When Czechs Hit the Roads

Croatia has been the number one vacation spot for many Czechs. Is this still the case, or have Czechs changed their vacation preferences and are venturing outside the Three Seas region?

A shot taken from behind of a couple seated on beach chairs
Photo: iStock.com / annebaek

There are several clichés about Czechs and their vacation preferences. The most famous one says that Croatia has the highest density of Czechs worldwide in the summer months. Another says that the busiest migration route globally is the highway from the Czech Republic to Croatia every summer. But is this still the case, or have Czechs become more adventurous in recent years and are exploring the world outside their country and the Three Seas Region?

Travel preferences around Europe

Europe Assistance Group’s 2022 Holiday Barometer study showed that European travel preferences are changing, Czechs included. Czechs still long to go abroad: only 46% are willing to spend their holidays „at home.” In Poland, consumers are split exactly 50-50. The Italians are the biggest European patriots: 65% prefer to spend holidays at home. And while other Europeans prefer Spain and Italy as their foreign holiday destinations, Czechs remain loyal to the holy trinity of Croatia, Italy, and Slovakia.

It is a kind of legacy of socialism that Czechs prefer Croatia as a major summer holiday destination to a greater extent. During the Prague Spring in 1968, communist Czechoslovakia established close relations with Yugoslavia, of which Croatia was a part. From being the only way to enjoy the sea under socialism, Croatia became a popular destination for Czechs over the years. 

Similarly, the popularity of Slovakia, which until 1993 formed one state with the Czech Republic, is logical. Czechs like to visit their eastern neighbors and brothers for their untouched nature, lively culture, and rich and shared history. The popularity of Italy is also a historical and, in fact, logical matter. It is a country about as far away as Croatia, with similar conditions but a very different culture. And like Croatia, it’s easily accessible by car, which Czechs still prefer as a means of transport to Croatia and Italy.

But it is not that Czechs travel only to these three countries. In the last ten years, interest in Tunisia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates has skyrocketed. More and more Czechs are going to more exotic destinations, among which Thailand is the uncrowned king.

Current preferences and hard data: change on the horizon?

Even general travel preferences are changing. Whereas after 1989 and the fall of communism, most Czechs traveled to the sea, today, only 43% of Czechs require the sea as a holiday destination. Of the Three Seas region, the Austrians lead the way: 66% consider a seaside holiday the best. In Poland, 57% of respondents expressed a similar preference.

The price Czech consumers are willing to pay for a vacation is also changing. In 2022, the average holiday budget rose to EUR 1,153, which is EUR 184 more than the average Polish budget. However, the question is how the current energy and economic crisis will affect the preferences of European consumers.

Every nation wants to experience the holidays differently. Czechs, Portuguese, Italians, and Spanish enjoy relaxing holidays. Czechs also enjoy being with their families (43%), as do Austrians and Swiss. Compared to the rest of Europe, however, only a tiny percentage of Czechs want to spend their holidays reading and learning (6%) or meeting new people (4%). Czechs also plan to do the most sports in their summer holidays compared to other countries (15%).

Czechs enjoy relax with friends

The prospect of spending time with family also influences who Europeans most want to travel with. Czechs are the most likely among Europeans to travel with their children (41%). They also rank second behind the Spanish in traveling with a partner (68%). They are also the most likely – along with Italians – to go with friends (24%). In contrast, they are the least likely to go on holiday with their parents or extended family compared to others.

Either way, no significant changes are planned for 2023 either. The Czech TV news will once again feature regular traffic reports on the highways to Croatia and the state of hiking trails in the Slovak Tatras.

And the growing trend of Czechs on holiday seems unstoppable. As spokespeople for Czech travel agencies commented: vacation tours for 2023 are almost sold out, and interest is more than six times higher than in 2019.

Marek Koten

A Ph.D. student in economics, specializing in nuclear energy from the Czech Republic, he also serves as a political consultant to the Czech government and the U.S. Republican Party.

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