Prague is known as the Paris of the East, and for good reasons. It is an absolutely charming city that has something for everyone. We came for a week and stayed for almost 2 months. Tigger loves it so much it occupies the #2 spot on his top 5 list of places he’d like to live long term. Not only is it a great city to visit, but it’s also incredibly easy to get around.
Prague is a big city with a small-town feel. Its public transportation system includes buses, tram, and the metro. We live on the outer edge of the city, and we can usually be in the center city in less than half an hour, and that includes taking at least one bus and one metro train. The transportation system is quite affordable, too.
The city is also pretty pedestrian friendly.
Planning your journey in Prague
I have found this website to be quite helpful in looking up transit times, routes, and it also will tell you the fare. It’s very user friendly and informative. This will be one of your friends while exploring Prague.
Once on the road, there are different apps to help you along. Google Maps is very reliable at showing you routes; however, their time estimates are usually at least 20 minutes longer than what the actual trip will take.
My personal favorite app is Pubtran. It’s very user friendly, doesn’t use up a lot of data, and has some very nice features. In comparing with some other apps, I like its interface better, and its schedule information is more accurate than some of the others I’ve tried. It doesn’t work offline, so you will need either data or WiFi to look something up. This app will also provide you with schedules for other cities, show you where the nearest stations are, and even show you schedules for trains between cities.
Most journeys will cost you 24 CZK (about $1.21), and children 6 and over receive a 50% discounted fare. These tickets are valid for 30 minutes from the time of validation. You can buy tickets at machines in the metro stations, ticket windows, and at tobacco shops. These tickets have to be validated before you use them, so it’s easy to buy a bunch to always have on hand.
Children: Up to age 6 travel for free. On public holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays, however, 1 child up to the age of 15 may travel with an adult (traveling with a pre-paid ticket) for free.
If your journey will be 30-90 minutes, then the fare is 32 CZK for adults. Check out this page for a complete breakdown of fares, tickets, and passes.
If you’re going to be in Prague for an extended time (2 weeks or more), consider getting a monthly pass. Even if you only do one roundtrip 30-minute journey per day, the pass will pay for itself in just under 2 weeks. Plus you won’t have to deal with making sure you have coins, hoping the ticket window is open only to find they’re out to lunch or closed, etc.
In the metro stations, you will find ticket-vending machines. Most of them only accept coins. At first, they may seem a bit daunting as there are many buttons. They’re actually pretty easy once you get the hang of them.
- Press the button for English
- Select the fare (24 kc is for 30 mins or less, 32 kc for 30-90 mins) by pressing the appropriately marked button. If you need more than one ticket, simply press the button once more per ticket. You’ll see the price displayed in the small window above the buttons. If you’re adding a discounted ticket, press the button that says Zvyhodnena (upper right) followed by the same fare button you used previously. For instance, if I was buying a 30-minute ticket for Tigger and I, I would press the 24kc button once, press the discounted button, and would then press the 24kc button again. The price in blue is for adults and the price in green is for discounted fares.
- The total price will be listed in the window. Put in your coins at this point. If you wait too long, it will cancel the order and you’ll have to start over, so I usually pull out my change and have it ready to go before I begin.
- Wait for it to print your tickets. If you are expecting change, it will drop in the same section as the tickets at the bottom of the machine.
- Validate your ticket at the machine with a lit arrow at the entrance to the metro steps/escalators or with the similar machines located on the bus or tram.
As the tickets are time based, you don’t have to worry about transfers. You can ride as many metro trains, buses, or trams as you wish within the time frame for the fare you’ve paid.
There are 3 lines for the metro: A (green), B (yellow), and C (red). There are plenty of maps in the stations and on trains to make thing easy for you. Metros, buses, and trams all have an electronic display and a voice that announces the next stop. The newer buses have a display that shows you the next 4 stops which is quite handy.
The simple maps on the metro are color coded and also have silhouettes of famous landmarks to help you know which stop is closest.
Most of the trains are modern, and they’re all quite clean and comfortable.
When you spot a metro station, it will have a big stylized arrow pointing down, and the sign will be the color of the line. So if you spot a yellow arrow, you know that station is on the B line. In the popular historic area, brown street signs will have a colored letter (like a red C) pointing in the direction of the station. It’s really quite a handy setup.
If you wish to visit the Prague castle, the easiest thing to do is take the metro to the Malostranska (line A) station. Cross the street to the island in the road and catch the 22 tram (heading in the direction up the hill) and get off at Pražský Hrad or Pohorelec (the neighborhood just outside the main gates). This will save your knees and lungs from having to climb the big hill with a ton of steps.
The nearest station to the famous St. Charles Bridge is Staromestska (line A). This is the same metro station if you want to visit the historic square where the astronomical clock tower is located.
The main train station is Hlavní nádraž (line C). The buses heading to the airport are also located near here.
I definitely recommend visiting the Vysherad area with its wonderful fortress and gorgeous basilica. The metro station is the C line and has the same name as the region. There are signs directing you to the Vysherad fortress, and it’s a short walk from the metro. There’s also a great Thai restaurant outside this station.
Do you have any special tips for getting around Prague via public transportation?