Prague without a car: Public transport in the capital
You’ve moved to Prague, but don’t have a car. This can in fact be a bit of an advantage. Not only do you not need to look for a home with a garage or parking space, but in the long run you will save time and money thanks to urban mass transport.
Every morning, thousands of people commute into the capital from nearby towns or villages for work. Others even travel from different parts of the country. They usually choose to travel by bus, train and car. In Prague, motorists will be joined by local people who feel it faster and more convenient to move around the city by car. But is that really the case? Getting up early and eating breakfast while waiting in a queue. You never know if you’ll make it on time to an important meeting, with the possibility of being held up by an unexpected closure or traffic accident. The behaviour of drivers on Prague’s roads isn’t likely to be thoughtful, or one of mutual respect. However, if you don’t have a car, or left your’s in your native land, and your employer has not yet provided you with a replacement or alternative, you need not worry.
Prague has an extensive and sophisticated transport network that is affordable for everyone. It is mainly provided by metro, buses and trams, but you can also travel by train, ferry or cable car around the city. The underground and public transport operator is the Prague Public Transport Company.
The metro consists of three lines with a total length of 65 kilometres. It transports almost half a billion people a year, making it the most heavily used means of transportation in Prague. The metro was opened to the public in 1974 and its average speed is 35 km / h. The different departure intervals vary by day and by station. The best case; you’ll run into the station when the metro arrives, the worst; you’ll wait 10 minutes for the next train. In each carriage there is an area for transporting buggies (strollers) or bicycles, free of charge. All metro lines are in operation from about 5:00am to 12.00am (midnight).
From time to time, the Prague Underground will introduce an initiative to make the journey easier and more pleasant for people living in Prague (for example, a singles carriage). However, it seems that the people of Prague prefer to read or listen to music in the underground – conversation and introductions aren’t usually the preferred pastime. There is currently no wifi, and intermittent phone single in the metro.
The tram network runs over 557 km across 34 lines. In contrast to the metro, nine backbone lines run at night, every 30 minutes between 12:30am and 4:30am. When you have the time, take the tram number 17 along Smetanovo Nabrezi or 22 from Charles Square to Vinohrady. The views are definitely worth the trip.
It’s not too long ago that the phenomenon of the ‘Grease Tram’ (mazací tramvaje) originated in Prague. The tram, originally built in 1965, is currently used to lubricate the tram tracks. The ‘Grease Tram’ gained popularity, with any one seeing its orange figure, taking a selfie, with pictures popping up on Instagram and its dedicated Facebook page. While the popularity of the ‘Grease Trams’ has slowed, the evergreen tram remains the fact that at pedestrian crossings, the tram always has priority over the pedestrian!
In the centre you will primarily find trams and metro stations. However, buses have a significant place in Prague’s integrated transport network. Over 355,000,000 trips, across 145 lines, are made each year, along a network some 1 820 km long. Like the tram, there are also night bus lines running in and around the city.
Tickets and where to buy them
There are a number of different types of ticket (adult, child, junior, senior, student) for different time intervals (30 minutes, 90 minutes, all-day, three-day). You have to find out the individual tariff zones of the places you are going to and buy a time-limited ticket accordingly. After a short time you’ll be able to easily estimate how long a specific journey will take you and buy the appropriate ticket without needing to consult the internet. You will also be able to gauge whether, at peak times, it’ll be quicker, or more pleasant, to go by foot over shorter distances rather than taking the metro.
Tickets can be purchased at ticket machines, tobacconists (‘Trafikant’ in Czech), information centres, bus drivers (with a surcharge) or via PID Lítačka. You can also buy tickets via SMS on a Czech phone.
All timetables and line maps can be found at:
Author: Míša Benešovská
I’m a freelance journalist and copywriter, mainly covering IT industry. I’ve been fascinated by it for nearly a quarter of a century (or since I dismantled my first computer). I worked for Seznam.cz, Unicorn Systems or Mafra publisher. In my spare time, I love game consoles and keep perfecting a recipe for the best pumpkin risotto in the world.
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