Traveling within Prague
As you probably know, Prague has a very convenient system of public transport (Městská hromadná doprava, MHD), which is (quite) cheap, (relatively) fast and reliable and definitely widely used. A lot of people even don’t have a car and they rely entirely on the public transport system. Let’s explore it!
Trams, underground and buses are owned by “Prague Public Transport Company” (Dopravní podnik hlavního města Prahy, DPP), while trains are run by “Czech railways” (České dráhy, ČD). Officially, trains are not a part of Prague public transport system, but within Prague you can use both for the same fare, so it doesn’t make any difference, really.
And one warning: pickpockets are very numerous in public transport. Be wary and always keep an eye on your things! If you get into a crowd, where people push at you, be extraordinarily careful and lay hands on your bags, as making a crowd is a common trick of pickpockets. Better safe than sorry, really, this IS a big problem in Prague.
Basically, you have two possibilities when going by public transport. Either you can buy a seasonal ticket (or, more precisely, you buy a coupon “kupón” and this coupon together with your ISIC card forms a seasonal ticket “tramvajenka, lítačka, legitka”) which is valid for certain amount of time (1 month, 3 months) or you can buy normal tickets for individual journeys.
The normal tickets really don’t pay off, they are intended for people who stay for less than a week in Prague (and we hope you are going to stay longer :-) ), so you probably want to buy a seasonal ticket. How to do it?
- Decide which seasonal ticket you need — 30 days for 260 czk (550 for non-students) or 90 days for 720 czk (1480 for non-students).
- Go to the nearest point where you can buy a seasonal ticket. They are always somewhere in the underground, it is a small yellow window in the wall. You can find them in these stations: Depo Hostivař, Skalka, Strašnická, Želivského, Náměstí míru, Můstek, Dejvická, Černý most, Hloubětín, Nádraží Vysočanská, Palmovka, Florenc, Karlovo náměstí, Anděl, Smíchovské nádraží, Hůrka, Lužiny, Zličín, Háje, Opatov, Roztyly, Vyšehrad, I. P. Pavlova, Nádraží Holešovice, Kobylisy, Ládví, Prosek, Letňany.
- Go to the window. Give your ISIC to the lady inside and tell her you want to buy a gliding student coupon from today (tomorrow) for 30 (90) days. In Czech, this is “Prosím studentský klouzavý kupón ode dneška (zítřka) na třicet (devadesát) dní”. She will take your money and give you the coupon.
- Place your coupon to the ISIC card somewhere inside the plastic case. This is it! Your very own seasonal ticket!
From now on you don’t have to worry and you can use public transport how often and wherever you like, including night lines. Special conditions apply just if you go to the outskirts of Prague (buses 3xx and 6xx), but people usually don’t go there. Still, if you need to travel so far, you can find the conditions online.
If you really, really want to buy the normal ticket from some reasons, then you can buy it in vending machines or at newsagent’s and other small shops like this. You can buy the most common tickets also at the bus driver on buses, but these tickets are more expensive, the difference is about 5 czk.
The kinds of tickets can be found here: http://www.dpp.cz/en/fares-in-prague/ .
After you have bought the ticket, you have to validate it which means to stick it into a yellow box which can be found aboard the trams and buses or in the corridors of underground. You do this when you get on the bus, tram or enter the corridors of underground. These machines punch the current exact time in your ticket, so the ticket inspector can see if you haven’t exceeded the allowed time.
You can buy normal ticket also via SMS, but you need Czech SIM card for this, which you probably don’t have.
Of course, the Public Transport Company wants to know if you have paid for your journey. And you have to show your valid ticket to ticket controlors (“revizor”, pl. “revizoři”), if asked on bus, tram or in the underground. If you don’t have a ticket, you have to pay a fine which is 950 czk (700 if you pay it on the spot).
Underground is called “Metro” in Czech. There are 3 different underground lines – A (green), B (yellow) and C (red). The changing stations are Můstek (A-B), Florenc (B-C) and Muzeum (C-A).
Underground operates from 04:30 AM until midnight. At midnight the last underground trains leave the terminal station, so you might be able to catch the train even slightly after the midnight, if you wait somewhere on the line. Precise calculations must be made if you intend to go by the last train.
Trams are called “Tramvaj, pl. Tramvaje” in Czech. Trams are divided to day-operating and night-operating. There are 26 day trams. The numbers of night operating trams are 5x (56, 57…) and there are 9 of them (51-59). Last day trams go slightly after midnight, the first day trams around 05:00AM as a rule.
Useful is the map of the trams & underground.
Buses are called “Autobus, pl. Autobusy” in Czech. Trams have numbers of two digits, while buses have numbers of three digits. There are
normal buses (100-292)
night buses (501-513)
school buses (551-571, they go mostly only in working days between 7 and 8AM, but anybody can use them; they are just like other buses)
regional buses (301-495) operating in peripheral parts of Prague
and night regional buses (601-607).
Buses starting with “X” letter are used in case of detours and emergencies and hopefully you won’t have to use those.
Some bus stops are scarcely used, so the bus driver won’t stop on them automatically – they are on request. These stops are marked with little “x” in bus timetables and the loudspeaker in the bus adds words “na znamení” to the name of the stop. If you want the bus driver to stop, press a “stop” button somewhere in the bus (green or blue usually, don’t confuse them with large red emergency buttons :-D ) before the bus arrives to the “on request stop”. If you are on the stop, wave to the bus driver to indicate your intention to get on.
With seasonal (or normal) ticket, you can use ferries (“přívoz”), Petřín’s funicular (“lanovka”) and trains (within Prague) as well.
For planning your traveling we strongly recommend that you use the IDOS website.
Of course, you can also use taxi when traveling around Prague, but we don’t recommend it. Firstly, it is quite expensive (30 czk + 26 czk for every kilometer + 4 czk for every minute of waiting, if you call the taxi by phone and it has to wait for you), and secondly, the taxi drivers often try to overcharge you, if they see that you are a foreigner. Politicians try to fight against it (or they say they try), but it still happens. Usually, people go by taxi in a case of emergency – they are ill and have no car, at night if they hurry and so on. If you really need taxi, you can try these numbers: 222111000, 14015, which I found on the internet.
IDOS — traveling planner for the whole Czech Republic and for public transport in all Czech bigger cities. Very helpful!
Fares in Prague (on the site of Prague Public Transport Company)