Brno’s transport system is very efficient and convenient. Better than individual tickets is to prepay a monthly/quarterly/yearly transport pass valid for all city transport (tram, bus, trolleybus). With and ID and a passport-size photograph you can buy this at the main city transport office (Novobranská 18), one of the other offices or the Main Train Station. Never ride without a valid ticket/pass: ticket inspectors make frequent spot checks of travel documents (passes, tickets, e-tickets). They wear no uniforms but show official badges, and they have the right to see your ID document. If fined, make sure you pay within the next five working days as the fine increases rather rapidly over time. The Brno public transport system is explained at www.dpmb.cz (switch to EN in the top right corner). All transport schedules (municipal, plus those for trains and long-distance coaches) are available at www.idos.cz.
Guide books to the Czech Republic routinely include dire warnings against being ripped off by taxi-drivers in a certain major Czech city. This city is not Brno.
Taxis can be ordered by phone, flagged on the street or found at taxi ranks. During the day the taxi ranks are restricted to designated sites on the edge of the historical core (among them the railway station, beside the Mahen and Janáček Theatres, Solniční and Kounicova streets); from 7 pm on taxis can also be found waiting at half a dozen or so further official sites in the city centre. Rates are reasonable; make sure that the driver has the metre running. Upon request, the driver is obliged to provide you with a receipt, which is printed from a small device installed in the taxi.
Brno is rather hilly, and so not ideally suited for cycling. This may help to explain the somewhat slow and spotty development of cycling paths and facilities for cyclists in the city. That said, things have improved considerably for cyclists in recent years, particularly along Brno’s two rivers and the Brno lake (see a useful map of bike paths and recommended routes). And if you don’t happen to own a bicycle, it’s now not a problem to buy one cheaply or rent one for shorter or longer periods of time.
Travelling outside Brno
The Czech Republic has one of the densest rail networks in Europe, and this is complemented by an equally dense network of local and long distance bus routes in the countryside and between major cities. In addition, the impressive number of international coach and rail links make it easy to travel from Brno to much of Europe. Search all rail, bus and coach connections within the country as well as to destinations throughout Europe and/or plan trips between points outside the Czech Republic at www.idos.cz. It is available in English and German versions.
Driving a car
Before driving a car in the Czech Republic make sure you are familiar with the road safety rules, the Czech traffic laws and road signs. Download the overview from the BESIP website. For a foreigner living in the Czech Republic, there are a number of interlocked issues. It is important to note that some regulations differ according to your citizenship and where you obtained your current driving licence.
In case you have been using your vehicle in the country for more than 185 days, an imported vehicle must be registered in the ČR by the Czech traffic police (Dopravní inspektorát – they are located at Kounicova 67). This can only be done in the name of a foreign national with a temporary or long-term residence card bearing his or her Czech “birth number” (rodné číslo). Technical inspection of road eligibility has to be carried out and limited liability insurance must be purchased before the registration. For more details download the infosheet on having a car and registering an imported car. If you don’t find what you’re looking for there, send us an inquiry.
It’s mandatory to have “povinné ručení” – more or less what in English is called third-party liability coverage (i.e. insurance that covers any damages to the other party in an accident if you are responsible for it). Upon signing the contract for this insurance, you should be given what is referred to as a “green card” (“zelená karta”) – not to be confused with the permit for long-term residence for employment purposes in the Czech Republic, which is also called a “green card”. Full-coverage accident insurance (“havarijní pojištění”) is not compulsory, but of course highly recommended – it covers damage to your car, theft, vandalism, etc.
If you have a valid driving licence issued by a foreign country you may drive in the Czech Republic using that licence alone (if it has been issued according to EU standards) or with your licence plus an additional international driving licence (if your licence has not been issued in accordance with EU standards) till the end of the validity period of the appropriate document(s). If you wish to exchange, extend or apply for a Czech driving licence, you’ll need to prove that you’ve been staying in the ČR for more than 185 days. For more details download the infosheet on driving licence and driving schools. If you don’t find what you’re looking for there, send us an inquiry.
Too much information? Unwind reading a story about an American’s point of view on re-learning how to drive in Brno.