Getting to Prague
This search engine looks for flights, (some) low-cost flights, trains, buses, and driving routes. It also gives cost estimates.
The Czech Republic is part of Schengen. Information about visa requirements can be found here and authoritatively here. The organizers can provide letters of invitation for registered attendees.
Vaclav Havel International Airport Prague (PRG) has direct flights from all major and many regional European airports. From some locations, low-cost flights are more convenient, but they are often not supported by search engines. To explore all possibilities, see the list of all airliners and destinations at Prague airport with links to websites of individual airliners.
The airport has two terminals: Terminal 1 is for non-Schengen countries (e.g. flights to/from UK, Ireland) and Terminal 2 for Schengen countries (most of Europe). The terminals are walking distance from each other and both are served by taxis, the airport shuttle, and the public transportation. The airport is 30 minutes drive or 50 minutes by public transport from the conference hotel. If you are staying at or very close to the conference hotel, the CEDAZ airport shuttle is most convenient. It runs every 30 minutes directly to the conference hotel (travel time about 30 minutes) and costs 150CZK (about 6€).
We recommend travelers to avoid the Kafka airport for these reasons.
Public transportation to the city center: take bus 119 in the direction to the final stop Nadrazi Veleslavin. Change to subway line A (green) direction Depo Hostivar. Please see our public transportation advice below. Public transportation stops at the airport are named “Terminal 1” and “Terminal 2”.
Prague Main Railway Station is located in the city center and is 12 minutes walk from the conference hotel. The public transportation stop is named “Hlavni nadrazi”. The Main Railway Station serves most international trains, but all other railway stations are also well served by public transportation. Train connections can be found here (click on the British flag to switch to English) or here. When travelling from Germany, the Deutsche Bahn provide discounts for particular trips (e.g. Munich-Prague). There are no fast train connections from neighboring countries. Deutsche Bahn also offer direct bus connections from some cities to Prague, and these are sometimes faster than trains.
Florenc Bus Terminal sometimes also called “UAN Florenc” or “Ustredni Autobusove Nadrazi Praha - Florenc” is 9 minutes walk from the conference hotel. It serves many international bus connections. Other bus terminals are also well served by public transportation. The public transport stop is named “Florenc”. From several places in Austria and Germany, bus connections are more convenient, faster, and much cheaper than getting to an airport and flying. When travelling on budget, a bus may be an option from more distant places as well. Bus connections can be found here (click on the British flag to switch to English). Some buses are very comfortable with personal video system, refreshments, indeed toilet and air conditioning, but it varies a lot depending on the line/carrier.
Driving and Parking
Driving might make only sense when on a budget and travelling as a group. Parking in the city centre is possible in dedicated car parks (not in the street), but expensive. Some hotels provide parking for prices lower or comparable to public car parks (Marriott about 22€ per day, Hotel BB Prague City 15€ per day), but it is essential to check with the hotel in advance they’ll have parking space for you. If you’re on a budget, you may want to check car parks a bit farther from the centre. Be careful to check whether a particular car park allows overnight parking, whether the parked vehicles are guarded, and at what time of day one may get access to the car. P+R car parks at subway stations sadly do not allow overnight parking. A list of car parks is here and for some car parks it also allows online reservation. A large public car park close to Marriott is at shopping centre Palladium (about 26€ per day). A cheaper car park is close to subway station Dejvicka (line A), at the National Technical Library (allows online reservation). The daily price is 13€ (1 day parking), 11€ (2 day parking), 9€ (3 day parking) and it goes further down, so about 7.5€ per day when parking for 7 days. This car park is incidentally just opposite the workshop venue for Sunday. You can also park for free in the street, but not in the centre - finding out exactly where it is allowed is a bit of a challenge, but a safe bet should be to avoid Prague districts 1, 2, 3 and 7 (more details in Czech).
