The public transport (MHD, veřejná doprava) in Prague is very convenient because it is covering the whole of Prague, it´s cheap, widely used and it goes very frequently, so it is definitely faster and less stressful to drive a car. Prague is not one of the most bike-friendly cities but we are slowly getting there, so please don´t be scared of trams and try to support this trend, learn more about the Prague cycling paths here or here. Or give a chance to one of the bike-sharing companies such as Rekola.
Now let’s explore Prague´s public transport!
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’s 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 pretty 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.
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 a certain amount of time (1 month, 3 months) or you can buy normal tickets for individual journeys. Both of these types of tickets apply in all public transport means — buses, trams, underground, ferries (“přívoz”), Petřín’s funicular (“lanovka”) and trains (within Prague).
The normal tickets really don’t pay off, they are intended for people who stay for less than a week in Prague and you don´t get any student discount on them, so you probably want to buy a seasonal ticket. How to do it?
- Decide which seasonal ticket you need — 30 days for 130 CZK (550 for non-students) or 90 days for 360 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 student coupon from today (tomorrow) for 30 (90) days. In Czech, this is “Prosím studentský 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). If you need to travel so far, you can find the conditions here.
If you want to buy the one-way ticket for some reason, then you can buy it in vending machines or at the newsstand 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. Another option is to get an SMS ticket by writing a text “DPT24” (for 30min ticket, DPT32 for 90min ticket, etc) on number 90206, this works only if you own a Czech sim card.
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 the underground. You do this when you get on the bus, tram, or enter the corridors of the 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.
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 controllers (“revizor”), if asked on the bus, tram or in the underground. If you don’t have a ticket, you have to pay a fine which is 1500 CZK (800 if you pay it on the spot or in the next 15 days).
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 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 in Czech. Trams are divided into 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 05:00 AM as a rule.
Useful is the map of the trams & underground.
Buses are called “Autobus” 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 on working days between 7 and 8 am, 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 the “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 the 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 at the “on request stop”. If you are at the stop, wave to the bus driver to indicate your intention to get on.
Of course, you can also use a 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 case of an emergency – they are ill and have no car, at night if they hurry and so on. If you really need a 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)