Czech Republic Rail Passes and Train Tips

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?

Train Fares: Czech Republic

Map shows approximate costs, in $US, for one-way, second-class tickets. For first-class fares, add 50 percent.

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

What are my options for rail passes that cover the Czech Republic?

Czech Republic Eurail Pass

European East Pass (4 countries) → key details

Central Europe Triangle Passkey details

Eurail Global Pass (31 countries) → read more about this pass

Rail Europe shopping cart: Have an order underway? Review and complete it here.

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).

Any tips for buying point-to-point train tickets in the Czech Republic?

If a rail pass doesn't pencil out for your trip, see our general tips for buying point-to-point tickets.


What if I need help with my Rail Europe order?

All orders for passes and tickets are fulfilled by Rail Europe (not by Rick Steves' Europe). For customer-service questions, contact them online (or call 800-622-8600, but expect long waits and periods of unavailability at the call desk) — and keep in mind that refund options are fairly limited.


European East and Central Europe Triangle rail passes: Key details

European East Pass: Covers nearly all trains in Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary (but isn't accepted on the Czech Republic's Regiojet, Leo Express, Arriva, or GW Train Regio trains — all described above, nor on Austria's privately operated WestBahn trains). This pass has no youth or senior discount; kids age 4–11 pay half price. Note: This is not a Eurail-brand pass, so overnight trains are counted according to the "7 p.m. rule," and special Eurail promotional deals don't apply to this pass.

Central Europe Triangle Pass: Covers three train trips in a circle of either Vienna–Budapest–Prague or Vienna–Salzburg–Prague (choose your cities at time of purchase). If these specific routes fit your trip, this pass saves money over buying separate train tickets between these cities. You can start at any listed city and travel in either direction to return to your starting point via the most direct route. For instance, Prague–Salzburg travel is covered via Linz (6/day, 1 direct, most with 2 changes), but not via Germany. Not valid on Austria's privately operated WestBahn trains. This pass is pre-validated for your specified one-month travel period, but still needs to be activated (stamped) by a train-station staffer prior to first use, and cannot be refunded after the first day of validity. This pass has no youth or senior discount; kids age 4–11 pay half price. Note: This is not a Eurail-brand pass, so special Eurail promotional deals don't apply to this pass.