Prague by Subway, Bus, and on Foot
It’s almost spring time, and with spring comes the tourist season. In May, Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, is preparing to host an annual world class festival called Prague Spring.
Beginning on May 12, Prague Spring is a 3 weeks long festival of music and culture. Orchestral and Chamber music are the main attraction of this festival, but other styles like Jazz can be found on the schedule as well. What better way to enjoy Prague, a city nicknamed the Living Museum of Architecture by many tour guides, than with the best compositions Czech musicians created over the centuries? And while the Prague Spring is a celebration of Czech music, there are many famous international conductors and orchestras coming to perform this year as well. Ensembles like the famous Vienna Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and BBC Symphonic orchestras will perform selection of works by Bach and Beethoven.
More information on Prague Spring, including ticket options can be found at www.festival.cz/en
What ticket should I buy?
Unless you’re one of the lucky few travelling around Prague in a limousine, one of the important things you will want to concern yourself with, is how to get around efficiently. You could call a cab, but having yourself driven around would get expensive. Rental is a possibility, but the traffic rules are very different from those in the United States, and parking around the city is also very difficult; therefore renting a car is only good for out-of-the-city trips. So what other options are there?
Your best option is the public transportation system. Prague, and really the whole of the Czech Republic, has outstanding public transportation systems that can get you anywhere you could possibly want to go. The city is crossed by 3 underground trains called Metro. The inner city is webbed with electric train lines, also called Trams, and the outer city has almost 300 bus lines.
As you can imagine, riding a public transportation system like this isn’t going to be free. So how do you choose the right ticket for you? There are many different tickets for many different people, but the general break down is quite easy.
The standard ticket, valid for 90 minutes from the moment of validation allows you to transfer from one mode of transportation to another. It costs 32 Crowns (About $2) for adults, juniors, and students. For seniors, people 65 – 70 years old, and children 6 – 15 years old, the price is 16 Crowns. People older than 70 years and children younger than 6 years ride for free. You also need to be aware that you need to have your ticket with you at all times, and you need to be able to prove your age with an ID. Not all forms of ID are accepted, so your best bet is to use your passport, which you should carry with you at all times anyway.
For short trips, you have the option to buy a ticket that only lasts for 30 minutes, and for busy days, you can purchase a 24 hour ticket. There is also a ticket that is valid for 3 days, but it isn’t for 3 days of your choosing. Rather, it is for exactly 72 hours from the time of validation. The prices on these tickets follow the same rules as the 90 minute one, meaning seniors and children pay less.
Just buying a ticket is not enough though. After you buy a ticket, you have to validate it. Trams and buses have validators inside every vehicle, and Metro has validators at the entrance to every station. If you need to use the bus and you don’t have a ticket with you, you can buy one from the bus driver. However you will be charged a convenience fee, and instead of 32 Crowns for standard 90 minute ticket, you will pay 40 Crowns.
A special option in Prague is a Mobile ticket which you purchase from your cell device by texting a ticket specific code, like DPT32 to 902 06. This, however, may prove to be impossible for you as a tourist, because even with roaming, your carrier might not recognize the number or the code texted. Still, it can’t hurt to try. If it works for you, you will receive a confirmation “ticket” message with the validation time, and if you are approached by the ticket control officer you simply present him that message.
Another option is an E-ticket, also called The Open Card. But unless you are staying in Prague for longer period of time like a year for example, this option is not suitable for you. However, if you found that you love Prague and you want to visit often, then Open Card is the right choice. Standard processing time is 14 days, but for extra fees and charges, you can have it done in 2 days.
Of all the options however, the best option is to purchase a pass. Since Prague Spring goes for almost a month, and you will travel a lot back and forth between places, buying a month pass will save you a lot of money. The price of a month pass is 670 Crowns, which is the same as if you bought 7 of the day tickets. In case you’re staying in Prague longer than a week, go buy a month pass. It is well worth it. Another benefit of these transferable passes is that they are valid for 30 days from the date of purchase. Therefore, if you arrive to Prague in the middle of the month, you will have 30 days of riding, not just the remaining days utill the end of that month.
Detailed Ticket and Passes information can be found on www.dpp.cz
A different perspective
An interesting quirk of Prague public transportation system is the Night Lines. The last Metro trains set off from all end stations at midnight. If you miss this train, there are no more trains until 5 a.m. But don’t worry, you won’t be stranded in the city at night. After midnight, a set of night lines are active to deliver tired citizens and tourists to their homes and hotels. Both tram and bus lines can take you around the key stations both downtown and on the peripheries. And if worse comes to worst, you can always walk.
In fact, if you want to experience something very different, I would encourage you to take a late night stroll through the old city. Without the ever present cars, hordes of tourists, and the trinket vendors, walking through the dimly lit city almost transports you back in time to the medieval era. You will experience Prague from an entirely different perspective.