How to go to the Czech Republic by car
Travelling by private car was once the privilege of the elite, but now it is available to many.
Be mobile, not tied to a rigid schedule of sightseeing trips by bus or train, the ability to at any time to change the route – the main reason for the growing popularity of tourism in your own car.
Of course, for such a trip must be prepared very carefully so that it does not turn out to be too expensive – because of ignorance of the laws of the host country and their unintentional violation, it can cost more than traveling by plane.
What to do before you leave
You should start with planning the trip, planning the route, booking hotels in the cities you want to visit or their suburbs (hotel rooms are cheaper there). These reservations, by the way, will then be needed to obtain Schengen visas, as the Czech Republic is a member of the Schengen area. In addition, will need to issue health insurance and international compulsory insurance policy (Green Card) for the car.
The almost 2000-kilometer long route from Moscow to Prague will go through Belarus and Poland, it is too long to cover during one trip, that’s why it is necessary to plan stops with a possibility to visit interesting places.
You can easily reach Brest by highway M 1, where traveling at speeds up to 120 kilometers per hour is allowed, in one day and stay there for a while. The main attraction of this city is, of course, a monument-museum in the open air dedicated to the defenders of the Brest Fortress – it would be wrong, purely humanly not to visit it and pay tribute to those who suffered the first blow of the Nazi armada in WWII.
In the city itself is popular with tourists on Sovetskaya street, with its old buildings, many cafes, museums and casinos. But in its suburbs, 100 km. from Brest, is located Belovezhskaya Pushcha, with the oldest forest in Europe, the homestead of Belarusian Santa Claus and symbols of Brest region – bison – children love to visit it.
Passing the Belarusian-Polish border can take a lot of time – Belarusian border guards let you through quickly, but Polish ones don’t work so you should plan your next stop in Poland. About halfway from Brest to Prague there is an old Polish city Wroclaw – a great place to learn the history of this people and its varied cuisine.
There are no special requirements for a car in the EU countries, including Poland and the Czech Republic. It has to be technically sound and without any visible damage to the body or windows – otherwise the police might ask questions.
Prepare for winter if you go to the Czech Republic at this time of year
If you plan a trip for the winter, you should consider that in all European countries already at a temperature below +4 ˚ C you need to put on winter tires, and in the period from November 1 to March 31, it is obligatory, regardless of degrees.
Studded rubber is prohibited for use in most countries of the European Union, including the Czech Republic.
In addition to the basic necessities stipulated by Russian law, such as an emergency sign, a fire extinguisher with an unexpired inspection period and a first aid kit with unexpired medicines, in Poland and the Czech Republic the car must be equipped with additional equipment:
- Every passenger, regardless of age (even infants), must be equipped with reflective vests. In Poland and the Czech Republic it is forbidden to be without them on the highway, outside the car at any time of day, and they may lie only in the cabin, not the trunk.
- A set of spare bulbs for headlights and lights, at least one of each type.
- A set of fuses for electrical equipment. and tools for its replacement.
- If you have a trailer, you must have another emergency sign.
On arrival in the Czech Republic
Upon arrival in the Czech Republic at the nearest petrol station, post office or a special point of sale, you must immediately buy a vignette that gives the right to travel on toll roads. It is important not only to buy it, but also to fix it correctly.
It consists of two parts, one is attached to the windshield in the lower right corner without obstructing the view of the driver, and must be clearly visible from outside, and the control with the number of the vehicle and the period of validity – must be kept by the driver and to present at the request of the police.
The vignette itself is inexpensive – 310 crowns (€11.5) for 10 days – but the penalties for missing it, not fixing it properly or not filling out the control part are astronomical.
There are a lot of toll roads in the Czech Republic and it may happen that you can exit from the territory of Poland directly on one of them.
Of course you can try to drive on free roads marked “BEZ POPLATKU” but the probability that somewhere will still jump on the toll road and run into a fine of tens of times the cost of the vignette is very high, so it is unwise to save on it.
In all European cities it is very difficult to park everywhere, and leaving your car in the middle of nowhere, as car enthusiasts in Russia and Belarus usually do, is not an option – you might also get a fine.
In large cities of the Czech Republic parking is paid, payment is made through special machines installed near the parking lot. They mostly accept cash. The cost of them depends on the time of day and day of week – from 18.00 to 8.00 and on weekends they are free, but you should look carefully at the ads – it can turn out that free parking is only on one side of the street, and the other side is paid.
In Prague, all parking areas are highlighted in colors: orange, green and blue and their cost and parking time depends on it. Blue parking areas are only for city residents and company cars – you can be fined for leaving your car there.
