By Rick Steves
Are rail passes a good value for the Czech Republic?
Since point-to-point train tickets are cheap in the Czech Republic, as they are throughout Eastern Europe, a rail pass isn't likely to save you much money. The main reason to buy a rail pass in this region is to avoid the hassle of buying tickets as you go. If a rail pass happens to match the countries you plan to visit, it can be a smart choice.
How do I see whether a rail pass makes sense for my trip in particular?
Use this map to add up approximate pay-as-you-go fares for your itinerary, and compare that cost to the price of a rail pass for the number of days you expect to spend on the train. (Dashed lines show bus routes, which aren't covered by rail passes.) Also, follow the links below for:
• More tips for figuring out whether a pass makes sense for your trip
• The basics on choosing among rail passes
• More tips on how to save money by fine-tuning your rail pass
• Advice on deciding between first and second class
• Fare-estimate maps outside the Czech Republic
• Answers to frequently asked rail-pass questions
Extra tip #1: If your trip is primarily Germany-based, and your only Czech leg of train travel is between the German border and Prague, you maybe fine just getting the German Rail Pass, since it covers direct buses between Prague and Nürnberg, Munich, and Mannheim.
Extra tip #2: Keep in mind that if you string together more than one regional rail pass (such as a Germany Rail Pass and a European East Pass), you'll use a day from each pass when crossing the border between them.
Do I need to make seat reservations on Czech trains?
For the most part, you can hop on nearly all Czech trains with just your rail pass in hand. Only overnight trains, and some international routes, require reservations (as indicated in online train schedules).
What do rail passes cover in the Czech Republic?
Passes cover travel on all trains operated by the ČD (Czech Railways), which runs the vast majority of Czech trains. Eurail-brand passes (but not European East passes) cover trains operated by Regiojet (yellow trains that connect Prague to neighboring countries) and Leo Express (black and gold trains primarily running on the Prague–Košice route, and sometimes on to Kraków).
No kind of rail pass covers privately run Arriva (green trains) or GW Train Regio trains (orange/green trains that most notably handle the České Budějovice–Český Krumlov leg of any nondirect connections between Prague and Český Krumlov).
Besides train travel, passes also cover the following extras:
- Express buses to/from Prague and several German cities, provided you make a paid seat reservation
- A handful of minor bonuses (described in materials that come with the rail pass).
If a rail pass doesn't pencil out for your trip, see our general tips for buying point-to-point tickets.