My comprehensive guide to buying a train ticket in Czech Republic, including how to get train ticket discounts and best ways to buy your ticket.
Buying a train ticket sounds like a simple thing to do, but there are a few quirks that are worth knowing before you start your first train journey.
Buying a ticket at the train station
You can buy train ticket at any Prague train stations and unless you are travelling internationally (and want a reserved seat for a specific train) you don’t need to specify which train exactly you want to get.
Simply say (or have it written down on a piece of paper) the destination town you want to travel to and whether you want a return ticket (only buy this if you are coming back on the same day).
Some train staff (especially the younger ones) will speak English, so you shouldn’t have any problems buying your tickets.
You can pay by card or cash (in Czech currency only), but the cashiers prefer you to tell them that you want to pay by card before they tap in the ticket details.
Train tickets are a great value and you can save even more if you are travelling with a friend or a partner as you will qualify for a group ticket!
Buying an electronic ticket via app
Most railways are owned by the Czech Railways (Ceska Draha), which makes it easy to buy ticket online.
You’d need to first download an app to your phone called ‘Muj Vlak’ (My train) and then select your destination and the time you wish to start your train journey.
You can process the payment through the app by paying by debit or credit card. If you are going to use the trains more often, you can also top up the app with credit (paid by credit or debit card) to make buying tickets even quicker.
When the ticket inspector wants to see your ticket on the train, just log in to your app and show him/her the code that you receive after you’ve paid for your ticket.
Most Czech trains have a decent wifi signal available for free, so that you can log in to your app, but if you either can’t get reception or the train doesn’t have a wifi, you’d need to use your phone data and roaming feature to access the app.
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Buying a ticket on a train
If you are travelling from a train station that has their ticket office closed, you can also buy a train ticket directly on the train from the ticket inspector. This is without an extra charge.
This only applies to smaller train train stations (usually outside Prague) or if you are returning back to Prague at night.
You can also buy ticket from the ticket inspector if you don’t get the chance to buy ticket in advance of boarding your train. This will (always) cost you more – you will need to pay an extra 40 CZK.
If you venture out of Prague, you might also come across small regional trains (usually serving shorter train routes, such as Cesky Krumlov to Ceske Budejovice), which have ticket machines on the train.
Most train stops along these train routes don’t have a staffed ticket office anymore, or they have short opening hours.
It is expected that you will buy ticket on the train, which means you won’t be charged extra on top of your ticket (unlike if you forget to buy a ticket).
For some reason, ticket machines are not widely used in the Czech Republic, I’ve seen them in only a few places such as Ceske Budejovice.
Self-service ticket machines are not available in any of the main Prague train stations, so the only way to buy a ticket is to queue up at the ticket office window or use the app.
Prague integrated system (joining underground, trams, buses and trains)
To confuse the train ticket buying even more, you can also buy so called ‘zones ticket’ if you are on one of the trains (usually regional ones starting from Prague) and use your train ticket together with your day travel card for the Prague public transport.
Pretty much any destination reachable from the main train station up to about 60-80 minutes is still within the wider Prague integrated system and you can buy the zone ticket.
If you are travelling on your own it could be slightly cheaper, but if you travel with a partner (you are counted as a ‘group’ for the train ticket purpose), a regular train ticket with group savings comes up about the same or slightly cheaper.
I’ve tried to buy different tickets for the same journey and honestly the difference was about 10 CZK on 100 CZK train ticket – so not worth losing your sleep over it!
Using your Prague day travel card
If you are planning to explore Prague by public transport, it’s worth getting a day travel card, which is about 124 CZK for 24 hrs.
You can buy it anywhere at the underground ticket machine or underground ticket office (such as at Andel or at the Main Train Station – Hlavni Nadrazi).
You can use your day travel card on trains within the O and P zones. It’s basically valid on any train station that usually has Prague – Praha at the beginning of its name, such as Praha – Kolovraty.
You have to validate your ticket only once – at the beginning of your 24 hrs, whether it’s on the bus, tram, underground or train.
Unlike trams and buses in Prague, trains don’t have yellow validation ticket machines, so you need to do this at the train station before you board your train.