Googlemaps seem to be working well finding public transport stops and schedules, but once you know the names of the stops, you may check with a local connection finder for the case there were detours/construction works. The full fares structure is relatively complicated, but the simplest/cheapest solution for participants is using one-way transfer tickets (32CZK for a 90 minute ticket and 24CZK for a 30 minute ticket). You need to buy a ticket before entering the controlled area of a subway station or before entering a bus/tram; you need to time-stamp the ticket when entering the subway station or immediately after entering a bus/tram. Once the ticket is stamped, it is valid for the given time and one can transfer freely during that time. You may enter/exit the tram or subway through any door; the bus through any but the first door. If there is a button at the door from the outside, you need to press it for the door to open. Also, you may have to press a button at the door or close to the door from the inside before exiting the vehicle. This is usually not a problem in the city centre with a lot of traffic, someone else will do this. Tickets can be bought in information centers for public transport - there is one at each airport terminal and one at the main railway station (at the airport it should be possible to pay by card, but otherwise there will be ATMs around). It might be easiest buying some tickets at the airport or railway station in advance. Tickets can also be bought in any subway station from an automated machine, but for that one needs coins and patience. 90 minutes is enough for any meaningful travel in Prague (including from/to the airport). With 30 minute tickets, please keep an eye on time (note you cannot mark a fresh ticket once inside subway). Ticket inspections are strict and frequent. The buses (and indeed trams) only stop at designated, clearly marked stops - each stop is marked by its name and has schedules for all lines operating there, including all stops of each line. Subway lines stop at all their stations (very rarely a train terminates at another station on the line, then simply people exit the train and wait for another). Buses and some trams also have so called “request stops” (na znameni), where you need to inform the driver in advance by pressing a button when on the bus/tram, or waving at the driver when waiting for it outside – it is unlikely you’ll need to use a “request stop” (they are usually farther from the city centre), but keep in mind they exist when identifying stops by counting them. Especially in the afternoon, some trams go to different final stops than usual; they keep their original number, but the actual final stop is always displayed on the front of the tram – if it doesn’t match the final stop (or another stop) on the schedule displayed at the stop, better do not board. On the 119 bus to the airport, the stops around the airport and the stop with transfer to subway are announced in English. The public transport is easy to use; if you need help, ask a young lady/gentleman passenger (young people are most likely to speak English) - please do not disturb the driver or even the ticket inspector, they are very very important people and generally have little mercy with foreigners and particularly those who do not speak Czech.
Generally Prague is safe but there are several well known risks to travellers. Pick-pocketing is common in the city centre on the streets, in shops, in public transport, close to ATMs or exchange offices - organized groups target mostly tourists; the highest risk is in crowded areas and sometimes the crowds are created artificially by well organized criminals. Simply keep your wallet well hidden and under control. Incorrectly returned change is common when paying in cache, particularly at smaller places in the street but it can even happen in large shops and restaurants - always check your change immediately (these are the coins and banknotes). Don’t pay with high denominations in the streets and don’t get distracted during the transaction. This happens to locals as well. Nobody really uses the highest denomination banknotes of 5000CZK (about 185€). 2000 CZK is ok if you’re paying in a large shop and are careful when getting change (some people apologize for using such a large banknote, to be polite). Using 1000 CZK (about 37€) banknotes is already quite common.
A very high risk of significant ripoff exists in currency exchange offices. It is not just that their exchange rate may not be a bargain for the customer, but they often intentionally mislead or outright lie about what their rate is and refuse to abort the transaction once the customer gets the money. One alternative is to use an ATM, preferably at a safe place in a bank. A good exchange office may provide a better rate, but it is key to (a) ask the teller specifically how much CZK will you get if you gave them this amount of EUR/USD/… (and know in advance what amount you’ll accept) (b) ensure before agreeing to the transaction that you will get a receipt (c) check the change in front of the teller immediately as you get the money (d) do not speak to anyone who approaches you on the street around the exchange office. See also advice from the central bank which runs inspections of the exchange offices. A decent exchange office is EXCHANGE at Kaprova 14/13, it is in the city center in an area that you would like to visit anyway, the entrance is from Kaprova & Maiselova.
Another almost sure rip-off is taking a taxi in the street, we recommend to never do that. Using taxi in the city centre does not make sense (it is faster to walk or use public transport), and to the airport it is better to use the airport shuttle or the public transport. If you need to use taxi, a decent and large operator is AAA - the best way is to order them by phone and they would also give you a quote in advance (and now it should be possible even online through their website). If you wanted to pay with a card, check in advance with the operator that it will be possible. You can get a price quote from them online without entering any personal data, just the address of the origin and destination.
Most ordinary looking local people you’ll meet in the streets/public transport will be very happy to help, but you must ask for help yourself. If someone approaches you offering help, it is slightly suspicious. Unlike in some other countries, public transport is used by ordinary people, and this includes buses. It is not dangerous (apart from the pick-pocketing but that can happen anywhere in the streets as well). The surrounding of the Main Railway Station and to a point also of Masarykovo nadrazi (subway and tram stop you may use for the conference hotel) may not be a most pleasant place to be, but if you walk with confidence and ignore anyone approaching you, you’ll be fine.
Please do not ever leave your belongings unattended, even for a short moment, in any public area, including the public transportation, restaurants, conference rooms and the lobby, bars. The risk of unattended things being stolen is high.
The local currency is Czech crown (CZK).
The mains voltage is 230V (all of European Union) and the socket type is E (like France, Belgium - should be compatible with plugs for continental Europe). You definitely need an adapter if you travel from the UK or US.
The general emergency number is 112 (all of Europe). The operators speak English. In case of an accident you’ll always be treated in a hospital no matter whether insured or not (but indeed will have to pay if not insured or not insured sufficiently). Doctors almost always speak English and often German, nurses and other hospital personnel may not.
Laws and Regulations
Everyone is required by law to carry an ID card at all times (a passport or an official ID card of an EU country). The police may ask anyone for their ID card at their own discretion. Similarly the police can stop any car at their own discretion. There is zero tolerance to drinking and driving. Drugs are illegal, except alcohol and cigarettes.