The BEST thing to do on a sunny afternoon in Prague
When the average traveler imagines Prague they tend to first think of its twisting medieval lanes and awe-inspiring historic architecture such as the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, and the Old Town Hall. But for locals, the city’s best feature may actually be its abundant supply of parks and green spaces. We’ve picked out some of our favorite natural oases, in case you want to enjoy a sunny afternoon away from the crowds. Those traveling with children will especially enjoy the change of pace.
Visitors to Prague cannot help but notice this hill looming above Prague’s Little Quarter, but its deep forests and steep slopes scare off many of the less intrepid travelers. In reality even the laziest of travelers can ascend the hill quite easily by way of its historic funicular and enjoy spectacular views of the city. The first stop of this cable railway drops you off on the side of the hill, where you can explore the many walking paths, stroll through cherry orchards, and pick a pear or apple off the tree. Afterwards you can recover at a cafe or restaurant overlooking the city. If you take the funicular all the way to the top of the hill, it is only a short walk through rose gardens to the Eifel Tower-like rozhledna, an observation tower that gives you 360° views of Prague and its surroundings. Kids will especially like this option, as they can also explore a more than century-old mirror labyrinth, take a break on a unique playground, and discover a hidden garden. Every visitor to Petřín Hill should also be sure to check out the medieval “Hunger Wall” which runs through the park.
View from Letna Beer Garden over Prague and the Vltava River.
This park also overlooks the historic city, and at several points offers a unique vantage point that allows you to look down a succession of bridges crossing the Vltava River. The park is crisscrossed by tree-lined paths and filled with lawns and playgrounds popular with the local children. The park was also once the site of the world’s largest statue of Joseph Stalin, which dominated the city skyline. The statue was destroyed in 1962, leaving a massive empty pedestal standing high above the river. Today the pedestal is the site of only a small metronome and skateboarders and onlookers fill its wide-open space. The highlight of Letná Park for most however is not the empty plinth but the nearby beer garden. You can imbibe some of the Czech Republic’s legendary brew while enjoying the shade provided by chestnut trees, chatting up the locals, and taking in a perfect view of Old Town and New Town.
Prague is located in the middle of Europe, but its land-locked geography does not stop the locals from enjoying a little beach-side fun. Along the banks of the Vltava River you will find Žluté lázně, a recreational area featuring a sandy beach, sunbathing lawns, a beer garden, playgrounds, cafés, paddle boats, volleyball courts, and much more. It attracts a mix of happy families, flirting singles, and topless sunbathing octogenarians.
Prague Castle is not the city’s only fortress. Three kilometers to the south, on a steep rock above the opposite bank of the river, sits the thousand-year-old Vyšehrad fortress. Originally a medieval stone castle, it was transformed into a massive Baroque fortress by the Austrian Empire during the 17th century. Its huge brick ramparts were ideal for controlling the potentially rebellious city. Now, however, the ramparts are devoid of artillery and are instead filled by pedestrians on a stroll. The ramparts provide perfect vantage points for admiring Prague from a variety of angles. The large area within the fortress has been transformed into one of the city’s most popular parks, including an exceptional playground focused on the theme of Czech legends. There are also numerous historic attractions within the fortress worth checking out, such as the casemates beneath the fortress walls, the 11th century rotunda of St. Martin, and the beautiful church of Saints Peter and Paul (which, by the way, is the site of our marketing guru Samantha’s upcoming nuptials).
Divoká Šárka (or Prokopské údolí)
Just an easy tram ride from the center of Prague you will find Divoká Šárka, a large natural preserve that will make you forget that you are anywhere near a major city. You will probably be surprised by just how beautiful the preserve is, as you hike through a narrow stream valley hemmed in by steep cliffs and thick forests, and look upwards at jagged rock formations rising to impressive heights. There’s more to do than hike though – you can also swim, cycle, or hang out in the beer garden of a cozy pub located deep in the forest. Also not far from the city center is another equally impressive and large natural area located in a scenic stream valley – Prokopské údolí. While Divoká Šárka is a bit more popular, that means that it also is more likely to be crowded. In Prokopské údolí you are more likely to a find a herd of sheep than a crowd of people.
While these spots might not make it on to your typical tour itineraries, at Go Real Europe we believe part of an authentic travel experience is getting beyond the sights included in your standard travel itinerary. We hope that you’ll let us create a custom travel adventure for you, so you can experience a relaxing sunny afternoon in one of these beautiful locales, far from the maddening crowds.
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