How to get around in Czech Republic (via train)? 🚂
In this post, you’ll learn about Czech Republic train transport, where to get tickets, how to find platforms and which apps to get to get around Czech Republic easily. 🚞
Intercity wise, most people in Czech Republic prefer a public transport, especially train travel, or via personal car. If you are a new student in Czech Republic and cannot afford to rent or buy your own car, you will find that travelling via train or bus is the most convenient way for you.
For train travel, there are several carriers that operate on Czech railways.
The most common one is, České Dráhy, a Czech national transport carrier. You can fin them on their website here or for easy access, you can download their app called Můj vlak (My train) here. Both of them offers Czech and English language options. You can also check your train schedule and your train’s platform numbers in the app and the website. When you purchase from their website or their application, You can have free reservation option depending on your train. Reservations will be useful if you are travelling on crowded hours from Prague to Hradec such as on Sunday nights.
Don’t forget to take advantage of their student discount option on both their website and application! At the “Passengers” section, choose Junior 18-25 years and ISIC card options. You must have a valid (unexpired) ISIC (International Student Identity Card) and be less than 26 years old. Once you are on the train, train conductor will ask you for your purchased ticket and your ISIC so make sure you bring your ISIC along with you everywhere you travel. With ISIC, you will get 50% discount on all Czech train and bus tickets.
Some but not all of their trains offer free wifi. Type in cdwifi.cz in one of your browsers and you will be redirected to their wifi connecting page.
This is a private train company founded in Brno, Czech Republic. You can identify them at the Czech train stations by their distinct yellow wagons. Regiojet is a perfect option if you want to travel to Moravia region of Czech Republic (for example: Brno, Ostrava, Olomouc).
Their train offers three classes such as ‘Standard’, ‘Relax’ and ‘Business’. All their couches are spacious and comfortable. My preference is a ‘Relax’ class where they serve free water, Relax class food and drink menu option, and Relax class super spacious leather couches. They also offer sleeping couches on their night train to cities outside of Czech Republic.
Regiojet also accepts ISIC. The same conditions applies as in České Dráhy. They also offers bus travel within Czech Republic and in Europe. You can buy Regiojet tickets on their website and on their application. Both of Regiojet website and app offers English language and option to pay in both Euros and Czech crowns (CZK).
There are other companies (less frequently used by me) such as LeoExpress and Arriva. They both also offers ISIC discount. LeoExpress can be more expensive than the above two carriers I mentioned. Arriva is a new company and is currently working together with České Dráhy. You might find yourself in one of Arriva’s trains when you buy tickets from České Dráhy website.
How to find your train in Czech train stations? 🚉
This is one of the most challenging part of Czech train travel: to actually find your train!
Once you are in the train station, you will most likely find several big blue boards with Czech language that has multiple train schedules. Prague train station has English translations next to them. However, if you travel in smaller cities, you will find that there are no English translations.
To find your train, you have to look for blue notice board labelled with ‘ODJEZD’ which means ‘departure’. The other board is ‘PŘÍJEZD’ and it means ‘arrival’. In the app, you can see your train platform next to the name of your departure city.
On the ‘ODJEZD’ board, you will find rows with these titles in Czech:
Vlak means ‘train’.
Číslo means ‘number’.
Jméno in this case is the ‘name of the train’.
Doprav. is a short for of a Czech word that means ‘carrier’ and here you will find the company of the train here. For example, ‘ČD’ for České Dráhy.
Cilová stanice means ‘destination station’. It is the last station that the train will stop. Note that last station might not be the same as the station you will get down. Don’t worry if you can’t find the name of your visiting city here.
Směr jízdy means ‘train direction’. Here, you can find a list of major cities that your train will stop in the middle. Again, you may or may not find your visiting city here.
Pravidelný odjezd means ‘regular departure time’. It means that the original time your train is intended to leave. It is very common that the train here has a lot of delay, especially during strong wind conditions, so don’t forget to plan your trip ahead.
Nást. is a short form of the Czech word that means ‘platform’. This is the most important section you are looking for. Here you will find numbers written in these ways: 3/2, 3/2J, 3/2S or 1/2a, just to give a few examples. I will explain you what they mean in the next section.
Zpoždění means ‘delay’ and it is shown in minutes.
I hope you enjoyed your brief Czech language session ;)
Ok, so you found your train platform. Let’s use this example ‘3/2’. The first number stands for the main platform. Platform 1 is closest to the train station building and it means the first exit from the building. For example in Prague train station, Platform 1 is the closest exit and Platform 6 is the furthest exit from the main building.
Once you are on the main platform 3, there are two railways on each sides. The 2 in this example represents which side of the train will depart. You can find that number on left or right side the main platform.
What about 3/2S or 3/2J? The main platforms can be very long, up to a kilometre (maybe I am over-exaggerating). Up to two or three trains can be in one platform in row on each side. In this case, you will have to know which one of those three trains is yours. S stands for ‘Severní = North’ and J stands for ‘Jižní = South’. Position yourself facing in front of the exits to the main platforms. You are facing “East”. The right side of you will be “South (J)” and the left of you will be “North (S)”.
Let’s say you have a train with platform 3/2S. You will look for the 3rd exit of the main platforms. Once you reach number 3, you will turn to the left “North (S)” side of the exit 3. After that, you will look for sub-platform number 2. Tada!
Once you are on the train, look for the destination station and the continuous display of cities in between on the board above you. If you cannot find your visiting station, you might be on the wrong train. You can step out and ask for train conductor for help.
One major app that will help you with travelling around Czech Republic is iDOS on Andriod and on Apple. At the top of the app, you can choose “All timetables”, “Trains + Buses”, “Hradec Kralove” and all the cities of Czech Republic. Make sure you have your location always turned on while using this app.
When you are in the app, type in the name of your current stop, and the final stop. Press Search. You will find several connections available for you. Press on one of the connections. On the top right corner, you will find a Map icon. Here, you can see your current location, your starting station with a green flag and final station with a red flag (wink wink). You can also see where your ride is currently at. This map function is very useful when you are travelling to different city and you don’t know where the nearest station is. GoogleMaps helps but iDOS is more helpful, in my opinion.
Happy travelling! 🚏
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