I love big cities. I love the excitement. I love that there is always something new going on or some strange place to explore. But that being said, it can be overwhelming. When I lived in my communist-era flat in the outskirts of Prague, there were days when I simply craved nature, quiet, trees and a hike without concrete beneath my feet. During my year in Prague I discovered the many green spaces in the city. Here is my list of the top ten green spaces in Prague.
- Letná Park
Main attraction: The beer garden
Come here on a sunny day. Get a beer in a plastic cup for about fifty crowns. Find a seat at one of the picnic tables, sit back, and enjoy the view. This park is also a great place for people watching. All of Prague seems to turn up here on a warm afternoon with people walking dogs, rollerblading, kids running around, and older people chatting. There’s never a dull moment at Letná .
You can also check out the skateboarders racing around next to the giant metronome where a statue of Stalin once stood or go for a long meandering walk through the many paths and trails.
- Divoka Šarka
Main attraction: Nature trails
This is my favorite of all of Prague’s parks because Divoka Šarka is an isolated nature reservation with breathtaking scenery. Take tram number 20 or 26 to the Divoka Šarka stop, hop out, walk past the McDonalds, and step into the park. With steep cliff faces, massive hills, a bubbling creek and trees all around, you’ll forget that you’re only a short ride from Dejvická.
Take a picnic with you or stop at one of the small cafes or restaurants that dot the main trails. A sausage with mustard and a beer can be a great way to fill up after hiking all afternoon.
Main attraction: The “other” castle
Prague Castle is always loaded with tourists; even on rainy weekends when the castle is closed it can be hard to walk around due to the crowds desperately trying to snap photos. Vyšehrad is never as busy. This is an old fortified castle, which may not look like a castle in the traditional sense, but there are enough stone ruins and old statues to lend the place a sense of mystery and beauty.
And although it will cost a few crowns, the underground passages and medieval basilica are also worth exploring.
- Petřín Hill
Main attraction: The “Eiffel Tower”
There is a lot to see at Petřín hill and this park could easily entertain for a whole day. There is the observation tower shaped like a small “Eiffel Tower,” the rose gardens, the maze of mirrors, the hunger wall, the funicular railway, the Stefanik Observatory, and the gardens, including gorgeous fruit trees.
- Prague Castle Gardens
Main attraction: The terraces
Prague castle’s grounds are enormous. There have been days where I’ve skipped the castle entirely and just toured the beautiful, relaxing gardens. Check out the stunning terraces on the South side with a view of Prague’s Lesser Town.
Then check out the North side for fountains, flowers, the Royal Garden, and in the summertime a birds of prey exhibit where for a hundred crowns you might even get the chance to hold an owl or hawk.
- Wallenstein Garden
Main attraction: The limestone drip wall
This garden is a must-see for any tourist or any resident of Prague. Hidden behind the Malostranská metro station, walk through the little back gate and find yourself in a fairy tale garden. There is a koi pond, fountains, sculptures, hedge maze, and the Wallenstein palace which is the current seat of the Czech senate.
There is also the quirky limestone drip wall which hides creepy carvings of faces, snakes and little animals.
Main attraction: Views of the Vltava
Kampa is a large, lovely park that often houses concerts, festivals, and other events. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon snoozing in the sun. On one side it’s bordered by the canal-like Čertovka stream, which is a great place to snap some pictures of sunlight dappled bridges and little mills, and on the other side by the Vltava.
Don’t forget to seek out David Černý’s alien baby sculptures and the line of light-up plastic penguins that stand sentry over the Vltava nearby.
- Vojan Gardens
Main attraction: The peace and quiet
These gardens are near the Wallenstein gardens between Charles Bridge and the Malostranská metro station, but are even more hidden than Wallenstein. It may take some searching, but if you find an old wooden door in the fortress-like walls that guard the area, step inside and breathe deep. It’s always quiet and peaceful in the Vojan Gardens. Sit underneath a flowering fruit tree or beside a sparkling fountain while you watch the peacocks strut lazily through the grass.
- The Botanical Gardens
Main attraction: The special exhibits
Located near Prague zoo, you have to pay to enter these parks, but it’s worth it for the chance to stroll among the exotic plants, including the ones housed in the indoor greenhouses. There are also often special exhibits such as the butterfly exhibit held last year in the spring. At the end of your visit to the gardens, stop at one of the vineyards’ restaurants for a glass of wine.
- Along the River (Náplavka, Výtoň, etc.)
Main attraction: The view of the Vltava
This is not technically a green space, but it describes a stretch of cobblestone and pavement along the Vltava that is dotted with little bars and restaurants where Prague citizens stop after a long day at work for a beer in a plastic cup and a rest along the water. Take off your shoes, dangle your feet over the edge, and watch the sunlight sparkle on the rippling waves as the sunlight fades away. It’s a great place to relax, listen to music, and hang out with friends.
- Honorable Mentions
Riegrovy Sady: This park is just one long, slanted, grass-covered hill near Muzeum. Find the little beer stand at the far end of the hill, buy a Pilsner or a cider, then come back, and stretch out on the grass to unwind on the weekend.
Stromovka: This huge, sprawling park near Výstaviště Holešovice is a great place to get lost for the afternoon. It’s also quite close to a huge exhibition area where something is always happening, such as St. Matthew’s fair where you can ride carnival rides and eat massive amounts of junk food.
The Franciscan Gardens: These small gardens are right off of Wenceslas Square and are a quick respite from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets.
Havlíčkovy sady (Grebovka): Located in Vinohrady, this area is most well-known for the gazebo at the top of the vineyard where you can sip a coffee or a glass of wine.
Finally, what green spaces or parks do you like in Prague?
I’m sure there are some that I have missed, so if you live in Prague or have ever visited Prague, comment below: What are your favorite green spaces to escape to on a sunny afternoon in this beautiful city?