ShowMeThe Journey's guide to Czech train tickets, and how to buy them online, covers the basics of what you can expect to encounter when making bookings.
The idea is to provide context for the tickets and journey options you should encounter, in usual circumstances, when making a booking either online or at the station.
SMTJ has striven to ensure that the advice presented is as accurate as possible, but a guide such as this cannot cover every combination of journey options.
CD (České dráhy) is the national rail operator in Czechia/The Czech Republic and it recently launched a highly impressive, revamped ticket booking site
České dráhy operates trains on all the main Czech routes, but it does not have a monopoly on rail services in The Czech Republic.
Other operators, Leo Express and Regiojet (see links below) also provide express train services, particularly on the Prag/Praha – Olomouc – Ostrava route; and CD unsurprisingly does not sell tickets online for these other trains.
So if you want a full comparison of the cheapest possible prices of a CD train with a Regiojet etc, you have to check each operator's website.
CD also sells international tickets for journeys by train between Czechia/The Czech Republic and Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and The Netherlands.
Why booking online with CD can be a good option:
There are four good reasons for booking train journeys within Czechia on the CD website:
(1) The CD website has an excellent English language version and the staff at ticket booking offices in Czechia may not speak English, particularly outside Praha/Prague.
(2) It’s always a good idea to look up departure times on CD before heading to the station and then having looked up a journey, it’s a comparatively straightforward 4-step process to book a ticket.
(3) Booking journeys for travel wholly within Czechia online is comparatively straightforward, you can add reservations and choose seats etc, the choice of tickets is simple and the T&Cs are spelled out etc.
(4) If you do subsequently realise you have booked the wrong ticket or journey, or want to amend your booking, or cancel your travel plans completely; any ticket booked online for a journey within Czechia can be refunded, prior to departure, without paying a surcharge.
These four things are worth keeping in mind:
1: Prices are displayed in Czech crowns/korunas only.
2: When booking a ticket, you will be given an option to enter your mobile phone number, so that your ticket reference number can be sent to your phone.
However, if you’re not Czech, it’s likely that CD will tell you that you have entered an invalid phone number, so if that occurs, simply leave this box blank; it’s not essential to the ticket purchase.
3: Tickets are usually placed on sale around two months ahead of the travel date.
4: Taking direct trains (when available) tends to be cheaper than changing trains.
Booking tickets on the CD website is comparatively simple, for any journey within Czechia in 2nd class a maximum of three types of ticket are available, but when travelling 1st class only one type of ticket can be booked
(1) ‘Flexi' tickets:
This type of ticket can be used on any departure on your chosen travel date; and if you buy tickets last minute at the station, you will be purchasing 'Flexi' tickets.
So the key advantage to ‘Flexi’ tickets is that booking them removes the pressure of having to be at the station on time to travel by your chosen departure, but that freedom comes at price, because this is the most expensive type of Czech train ticket.
You can also break a journey when on route to a final destination, continuing on to an end point later the same day.
What's relatively new is that if you want to travel 1st class on a journey within Czechia/The Czech Republic, on trains operated by CD, you can only purchase a Flexi ticket(s).
(2) ‘Flexi Discounted’ tickets:
If you want the freedom to take any departure, when travelling longer-distances in 2nd class, you can save money by booking these tickets in advance of your travel date.
They can be used in the same manner as Flexi tickets, but they're cheaper
(3) ‘Bound’ tickets:
These tickets are cheapest of all, because they can only be used on the specific departure you select when booking, but they are only available when travelling 2nd class.
SMTJ's understanding is that these tickets are both sold online and from the advance ticket desks/machines at stations, but they can't be booked last minute at stations.
If you book a ‘Bound ticket' for an end-to-end journey with a change of trains, and miss a connection when a train is delayed by more than 30 minutes, you won't have to re-book a ticket
However, if you miss train you are booked on to, due to circumstances outside the control of CD, such as a faulty tram, or a taxi getting stuck in traffic, you will have to buy a new ticket at the ‘Flexi’ rate.
The ‘Bound’ tickets are also specific to the named individual(s) entered when making a booking; so the advice is to always travel with your passport or other form of I.D, irrespective of what ticket(s) you have booked online.
If you subsequently change your travel plans, both types of Flexi ticket and the 'Bound' tickets can be refunded without any surcharges, up to 15 mins before you were due to travel.
So you can’t retrospectively obtain a refund AFTER your travel date if you opted not to make the journey at all; and you also can’t refund ‘Bound’ tickets, if you arrive at the station too late to take the specific train you are booked on to.
When using the standard version of the CD website, your tickets will be emailed to you as PDF document.
You can either print off this PDF and take it with you, or save this PDF to your mobile device, either can be used to show the train conductor as proof that have made a purchase.
If you book on the mobile optimised version of CD, you will be sent a QR code, which you can save on to your mobile device.
The journeys within Czechia/The Czech Republic, which can be booked online on CD, are the journeys by the faster Regional trains and the express trains; but what CAN'T be booked online are the tickets for the 'Os' stopping trains.
