This guide to using the main rail station in Praha / Prague / Prag, which has the Czech name, Praha hlavní nádraží, focuses on the less obvious aspects of arriving and departing from it by train.
For first time users, navigating Praha hl.n, train station can be a disconcerting experience; particularly if you arrive at the station by bus or metro.
What contributes to Prague's main railway station being a somewhat bewildering space to use is that the station is housed within a shopping mall.
Not totally unusual, as many large European stations have maximised the retail opportunities, but at the central station in Prague, the distinction between mall and station is particularly blurred.
Travellers wait for the departure details of the trains to be confirmed in a fairly small space between some shops.
Five Things Particularly Worth Knowing About Praha hl.n:
(1) Praha / Prague /Prag has multiple main line railway stations - but this station, Praha hl.n, is the only station in the city which virtually all long distance trains to/from the Czech capital call at (the Berlin <> Wien Railjet train is a notable exception).
(2) However, if you're heading TO the city centre and your train calls first at one of the other large stations in the city; Praha-Holešovice or Praha-Smíchov, then the best option is usually to leave the train at these stations.
You'll have an easier and faster journey, rather than remaining on the train until it arrives at this station; Praha hl.n.
(3) The main ticket office at Praha hl.n. is at street level, but the passage that leads from the shopping centre to the platforms/nastupiste is at an upper level.
Slopes/and lifts link the ticket office with the access to the trains.
(4) You can pay with euros when booking tickets at any of the ticket desks in the station.
(5) The old station building, which is currently being restored, now offers limited access to the trains, but it does house the station’s best café.
If you’re not burdened by luggage, it’s worth ascending the escalator from the main concourse, to have a look; it’s marked ‘old building’ on the signs in the main passage way which leads to the trains.
When ascending from the metro, or descending in the elevators from the bus stops, you emerge into the mall.
Initially there is little to indicate that you are in a station at all.
Slopes, steps and lifts link the different levels in the building; there is step free access from the ticket office to the passage way which leads to the platforms/tracks.
What can add to the confusion is that you can’t see the trains from most of the building until the last moment, when you ascend up to the platforms/tracks.
The platforms/nastupiste that the trains depart from are out of sight at an upper level.
The main train departure board is above the entrance to the passage way which leads from the mall to the part of the building used by the trains.
So people wait in front of it for the details of the train they will be taking to appear on the board, the time and other departure details are listed first, but the number of the platform / track that the train will be leaving is usually added separately.
Platforms (nastupiste) are generally not confirmed until around 10 minutes before the departure of a train, so this is when they appear beside the other train info on the departure board.
Announcements are also made in Czech and English.
This can lead to a rush down the passage, under the railway tracks, when the departure platform eventually appears on the board.
There are escalators and stairs, which lead from the passage way up the platforms (nastupiste).
There are also lifts/elevators, but these are only available to travellers who require mobility assistance.
On reaching the platform the train may not already be waiting, but the platforms are not zoned.
So there is no information to indicate on what part of the platform to wait for easy access to 1st or 2nd class, or reserved seats etc.
People tend to congregate in the middle of the platform and then make a dash towards the right part of the train when it arrives.
If you’re thinking ‘this sounds a tad chaotic’ then you’re right.
Praha hl.n train station is located on the eastern edge of the city centre, so most of the city's most popular areas and attractions are some distance away.
The Old Square is a 15 - 30 min walk, but on a confusing street layout, there isn't an obvious pedestrian route.
So taking the Metro from Praha hl.n can be a good option.
However, trains from many destinations including Berlin, Budapest, Decin and Dresden also call at Praha Holešovice station in addition to Praha Hlvani Nadrazi (hl.n)
Trains from many cities to the west of Praha/Prague including Plzeň call at Praha-Smíchov before arriving at Praha Hlvani Nadrazi (hl.n).
Worth knowing is that the connections to many of the most popular areas in the city are actually easier from these alternative stations (see below).
For the National Museum (the Nadroni Muzeum) there’s no need to take Metro one-stop to Muzeum; as it is less than a 10min walk from Hlvani Nadrazi station
Leave the station by its main exit on the lowest level, which is opposite a park.
As soon as you are in the park turn left, walk towards the street that you will see in front of you heading away from the park, this street is Washingtonova.
The museum will be on your left at the end of this street where it intersects with Vaclavskenam.
The Metro station at Praha hl.n, which is named Nadrazi, is located in the main building, but at a lower level to the passage way that leads from the main line train platforms.
In effect it is on the street level of the main mall building, which is adjacent to where the trains arrive.
Something to look out for is that each platform at the metro station has a dedicated entrance; so before descending to access the trains, check the easy-to-miss train direction signs to avoid having to turn back on yourself.
For Florenc station take trains heading to Letnany, while for Muzeum follow the signs for trains heading to Haje.
The majority of the metro ticket machines tend to be out of order, so persevere to find one that will issue a ticket.
The English translation on the metro ticket machines isn’t particularly hard to follow.
To Wenceslas Square:
Take Metro line C one stop south (direction Haje) to Muzeum station.
To The Old Town Square:
The historic heart of Prague is a 20-25min walk from Praha hl.n./Hlvani Nadrazi station; so a simpler option is to take the Metro, though a change of train is required.
