Help me get from Frankfurt to Prague!
October 30, 2017 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Our December trip to Europe is fast approaching, and we still don't have transportation from the airport (Frankfurt) to our first destination (Prague). I have a few questions that I can't seem to find good answers to online.

We originally intended on taking the train from the Frankfurt airport station (Flughafen Fernbf) to Prague (Praha hl.n.). Our flight is scheduled to arrive in Frankfurt at 11:10, and the train leaves at 12:01. So my first question is: Does this itinerary leave enough time for the connection? Will we be able to get though baggage claims, customs and get to Fernbahnhof?. We found this train through DB, and aren't sure of other options.

Our original itinerary put us into Frankfurt much, much earlier in the morning, so we planned on sleeping on the train and still get to Prague with plenty of time left in the day. However, now that we know we are arriving at 11:10 am, it seems like it might be wiser to get a flight to Prague instead. We don't know much about inter-European airlines, so any help here would be very appreciated! What is a reputable airline between these two cities? What is a reasonable connection time so that we don't miss this second flight?

We have most of our trip planned already, but this is a remaining stress-inducer. Your experience and suggestions will not only help us get to Prague, but help us enjoy sleep better in the meantime!
posted by Don_K to Travel & Transportation around Prague, Czechia (16 answers total)
I think you can get out of the Frankfurt airport fairly quickly, if memory serves. It's transferring flights at Frankfurt that can be stressful, because it's enormous and you have to go through customs and security again. Give yourself a 2 hour window for a transfer there.

If you fly: Easyjet is better than Ryanair for the budget ones. I've yet to have a bad Easyjet experience, though obviously YMMV. The big thing to know about those airlines is that they will weigh and measure your bags something fierce, so look up the carryon dimensions and the fees for checked baggage and don't try to cheat.

If you take a train: make sure to reserve a specific seat on DB. My wife and I went Berlin-Prague recently, and while it was fine on the way there, on the way back to Berlin a million people got on in Dresden and two of them had reserved our seats for the Dresden-Berlin leg. We were displaced, had no seat, and could hardly move through the aisles with our luggage over our heads. That isn't to dissuade you from taking the train – just a warning that it's well worth spending the extra cash for seat selection rather than just a generic ticket onto the train.
posted by Beardman at 12:22 PM on October 30, 2017

You can use Skyscanner to find cheap flights from Frankfurt to Prague. There are plenty of budget and even international carriers operating in Europe, most of which are 'reputable' - you're very unlikely to get stuck in some rickety plane flown with unsafe practices, but don't expect amazing comfort/service, either. They're just there to get you from point A to point B with no frills. RyanAir, easyJet, TAP, Vueling are all examples and I've flown all of them with differing experiences ranging from frustrating (delays, carryons requiring check-in at the gate when I was told it would be okay) to good (flight left on time, no lines, etc.)

Depending on the airport you're in and how many people you're traveling with (Frankfurt tends to be busy at that time of day), you'd want at least 2-3 hours to make sure you make your connection (train or flight).
posted by Everydayville at 12:23 PM on October 30, 2017

For what it's worth, if I was you I'd probably take a flight and just leave myself a nice comfortable transfer window at the airport. DB ain't cheap anyway, there's not a ton of great scenery between those two cities out your train window, and most importantly it gives you more time to explore CZ.
posted by Beardman at 12:28 PM on October 30, 2017

> Our flight is scheduled to arrive in Frankfurt at 11:10, and the train leaves at 12:01.

I've been through Frankfurt a couple of times, and it doesn't stand out in my mind as particularly slow or fast. I'd be very wary of navigating an unfamiliar international airport and getting through immigration, baggage claim, customs, and then making a specific train in less than an hour. I don't recommend it - a slow line could ruin your day.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:52 PM on October 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: This advice is very useful so far. I'm glad I checked before booking the early train! As an aside, has anyone ever used one of many driver services available (such as Any opinion on the value of this option? The reviews and comments I've read on forums are good, but it's basically airline prices for ground transportation, albeit right to your apartment door. A no hassle approach might be welcome after the long flight!
posted by Don_K at 1:09 PM on October 30, 2017

Any flight connection would be a separate ticket, probably with a different airline with all that entails. You'll have to pick up your bags, clear customs, (probably move terminals), make your way to departure hall, check in again and drop bags, make your way through security again, make your way to plane - did I mention the airport is massive and that you will walk a lot. Pretty much all budget airlines and some of the cheapest fares on non budget ones will include hand luggage only and will be very strict about meeting hand luggage limits. So when comparing prices factor in the cost of checking luggage.

