Prague, a city of a hundred towers, for ages it had been the pearl of the Habsburgs’ empire, both visitors and its citizens are stunned by its beauty. Milan Kundera called it the most beautiful city on the Planet and Johann Goethe – the most wonderful jewel in the stone crown of the world. Golden Prague shines with gilded tower tops, so that even those insensitive to beauty can feel its magic. When you come to Prague you understand why the city charmed the eccentric emperor Rudolph II, writers and UNESCO experts who included it on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage list.
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How to get to Prague
Getting into the city from the airport
By bus: The cheapest way to get to the city is by bus, but be sure to have some Czech Crowns ready. Buy a ticket from the kiosk called Public Transport in both the arrivals halls (07:00-21:00, credit cards accepted) or the vending machine, next to the bus stop, for 32 CZK (16 CZK extra for a larger piece of luggage). You can also buy the ticket from the driver, but it is more expensive. No machines or drivers accept foreign currencies. Take bus 119 to its terminus (Dejvická, Metro A) and go downstairs to the metro. Your ticket will continue to be valid in the metro. Alternately, bus 100 takes you to metro station Zličín (Metro B). At night, bus 510 takes you to the “Jiráskovo náměstí” or “I.P.Pavlova” stop close to the centre. Remember to validate your ticket as soon as you get on the bus by sticking it into a yellow machine with green glowing arrow. If you fail to do so and an inspector catches you, you’ll be fined 800 CZK. Tickets are also available from the DPP kiosk in the arrivals area of Terminal 1. 24-hour, 3-day and 5-day tickets are also available here. Info on the schedules and routes can be obtained here.
Airport Express (bus operated by Czech Railways): These buses leave the airport every 30 minutes; the first one at 05:46 while the last one at 21:16 at a price of 60 CZK per person (or less, if bought as a part of railway ticket further into Czech Republic). Tickets are available from the driver. They will take you to the railway and metro station Dejvická and Masarykovo nádraží. The last stop will be Prague’s main train station (“Hlavní nádraží” which is commonly abbreviated in Czech as “Praha hl.n.”). From there the bus operates back to the airport.
Cedaz bus: (but in fact the owner is AAA taxi) These buses operate from 07:30 to 19:00 every half hour. They will take you into the city centre to the “V Celnici” street. Fares are 150 CZK per person.
By shuttle: Various companies run shuttle services to the hotel and back. They can be found at the airport arrival halls. They usually charge around 400 to 500 CZK for trip and in general are a bit cheaper than the taxis.
By taxi: The most comfortable method to reach the city centre will cost around 650 to 850 CZK with AAA Taxi. They have an exclusive contract with Prague airport and taxis waiting outside. For a bargain, call one of their competitors listed in Get around Taxi section or Prague Airport Transfer or Prague Airport Shuttle, an expat owned and operated taxi service or shuttle to the nearest metro station Dejvicka.
By private cars: Many companies offer private transfers for fixed prices – to the hotel, apartments, etc. and back. This service must be booked in advance because driver will be waiting directly to you. They usually charge around 500 to 600 CZK for trip and in general are a bit cheaper than the taxis. Chosen companies: Transfer-Service.cz, Prague Airport Shuttle, Transfer Prague, 24-ATP.
Prague is well connected to European EC train network, however there is no Czech high speed rail and so the maximum train speed is 120–160 km/h (75-99 mph), but usually the speed is much lower at about 70 km/h. While international and intercity services are generally reliable, assume delays of more than few minutes when using local trains.
- Berlin: 4,5h, EC trains every 2 hours
The train line from Berlin to Prague passes through the Erzgebirge mountains, and for a couple of hours the passengers are treated to a series of beautiful alpine river valleys, surrounded by rocky escarpments and mountains.
- Nuremberg/Munich: 5h/6h, 2 regional expresses a day from each city
Trains from Nuremberg have connection from Munich in Schwandorf a vice versa. The trains are quite slow, so alternatively you can use non-stop bus Nuremberg–Prague operated by German Railways (3¾h, every 2 hours).
- Vienna: 4¾h, EC train roughly every 2 hours
- Bratislava: 4h, EC train every 2 hours; one night train Metropol
- Budapest: 7h, 5 EC trains a day; night train Metropol
- Warsaw: 8¼h, EC Praha; 11h, night train Šírava
Direct night trains connect Prague also with Cologne, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Zürich, Basel, Krakow, Minsk, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. For ticket prices see Czech Republic#By train. All international trains arrive at Praha hlavní nádraží (the central station, abbreviated to Praha hl.n.) which has a connection with Metro Line C. The station has undergone a major refurbishment in 2010.
Beware of the taxi drivers operating from the (official-looking) taxi rank alongside Praha hl.n.; they will attempt to charge a fixed price of CZK1760 for a trip within the city center zone, or more than this if you want to travel further.
