Before getting behind the wheel in a foreign country, make sure to learn the peculiarities of the highway code, parking spaces, and petrol stations. This will ensure road safety and save your budget because ignorance of the law does not make you exempt from paying fines.
Parking is more expensive downtown and more affordable uptown. Petrol prices also vary depending on different factors described in detail below.
You must be 18 or over and have a valid driver's license to drive a vehicle. An international driving permit (IDP) is recognised, too. The road rules in the Czech Republic are clear and straightforward.
Drivers should only use their horns when they need to warn others of danger.
Radar detectors and studded tyres are not allowed in the Czech Republic. If you accidentally “forget” and rely on luck, you will have to remove the studs right on the border.
The Czech police are very strict about drink driving and major motoring offences. Driving offences and punishments in Prague The police can pardon you in case of a minor offence. Especially if you try to explain that beautiful Prague impressed you so much that you temporarily lost your head. Remember to smile broadly and use some Czech words where appropriate. Never try to bribe a police officer. Otherwise, you can end up at a police station and get the maximum fine. Traffic patrols work in the city and suburbs.
Like in any other large city, parking may be an issue in the capital of the Czech Republic, especially in the city centre. And just like everywhere else in the world, it is easier to find a parking spot on the outskirts of the city. Much can be said about parking in Prague, and it deserves a separate post. Read on to learn about paid parking spaces, parking rates, and payment methods.
Let's see where you can find free parking lots or where you can leave your car for a while. Like any other capital city, Prague has supermarkets and hypermarkets that can be used as additional parking areas. You can park your rental vehicle near TESCO STORES (Národní Třída metro station), KOTVA Department Store (Náměstí Republiky metro station), KRONE (Můstek metro station), to name a few. You will quickly find a shopping centre near a metro station on the outskirts of the city.
Traffic rules, parking facilities, and filling stations in Prague. Free parking
Finding “white” parking spots in Prague is a nearly impossible mission. One of them is 20 minutes of leisurely walk away. You need to find Zborovská Street. Look for the parking signage — there will be one paid parking sign with effective parking costs and one free parking sign nearby. The free parking lot is near the Memorial to the Victims of Communism, opposite a small café. An additional landmark is Anděl metro station. Locals use this free parking area all the time, and that alone speaks for itself. In fact, this is the only free parking space within easy reach.
Naturally, the farther from downtown, the easier it is to find a vacant spot. You can assume that if something is not forbidden, then it is allowed. If there’s a blue parking sign but no colour marking or parking meter indicating that it is a paid parking zone, you can park your vehicle legally there. It is pretty simple to find free car parks in the suburbs of Prague.
A parking spot right outside your house would be great, but you need to arrange that beforehand.
If you live in an apartment and see that the parking lot is half-empty most of the time, you should take a good look around. Signs with licence plate numbers mean that these parking bays are allocated to specific vehicles owned by local residents. You are not allowed to park there, even if one of such bays is vacant all day and night.
However, if a spot is owned by the people who let their apartment to you, then the apartment rental price most likely includes free parking. But you should confirm this with the owner in advance.
The parking cost is not worth tangling with the law.
Parking rates vary according to the area. As anywhere else, there are very expensive, just expensive, and relatively inexpensive paid parking spots in Prague. As a rule, the parking lots near hotels are the most high-priced, with parking rates reaching up to 500 Kč per day (~€20). Parking is costlier in the centre of Prague that on the outskirts. Free parking facilities are in the "white zone".
The entire city centre is divided into parking zones. You can find them on a map available at filling stations and post offices. In fact, it's not rocket science — parking zones are marked with different colours (a broad line on the road surface and on parking signage) and parking rates are stated on parking meters.
Orange: Parking time is limited to 2 hours. It is a paid parking zone on weekdays, please refer to signage to check the applicable rate for a specific parking space because parking costs vary between districts. At weekends and on holidays, you can park in the orange zone free of charge.
Green: Parking time is limited to 6 hours. The chargeable period is Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, please see the rates posted on the signage. Outside the times shown you may park for free.