I'm all for cutting it fine but less than an hr to get onto the train seems awfully tight - I'd not do it and I've been through the airport a few times. If there is a later connection on the train absolutely take the train, not least because you can get up and walk around with ease - not normally as crowded as described by the other poster.

I have never used the car services but if the price is comparable and they are well reviewed why not. Sounds like an excellent idea after a long flight.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:30 PM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would fly to Prague from Frankfurt.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:03 PM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

There seem to be a few later options on the website: a train plus intercity bus combo leaving at 13:35, and a train leaving at 14:10 (with one change).
posted by tinkletown at 2:20 PM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

> Frankfurt at 11:10, and the train leaves at 12:01.
This is tight. Very very tight!

The plane must not be late. Immigration (international?) must be quick and luggage collection must be fast. Then you have to walk to the train and find the right track. Possible, but big chance for screw up.

One way direct plane tickets start at 90 Dollars
posted by yoyo_nyc at 3:23 PM on October 30, 2017

Unless you're very excited about a boring and long train journey, or you happen to be travelling on a day when flights are expensive, fly.

The connection to your train is very tight. You don't say where you're flying from but if by customs you mean immigration (i.e. passport control), then you might make it. Germany is usually pretty good for international arrivals. But if you arrive with a morning North America arrivals rush then all bets are off.

Choosing an airline is simple. Look on Google Flights for your day of travel and see which ones fly Frankfurt to Prague non-stop. That rules out pretty much every airline suggested so far in this thread.

You'll probably narrow it down to Lufthansa (Germany's national carrier) and CSA (the Czech national carrier). Both are no less reliable than any US airline. Lufthansa is probably slightly more reliable, and also slightly more expensive. You can search for a good flight on Google Flights. Right now, on a random day in December you can get a ticket on CSA for $66.

Easyjet and Ryanair don't sell direct flights between Frankfurt and Prague. If you want to fly with Ryanair or Easyjet (which you don't), then you'd have to buy two tickets and connect in the UK or Ireland. If you're worried about fatigue I cannot imagine a worse place to be than a British airport.
posted by caek at 3:25 PM on October 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

I’ve just checked your train journey on my DB app and it looks like you have the train only as far as Nuremberg and bus after that. If that’s right, I would most definitely fly. As far as I can see, there is no direct train between Frankfurt Airport and Prague. And caek is correct also that nonstop flights comes down to Lufthansa and CSA. Give yourself plenty of time between flights. I am pretty familiar with FRA and it’s a huge place, a lot of walking will be involved, and it has intrusive and officious security.
posted by Logophiliac at 8:57 PM on October 30, 2017

Slight update: if you really, really want to do the train, note Mark Smith's advice on (always check this site when considering any train travel anywhere). He suggests that you look at the Czech Rail website for better connections (note though that there is still no direct train, and that it still takes 8 hours or more).
posted by Logophiliac at 11:23 PM on October 30, 2017

I would probably fly, but primarily because train connections between middle and south Germany to the Czech Republic are not great - no high speed lines etc. Flying means you have to leave a much bigger window than the train though. You can usually purchase open tickets without a seat reservation (if that is a viable option), meaning that if you miss the 12:01, you could get the next connection, which may work assuming it's not much later. If your inbound flight isn't delayed, this train may just be doable.
posted by ryanbryan at 4:37 AM on October 31, 2017

Response by poster: Thank you so much for the great information! This is very insightful and makes our planning much more simple. No train!
posted by Don_K at 5:22 AM on October 31, 2017

I have an alternate opinion: fly the next day. Frankfurt is a reasonably efficient airport but there are just too many variables with delays and customs. It's an easy 20 minute ride into Frankfurt, stay at a gasthaus or pension (we like the inexpensive, no-frills but friendly Pension Aller by the train station) and see the city. Have some ebbelwoi (aka apfelwein or sparkling hard cider) and wurst in the Sachsenhausen district. Walk around the opera building. It's a really nice place to spend 24 hours and you're going to be in the fog of jet lag anyway so why spend it inside an airport?

For train (and bus) searches, I love It shows all countries trains in a single interface including the connections. You can see that there are trains leaving on a regular basis but they all take 7-8 hours. If I had my heart set on the train (not that you do) I would have a look at the schedule and wait to buy a ticket until I arrived. Last minute walk-up fares aren't as punishing on the train.
posted by wnissen at 10:02 AM on October 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Rome2Rio is a great site for quickly checking available travel options and comparing them at a high level. Combined with Seat61 linked above, it's very easy to compare rail, air, bus etc.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:59 AM on October 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

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