Prague transportation: Traveling to the Czech capital? Be choosy about how you get around the city

If you’re heading to Prague this summer, one of the first things you’ll notice when arriving at Ruzyne Airport is the number of car services competing for your business.

Prague’s airport is not serviced by the city’s subway network, though talk is ongoing about eventually extending it. If you go the public transportation route, that means a bus, usually the 119 that takes you to end station on the green, or A, subway line.

But there are other options. Bohemia Prague Airport Transfers is one. The company recently contacted Gadling to tell us a bit about their efforts to corner the market to and from Prague’s airport and train stations. The outfit runs a fleet of cars and vans around the clock and can accommodate one to 16 travelers.

We took a look at the company’s Web site, which is professional looking, with rates clearly shown, and the fact that you can book cars ahead of time does make Bohemia Prague an attractive option.

I’ve used the service once before, for a visiting family member a couple years ago, and it worked fine. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re arriving at the airport and happen to be staying in a location out of the city center.

But Bohemia Prague’s claim to be the official transport to and from the airport and train stations is a little overstated. They’re not the only game in town. And be a little leery of the fact that, as advertised, the company charges a flat rate for anywhere in Prague. That’s usually a sign that you’ll be overcharged if you’re heading to the prime tourist spots.

Their rate from the airport — 550 koruna or $32 — isn’t bad, and perhaps it’s even cheap compared to other European capitals. But you can also hail a yellow AAA taxi — they’re everywhere outside the airport — which use meters and direct routes and will end up costing less than 550 koruna, especially if your destination is the Mala strana side of the river.

And of course, if you have time on your hands or are particularly budget conscious, the public transport connection isn’t really that bad, and will wind up costing you about $3 for a 20-30 minute journey to the Dejvicka metro, which has rapid connections to the rest of the city.

In reviewing Bohemia Prague’s rates, the one thing I’m compelled to say is do not contact them — or any other taxi or car service, for that matter — for transport to and from Prague’s train stations. Folks, Bohemia Prague’s 370 koruna ($21) set price for one way travel is a rip off, especially from Prague’s main train station.The main train station is a money pit for tourists, because they don’t realize how close they are to where they want to go. They hail a taxi or arrange for a driver and wind up paying top dollar to cover a distance they could walk in less than 20 minutes.

The main station is in New Town, a stone’s throw from the national museum. Most tourists in Prague stay in Old Town or New Town, on the east side of the river. Old Town Square is a 15 minute walk from the train station; Wenceslas Square, five minutes or less. No metered taxi should hit 370 koruna dropping you off at your hotel in these locations. And if you’re staying along Wenceslas Square, taking any car — taxi or otherwise — is pretty much throwing money out the window.

We can argue about Holesovice station, since it’s out of the center. A taxi would cost more from here. But it is such a quick connection from Holesovice to Wenceslas Square on the metro (stop: Muzeum), four stops and less than 10 minutes, that paying for a taxi or car seems unnecessary.

In fact, I’d use the metro as often as possible, even if you side with cars and taxis because of the convenience factor. The metro is very convenient, efficient, safe and fast.

Also, if you have a cell phone that works overseas, the best option for a car is City Taxi (+420/602393070). They are honest, use meters and always end up costing less. Send them a text message with a simple “Taxi – [your address]” and they’ll arrive usually between 5-10 minutes, even at the airport.