Blue: Parking for local residents and tourists are not allowed to park in this zone. For all other vehicles, waiting and loading time is restricted to 3-5 minutes.
Mixed zone (blue and orange): Visitors to the city can park here for no more than 2 hours.
White: Free parking zone. There are no white parking zones in the municipal districts of Prague 1, Prague 2, and Prague 3, so there's no point looking for them there.
Paying at parking meters: All meters take only coins (koruna or euro), but they do not "swallow" coins and do not have broken or faulty displays. Feed coins into the meter until you see the parking time you need on display. Push the green button. The meter will give you a ticket to be attached to the windscreen of your car so that both the ticket and the time are clearly visible. Police patrols check the tickets from time to time. On-street parking meters do not give change.
The parking bay costs vary from 20 Kč to 40 Kč (from €0.80 to €1.6) per hour depending on the zone and district. You can find a spot for 15 Kč (~€0.60) if you look for it well enough. But, most probably, it won't be vacant. Parking in Prague is either inexpensive or trouble-free.
These convenient parking places are ideal for those who are okay with leaving their rental vehicles outside the city centre. The price is affordable.
You will quickly find Park & Ride facilities near metro stations. They are not free of charge, but a good option. They are sign-posted with large "PARKING" signage and blue "P+R" signs where "+R" means that you can not only pay for parking but also buy a suitable public transport ticket. This can be either a two-way ticket or a day ticket.
The "P+R" (or incentive parking) service is an affordable option that lets you save money and ensure your car's security. Even students can afford to park their vehicles at such parking lots. However, please keep in mind that you need to take your vehicle before 00:30, otherwise the car park will close, and you will be able to get behind the wheel only in the morning plus you will pay additional 100-200 Kč (~€3.70-7.40), depending on the location.
Payment. You can pay for parking and ride like anywhere else in Europe — just push the button at the entry and take your ticket. The boom barrier will rise. Park your car at a suitable parking spot and then go to the parking meter near the entrance gate.
Choose your preferred payment option:
Confirm your selection. Place your card with a barcode on the glass panel of the barcode scanner, drop the coins (this meter does not give change), confirm your payment, take your ticket and put it under the windscreen of your car so it is clearly visible through the glass. The parking fee is the same for all car parks.
Even if you lose your ticket, it’s okay. You will just have to spend a bit more time, while the parking attendant is checking your payment.
How much will your usual mindlessness cost you? If you exceed the time by up to 10 minutes, the enforcement officers will only ask you to be more punctual.
Another critical point is petrol. Prices. Quality. Filling stations. Petrol stations are few and far between in the capital of the Czech Republic. Therefore we recommend that you fill up your car at the city end. It is especially convenient for those who stay at a suburban hotel in Prague.
Filling stations are open 24 hours on international highways. Petrol is of high quality in Prague and in the Czech Republic generally. Fuel stations offer unleaded petrol 91, 95, 98 and the diesel fuel that does not freeze even when it's freezing outside. You will not find leaded petrol in Prague and in the entire Czech Republic. It is literally unavailable.
Petrol prices fluctuate depending on the price of crude oil, currency exchange rate, and other “objective reasons”. To learn the current petrol prices, please check relevant websites before your journey.
Petrol prices as of February 2020:
The fill-up process is straightforward: fill up and pay. Most filling stations accept only cash. You can transport up to 10 litres of petrol in a portable fuel container in your vehicle.
There are Lukoil filling stations in the Czech Republic. In Prague, you can find them in Nad Vršovskou Horou Street and U Nákladového Nádraží Street. Please note that petrol prices can vary at different fuel stations in the Czech Republic. The cost depends on both brand and region. Diesel prices range in the same way.
LPG filling stations are few and far between, even on international highways (every 100-200km). So, you’d better check a map in advance.
Of course, traffic congestions occur in Prague, too. However, they are pale in comparison with those in London and Paris. It will take no more than 10 minutes to leave Prague on any day in any direction.