Europe is known from its good quality public transport and dense train network. In many European countries trains are fast, modern and affordable way of travelling. Usually, train stations are located in the centre of the city so you save time compared to airport transfers, you don’t need to worry about luggage limitations or reserve a lot of time ahead for check-in and security controls. Most of European trains are punctual, offer wi-fi services, and dining on board, so you can spend your journey efficiently being able to work, relax, have your meal and arrive to your destination on schedule. Personally, during my travels I often choose trains which are very comfortable way of getting to many destinations.
When I’m in Prague I often use trains to get to nearby countries. The Czech capital is well-connected with many European destinations, the railway provider is České dráhy and has a really good international offer.
České dráhy is one of my favorite European railway companies mainly due to the fact that the tickets have very affordable prices and the quality of service is very good. If you want to make sure to get a good fare, try to book one week in advance (which is still a short notice compared to other European railway operators). The Czech trains are clean and reliable, connections to major Czech cities are frequent and you can conveniently check all schedules at the website of the national railways here. Highly recommended!
From Prague you travel to many major European cities like Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Krakow, Bratislava, Budapest among many others which makes the Czech capital a perfect gate to other European destinations!
In this post I will list European countries which have direct train connections with Prague. Most of the routes are operated by České dráhy, check this website to consult the current schedules.
- Austria (Vienna, Graz)
České dráhy operates daily to Austria which is the neighbouring country. The journey takes around 4.5 hours from Prague to Vienna and the route continues further until Graz. Check website of České dráhy to consult exact itinerary. It’s important that you buy your ticket with České dráhy (on their website) and not with Austrian provider. The train will be the same but České dráhy sell the tickets at lower prices.
Austrian capital is big cultural feast with many museums, imperial palaces, world famous state opera and historical old town. If you’re fascinated by the story of Habsburg family and Empress Sissi, want to see the masterpiece paintings of European old masters or just change here for some local trains to get to Austrian Alps, Vienna is a good place to start your Austrian explorations.
- Croatia (Split)
The direct connection between Prague to Croatian Split in a sleeper train runs only in the summer and is operated by České dráhy. Check closer to holiday season for current offer. I’m personally a huge fan of Czech night trains (used the service when going to Switzerland).
I strongly recommend to prolong your journey and go from Czech Republic to picturesque Adriatic coast with beautiful historical towns (like Split), crystal clean water and sublime national parks with stunning waterfalls only short drive away from Split.
- Czech Republic (Prague, Karlovy Vary, Kutna Hora)
It wouldn’t be fair to not to mention Czech Republic on this last. The country is quite small but has excellent public transport with plenty of trains which can get you to many charming historical towns or to regions with beautiful nature. Many places you can visit as a day trip from Prague such as UNESCO town of Kutna Hora or Nelahozeves castle. If you would like to relax or boost your health I recommend checking out Karlovy Vary and area nearby for curative drinking water, hot springs and old lush forests covering the hills which are perfect for long relaxing hikes.
- Germany (Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, Munich)
Only 4-hour journey separates you from Prague to German capital Berlin. The city is very engaging with vast cultural offer and many historical sites. The train passes also through Dresden and after Berlin continues until Hamburg so you can cross the entire country using Czech railways. For long-distance trains České dráhy have usually better fares than German provider. However, since recently Germany has different budget options (like summer 9 euro monthly ticket for regional trains offered last year) so make sure to check German railways offer to make sure you chose optimal option.
If you want to see picturesque Bavaria in Germany, you can catch a 5.5 hours train from Prague to Munich. Check the České dráhy website to consult exact itinerary since the train stops in other German cities (Munich is final station for this route).
- Hungary (Budapest)
From Prague you can also easily get to Hungarian capital Budapest. The journey is quite long and takes around 7 hours, the train crosses Slovakia before entering Hungary so you can visit also this charming country as a part of your trip around Central Europe.
Budapest is a very interesting place to visit with impressive architecture dating back to Austrian-Hungarian Empire as well as tempts with its wellness offer, you will find here many curative hot springs as well as spas. The prices are affordable compared with many other destinations especially in Western Europe.
- Poland (Warsaw, Krakow, Katowice)
Czech Republic is connected with many major Polish cities. 8.5 hour journey separates Prague with the Polish capital Warsaw, but you can opt for closer beautiful and historical towns more in the south of Poland. I particularly recommend Kraków which is a charming Polish city known from having one of the oldest European universities, the biggest main square in Europe and impressive Renaissance architecture of the old town.
The journey to Krakow takes below 7 hours (surprisingly the indirect connections with change are slightly faster), the trains are equipped with dining carriage (offering traditional Czech cuisine in affordable prices), have wi-fi and electricity sockets. When going to Poland part of the route is quite scenic when crossing green Czech region Moravia.
- Slovakia (Bratislava, Zilina)
Prague has many connections with its Slovakian neigbour. In 4.5 hours you can easily get to the capital Bratislava (the train often continues to Budapest so you can see two European capitals using this route). Since the Slovakian railways have very affordable prices I suggest checking their fares for good deals. When in Slovakia I was buying the tickets on spot without prior reservations and the tickets were really not expensive.
If you want to explore a bit more of Slovakia (which has many beautiful natural sites) I recommend going to Zilina which is sort of a Slovakian railway hub, from here you can take trains to lovely Kosice (beautiful architecture and historical sites) as well as connect to Poprad-Tatry which is a gateway to the Tatra’s mountains (with nice winter ski resorts but also hiking routes in the summer).
Slovakia offers a nice mix of culture and natural sites which you can include in your itinerary when touring this small but charming country. For cultural venues I recommend going for 2 days to Kosice and for outdoors activities to visit the Tatra mountains.
Slovakia is also very well-known for its hot curative springs. Check this post to learn more about Slovakian hot baths.
- Switzerland(Zurich, Basel)
There is a 14.5 hours night service (NightJet) operating between Prague and Zurich. The train in general has very attractive route stopping at Dresden, Leipzig, Frankfurt (Main), Baden-Baden (Germany) and then continues to Switzerland with stops in Basel and Zurich.
The last hours of route in the morning is very scenic with beautiful mountain landscapes.
I took this night train with České dráhy once and highly recommend their sleeping carriage. The economy class compartment has only 3 beds (unusual even for first class in European sleepers), the beds are very clean with bed sheets and hygiene kits provided. In each compartment there is a washbasin and plenty of storage for your luggage. There is also a common shower at the end of sleeper compartment I found it very clean and spacious, you also had there even more of amenities provided for bath. Breakfast is also provided, you can choose between different options. The prices are VERY affordable for European sleeper and I find this train a perfect way to get to Switzerland.
- Ukraine (Lviv)
First of all I strongly discourage you to visit Ukraine before end of the war. The military operations are carried out through all over the country and you’re in immediate risk to get in life-threatening situation.
Hopefully, Ukraine can combat Russian invasion and flourish in all domains including tourism.
Before war it was very convenient to take a train from Prague to Lviv which is one of the major Ukrainian cities nearby Polish border. Lviv’s old town is listed is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its sophisticated architecture, historical churches and many museums such as Lviv Historical Museum, Borys Voznytskyi Lviv Art Gallery, Lvivarnia Museum and Cultural Complex of Brewing History or Leopold Levytskyi Museum to name just a few. The number of museums is impressive and every culture geek would thrive in the city!
Lviv is also a good train hub with connections to many other major Ukrainian cities such as the Ukrainian capital Kiev, night train to historical Odessa, Chernobyl (take train to Malyn and then proceed with taxi), Chernivtsi beautiful town known also as little Vienna or take train to explore unique culture and nature of Carpathian Mountains region.