi stands located within the cities regularly post common fare prices for rides to popular tourist attractions. These prices are sometimes not accurate, and still others are grossly inflated. One particularly deceitful company deliberately named themselves AAA Taxi, in the hopes that tourists might confuse them with the reputable company AAA Radiotaxi Praha. They lure unsuspecting foreigners into hiring them and then charge up to four times the proper rate.


If you still decide to use a taxi, insist on using the meter and ask the driver to give you a receipt. Since receipts typically contain the driver's name, address and ID number they may be less likely to try and pull a fast one on you. Also, if you speak any Czech at all, that's the time to do so. It's estimated that you have a 50% chance of being overcharged if you don't speak the language.

Other options

As common as taxis are, given the risk of being overcharged it's often better to seek other means of transportation around Czech. There are plenty of alternatives, such as public transportation, which offers fast, reliable and inexpensive ways to get from here to there. The metro runs all day up until midnight in Prague, and night trams are available every evening, throughout the night with a central stop in Lazarsk. There are also trains for longer distance treks and even boats if you've got the time. Always bear in mind, however, the increased risk of petty crime on public transportation and take appropriate precautions.

Regardless of the mode of transportation you choose, by understanding what risks come with each and how to prepare for them you will be able to get to wherever you need to go in the Czech Republic without incident.

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1 Comment

  • Siri Jodha S Khalsa said

    I'm an expat living in Brno, and have a Czech drivers license. It is important to note that trams have the right of way, even above pedestrians. And I would disagree about Czech's use of turn signals, while on the highways you may encounter drivers (often from out of country) who neglect to do so, it is emphasized and enforced, and you're expected to signal even when doing things like moving around a double parked car in a residential neighborhood.

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