While I know that some people will arrive by train or bus to the centre of Prague, most visitors will travel to Prague by air.
If you do, you’ll arrive at the only airport in Prague – the Vaclav Havel Airport (originally called Ruzyne). Unlike other airports, Prague airport is fairly close to the centre of Prague, which makes it easy enough to get anywhere you need to in a short amount of time.
Still, for some reason, a lot of people are worried that the only way to travel from the airport is by expensive taxi, probably because they are concerned about using public transport for the first time when you visit Prague and finding their way to their accommodation after a long day of travelling from their original destination.
This is why in this blog post, I want to show you the different options you have when you arrive at the airport.
The Vaclav Havel airport
There are only two terminals – one from countries surrounding Czech Republic (so-called Schengen area) and one for all the other destinations. London and all UK flights and most international flights are usually terminal 1.
In case you make a mistake and go to the wrong terminal, they are about 5-10 minutes away from each other by foot. So, please don’t worry, you can’t get this wrong!
Once you arrive and go through the security doors and passport checks, you’ll be able to collect your luggage and then you can head straight out (through a customs office/area).
After that, you have several options.
I would decide on how you travel from the airport before you arrive when you are getting ready for your trip. Depending on your accommodation location one form of transport might be easier than another.
There is no underground, tram or train at the airport, so bus is your only public transport option.
Bus no 119 – Veleslavin – Underground – Metro A
Goes every few minutes during day and longer intervals in the evenings and weekends.
The ride takes about 15-17 minutes and from Veleslavin you can get Metro line A to straight to the centre and change anywhere.
The no 119 operates a long double bus with a low level floor and plenty of space for your luggage and for you to sit down.
Bus no 100 – Zlicin – Underground – Metro Line B
Goes only about 3 times an hour and takes 15 minutes to reach Zlicin – Metro B line. This is great if your accommodation is in Smichov, Andel or Prague 5. You can also get to the centre and change to Line C or A.
Bus no 191
Goes about 3 times an hour and takes about 55 minutes to get to Andel – Smichov, but unless your hotel or accommodation is on route it’s much more of a scenic tour than a useful way to get to the centre of Prague. Saying that, since this bus goes straight past my flat building, I usually take it during non-rush hours.
Buying ticket for bus (and public transport) from Vaclav Havel Airport
As you walk out of the airport terminal, you’ll see yellow ticket machines, which sell bus/tram tickets. There are several more situated at the bus stop, once you cross the airport approach road.
Depending on where you are heading, buy 30 CZK ticket for 30 minutes or 40CZK for 90 minutes. Unless your accommodation is close by to the Veleslavin or Zlicin areas, I would strongly advise you to buy the 90 min ticket, because 30 minutes might not be enough to get you there.
Once you buy your ticket, make sure you validate it in the smaller yellow ticket machine on any bus or at the bus stop. The machine stamps it with a date and time and you have either 30 or 90 minutes to get to your destination, including any changes.
You don’t need to validate the ticket again when you change, say from a bus to a tram, just keep it in your pocket somewhere safe.
You can get paper ticket or e-ticket send (and validated) to your smart phone.
If you know that you are going to be using public transport during your stay ( personally I think it’s the best way to get around the town), you can also buy 24 hrs ticket (120 CZK), 72 hrs ticket (330 CZK) or even a monthly ticket (1000 CZK).
The monthly ticket (valid for any consecutive 30 days) might look like too much money, but even if you are in Prague for 2 weeks, it’s still cheaper than buying individual tickets.
More importantly for the sum of approx £33 (1000 CZK) you can use any tram, bus or train within the greater Prague public transport system and you don’t need to worry about getting tickets every time you want to catch a tram or remembering to get off because you’ve run out of time on your ticket.
A word of warning – ticket inspectors are in plain clothes (not uniforms) and do regular spot checks. Currently, the fine is 1500 CZK, but if you pay on the spot or within 2 weeks, you’ll only pay 800 KCZ.
Taxi is a comfortable and convenient way to travel from the airport to the centre. It’s also particularly good if you are not sure where your hotel is exactly and you have a lot of luggage or tired children with you.
The ride to the centre could be 500-800 CZK (not including a tip for the driver) depending on the taxi company, distance or whether it’s a state holiday or weekend. If you can, check with the driver how much it would be to your destination, so that you have at least some idea of how much your ride is going to be.
The equivalent of Uber, Bolt app can be downloaded to your smart phone and you can have your car ready in a few minutes. The last time I checked, Bolt charged about 450-500 CZK for a ride to the centre.
Only kidding…but actually if you wanted to have a go, the airport is 17 km by foot from Old Town Square, which shouldn’t take more than 3.5 -4 hrs.
The walk would take you through wooded areas, parks, Prague Castle and through the most picturesque part of central Prague.
Although I’ve not walked this in one go, I have walked the section from close to the airport via Sarka Valley Park, Breznov Monastery, Vypich, Ladronka and Kinsky Park, Petrin and down through the Prague Castle area, crossing the river on Charles Bridge and arriving in the Old Town Square via the old King Street.
I know this sounds slightly mad, but the other day, because of train delays, it took me the same time to get back from Stansted London to where we live on the borders of Kent/London and I was travelling by train!
By comparison, a scenic walk through a historic town sounds much nicer than an overcrowded London tube!