♦Currency: Czech Koruna (CZK)
♦Zone: +1 GMT
♦Phone Code: 420+
♦Best time to visit: Sept-Nov
♦Must eat: Trdelník (Pastry)
♦Must drink: Pilsner Urquell or
Zelené Green Beer
♦Don't miss: Old Town Square in Prague
Getting there and transportation: Located in central Europe, the Czech Republic is a very accessible destination from many neighbouring counties, specially by road and train, as it's a main stop over for many travellers who explore Europe, from West to East and vice-versa.Eurolines, is an international coach company which connects the Czech Republic to many of Europe's main capitals. Once arriving to Prague you can travel direct to the main cities, such as Brno, Ostrava or Zlin. Travelling by train is also a very comfortable and practical idea, when coming from nearby countries and other cities. It crosses beautiful scenery on it's way, so the ride in itself, is a tourist activity. You can reach The Czech Republic by inter-city trains from Vienna, Berlin, Zurich, Munich, Frankfurt, Budapest amongst others.
If coming from further away the natural choice is by air, the national airline is Czech Airlines. It flies to most European cities and major gateways. Other national carriers in Europe, also fly to the capital, Prague, at least once a day. Low Cost Airlines are also popular, Smart Wings, Wizz Air or Ryanair being the main airlines flying to the Czech Republic.
If coming from outside Europe, there are limited direct connections. Only direct services are possible from Russia, Azerbaijan, Israel, South Korea and Armenia. However, one stop flights are always possible with many airlines from other parts of the world.
Once in the country, the transportation is very good, big cities benefit from major transportation systems including rail, metro, trams and busses. Smaller cities have bus services or trolley-busses only but are well connect to major cities by railways and motorways.
Weather and temperature: The Czech Republic has a continental climate, with warm summers and cold, cloudy and snowy winters. The temperature difference between summer and winter is relatively high, due to the landlocked geographical position.Within the Czech Republic, temperatures vary greatly, depending on the elevation. Another important factor is the distribution of the mountains; therefore, the climate is quite varied. The coldest months are usually January, February and December with temperatures reaching below 0C at times. During these months, there is usually snow in the mountains and sometimes in the major cities and lowlands. Spring is characterized by high water levels in the rivers, due to melting snow with occasional flooding.
The warmest month of the year is July, followed by August and June. On average, summer temperatures are about 22-30C.
The best time to visit would be April to June and September to November for more pleasant temperatures.
Food and drink: traditional Czech food is dominated by meat, served with either bread, potatoes, or bread and potato dumplings, and slathered in sauce. The influences from neighbouring Austria and Hungary (and to a lesser extent Poland, Germany and Russia) are easy to see.
Specialities include: Vepřo-knedlo-zelo, this Czech classic consists of roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut. Goulash, a thick beef stew with a rich onion base, usually served with bread dumplings. Svíčková na smetaně, pot-roasted beef tenderloin and vegetables with a sweet cream sauce, topped with cranberries. Smažený sýrm, Edam-style cheese covered in breadcrumbs, deep-fried, then served with a side of French fries and tangy tartar sauce. Česneková polévka, a water-based garlic soup with melted cheese and croutons. Bramborák, pancake of grated potato with egg, breadcrumbs and garlic. Tatarský biftek, a Czech take on steak tartare, this dish is made with seasoned raw beef and egg yolk. Klobásy, grilled sausages, there are a few different varieties, the typical are herb sausage and paprika.
Tasty desserts can be found including, Vánoční kapr, (slices of carp covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried – a Christmas staple) Ovocné knedlíky, (a sweet dumpling filled with fresh strawberries, plum, apricot or fruit preserves, typically topped with melting butter and a dusting of sugar.)
Tip: One thing that can't be missed to try is the Trdelník! A traditional Slovak rolled pastry originating from the Hungarian-speaking region of Transylvania, the trdelník is usually served warm and topped with a dusting of sugar, nuts or cinnamon. It's made by wrapping the pastry dough around a wooden or metal stick, roasting it over an open flame and coated with sugar or cinnamon. Watching this pastry being prepared is a fascinating sight. A common Prague street food, you can easily find stalls selling this treat along streets and open squares everywhere around any time of the year.
As for drinks, beer is the accompaniment of choice, and it’s one of the few places in the world where it’s not frowned upon to sip a frothy Pilsner over breakfast. Common drinks to be found are: Budweiser Budvar, a world-famous Czech beer. Pilsner Urquell, this popular beer brand spawned a beer style named after it (pilsner), and is still served in most Czech drinking establishments. Zelené Beer, Green coloured beer brewed by Krušovice, it's a Spiced/Herbed style beer (only available at Easter time and St. Patrick's Day) Becherovka: A herbal bitters spirit with a cinnamon-like taste from Karlovy Vary. Slivovice, a potent plum brandy, though other fruit varieties are also available. Fernet: A bitter and aromatic, liquorice-like spirit usually served as a digestive.