Rules of the road
The main rules of the road, set forth in the 1968 International Convention on Road Traffic, are the same for all the signatory states, including Russia as the successor to the USSR, but the requirements for their enforcement and liability for violations of certain items are different.
What in Russia and Belorussia is not punished severely, in Europe you can get a very serious penalty – maybe that’s why European drivers are more law-abiding and correct on the roads.
There are some peculiarities of Czech regulations:
- Speed limits in built-up areas on ordinary roads – 50 km/h, outside – 90 km/h, on highways in built-up areas – 80 km/h, outside – 130 km/h.
- 50 meters before the railway crossing you must reduce the speed to 30 km / h – at this point many Russians are caught.
- Alcohol consumption while driving is prohibited. The permissible amount of alcohol in the blood – 0.
- In Czech Republic, as well as in the whole EU, you must turn on low beam 24 hours a day, but fog lights can be turned on only when needed – in a fog, otherwise you will be fined.
- It is prohibited to carry children under 12 years of age or less than 150 cm in the front seat; a special seat for them should be installed in the back.
- Both front and rear passengers are obliged to wear seat belts.
- It is forbidden to talk on the phone.
- The windshield must have a capacity of at least 75% and the front side windows at least 70%.
Radar detectors and anti-radar systems
The use of antiradar systems in the Czech Republic is strictly prohibited and punishable by severe fines.
And the use of radar detectors will not excite the local police, so all these gadgets should be hidden as far as possible.
Penalties for breaking the traffic rules in Czech Republic
Penalties for traffic violations in the Czech Republic, as well as throughout Europe, are very serious. Here are some figures of the fines:
- Speeding 19 km/hour – 1000 CZK (€37), 50 km/hour – 10000 (€370).
- For overtaking prohibited by a sign or a marking – from 5000 (€185) to 10000 CZK (€370).
- Making a U-turn through a solid marking or in the presence of a forbidden sign, driving with smudged plates and in a defective car is punishable by the same fine.
- Failure to allow pedestrians to cross a crosswalk – 2,500 (€93) to 5,000 CZK (€185).
- Driving through a red light or a forbidding sign of a traffic controller – from 2500 (€93) to 5000 crowns (€185).
- For not wearing seat belts, not turning on low beam or not turning on fog lights as intended – 2,000 CZK (€74).
- For the use of an antiradar 1,000 CZK (€37) if paid on the spot and up to 5,000 CZK (€185) by court order.
- If you drive on toll roads without paying a toll, you pay a very high fine of 5000 kronor (€185) on the spot and up to 100,000 kronor (€370) by court order!
You can pay up to 5000 CZK to the police on the spot and they will issue an official receipt.
Is it worth it to go to the Czech Republic by car?
The dilemma whether to go to the Czech Republic by car or not should be decided by every motorist. But today it is possible to travel to Europe at a budget only in the countries that have not yet converted to the euro, such as Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. In these countries, food, accommodation and fuel are much cheaper than in central Europe.
There is no language barrier in Poland and the Czech Republic. Despite the Latin alphabet, the inscriptions on the ads are understandable to Russians, and if you know a little Ukrainian or Belarusian, then it will not be a problem. In addition, many Poles and Czechs of the older generation speak excellent Russian, as at one time studied it at school.
Given how much gives a trip in a private car: comfort, efficiency, mobility, the ability to change plans and routes, in making a decision should be based only on their personal ability to quickly adapt to new conditions and obey the laws of another country.
My perfect trip to the Czech Republic. Part 1: Where to pay for what and how to go
Hello, reader! Good old Top Gear periodically had episodes devoted to the perfect road trip somewhere far away in a car. With all the road romance, household trivia and observations of the car. Something like that made me want to do – especially since I’ve been dreaming of going to the Czech Republic by car since I bought my first car.
Why will not be photos of the classic views of Prague On trips of this kind I am less interested in popular tourist attractions – my wife and I try to rent an apartment from locals and watch the city in the format of “if you turn off the tourist trail, you can find a lot of interesting things. In addition, I’ve been to the Czech Republic many times – and Prague is already considered almost my home. So, the panorama of Old Town Square and pictures of St. Vitus Cathedral you’ll not find here – they are enough without me.
I won’t write about the preparations, too – experienced travelers are aware of that. And inexperienced travelers better read the more space opuses of experienced colleagues. In brief – just keep the car always in such condition that at least tomorrow in the south.
