Many visitors to the Czech Republic spend time only in Prague, but the rest of the country is richly rewarding too. Of course, if you don’t have a car, you can explore by bus, but train travel is also worth considering. And as the railway network and rolling stock continue to be modernised, this option has become increasingly attractive.
At the moment, trains on most routes are operated by state-funded company Czech Railways (České drahy or ČD). The network is extensive and includes covers many rural districts. Conveniently, they coincide with some of the Czech Republic’s most scenic areas, including (Český ráj) Bohemian Paradise district (see the picture below), roughly 70 kilometres northeast of Prague. This means that many attractions that are more difficult to get to if you don’t have a car, can be reached from Prague.
Although non-express journeys can be slow, travelling by train in the Czech Republic can be relaxing and frequently very scenic. Getting around is also becoming ever more comfortable and convenient thanks to the introduction of new, more comfortable trains. Tracks are being upgraded thanks to funding from the European Union, which has resulted in faster journey times, and buying tickets has become easier. And despite prices increases in recent years, fares remain quite reasonable.
Day-trip destinations within easy reach of Prague include Karlštejn, location of one of the Czech Republic’s most famous (and photographed) castles. The lofty fortress is situated in the beautiful Berounka valley, just west of Prague and a favourite destination on a sunny summer’s day among Praguers. Also close to the capital and within easy reach by train are the attractive historic towns of Kutná Hora and Tábor.
Further afield, but only two hours away from the capital thanks to high-speed Pendolino services is the beautiful city of Olomouc. The well-preserved historic centre is famous for its fountains, squares and churches and has a laid-back atmosphere. Brno, the second city of the Czech Republic, is also connected to Prague by Pendolino.