Meaning that you can book journeys online by ‘fast Regional’* trains, or any of the fast express services: Ex, IC, EC, RJ and SC.
*Some of those stopping Os services can travel similar distances to the fast Regional services.
However, what can be confusing is that because tickets for the 'Os' services aren't sold online, CD will instead often offer indirect journeys, by the combinations of train services which it does sell on its website
So when looking up a journey of less than 90 mins - two hours, if you only see indirect journey options on the CD website, other direct journeys MAY be available; but they just can’t be booked online.
What can make a difference to the ticket prices on CD, is that it can provide multiple different types of train services on some routes (in addition there can be alternative services provided by companies which compete with CD).
What type of train service is used on each specific route varies, for example the ‘SuperCity’ (SC) services are only found on the Praha <> Ostrava route, while the RJ services, the Railjets, only operate on the Praha <> Brno route.
When different train services are used on a route, the faster services may* not be any more expensive; the departure time and how popular a specific departure is likely to be, has a bigger influence on the price.
*Though the SuperCity SC trains do tend to be more expensive than the other services, on the routes on which they operate.
So it's worth paying attention to the type of train/service being used on a specific departure; and this can be easy to miss when booking on CD.
The price difference to travel by faster express (Ex, IC, EC, RJ) services, may only be the equivalent of a couple of €s; or nothing at all.
The EC and RJ services are international express trains, but they can travel long distances within Czechia/The Czech Republic.
On these domestic routes, the ticketing terms and conditions are the same as on the Czech Ex and IC services.
It can be worth targeting the express trains and not just because of their speed; the on board ambience will also be more comfortable.
How to do this and much more is explained on the guide above to booking tickets on the CD website
For travel on a Saturday or Sunday CD sells Group Weekend Tickets and these can be a great deal when travelling with kids, because up to three children aged under 15 can travel with up to two adults, with the entire party being covered by the one ticket.
A Group Weekend ticket, a Skupinová víkendová jízdenka, which entitles the users to travel for a whole day anywhere in the Czech Republic, on any train costs only CSK 679 = approximately €27.
Regional Group Weekend tickets are also available at cheaper prices.
So when travelling with children at weekends check at the ticket office whether one of these tickets will save you money.
The only additional extra cost will be the compulsory seat reservations if you want to travel on a SuperCity train, but they're easily avoided.
Seat reservations are available when booking online, you can either add them when booking tickets, or book them separately later.
How to book reservations on the CD website is explained on the step-by-step guide above.
When choosing a journey by Regional, EC, Ex IC or RJ trains, you will be given the option to add a complimentary seat reservation when making a booking, so it’s obviously a good idea to take advantage of this facility.
If you’re not proactive and don’t take the step to make a reservation on these services, you won’t have assigned seats.
If you don't add an optional reservation when booking, but decide to book it separately later, you will be charged a 35 CZK reservation fee.
When making any reservation, you can choose where you want to sit on the train when making a booking; and when booking on CD you can always choose seats which face the direction of travel
Reservations on SuperCity trains:
Travelling by the SC ‘SuperCity’ services is different, you will be told that the price ‘includes the reservation’.
When you continue down the booking path, you will see the price of the mandatory reservation; which will have been included in the ticket price.
It partially explains why SC trains are more expensive than the other CD trains that share their routes.
However, as reservations are mandatory on SC services, you won’t be able to remove this reservation fee from your booking, so your seat(s) will be assigned when buying tickets.
On CD trains children aged 5 and under travel for free and Children aged 6 – 14 travel at half-fare.
Though if you will be travelling on a Saturday or Sunday in a party which includes up to two Adults and three Children aged 14 and under, it's worth checking whether a Group Weekend Ticket will be cheaper; it's likely that it will be!
Discounts are also applied when ‘Youths’ aged 15-25 are travelling, and for seniors aged 65 and over.
These child, youth and senior discounts are available to international visitors, but you may be asked to prove your age when tickets are checked by the train conductor, so travel with your passports; even when making journeys within Czechia/The Czech Republic.
Tickets are required if you want to take a standard (non-folding) bicycle on to a train. They can be booked at stations, prior to boarding, but the express Ex IC, SC, RJ, EC trains ALSO require a reservation.
Reserving bike spaces can also be an option on the regional trains - more detailed info is available on the ShowMeTheJourney guide to travelling with bicycles on European trains linked to below.
These SIX things are worth knowing booking international train tickets on the CD website:
1: CD will sell tickets for journeys by train between The Czech Republic and Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and The Netherlands.
Depending on the route, journeys with a connection in Czechia can be cheaper than taking the direct trains.
2: Journeys to and from Hungary, Poland and Slovakia can usually booked up to two months ahead, while journeys to and from Austria and Germany can usually be booked up to three months ahead.
3: Price Comparison:
It is definitely worth making the effort to compare prices on CD for direct international trains both from and to Czechia/The Czech Republic, with the prices on the booking websites of the countries which you will be travelling to or from; the links to the agents in the other countries are included below.