This, like in the case of the Main Train Station might not be on the train platform, but on the way to the train from the underground and the ticket offices.
Buying ticket for a particular train
Whilst normally you just buy a train ticket and as long as you start your journey on the same day, you can catch any train connection to your destination.
If you are travelling a further field, you are more likely to need to buy a ticket for a specific train. This is because you will need to buy a seat reservation at the same time.
This is for example if you are travelling to Olomouc (about 2,30- 3,5 hrs) by a fast (R – Rychlik) or international (IC) train.
Buying ticket in advance
You can also buy tickets in advance for a specific day.
For example when I was travelling to see my friend in Olomouc I bought my tickets the day before (for the next day), because it was an early train and I didn’t want to miss it by waiting in a queue to buy the ticket. This saved me a bit of time in the morning.
Buying ticket in advance doesn’t cost any more money – the price is the same.
Train ticket Discounts
Travelling by train in the Czech Republic is already a great value, but on top of that you can get a few extra crowns off if you have a special rail card or belong to one of the groups below.
It used to be the case that return tickets (bought for the same day) were cheaper than single tickets (there and back), but that’s no longer applicable.
Group ticket – ticket’s purchased for more than 1 person (if you travel as a group) will get you a bit of a discount. Second person will get 25% and any further person will get 40% discount.
Rail Card – In-Karta – great if you are travelling a lot and you are planning to use the Czech railways during your stay. The shortest duration is for 3 months (190 CZK about £7) which entitles you to 25 % off the ticket price.
If you are travelling with your friends, this is probably not worth it as you get the same (with 1 person) or a better deal when you travel as a group)
Mileage Card – you can also purchase pre-paid card, where each km will cost you 1 CZK. Every time you travel, your points will go down and you can top up your card any time.
Young people 6-18 years – 50% off the ticket price (but make sure you have a form of ID with a photo, such as a passport, driving licence or school ID)
Over 65s – 50% off the ticket price (make sure you have a form of ID with you). Until recently over the 70s had 75% off the ticket price, but since 1 April 2022, that’s no longer available and all ages over 65s have 50% off. Still a great deal!
Children under the age of 6 – Free travel (but you should have a form of ID – with a photo e.g. passport with you in case the ticket inspector asks)
Certain trains – R – Rychlik, IC – International Trains, EU – Europe, Leo Trains and Pendolino trains will require you (or you have an option to) purchase a seat reservation. It costs an extra 30-70 CZK depending on what type of train you use.
In some instances, where the seat reservation is optional, you need to make sure that if you don’t buy ticket for a particular seat, you only sit on a seat that has no reservation (you will see it displayed above the seat).
This system allows the train company to sell as many ticket as there is a demand for and it could mean that you might be standing part or the whole way to your destination.
I don’t usually buy seat reservation, when I’m travelling shorter distance (like visiting Pardubice), but I’d buy a seat reservation if I’m going further field, like to Brno or Olomouc.
First Class Carriages supplement
The first class carriages supplement is about 30% extra on top of your ticket price and you can buy 1st class ticket for most trains (including regional ones).
The only trains that don’t have 1st class are the really tiny ones (2 carriages) on a very local train branches.
This is just my personal opinion, but I think the type of people who would normally use 1st class train in UK, in Czech Republic travel by car. They don’t see the point being stuck in the same delayed or slow train as everyone else and having to pay extra only to sit in the first class.
Whether it’s that or something else, the fact is that first class on any Czech train is usually very empty, so if you need to get some work done, read a book or just have a quiet train journey, pay the extra and try the first class!
Regio Jet Trains (The yellow train)
You can buy tickets at the Main Train Station (ticket offices are in the same area as the Ceske Drahy) or you can use Regio Jet App on your smart phone.
You will need to buy a ticket for a specific train time and you select your seats as part of the overall cost. You can purchase a regular ticket or business class.
The regular tickets are slightly more expensive than Ceska Draha, but the trains are modern, have good comfortable seats and there are plenty of extras (such as free newspapers, coffee and snacks in business class) to make it a good value.
International trains tickets
The Main Train Station also sells international train tickets and you can also purchase them through an Muj Vlak app.
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This blog post was originally written on 1 May 2022 and last updated on 20 December 2022