(1) First take the Metro line C one stop south (direction Haje) to Muzeum station - the opposite direction you'd take when walking, but it will make sense when you look at the metro map.
(2) Then transfer at Muzeum station to Metro line A (direction Nemocnice Motol) and leave that train at Staroměstská.
(3) The Old Town Square is a 5min walk from Staroměstská station.
Staroměstská station is also the closest station to the King Charles Bridge area on the east bank of the river.
To Prague Castle:
Follow the steps above as per going to The Old Town Square - but remain on the Metro Line A one stop further and alight at Malostranska station.
The transfer between train and tram at Hlvani station is tad awkward, because the trams don't stop right outside the station, instead they're accessed by taking a pathway which leads off to the right through the small park, which is in front of the main exit.
Which can be a tad intimidating after night fall.
So the transfer between stepping off a train and being at the tram stop will take around 7 minutes.
Though Prague's tram routes circle the historic heart of the city centre, so the nearest stops, which can be accessed on any of the trams from Hlvani, are a 10 - 15 min walk from the Old Town Square.
Though tram route/line 15 provides a direct connection from Hlvani station to the area around Prague Castle, take it to the stop named 'Malostranska'.
The EC trains from Dresden, Berlin and Hamburg and trains from Děčín call at Praha-Holešovice station - before going on to Praha hl.n, which is the main railway station in Prague.
Holesovice station is located to the north of the city centre, but the main station, which is also known as Hlvani Nadrazi also isn't located in the heart of the city.
So depending on your final destination in the city it can be a good idea to leave a train at Holešovice train station - for three reasons:
(1) Holesovice station in Prague is on the same metro line as Praha hl.n (Line C), but making the transfer to the metro is easier at Holešovice.
(2) It also takes around 10mins for the express trains to make the journey between Holešovice and Praha hl.n stations - so taking the Metro from Holešovice is often a faster overall journey.
(3) From Holesivice railway station there is also direct access to the Kings Charles Bridge area by public transport, and this isn't available at hl.n station.
Take tram line 17 from the stop to the right of the main exit from the station (the tram will be heading to Levskeho) and leave the tram at the Karlovy Lazme stop.
To Wenceslas Square:
Take Metro line C (direction Haje) to Muzeum station.
To The Old Town Square:
Take tram line 17 from the stop to the right of the main exit from the station (the tram will be heading to Levskeho).
Leave the tram at the 'Karlovy Lazme' stop, which is located by the King Charles Bridge - the Old Town Square is a 5 - 10 min walk from this tram stop.
To Prague Castle:
Tram line 12 links Holešovice with Prague Castle (which is a comparatively much more awkward journey from Praha hl.n.).
You'll find this tram stop behind the Metro station, take a tram heading towards Sldiliste and leave the tram at the Malostranke nemesti stop.
Trains between Praha and Plzeň/Cheb/Munchen call at Praha-Smíchov train station, which is located to the west of the city centre.
However, as Plzeň is also to the west of Praha/Prague, the quickest journey by train between Plzeň and the capital is to travel to/from Praha-Smíchov.
It takes trains around 10-12 mins to make the journey across the city between Praha-Smíchov and Praha hl.n. stations.
So if you're heading to Praha/Prague on the trains from the west, including the trains from Munchen/Munich, it's likely that you'll have a quicker and easier journey if you leave the train at Praha-Smíchov.
To The Old Town Square:
Praha-Smíchov is on Line B of the Prague Metro (the Metro station is named Smíchovské nádraží) - so in contrast to Praha hl.n, there is a direct link between Praha-Smíchov and Mustek station – the closest Metro station to the old town area.
To Prague Castle:
Praha-Smíchov is on the same (west) bank of the River Vitave as Prague Castle - and tram lines 12 and 20 operate between the station and the nearest tram stop to the castle - Malostranke nemesti.
The list below isn’t suggestions of where to stay within a 10min walk of Prague’s main station, Praha hl.n (Praha Hlvani Nadrazi) - it’s actually a fully comprehensive list of all the hotels in the area with guest ratings of around 80% and above.
Praha Hlvani Nadrazi has fairly limited direct public transport links from most of the popular areas in the city - so if you will be taking a train from or to Prague, then staying near the station can save a lot of hassle.
Due to the distance from the tourist heart of the city, room rates in the area around Prague’s main station also tend to be comparatively reasonable.
So if you book early, you shouldn’t need to search for somewhere to stay that also has direct public transport links to Praha hl.n.
However, there are a couple of generally cheaper options close by Holesevice station - particularly useful if you will be taking a train to/from Berlin or Budapest.
Hotels within 10 mins walk of Prague hl.n station:
Hotels within 10 mins walk of Prague-Holesovice Station:
Hostels within 20 mins walk of Prague hl.n station::**
Here's some suggestions as to why it's worth making the effort to travel to Prague/Praha by train:
The best opportunities to take great photos is Prague (Wit & Folly)
25 Things To Do (The Crazy Tourist)
More Than 50 Suggestions* (The Lonely Planet)
*we lost count
What To Do on a First Time Visit (Just A Pack)
Crazy and Fun Things To Do (Getting Stamped)
Tips From Locals (Like A Local)
Insider Suggestions (Living Prague)
Top Attractions And Hidden Gems (Love & Road)
The Creepier Side of Prague/Praha (Intrepid Travel)
This is one of more than 300 station guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.