In particular the prices on CD can be cheaper when travelling FROM The Czech Republic.
Though some currency conversion will be required, as all prices on CD are only displayed in Czech korunas.
Though if you'll be booking 1st class tickets on the EC trains to Germany, your seat reservation won't be complimentary on the CD website, but it will be if you book with DB Bahn.
Also compare terms and conditions on the respective websites; what can be a big plus of booking with CD is that it will allow international tickets to be refunded up to the travel date for a surcharge of the equivalent of €3.
As an example, book a ‘Sparschiene’ ticket for a Praha/Prague to Wien/Vienna journey on the OBB website and you won’t be able to refund it, if you subsequently change your travel plans
However, tickets for the same journey, at a similar price on CD, can be refunded for the ‘€3’ surcharge.
4: On the CD website you won't see the terminology used by the other booking services, such as the ‘Sparschiene’ tickets, which are sold by the OBB website.
In effect what you will be booking when opting for the ‘Most Affordable’ tickets on CD are ‘First Minute Europe’ tickets.
5: Seat Reservations
On the EC trains to Germany, Hungary and Slovakia and on the Railjet services to Austria, reservations are optional, they can be added to your booking for international journeys.
However, in contrast to journeys within Czechia by these trains, these international reservations are not complimentary; but the charges are the equivalent of only €3-5.
Always opt to add the reservation when taking the EC trains to Poland, because reservations are compulsory when travelling in Poland by these trains, but on CD they are presented as being optional.
6: Child Tickets
On international tickets, the Czech child rates = children aged 5 and under travel for free and Children aged 6 – 14 travel at half-fare, only applies to the portion of the journey in the Czech Republic.
The ticket prices on CD then combine this with whatever terms and conditions apply, in the other countries that the journey includes.
So, for example when travelling to Germany as a 6 -14 year old, the 50% rate applies on journeys as far as the border, but there will be no charge for the rest of the journey because under 15s travel for free in Germany.
Therefore the child discount varies according to the route.
On international routes the discounted child rate only applies if the child aged 6 - 14 is travelling with an adult.
The Ticket For Summer
The national rail operator CD sells a national rail pass, the Ticket For Summer / the Jízdenka na léto, which can be used for unlimited travel on any of its trains between July 1 and Aug 31st for periods of 7 days or 14 days.
It's great value for money, it's cheaper than one country Eurail and InterRail passes, and can be booked online or at stations; the basic price for a 7 day pass is CSK 790 = approx €31 and the basic price is of the 14 day pass is CSK 1190 = approx €47.
The only additional extra costs will be the compulsory seat reservations if you want to travel on a SuperCity train, but they're easily avoided.
The Ticket For Summer is valid only in 2nd class, but if you want to travel in 1st class on a particular journey, you can purchase a 1st class upgrade at a ticket counter.
However to book this pass online you need to use the special tickets page on the Czech language version of the CD website; you're looking for the 'Jízdenka na léto' ticket.
Slelect the 'zakladni' basic price, choose 7 days or 14 days and use the calendar to select the first day on which you want to use your pass; and then click the 'Koupit' button.
Then on the page you are taken to, translate it into English, using the flags at the top right of the page.
Leave the mobile number box blank as CD can't seemingly handle the input of international; mobile numbers.
Or you can pick up the 'Ticket For Summer' at the ticket counter when you arrive in the Czech Republic.
If you will be travelling in Czechia/The Czech Republic with a valid Eurail, InterRail or European East pass, you can hop on any train operated by CD except for the SC ‘SuperCity’ trains for the Praha <>Ostrava route.
Reservations are required on those SC trains prior to boarding, but there are other train services on that route on which reservations aren't mandatory.
Though the reservation fees for journeys for the SuperCity (SC) trains are less than the equivalent of €4; and they can be booked without additional fees on the CD website - how to do this is explained on the step-by-step guide to using the CD website.
If you wish to wish to reserve seats on Regional, EC*, Ex, IC, or RJ services, you can also book those reservations on the CD website and the cost of doing so is 35 CZK (under €2).
* for journeys by EC train within Czechia.
Note that some local trains in popular tourist areas are not operated by CD: and when other operators are providing the service, rail passes WON'T be valid.
CD does not provide the local trains on these routes (and more):
Reservations are optional on the EC trains to Germany, Hungary and Slovakia and on the Railjet services to Austria, so if you don’t reserve, seats on these trains are not guaranteed.
SMTJ particularly recommends opting to reserve if you will be travelling with a 2nd class pass on these trains on Friday-Sunday between May and October and around holiday dates.
Rail pass users must reserve prior boarding the EC trains to Poland, on the SC trains to Slovakia (on the route to/from Kosice) and on the overnight trains.
Both these mandatory and optional reservations can be booked online on journeys from and to Czechia without having to pay booking fees.
Look up a journey on CD as though you were buying a ticket and select 'I want a reservation only'.
Though note that only 1st class pass users can book the deluxe sleeping cabins, when they are an option on overnight trains.
I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.
This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.