Many visitors arrive in Prague by plane so of course the first place they see is Václav Havel Airport. The name has been changed recently. You can still chance upon a reference to Ruzyně Airport, which was the previous name.
The new name of the airport is to commemorate Václav Havel, an important figure of modern Czech History. Havel was born in 1936 and became a writer and a dissenter during the Communist rule. In 1960s and 1970s he rose to prominence among the opposition in the Czech Republic. For example, he was a spokesman of the Charter 77 (Charta 77) a movement promoting observing the human rights commitments, which the Communist Government had accepted in international treaties. For his activities, Havel was banned from publishing his works. However, his plays were performed in the West. In Czechoslovakia, Havel was given only manual labor jobs and he was also imprisoned four times. He spent nearly five years in prison.
During the Velvet Revolution in 1989, he was one of the founders of the Civic Forum (Občanské fórum), a platform for uniting opposition against the Communist Party. He was elected as President in December the same year – by unanimous vote of the still Communist Parliament. He was re-elected in 1990 and resigned in 1992 to protest against the pending dissolution of Czechoslovakia (then already Czecho-Slovakia). However, after establishment of the Czech Republic, he was again elected in 1993 and re-elected for a second term, which expired in 2002. He was still active in public life until his death in 2011. All his life, Václav Havel was an advocate of democracy, human rights and humanity, and in later years also a philanthropist. He was well known abroad and sometimes his name was the first thing that a foreigner mentioned when the Czech Republic was mentioned.
The airport itself resembles other European airports so if you are an experienced traveller you will probably find no surprises. To board some flights, you have to be taken from the gate by a bus.
When travelling from Prague, I suggest you avoid the overpriced food shops at the gates. If you have time, visit the Billa supermarket between Terminals 1 and 2 where the prices are the same as in any supermarket in the city. Just remember that some products (liquids) are not allowed in your cabin luggage and will be taken at the security check.
The Airport is situated outside the city. Therefore, it is important to know how to get to or from the airport. Other than your own car (or a friend’s), there are three options: public transport, taxi, and the Airport Express (AE) bus, which also stops at Dejvice. To go from the airport to the Prague main railway station (hlavní nádraží ) you can take Airport Express bus for 30 CZK, one way.
Regarding public transport, there are three buses connecting the airport with the Metro. Line No. 100 goes to Zličín (yellow, line B of the Metro) and is the fastest connection. The route Zličín – airport takes some 15 minutes and is almost jam-proof. Bus No. 119 will take you to Dejvická (green, line A). It takes longer to get there and can sometimes get stuck in a traffic jam. But if your hotel is somewhere near the Prague Castle, it is still the fastest choice.
The last bus (No. 179) goes to the Nové Butovice station on Metro line B. It is also a longer route. If you need line B, No. 100 is almost always – except perhaps early morning and late night – a better option even though you have to wait the whole interval. It is a bit confusing that at Terminal 2 the buses coming from Prague have their stop next to the buses going to Prague. If you see a bus with “LETIŠTĚ PRAHA” as its destination, it is definitely not the right one. The ticket you need for both bus and subway costs 32 crowns (EUR 1.2). If you need only the bus, it costs 24 crowns (EUR 0.9 – this ticket is for 30 minutes without change).
The taxi is more expensive, of course. There are taxi companies that have a contract with the airport and they offer a guaranteed rate. Some companies offer online reservation, which includes a price calculation. A good price for reaching the city center is between 300-400 crowns (EUR 12-15), 500 crowns is still acceptable. If you go beyond the city center (i.e. Žižkov, Vysočany etc) 400 – 700 crowns is normal. In general, if your destination is within the city of Prague, your bill should not exceed 1000 crowns (EUR 35 – 40).
The webpage of the airport is at www.prg.aero. It contains up-to-date information on upcoming flights, delays etc. You can also book a parking place, accommodation or taxi through there.