Driving in the Czech Republic – 15 Things You Need to Know
- Belt up
- Motorway vignette
- Speed limits
- Drink driving rules
- Headlights rules
- Parking, turning and overtaking
- Things to take in the car
- Road trips
- Rental info
- Emergency contacts
Czech Republic – a gorgeous place to hit the road
Getting ready to roll in the Czech Republic? Good stuff – this really is one of the most stunningly scenic nations on Earth and the best place to see it is in the comfort of your own vehicle. If you haven’t been before, what springs to mind when you think of this central European nation? Are you picturing foaming steins of delicious pilsener beer? Dramatic castles? Lively nights out? The Czech Republic is all this and a whole lot more. Also known as Czechia, it was formerly called Bohemia. And it certainly is a rhapsody of mountains and hills, valleys and rivers, exciting urban areas like Brno, Plzen, Liberec and its architecturally astounding capital Prague. Archaeological evidence suggests that this has been a human hangout since at least the Paleolithic era, but it’s the Bohemian era (from 1002 AD to 1806) AD which was most influential in shaping that Czech Republic we know and love today.
These days, terrific things to see and do in Czechia include exploring the vast, romantic Prague Castle complex, strolling across the ornate Charles Bridge, discovering the 13th century, UNESCO World Heritage Site Cesky Krumlov Castle, and Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul in Brno. With undulating hills, thick forests and crystal streams, Czechia is a driver’s dream – take these 15 tips on driving on board and you’ll have an absolute ball.
15 things you need to know about driving in the Czech Republic
You should strap on your seatbelt in the Czech Republic the same as in any country. It’s mandatory here for everyone inside your vehicle to wear a seatbelt and all kids under 36kg and/or 150cm should use an appropriate child safety seat. Also (as you might expect), if you’re the child’s parent or person renting the vehicle, you’re held responsible for fitting the child seat/s securely.
If you’re fond of tooting your horn, you better cut down on your peeps in the Czech Republic. And in certain instances, cut them out completely. For example, you’re forbidden to use your horn in Prague city centre between 9pm and 5am from 15th March and 15th October and between 8pm and 6am between 15th October and 15th March.
To use the Czech motorway system legally, you’ll need to buy an electronic vignette. Don’t take a chance and drive without one – you’ll face a hefty fine if the police catch you. If you drive across the border into the Czech Republic, you can buy the vignette from self-service kiosks or alternatively, you can pre-buy online. Certain vehicles are exempt however, including electric vehicles, hybrid and hydrogen vehicles and historic vehicles.
Here’s one travel requirement that’s not directly linked to driving, but if you don’t fulfil it, you won’t be allowed to enter the Czech Republic at all. From November 2022, non-EU visitors to the nation will have to apply online for an ETIAS visa waiver – something for all post-Brexit Brits to bear in mind.
The speed limit on Czech motorways is 81mph, it’s 31mph in built-up areas, and 55mph on roads outside built-up areas. Other speed limits apply in specific areas so please always observe the local signage and, as ever, be especially careful on rural roads where you may encounter slow-moving agricultural vehicles, livestock or wild animals.
The vital documents you should bring with you to drive in the Czech Republic are a full, valid UK driving license, your car insurance certificate, V5 registration or rental documents if you’re hiring a car. The minimum age to drive is 18 but it’s 19 minimum to rent a car and if you’re under 25, some rental firms apply a surcharge.
Drink driving rules
The drink driving limit in Czech Republic is easy to remember – it’s 0%. In other words, there’s a zero tolerance policy in force and you’ll face severe consequences if you don’t comply. Czech Republic is the home of delicious pilsener beer, but if you’re sampling it, be sure that your car is parked up for long enough for the alcohol to completely leave your system. You’re probably best not touching a drop when you’re driving anywhere in the world, but at least Czech Republic keeps the limit clear and simple.
Unless signage indicates otherwise, you should give priority to vehicles coming from the right at intersections in the Czech Republic. You should also be careful when sharing the road with buses and trams – slow down and be prepared to make a complete stop to allow them to merge into regular traffic from their prescribed lanes.
Another rule British drivers need to get used to in Czech Republic concerns headlights. Specifically, you’ve got to keep them on all day long, all year round. This is to ensure that other drivers can see you at all times.
Parking, turning and overtaking
You drive on the right hand of the road in the Czech Republic and overtake on the left. You’re not permitted to turn right or make a U-turn at a red traffic light, and in two-way traffic you have to park parallel with the curb, on the right hand side of the road. There are parking restrictions wherever you see a dotted yellow line and you can’t park where you see a solid yellow line. It’s also wise to take note of a few important traffic signs. ‘Usek Castych Nehod’ means ‘high accident route’, ‘Bez Poplatku’ is ‘toll-free road’, ‘Rozsvit Svetla’ means ‘turn on lights’, ‘Zakaz Zastaveni’ is ‘no stopping’ and ‘Prujezd Zakazan’ means ‘no through traffic’.
Things to take in the car
Whether you only intend to hop between neighbouring towns and cities or have your eye on longer road trips, there are a few items you should probably pack in your car. If you’re hitting the road in winter, make sure there’s some antifreeze in the windscreen fluid, that you’ve got a reflective jacket, fire extinguisher and spare bulbs for external headlights.
There are lots of lovely road trips in the Czech Republic and if you’ve got time, there’s so much scenic terrain to explore. For instance, you can roll out from Prague to explore Lednice and South Moravia, see forest glades, rocky ridges and rolling hills in Bohemian Paradise, or discover Tabor and Southern Bohemia, with its pretty castles, hiking trails and lush landscapes.
There are plenty of petrol stations in towns and cities in the Czech Republic, so you won’t struggle to fill your tank and it’s always better to do so before a longer trip. There are also 136 charging stations in Prague and the network is spreading steadily across the nation.
For many people, hiring a car in the Czech Republic is the best way to see the country as it allows you to travel in the privacy of your own social bubble, to your own itinerary. And there are lots of car rental providers to choose from. For instance, book right here at Enjoy Travel and at Prague Airport, you can choose from the likes of Green Motion, Nu Car Rentals, Carwiz Rent-A-Car, Right Cars Global Rentals, National, Enterprise and Alamo. The type of car you choose will depend on the requirements of your group and what kind of excursions you have planned, but popular models include the compact Ford Focus, economy models like the Volkswagen Polo, intermediate cars such as the Skoda Octavia, and SUV-style vehicles like the Hyundai Tucson and Jeep Compass. If you’re spending all (or most) of your time in a city like Prague, you might be best to hire a smaller car because parking spaces are very tight and larger vehicles can be damaged if not parked properly. Always park in a patrolled car park area to prevent theft and remember that you might have to order items like Satnav and Car seats separately. Another tip is booking a car with unlimited mileage – it’s such a stunning country that you’ll be inspired to get around as much as possible. Most car hire companies will provide you your car with a full tank of petrol and you’ll be expected to return it the same way.
In the unlikely event you’re in an accident in the Czech Republic, call 112 immediately to talk to emergency services in English. Meanwhile, the police contact number is 158, municipal police 156, fire and rescue service is 150 and emergency medical service is 155.