Need to eat? Missed the last tram home? Overcharged by the taxi driver? Haven’t a clue where you are? These, and countless questions like them, are the kind that we find are frequently asked by visitors to Prague, and occasionally some residents too. Fear not! Help is at hand in the form of your smartphone. We review 10 apps which (should) make traveling in the Czech Republic a more convenient experience.
For us, this integrated bus, tram, metro and train timetable is the killer app. There are multiple versions which make use of the IDOS system, but this one, developed by Pubtran for media portal iDNES, has the fourfold advantages of being fully comprehensive, beautifully laid out, easily searchable, and free. For example, you can type in your local tram stop (in Brno, Ostrava or Prague) as your starting point and, say. London as your destination, and hey presto! The entire journey is mapped out for you, with times appropriate for your travel. A little miracle.
2. Tram and metro connection finder (DPP – Prague Transport official app)
Platform:iPhone (to download click here)
Cost: 4.99 USD / 3.99 EUR
Languages: English, Czech
This is the app of the popular journey finder from Prague Transport. It costs more than the iDNES version because it comes as part of a package called Prague Trips, which also includes an offline GPS-based tourist guide of 33 planned journeys and walks around the city. Because the transport details are kept on the server, however, you have to go online to access up-to-the-minute details using the screen below. This will incur roaming charges, so be careful if you are using a non-Czech sim card in your phone.
3. SMS Jízdenka (DPP – Prague Transport official app)
Platform: iPhone (to download click here)
Cost: Free; Language: Czech
For some time now, Prague has been leading the way in electronic ticketing via SMS for its public transport system. But even with a conventional mobile phone, it can be a bit fiddly tapping in all the numbers, especially if you’re in a hurry. Now, a simple app for Android and iPhone allows users to select and pay merely by touching the screen for the appropriate ticket price.
For regular users of a single type of ticket, separate apps are available for 24 CZK (30 minute) right up to 310 CZK (three day) tickets, or you can go for the multi-choice version. The apps only work with a Czech operator sim card, apparently (not sure why – after all, tourists would find this system quite convenient, even if it cost more for an SMS routed via their home network.)
One more question. Why can’t coupons for longer-term travel be made available in the same way? It would save all that waiting at the window, and now that the Opencard’s existence has been called in question, it may be the way forward…
Incidentally, a Blackberry version, from a different developer, is available here.
Well, if you weren’t particularly impressed by that last one, here’s a more sophisticated and potentially more useful version from developers Inmite, for Windows, Android, and Nokia.
It allows the traveler to purchase online travel tickets for up to eleven cities of the Czech and Slovak Republics – České Budějovice, Hradec Králové, Liberec, Ostrava, Plzeň, Praha, Ústí nad Labem, Bratislava, Košice, Prešov, and Žilina (which cities you get depends partly on your make of smartphone).
A further advantage of this particular app is that each purchase indicates the time left on your ticket (though it’s strange to see in the accompanying screenshot that whoever is using it appears to be in two cities at once…)
Platforms: iPhone (to download click here), Windows Mobile 6.5 and 7 (to download click here),
Android (to download click here), Blackberry (to download click here) and others
Languages: English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese
One of the most helpful free applications ever created for the traveler, Metro allows you to download complete public transport data for almost any city on earth (well, 400 of them anyway) and then get step by step directions as you go. While less flash than some more modern apps (for example, there is no real-time GPS tracking as you journey), this is nevertheless an incredibly useful tool for getting quick directions from one street or point of interest to another. If your journey involves transfers either between stations or between modes of transport, that is taken into account, and the results displayed in a very user-friendly way.
I have an old Windows copy, but the iPhone version appears to have been updated to integrate with Google maps. The app is also available for Blackberry and Android.
Here’s a great one for Nokia and Android users. An app that uses GPS to work out the true taxi fare, giving a readout at the end of your journey which you can use to challenge dishonest cabbies by comparing it with the charge on the meter. Unless the meter shows a lesser amount, of course. In either case, you can walk away with a smile on your face knowing that you have (hopefully) not been ripped off.
Aimed more at the short-stay visitor than the expat, the mTrip travel guide to Prague is one of the most up-to-date apps on the market. The principal mode allows the user to set up bespoke itineraries from a huge database of attractions and points of interest. Once on foot, however, you don’t really want to bother with entering names of places on the touchscreen. No problem. The augmented reality feature allows you to turn your phone through 90 degrees, and view your location through the camera, but with icons overlaid on the buildings in close proximity.
Using this system it’s possible to get an animated visual of all the museums, monuments, shopping and restaurants in your area, and the best thing of all is that none of these hi-tech features require an internet connection.
We all know it’s coming. That time of year when people descend on Prague and expect you to show them round… again. Give them a smartphone loaded with Minos, and you’re off the hook. Despite the enormous size (and download times) of its updates, the offline GPS-based app is probably the most comprehensive guide to the city, with over 800 points of interest, 400 pages of text, 15 bespoke tours (including routes for pedestrians and cyclists), and 1500 photographs. The historical essays are extremely readable and informative, and the app is fully localized for the four major languages above. Well worth looking into.
By far the most requested app following our previous review back in January 2012, Lunchtime.cz is a database of places to eat across the Czech Republic. Although not strictly a travel app, we’ve included it because it’s brilliant for those on the move, especially when caught off guard in an unfamiliar Czech village.
The app uses GPS to locate the restaurants nearest the user, and brings up a daily menu based on current prices. With over 70 towns and cities in the database, and many thousands of bars, pubs, takeaways and restaurants listed, (including 1500 in Prague, 600 in Brno, 150 in Ostrava and 100 in Plzeň) , this is a fantastic resource, even though when I last looked it didn’t have my favourite eatery, the Sudička in Vinohrady. Please add it!
N.B. Even though the original website is localized for English users, the mobile app is still only available in Czech, but a basic knowledge should enable you to understand this easily navigable program.
10. Wifi Hotspot CZ
Platforms: Windows Phone 7
Languages: Czech, English
OK. You’ve been searching all over town for a wifi hotspot and you really need to save on shoe leather. So you could always just switch on your wifi receiver and scan the area for signals. But that method doesn’t guarantee the most useful information, like the name of the nearest hotspot or its distance away.
There are similar free apps on all platforms, but we liked the look of this Windows 7 version. However basic and functionalist it is, its simply presented lists and smart maps make using it a real pleasure. Happy browsing!
We’ve concentrated on travel this time, but of course there are many more great apps for the tourist and expat alike: currency converters, translators, games, news feeds, cookbooks – the list is endless. Why not write in and tell us about your latest discoveries? Make sure to tell us the platform you’re running it on.