Václav Havel Airport Prague
Václav Havel Airport Prague, 17km west of the city centre, is the main international gateway to the Czech Republic and hub for the national carrier Czech Airlines, which operates direct flights to Prague from many European cities. There are also direct flights from North America (from April to October) as well as to select cities in the Middle East and Asia.
The airport has two terminals: Terminal 1 for flights to/from non–Schengen Zone countries (including the UK, Ireland and countries outside Europe); Terminal 2 for flights to/from Schengen Zone countries (most EU nations plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway).
The arrivals halls in both terminals have exchange counters, ATMs, accommodation agencies, public-transport information desks (in Terminal 2 and in the connecting corridor to Terminal 1), tourist information offices, taxi services and 24-hour left-luggage counters (Terminal 2 only; per piece per day 120Kč). Car-hire agencies are in the 'Parking C' multistorey car park opposite Terminal 1.
The cheapest (and often quickest) way to get into Prague from the airport is by public transport. Bus 119 stops outside both arrivals terminals every 10 minutes from 4am to midnight, taking passengers to metro stop Nádraží Veleslavín (metro line A), from where they catch a continuing metro into the centre. The entire journey (bus plus metro) requires one full-price public-transport ticket (32Kč) plus a half-fare (16Kč) ticket for every suitcase larger than 25cm x 45cm x 70cm. Buy tickets from Prague Public Transport Authority desks (located in each arrivals hall). If you're heading to the southwestern part of the city, take bus 100, which goes to the Zličín metro station (line B).
For connecting directly to Praha hlavní nádraží (the city's main train station), the Airport Express bus stops outside both arrivals terminals and runs every half-hour. The trip takes 35 minutes. Buy tickets from the driver.
Official airport taxis line up outside the arrivals area of both terminals and can take you into the centre for 500Kč to 700Kč, depending on the destination. Drivers usually speak English and accept credit cards. The drive takes about 20 minutes, depending on traffic.
Several bus companies offer long-distance coach services connecting Prague to cities around Europe. Nearly all international buses (and most domestic services) use the renovated and user-friendly Florenc bus station.
Important international bus operators with extensive networks and ticket offices at Florenc bus station include the following:
Car & Motorcycle
Prague lies at the nexus of several European four-lane highways and is a relatively easy drive from major regional cities, including Munich (four hours), Berlin (four hours), Nuremberg (three hours). Vienna (four hours) and Budapest (five hours).
- The minimum driving age is 18.
- Traffic moves on the right.
- The use of seat belts is compulsory for front- and rear-seat passengers.
- Children under 12 or shorter than 1.5m (4ft 9in) are prohibited from sitting in the front seat and must use a child-safety seat.
- Headlights must be always on, even in bright daylight.
- The legal blood alcohol limit is zero; if the police pull you over for any reason, they are required to administer a breathalyser.
- For highway driving, motorists are required to display on their windscreen a special prepaid sticker (dálniční známka), purchased on the border or at post offices and petrol stations. A sticker valid for 10 days costs 310Kč, for 30 days 440Kč, and for a year 1500Kč.
- In Prague, trams have the right of way when making any signalled turn across your path. Drivers may overtake a tram only on the right, and only if it’s in motion. You must stop behind any tram taking on or letting off passengers where there’s no passenger island.
- In case of an accident, contact the police immediately if repairs are likely to exceed 20,000Kč or if there is an injury. Even if damage is slight, it’s a good idea to report the accident to obtain a police statement for insurance purposes.
- For emergency breakdowns, ÚAMK provides nationwide assistance 24 hours a day.
Parking in Prague is tight and in several districts, including the centre, mostly off limits to nonresidents. In areas with restricted parking, a blue marking on the street indicates only residents may park there. A white line allows for metered, paid parking. Meter fees in the centre are 40Kč per hour. In outlying areas, you're generally allowed to park where you want, but finding an available space is tough.
A better alternative is to use the ‘Park & Ride’ (P&R) spaces near metro stations on the outskirts. The best of these include Skalka (metro line A); Zličín, Nové Butovice, Palmovka, Rajská Zahrada and Černý Most (line B); and Nádraží Holešovice, Ladví and Opatov (line C).
The fine for illegal parking is normally a clamp on the car wheel or (worse) having the car towed to a police parking compound. Figure on a couple of hours of bureaucracy and fines and fees of about 3000Kč.
- 50kph (30 mph) in towns and cities
- 90kph (56 mph) on the open road
- 130kph (78 mph) on expressways
Prague is well integrated into European rail networks. Train travel makes the most sense if travelling to/from Berlin and Dresden to the north or Vienna, Kraków, Bratislava and Budapest to the east and south. Most domestic and all international trains arrive at Praha hlavní nádraží, Prague's main station.
Most services are operated by the Czech state rail operator, České dráhy, though two private rail companies, Leo Express and RegioJet, compete with České dráhy on some popular lines, including travel to/from the Moravian cities Olomouc and Ostrava and points east. These companies can sometimes be cheaper and faster. Leo Express trains are identified as 'LEO' on timetables; RegioJet trains are 'RJ'.
Praha Hlavní Nádraží (Main Station)
Prague's main station, Praha hlavní nádraží, is located in the centre of the city and a short walk away from Wenceslas Square. It's served by metro line C (red) at stop Hlavní Nádraží, and several tram lines (5, 9, 15 and 26).
- On arrival, go downstairs from the train platforms to the busy main concourse, where you'll find shops, restaurants and ATMs, as well as a left-luggage office and luggage lockers.
- Public-transport tickets are available at ticketing machines (have coins ready) or at newspaper kiosks in the station. There are taxi ranks at both ends of the concourse.
- Try not to arrive late at night – the station closes from about 12.30am to 3.30am, and the surrounding area can be sketchy at night.
České Dráhy ticket counters are located on the lower level of Praha hlavní nádraží (Prague's main station). Buy tickets here for trains operated by the national rail carrier, České dráhy. Counters are divided into vnitrostátní jízdenky (domestic tickets) and mezínárodní jizdenky (international tickets), so make sure you're standing in the right line. The windows also sell seat reservations. Credit cards are accepted.
Buy tickets for RegioJet and Leo Express trains at separate offices located in the main train station.
Useful Train Terms
Although most staff at the international ticket counters in Prague’s main train station (Praha hlavní nádraží) speak English, those selling domestic tickets may not. In order to speed up the process of buying a ticket, and to avoid misunderstandings, it’s often easier to write down what you want on a piece of paper and hand it to the clerk (this works for bus tickets too).
Write it down like this:
- z departure station, eg PRAHA
- do destination station, eg KARLŠTEJN
- čas departure time, using 24-hour clock
- datum date, eg for 2.30pm on 20 May, write ‘14.30h. 20.05’. Or just dnes (today).
- osoby number of passengers
- jednosměrný (one way) or zpáteční (return)
If you’re making a reservation on an EC (international) or IC (domestic) train, you may also want to specify 1. třídá or 2. třídá (1st or 2nd class), and whether you want an okno (window) or chodba (aisle) seat.