The park in front of the main train station is a haunt for some of the city’s undesirable elements and should be avoided after dark. If you do have to come through on foot, it’s best to avoid coming through the park and approach from the Southeast along Washingtonova. As you get to the corner of the park there’s a police station, so the likelihood of running into problems from this direction is minimalised.
The main bus station for international buses in Prague is Florenc, in Praha 8 (metro lines B and C). It is located east of the city centre. In June 2009 a new terminal building was opened. The second largest bus station is Na Knížecí, located next to Vltava river at west bank, south of city center. It is connected to Anděl metro station (line B). It is used mostly by regional busses. Other, less frequently used bus stations are at Nádraží Holešovice (metro C), Dejvická (A), Zličín (B) and Černý most (B). Eurolines, Ecolines, Student Agency and Orange Ways connect Prague to major European cities. Student Agency operates daily bus service between many large Czech cities (including famous Cesky Krumlov) and Prague for prices between 100 to 300 CZK per adult (reservation needed). Budweis-shuttle operates daily bus service between České Budějovice, Cesky Krumlov and Prague (1.5 hours, 1000 CZK; disadvantageous for small groups). Polski Bus has two connections daily to Warsaw, Poland via Wrocław and Łódź.
Prague has highway connections from five major directions. Unfortunately, the highway network in the Czech Republic is quite incomplete and some highways are old and in poor condition. Thus, the highway connection from Prague to the border of the Czech Republic is available only in two directions: southeast and southwest.
The southwestern highway (D5; international E50) leads through Plzeň to Germany. The D5 highway continues in Germany as A6. Riding from the state border to Prague takes about an hour and a half (160 km / 99 mi). The southeastern highway (D1) is the Czech Republic’s oldest and most used highway but is in a rather poor condition. It leads through Brno to Bratislava in Slovakia. It offers a good connection to Vienna, Budapest and all traffic from the east. It runs for 250 km (155 mi), and usually takes over two hours.
To the northwest, you can take highway D8 (E55), but it is not complete to the German border. It ends now at Lovosice (about 60 km (37 mi) from Prague and starts again in Usti nad Labem and continues to the northern Germany via A17 (Dresden, Berlin, Leipzig). To the northeast, you can take highway R10 (E65). It is strictly speaking a motorway, not a highway, but it has four lanes and differs little from a highway. It leads from Liberec to Turnov. It is not regarded as an important access route, as there are no major cities in this direction (Zittau in Germany, some cities in Poland), but it offers a good connection to the Czech mountains Jizerské hory and Krkonoše (Riesengebirge) with the best Czech skiing resorts.
To the east, you can take the newly completed D11 (E67), which goes to Hradec Kralove. It leads to Poland.
Czech highways are under development (D8 and D11 are being extended, D3 to České Budějovice and Linz is supposed to be completed in 2020) so things will get better. Unless there are road works, there are only seldom traffic jams on Czech highways, with the exception of D1 near Prague (and near Mirosovice (direction to České Budějovice and Linz, and Brno, too)).
Prague suffers from heavy traffic and on week days the main streets are one big traffic jam. Moreover, Prague doesn’t have a complete highway outer ring yet. It is a really good idea to use the P+R (park and ride) parking places, where you can park your car for a very small fee and use public transport.
The P+Rs are situated near all highways and are well marked. Note that traffic wardens are rife and parking in most residential streets in and around Prague city centre (even after dark) without a valid permit will result in a parking fine. In particular, avoid blue-marked areas which are parking-restricted area if you don’t want your car to get towed away within the hour.
Václav Havel Airport Prague,
(IATA: PRG), +420 220 111 111, +420 296 661 111. Located 20 km (12 miles) northwest of the city centre, it generally takes about 30 minutes to reach the city centre by car.
The airport is served by a number of airlines
- Wizz Air is a low cost airline with a significant base in Prague operating to European destinations including London, Barcelona and Milan among others.
- Czech Airlines (ČSA) is the national carrier operating to many European and international destinations. They generally do not offer long-haul (intercontinental) flights, but as they are partially owned by Korean Air, they offer a code-shared direct connection to Seoul.
- easyJet operates low cost services to European destinations.
- Jet2.com low cost services from Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds/Bradford & Edinburgh
- SmartWings to Europe, Turkey and Israel
- Swiss International flies to Zurich, Basel and Geneva.
- Aer Lingus from the Irish cities of Dublin & Cork.
- Norwegian from Scandinavia.
- Delta Air Lines from New York.
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 5 direct flights per day from Amsterdam.
- British Airways has 4 direct flights from London Heathrow daily.
- Brussels Airlines offers 3 flights a day to Brussels.
- Lufthansa offers 6 flights a day from Frankfurt and 4 from Munich.
- TAP offers daily direct flights from Lisbon and Oporto.
- Iberia offers 3 flights daily from Madrid.
- Germanwings offers daily flights from Cologne/Bonn.
All About Prague
For those who want to find out more about the city – useful links: