Prague Airport (code PRG; tel. 220-113-314; www.prg.aero) is the main international air gateway to the Czech Republic. The airport lies in the suburb of Ruzyne about 18km (12 miles) northwest of the center. The airport has two passenger terminals: North 1 and North 2 (in Czech: Severin 1 and Severin 2). North 1 handles destinations outside the European Union, including overseas flights to and from the U.S. as well as flights from the U.K. (which is outside the E.U.'s Schengen common border zone). North 2 handles what are considered to be internal flights within the European Union, including flights to and from France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.
Prague is well served by the major European and international carriers, including several budget airlines. The Czech national carrier, CSA (www.czechairlines.com) operates regular direct service to New York's JFK airport, as well as Toronto. Delta Airlines (www.delta.com) offers regular direct service between Prague and both New York JFK and Atlanta.
Getting into Town from the Airport -- Taxis are the quickest but most expensive option. Two cab companies are licensed to operate at the airport. The more reliable of the two is AAA Radiotaxi (tel. 222-333-222; www.aaa-taxi.cz), look for the yellow cabs lined up outside both main terminals, North 1 and North 2. Fares with AAA average about 600Kc to the center. The trip normally takes about 25 minutes, but the drive can run as long as an hour during rush hour.
If you're staying in the immediate center of town, a cheaper alternative is to share a minibus operated by CEDAZ (tel. 221-111-111; www.cedaz.cz). Minibuses run regularly between the airport and the center for a flat fee of 480Kc for groups of one to four persons. CEDAZ also takes individual passengers from the airport to V celnici street in central Prague (near Námestí Republiky) for 120Kc per person.
The most affordable option is public transportation. City bus no. 119 stops at both terminals and runs regularly from the airport to the Dejvická metro station (on Line A), from where the center is just three metro stops away. Bus no. 100 runs south from the airport to the area of Zlicín and connects to metro Line B. Travel on both requires a 26Kc ticket purchased from yellow ticketing machines at the bus stop (note that the machines only accept change), or 30Kc if bought from the driver (exact change appreciated). Buy two tickets if you're carrying large luggage. A special Airport Express (designated "AE" on buses) runs to and from Prague's main train station and costs 50Kc per person each way. This is convenient if you are connecting directly to an international train.
Prague is easily accessible by major highway from around Europe. The main four-lane highways leading into and out of the city include the D1 motorway running south and east to Brno (2 hr.), Bratislava (3 hr.), and with connections to Kraków (8 hr.) and Budapest (6 hr.); the D5 motorway running southwest to Plzen (Pilsen; 1 hr.) and Nuremberg (3 hr.), with connections to Italy and points in southern and western Europe; and the D8 running north to Dresden (2 hr.) and eventually Berlin (5 hr.). Vienna is about 5 hours by car, with most of the way along crowded two-lane highway.
Rentals -- Rental cars are widely available and many of the big international agencies have offices either in town or at Prague Airport. To rent a car you must be at least 18 years old (though many rental agencies require drivers to be at least 23 or even 25) and hold a valid driver's license from your home country (U.S. states' licenses are acceptable).
Rental prices can be high, with daily rates starting at around 750Kc a day/unlimited mileage for an economy car, rising to about 1,500Kc per day for a full-sized car. Tips for getting a lower rate include renting in advance over the Internet or through Internet aggregators like Expedia.com, or opting for local agencies rather than the big internationals. It's also cheaper to rent from in-town agencies rather than the airport, since airport rentals must pay an airport surcharge.
Rental prices normally include unlimited mileage, VAT, and obligatory liability insurance, though the vehicle itself may not be insured against damage (be sure to ask). Some credit card companies insure cardholders against collision damage at no extra charge when they rent a car using the company's card. The car's insurance green card is required if you intend to drive the car outside the Czech Republic.
Prague lies on major European rail lines, with good connections to Dresden (2 hr.) and Berlin (5 hr.) to the north, and Brno (2-3 hr.), Vienna (4-5 hr.), Bratislava (3 hr.), and Budapest (7 hr.) to the south and east. New high-speed rail service, the Pendolino, has been introduced on the Prague-Vienna run, shortening the travel time on some trains to as little as 4 hours. More high-speed rail links are on the drawing board.
Prague has two international train stations, so makes sure to ask which station your train is using when you buy your ticket. Most international trains arrive at the main station, Hlavní nádrazí (Wilsonova 80, Prague 1; tel. 224-614-071; www.cd.cz; metro stop: Hlavní] nádrazí, Line C). Trains to and from Berlin, Vienna, and Budapest, however, often stop at the northern suburban station, Nádrazí Holesovice (Vrbenského ul., Prague 7; tel. 224-615-865; www.cd.cz; metro stop: Nádrazí] Holesovice, Line C). Train information is available at tel. 840-112-113 or on the web at http://jizdnirady.idnes.cz.
Of the two main stations, Hlavní nádrazí is the larger and more popular, but it's also seedier. Built in 1909, this once beautiful four-story Art Nouveau structure was one of the city's beloved architectural gems before it was connected to a darkly modern dispatch hall in the mid-1970s. It has been neglected for years, but at this writing a massive reconstruction of the building complex and its surroundings is underway. From the train platform, you'll walk down a flight of stairs and through a tunnel before arriving in the ground-level main hall, which contains ticket windows, a useful Prague Information Service office that sells city maps and dispenses information, and restrooms. Also useful is the CD center (tel. 840-112-113; www.cd.cz) run by the Czech Railways. It provides domestic and international train information as well as currency exchange and accommodations services. It is open daily 7 to 11am, 11:30am to 2pm, and 2:30 to 5:45pm. Visa and MasterCard are accepted. The station's basement has luggage lockers, but they aren't secure and should be avoided.
After you leave the modern terminal hall, a 5- to 10-minute walk to the left puts you at the top of Wenceslas Square and 15 minutes by foot from Old Town Square. Metro line C connects the station easily to the other two subway lines and the rest of the city. Metro trains depart from the lower level, and tickets are available from the newsstand near the metro entrance. Gouging taxi drivers line up outside the station and are plentiful throughout the day and night but are not recommended.
Prague has two smaller train stations. Masaryk Station, Hybernská ul., Prague 1 (tel. 221-111-122), is primarily for travelers arriving on trains originating from other Bohemian cities. Situated about 10 minutes by foot from the main train station, Masaryk is near Staré Mesto, just a stone's throw from námestí Republiky metro station. Smíchov Station, Nádrazní ul. at Rozkosného, Prague 5 (tel. 224-617-686), is the terminus for commuter trains from western and southern Bohemia, though it's a convenient station for getting to popular day trip destinations like Karlstejn and Plzen. The station has a 24-hour baggage check and is serviced by metro line B.
The Central Bus Station-Florenc, Krizíkova 4-6, Prague 8 (tel. 900-144-444; www.florenc.cz for timetable info), is a few blocks north of the main train station. Most local and long-distance buses arrive here. The adjacent Florenc metro station is on both lines B (yellow) and C (red). Florenc station is relatively small and doesn't have many visitor services. There are even smaller bus depots at Zelivského (metro line A), Smíchovské nádrazí (metro line B), and Nádrazí Holesovice (metro line C).