GETTING THERE AND AWAY
The airport is located around ten kilometers north-west of the city – there are two terminals which handle all commercial passenger flights: terminal one for flights to non-Schengen countries, and terminal two for flights within the Schengen travel zone.
The best way to get to and from the airport is by public transport; it’s clean, efficient, cheap and reliable (see details below). It’s worth pointing out that there aren’t many European capital cities where you can buy a standard ticket between the airport and the city centre for £1. The most common route is to take bus #119 to Nádraží Veleslavín, then transfer to metro (line A) for onward travel to the centre. Alternatively, bus #100 goes to Zličín, with onward travel on metro line B. For both options the typical journey time is between 30 and 45 minutes depending on your destination, and you’ll require a 32 Kč ticket. The quickest way to the main train station (Hlavní nádraží) is via the Airport Express (AE) bus, which also has drop off points at Náměstí Republiky and Masarykovo nádraží. These buses operate every 30 minutes, and journey time is approximately 30 minutes. The non-transferable tickets can be purchased from the driver and cost 60 Kč, although it is possible to buy a train+airport ticket online or from any train station. Pre-booked airport transfers are reasonable enough if there are a group of you (from 550 Kč), shared journeys also possible; journey times are similar to public transport at around 30 minutes, although you’re more likely to encounter delays due to traffic. It’s best to avoid taxi’s as they are more expensive than the pre-booked transfers.
ARRIVING BY TRAIN
If you are arriving by train then you’re almost certain to arrive at the main train station (Praha Hlavní nádraží), which is a five minute walk from Wenceslas Square. The station is served by trams #5, #9, #26, and metro C. There are left luggage lockers at the north end of the station on the ground floor: prices start from 90 Kč for 24 hours. The majority of long distance trains will stop at Praha-Libeň, Praha-Holešovice (metro C), or Praha-Smíchov (metro B), so it’s worth checking if any of these are more suitable for your onward travel within the city. A few trains terminate at Masarykovo nádraží, although these tend to be commuter trains to nearby towns and won’t be of much interest to tourists. The majority of domestic and international trains are operated by České dráhy (ČD), the national rail company, although RegioJet and LeoExpress run services between Prague and Ostrava with onwards travel to Slovakia or Poland.
ARRIVING BY BUS
The international bus station is Praha-Florenc (metro lines B and C; trams #3 and #8), whereas many domestic services leave from Černý Most, Na Knížecí, Zličín (all of which are on metro B) and Nádraží Holešovice (metro C). Bus companies include Student Agency, Eurolines, FlixBus, Orange Ways, and Polski Bus.
Central Prague is relatively compact, and assuming you have a decent pair of shoes, no issues with walking on cobbled streets, and patience with crowds, you’ll easily be able to walk everywhere. The winding narrow backstreets of the old town can be quite disorientating for first-time visitors, so if you’re not wanting to get too lost, downloading a free offline map is probably a good idea. Having used both Mapy.cz (Apple, Android) and Maps.me (Apple, Android) on my iPod, I’ve found them both to be essential additions for my travels around the Czech Republic. I have written a brief guide which covers the main sites of central Prague, and includes some reasonable pubs and restaurants that are worth seeking out should you wish to avoid the tourist traps.
It’s no surprise that the majority of tourists will spend all their time in central Prague, however, other parts of the city have a lot to offer. I recommend at least a day exploring areas such as Vyšehrad or Vršovice, and in which case, you probably want to investigate the public transport options.
PRAGUE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Prague has an excellent integrated public transport network of buses, trams, and metro, in addition to some ferries and local trains. Regular services operate between 5 am and midnight, with night buses and trams running on the major routes outwith these times. Tickets are available from the yellow ticket vending machines at various transit stops (these only accept coins), as well as metro stations, transport info centres, and some newsagents. A barrier-free system is in operation; this doesn’t mean free travel, it means you are responsible for buying and validating your own tickets, which cost a reasonable 24 Kč (30 minutes), 32 Kč (90 minutes), 110 Kč (24 hours), or 310 Kč (72 hours). Inspections are common, particularly on routes that tourists are likely to use: the fine is 1500 Kč, reduced to 800 Kč if paid immediately. Fare dodging isn’t worth the potential hassle, so just buy tickets to help maintain the public transport network. Transport maps in PDF format can be found here, and are worthwhile saving to your smartphone if you’re planning on travelling around the city. The IDOS website provides information on transport connections in Prague (and throughout the Czech Republic); you can download the app for both apple and android devices (Czech language only). Timetables are also displayed at bus and tram stops.
The Prague metro system boasts a variety of styles and impressive architecture derived from it’s forty year history. Construction of the initial metro system began during the communist era and opened for operations in 1974. At this time, many of the stations bore names that reflected individuals or notable events associated with the communist ideology. However, since the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the majority of these stations were renamed and obvious links to the communist past were removed – yet obviously the distinctive Soviet-style architecture remains at many stations. Artwork relating to the Soviet-Czechoslovak ‘friendship’ is still visible at Anděl station, previously known as ‘Moskevská’, with similar artwork relating to Vladimir Lenin at Dejvická (previously known as ‘Leninova’). One of the stations which didn’t change name was I.P. Pavlova, named after Ivan Pavlov, the Russian Physiologist who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1904.
There is no real need to take a taxi in Prague. In relative terms, they’re quite expensive, and Non-Czech speakers are likely to get charged an over-inflated rate by various methods, despite the maximum legal rates within the city limits currently starting at 40 Kč basic fare, with 28 Kč/km and 6 Kč/min waiting. AAA taxis are regarded as a reputable company; you can request a taxi via their app (Apple, Android).