Where and What to Hire
The Central European city of Prague, in the heart of Europe, has an excellent choice of car hire companies to choose from. At Vaclav Havel Airport Sixt, Europecar and National Car are all available while Hertz and Budget have locations in Prague 17, to the west of the city centre. Broadway, Europecar and Royal Car can be found in Mustek, while Sixt has a branch near Florenc Metro. All types of cars and available for hire from two-door small city cars and hatchbacks, to larger five-door family cars, luxury vehicles and vans.
Prague can be hectic and a little unnerving to drive around for the first time visitor. While the outskirts has large wide roads, albeit you will be driving on the other side of them, in the city centre you will have narrow, winding and very bumpy cobbled streets to contend with. Many areas in the heart of the city are completely pedestrianised, some with one-way systems, while all roads are likely to have cyclists, trams and people to watch out for. When trams stop, do not pass them on the inside under any circumstances as this is the side passengers get off. Also note that with no tollbooths, a window sticker must be purchased that gives access to toll roads. All hire cars should come with this attached.
Prague is as congested a capital as other major cities and finding a place to park can be challenging. Street parking operates in zones. The orange zone operates a maximum of two hours of parking at €1.60 per hour from 8am to 6pm. The green zone is maximum six hours of parking at €1.25 per hour from 8am to 6pm. Blue zones are for residents and business with permits. Others may not use these spaces. Parking garages are becoming more common with prices varying depending on location. Charges are from approximately €7 per day. Most shopping centres and malls come with free parking. Another option is the use the Park & Ride facilities located at many subway stations. The cost is only 80 cents per day and the cost of the public transport.
Where to Go and What to See
While having a hire car in the city centre of Prague may not be required, it is very handy for getting out of the city and seeing the beautiful sights of the surrounding area. Approximately 50 minutes southwest of Prague, in Barrandov, is the breath-taking Karlstejn Castle, a real fairy-tale 14th century gothic affair which is magical to photograph. Set in beautiful woodland, it is also a haven for walkers as well as history buffs. For another, more moving historical outing, the former Nazi transit camp at Terezin is just a 50 minute drive north of Prague and is well worth visiting. Just under 2 hours drive west of Prague is the beautiful spa town of Karlovy Vary, once Carlsbad. Here, 14th century architecture and spectacular examples of Communist architecture like that at the Thermal Hotel, is wonderful to visit. Thermal spas and hot springs are plentiful here so it is the perfect place for romance and relaxation. A World Heritage and UNESCO protected site is the mesmerising Gothic Cathedral in the medieval town of Kutna Hora, just an hour east of Prague. The famous Ossuary Chapel of All Saints made entirely of human bones is an eerie yet strangely beautiful sight. For avid explores who want to experience wilderness and outdoor adventure, there is no where better than the Moravian Harts, just over two hours southeast of Prague. With over 1100 caves and gorges, caverns and sinkholes, not to mention cracking cycling, hiking, climbing and caving opportunities. This is a place to really get that adrenalin going! For anyone with children, fear not, there is plenty to keep little ones amused! Prague has a wonderful children’s theatre, opera and puppet show scene in the centre of the city but for day trips, one of the best must be to the magical Fairy Tale Garden at Berchtold Chateau in Kunice just 30 minutes from Prague. Children can run around and play in the Chateau’s secret gardens, mini buildings and playgrounds.