Prague is built on top of nine hills — and atop almost all of those hills there lies a park and a Praguer, probably with a beer in his or her hand, enjoying the view. Many visitors to Prague are surprised at how green the city is, with its all-of-a-sudden-I’m-surrounded-by-flowers-and-gardens vibe, and the streets paved with trees. Not to mention what we call the “flower waves” that bring joy and colour to the city. So, without further ado, let’s visit some of our favourite parks, and give you the local scoop on how to find them, why they’re great, what to do there, and what to eat and drink from nearby spots.
Don’t forget to bring your sword and armour with you! Okay, not really — but you would’ve needed them 500 years ago. The “Tree Park” as #Localsknow it (and you’ll get why once you see it) is a safe haven from all forms of urban pollution. (Though if you are allergic to dogs or small children, this might not be your spot.)
As soon as you arrive (getting off tram #17), you’ll feast your eyes on the beautiful Veletržní Palace, while on your left is old tram rail track from 1891. With 124 years of tramming experience in Prague, we know it well, but of course, something we have even more experience with is beer brewing! And soon, on your right, you will see a nice beer garden with a Únětice 12 sign. There’s really, really good beer here, so let’s take away one and continue.
Hear those excited screams? If you get bored, there is a theme park with really wild rides right nearby. But really, there’s plenty to keep you occupied in the park. Beautiful Stromovka is a place for peaceful and relaxed picnics and walks, and as you walk, you’ll come across beautiful ponds and a variety of birds flitting about.
When my wife was pregnant, we came here for a picnic, and a little bird kept going back and forth between us and the water (mainly because a few dogs were quite interested in it, but we’re pretty sure in a friendly way). The bird must have remembered us and the pieces of panini we were feeding it (you can get tasty snacks from the nearby Šlehtovka kiosk), because when we returned later with our newborn baby, I swear the same bird was still there, this time a bit more confident.
Stromovka is very popular with families, with lots for young kids to do. Especially well-planned is the Vozovna restaurant, where parents can eat slow-cooked food with wine or unfiltered Staropramen beer on the terrace while the kids can play in a big playground right next door. The kids will run back to the table when the Czech specialty arrives at the table: sweet dumplings with strawberry filling, cream, and fresh cheese. Yum!
You’ll find a good dose of peace and nature at Riegrovy Sady — although, just like how the man who “gave” his name to this park was hiding something from the authorities, the park also hides something: the very lively atmosphere that can turn into spontaneus parties in the evenings. The park is, after all, located basically almost in Žižkov — the area that carries the name of wild and fierce 15th-century one-eyed protestant general, Jan Žižka (who with his peasant army managed to kick the noble butts of the Holy Roman Empire), and that used to be the stomping grounds for the very Bohemian writer Jaroslav Hašek. I think the park carries their energy, but it’s also nicely smoothened by the older sister of Žižkov, Vinohrady (Vineyards).
What you will find here is young people sitting on blankets, listening to music, having picnics, throwing frisbees, playing football/soccer and simply having a good time. You’ll also find plenty of older couples sitting on the park benches while enjoying what just might be one of the most amazing and hidden views over Prague.
Want to picnic and sample some craft beer? Just a block away you will find the Jiřak Farmers Market and our beloved BeerGeek beer specialty shop. Longing for a burger? Head out to The Tavern, the first proper burger joint in Prague. We love the place, the people who work there, the food, and the fact that it is right next to the park. Don’t care to move anywhere? No problem! Riegrovy Sady also has one of the local beer garden favourites, and they now have beer exclusively brewed for them. Once you’ve had enough of the park, a walk to the city centre is about 10 to 15 minutes.
I’m a bit reluctant to share this place with anybody. It’s an area of Prague that I selfishly want to keep just for myself (although, when I first experienced this amazing piece of nature, my initial thoughts were, “I wany everyone to experience this place!”) The small ponds, the cleverly paved pathways, the artificial cave — there’s lots to explore, as well as plenty of space to just lay out your blanket. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, what do you see? A vineyard and beautiful patio (Vinični Altán), where they open their cellar and plenty of wine bottles every Friday from 2pm to 9pm. Picture it, you sitting there, with a beautiful view, a sunset, good wine — only problem is then it closes at dark. It’s one of those things that can make you cry and start a petition for longer opening hours.
While you’re here, you have to catch a view over the lesser-known Prague neighbourhoods like Nussle and Vršovice, the latter home to Krymská Street, which was chosen as one of the coolest streets in Europe by The New York Times. (When that happened, locals were scared that tourists would come in droves.) It’s very underground and alternative, but still warm and welcoming to the visitors. You can find us often having breakfast or lunch at Café Sladkovský. This Bohemian café manages to cover so many things well: amazing menu, great atmosphere, a social centre, fantastic coffee, the best music in Prague (we think), tasty beer, and a true local vibe. They organise lot of community events and activities. Along with Cafe V Lese (a favourite of Tim from Paris Urban Adventures), they kind of started the revival of this rundown area. The streets might be bit dirty, but the 19th-century facades will keep you amazed time after time.
This is the first place my wife took me for a picnic and this is the place where we now take our friends after they’ve covered Prague’s must-dos. My most favourite thing on this 10th-century castle hill is Na Hradbách Beergarden. For me, going there means that summer has started. I love the atmosphere, and the smoking grill serving up some pretty good grilled foods — grilled cheese and eggplant are my favourites at the moment, while my dad loves the spicy sausage with fresh horseradish. Don’t ask him about foosball though — I beat him every time. This place has hosted the Prague Urban Adventures team’s meetings plenty of times and many ideas that have now materialised were first brought up here as an idea (after a few Pilsners). They have Pilsner Urquell on tap — the only beer that Czechs consider Pilsner, and Czechs will avoid drinking it outside the “Lagerland.” Like the Irish do with Guinness.
But we’re also history nerds (the cool versions of nerd) and this hill carries some heavy stories and myths, which I swear you can actually feel in the air. Legend says that Prague got its very beginnings here, when the clairvoyant Libuse prophesised the birth and glory of Prague: “I see a city that’s fame will reach the stars,” she said. (In Slavic culture, women were the leaders, but then the crusades started and the story of the matriarchal society got bit dark — just ask the witches.) And by the way, Libuse was right: Prague is now the #3 destination to visit on TripAdvisor.
Walk along the rampart wall with so many views that your camera will run out of battery life — but please save some shots for the most beautiful cemetery we know. There you will find, for example, one grave frequently covered with toy robots — it’s the grave of Karel Čapek, a genius humanist writer who, along with his brother, invented the concept of robots and popularized the term through his science fiction writing.
The best day to visit Vysehrad is Saturday, since you can get all your picnic stuff from the Naplavka Farmer’s Markets.
Headed to Prague? Spend the day with us for a locally led adventure!