As ‘tube toilets’ disappear, Prague works to expand free WC network

The permanent closure of these tubular WCs across the capital has spurred the city to support schemes offering toilets free of charge.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 18.12.2023 13:16:00 (updated on 21.12.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Shops, restaurants, and businesses, in cooperation with the City of Prague, are collaborating to ensure that more toilets are available free of charge to the public as street-based public toilets – including the highly recognizable tube toilets – have disappeared.

Offer free toilets, pay less rent

Businesses in the capital – with help from the municipality of Prague – have taken part in several schemes to ensure the public still has access to toilets free of charge.


The WC Kompas app shows all free toilets in Czechia, including those in shops and restaurants. Toilets are color-coded according to type: public toilets, museums, restaurants, medical facilities, or even police stations. It also has a desktop version.

From January this year, for example, the City of Prague has allowed establishments that offer free access to their toilets to pay discounted rent of CZK 5 less per square meter.

A network of free toilets

Prague 7, for example, has created the SOS WC project in which shops and eateries can advertise that their toilets are free to use. The district publishes the network of free toilets on a paper map, which people can download online or collect at Prague 7’s main information center. 

District spokeswoman Hana Janišová told Czech news site iDnes that the availability of the “free toilet” network offline is especially beneficial to older citizens, as they do not use smartphones.

Stickers to show the public is welcome

Other districts in the capital have similar projects to promote free-to-use toilets. In Prague 3, the Nouzovka system contains a network of public toilets based in administrative buildings, as well as cafes and restaurants. 

Prague 3 spokesperson Jiří Hannich says that all establishments offering the toilets have a sticker on their entrance that shows they are part of the system. Prague 6 also has a similar network that includes stickers displaying the words: “WC FREE.”

In Prague 1 – which has the highest footfall in the city due to heavy tourist presence – the city district has set up new toilets in parks or islands, according to Prague 1 spokeswoman Karolína Šnejdarová.

No more ‘tube toilets’

The drive to offer more free-to-use toilets is in part explained by the closure of all street toilets housed in cylinder-like “tubes” in the city.

The 'tube' (or cylinder) toilets when they were functional. (Photo: iStock - yykkaa)
The 'tube' (or cylinder) toilets when they were functional. (Photo: iStock - yykkaa)

Made by advertising firm JCDecaux, the public toilets (which display adverts on their exterior) have been permanently locked after a 2021 agreement that ended cooperation between the multinational firm and the City of Prague. 

The toilets no longer meet EU hygiene standards and their cost – of CZK 5 per use – has not been updated for years, Prague councilor Adam Zábransky told iDnes. This underlines their non-functionality and need to be replaced in some form. 

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