The Czech Republic offers lots of great destinations for cycle touring. You can basically cycle anywhere in the country as there are plenty of tourist or cycle paths or many side roads with little traffic.
I would like to give you some tips to improve your experience of my country.
Hiking and cycling
The entire country is covered by a network of signposted cycle routes and hiking paths.
The cycle routes run mostly along quiet side roads and off-road trails, often in very picturesque locations. You don’t have to stick to the marked routes, of course, but they do make route-finding easier in the field.
The hiking trails were originally designed for hikers. Unless you use a road bike you can cycle on the most of the hiking paths as well. I guess that maybe less than 10 % of the hiking network is not suitable for cycling (such can be find in the mountains or in gorges; mostly you can still carry your bicycle there).
Of course, you can use a dense network of side roads for cycling throughout the country. You will not meet many cars on them, though around Prague, Brno and Ostrava they may be busier.
Read about the signposting of:
Information about the:
- European EuroVelo network in Czechia can be found here
- long distance cycle routes called Greenways can be found here
Bicycle helmets are compulsory for cyclists younger than 18, but they are recommended for everyone. Riding a bike (as well as driving a car) while under the influence of any alcohol can lead to a fine as it is officially prohibited in the Czech Republic. But you should know that most of the Czech cyclists have a beer or wine stops while cycling and they do not obey the alcohol prohibition (you shouldn’t cycle while being drunk though).
You can meet fruit trees around the roads if you are visiting in a good season (late spring, summer and early autumn). Do not hesitate to pick the fruit for the refreshment. Cherries, plums, pears or apples can be a good snack and you don’t have to worry to collect them (avoid plantations).
There are no dangerous animals in Czechia. There are many wild boars in the forest – they should smell you and they shouldn’t come close to you, though you can hear them very well in the night while wild camping. As you will travel a lot in the nature you will probably meet with tick bites. Try to remove the tick as soon as possible. Details how to treat tick bites as well as description of diseases spread by ticks can be read here. There is a vaccine available for tick-borne encephalitis (needs to be applied in advance).
I think that one of the best things on the cycle touring is that you can sleep more less anywhere if you have a tent. Officially, according to the Czech law, you can sleep just under the stars (outside protected areas and national parks). The reality is a bit different.
You don’t have to hesitate to put up your tent for a night to have a comfortable sleep. Just follow these basic rules. Try to find a place where you can be unseen by anybody, especially by cars. The best place can be found in the forest, a bit further away off the forest roads, but you can have nice stars and morning on the edge between field and forest too. The more populated area you are in, the more you should be hidden. It is always better to sleep further off the towns (about 5 kms) or cities (about 10 kms).
You should hide more if you wild camp in protected areas (signposted as CHKO) and it is better to avoid wild camping in national parks (marked as Národní park or NP), especially first zones of NPs (signposted as I. zóna). You can cycle just on roads or cycle routes in the national parks.
There are many paid camping sites with different level of quality in the Czech Republic. You can find them especially in areas with higher amount of tourist. The best list of the sites can be found at Camp.cz.
If you want to stay in a hotel or bed & breakfast search for it at Booking.com, the booking service is easy and very comfortable to use. A Czech local option for booking an accommodation can be Hotel.cz – you might find some options not listed in Booking.com in there.
You can read general information about the climate in the Czech Republic here.
The most reliable weather information is provided by Czech hydrometeorological institute, its homepage with many links is provided in English.
You can find one-day forecast here and the weekly forecast charts can be found here. Android application with not only weather forecast can be downloaded for Android. The weather forecast produced by computer model Aladin is here and mobile apps can be downloaded too – for Android and for iPhone.
While cycling it is a good idea to avoid showers and thunderstorms. Current precipitations are covered by meteo radars – online results are displayed in a map; the Android app called Meteor can be downloaded here.
Google maps are good option if travelling by car as you can have a live traffic once being online. There is a better map option for cycling, hiking or walking in the towns.
It is called Mapy.cz – they are the best tourist maps you can get for the Czech Republic (English version available). I would advise you to use them at least for Czechia, but you can use them for all Europe (but I don’t know their quality elsewhere). Many places of interest are included in the maps – they are marked with different icons.
Mapy.cz – web version
The website can be found at en.mapy.cz. You can find tourist and cycle tourist tracks if you switch for Tourist map in Mapy.cz. It is a good idea to login into the maps (small button for that is located at the very bottom of the screen on the right panel). You need to sign up first. Once you are logged in you can save places and routes into „My favourites“ in so called „Backpack“ for later recall.
Planning a route can be bit tricky (as it is quite sophisticated), but you will find out how to do it. You can change the mean of transport for individual parts of the route – you can select MTB, road bike and hiker.
Mapy.cz – mobile version
You can log into the app with the above mentioned login as well. Your favourites will be synchronized between the web-browser and your mobile.
You can download any map offline and use it without mobile/wifi connection.
There is a version of Mapy.cz in Microsoft store for Windows 10 as well. Currently it is under development and it doesn’t cover all functions of the Android/iPhone mobile versions (but it can change soon).
We don’t have euros in the Czech Republic. Our currency is called Koruna, abbreviated as Kč – English translation is Czech crown, international currency code is CZK.
You can use your debit/credit card (both Visa and Mastercard products) almost everywhere (contactless payments are very popular). These are the exceptions where payments by card can be refused: private accommodation in B&B or cheap hotels, village pubs, small groceries and bakeries (especially in villages), stalls. You don’t need cash in Prague.
If you need cash the best option is to withdraw them in ATMs (check the fees of your bank card issuer first), they are widely spread around the country. If you want to exchange your euros or dollars if possible always use the banks. You should check rough currency rates at xe.com or here in advance if there is no other option and you have to exchange your money outside a bank in an exchange office (be careful and do not get robbed).
When you come in a shop or a restaurant (or anywhere else) you should know that all goods and services should be marked by price tags. Do not order anything where you don’t know the price in advance. If you are not sure ask twice before you order.
Tipping in restaurants is not mandatory, but certainly desired. If you receive good service and want to leave something, 5 – 10 % is usually enough. If you didn’t like the service, you don’t have to tip. Note that you probably won’t see a “tip” section on your bill. Sometimes it is not possible to tip when paying by card (you can give the tip in cash).
Useful links and applications
As we speak Czech in my country you may find useful to download Google Translate tool which can help you when communicating with locals. You will meet many people speaking English in Prague and in tourist services throughout the country, but we are not like Nordic countries where “everybody” speaks English. Android version is here and iPhone version is here. Note that you can download offline files so you can use the app without Internet connection.
Description and details of Czech tourist sights can be found here.
A popular YouTube channel Honest Guide describes beauties and risks you can meet (not just) in Prague.