The main thing is to take a spray for cleaning of insects, smeared on glass. I’ve tried expensive Meguiars and cheap Mr. Muscle – the second scrubbing better and costs 5 times cheaper.
If you are also going to plan your route in Google Maps, I will give you a piece of advice – do not mess with the function “My Maps”, which allegedly allows you to build your own map with separate layers for POI and routes. It will, but it is impossible to use this map for navigation – there is simply no such function. Better use the usual Google Maps functionality.
The route to Prague I took through Belarus: -Great country, and I really want to go back to Minsk and take a ride on their beautiful high-speed roads. But this only applies to highways. On ordinary roads, the speed limit is quite dismal. -You do not want to deal with the Russian border guards (who traveled more than once to the nearest Europe – he will understand) – Roads in Latvia / Estonia – *shit. For example, a broken gravel road near the border is quite normal for them. And where there is asphalt – it is as we have in the regions, and often even worse.
But the route back all the same had to lay through the Baltics, because shorter and can save on 1 night.
I also decided to choose the filling station beforehand, against the sin. Since my favorite Neste ends in Pskov, the finalists were: -In Belarus, Gazpromneft (gas stations, which are away from the border) – more or less causes trust, and they have AI-98. -In Poland I preferred the local state company Orlen – good reviews, a lot of gas stations, almost everywhere has 98. The right fuel in Poland is called “Super+”, or “PB-98”. In the case of Orlen, the gasoline was called “Verva 98”. -With the Czech Republic, strangely enough, there were the most difficulties. AI-98 is rather rare there, and the local gas station chains seemed to me “well, such a…”. But what can I do – I chose Benzina (it’s the same Polish Orlen). By the way, in Czech Republic it’s called “Natural 98” (“Verva 100” at Benzina).
The next point in the planning is to pay for roads. Russian plates go free in Belarus – glory to the Eurasian Union! I even specifically clarified by calling the Beltoll hotline: there’s no need to install anything at the border or buy it separately. You just drive in peace and do not panic on the Paid road, if you have Russian numbers. It seems that the Kazakh numbers are also rolling. I found a lot of useful information about speed limits, traffic and traffic rules here – I highly recommend this resource.
In Poland, there are toll sections with payment “in the booth”, but I excluded them from the maps. With the Czech Republic to pay is reduced to the purchase of a sticker on the window (Vignette) – about 800r for 10 days. It is better to buy and use the highways. It is easier to buy in a post office of any Czech town, but accept only cash. They say you can also buy it at a gas station, but I had no luck with that. Lithuania/Latvia doesn’t charge for roads. By the way, here is the map of Czech toll plazas, note that some toll plazas start right from the border:
And here is the summary table of speed limits, written by autotraveler.ru:
That’s it with the plans – let’s go. Route E95 from St. Petersburg to Luga – just fine, with a couple of road works, but without much pain. But then the road abruptly deteriorates: first, several lanes of luxury expressway turns into a dismal two-lane smashed, then disappears wide shoulder, and as the final – there are severe potholes, ruts and road works with oncoming traffic (I counted 5). Attention is constantly sharpened and therefore from the road you get twice as tired. Once hit a pothole so that I expected at least a tire tear, but got around.
Taking into account the fatigue, we stopped near Opochka at the proven Motel Surgutneftegaz. The food there is excellent – delicious at home and for two of us it cost only 1100 rubles. That includes meat and snacks. Rooms are large, clean, but beds are poor – synthetic, constantly hot (despite the air conditioner). So that with the “sleep” can be a problem. On bokings they are not – to make a reservation, you have to call by voice.
The next day, after wiping off the windshield with another flock of dragonflies, we went to Belarus. And then the roads finally melted and turned into the famous “toll road near Pskov. No more than 85 on it does not want to go – rattle and shake interior is just incredible. Pleasure costs about 220r, which will need to pay in a booth closer to the border. If you rate this road on a 5-point scale (where 1 – grader, and 5 – Polish Autobahn), the road from Opochka to the Polotsk gets 3. But this is my opinion, you can refer to the profile site for others.
Even three years ago, bad asphalt in Belarus was only 15 miles after the border with Russia, but now the quality of roads in Belarus has come close to ours.
On the way to Minsk we came across an impressive mound.
That’s where google helped a lot: -Okay, Google, “monument.” -Google maps in the Bolero shows a list of the 5 closest landmarks, and one of them is “Barrow of Glory,” just next to us. Push the button “enter” and get the trajectory of the junction and the approach to the Monument. Yes, it led more to the “back door” rather than the front door, but it led.
The steps to the mound are interesting – they are attached only at one end, so they sway slightly as you climb.
