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, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia & Austria
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. 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 Eastern Europe
• Answers to frequently asked rail-pass questions
Choose one of the passes below to check prices and to buy your pass (orders are fulfilled by Rail Europe).
Extra tip #1: The European East Pass not only beats the price of an Austria–Czech Eurail Pass, but covers two more countries as well (Hungary and Slovakia).
Extra tip #2: 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?
Virtually all trains within the Czech Republic, as well as the following extras:
- Express buses to/from Prague and several German cities are covered by both Czech and German rail passes, but require a paid seat reservation (you'll pay a higher fee if your pass only includes one of the countries).
- Other 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.
Czech Republic Rail Passes: Key Details
Single-country Czech Republic Eurail Pass: Valid for one month, not two, after you've activated the pass (whereas multi-country Eurail-brand passes offer a two-month window of travel). The 7 p.m. rule for night trains does not apply with this pass.
European East Pass: Covers nearly all trains in Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary (but isn't accepted on Austria's "WestBahn" brand private trains). Valid for just one month, not two, after you've activated the pass.
Austria–Czech Republic Eurail Pass: Since the European East Pass covers trains in more countries for less money, it's a better buy than this pass. Getting the Austria–Czech Eurail Pass only makes sense if you're planning to spread your train travel over a period longer than 30 days.
Czech Republic–Germany Eurail Pass: If you're mostly traveling by train within Germany, and your only Czech leg of train travel is between the German border and Prague, you're probably better off skipping this pass, especially given that the single-country German Rail Pass covers direct buses between Prague and Nürnberg, Munich, and Mannheim. If you're opting to take the train instead, or are headed to Prague from anywhere else in Germany (say from Berlin or Dresden), it's still cheaper to just buy a train ticket between the border and Prague (about $20 each way, be sure to buy before boarding) than to pay for this two-country 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, then 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 "WestBahn" brand private trains. This pass is pre-validated for your specified one-month travel period, and cannot be refunded after the first day of validity.