On the way to Minsk, I just dropped by a previously noticed gas station Gazpromneft, and then they surprised me: he jumped up, without asking, turned the lid off the neck and just asked what fuel is needed In other words, the service is obviously free and the default option is for everyone. As soon as he filled up my tank he disappeared, so there was no hint of tipping, like in our country.
I wanted to try the local car wash “Royal Stables” in Minsk for a long time – their services were very funny. The entire bumper was densely covered with dragonflies and bees, so it was worth a wash before “going out. Washed by hand, with a sponge. Hadn’t heard about the two-phase washing. Didn’t like the fact that there were no cameras in the booths, so that fans of watching the process would have to stand close to the car. Washed well, cost about 330r (body and carpets). Locals say that in general there are no complaints, so I recommend this car wash when passing through Minsk.
For the night I chose a hotel in Mir Castle. And you know, it exceeded all my expectations: my wife was delighted with the castle romance, and I was delighted with the parking in the inner area next to the guards, the modern equipment of the room and the sepulchral silence.
Apparently, the thick castle walls and an empty floor affected it
The hotel itself is highly recommended, even if the price will be higher than average (I paid for the night 4200r), but from the breakfast is better to give up. There is a choice of only eggs or scrambled eggs + pancakes for dessert. The portions are miserable, for milk in coffee demanded even 50 kopecks “Princely” generosity on the check:
When you find yourself near several famous castles, it’s difficult to stick to a timeline – I want to go everywhere, to see everything. So we made a little detour and spent another couple of hours at the Nesvizh Castle:
The ticket to the courtyard includes a visit to the museum, but we did not want to waste time on the whole exposition – we just wanted to look at the castle.
On the way to the border we stopped at the Belorusneft gas station. Everything was also normal with fuel, but the payment was inconvenient – before filling. Here the function “how much space is free in the tank” helped. On the Polish border there is also a huge Gazpromneft, with a car wash and atvoservice, but I did not like the feedback on it. People periodically complain about errors after refueling.
If you have already read the articles on the Belarus-Poland border crossing, you can draw two conclusions: 1) Belarus border control is somewhat incomprehensible, with receipts and bureaucracy. 2) The Polish border control is typical European.
Well, both conclusions are wrong On the Belarusian side, everything is simple, clear and understandable. They fill out the receipt themselves, you just need to hold it in hand and give it to the one who asks – they just put their signatures in the columns “border control” and “customs control. The driver himself does not need to fill out anything.
The process of inspection and control is 1:1, as at the Russian borders with Finland or Estonia, but without unnecessary brakes and rudeness. By the way, no one from the end of the queue is racing to the border guards, unlike the Russian-Finnish border. Just do the same as the people with the Belarusian numbers. About crossing the border is well written in this bortovik.
But the Polish side put me in a trance for a long time … First, they are much slower than the Belarussians and there is a “bottle neck” of crossing, where trucks and cars pile up. We drove through “Berestovitsa,” which is considered less congested than “Warsaw Bridge. Second, there is a lot of duplication and unnecessary nagging.
Here’s how it was for us: 1) When approaching the border control, the car was inspected by a vigorous Polish border guard with a flashlight. He got into all the bags, including the women’s bags (some of them by himself, without my involvement), went through the suitcases, asked about the portable vacuum cleaner and so on… in general, okay, we cleaned up the mess, shoved everything back in and moved on.
2) at the border control they asked me how much money I was carrying in cash, even though the transit to the Czech Republic was declared. When I said that I had a card, and cash only 7 euros “for ice cream” – offered to show the balance on the phone in the personal account of the bank. In Polish they asked, of course, so that I managed to understand only 3 times. And you know how it is there – Internet suddenly does not work, phone is dead, etc. In general, I just showed them hotel confirmations and paid receipts AirBnb, which I accepted with a sigh.
3) You think that’s it, you can go? No, you go 3 meters and stand at a closed barrier, waiting for the window to the right will open another booth. You have to go there with the passengers, once again stick your STS-passport and say that you do not have vodka and cigarettes, and that there is 50 liters of gas in the tank. They will give you a stern look, give you back your documents and let you out in a couple of minutes. Or offer to go to the scan (so unlucky neighbors in the car with a Moscow license plate).
But the roads in Poland are simply bombastic. I’m not going to compare with Germany (I was not there on foot), but they are better than in the rest of the Baltic States, Finland, and Italy. Perfectly smooth fine-grained asphalt or concrete. A lot of highways and Autobahn with a limit of 140 km/h. Good road infrastructure, everything is clean and working.